Ephesians Pt27 Praying for Boldness

Ephesians 6:18-20(ESV)18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Romans 12:12-13(ESV)12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Paul is writing to the church at Rome to encourage them and explain to them the characteristics of a true Christian. One of the characteristics that is recurring through most of his letters is prayer. Prayer is communication with the Father. If we do not pray how will we every communicate with Him?

If we live with our spouse and only communicate when we need something from them how great of a relationship we would have?

How come most of the time when we pray it is because we are someone we know is in a bind?

Philippians 4:6-7(NLT) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 

This tells us to pray without being anxious, to pray about everything, and to pray with thankful hearts. God will answer all such prayers with the gift of His peace in our hearts. The proper way to pray is to pour out our hearts to God, being honest and open with God, as He already knows us better than we know ourselves. We are to present our requests to God, keeping in mind that God knows what is best and will not grant a request that is not His will for us. We are to express our love, gratitude, and worship to God in prayer without worrying about having just the right words to say. God is more interested in the content of our hearts than the eloquence of our words.

Ever had an awkward moment where a fellow Christian asks you to pray for him and you’re not sure that what he wants you to pray is a good idea? Here’s something that’s never out of place to pray in those situations—that God would be glorified in the matter.

In John 14:13(ESV) Jesus promised, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” In every circumstance, it’s appropriate to pray “that the Father may be glorified” in it.

Let’s “pray for one another,” and pray biblically.

Prayer for one another is a Christian responsibility.

Believers are commanded in James 5:16(ESV)16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. From verse 13-16 it is a paragraph about praying in faith for those who are sick.

The rest of the New Testament makes it clear that the responsibility for Christians to pray for one another isn’t limited to prayers for the sick. Repeatedly, the Apostle Paul pleads, in 1 Thessalonians 5:25(ESV)“Brothers, pray for us” 2 Thessalonians 3:1(ESV) Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you,

One of the four chief characteristics of the church in Jerusalem after Pentecost was that “they devoted themselves to … the prayers” (Acts 2:42(ESV)42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Can anyone doubt that these corporate prayers included much prayer for each other?

While intercession for others may have become more common among believers after Pentecost, it wasn’t unusual in the Old Testament period. For instance, the prophet Samuel assured his fellow Israelites: 1 Samuel 12:23(ESV) “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you”

The main point is Paul is asking for prayer for boldness to speak the mysteries of the gospel. Ephesians 6:19-20(ESV) 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

John Calvin in his Institutes of Christian Religion states “Since then he arms and equips us by his power, adorns us with splendour and magnificence, enriches us with wealth, we here find most abundant cause of glorying, and also are inspired with boldness, so that we can contend intrepidly with the devil, sin, and death. In fine, clothed with his righteousness, we can bravely surmount all the insults of the world: and as he replenishes us liberally with his gifts, so we can in our turn bring forth fruit unto his glory.”Such boldness springs only from confidence in the divine favor and salvation. 

The single term that best describes the way God wants his gospel given is boldness. And because it’s translated various ways, even faithful students of Scripture might overlook its frequency. Boldness (parrhesia) is used forty-two times in the New Testament. It is translated “openly,” “freely,” “plainly,” “with confidence” but most commonly some form of the word “bold.” A bold witness is not a pushy witness. A bold witness is not a loud witness, unless it needs to be. Boldness is not obnoxiousness. It’s not rude or demanding. Boldness is the furthest thing from some wild-eyed preacher screeching in the streets, “You’re going to hell!” Boldness is clear, direct communication in the face of potential opposition, nothing more or less. According to Proverbs 28:1(ESV), it is a characteristic of the God’s children: “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Are you bold for Christ?

Acts 4:23-31(ESV)23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain?26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

We live in a lukewarm society at best. It’s filled with “feel-good” churches and false teachers. Satan tells us these problems are small and shouldn’t matter to us. Satan tells us, “As long as they believe in Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else they do.” It’s not true. We can open the word of God and see there is a proper way for everything, whether it’s how we worship in church or how we live our every day lives.

The fact is, not every church is doing right. We have so many different denominations in today’s time. Obviously not everyone can be right if our beliefs are so different. The need for boldness is real. This world needs truth straight from the Bible, and boldness is required to teach this. Sometimes as Christians we are made to feel like the minority. In situations like this, it’s tough to stand against the crowd, but God will reward us for defending the truth.

1 Corinthians 9:16-18(ESV)16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship. 18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

The simple fact is we should never be ashamed of our beliefs if they are correct. These beliefs come from God himself. God wants us to boldly stand up for the truth. Don’t beat around the bush and make light of your beliefs. Be bold! Show scriptures to show answers, and leave it at that. In a world filled with so many lies and so much evil, God needs bold Christians to stand up and fight for His truth. God makes the rules, not us, so it’s not up to us to change or pervert them. We can bring others to Christ if we are bold and show the truth.

To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus, confront sinners with their guilt and the danger of judgment, and offer God’s grace to those who repent.

  1. To proclaim the gospel, we must exalt the Lord Jesus.
  1. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST DEFLECT ANY GLORY AWAY FROM OURSELVES.

B. TO EXALT THE LORD JESUS, WE MUST TELL PEOPLE WHO HE IS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE.

2. To proclaim the gospel, we must confront sinners with their guilt and warn them of impending judgment.

3. To proclaim the gospel, we must tell of God’s grace to the repentant.

So whenever you get an opportunity to talk to someone about spiritual matters, seek to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ. The sinner needs to know who Jesus is and what He did. Don’t hesitate, out of fear of giving offense, to confront the sinner and warn him of impending judgment. He needs to feel his guilt so that he realizes his need for a Savior. And, don’t fail to offer God’s grace and forgiveness to everyone who will repent.

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Ephesians Pt3 Power, Authority,Dominion

Ephesians 1:(HCSB)20-22 20 He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens— 21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.

Many people do not realize where Jesus is at this moment. They say things like, Jesus is in my heart, he is all around us, jesus shows up when 2 or more are gathered, cliche after cliche. Where exactly is Jesus? The Bible is clear.

Acts 7:55-56(ESV)55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
Romans 8:34(ESV)34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Colossians 3:1(ESV)If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 1:3(ESV)3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
Hebrews 8:1(ESV)Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,
Hebrews 10:12(ESV)12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
Hebrews 12:2(ESV)2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
1 Peter 3:22(ESV)22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
Revelation 3:21(ESV)21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Acts 2:33(ESV)33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

As we will see in a little while the bible is clear of who resides in you.

Jesus has been given all power authority and dominion. Not you, Jesus has those. But what exactly is Power, Authority and Dominion?

Power ability to act or produce an effect; legal or official authority, capacity, or right; possession of control, authority, or influence over others; a source or means of supplying energy

Romans 8:9-11(ESV)9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
So which person of the Trinity resides in you?

2 Corinthians 10:3-4(ESV)3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

There are a few words used in scripture for power

1. Authority. Exousia means authority, jurisdiction, power of government, choice, or judicial decision.

2. Miraculous Power. Acts 1:8(ESV)8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”The word ‘power’ is ‘dunamis’ meaning strength, ability, power for performing miracles, moral power and excellence of soul, the power of influential people, power and resources arising from numbers and armies.

3. Prevailing Power. Philippians 4:13(ESV) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The Greek word for ‘can do’ is ‘ischus’ meaning abiding power or strength, the strength to continue, to endure to the end, to overcome. While you are waiting for God’s miraculous power to heal, deliver, or break through in your life, you can depend on God’s sustaining power, ischus.

4. Dominion Power. The Greek word kratos means dominion, corporate, kingdom dominion. Paul prayed that the spiritual eyes of Ephesian believers would be opened so they would know “the exceeding greatness of His power (dunamis) toward us who believe according to the working of His mighty (kratos) power (ischus) which He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:19)

5. Energizing Power. The Greek word energeia means energy, working, efficiency. “I was made a minister (servant) according to the gift of the grace of God given to me through the effective working (energeia – energizing work) of His power (dunamis).

6. Aggressive Power. The Greek word bia means strength in violent action, force of body or mind. Forceful (biastes) men lay hold of the kingdom of God. (Matthew 11:12(ESV) 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.) There is grace available for those who would make an effort to enter kingdom living in spite of violent opposition.

Never forget where this power comes from. John 15:5(ESV)  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. In the Greek Jesus was saying, ‘Without me you have no dunamis power.’ Stay connected or you will run out of power! You have to ABIDE in CHRIST to have ANY POWER!

Authority the power to give orders or make decisions : the power or right to direct or control someone or something: the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people: a quality that makes something seem true or real

Jesus said, in Matthew 28:18(ESV) “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations…” The Greek for ‘power’ is ‘exousia’ rightly translated ‘All authority’. Exousia means authority, jurisdiction, power of government, choice, or judicial decision. The authority Jesus gives His people is not to be used in their name, but Jesus’ name then Jesus gave His disciples authority to carry out His will here on earth.

Here is a funny story in the bible where people thought they have found a magical incantation.
Acts 19:13-20(ESV)13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. 18 Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

It refused to recognize any other authority in Ephesus. The demon’s question “who are you?” is chilling in its implications to the seven sons of Sceva and their total lack of authority. Demons cannot be cast out via a formula or a ritual or invoking Jesus’ name. There is no power in incantations, even if they include the name of Christ. The power belongs to Jesus alone. Probably the greatest mistake the seven sons of Sceva made was their failure to realize that Paul was not doing the exorcisms. Jesus Christ was doing the exorcisms through Paul.The problem faced by the seven sons of Sceva was that they had no power over the demon they confronted. They were not apostles. More than that, as religious as they were, they had no relationship with God. They were not believers in Christ. They did not possess the power or the presence of the Holy Spirit. There was nothing in them or their words that would cause a demon to pay them the slightest heed. One proud demon in particular seems to have been fed up with their stage show and gave them a beating they would remember.
Matthew 7:21-23(ESV)21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

This echoes the 7 sons of sceva.

Dominion the power to rule : control of a country, region, etc.: the land that a ruler or government controls.The Greek word kratos means dominion, corporate, kingdom dominion. We love to talk about the Kingdom, the Kingdom is the King’s Domain, it is what the King has Dominion over. So the Kingdom start with those who Christ has control of.

The original Hebrew uses the word “radah” Genesis 1:26(ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – which means literally: To Rule over with Authority; The Right and the Power to Govern and Control; To Dominate

Jesus wants to dominate you. Christ is the conquerer and the believers are his spoils of war. He came and died for you, not for us to live rebellious lives. He came and waged war against death and dominated death, hell and the grave for us.

1 Corinthians 11:3(ESV) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 

The implications of this teaching are profound. First, church leaders are to surrender ultimate leadership to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One who leads and determines the teachings and practices of the church.
The 1689 2nd London Baptist Confessional 26.4 The Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church. In him is vested, by the appointment of the Father in a supreme and sovereign manner, all authority for the calling, institution, order and government of the church. The Pope of Rome cannot in any sense be the head of the church, but he is the antichrist, that ‘man of lawlessness’, and ‘son of destruction’, who exalts himself in the church against Christ and all that is called God, whom the Lord shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:2-42(ESV) Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

The Roman Catholic Church, by the way, still holds to the lies of Papal headship and Papal infallibility.  Reading from Catholic dogma, “The Pope possesses full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the whole Church and not merely in matters of faith and morals but also in Church discipline and in the government of the Church.”

To explain that out of their own literature against the various forms of Episcopalianism which limited the jurisdictive power of the Pope in favor of the Bishops, the Vatican Council declares this, quote: “If anyone shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection and direction and not a full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread through the world, or assert that he possesses merely the principle part and not all the fullness of this supreme power or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the Churches and over each and all the pastors and the faithful, let him be anathema.”  Damn anybody who questions the Pope’s headship.

The 1689 2nd London Baptist Confessional 26.5 In executing the authority entrusted to him, the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of his Word and by his Spirit, calls to himself out of the world those who are given to him by the Father.1 They are called to walk before him in the ways of obedience which he prescribes for them in his Word.2 He commands those who are so called to form local societies or churches for their mutual edification and to engage in the public worship which he requires of them while in the world.

Jesus has ALL power, Authority and dominion, He is head of the church, no man is head. There are certain things in this life that we as Christ followers have power, authority and dominion over, but when we are not in Christ we forfeit those. Jesus Christ rules and governs his people and directs them towards the fulfilment of God’s purposes. All power and authority within the church derive from Jesus Christ as the head., and we are the body.

1 Corinthians 12:27(ESV)27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. For a church body to function properly, all of its “body parts” need to be present and working

1 Corinthians 12:12-20(ESV)12 For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body—so also is Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 So the body is not one part but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. 19 And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? 20 Now there are many parts, yet one body.

The church must be together to carry out many of its purposes. Church is not something that you do individually it is something that you do collectively. To be a follower of Christ is not just what you do by yourself it is what you do together with other people. We are what the Bible calls the “family of God.” A family is by its very nature inter-dependent. What it means to be a part of a local church is that you’re inter-dependent with other people in your church.

For these reasons and more, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer’s life. Weekly church attendance is in no sense “required” for believers, but someone who belongs to Christ should have a desire to worship God, receive His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

A believer will never reach full spiritual maturity without having that outlet for his gifts, and we all need the assistance and encouragement of other believers. It’s not enough to just attend a church; we should be involved in some type of ministry to others, using the spiritual gifts God has given us.

He loves the church Ephesians 5:25(ESV)25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
1John 3:16(ESV)16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

He cares for the church John 17:12(ESV)12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

He provides for the growth of the church Ephesians 4:15-16(ESV)15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

He prays for the church John 17:20-26(ESV)20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

He judges the church Revelations 2:23(ESV)23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

He will present the church blameless before God Jude 24(ESV)24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,

Philippians Pt 1 The Letter of Joy

The epistle to the Philippians is the last of the four “prison epistles” of Paul. This letter was not written for one single purpose. Paul had a number of reasons for writing. Paul wanted to:

1. to thank the Christians at Philippi for the gifts that they had sent him by Epaphroditus.

2. to inform the Christians at Philippi about his own circumstances. He also wanted to tell them that Epaphroditus had recovered from his dangerous illness. He was returning to Philippi.

3. to appeal for unity and for the end of quarrels in the church.

4. to warn them about false *doctrine, especially that of *Jewish Christians who insisted on *circumcision for *Gentiles.

5. to urge them to remain loyal to their *faith and to stand firm against *opponents.

He wanted to update the church about his situation. He wanted to thank them for a gift they had sent. He wanted to give them information about Epaphroditus. He wanted to warn them about false teachers and encourage them to remain steadfast in the truth. He wanted to encourage unity in the church, and he wanted to exhort them to rejoice. Most of all, however, he wrote to them because he had a deep care and affection for them.

Luke described the city called Philippi as a Roman colony (Acts 16:12(HCSB)12 and from there to Philippi, a Roman colony, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia. We stayed in that city for a number of days. The *emperor Augustus allowed retired soldiers to live there after they had supported him in a battle in 31BC. As a Roman colony, its citizens possessed the same rights and laws as those who lived in Italy. Paul and Silas, with Timothy and Luke, established the church there after they crossed from Asia into Europe (Acts 16:12-40). Paul visited Philippi again on his third journey (Acts 20:1-6). It was a group of Christians of whom Paul was very fond. He called its members his ‘joy and crown’ (Philippians 4:1(HCSB)So then, my brothers, you are dearly loved and longed for—my joy and crown. In this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.) The Christians in Philippi were not rich, but they supported Paul with more than one gift of money. They also gave money for the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5(HCSB)We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God granted to the churches of Macedonia: During a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity. I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, then to us by God’s will.

Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter. He was not sure of the result of a *trial. Some writers suggest that the prison was in Ephesus or Caesarea. But it is more likely that he was in Rome. He probably wrote this letter at the end of the two years that we read about in Acts 28:30-31(HCSB)30 Then he stayed two whole years in his own rented house. And he welcomed all who visited him, 31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with full boldness and without hindrance..

Philippians 1:1-30(HCSB)

Greeting

Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus:

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and establishment of the gospel. For God is my witness, how deeply I miss all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you can approve the things that are superior and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Advance of the Gospel

12 Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is in the cause of Christ. 14 Most of the brothers in the Lord have gained confidence from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the message fearlessly. 15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and strife, but others out of good will. 16 These do so out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely, seeking to cause me anxiety in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice 19 because I know this will lead to my deliverance through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Living Is Christ

21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of me, your confidence may grow in Christ Jesus when I come to you again.

27 Just one thing: Live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind,[j] working side by side for the faith that comes from the gospel, 28 not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of destruction for them, but of your deliverance—and this is from God. 29 For it has been given to you on Christ’s behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him, 30 having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I have.

We need to let God shape our hearts and our lives and our attitudes through this expositional sermon series on the book of Philippians.  Four short chapters.  The theme of these chapters is joy; Paul mentions it at least 16 times in these four chapters.  He also mentions Christ 50 times.  And that is because his joy is found in Christ, and so is our joy.

We live in a somewhat sad world, a world that knows despair, depression, unfulfillment, dissatisfaction; longing for things that never come to pass.  It’s kind of a sad reality, with an even sadder future, because we have a world of sadness with no hope that anything should necessarily change.  The long years of life inevitably become long years of sorrow punctuated by moments of happiness, which moments become less and less frequent as aging takes place.  And that’s probably why the highest percentage rate of suicide is among those who are over 65, as the length of years and the decreasing moments of happiness bring about a morbid sadness and lack of satisfaction with life.

People talk about happiness, and perhaps we ought to define happiness. Happiness is an attitude of satisfaction or delight based upon some present circumstance. Happiness is related to happenings.  Happiness is related to happenstance. Happiness is related to hap, which is a word that basically conveys the idea of chance. Happiness is that which you really can’t plan and program; it may happen, it may not happen, and it seems so elusive.  But it is related to the delight or the satisfaction that is tied to an occasional happening, a chance circumstance. And that’s the best that men can do. On the other hand, when we talk about joy, we’re not talking about something that’s related to chance at all. We’re not talking about something that’s related to circumstances at all. We’re talking about a deep down confidence that all is well, no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the difficulty, no matter what the problem. And that’s very different from happiness.

Joy, to be understood in a biblical sense, must be understood to be related to God.  It must be understood to be that which becomes yours in Christ.  It must be understood to be a permanent possession of every believer, not some whimsical delight that comes and goes as chance may offer it opportunity.  We’re talking about joy; much, much different than happiness.  John Macarthur’s definition of joy is this: joy is the flag that flies on the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there.  Joy is the flag that flies on the castle of the heart when the King is in residence there. I believe that only Christians know true and lasting joy.  The verb “to rejoice” appears 74 times in the New Testament.  The noun “joy” appears 59 times in the New Testament. It’s part and parcel of Christian experience.

First of all, joy comes from God.  It is a gift of God. Psalms 4:7-8(HCSB)You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound.8 I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety.

Psalms 16:11(HCSB)You reveal the path of life to me; in Your presence is abundant joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures.

Joy is a gift from God to those who believe the gospel.  On that great and marvelous day in the Galilean countryside, when the angel appeared to announce the arrival of the birth of a Savior.

Luke 2:9-12(HCSB)9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”

It is the gospel that brings that joy, or that conveys that joy to the human heart.

Joy is a gift from God to those who believe the gospel, who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

True joy is a gift from God that comes to those who believe the gospel, being produced in them by the Holy Spirit as the believer receives and obeys the Word – as the believer receives and obeys the Word.  Jeremiah 15:16(HCSB)Your words were found, and I ate them.Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name, Yahweh God of Hosts.

The Need for a ‘Missional’ Church

The Need for a ‘Missional’ Church

The missional Church is concerned with meeting the needs of others and discipling the lost. Most churches now are nothing more than fancy buildings for people who talk the same,act the same, like the same music and movies to have a place to gather and make themselves feel good about themselves.

What we have done as “The Christian Church” is made the people we are supposed to be evangelizing, our enemies. We would rather stay away from the dark than shine a light in it. Because what most churches peddle is nothing more than humanistic self-help repackaged with a sprinkle of Jesus ontop. The culture around us doesn’t want any part of that. They are hungry for real, authentic Christianity. We build up walls and create Christian bubbles to protect ourselves from THEM. We have christian movies, music, coffee shops, clothing, restaurants, books,tv stations, cartoons,vernacular,etc. We created a closed off Christian culture that is very hard for the average non believer to come to Christ and learn. Because we were never to do that!!! We were always made to GO, GO and Make disciples.
Matthew 28:18-19(HCSB)18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We like to believe this doctrine of salvation that Romans speaks of Romans 10:13(HCSB)13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

But who will tell them?

Romans 10:14-15(HCSB)14 But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

Here in America is the only “mission field” that we scold people for being like the culture. Every other country in the world we send missionaries to learn the culture of the people and preach the gospel to those people. We need to learn what it is to meet people where they are and say “Come up Here”!!

Below is an excerpt from Tim Keller on his writing on a Missional Church.

In the West for nearly 1,000 years, the relationship of (Anglo-European) Christian churches to the broader culture was a relationship known as “Christendom.” The institutions of society “Christianized” people, and stigmatized non-Christian belief and behavior. Though people were “Christianized” by the culture, they were not regenerated or converted with the Gospel. The church’s job was then to challenge persons into a vital, living relation with Christ.

There were great advantages and yet great disadvantages to ‘Christendom.’ The advantage was that there was a common language for public moral discourse with which society could discuss what was ‘the good.’ The disadvantage was that Christian morality without gospel-changed hearts often led to cruelty and hypocrisy. Think of how the small town in “Christendom” treated the unwed mother or the gay person. Also, under “Christendom” the church often was silent against abuses of power of the ruling classes over the weak. For these reasons and others, the church in Europe and North America has been losing its privileged place as the authority of public morality since at least the mid 19th century. The decline of Christendom has accelerated greatly since the end of WWII.

The British missionary Lesslie Newbigin went to India around 1950. There he was involved with a church living ‘in mission’ in a very non-Christian culture. When he returned to England some 30 years later, he discovered that now the Western church too existed in a non-Christian society, but it had not adapted to its new situation. Though public institutions and popular culture of Europe and North America no longer ‘Christianized’ people, the church still ran its ministries assuming that a stream of ‘Christianized’, traditional/moral people would simply show up in services. Some churches certainly did ‘evangelism’ as one ministry among many. But the church in the West had not become completely ‘missional’–adapting and reformulating absolutely everything it did in worship, discipleship, community, and service–so as to be engaged with the non-Christian society around it. It had not developed a ‘missiology of western culture’ the way it had done so for other non-believing cultures.

One of the reasons much of the American evangelical church has not experienced the same rapid decline as the Protestant churches of Europe and Canada is because in the U.S. there is still a ‘heartland’ with the remnants of the old ‘Christendom’ society. There the informal public culture (though not the formal public institutions) still stigmatizes non-Christian beliefs and behavior. “There is a fundamental schism in American cultural, political, and economic life. There’s the quicker- growing, economically vibrant…morally relativist, urban-oriented, culturally adventuresome, sexually alternative, and ethnically diverse nation…and there’s the small town,family, religiously- oriented, white-centric other America, with its diminishing cultural and economic force….Two nations…” Michael Wolff, New York, Feb 26 2001, p. 19. In conservative regions, it is still possible to see people profess faith and the church grow without becoming ‘missional.’ Most traditional evangelical churches still can only win people to Christ who are temperamentally traditional and conservative. But, as Wolff notes, this is a ‘shrinking market.’ And eventually evangelical churches got comfortable in the declining, remaining territories of “Christendom” will have to learn how to become ‘missional’. If it does not do that, it will decline or die.

We don’t simply need evangelistic churches, but rather ‘missional’ churches.

The Elements of a Missional Church

1. Discourse in the vernacular.

• In ‘Christendom’ there is little difference between the language inside and outside of the church. Documents of the early U.S. Congress, for example, are riddled with allusions to and references from the Bible. Biblical technical terms are well-known inside and outside. In a missional church, however, terms must be explained.

• The missional church avoids ‘tribal’ language, stylized prayer language, unnecessary evangelical pious ‘jargon’, and archaic language that seeks to set a ‘spritual tone.’

• The missional church avoids ‘we-them’ language, disdainful jokes that mock people of different politics and beliefs, and dismissive, disrespectful comments about those who differ with us.

• The missional church avoids sentimental, pompous, ‘inspirational’ talk . Instead we engage the culture with gentle, self-deprecating but joyful irony the gospel creates.

Humility + joy = gospel irony and realism.

• The missional church avoids ever talking as if non-believing people are not present. If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood is present (not just scattered Christians), eventually more and more of your neighborhood will find their way in or be invited.

• Unless all of the above is the outflow of a truly humble-bold gospel-changed heart, it is all just ‘marketing’ and ‘spin.’

2. Enter and re-tell the culture’s stories with the gospel

• In “Christendom” it is possible to simply exhort Christianized people to “do what they know they should.” There is little or no real engagement, listening, or persuasion. It is more a matter of exhortation (and often, heavy reliance on guilt.) In a missional church preaching and communication should always assume the presence of skeptical people, and should engage their stories, not simply talk about “old times.”

• To “enter” means to show sympathy toward and deep acquaintance with the literature, music, theater, etc. of the existing culture’s hopes, dreams, ‘heroic’ narratives, fears.

• The older culture’s story was–to be a good person, a good father/mother,

son/daughter, to live a decent, merciful, good life.

• Now the culture’s story is– a) to be free and self-created and authentic (theme of freedom from oppression), and b) to make the world safe for everyone else to be the same (theme of inclusion of the ‘other’; justice).

• To “re-tell” means to show how only in Christ we can have freedom without slavery and embracing of the ‘other’ without injustice.

3. Theologically train people for public life and vocation

• In ‘Christendom’ you can afford to train people just in prayer, Bible study, evangelism–

private world skills–because they are not facing radically non-Christian values in their

public life–where they work, in their neighborhood, etc.

• In a ‘missional’ church, the congregation needs theological education to ‘think Christianly’ about everything and work with Christian distinctiveness. They need to know: a) what cultural practices are common grace and to be embraced, b) what practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected, c) what practices can be adapted/revised. Receive, Reject, Redeem

• In a ‘missional’ situation, lay people renewing and transforming the culture through distinctively Christian vocations must be lifted up as real ‘kingdom work’ and ministry along with the traditional ministry of the Word.

• Finally, Christians will have to use the gospel to demonstrate true, Biblical love and ‘tolerance’ in “the public square” toward those with whom we deeply differ. This tolerance should equal or exceed that which opposing views show toward Christians. The charge of intolerance is perhaps the main ‘defeater’ of the gospel in the non-Christian west

4. Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive.

• In Christendom, ‘fellowship’ is basically just a set of nurturing relationships, support and accountability. That is necessary, of course.

• In a missional church, however, Christian community must go beyond that to embody a ‘counter-culture,’ showing the world how radically different a Christian society is with regard to sex, money, and power.

• In sex. We avoid both the secular society’s idolization of sex and traditional society’s fear of sex. We also exhibit love rather than hostility or fear toward those whose sexual life patterns are different.

• In money. We promote a radically generous commitment of time, money,

relationships, and living space to social justice and the needs of the poor, the

immigrant, the economically and physically weak.

• In power. We are committed to power-sharing and relationship-building between

races and classes that are alienated outside of the Body of Christ.

• In general, a church must be more deeply and practically committed to deeds of

compassion and social justice than traditional liberal churches and more deeply and practically committed to evangelism and conversion than traditional fundamentalist churches. This kind of church is profoundly ‘counter-intuitive’ to American observers. It breaks their ability to categorize (and dismiss) it as liberal or conservative. Only this kind of church has any chance in the non- Christian west.

5. Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level.

• In Christendom, when ‘everyone was a Christian’ it was necessary (perhaps) for a church to define itself over against other churches. That is, to get an identity you had to say, “we are not like that church over there, or those Christians over here.”

• While we have to align ourselves in denominations that share many of our distinctives, at the local level we should cooperate and reach out to and support the other congregations and churches in our local area. This will raise many thorny issues, of course, but our bias should be in the direction of cooperation.

issues. If these marks are not there it will only be able to include believers or traditional, “Christianized” people.

There will be a difference between Churches and Country Clubs. and the church that is missional will be set apart from a church that is only concerned with filling pews or chairs.