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Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 6)
July 19, 2020

Citizens: A Study on Philippians (Part 6)

July 19, 2020

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Citizens: A study on Philippians


Philippians is a letter written by an INMATE in a Roman Jail

  • To a Roman Colony named Philippi
    • Written around 61AD – Paul’s life is on the
    • We believe Paul was in prison for up to 4 years
  • And any day Paul could be dragged before Caesar who could
    • Pardon him and set him free
    • Call him a traitor and kill him on the spot… Paul has NO IDEA
  • Imagine living in that kind of tension… every day waking up to that
    • Maybe YOU DO feel like that in your life right now
    • IF NOT – I can assure u that people u care for do
    • Anxiety of the future… don’t know what tomorrow will bring

Knew a pastor who adopted a little girl from Uganda

  • 3 year process… got to know her… met with her multiple times
    • Finally can time for them to bring her home
      • They had to fly over there and wait for a judges ruling
      • That judge could easily have and bad day and say “nope”
      • They would have never seen that child again
      • Even though they already saw her as part of the family
  • They were over there 3 weeks waiting for the ruling
    • They said it was the longest 3 weeks of their lives

You would think that Paul dealing with this for 4 years – Be a wreck

  • But what we find is that Paul is filled with JOY
    • Last week we left off in verse 18

Phil 1:18

  • Can be translated – Here is another reason that I keep rejoicing…

Phil 1:19

Notice all the connections Paul makes here

  • He believes that all of this is tied together…
    • The prayers of the church
    • The supply of the Spirit
    • The events of life (what has happened to me)
      • All that is tied to Paul’s deliverance
  • Paul says “It is through your prayers”
    • Paul believes that prayer reshapes the world
    • That when God’s people stop and pray… God responds
    • “Through your prayers” can be translated… “As a result of ur prayers”
  • When God’s people pray… God hears us
    • And as a result He gives us a fresh supply of the Spirit
    • And there are days I need a fresh supply of Spirit. (Amen)
    • Fresh perspective… fresh inspiration… fresh reminders

Paul says: When you pray for the (Pauls) or the (Leaders)

  • God responds and when that happens… in turn Paul says
    • Think back to last weeks list of what has happened to Paul
      • Beat, Homeless, Accused, Mocked, Shamed, Dishonored

“…what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

  • So what does Paul mean by “
    • Some think: Get me out of jail
      • Doesn’t really go with Paul’s persona
      • Paul isn’t concerned about death
      • Just 2 sentences later he says “to die is gain”
    • Some think: Not DELIVERANCE but SALVATION from judgment
      • But when Paul talks about salvation…
      • His understanding is never just about the afterlife
      • Salvation to Paul is something to pertains to hear & now
  • So if it’s not option “A” or “B”… well there is an option “C”
    • Turn to OT – Going to the Book of Job – Ancient Hebrew Poem
    • One of the oldest writings in the Bible… Job 13
    • The line “Turn out for my deliverance” is actually a quote

Job 13:13-19

Back to Philippians – Paul is saying this will be my deliverance

  • Now in context… Job says my life is awful & I don’t know the future
    • But I do know that this will turn out for my deliverance
    • And what he means: He will be vindicated
    • That in the end everyone will see that “I was in the right”
  • Paul picks up on that and views prison in Rome thru that lens

1 Phil 1:20

  • So again… what does Paul mean by deliverance
    • It means: I eagerly expect to stand before Caesar
    • And I will not be ashamed… recant… have no words to speak
    • No… I will have courage (boldness) proclaim Jesus to all
      • How can Paul say those words… keep reading

Phil 1:21

That line would stick out with so much relevance

Gerald Hawthorn

Life is filled up with, occupied with Christ, in the sense that everything Paul does – trusts, loves, hopes, obeys, preaches, follows, and so on – is inspirited by Christ and is done for Christ. Christ, and Christ alone gives inspiration, direction, meaning and purpose to existence.

  • To live is for the King… as is everything that I determine to do
    • My decisions/responses/reasons/motivations
    • All of that is motivated by Jesus

And for 1000’s of years persecuted Xians have found inspiration in this

  • The story of Ignatius… leader of church in Antioch
    • Arrested for the Gospel – On the way to Rome to die


Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of my bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me, be it so, if only I may gain Christ Jesus.

  • As we remember Paul & others willing to die for gospel of Jesus
    • And there are so many stories of martyr’s right b4 they died
    • Said some variation of “To live is Christ and to die is gain”
  • And today as we speak there are more people who die for Jesus
    • Than in any other time in our history
    • And if u can truly say that as Paul said – Life is all about Jesus
      • It changes not only how u view life
      • But also how you view death

In v22 we get a window into Paul’s thoughts on

Phil 1:22-24

  • Saying: I’ll get out… travel… start churches… write more letters
    • And a ton of good will come out of my freedom

Paul says – I can’t decide… on one hand I DESIRE (long) to go to heaven 

  • And the desire to DEPART was used in 2 ways
    • 1: It means to break camp – Roman military on a march
      • Fold up your tent, pack up and move on
      • Paul is saying he is ready to move on
    • 2: It was a euphemism 4 death – pic of pulling up an anchor
      • To set sail… Gk mythology it was a boat to the underworld
      • Taken across the river Styx to hades
      • Paul uses that imagery to talk about going to heaven
  • To do what… to be with Christ – and what does Paul mean by that?
    • He means to die… Paul desires to die and be w/ Christ
    • And says its WAY BETTER… if I’m being selfish
  • But… on the other hand – It’s necessary that I stay a bit longer
    • I’m way more help to the Gospel if I don’t go home yet

And the reason he has this perspective on death or life

  • He believes as a followers of Jesus –
    • At death you step into God’s presence
  • And this is a very important scripture – might not seem that way
    • But scriptures say almost nothing about life after death
      • What it does talk about are 3 steps… not just life/heaven
      • It’s Life > Presence of God > Resurrection
  • Resurrection: When ur SOUL is put back into ur body made new
    • And you live in a world made new with Jesus as King of Creation
    • And there is tons of scripture on that (resurrection)

But very little about what happens b/w death and resurrection

  • Right here / 2 Cor. 5 / Rev 8 / Thief on the cross
    • And what is said… It’s ambiguous
      • So this idea of clouds, harps & mansions… (mistranslation)
      • The idea “Hey I’m gonna get a Mazaratti in heaven”
      • Really… you think that’s what heaven is about huh?!?!
    • That isn’t Bible… its pop theology/Greek mythology/90’s TV
      • My point is – Look at how Paul talks about life & death
      • Nothing about mansions or clouds or cars
      • Paul says 1 line (same as 2 Cor 5) – TO BE WITH THE LORD
  • That in the time b/w death and resurrection
    • All we really know is that you are with the LORD
    • Think of your loved ones… right now they are in God’s presence
    • Are they in mansion – no clue – But they are definitely w/ Jesus
  • And b/c Paul believes that… if he dies now (ok)… if it’s 30 years (ok)
    • But he has no fear b/c death is even better – so its not a threat
      • Fear of pain… suffering… dying… ya maybe
      • But there is no fear of death
      • B/C for us who follow Jesus… death is not the end

Phil 1:25 

  • For who’s progress? For YOUR progress… nothing to do with me
    • I need to stay to help you move forward…for ur progress & joy
    • Paul already has all the joy he needs (Obviously)
  • And Paul wants his joy to transfer into their lives as well
    • Spirit inspired – deep in your bones joy
    • And Paul knows that means a ton of work… so he can’t leave
    • He’s saying: I need to go out to coffee with about 200 of you

Phil 1:26

  • Meaning I want you to be able to brag about Jesus
    • Tell all ur friends about how Paul was locked in prison
    • And we prayed… and now he is free with us again
    • Paul wants them to be able to brag about what Jesus does

This is Paul – Tired… ready to call it a wrap… ready to pass the torch

  • But he knows DEEP DOWN… God is not done with me yet
    • And maybe u can relate – just ready to let someone else do it
    • You want to cash in your chips… get away… check out… escape

2 Thoughts from the text

First I want to go back to the phrase “Fruitful Labor”

There is so much tension in that phrase because…

  • Paul says to live for the king every single day – that’s hard work…
    • It isn’t easy and isn’t supposed to be easy
    • The best things in life are hard
    • Godliness is not natural…
      • You don’t just wake up 1 day – POOF ur Billy Graham
      • You don’t just wake up 1 day – POOF ur Mother Theresa
  • I wish… but u can’t just go to church and on sermon 347
    • You attain enlightenment
    • And Paul calls that: Fruitful labor

Think about what happens to your body if you don’t take care of it

  • You become unhealthy
    • Gain weight/loose muscle/high blood pressure/health issues
    • Why – Because a healthy body doesn’t just happen
      • It takes time… effort… discipline
  • And that exact same thing is true for life as a whole
    • If you don’t throw your back into ur walk with Jesus
    • Or put effort into ur marriage
    • Or invest/work for ur children as a parent
      • It doesn’t just POOF: You’re a saint… it takes lots of effort

BUT (here’s the encouragement) what comes from all ur labor? FRUIT!!!

  • Meaning that over time there is pay off… fruit… good
    • In your marriage – family – children
      • Over time there are thriving relationships
      • Over time there is a city that accurately sees Jesus
      • Over time there is a life free of addiction… fill in the blank
  • But anyone like me – Patience not ur primary virtue???
    • Come on quick… give me an answer right now lol
      • We live in the day of microwaves/credit cards/drive thru
    • Problem is that fruit doesn’t come from microwave (no frozen)
      • Fruit comes off a tree… not a button & wait 30 seconds
        • No you have to dig / plant / water / prune…
        • And then you wait
        • And the in the END… fruit
  • Some of you are right there… on your hands and knees
    • You can’t see the fruit – Thinking how long is it gonna take
      • Listen… you want to give up/move on/throw in the towel
      • Keep asking… praying… working… believing
    • But how do I keep going (Bible says) thru fresh supply of Spirit
      • If that is you – I totally understand that
      • And we will take a few minutes at the end to ask for that

Secondly we labor… but its for “YOUR”

And that’s a problem b/c if you’re like me – I have no problem working

  • But when I work… I like to work for my progress (or at least shared)
    • But Paul says “I need to stay/work/labor” for your progress
      • Why – Because I don’t live for myself
      • To live for the king means that you live for others
  • Who has God put in ur life – That u have opportunity 2 bring joy to
    • If you’re married: Your Spouse
    • If you’re a parent: Your Children
    • If you’re a teen: Your Parents
      • Who has God put in your life (right now) who do u see?
  • I have voicemails from people that called just to encourage me
    • And I have them saved – They bring me joy
    • Especially when things get super hard
      • What does it look like to do that in your life
      • For Paul it was a letter… or a VM… or a video… or text

You have the opportunity to work for his progress… for her joy

  • What would that look like for you married couples
    • I would argue 95% of marital problems would disappear
    • If both sides said: I will remain to focus on ur progress/joy
    • Doesn’t matter if I’m happy (hopefully u are)
      • But I will be here for ur joy
  • What would it look like… to stay 4 ur kids… neighbor… boss… poor

Only way any of this makes sense: If u live 4 the King

Phil 1:20-21

  • Can u say that… can I… my guess is sometimes the answer is “no”
    • We’re working on it – and that’s our desire
    • Because that’s where true life is found
  • When you live… not for success or career or relationships or money
    • But you live for the King…
    • And you are satisfied in Him alone


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