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Message Monday: Necessary Changes If We Fellowship with Christ

10 Oct

Intro:

  • Today we return to our series through the book of Philippians.
  • In chapter one of Philippians Paul came back again and again to the theme of how Christ makes a difference in the life of the believer. Consider the difference Christ makes in these verses:
    • He is at work when we are at our worst – v6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

 

  • Christ makes us fruitful when we see little fruit. – 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. 12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.

 

  • Christ is the goal of life and makes our end a gain – 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22

 

  • With Christ even suffering is a privilege – 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,
  • As Paul opens chapter two he expands on the theme of fellowship in Christ. Think about his words in verse 27- 28.
    • 27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.
    • Paul’s point in these verses is that because of our connection to Christ the way we fellowship with other believers matters.
    • He even goes so far as to say that this fellowship with other believers is a sign to the world of our salvation.

 

Hook:

  • So why is it that our fellowship with other believers matters so much?
    • Is Paul commending to us a kind of superficial fellowship that calls us to wear our fellowship as nothing more than a “Morningside” name tag we all wear?
    • This kind of superficial fellowship does not require us to have any further connection with the beliefs, lives, or commitments of other believers.
    • On the other hand is Paul commending to us the kind of total fellowship in which we must subsume all of our distinctions in favor of uniformity?
    • This kind of extreme fellowship does not seem to correspond to the fellowship that we know exists among the three persons of the Trinity, so why should we expect it to be the kind of fellowship God wants for His people?
  • With that in mind, perhaps we should consider the fellowship that exists among the Trinity to get to Paul’s point.
  • Wayne Grudem, a theologian helps us to understand relational aspect of the Trinity when he says…
    • … the distinction between the persons is not a difference in “being” but a difference in “relationships.” This is something far removed from our human experience, where every different human “person” is a different being as well. Somehow God’s being is so much greater than ours that within his one undivided being there can be an unfolding into interpersonal relationships, so that there can be three distinct persons. What then are the differences between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? There is no difference in attributes at all. The only difference between them is the way they relate to each other and to the creation. The unique quality of the Father is the way he relates as Father to the Son and Holy Spirit. The unique quality of the Son is the way he relates as Son. And the unique quality of the Holy Spirit is the way he relates as Spirit. (Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 253–254.)
  • Did you notice how Grudem captures our understanding of fellowship that exists in the Trinity when he says “one undivided being” can be “[unfolded] into interpersonal relationship so that there can be three distinct persons.”
    • There is unity and diversity in this Trinitarian type of fellowship.
    • While we as believers cannot imitate this kind of fellowship on our own, we certainly can relate to God as one God and uniquely to each person in the Godhead.
    • Similarly we can strive towards a fellowship in our churches that mirrors God’s internal Trinitarian fellowship.
    • Today as we look at these first two verses of Philippians 2 I intend on exploring two specific impacts this kind of Trinitarian fellowship has upon us.

Message Points:

  • First, allow me to point out to you the specific kind of fellowship Paul points us towards in verse 2:1.
  • Notice that he speaks directly about Christ and the Holy Spirit in the verse.
    • Inbetween these two references he uses the phrase, “if any comfort from his love”.
    • Think with me just a moment about who is loving whom in this part of the verse.
    • John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his son.
    • I do not think we are stretching the text to understand that Paul is referencing the entire Trinity.
  • With that in mind I want to ask you to make a change to the outline in your bulletin. Instead of Genuine fellowship with Christ, change Christ to the word Trinity.
  • So with that in mind, let’s consider the 1st impact: Genuine fellowship with the Trinity will change us personally (2:1).
  • To see how genuine fellowship with the Trinity impacts us, let’s examine each of the if statements in verse 2:1.
    • The first of the if statements points us towards the encouragement from being united with Christ.
      • What kind of encouragement are we looking for in Christ?
      • The word encouragement in this verse is meant to make us think of how Christ is with us in the midst of every part of life.
      • This kind of encouragement is like a friend at the gym spurring you on to greater feats than you think you can accomplish.
      • In the verses just prior we are told that we believe in Him and have the privilege of suffering for Him.
      • Does it seem too strange then to consider how encouraging it is to see God’s Word’s fulfilled in your life?
        • Think with me of a passage like Psalm 23.
        • Is it not comforting to understand that if Christ walks with you through life, when the valley of the shadow of death lies up ahead you can endure it?
        • This is why we memorize Scripture, read it and meditate upon it.
        • God’s Word teaches us when, where and how to expect Christ to show up as our Savior and Lord.
        • When we know God’s Word we know how Christ will personally relate to us at every point of our lives.
      • Thus our sub-point: We long for the Incarnate Word to encourage us.
    • Second then we come to the if phrase I already pointed to as describing God’s relationship to us as Father.
      • This word comfort is a word that implies that someone comes close to you and consoles you while at the same time directing you.
        • It is the kind of fatherly or parental concern and comfort that God relates to us by sending his Son.
        • This kind of comfort comes to us like the comfort in knowing that you have a parent who will help you take care of a wrecked car or major obstacle.
        • Certainly that is the type of love God the Father has for us, a compassionate love, that in spite of our sin reaches out to us.
        • We must not forget though that this fatherly love is one that disciplines us towards maturity as Hebrews 12:7-11.
        • Listen to verse 12:10-11 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
      • So we have our second sub-point: We desire the Fatherly love of God to comfort us.
    • Finally then we come to the last two if phrases in this verse.
      • The first if phrase points us to consider the fellowship with the Spirit.
      • The Spirit demonstrates his commitment to us by indwelling each and every believer.
      • The second if phrase describes the kind of fellowship we have with the Spirit as one of tenderness and compassion.
      • We might understand this as the Spirit’s tenderness and compassion towards us.
      • However, since we understand the Spirit to indwell and transform us inwardly, it seems more appropriate to consider tenderness and compassion the Spirit inspires in us towards other believers.
      • The kind of tenderness and compassion that Paul is speaking of here is like that of a care giver or a nurse that sees our situation and wants to offer us the most help possible.
      • So our third sub-point: We humble ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leadership towards others.
  • So Paul points out that we have a transformed relationship with God but he then moves to a necessary impact that relationship will have upon others.
  • Our 2nd point: Genuine fellowship with Christ will also necessarily change our… relationship to other believers (2:2).
  • Paul begins this second verse with what may sound like a very self-centered request.
    • This may come across as if I mean anything to you then please do something for me.
    • Even though this is a personal appeal, we need to look at this through the eyes of a pastor.
    • Paul does ask them to do something based upon his personal relationship to them.
    • That said his relationship is as a pastor.
      • A pastor’s greatest joy comes when his flock moves together towards the Lord.
      • A pastor rejoices when members seek the Christ as most important in their lives.
      • A pastor rejoices when members care for members to care for one another and the lost because they love Christ.
    • Paul’s request is not self-centered, it is Christ-centered.
  • In the second verse the content of Paul’s request to make his joy complete parallels the Trinitarian emphases of the first verse.
    • The first request is to be like minded.
      • This parallels the encouragement in Christ
      • Like-mindedness does not come from the power of the personality in the pulpit.
      • Like-mindedness does not come from the power of popular opinion.
      • Like-mindedness comes from the power of shared priorities and principles.
      • So our sub point: The only ways to have shared priorities and principles is to change the way we communicate with fellow believers.
      • We must consider every opinion based upon whether or not it conforms to Christ revealed in His Word.
      • When we notice someone not conforming to Christ
      • This is not a judgmental communication that condemns people but a encouraging communication that asks them to follow Christ.
    • The second request is to have the same love.
      • The fact that Paul moves to this proves he is not seeking to be judgmental, but compassionate.
      • Since this parallel’s God’s love for us mentioned in verse 1, then it reasons that we as believers should treat other believers in the same fashion.
      • Our Sub-point 2: Our fellowship with the Trinity will change our compassion for the situation of fellow believers.
      • If God’s compassion for us drove him to reach out to us in love through Christ Jesus, shouldn’t we reach out to others no matter what their struggle may be?
      • If we should reach out to unbelievers, how much more should we reach out to those who claim to be fellow believers in the midst of their struggles?
      • We are not seeking to love other believers permissively but purposefully towards the Fatherly love and guidance of God.
    • Finally then Paul’s third request is compound as his if statement about the Spirit was compound.
      • He references being in one spirit and purpose in the NIV.
        • The original language says to be one in soul and one in attitude or thought.
        • Our fellowship with the spirit changes our disposition towards others.
      • Thus the third sub-point : Our fellowship with Trinity changes our Spirit-led commitment to fellow believers.
      • We do not have a surface connection because we show up in the same place on Sunday.
      • We have a deep spiritual connection that causes us to tenderly and compassionately care about each person’s eternal destiny.

Conclusion:

  • Take just a moment today and consider how your relationship with God affects your relationship with others.
  • Do you have the same
    • Communication with others as Christ, asking them to follow him?
    • Compassion for others as the Father does, reaching out to them?
    • Commitment to believes that the Holy Spirit does in indwelling them?
  • If you do not have the same Trinitarian fellowship with other believers maybe you need to examine your relationship with our Trinitarian God.
    • Do you know the love of God the Father, through Jesus Christ?
    • Do you know the encouragement of Christ walking with you through life?
    • Do you experience the indwelling transformation of the Holy Spirit towards Christ-likeness?
  • Today if you would just surrender your life to Christ, you have a right relationship with God and with fellow believers.
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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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