Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 5)

July 12, 2020   /   Jesus Church

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Citizens: A Study on Philippians

(Part 5)

Good Morning – Welcome back to Jesus Church!

Week 5 on our study on the letter to Philippi

  • 2 weeks ago we talked about Grace & Peace
    • Every letter Paul writes starts with the these words
    • And I believe we can change our world if we will do the same
    • If every dialogue we engaged in began w/ Grace & Peace
  • Last week we talked about Prayer & Joy (verses 3-6)
    • Paul says “every time I think of you, I pray with joy”
    • HOW – Because he knows God is not done yet
    • The greatest reason for joy is because I trust in God’s plan
      • Says – “He will be faithful to complete his work in you”
  • The rest of his opening prayer follows in verses 7-11
    • Prays of continued partnership
    • Prays that God would complete what he started
    • Prays their love would grow – knowledge/insight/righteousness

This week we focus on what comes next

Phil 1:12-18


Story: Anyone remember curfews

  • There wasn’t a single I got home – Dad wasn’t up waiting for me
    • He couldn’t sleep until he knew I was safe
    • Worrying I was in a ditch somewhere… IN THE SAME WAY

Philippi is constantly worried about Paul 

  • Paul has been thrown in jail for preaching Jesus is the true King
    • That Jesus is to be worshiped and not Caesar
    • And he’s preaching that from the street corners
  • So the Philippians are naturally worried about Paul
    • Is he ok
    • Does he have enough food
    • Is he even alive
  • They send Apaphrodydis 800+ miles 2 bring Paul money & supplies
    • And Paul in return has a letter to send back to the church
    • Says: Thank you for the money… you saved my life

He says: What is happening to me is advancing the Gospel

  • So that begs the question – What is happening to Paul
    • For that answer we have to go to 1 Cor. 4 (Paul autobiography)
    • There is a LIST OF THINGS that happened to Paul

1 Cor 4:9-13

The list…

On display/Condemned to die/Spectacle/Fools for Christ

Weak/Dishonored/Hungry & Thirsty/In rags/Brutally treated


Scum of the earth/Garbage to the world


2 Cor 6:4-10

The list…


Riots/Hard work/Sleepless nights/Hunger/Dishonor/Bad reports

Regarded as impostors/Regarded as unknown/Dying/Beaten

Sorrowful/Poor/Having nothing

  • Xian book called “UR best life now”… Pauls be “UR worst life now”
    • And with that as the context of: What has happened to me
    • Lets go back to Philippians…

After all of that: Paul ends up where? PRISON

  • And this is an apostle… his job is to reach the ends of the earth
    • With the Gospel – The great commission
    • And the guy is locked up/stuck in a jail cell
    • It’s the athlete with a broken arm on the end of the bench
  • I’m sure this would be tearing Paul up from the inside
    • But you would think Paul would have given up by the prison gig
    • After all the other stuff that happened…
    • He’d lose hope – I’m stuck in prison… it’s over
  • But actually Paul says that his situation is advancing the Gospel
    • ADVANCE > Pro-Ko-Pay
      • Word picture of a roman army out on a march
      • The engineer is out in front of the army
      • They would pave the way… cut back trees… makes a road
      • In order to advance the army
  • Paul is saying all of this served to pave the way for the Gospel

Paul lays out 2 examples of what he’s talking about

First: Is the Palace Guard

Phil 1:13

That word in Greek – Pertorium

  • The pertorium was a group of roman soldiers (9000 men)
    • They were Caesars elite bodyguards
    • Controlled much of went on in Rome – High power/influence
  • Paul says – Even the elite warriors of Rome know why I’m here
    • And every 4 hours a new guard would show up
    • So Paul has the ear of the most powerful warriors of Rome
    • And as convos would go… each had to hear the Gospel
  • And they would know of the Jewish execution of Jesus
    • And now they’re hearing that this movement is spreading
    • Caesar can’t stop it… b/c not even death scares them
    • They believe in their King more than we believe in Caesar

Point is –If the Empires agenda was to shut Paul up (did it work)?

  • No… In fact the exact opposite happened…
    • Paul is brought to the heart of Rome
    • And there he is spreading Jesus more effectively than ever

Second: Inspiration among other Christians

Phil 1:14

Brothers & Sisters most likely means believers in Rome

  • And this is all happening around 61 AD
    • Which is a dangerous time in Rome – Nero starts to go crazy
    • A few years later Nero (believed to) set fire to Rome
    • And in the aftermath he blamed the church
  • That released an empire wide persecution of followers of Jesus
    • This is where Christians were burned nightly as street lamps
    • They were forced in large groups to fight professional gladiators
    • Or they were thrown in with lions and tigers to be killed
  • Point being… It’s scary to be a Christian 
    • You could be pulled out of ur house at any moment and killed
    • But what happens is as they see Paul being beaten/imprisoned
    • It inspires/emboldens them to preach the gospel anyways

Think of the inspiration when people make sacrifices for greatness

  • Olympic athletes – respect those who push their body to do that
    • Get up at 4am to start training all day/every day
    • Give up sleep/sugar/In N Out/TV/Normal Life
  • Basketball star – Steph Curry that shoots 2000+ shots per week
    • Graduated highschool at 140
    • Passed over by teams in the draft
    • Rejected by Nike… now probably greatest shooter of all time
  • All in the pursuit of greatness… you read about it and get inspired
    • I can give up junk food… get up an hour earlier
    • I can go shoot the basketball and get good at it
    • I can train and do something great… I’m inspired

And I think that’s what is happening in Rome as well

  • They see Paul is willing to go to prison and die for the Gospel
    • Gosh… why can’t I?
    • I know I’m not alone in this… and if Paul can stand up…
    • I can stand up
  • Point – Empires agenda was 2 make Paul an example
    • This is what happens if you reject Caesar and Rome and God
    • But it totally backfired… b/c if the worst you can do is death
    • We know that death is already defeated
  • Paul says: ALL THAT HAPPENED TO ME – helped advance to Gospel
    • But its not all roses… things are tough as well

Phil 1:15-17

Good news & Bad news

Good news – People are out on streets of Rome preaching the Gospel

Bad news – There are some preaching Gospel for all the wrong reasons

  • Some think: Now is my chance to take over – start my own thing
    • Paul’s in prison… lets take advantage of that
    • And it’s like salt on the wound… that could destroy someone
    • But no… not Paul (eternal optimist) – Keep Going…

Phil 1:18

  • I’m thinking… Paul how can you even be real
    • Paul only cares about if the KING is preached… that’s it
    • And that is happening all over Rome – So whatever happens
      • Paul says he is good…
  • Isn’t that relevant today – “B/C the Gospel is preached… I rejoice”

There is that word again – Paul uses “JOY” (Rejoice/joy) same Gk word

  • Used 16 times in Philippians – More than any other letter
    • Paul is beaten… locked up… almost died… about to stand trial
    • And Paul says: Because of THIS I will rejoice
  • You cannot keep this guy down
    • Imagine you were about to go on trial for your life
    • Paul has laser sights on the purpose for his life 
      • You cannot get this guy down… “He rejoices”

16 times Paul uses JOY – Every time we get to see into Paul’s life

  • Question: How do we learn to live with that kind of Joy in our lives
    • A joy that isn’t connected to circumstance
    • We get to learn how to live with JOY

Only one thought on JOY the morning:

The Redemptive Narrative – Example of how Jesus takes evil…

  • Fill in the blank: Paul – Prison… not our story but…
    • We all bump up against evil – divorce/cancer/abuse
  • The God we worship can take evil and cut into it with redemption
    • And dig out the good… that is JUST WHAT GOD DOES
  • And I am NOT saying that evil is somehow God’s will and plan
    • What happened 2 Paul was evil… demonic attack on the Gospel
    • People preaching Gospel for selfish gain – Manipulative abuse
    • But in a strange way… God was at work in and thru that

And when Xians bump up against evil… we land on one of two sides

  • Some people get angry at God (Shake fit… doubt… loathe)
    • Turn from God to vow never to return
    • They hate God for what happened to them
  • Others just say God did it for a reason (Part of God’s plan)
    • There is a reason for all of my suffering
    • And I’m sure there are bits and pieces to that – True
  • The problem with BOTH SIDES – They blame God for the evil
    • And I believe “providence” is far more complexed than that
    • And yes I believe there are times responsibility falls on God
    • But that isn’t my end all reason that an Earthquake kills millions

Scenario: Say u get married/Buy a house/Start family

Right then – You get laid off… why did that happen?

  • Maybe that was God – His plan all along – purpose & reason
    • You are gonna find a better job… more opportunity
    • God has better things in store for you
  • Maybe it was Satan – At war with God to attack & sabotage ur life
    • And appropriate response isn’t just to sit back and trust
    • But more to fight with God against evil
  • Or maybe it wasn’t that at all: Just sin… they were a lazy employee
    • Maybe he was late for work/cutting corners/insubordinate
  • Maybe it wasn’t this guys sin… but someone else’s sin
    • Where a coworker lied to get ahead in their job
    • And this guy was collateral damage
  • Or what if it’s just life in a fallen & broken world
    • And it seems like everyone is getting laid off
    • It’s just a brutal time to have his specific job
      • Or what if it is a combination of 2 or 3 of the above
      • We have no clue and can’t have a clue

My default isn’t to just say “God did this for a reason”

  • Because we don’t know WHY that happened (plan/sin/nature)
    • But either way – The tomb is empty!!!
  • Gospel Hope isn’t that everything that happens to u is God’s will
    • It’s that: NO MATTER WHAT happens to you
    • God is with you – He is right at your side
  • When u bump up against evil
    • God will never be far from you
    • When you are the victim of sin in or of this world
    • God who suffered for you – will also suffer with you
      • And no matter what is in your path
      • You follow a God that can bring GOOD out of EVIL

Because God can turn ANYTHING into his purposes for redemption

Rom 8:28

  • Meaning that for those who love God… get the 2nd half of the verse
    • For those called according to HIS purpose
    • Who wake up everyday to offer their lives 2 Jesus (everything)
    • Saying you can have it all – all the time – every part
  • It’s in that moment God steps in… work all things together for good
    • The past… the ugly… the painful… the broken (not God’s will)
    • God can turn all of that (your fault) into GOOD!!!
  • That doesn’t make it not evil – Abuse will always be evil
    • But God’s can take that evil… not his will… not his heart
      • God’s will has been 4 u to live in Eden since the beginning
    • That’s God’s plan – But Jesus can take the aftermath of sin
      • Reach in and rescue you from all of that
      • And work together for good in and thru your life
      • That is Gospel hope… not pretending evil is GOOD
      • That is Buddhism – Not Gospel
    • It’s trying to imagine how God will pick up the evil in ur life
      • And somehow He works for the GOOD

TAG: Majority of us already know that… but here is the twist

I don’t think I define GOOD in same way as God

I define All things work together for GOOD as “For my happiness”

  • I don’t think I’m alone in that but…
    • I think Paul defines GOOD as – To advance the gospel
    • And there IS a difference
  • B/C when I say God is at work for Good toward the pain in my life
    • I think it means… for my happiness
    • Now happiness can come along with GOOD – It’s not the prereq
  • Keep in mind – This is all Paul’s answer to question: How are you?
    • Because that question could be split into 2 different questions
      • Paul – How are you?
      • Paul – How is the Gospel?
    • But Paul answers both of them the exact same way
      • B/C Pauls life was completely bound up in the Gospel
      • So to speak to one question is to speak to both of them

Paul was all about the Gospel – B/C Paul was all about Jesus

  • Paul never says prison is good for his health and well being
    • Prison’s purpose is to serve and advance the Gospel
    • And our role in fighting EVIL is not PASSIVE – It’s ACTIVE
  • You have a part to play “Called according to his purpose”
    • Not just to watch the redemption of the world
    • But to actively participate in the redemption of the world

God can dig into your story – Dig out the evil – Use it for GOOD

  • And when we get 2 the place happiness & advancement of Gospel
    • Are one in the same thing
    • At that point you will have set yourself up for 24/7 joy
    • B/C joy isn’t connect to this earth (married/money/health)


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