Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SHARPENING THE FOCUS”

Philippians 1.25-26

It is in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that we are taught many of the truths revealed in the New Testament about the church of Jesus Christ. In that letter, the church is described as His body, comprised of both Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus Christ, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone.[1] It is also in his letter to the Ephesians that Paul points out the uniqueness of the churches of Jesus Christ, declaring that there is only one such body, or only one type of body like the churches in existence, that there is only one Lord who is head over these churches, and that there is only one baptism, or way of becoming a member of these churches.[2]

Such truths about the church are all informative, important, and interesting. However, key to what we are going to focus our attention on this evening about the church, about Calvary Road Baptist Church in particular, is found in Ephesians 4.11-16. In this passage, we are told of the role assigned to certain types of men who are given to churches by the Lord Jesus Christ. Read that passage with me:

11     And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

12     For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

13     Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

14     That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

15     But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:

16     From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Please notice that it is the job of four kinds of men, apostles, prophets, evangelists, and pastor-teachers, to perfect Christians to do the work of the ministry so the church will grow spiritually and numerically. Notice that the work of such gifted men as these results in unity, verse 13, maturity that is related to doctrinal soundness and speaking the truth in love, verses 14 and 15, and the compacting together of the membership for effective and efficient function, verse 16.

Back to verse 11. Granville Sharp’s rule of Greek grammar: “When the article is used before the first member only of a series, the members are to be considered as a connected whole. When the article is used before each member, each is to be considered separately.”[3] Though the Greek article de is not translated into English, it is crucial to understanding that there are only four kinds of gifted men referred to by the apostle, with “pastors and teachers” actually referring to one person by the two functions he performs.

Enough Greek grammar. In practical everyday terms, what do we call these four kinds of men listed in Ephesians 4.11? In some circles, these guys are referred to as ministers, but in the circles we travel in these guys are usually referred to as preachers. Let me refer to them as preachers, as well. Preachers, then, are given by Jesus Christ, according to Ephesians 4.8, for the purpose of doing certain things to congregations, both en masse and to individuals, to bring about certain changes for the good. That is what Paul told the Ephesians.

Turn to Philippians 1.25-26 to see an example in practice of the principle stated by Paul that preachers are called of God, are given by Jesus Christ if you will, to equip church members to serve God. When you find Philippians 1.25, stand and we will read that portion of God’s Word together:

25     And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

26     That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

In our text, we see two aspects of this function of preachers discussed by Paul:

First, IN VERSE 25, WE SEE THE PREACHER DEALING WITH HIS MINISTRY TO THE CHURCH MEMBERS

“And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith.”

My friends, it is God’s will for you to be ministered to by a preacher. In the early days of Christianity, you might have been one of the blessed ones who were ministered to by an apostle, such as Peter or Paul, as well as your own pastor-teacher. However, in these days in which we live God wants each one of you to be ministered to by a pastor-teacher. I will save for another time a message dealing with how you are to know who your pastor-teacher is. For now, concentrate on the kind of ministry that a pastor-teacher, is supposed to have if his ministry is going to be like the Apostle Paul’s.

First, his ministry will be a ministry of confidence. Notice what Paul wrote in verse 25: “And having this confidence, I know that I . . . .” Lest you think that Paul is arrogant, let me tell you what Paul meant by “confidence” and “know.” “Confidence” refers to the result of being persuaded.[4] “Know” refers to something that has been learned.[5] Is that arrogance? Is Paul arrogant because he has been humble enough to be open to persuasion and teachable enough to have been taught something? What is wrong with people who maintain that for a preacher to be confident about certain things he must, therefore, be arrogant? What do people want, apostles of certainty or proponents of possibilities? Look at Philippians 4.13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” What kind of a preacher did the Philippians want? Did they want some fellow who is absolutely convinced that God will use him, because he is called, because he is consecrated, because he is convinced by his past experience serving Christ? Is this kind of confidence wrong? Or would they prefer some fellow who thinks God may want him in the ministry, and he hopes it will all work out and no one’s lives are destroyed? My friends, if a preacher’s ministry is anything like Paul’s it will be a ministry characterized by confidence. Not confidence in the flesh, but confidence in Christ and in God’s ability to do what He says He will do through a called man’s surrendered life.

Second, his ministry will be a ministry of commitment, if it is anything like Paul’s ministry. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, it seems that there was a problem developing. By the way, in a real church, filled with flesh and blood people, there are always problems developing. That is just the way people are, even Christian people. Those who are unwilling to deal with problems in their church are naive and unrealistic, and typically go for parachurch ministries. It was no different in Paul’s experience. However, what a wonderful servant of God that man was. What commitment to Christ he had, as exhibited by his commitment to those Philippians. Notice what he writes: “I shall abide and continue with you all . . . .” He obviously could not talk to people who did not want to communicate with him, and he could not offer counsel to anyone who insisted on hiding their problems from him. However, if anyone in that congregation had entertained any thoughts that maybe Paul did not want to help them, did not want to counsel them, did not want to be a blessing to them, he put their fears to rest once and for all. A pastor is called of God to provide leadership to everyone in the church, not just those who agree with him, not just those who are always happy, not just those who are always healthy, not just those who always have money to give, and not just those who look like they are going to become great church members someday. My ministry is a ministry to everyone in this church family. My desire is to see every one of you blessed by God, helped along in your Christian life, and thriving. Of course, I cannot minister to you if you will not allow it. However, if you will let me serve Christ by being a blessing to you, I will give it my best.

Third, for his ministry to be like the Apostle Paul’s, it must be a ministry of concern. Do you sometimes think that what you think is important would not be thought important to a gospel minister? Do I convey that impression to you? I hope not. I am persuaded that my default setting is rightly set at believing that anything you think it important should be important to me. However, what is also true is that what you think is unimportant I oftentimes think is of critical importance. You may not think it is a big deal that your child never makes the honor role, but I wonder if it is the result of laziness, which is a spiritual problem. When you miss services because you are busy or because you are working, I am concerned. You may call it providing for your family. Maybe. But with some it is a justification for being unfaithful. Such things concern me. In other words, my concerns in the ministry are supposed to be dictated to me. If my ministry is to be like the Apostle Paul’s, my concerns should be what his concerns were. His concerns for his beloved Philippians were written thusly, “for your furtherance and joy of faith.” In other words, Paul knew that it was best for them, and I know that it is best for you, that you are furthered in the faith and that you have joy in the faith. I do not enjoy your suffering. I hate it when bad things happen to you. It eats me up to learn that you are going through trials of various kinds. However, if you advance in your Christian life because of your experiences, and if God gives you joy during those times or as the result of those things, then you profit from it. Can a church program advance you in the faith? Can activities provide for you joy of faith? The answer to both questions is “No.” However, if I can teach you, train you, and show you some of the things of this life, which the saved have in Christ, then you will grow and have joy. That is my concern, and that is the concern my Lord wants every gospel minister to have.

AFTER DEALING WITH THE PREACHER’S MINISTRY WITH THE CHURCH MEMBERS, VERSE 26 DEALS WITH THE MINISTRY OF THE CHURCH MEMBERS THEMSELVES

The things Paul does in verse 25 are done “that,” or are done in order that, the thing mentioned in verse 26 will occur: “That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”

Paul wants their rejoicing to be more abundant in Jesus Christ because of his arrival and the exercising his ministry in their lives.

What does Paul mean by “your rejoicing?” The word “rejoicing” translates a completely different word than the word “joy” that is found in verse 25. The word in verse 25 is caran. This word “rejoicing” is kauchma, and is synonymous with a couple of English words that have bad connotations by the way we normally use the words. The word means “ground or reason for boasting.”[6] Of course, boasting and bragging are not normally appropriate behavior in our language and culture. However, Paul is referring to a Christian who is boasting about or bragging about his Savior. Perhaps we could catch the idea Paul seeks to convey by saying that he is referring to “making much of Jesus.”

What Paul was after, the goal of his ministry in their lives, was related to the magnitude of their rejoicing. In other words, Paul’s goal as a spiritual leader, his goal as a preacher, at least in the lives of those already saved, was to get them to exalt and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ more than they already did. That is my goal, as well. Calvary Road Baptist Church should be a congregation focused on making much of Jesus Christ, not a church that makes much of our church. That is what the ministry of a preacher is supposed to accomplish in the lives of church members.

Maybe you do not think you need a pastor. Perhaps you think the ministry of a preacher in your life is optional. If you felt that way, you would be in agreement with most of Christendom these days, which do not make use of a pastor’s ministry. However, that is not the way God feels about the Christian’s life. God’s plan is for God-called men to be placed into churches by the Lord Jesus Christ to perform their shepherding ministries of perfecting the saints for the work of the ministry. To put it another way, my task is to serve God by seeking to influence each and every one of you so that you will advance in the faith and so you will have real joy. The goal in all this is for you to make much more of the Lord Jesus Christ than you currently do. Therefore, let us purpose to work together at Calvary Road Baptist Church to bring this about.

However, the situation is obviously different if you are not a Christian, if you are dead in trespasses and sins. Perhaps you sit in a chair, oblivious to the great gulf that separates between you and your God, the effect of which is that He has no obligation to hear you when you pray and He will not receive you to Himself when you pass through death’s doorway to eternity. Sin is quite pleasurable in the short term, for a while anyway, and death and eternal Hellfire always seems like a long way off to all but those few who are spiritually awakened and fully aware of sin’s condemnation. Are you aware of sin’s condemnation? Does your mortality now concern you? What was it that got your attention? Was it the bank holdup and gunfight yesterday morning, in which eight police officers were injured and two bank robbers were killed? Do you realize that you might just as easily get caught in that kind of crossfire as those innocent people in the bank and driving by did? It was a merciful God Who protected the lives of those innocents. Was it a near automobile accident? Was it the realization that you are getting older and life is passing you by? Or was it your youth, and the certain knowledge that life will only get more dangerous, more wicked, more unpredictable, as you get older? Perhaps it was gospel preaching. At any rate, something has grabbed your attention and made you aware that you are lost and undone.

This evening I want to do what I want our church members to do. I want to do what Paul wanted the Philippians to do. I want to make much of the only One Who can save you from your sins. His name is Jesus, and He is the Christ the Son of the living God. He is Lord. He is also the anointed of God, which is why we call Him Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ. Many hours could be spent extolling the virtues of His attributes, speaking of His deity, and of His humanity. All these things are important. These things help us to understand what the Lord Jesus Christ is, as well as Whom He is. However, this evening I want to speak only of those things, which the Lord Jesus has done.

Seven things the Lord Jesus Christ has done that deserves every man’s praise:

First, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LEAVING

I am so glad that Jesus loved me, so glad that He left heaven’s glory, where, as a member of the triune godhead He had enjoyed the worship and adoration of the angels since the dawn of creation. I am so glad that He, the Son of God, came to earth to be born of a virgin named Mary. I am so glad that He made Himself of no reputation and that He was found in fashion as a man. Because my Lord Jesus Christ gave up heaven for a while, I make much of Him.

Second, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LIVING

It is one thing to leave heaven’s glory and for God, through the miracle of the incarnation, to become a man. It is another thing for holy God, though He was clothed in human flesh, to dwell among us. Imagine Him living in our midst, amidst the sin, amidst the squalor, amidst the spiritual stench, amidst the wickedness, amidst the selfishness, amidst the idolatry, amidst the pretense, amidst the cruelty, and amidst the suffering and the death.

No wonder He looked almost fifty when He was barely thirty. He suffered by being in the midst of such sin as we ignore and overlook each and every day. Omnipotent God. Holy God. Majestic God. Walking beside us day by day and we did not know. Though unpleasant, though nauseating, nevertheless He lived among men. I want to make much of Jesus Christ for living here when He did, for living here how He did, and for living here where He did.

Third, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LETTING

First, I want to make much of Jesus Christ for letting God the Father send Him here to be the Passover Lamb, for letting the Father deliver Him up for sins, the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God. Delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God to a cruel Roman cross, where He was wounded for my transgressions, where He was bruised for my iniquities. Oh, what if He had not borne my griefs and carried my sorrows?

Then, I want to make much of the Lord Jesus for letting wicked men lay hands on Him. Imagine, the King of kings allowing vile and reprobate men to mock Him, to ridicule Him, to strip Him, to humiliate Him, to beat Him, to torture Him, to spit upon Him, and finally, to nail Him to a cross. Why did He allow them do that? As God’s Sin-Bearer, He took what was mine that I might receive what was His.

Fourth, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LYING

After He had given up the ghost on the cross and the last of His blood was spilled out when a soldier pierced His side with a spear, they took His body down from the cross and He was entombed in a rich man’s vault. There His body laid for three days and three nights. I am grateful for that. Like so much else that He did, that was a fulfillment of prophecy. Further, it showed that He had indeed died. My Lord Jesus Christ shed His precious blood and died for the remission of my sins. Because of that, His body lied there.

Fifth, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LIVING AGAIN

My savior, you see, is the resurrection and the life. My savior, you see, though He did die and shed His blood for the remission of sins, could not be held by death. It was not possible. Therefore, before His body suffered corruption of any kind, after three days and three nights, the One who made known to Israel’s King David the ways of life, rose from the dead.

However, I do not want to make much of Him just for the resurrection, which was a mind-boggling miracle, but also for showing Himself alive with many infallible proofs. Seen by Simon Peter. Seen by John. Seen by the women. Seen by doubting Thomas. Seen by all the twelve. Seen by more than 500 at one time! Then He was seen by His own skeptical half brother James. Finally, he was seen by Saul of Tarsus, who had been His greatest enemy. Have I seen him? Not yet. Someday I shall see Him, look upon His face, Him who having not yet seen I love. I magnify Him for living again, for rising from the dead.

Sixth, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LIFTING

We know He rose from the dead. We know that He ascended to His Father’s right hand. However, we oftentimes overlook that He was raised for our justification. You see, until the blood of the sacrifice is actually applied to the mercy seat the offering has not been completed. Thus, it was needful for our Great High Priest to not only rise from the dead to perform His high priestly duties of offering the blood which He shed, but also to lift His shed blood to heaven, there to apply the blood for cleansing and remission of sins. As Hebrews 9.12 says, “By his own blood he entered in once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

Seventh, I WANT TO MAKE MUCH OF JESUS FOR LIBERATING ME

The first six reasons for making much of Jesus are valid and reasonable motives that should prompt every sinner to make much of the Lord Jesus Christ, whether that sinner is saved or lost, whether that sinner will ever be saved or lost. However, this final reason for making much of Jesus applies only to the elect, the redeemed, those who are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, those who are born again, those who are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.

If you are not saved, it is still appropriate for you to make much of Jesus Christ for the previous stupendous things that He has done. However, if you are not a child of God, if you have not come to Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, if you are not a member of the family of God, the idea of making much of Jesus Christ for liberating you is ludicrous, for you have not been set free from your slavery to sin. The impassible gulf still separates between you and your God. The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, has not washed your sins away.

Since He is God manifest in the flesh, I could spend the rest of my life magnifying and praising the Lord Jesus Christ just for Who He is, not even mentioning what He has done. However, it is what He has done that made it possible for me to be saved from my sins. When I was drawn to Him, when I was given faith to trust Him, He forgave all my sins and saved my soul. I could have preached about your sins today, or I could have preached about my Savior. My choice, my preference, was to exalt Him, to lift Him up. I trust, now, that He, being lifted up, will draw you to Himself.



[1] Ephesians 1.23; 2.15-16, 20

[2] Ephesians 4.4-5

[3] J. Harold Greenlee, A Concise Exegetical Grammar Of New Testament Greek, Fifth Edition, Revised (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986), page 23.

[4] Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter To The Philippians - NICNT, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1995), page 152.

[5] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), pages 693-694.

[6] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 548.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org