Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Pastor's Blog

Humility of Christ 9/25/2011
Note: I will be on vacation until October 14, so the next blog will be Oct 16, 2011

Today we consider one of the letters of Apostle Paul which he wrote from prison to the saints/believers of the Philippi congregation. Before we read our text, (2:1-16) we will do an overview of the first chapter of his letter.

KJV Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, {remembrance: or, mention}
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,
5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: {perform: or, finish}
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. {I have...: or, ye have me in your heart} {of my...: or, with me of grace}
8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

. After reminding them of God's grace and peace toward them, which is theirs as the result of the finished work of Jesus Christ, he revealed his caring heart for them by telling them that he remembered them in his prayers, and in joy he did so. It was not an obligation or a work, but it was the outflow of a heart that had been grasped by God's grace. He goes on to share of how thankful he was that they were living in the fellowship in the Gospel and extended great encouragement to them by reminding them that the same God who began the work in them will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. He continued, "It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel." He continues to pour out his heart of love toward them, his appreciation for them in the Gospel, and of how they were united in this same Gospel. His heart yearned greatly for them in the mercies of Jesus Christ. He continues on..

9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; {judgment: or, sense}
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; {approve: or, try} {are...: or, differ}
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Being united in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the bonds of love, mercy and compassion, Paul now looks to the increasing of their joy in the fellowship of Christ and His Gospel, offering a prayer on their behalf. It is not a prayer that deals with their circumstances in life, but rather it is a prayer that speaks more to the experience and witness of Christ's Presence in them: First he prays that their love would abound more and more in knowledge and in discernment; that they would be able to discern and live in those things that were consistent with the ways and purposes of God, and that they would continually live in the reality of who they were in Jesus Christ. In this way they would live to the praise and honor of God in Jesus Christ.

12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;
13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; {in Christ: or, for Christ} {the palace: or, Caesar's court} {in all other...: or, to all others}
14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:
16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:
17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.
18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.
19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

He now shares with them as to how he is viewing his present circumstances, being in prison. He does not try to make them feel sorry for him, but rather he tells them that his circumstances are working towards the benefit of the Gospel and its spreading. He was more concerned about other people than his ownself, and he was more concerned about people hearing and believing the Gospel than any inconvenience in his life. He was not concerned about trying to figure out what the motives of other workers of Christ were, but he was entirely focused on the task of getting the word out of the grace of God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. His life was not his own and this portion of Scripture leaves us with no doubt as to the life and purpose of Apostle Paul. The next portion further amplifies this reality.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

He shares with them that to really live is to live in Christ, and therefore, death has no meaning, for he has already died. He has been crucified to the world and the world to him. The world has no power over him and he has no attraction for the world. (Galatians 6:14) But yet he recognizes his purpose in God's plan and does not look upon things in a selfish manner, but looks as to who he can bless others with his life here on earth. Yes, he was stuck between two feelings, one to continue to work in the labor of love for the sake of others, and to depart to be with Christ. He seemed to have the sense that he was not done here yet, even going to the point to see that his life in Christ was yet to be used to bless the Philippian church. He did not minimize the gift that God had given him to use to bless others, but rather he recognized that his coming to them would bring them greater joy in their union with Jesus Christ and with one another. Oh, Lord we praise you for your grace to us today!!

27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

After pouring out his heart of love and care toward them, he now gives them some direction in life, by encouraging them to live lives that are consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that the essence of the Gospel is the forgiveness of sins and that in the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians it is stated clearly that this cause of forgiveness is due to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is telling that that whether he is with them or not, that they would continue to be united in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is best reflected through the words of John: "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another". (1 John 4:9-11)

He then applies his life and example to them by telling not to have fear of their adversaries, for the opposition that they have toward them is evidence of their unrecognition and unbelief of the grace of God that has been extended toward them in Christ. Rather than discourage them, it should give them assurance and encouragement that they are God's in Christ Jesus. Finally, he offers to them that suffering for the sake of the Gospel is a reality, but in light of his attitude towards suffering, they should look upon suffering as a doorway to blessing not only for themselves, but for the sake of the Gospel.

For the most part, the Apostle has been giving them very little application to their lives. Now he begins to come closer home to them. To this point, they have heard him speaking concerning the unity that they have in Christ, of his affirmation of their life in Christ, his prayer for their deepening knowledge of their union in Christ, his recognition that suffering is part of the proclamation of the Gospel and lastly that they would live lives consistent with the Gospel. He now says, that if/since you are in Christ and have experienced his grace....Here is the text.

KJV Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (seat of emotions, affections and compassions)
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

He tells It is not possible to show humble-mindedness except it be in our power to do otherwise. the experience of the saving grace of Jesus Christ is evidenced within by the indwelling of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit. Christ had the full benefit of the glory and honor of God, but He did not stay there, holding onto to that, but lowered himself to our level in order to serve us for salvation purposes. What I believe Paul is getting at here for the Philippians, is that the true life in Christ is lived out in the humbling of ourselves for the sake of others so that they would come to experience the saving grace of Christ. Christ is God and for God to lower himself to reach us is amazing! Paul does not want us to lose the fact that Christ is God and God is the one who humbled himself for us. Many have taught and to teach today that Christ is not God and therefore Christ is only a servant or a prophet of God who did his bidding. But no, God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not accouting their trespasses unto them. If Christ is not God, then God did not humble himself. May the Lord increase our knowledge of his grace and love for us which was demonstrated by his humbling of himself for us.

Let us not lose sight that Paul is illustrating humility here and that Christ chose to humble himself unto death. Herein is the profound mystery of God that should cause all to fall before our Father's throne in praise, worship and adoration: He chose to humble himself to save us. Paul writes in another place:

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person- though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die-
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Phil 2: 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Again, what can we say of the glorious name of Jesus Christ, who was obedient to the Father for our sakes, not his own, He pleased the Father in all things. How do we respond to that kind of love toward us?

12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work (cultivate) out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (respect of God, of His Word, awareness of our selfishness, sin, arrogance)
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,
15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
16 holding fast to1 the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

In conclusion, we can go back to the beginning of this letter. "Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:' This work in us is God's work, for He gave us the gift of repentance, has gifted us with faith and He desires that the life of Christ would be cultivated in us so that we would be lights in a dark world. Paul has a sense of ownership in his fellow believes and he appeals to them that the Gospel that he preached to them would not have been done in vain.

Lord, thank you for your Word of grace in this beautiful letter of love and joy. May it have an effect on us as we continue to grace in the grace and knowledge of your Son, Jesus Christ. Lord, we bow before you in thankfulness, in praise, in humility and in renewed service in your kingdom! In Jesus Name, Amen.

Together we are in Him in all circumstances of life,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 25 Sep 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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The Cross of Christ 2.25.2018
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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*Wendy and Dan Salo: Strength & courage to trust Him w/her health concerns