JohnSWilson3 Blog


“”For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.”
April 24, 2010, 2:38 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

In the latter part of Paul’s letter to the Christians in the organic church plant in Philippi he has described Christ as being expressed more and more through those who have heard the good news as well as through those who have imprisoned him. This leads Paul to describe the importance of him being released “through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ” “for your progress and joy in the faith.” Isn’t the life of Christ meant to be a joy? Why such down faces brothers and sisters? Is our life about us or about Jesus? Paul, in the midst of being in a prison can say “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” because it’s all about the advancement of Christ, it’s not about our flesh, it’s not about us!

So Paul continues and exhorts the Christians with “whatever happens,” let me repeat those two words, “whatever happens.” I think this means anything…right? “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It is Paul’s hope that as the Holy Spirit gives interpretation of the words that he has just shared that the Philippian Christians could see that his “whatever happens,” being in prison, should be something that enables a more worthy walk in Christ. How do we respond in difficult circumstances? I think that would indicate how much we have of Christ, or better said how much Christ has of us. Christ is attempting to express Himself through us, that can’t happen until we die to ourselves and let Christ reign through us. As Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I don’t think just applies to dieing physically and being with Christ in heaven, but to “deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow” Jesus as we live our daily lives.

When we die to ourselves, when we decide to respond by the Spirit instead of in the flesh when difficult or stressful circumstances come upon us, and they will come, then Jesus will show forth His “fruit of righteousness…to the glory and praise of God”! “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Isn’t this that wonderful confident expectation that Paul had for them, that “he, Jesus, who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”? But this statement by Paul also seems to indicate that their Christ like conduct will be because they are standing “firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” First thing that comes to mind is Jesus prayer for the disciples in the gospel according to John:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

Can it be that living the Christian life is really about living in the body of Christ? I cannot be a lone ranger Christian, it is at odds with our Triune God who lives in perfect mutual loving fellowship together and who desires that same kind of fellowship through the body of Christ, His family. We cannot bring “glory and praise” to God except through growing love towards one another in the body. As Paul said, “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 sincere and unoffending until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” When we live a shared life together as a body with Jesus that means meeting “every day,” “breaking bread in their homes” and eating “together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God” because of our devotion towards Jesus Christ and His body as mentioned in the Acts. We are not there yet. May to God this could be the experience in our lives. Perhaps the reason for Paul to describe unity in the body as “contending as one man for (in) the faith of the gospel.” This kind of life requires us to make huge commitments, commitments of devotion towards one another that requires faith. Faith because it is not about flesh but about the Spirit, faith because it means dieing to ourselves and our wants, faith because that’s what the good news of Jesus is all about! Trusting in Jesus Christ alone not just for salvation but in denying ourselves, and our human way of life of security, and taking up our cross, that which does not come naturally, dieing to self, in order to let Jesus live through us to one another. Isn’t that following Jesus, isn’t that being a disciple? Isn’t that what “discipleship” is suppose to be about, instead of sitting in a classroom and going over a workbook? How many workbooks have I completed for Jesus, and how much of it was really impacting on my life? But let us have a few brothers and sisters in various maturity with Christ wrestle together face to face with the Scriptures, die to ourselves and give preference for one another in our daily lives, and love the Lord as King together…that’s an entirely different dynamic, an energy that is by the Spirit! That will bring unity!

This is a sign to the world! The body of Christ is a sign to all that is of the flesh! When Christ so lives in us as a body and Jesus life is living through us, “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you,” as Paul could attest to numerous times, “this is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved- and that by God.” Man! The spiritual conflict I read in these few words are truly incredible! It is destruction or salvation that is at stake! Is it no wonder Paul shared with them his 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 sincere and unoffending until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God”! This is a struggle! We must live together in the life of Jesus! As a 6th grade science teacher I see a struggle going on every day in every classroom period. A struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. Teachers and students who are Christians know what I mean, especially in public schools. Of course, there are huge numbers of families who have self destructed from stories I have heard and read about. Those who are Christians and been in self destructing families know what this looks like. Of course these aren’t the only places where the flesh is in struggle with the Spirit. We really need the Body of Christ, we really need this shared life if Christ is going show forth His fruit through us!

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Organic churches need to see models of true organic Christian life. They need to see organic church planters who have helped form that body of Christ live by His life in ways that encourage the brothers and sisters “to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly…out of goodwill…(and) in love.” May the body of Christ who live in organic body life together encourage each other, love each other deeply from the heart, and as a result of their lives in Christ testify to the overcoming of the struggles of life, “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” out of goodwill and love, not with envy, rivalry, selfish ambition, insincerity, stirring up trouble.

Life in Christ, even when suffering occurs, is about expressing “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” That should bring joy, even in the midst of personal suffering, although it is not pleasant at the time. Is it any wonder that Paul now describes this kind of life in the first half of Chapter 2 of this letter?

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Building Community in Organic Church Life
April 18, 2010, 10:02 pm
Filed under: 1- Discovering Organic Church Life Testimony

Christ’s body came together and gathered in our home today! The body began to assemble herself, the living stones, and enjoyed being able to see one another again! Some new couples attended, and were excited to see a different face of the church that was making an attempt to let Jesus life shine through one another in humble and familial ways. We all enjoyed spending time catching up with things going on in each others lives, and enjoying the food and drinks (and coffee). Everyone enjoyed being able to bring something for everyone to share, not just food for the body but spiritual food, Jesus’ life.

Later the body began to share about some Scriptural matters related to women in the body of Christ related to Jon Zens book “What’s With Paul and Women” describing the interpretation of some of the difficult passages that point to women keeping silent in the church meetings. Many saw the passage in a new light as not seen before, a truth revealed. A vigorous discussion was made by all with a review of the Scriptures. Time in prayer was called for by the body and confessions and apologies were shared as appropriate. Humbleness to Christ as Head was the atmosphere of the hour.

A lengthy time of singing praises to God were enjoyed by all as each shared a psalm, hymn, or spiritual song either using our song book or as the Lord led. The new couples got right in and participated! It was a joyful time of blessing the Lord! Submitting to Christ our Shepherd was very apparent.

We each took turns reading Chapter 17 (Building Community) from Frank Viola’s book “Finding Organic Church” and had a lot of fun hearing about ways to build community. We are still learning to put this into practice. We shared about the camping trip that we plan to go on the weekend of Apr 30. Out first “all-nighter” for the body. Everyone is excited to spend so much time together! We discussed some things about the camping trip, especially for those who have never gone on one before. It is wonderful to think about what God is going to do in us as a body as a result of our time together!

In the spirit of “outdoing one another in love” we grilled a bunch of chicken, hot dogs, and sausage for lunch for the brothers and sisters! So we all enjoyed a wonderful grilled lunch and got to spend more time sharing with one another. The kids got into a game of badminton in the backyard and had a blast! Others played rock band upstairs. Others helped to clean up around the house. Others enjoyed resting, reflecting and just spending time together. The body was strengthened. It was a wonderful time in the Lord!

“To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen…The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.” (Philippians 4:20,23)



“…for your progress and joy in the faith.”
April 11, 2010, 1:50 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

In the latter part of chapter 1 of Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi he describes in some detail his role in the advancement or progress (1) of the gospel. He had described how, as a result of being put into prison, “most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Courage and fearlessness permeate the Christian life when Jesus life is being expressed. This doesn’t mean being brutal as this is contrary to a life of love or perhaps even physical courage but a spiritual humility and meekness which describes the character of God’s people when Jesus is Lord.

In ourselves we can be like Peter and deny Jesus by what we say and do towards ourselves and others. How important are Paul’s initial 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 (sincere) and blameless (unoffending) until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God” (2). How important the body of Christ is to the building up of our lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ. When the body learns to live by the life of Christ, the body is able to live by His life in the moments when Christ’s life needs to shine the most. Then when stress and crisis come we can be courageous and fearless in what we say and do towards others, we can “speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

I find it horrible to hear Paul write that “it is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” How could another person who claims Christ as Lord desire harm or be offensive towards another brother or sister in Christ? May it never be! Only one who does not have Jesus as Lord could so such a thing. Someone who is egotistical and selfish, as Paul says. They have failed to realize that when we make Jesus Lord of our life, we are no longer our own. Paul spoke to the Christians in Galatia, his first letter that we have that he ever wrote on life as a Christian, and exclaimed that “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” The Christian life is a crucified life! We no longer count ourselves as under sin and the law, we are free from sin and the law! We are free to let Jesus live His life through us! It is no longer about us, but about the Body. Even with this hindrance for Paul, he can still say “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.” Paul rejoiced! Perhaps Paul could have rejoiced even more if these others preached Christ only out of goodwill instead of envy and rivalry. Could that be possible today? Isn’t that what we see many times on TV or radio. Which “preacher” or “evangelist” or “apostle” can outdo the other? Isn’t that selfish, isn’t that out of envy and rivalry? But as Paul says, “the important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.”

I think Paul could rejoice, because his thoughts now focus not on those who do not have Jesus as Lord but on God’s people who are living Jesus’ life together in an organic way under His headship. “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Paul has hope! Paul sees the future, he is not content to mire away in the moment or what has past, especially related to those who seek evil against him. He knows that when brothers and sisters gather together with Christ as Head there is a spiritual power that manifests itself in a way that cannot be explained. The times together under Jesus in effective prayer in fellowship with the living God, God’s people receive nourishment. They are fed! Help is “given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” So Paul, knowing these followers of Jesus, and their life in Christ, knows that “what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.” Could brothers and sisters, who gather together in an organic way under the Headship of Jesus Christ so live by Christ’s life?

Paul expects to be released by the prayers of the body of Christ under the headship of Jesus Christ! But Paul describes his own personal delimma. It is one that we as a brother or sister in Christ desires the most, that we would fully express Jesus life to those around us in a way that pleases Christ. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Jesus can give us “sufficient courage” so that He would be “exalted in” our bodies whether in how we live our lives or how we die. “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 sincere and unoffending until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Can this prayer be quoted any less! How the life of Christ in the body of Christ is important to the expression of Christ through the body!

Paul knows that living now means being able to live by Christ’s life to the greater expression of Jesus around the world, but he also knows that when we die, we gain, we are in the very presence of Christ! While we live here, we see a taste of Jesus through His body, but when we die physically, our spiritual selves, our true selves, will be in His presence. What an incredible thing, to live forever, in continual fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ where unspeakable joy is found! But Paul knows that he is part of God’s purpose while on this earth, and that is for the glory of Jesus Christ. Paul’s purpose is to help others know Jesus Christ, and form organic fellowships of brothers and sisters who have chosen to make Jesus Lord of all. “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” “It is more necessary for you” is Paul’s conclusion. Isn’t that our desire by the Spirit of Christ in us? That “it is more necessary for” the body that we fully participate in the life of Christ together, than to do something on our own? How often we have other things to do than spend time with other brothers and sisters in Christ. How can we find time to spend life together? What is the good things that we are doing that is taking away from the best things of life together, the best things of being “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God”?

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.” Paul traveled often, spent some time with the brothers and sisters, enjoying Christ’s life together with them, then moved on. We need help from those organic church planters who have Jesus as Lord, who live by His life, and who desire to help the body make Jesus as Lord over all. A group of followers back then needed Paul’s guidance to help them. It is so even today. We need workers who know how to live by Christ’s life under His lordship, who have been through the seasons of organic church life to help others live by His Spirit. Lord bring your people those who have counted the cost to live by Your life, so that we might know how to live by your life together as a body! Then our “joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of” those organic church planters who have Jesus as Lord and live by His life.

(1) W.E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.
(2) Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear KJV-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, 1975, The Zondervan Corporation, 577.



“to the glory and praise of God.”
April 10, 2010, 2:16 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

In Philippians chapter 1 Paul has expressed his wonderful affection and love for these Christians and makes the point that our love for one another is really “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” Our love for one another shows forth the glory of God! That’s the whole point! That’s the big picture! God wants Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ to fill every corner of this earth, to show the glory of God! “The fruit of righteousness” that springs naturally from our abounding or growing in love for Jesus through one another. God wants growth, the growth of Jesus life to shine through our lives.

This leads Paul to describe how that looks with him. For God to express this love through Paul God has brought Paul into prison. Sometimes for us, it may be some other trial or stressful event. How will we let Jesus express Himself in these instances? Will we rely on the natural thing to do and fight back or become defensive or go into denial or some other thing that anyone else would do? Or will we let Jesus’ life take over? Will His grace and truth, His fruit of righteousness shine forth? I know I’m still learning to let Jesus be in control in those moments. My flesh wants to take over. I realize it when it happens, a word not spoken rightly and so on. I have to ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness – it is what wells up in me in those moments. Only Jesus can do that. Perhaps if Christians, those who truly follow Jesus as Lord learned to accept their weaknesses, learned to rely on Jesus more seeking Him in prayer, and forgave or sought forgiveness perhaps we could let Jesus shine a little more brightly in our lives.

For Paul, suffering was part and parcel of the Christian experience. To the Corinthian Christians he told them how he had struggled with difficulties but realized those struggles were meant to keep him from becoming conceited. Paul learned that God is not after our being comfortable but after His glory being expressed, being displayed to all. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” that’s what Jesus told Paul. So Paul said “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. as a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Paul let Jesus have His way in his life completely. Wow! “The fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” is to bring “glory and praise” to God! That fruit is love. As Paul had written to the churches in Galatia some time ago “the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Reaping a harvest is advancing the gospel, the fellowship of God with man! God’s glory expressed!

Paul’s proclamation of the message of salvation, that “through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses” always seemed to meet with adversity. As he would share with the Roman Christians: “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.'” Jesus desires to be Lord of everyone, that brings Him glory! But we want to be our own masters and the masters of others. But Jesus’ life, eternal life, is given to all who believe on Him! He frees us from this selfishness, which is sin as well as the law, through which we make every attempt to justify ourselves, or make us seem good enough. We are a people of habit. We don’t like change. We want our lives to count for us. But Jesus wants to give us a life of change, a life that is emptied of self, that is focused completely on Him, His glory, and love for one another. Every day He seems to bring something to me/us to show forth His glory! Advancing the gospel, the good news of Jesus is advancing Jesus’ lordship over all! That will put us out of standing, that will put Paul in prison.

But Paul always sees the good in things, Paul sees something Jesus is bringing about, no matter how terrible they may seem! “What has really happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul told the church of the Thessalonians that we are to “encourage each other,” and from his own time of living with them they encouraged, comforted, and urged them “to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” The “gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” As a result of Paul letting Jesus be Lord over all of his life and proclaiming that same good news to others no matter the cost, the other brothers and sisters were also “encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” This is not Bible bashing as I’ve heard it. It is living God’s word, letting Jesus live His life of lordship through us, and is done or expressed in both by what we say and what we do. When God’s life is so expressed in our lives does anything else really matter? Can we completely put ourselves into God’s hands and let Him determine the outcome? Can we decide to let Jesus be Lord and love unconditionally? Can we let Jesus be Lord of our gathering together and let Him lead our gatherings however He desires? Isn’t the gospel, the good news, about fellowship with Jesus, who is Lord over all?

How Jesus desires to be expressed, His glory displayed, to find a place in every corner of this earth to have a people who make Him Lord over all, no matter the consequences. To Paul I think he would stay away from the word “consequences” as this gives a negative connotation, because to Paul the results of following Jesus as Lord were actually benefits! Because Jesus’ glory, the advancement of His glory was all that mattered!