Sunday, 10 January 1999 00:00

What Can I Learn From Philippians?

Philippians 1:1 (KJV)

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons.

There are two mistakes people can make in their study of the Scriptures. First, there are some who place experience above their knowledge and understanding of Scripture, and second, there are those who so emphasize Bible knowledge they discount all experience and application in life. May we never be guilty of either. As we begin our study, what can I expect to learn?

  1. My life is a testimony of God's saving grace... "to all the saints that are in Philippi"
    Who are these "saints?" Who are these people that form the early church at Philippi?
    1. A wealthy woman—called a "seller of purple" named Lydia.
      She was in the business of providing royal material to the magistrates and leaders of Philippi (Acts 16:14). "The Lord opened her heart," "her entire household was saved," "she opened her home."
    2. A sorcerer servant—a woman "possessed with a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:16-19).
      She was converted through Paul's ministry, and her masters had Paul and Silas arrested.
    3. A grieving guard—given the responsibility by the Romans to guard Paul and Silas.
      The earthquake opened the jail doors, the guard awoke, saw the doors open, and drew his sword to kill himself, believing Paul and Silas were gone. They weren't and after they shared the gospel with him he and his entire household were converted to Christ. "He washed their stripes," "he gave them meant," "he worshipped in Lydia's home."
  2. My life may not always be rosy as a Christian... "Paul and Timothy, the servants..."
    After Paul's initial visit to Philippi, he visited other cities like Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, and Corinth. Now, as he writes Philippians, he is under house arrest, chained day and night to a Roman soldier and is awaiting trial before the Emperor Nero. He is in a difficult time.
    1. There can be joy... happiness is not dependent on my circumstances (Phil. 4:11)
    2. There can be confidence... I am able through Him who strengthens (Phil. 4:13).
    3. There can be strength... for me to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21).
  3. My relationships with others can be difficult... "to all the saints in Christ Jesus"
    Each child of God is unique in gifts, temperament, grace and knowledge. Because of this the church of Jesus Christ is filled with Christians who can't get along. Paul knows this.
    1. The source of my relational problems... "strife and vainglory" (Phil. 2:3).
    2. The solution to my relational problems... "let this mind be in you..." (Phil. 2:5).
  4. My life is in the hands of a Sovereign God... "Paul... the servant of Jesus Christ"
    Paul is a missionary to the Gentiles. He received a commission, a call, a divine ordination. The natural man might think that Paul is a failure. He is in prison. How can he preach? God orchestrated all events of Paul's life to accomplish the very purpose God intended.

    "It has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ" (Phil. 1:13 RSV). In other words, every six hours, when a new palace guard was chained to Paul, the gospel was shared without interruption to a new person in need of the grace of God. What man intended for evil, God meant for good. All these things and more we will focus on as major themes of the letter to the Philippians.

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