JohnSWilson3 Blog


“I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
March 28, 2010, 2:04 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

Paul constantly had these brothers and sisters in Christ at Philippi on his mind and prayed for them as the Lord brought them to remembrance. When Paul remembers them, just like you and I, he would remember stories and experiences they had together. Those stories, the sharing of each others lives together, are important in bonding us together into that “fellowship in the gospel” that Paul was reminded of, and with joy!

It has been perhaps a few years since he last saw these Christians, but I have a hunch that Paul traveled back and forth from one area to the next and all of those times may not have been included in the Acts. Given my hunch I think it safe to say that Paul would often go to Philippi either leaving from or returning to Macedonia as he did at the tail end of his third church planting mission. He enjoyed his time with this community of believers!

Paul perhaps remembers the time he and his companions first journeyed into Macedonia, today’s northern Greece, sailing from Troas, in today’s Turkey. He probably could remember the time where he and his companions talked to each other of Christ while they walked along the river, praying to the Lord, talking to the Lord, speaking of the Lord, singing songs to the Lord. How I wished that could be my experience one day with others! Paul then met up with others who were at the river. So they decided to sit down and “began to speak to the women who had gathered there.” It just so happened that they met “Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God.” She had a hunger for God, she was seeking God, and when Paul and his companions showed up, God showed up! Paul and his companions expressed Jesus through love for one another, how they spoke to one another, how they humbled themselves to one another, how they spoke of Christ to one another, and how they sang songs to Christ. And Paul spoke of the good news of Jesus! And “the Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” What stories Paul had with these Philippian Christians!

Paul writes how “it is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart.” Can we as followers of Jesus, who have His life in us feel the same towards our other brothers and sisters in Christ? If someone visited our meetings or gatherings together in familial places, times meant for non-religious face to face sharing of Jesus’ life together, what would their confidence of our expression of Jesus living through us, be like? Paul had them in his heart! Brothers and sisters this cannot happen without spending much time together! It takes much grace from God to spend that much time with our other brothers and sisters in Christ. When we get to know each other well, like a marriage, there will be disagreements, dislikes, and this will be quite irritating and frustrating if it were not for God’s grace! “For whether I am in chains defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Paul is part of this community of believers. Wherever Paul went, wherever there was a body of believers, he considered himself a part of that community. Wherever we go, wherever there are a group of followers of Jesus, we are part of that community of brothers and sisters of Christ. Christ is not divided!

Brothers and sisters we need to get to know one another! We need to be able to tell ourselves stories, or testimonies, of how we long for each other with the affection of Christ Jesus! This doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, much time, getting to know each other, our families, our likes and dislikes, and what we are finding out about the Lord Jesus. It is not just an affection for one another, because we know each other really well, while that is a part of it, it is “the affection of Christ Jesus.” There is a love that comes up from deep inside of us, from Jesus Himself, that wants to shower us with His affections, His grace and mercy, His wonderful love. It is a sacrificial love, a love based in humility! It is a love found in every believer that can come only from the Lord, and it is a love that is dependent upon our inner life with the Spirit of Jesus. How I need to get to know Jesus more in my inner man!

Paul now describes his prayer “with joy because of your fellowship in the gospel.” “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Myself I think that that sentence ought to end with an exclamation point! Praise God! Paul said almost the same prayer for the Christians in Thessalonica, and course his love for these Christians was right up their with those from Philippi: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” and “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.” Love is learned, love progresses, love abounds in the lives of followers of Jesus who focus on Him as Lord and nothing else and the results are strengthened spiritual lives, a strengthened life with Jesus and His body.

How do we get to know someone really well, whether spouse or child or friend? We get to know them, we spend time with them. I like Josh McDowell’s quote from his excellent book The Father Connection: Children spell love T.I.M.E. We really do not know how to love someone until we spend time with them. That’s Paul’s prayer: continue to spend more time with each other, get to know each other really well, in so doing you get to know the things they like, the things they are learning about the Lord and in so doing they get to know me, you in the same way. Fellowship is fellowship when it is a mutual sharing of our lives together. Fellowship is never one sided, it is always seeking the best for one another. This helps live out lives that are authentic and real, there is no mask on in our relationships, it is all out in the open. When this happens then pure and blameless or sincerity and living unoffending lives between each other become the norm.

But this “knowledge and depth of insight” must never be focused so much on our natural selves. It must be based on Christ in us! We are in fellowship because of being “in the gospel” – the Lord Jesus Christ! We are not just to spend time together and then later we’re done, our spending time together must continue “until the day of Christ”! Wow! How we in America are so shallow in our relationships that this doesn’t even compute in our minds. I’m not sure I can even fathom this myself. We are so “discombobulated” as I heard the term from Frank Viola at a conference one time! We fish for friendships, and when we have one, we’re fishing for another (like on facebook or some other electronic medium…LOL). We are not connected in face to face relationships, they are pseudo relationships, as Ralph Neighbour Jr. would say, that can never grow “in knowledge and depth of insight.” Lord help me to have a few brothers and sisters in Christ whom we can get to know each other and families really well so that truly our “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that (we) may be able to discern what is best and may be pure (sincere) and blameless (unoffending) until the day of Christ”!

Paul doesn’t stop there! He goes on and says “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God”! Brothers and sisters, Jesus is right! When we love each other as He loved us, then the world will know that we are His disciples! When we love each other as He loved us it will be like putting a candle on a hill at night, everyone will be able to see it! God desires to find a home among every tribe and peoples! God desires to see humanity born again, children of God, who love Him affectionately! When we so get to know one another “with the affection of Christ Jesus” God does something to and in us. We become “filled” with His fruit! Jesus Christ who lives in us want’s to be fully expressed through us. Some of us, me included have some of his light shining through us, but He wants to find a full expression of Himself through His body! The more we get to know one another, and truly love each deeply from the heart, He will fill us with His fruit that will blossom more in and through our lives. When this continues to happen then God is glorified because He is seeing more of His Son coming through us! Others will be born from the seed of that fruit! Jesus wants to be expressed in order to bring “glory and praise” to God! Amen!

Advertisements


“My hope in the resurrection.”
March 25, 2010, 3:40 am
Filed under: 1A - Spiritual Notes

Paul seemed to have this singular thought throughout his life culminating in his defense before Jewish Sanhedrin, the Jewish king, and the Roman governors claiming that “I stand on trial because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead” (Acts 23:6).

I returned a few days ago from a memorial service for my uncle who passed away last month. It was a surreal time being with my dad and relatives remembering times past and present. It seemed when I got back that time had stood still for a couple of days while I was away. Then when I returned life began again. Is it possible that during such times God gives us a sense of eternity, life without time?

While away on this trip this thought by Paul comes to mind. I have been studying the Acts and most of Paul’s letters since last fall, looking at them through the lens of organic church life, life together with other believers that has as its singular focus Jesus as Head, versus programs, systems, or other people. So my perspective of this “hope” that Paul claims has somewhat been colored more with the look at the big picture of God’s purpose, His eternal purpose as T. Austin Sparks, Frank Viola, and Milt Rodriguez would point out. I think it has been colored with some beautiful images and perhaps a rainbow even comes to mind. Isn’t that what God intended for the rainbow to mean? Hope!

When a person “passes away,” when the human body dies, there seems to be finality, an ending that does not return. The natural life ends and we can never perceive life in its natural form again. It seems life then is without hope; hopelessness brings much grieving of the heart. But Paul claimed that if a person, who has by faith confessed Jesus as Lord, if that person dies, his human form dies, that part of the person, the true self, our spirit, immediately goes to be with the Lord. We infer this from Paul when he says, “We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:7-8) and other similar passages. Paul had confidence and hope of being with the Lord Jesus if he died. But he also claimed, like the rest of Scripture, that in the future there will be a “resurrection of the dead” and “the body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42-44a). Why is there a resurrection for human beings?

God had a purpose for man from the very beginning, even before creation! His purpose, as eloquently described in Ephesians and Colossians, involved His Son, Jesus Christ. That purpose was spoiled and as a result the need for resurrection. Let’s see what the Bible says happened.

So at creation:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
“God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground…” (Genesis 1:26-28).

God’s purpose was to have a relationship with humankind, both man and woman. This was meant to be a wonderful mutually loving spiritual fellowship that focused on God as Head. God as Creator is worthy to be praised! But man decided to make himself head, he decided to take control, and make his own individual decisions instead of those of the Lord. How many times have we done the same? There were immediate consequences.

First was their personal relationship to God. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ ” (Genesis 3:8-9). Man became lost, or should we say they lost God. God knew where they were hiding, He wanted them to seek Him instead of running away from Him.

Second, God judges the woman and the man and these same curses run through the blood of every man and woman to this day.

“To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’
“To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Throughout the rest of the Bible we can see the devastating affects of sin on humanity. Man had lost his spiritual life, life meant for relationship with God. A dead spirit, brings only death. Not a pretty picture. Time and again God sought for a people to make Him a home, a place of rest, to enjoy again that wonderful mutually loving spiritual fellowship that was first begun in the garden at the beginning of creation. But God knew that He would have to settle the matter at a specific point in time, a time of His choosing to bring in a new creation out of the old chaotic creation that humankind spoiled.

God wants us to know Him! But this knowing Him can only come from a new birth, a new creation. Because our spiritual lives died in the beginning, unless God comes in and gives us spiritual life we cannot know Him, Him who is Spirit. From before creation God has always enjoyed mutual fellowship within Himself, the Godhead. This is the point Paul makes in Ephesians and Colossians and many other passages in the Bible. But God desired to express that mutual love to another, to humanity, like a husband and a bride, God desired a Bride (read “The Divine Romance” by Gene Edwards). But mutual love that is spiritual can only come from a life giving spirit, the Lord Himself. This is the reason why God Himself came to this earth, in His Son, to bring in a new creation, one that is spiritual, that can be His Bride! That Bride, in order to fully know God must be a spiritual Bride, a Bride whose human nature must die and to fully live in His presence must be resurrected.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
“John testifies concerning him, He cries out, saying, ‘This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ‘ From the fulness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.”

We can know God through Jesus Christ. Jesus makes God knowable! God wants us to know Him, but it requires a new birth, a spiritual birth, a new creation! This is what Jesus taught time and again. Do you want to know God then you must know Jesus Christ. By knowing Jesus Christ as Lord you know God Himself, because Jesus is very God. Jesus and the Father are one! He wants to have a mutually loving spiritual fellowship with you and I together!

Jesus came to show us the way to God but the gospels spell out the fact that Jesus died on a cross, in fact He had to die on the cross in order to end the curse, the problem of sin that we have always had since Adam. And when Jesus took man’s sin and man’s punishment for sin on that cross, He died. And not only did Jesus do away with sin and it’s curse, He did away with death by raising from the dead! That’s the good news! That’s why Paul can say he had “hope in the resurrection”!

Paul reminded the brothers and sisters, the church in Corinth, of this good news:

“Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-9).

Jesus rose again! Because Jesus rose again we have hope in the resurrection! Those who are without a living spirit, without Jesus Christ, know they are missing something, in fact the natural world around us reveals that it lacks something. Can we find solace that God has not left us to alone, that He can be known? We who are the Lord’s, who belong to and know Jesus as Lord inwardly groan for that day we can know Him face to face.

Paul describes it saying:

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:22-25).

Only those who know Jesus Christ have this hope. In fact our hope is none other than Jesus Christ Himself who said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Hope in the resurrection is believing the good news that Paul and others in the Bible have proclaimed! Jesus is our hope, our resurrection, our good news! Jesus in fact becomes our very life! How we need to know Jesus! As Paul tells the Roman Christians:

” ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ ”

Make Jesus Lord, give Him first place, make Him head. Only then can you receive His free gift, Himself! He is our hope and resurrection!

He desires to have a mutually loving spiritual fellowship with you and His Bride together. This hope is not meant to be just a future hope, it is a hope that can be a present reality with His Body, the church! Jesus inhabits His people, He dwells within every believer, and we can never truly know Him apart from knowing one another in a mutually loving spiritual fellowship. We gather together, to encourage one another, because of Jesus, because of hope!

Paul’s words he wrote to the body of Christ in Thessalonica speak of this hope both now and in the future:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

Let us enjoy the hope of the resurrection, the Lord Himself, now with His people! Paul wrote strongly and joyfully to the church in Philippi of getting to know Christ who lives in us more abundantly. He, perhaps even shouting, said these words:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:10-12).

In the end, all creation will make Jesus Lord whether you have done so now or not. The Bible is pretty clear about the consequences of those who decide not to make Jesus Lord, but it is even more clear about the present realities and future hope for those who are the Lord’s! Make Jesus Lord, make Him your hope!

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Be a part of God’s eternal purpose of bringing you to Himself, Jesus who is our hope and resurrection! Enjoy Him who can be known!



“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
March 15, 2010, 4:08 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

I have been reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians now for some time, thinking about what God is trying to speak to me from this letter. I have to say there have been tons! This letter really is quite unique!

From the beginning Paul has a wonderful outlook on a life that is totally committed to the Lordship of Christ. This Lordship of Christ has brought him to prison, and even in prison Paul sees only good coming from it. Perhaps there is a sense that God is preparing Paul, here in Ephesus, for the dark days of when Paul will be in a Roman prison in Caesarea for over two years and then in the prison of Rome itself for a couple more years. God can do much spiritual good in our lives, when to the natural mind those days should be the most hopeless. But that is the thing about the spiritual life, it is contrary to this world’s thinking. Paul’s attitude was joy in the midst of suffering. I can only reflect on how my attitude can get when I am annoyed, aggravated or frustrated about something or someone. It pales in comparison to thinking of being in a dark, inhospitable prison. How would I take being in prison and suffering for Christ? I guess one’s spiritual life in Christ really doesn’t shine until we face such opposition. Will I choke in my natural self or will I let Christ live His life through me to His glory?

Thankfully Paul had Timothy whom Paul considered “as a son” who had served with Paul “in the work of the gospel.” Timothy was a unique gift of Christ to Paul, Paul had “no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest” in the welfare of others, especially of those Christians in Philippi. Much of Timothy’s initial equipping of being a church planter was with the church in Philippi. Timothy, from living the shared life with those in Asia Minor, and with Paul and his companions, helped this church to live by Christ’s life, through the Spirit. This only happens when there is a deep love for one another.

Paul at this time was possibly having Timothy write this letter for him to this church. Interestingly, Paul describes both himself and Timothy as “servants of Christ Jesus.” Timothy is an equal in the eyes of Paul. Paul is not the head of his companions or of any church, but a servant, in fact the word means ‘slave” in the “Greek Interlinear” (1). We are all “Christ’s slave” because we were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, perhaps the year or two before he wrote this letter. If we really know Christ, really know Him, truly know what He did for us by coming to this earth and dieing on that cross, maybe we might think differently about ourselves, that we are His and not our own. Lord help me to remember this!

But not only are Paul and Timothy slaves of Christ and equals towards one another they are also equals with His body. The same Holy Spirit that indwells them indwells us! We are “all saints,” we are all set apart from sin and have now a relationship “in Christ Jesus.” When God sees us He only sees the beautiful sinless wonderful life of Jesus flowing from within us! We are holy! I am reminded of Gene Edwards book titled “The Divine Romance”! But Paul also includes the statement “with the overseers and deacons” (or servants). Overseer refers to “looking after” according to Vine’s (2). I have a difficult time trying to make these words into an office of sorts in a church. There is no such word in the Bible related to the word office. Paul always described the body of Christ as having members with functions. And the Spirit can use anyone who is growing in His life to function however He desires. There are many conscientious persons in the body of Christ who look after one another, who passionately relate to one another in deep and loving ways. Perhaps a model of life God is using in His body to help the rest of the church see His life expressed, so that the body can see how His life is expressed to the benefit of the body. The same for the use of the word deacons or “servants,” we are all slaves of Christ and are called to be enslaved to one another in love, the actual rendering for “serve one another in love” that Paul told the Galatian Christians. Perhaps Paul has in mind those who serve in specific ways to the building up of the body, perhaps those with serving gifts of the Spirit. Also perhaps the overseers are those who look after and care for the church who speak in specific ways to the building up of the body, perhaps those with speaking gifts of the Spirit? But they are not the heads of the church, there is only one Head, Christ! I like Milt Rodriguez’s, in his book, The Community Life of God, his description of spiritual leadership, in that it is fluid in the body of Christ, Christ letting anyone at anytime the function to care for the body and serve the body in specific ways.

Additionally, perhaps Paul is upfront in his letter, more so than in his others (since this is the first time where he actually brings out specific functions in His letters to the body of Christ), using the functional words overseers and deacons to highlight certain individuals in this body of Christ “to remind the community of their place in Christ,”(3) e.g. he places them after “all the saints.” Maybe Paul is thinking about what happened in Corinth when divisions began to occur because certain members started taking charge, instead of letting Christ be the Head. Everyone in the body of Christ are equals, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” as Paul told the Galatians and then repeated to the Corinthians. Is it possible that as we grow in Christ that we may be tempted to act superior to our other brothers and sisters in Christ? May it never be so. Pride comes before the fall, may we remember this.

Paul opens his letter with the typical statement of “grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The community life of the body of Christ is a life of grace and peace which is not of ourselves but from God! Because we all received the Spirit upon our faith in Christ, making Him our Lord, we receive all of God in our lives, we receive the Triune God. With God, we have Father, Son, and Spirit who live in constant communion of grace and peace with one another as our model for living in constant communion of grace and peace with one another in the body of Christ! Grace and peace to you my brothers and sisters is a reminder of our kind of life in Christ!

Paul is overwhelmed by his love for these followers of Jesus. He is reminded of them by God, in his own life with Christ, and thanks God for Him bringing them to his mind. “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Do I always pray with joy for other believers? Wow!

This partnership in the gospel refers to their “fellowship in the gospel.” The good news of Jesus Christ is first and foremost about fellowship with God Himself! Somehow partnership doesn’t seem to convey the connectedness with Christ as fellowship does. And that fellowship with God is through His Spirit to His body who are indwelt by His Spirit. It is the constant flow of fellowship this “matter of giving and receiving” of a life shared together. Instead of trying to get people converted by a rote prayer into a nominal salvation, which is probably not a real salvation, could we show them His life of devoted fellowship that involves sharing life together so that the desire for Christ is rooted in fellowship and love not out of duty? Because Paul saw that their relationship with Christ was rooted out of a desire and love for Jesus, Paul can give this church confirmation of their relationship with the living Lord! “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”! If you have Christ, if you have His wonderful life in you because you desired Him, you loved Him, and you made Jesus your Lord then you can be confident that your relationship with Him will be guided by Him, and He will bring you to a closer and deeper relationship with Himself even to the end of the age! Perhaps this is the practical meaning of the great commission described by Matthew in his gospel. That going and making disciples through baptizing and teaching, is really about this fellowship of Christ growing through His body towards one another and as a result Jesus Himself is confident when He says “I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” Because Jesus, God Himself, is confident about this matter, we to can be confident! Amen!

(1) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 577.
(2) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
(3) Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, The New International Commentary of the New Testament, 1995, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 69.