Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pressing On for the Progress and Joy of Our Faith

In his letter to his friends in the church at Philippi, Paul was not only thanking them for their gift and love, but also addressing areas such as church unity, opposition to the gospel, and the day of Christ.  These topics are addressed throughout the letter.  However, Paul's addressing these topics are an aid for His accomplishing His greater goal for them in the writing of this letter, and that is their progress and joy in the faith.  We see this goal stated in Philippians 1:25, which is the key verse in this book.

Ever the teacher, ever the discipler (Matthew 28:19, Ephesians 4:11-13), ever the one concerned for the welfare of the church(es) (II Corinthians 11:28), Paul was not wasting this opportunity to build up and strengthen these brethren who were dear to him. Understanding this we can see how Paul goes about this through the instructions, admonitions, and examples he gives in this letter. What Paul does in this letter to move the Philippians forward in their faith is to lay out their responsibilities as believers alongside God's resources available to them.

As believers, God wants us to progress, advance, and go further in our faith; and as such we are responsible for our part, but at the same time the Lord knows that in and of ourselves we are not adequate for the task, so He must give us the resources to do what He has laid out for us to do (II Corinthians 3:5-6).   So let's look at both our responsibilities and our resource for progressing in our faith as Paul gives them in Philippians.

Our Responsibility
We progress and have joy in our faith:
1:5 by our participation in the gospel.
1:7 by our defending and confirming the gospel.
1:9 by our abounding more and more in love,
      but by a love that is guided by knowledge and discernment.
1:27 by conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel.
1:27 by being unified in the cause of the gospel.
1:27 by standing firm with others.
1:27 by our striving for the faith of the gospel.
1:29 by our suffering for His sake.
2:3-5 by not being selfish or self-promoting.
         by our looking out for the interests of others.
         by having the same attitude as Christ.
2:12 by working out our salvation,
        with the understanding of our accountability
2:14 by not having a complaining or argumentative spirit.
2:16 by holding fast to the word.
2:17 by serving and sacrificing in our faith.
2:18 by sharing our joy with others,
        especially those going through trials.
2:19-30 by living in a way that is an example and encourages
             other Christians.
3:2 by being aware of those who would hinder us in our faith.
3:3 by putting no confidence in the flesh.
3:7-11 by not holding on to worldly possessions.
3:12-14 by pressing on.
             We press on:
             by always forgetting what lies behind.
             by continually reaching forward to what lies ahead.
3:14 by having an eternal perspective.
        We develop an eternal perspective:
         by keeping the ultimate goal in mind.
         by keeping the ultimate/eternal reality in mind.
3:15 by keeping the right attitude.
3:16 by not regressing in our faith.
3:17-19 by following the right examples.
3:20 by being mindful of our citizenship.
4:1 by standing firm in all these things.
4:4 by always rejoicing in the Lord.
4:5 by being exhibiting Christian kindness and charity with all men.
4:6 by not letting anxiety control us.
4:6 by having a robust prayer life.
4:6 by being thankful.
4:8 by training our mind to think properly.
4:9 by living out what we have learned to be true,
4:9 by living out what we have seen to be true.
4:15 by generously and sacrificially supporting the gospel.

Our Resources
We can progress in our faith because:
1:6 We have God Himself, as what God began, God will finish.
1:7 We have been made partakers of grace.
1:11 We are already filled with the fruit of the righteousness of Christ.
1:19 We have the provision of the Spirit of Christ.
2:1 We have the encouragement of Christ.
2:1 We have the consolation of love.
2:1 We have the fellowship of the Spirit.
2:1 We have the affection and compassion of Christ.
2:13 We have God working in us to accomplish His good pleasure.
2:16 We have the word of life.
2:19-30 We have the encouragement and example of others.
3:1 We have the safeguarding of the word.
3:12 We have been laid hold of by Christ Himself.
3:20 We have the knowledge of His returning for us.
4:7 Our heart and mind are guarded by the peace of God.
4:9 The God of peace, Himself, is with us.
4:13 We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
4:19 We have a God who will supply all our needs,
        based on His riches.

What Paul is laying out for us to see in this book, is the working of man and the working of God in the spiritual life.  How they work together is a bit of a mystery, as God has not given us a formula to follow, but principles to be lived out.  It is in our going and our doing that the grace and power of God meet us and work through us.  It is in our obedience that we tap into the resources of God.  It is in our working out what the Lord has worked within that we appropriate all the means He has made available to us to accomplish His will in our life.

So today, my friends, let us progress, let us advance, let us press on in our faith, for He will meet us there in the midst of our going and doing.


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