JohnSWilson3 Blog

“I hope in the Lord Jesus…”
May 16, 2010, 1:46 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

Paul can’t wait to hear news about how the Philippian Christians are living their lives together under the Lordship and Headship of Jesus Christ! He knows them, he has seen Christ live through them and is confident that Christ “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Paul longs to visit them again “with the affection of Christ Jesus” because he wants them to see the fullness of Christ in their lives, for their “progress and joy in the faith.” This brings wonderful joy to Paul as he thinks of how they will “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.”

Any organic church body living by the life of Jesus knows the importance of having Jesus as Lord of their gatherings! No one person in the body is to be over another, whether as apostle/church planter, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, deacon, elder, or particular gift and so on. Actually for anyone to claim any of these as titles actually diminishes the organic nature of the church and make it fall under the headship of a person and not Jesus Christ. These are merely functions used by God to build up the body of Christ and enable it to function as a living organism under the Headship of Jesus and no one else. Paul knows that the body of Christ is what the description says it is. The body of Christ. The only way the body of Christ can function is if every member together has Christ as Head, the controlling Person of the gathering. When this happens then there will be humility, expressing Jesus’ life towards one another, a life of love. Something Paul knew in reality and looked forward to when meeting with the brothers and sisters. Life with Christ brings gladness and rejoicing! May this reflect our gatherings!

Because of the importance of living by the life of Jesus Paul constantly sent out his assistant church planters to not only find out how the churches were doing but also to help them live solely under Jesus Headship. “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.” Timothy was by far Paul’s most beloved assistant! There was no one else like him according to Paul that had such an interest in the Christians, specifically in Philippi. Timothy must have felt a wonderful attachment to them during Paul’s second church planting journey when they came to Philippi. Paul left Timothy and Luke there for a while when he and Silas left to Thessalonica.

What wonderful times with the Lord they must have had as Timothy and Luke visited the believers in their homes, around town, and “outside the city gate to the river” encouraging them, praying with them, singing songs to the Lord, and speaking and serving Christ to one another! Timothy did not “look not only to (his) own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Paul goes on to say that when we “in humility consider others better than ourselves” this is actuality the interests of Jesus Christ. Are we interested in others more than ourselves? Then those are the interests of Jesus Christ! Timothy’s character has been demonstrated to this organic church plant in Philippi, they know him well and his love for Jesus Christ and His body. Nothing is more important to Timothy than the good news of Jesus Christ, that God would come to this earth “taking the very nature of a servant…he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” That He died and rose again and ascended to heaven, giving us hope and His very life through the Holy Spirit! So Paul says, “I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.”

Of course, some years earlier, Paul had previously sent Timothy to the new organic church plant in Thessalonica. Paul seems to have the same feelings for the Christians at Philippi that he did for the Christians at Thessalonica:

“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we are destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when we could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless. But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.”

So for the Philippians Paul desires something similar, to hear about their growing faith in and knowledge of Jesus Christ: “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.”

But Paul is not content to just send Timothy for this most important work, of living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, he finds it “necessary to send back” to them Epaphroditus. Epaphroditus is someone Paul considers be his “brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier” as well as the church’s messenger who came to provide help to Paul. Epaphroditus is the example of a follower of Jesus who has like Paul lives by the dictum: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Jesus Christ is being fully expressed in this person! Wow! How we need more men and women, young and old, you and I who could have such a portion of Christ being expressed through what they say and do, having the same attitude “as that of Christ Jesus”! Paul says that “he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.”

A person like Epaphroditus is needed in every organic body of Christ! How we need these persons to model life in Christ! But here we have a problem. In church history many times these persons were not just honored but they became leaders and in charge of churches instead of mature Christians progressing in their faith by enabling the body of Christ to grow in their life with Jesus together. Yes, let us “welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me” but let us not let them do all of the work and live all of the life of Jesus in our gatherings. We have a tendency in our personalities to either attempt to control those who seem to be “better” or shy away from others whom we think are “better” at it than we are and so the life of Jesus in the body gets squelched. The body of Christ is not to be led by any person except the Person of Jesus Christ! Yes, let us praise God for the wonderful life expressed in each member to encourage them to “abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,” etc but let us not put others on a pedestal or podium, that becomes idolatry. Let us fellowship with the Spirit and “discern what is best” so that we “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.”

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