Calvary Road Baptist Church

“WHAT THEY HAD”

Philippians 2.1

God is a Trinity. The doctrine of the trinity is not much preached about these days, and it seems to me that a great many people who claim to be Christians are quite confused about God’s revelation of Himself as a triune being. However, the doctrine of the trinity is one of the fundamental truths that make Biblical Christianity. Just a brief review of what the Trinity is. First, when we use the word Trinity we mean to assert that there is only one God. Deuteronomy 6.4 declares, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” In First Corinthians 8.4 the Apostle Paul wrote, “there is none other God but one.” Then, in his first letter to Timothy, chapter 2 and verse 5, he declared, “For there is one God . . . .” Thus, in both the Old and New Testaments, the Hebrew and the Greek scriptures, it is plainly declared that there is only one true and living God. When we use the word Trinity we accept that as being true. That said, the Bible asserts more about God than that He is uniquely one. The Bible also reveals some things about the Persons of the Godhead. For example: It is clear that the heavenly Father is God. No one denies that the heavenly Father is God. However, numerous passages also declare that both the Son and the Spirit are also God. In fact, the Apostle Thomas acknowledged the risen Lord Jesus Christ to be both his Lord and his God, in John 20.28. As well, were you aware that when a man named Ananias perpetrated a spiritual fraud in Acts chapter 5, the Apostle Peter accused him of lying to the Holy Spirit and explained that in so doing he had lied to God, Acts 5.3-4? Therefore, though I have used only a few passages by way of illustration, when the word Trinity is used it is used with the full understanding that there is only one true God. However, the word Trinity is also used with the understanding that this one God exists in the form of three divine Persons; the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, each clearly shown by declaration as well as by description to have all the attributes that only God can have. Therefore, when I say that God is a Trinity I am asserting that there is only one God, but I am also asserting that the Father is God, and the Lord Jesus Christ is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. What an amazing and incomprehensible truth.

If God truly is a Trinity, then you would expect Him to be fully involved and engaged in the various stupendous acts and works of God. That is, if God is a Trinity, then it would not surprise you to learn that each Person of the triune godhead played some type of role in the stupendous works and monumental activities God has engaged in. For example: In Genesis 1.1, we are told that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” We take that to be a statement about the Father’s role in creation. In Genesis 1.2 we read, “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” That, of course, refers to the Holy Spirit’s role in creation. But it is not until you get to the gospel of John, in the New Testament, that you read of the Son of God’s role in creation. John 1.3 states, “All things were made by him and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Then, in Colossians 1.16, again referring to the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul declares, “For by him were all things created. . . .” So, all three Persons of the Trinity were involved in creation.

With that established as general background information, turn in your Bible to Philippians 2.1. Paul is writing to his friends, the members of the church he pioneered in the Macedonian city of Philippi. Something has happened in this church to concern Paul. With a long history of being one of the most spiritual and devoted of the Gentile congregations, something is threatening their spiritual health and vitality, and Paul wrote this letter to combat the problem. In Philippians chapter 1, we learn that the horrible things that had happened to Paul had been remarkably used of God to advance the gospel, which greatly encouraged him. And in Philippians 1.27-30, he calls on his beloved friends to pull together as a congregation, “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,” to deal with the inevitable opposition and persecution from unbelievers. But external threats are not usually a church’s greatest problem. To be sure, lives are lost and horrible suffering comes to a congregation’s members who are persecuted for their faith and their stand for Christ. Amazingly, the book of Acts and church history clearly shows that the faith spreads as Christians are persecuted and oppressed. It happened in Eastern Europe under communist rule, and it is happening in China, Vietnam, and Burma as I speak. The greatest threat to a church, however, comes not from without, but from within. Not surprisingly, it is to the internal problems in the Philippian church that Paul now turns his attention. What was the problem? I am not sure. No one alive today is sure what the problem in Philippi was. We have some possible ideas. Perhaps men entered in with unsound doctrine. Or perhaps there was dissension in the ranks that sprang from a feud between two women, whose names we will discover in chapter 4. Whatever the specific problem was, Paul knew, and he proposed a solution. The solution is unity in the body, unity in the congregation, unity among the members. Please recognize that unity is not the same as uniformity. Uniformity is the result of a complete lack of diversity and distinction. Uniformity is impossible to achieve in a church comprised of people from different kindreds, tongues, and tribes. However, unity is not only achievable in a church, it is critical to a church’s spiritual health and prosperity.

Paul’s appeal for unity in the Philippian congregation, found in Philippians 2.1-4, is a marvel to consider. Stand and read along with me the previous four verses along with these four verses, and then I will show you some things about the basis for Paul’s appeal for unity, in verse 1. Philippians 1.27-2.4

27     Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

28     And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

29     For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30     Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

1      If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

2      Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

3      Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

4      Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

What we have in 2.1, of course, is the basis for Paul’s appeal for unity. Paul wanted the Philippians to fulfill his joy. He wanted them to be like-minded. In other words, he wanted them to have unity. But why should they? What motive could they possibly have for wanting to be a unified people? In verse 1, Paul reminds his readers what they already have. It is because of what they already had that they should strive for unity. However, remember who Paul reminds of these things. These are people who are genuinely saved, scripturally baptized, and members of the Philippian church. Therefore, if you are saved, perhaps some of these things are present possessions of yours, but only if you are saved, scripturally baptized, and a church member can you be assured of presently possessing each of the blessings Paul mentions in Philippians 2.1. Look at them with me:

First, THERE IS CONSOLATION IN CHRIST

This word “consolation” translates the Greek word that is elsewhere translated comfort and encouragement. You might want to paraphrase Paul’s statement as meaning, “If there is encouragement in Christ,” or “If you are encouraged by the fact that you have a relationship with Christ.” Life is hard and times get rough, but do you get a boost from knowing Jesus Christ as your personal savior, from knowing that your sins are forgiven? Does your soul exult at knowing that you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous? Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? And what can separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus your Lord? Does your relationship with Christ do anything for your spirit? Does it mean anything to you?

Second, THERE IS COMFORT OF LOVE

The word “comfort” here is almost synonymous with the word “consolation,” but for a slight nuance of meaning. Whereas “consolation” in this verse has to do with encouragement and a general lift, this word “comfort” refers to an encouraging persuasion, a motive for action. Are you motivated by love, Christian? “What do you mean, pastor? Love from who? Love for who?” Interesting, is it not, that Paul is pretty vague about this “comfort of love?” I think the next possession those church members had will give us a clue that will help us to better understand what he means here. Whatever Paul does mean here, it must be important because love plays such an important part in a believer’s and in a church’s life.

Third, THERE IS THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE SPIRIT

Before we go any farther, notice what we have here. There is consolation in Christ, comfort of love, and the fellowship of the Spirit. I am inclined to suspect that the Trinity is involved in this motivation for unity. My strong suspicion is that the comfort of love has to do with God, the Father. And if comfort has to do with the persuasive influence of love, then I would suggest to you that Paul is referring here to the believer’s desire to do the will of God, springing from his love for God, which is a response of God’s love for him. That said, take a look at the fellowship of the Spirit. Fellowship is not a feeling, but a fact. It is what is shared and held in common. Believers, saved people, have the Spirit of God in common, since everyone who is saved is indwelt by the Spirit of God, Romans 8.9.

Finally, PAUL MENTIONS BOWELS AND MERCIES

“Bowels and mercies” is an idiomatic expression for strong emotions. You and I would probably say something like, “if your emotions are stirred.” You see, in Paul’s culture the seat of emotions was not thought to be your heart, but your guts. Therefore, instead of something breaking Paul’s heart, he might have said that it churned his belly. In like manner, when someone found themselves gripped by the profundity of a truth, it would not have stirred the heart in their thinking, so much as producing what Paul terms “bowels and mercies.”

Two more observations: First, notice how all three persons of the Triune godhead are involved in the lives of these Philippian church members. Consolation in Christ, comfort of love almost certainly related to God the Father, and the fellowship of the Spirit. Those three possessions of the Philippian church members were assumed by Paul to produce an emotional reaction in their lives, “bowels and mercies,” that would combine to justify doing whatever it took to unify as a congregation and so fulfill his joy. Then, related to that, notice the proper place of emotions in their lives. Their feelings were not produced by enticing music, by ambiance, or by anything else sensory. Their emotions were the proper response of obedient people to facts apprehended and appreciated by faith. Folks, that is the way it is supposed to be.

Look at what Paul did in laying the groundwork for unity. In this day of racial, ethnic, cultural, educational, economical, and political divisiveness, notice Paul’s approach. He takes the high road. He points saved church members in the direction that only saved church members can be pointed, toward the Triune God and a proper response to what each person of the Trinity does in a church member’s life. I see this verse and I look around Calvary Road Baptist Church and I think to myself, “What a strange and diverse crew we have here at this church.” We could never achieve uniformity here, could we? Unity, however, is within our reach.

Are you saved? Are you scripturally baptized? Are you a member of this church? If you are not, you need to be. If you are, then you have what it takes, by the grace of God, to achieve spiritual unity.

SERMON:

Is it not wonderful to be a part of something bigger, of something larger, of something great? Some people get really excited because they all root for the same football team, or the same basketball team, or the same boxer. Other people find kinship among folks who like the motorcycles they like. However, Paul spoke to people who were drawn together by something important, something significant in eternity and truly meaningful. Those Philippians had God working in their lives. And because they had that in common they banded together in that church to live for God, to serve God, and to glorify God. Guys who band together because they like the same motorcycle rally around that machine because they have nothing more important to bind them together with other men. Folks who sit next to each other at the bar have nothing else to bind them together with other people than affection for the same bar room.

Isn’t that tragic? Isn’t it a pity that so many people have nothing more in life than to coach a baseball team, or go to the river, or engage in club activities, or bowl in a league? There is nothing wrong with those things in themselves. However, compared to what the child of God has that draws him together with other believers, those things have such little importance and such negligible impact.

Let me challenge you to face the realities of your life. There you sit, lost and undone, headed for an eternity in Hell. What telltale symptoms are there that reveal this about you? There are two: First, you have no credible explanation to justify your hope of going to heaven when you die. You will mutter something about being baptized or being a church member, but about the salvation of your own soul? You are essentially clueless. Second, there is your life. Your life is basically one selfish and self-absorbed activity after another. Perhaps you attend church regularly, but that is because it fits nicely into your self-righteous scheme of life. In reality, your life is lived for you. Those two symptoms show that you are not saved.

Listen for a few minutes to some things you need to hear.

First, YOU NEED TO HEAR ABOUT A SINNER’S CONDEMNATION

You know that sins are disobedience to God. Lying, cheating, stealing, stubbornness, and drunkenness. You know all that. And you know that those sins spring from a soul that is sinful and deserving of Hell. So much of this you know. But perhaps I can show you some things you do not know related to your condemnation.

First, there is your consciousness. There is a progression in a sinner’s career of rebellion against God. Did you know that? Did you know that judgment and condemnation actually begins before the sinner dies? Because you have turned away from the truth about God, some consequences have begun to occur in your life, even if you are quite young. Turn to Romans 1.18, 24a, 26a, 28:

18     For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

24a   Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts

26a   For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections:

28     And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.

Because you hold the truth in unrighteousness, because you are not saved and not really interested in being saved, God has cut you loose, so to speak, and freed you to hang yourself by committing even more sins than before. This is the judgment of God on your consciousness.

Second, there is your contempt. You are in deep trouble. In all likelihood you will never be saved. Because of your stubbornness, God may have turned you over to a reprobate mind already. The result is contempt for God. “Contempt for God?” Yes, contempt for God. Look at Romans 3.18: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” This is serious, my friend, because no sinner is saved who does not first fear God. Until you fear God, fear for your own soul, you cannot be saved. But you have only contempt.

Third, there is your conscience. Romans 2.15 talks about conscience. Everyone has a conscience. Your conscience used to bother you, but not much anymore. You see, your conscience is seared and hardened through much sinning. Perhaps sins of the heart, but sins still. So your heart is hard and cold and callused. Those in the Bible who were saved are not like you. They got scared. They feared God. Their consciences were pricked by the preaching of God’s Word. They were then saved. You, on the other hand, stand condemned, and it doesn’t much bother you.

Second, YOU NEED TO HEAR ABOUT A SINNER’S CONFUSION

Sometimes sinners, even those who have been turned over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient, begin to fear God and their consciences become troubled. Even then, however, they usually end up lost and in Hell, because they underestimate the power of sin to distort and pervert their understanding and they become thoroughly confused about how to be saved.

Some sinners believe they can be saved by coming to God. They believe this to the damnation of their own souls, despite the fact that sin separates between the sinner and God, despite the fact that God is a consuming fire, despite the fact that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, despite the terror of the Lord. Despite all these things, and more, sinners will try to get saved by coming to God. Why? Confusion. They think they can pray to God and be saved. They think they can believe in God and be saved. They think they can accommodate God and be saved. They think they can bribe God by doing good things and be saved. None of these things work. But because sinners are blind to the truth, because sinners are proud, arrogant, willful, and will listen to no one who knows the way, they usually end up in Hell anyway.

Other sinners, more and more these days, think they can be saved by coming to the Spirit. You’ve seen these guys. They walk around super spiritual, saying “Praise the Lord” as a way of punctuating their conversation instead of pausing for breath. Praising the Lord is wonderful. But these poor sinners are so confused that they fail to see that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, to point men to Him, to glorify Him. It saddens me, just as it must grieve the Holy Spirit, to see sinners work so hard to put on the external trappings of apparent spirituality instead of being saved the Bible way. Friend, you are a sinner condemned. It’s likely that your consciousness has been turned over by God. It’s likely that you have only contempt for God. It’s likely that your conscience is seared, hard, and callused, and that you can do almost anything without losing much sleep over it. However, you may be one of those few who has been prodded by the truth of the gospel. Maybe there are stirrings of conscience in your breast. Maybe there are concerns that are the first shoots of the flower of fear of God. If that be true, and you have become concerned about your sins and want to be saved, don’t be foiled by your confusion. Don’t think you know how to be saved. You cannot be saved by coming to God. You cannot be saved by coming to the Holy Spirit.

YOU NEED, FINALLY, TO HEAR ABOUT A SINNER’S CONVERSION

Listen, sinner. Listen to God’s Word. Listen like you have never listened to anything in your life. Listen like your soul’s salvation depended upon hearing and understanding the truth, because it does:

Acts 4.12:  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

John 14.6:  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Matthew 11.28:   “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

For you to be saved, for your sins to be forgiven, you have to come to Jesus Christ.

Sinner? Let’s you and me talk. Forget about giving yourself to the Lord. Forget about surrendering your life. Forget about believing that Jesus died on the cross for you. He did, but believing that won’t save you. Let’s you and me talk about you coming to Christ. If you are saved, or if you want to be saved from your sins, you and I need to talk.



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