Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďCOME TOGETHERĒ

Philippians 2.2

You know that the Apostle Paul loved the Christians in the Philippian Church. You know his heart went out to them. You know this because, even while he was in a Roman prison awaiting his audience with Caesar, his concern was for them and what was best for their spiritual welfare and well-being. Why would Paul be so concerned about Christians who obviously had it better off than he did? Paul was concerned for the Philippians because things were heating up in Philippi. Things had never been really smooth and simple for the church in that city, but now things had turned for the worse. To top it all off, something was causing a problem within the congregation that threatened to disrupt the unity of the church. Understand, except it be doctrinal truth, nothing is more important in a church than unity. Not your preferences. Not your individual tastes. Not your likes and dislikes. Unity is so important that only truth is more important. We see why in the Lord Jesus Christís prayer to His heavenly Father in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion, in which He prayed for unity so that ďthe world may know that thou hast sent me,Ē John 17.21. Unity at Calvary Road Baptist Church is required so that the Savior we preach will be recognized to be the One Savior sent by God the Father to save sinners. Unity is so important. However, unity is not the most important thing. In Galatians chapter 2, we read of the apostleís testimony wherein he explains his willingness to forsake unity with the Apostle Simon Peter to maintain the purity and integrity of the gospel. Therefore, unity is extremely important, but there is something more important than unity; truth.

Was there a problem with truth at Philippi? At this point in our study of Philippians, I would say, ďNo.Ē It seems as though there may have been personality problems, and it may be that folks had been somewhat shaken by the persecution that had intensified of late. However, there seems to be nothing, at this point in our study, to justify a lack of unity. Therefore, why does Paul emphasize unity to this congregation? For only one reason: Unity in a church is necessary. Unity in a church is not an option. Unity in a church is absolutely required if we are going to do the job of getting the gospel out and serving God. ďBut pastor, you donít understand. Itís really hard to maintain unity. If you mean by unity something that is more than just paying lip service to serving God, pastor, there are many things which really interfere with unity. There is the job. There is the education. There is the family. There is the hobby. Pastor, all of these things make unity a very difficult attainment. And thatís not even accounting for persecution.Ē My friends, you are right. Unity is difficult. However, unity is required. Unity is not an option. If job, education, family, hobbies, and such things interfere with unity in the church, then those things must be addressed in some way. You see, it is inconceivable that God would want anything in your life to interfere with the reason for your life, which is to serve God. And in order to serve God there must be unity in your church.

There are four parts to Paulís effort to persuade the Philippians to come together in a spirit of unity. In verse 1 of Philippians chapter 2 is found Paulís expectation. We dealt with that last week. Consolation in Christ, comfort of love, fellowship of the Spirit, and bowels and mercies. Those are the four realities that Paul expected every church member to attest to in his own personal life. Those four realities formed the basis upon which Paulís exhortation was founded. Paulís exhortation, which is actually stated in the form of a command, is ďFulfill ye my joy.Ē He immediately follows with an explanation, ďthat ye be like-minded,Ē and elaborates with these words: ďhaving the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.Ē Though I have outlined Paulís appeal in its entirety, I want to focus your attention on Paulís exhortation for a moment, in Philippians 2.1: ďFulfill ye my joy.Ē

Paul, as an apostle of Jesus Christ, and as the founder of the Philippian congregation, and even as the spiritual father of most of those believers, actually issues the command that those church members fulfill his joy. Does that strike you as odd? Does it surprise you, just a little bit, to read that Paul issued this directive? Folks, it ought to strike you as at least a bit strange if you have any feel for the tenor of the Christian faith at all. You see, the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself, did not come to be ministered to but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. And the powerful argument that Paul makes in First Corinthians chapter 14, for the superiority of the gift of prophesy over the gift of tongues, is based on the recognition that self-benefit and self-edification is not only not Christian, it is anti-Christian. Therefore, since prophecy edifies others and tongues edifies self, prophecy must be the superior spiritual gift. It is no surprise to me at all that Charismatics, Pentecostals, and many evangelicals would overlook an apparent selfish motive for Paulís command that the Philippians fulfill his joy, since selfishness is part and parcel of their belief system. Everything they believe about tongues, about healings, about prosperity, about living for Christ and serving God, even what they believe about sin and salvation, is in my opinion based on a deep rooted selfishness that they do not recognize to be sinful. After all, they frequently believe God exists to serve them and that worship of God, service to God, and even such things as separation from sin and ungodliness, should be convenient to them instead of pleasing to God. However, true religion, genuine Christianity, the faith that has been delivered to the saints, recognizes that selfishness is wicked, sinful, and wrong.

I say all that to ask this: Is Paul wrong for commanding the Philippians to fulfill his joy? After all, who is he? What right does he have, if the Savior came to serve rather than be served, to insist that those Christians do something (whatever it is), just to make him happy, just to give him joy? To answer that question, letís use our Bibles to see what, precisely, it was that gave to the Apostle Paul joy. Turn back to Second Corinthians 2.3: ďAnd I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.Ē Paul wrote First Corinthians because the Corinthian church was very divided and they needed to be strongly rebuked for their carnality. Here we see that Paul informs them in his second letter that his first letter was written to turn his sorrow into joy, and so his joy would be shared by them. Therefore, there is a correlation between Paulís joy and the unity evident in a church. Second Corinthians 7.7: ďAnd not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.Ē When Titus reported back to Paul that the Corinthians had responded to his first letter wonderfully, Paul understandably rejoiced. Thus, the connection between a churchís unity and Paulís joy is established. Yet, still, we need to know whether or not Paulís desire to be filled with joy because of a churchís unity is self serving or not. Philippians 2.16: ďHolding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.Ē Here we see Paul anticipating the day of Christ, in the future, and his own rejoicing because of the Philippians having held forth the word of life. Had they not held forth the word of life his efforts on their behalf would have been, to use his word, ďvain,Ē empty and meaningless. Therefore, here we see a connection between Paulís joy and the Philippians holding forth the word of life, which I take to be getting the gospel out to sinners. Colossians 2.5: ďFor though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.Ē To the Corinthians, Paulís joy was connected to their divisiveness coming to an end. To the Philippians, Paulís joy seems to be connected to their soul winning outreach. Now, to the Colossians, Paulís joy was related to their ďorderĒ and their ďsteadfastness,Ē both military words referring, first, to being in formation and, second, to refusing to break ranks. Sounds like a description of unity, doesnít it? First Thessalonians 2.19-20:

19     For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

20     For ye are our glory and joy.

Here Paulís joy is related to the precious souls he had brought to Christ, describing them as crowns of rejoicing at Christís coming.

Therefore, about half of the passages which deal with Paulís joy are related to a churchís unity, while the other half of the passages which deal with Paulís joy are related to folks in one way or the other coming to Christ. Is Paul being selfish here? There is no evidence of Paul saying or doing or in any way being self serving. If we remember the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, wherein He connected unity to folks believing that He was truly sent by the Father, then we realize why Paul wants these Philippians to fulfill his joy. And we see how fulfilling his joy fits into an appeal for unity in the congregation. Paul knew, perhaps so much better than you or I will ever understand, how critical is the connection between unity in our church and getting folks saved. So, he rejoiced at the thought of folks being saved, and he also rejoiced at the thought of a church having a spirit of unity, because he knew that unity leads to folks being saved.

Without unity we will not work together to accomplish anything. Without unity we cannot work together to accomplish anything. Periodically God raises up spiritual giants, men who cast a long shadow over their fellow men and the affairs of men. But throughout most of history God has worked through ordinary people who, in order to have an impact, in order to make a difference, have had to work together in unity and harmony to get the job of reaching the lost done. Unity is important. It is critical. Without unity we are easily scattered and defeated. So, letís do more than give lip service to the cause of Christ. Letís unite so that we can get the job done of reaching the lost and seeing our church in Monrovia standing as a lighthouse.

We now know why unity is important. However, we do not yet know what unity really is, in practical terms. Lord willing, over the next two weeks we will, from Paulís explanation and Paulís elaboration, come to understand what unity is in practical terms. Letís come together, Calvary Road. Unity is not an option.

SERMON:

The Apostle Paul urged the Philippians to fulfill his joy. Seemingly a selfish thing to tell folks to do, it is now quite obvious that what Paul had in mind was the pure spiritual delight to his soul that would be experienced as a result of a spiritually united congregation more effectively preaching the gospel and seeing sinners more frequently find the salvation from sins that comes only through faith in Christ. Therefore, Paul wasnít being selfish at all. He was being quite spiritual in issuing that command to the Philippians. Isnít it a marvelous thing to consider that a child of God could derive so much satisfaction, so much delight, so much what we call joy by engaging in an activity that is guaranteed to produce joy in the lives of others? I say that because First John 1.4 says, ďAnd these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.Ē Quite a bold statement to make to people who have never experienced joy. Thatís right. There are some people who have never experienced what the Bible terms joy. Why not? Because only saved people can experience real joy. Lest you think you are a Christian and have been saved from your sins because you are a happy person, be careful. I did not say, nor do I believe, that unsaved people canít be happy and cheerful. You most certainly can be. However, happiness and good cheer is not the same as joy.

Some who are dead in trespasses and sins are quite happy and full of cheer. Understand, however, that happiness depends upon what happens. Cheer depends upon the emotion of the moment and the thoughts of delight, amusement, and accomplishment that are passing through your mind. What I am speaking of is joy. You recognize, during those melancholy days, during those episodes at night, during those times of despair, that you have no joy, donít you? Youíve never had joy. Youíve never had that inner delight of the heart that depends not upon circumstances nor feelings, have you? Want to know why youíve never had joy and why you have no joy right now?

YOU HAVE NO JOY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

I say this because sins are not horrible to you. Consider this: Lying is not a terrible wrong to you. When it suits you, you will lie. Cheating is not a terrible sin to you. When it suits you, you will cheat. Gossip is not a terrible sin to you. When it suits you, you will gossip. Fornication is not a terrible sin to you. When it suits you, even if only in your mind, you will commit fornication. Bitterness is not horrible to you. Profanity is not horrible to you. Idolatry is not horrible to you. Disobedience is not horrible. Because you are a sinner and because your conscience is seared and no longer tender and sensitive to wickedness, you sleep at night after you have thought and done wrong. As a matter of fact, you probably sleep well at night. What does this have to do with the fact that you have no joy of sins forgiven? It has to do with this: You will not seek forgiveness for that which is trivial to you. You will not seek remedy for that which you deem to be relatively unimportant. Sins are to you, at least to this point in time, of only incidental importance. Just remember this, my sinful friend. Though you may never think in this lifetime that your sins and iniquities are that important, they have separated you from God. They have outraged God. They have offended the holy One. They have secured for you His wrath. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

I say this because youíve not sought the forgiveness of sins. Youíve not sought the forgiveness of sins. Youíve done nothing more, if youíve done anything at all, than mollify your conscience. Thatís what youíve done if you were supposedly saved at a Charismatic church, or a Pentecostal church, or in all likelihood even at a Baptist church. Why do I say that? Because those churches rarely preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Historical Christianity, that is to say, Biblical Christianity, has a view of sin thatís quite different than yours. Historical Christianity has viewed sin as horrible, as terrible, as condemning, as defiling, as damaging, as destroying, and as damning. As a result of that correct view of sin, sinners of old who became Christians sought the forgiveness of sins. Remember the response to Simon Peterís sermon on the day of Pentecost? ďNow when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?Ē Youíve never been so moved by such a realization of sinfulness as this that you sought forgiveness. How about the Philippian jailor? He ďsprang into the prison, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?Ē Friend, you have never been so moved by the horror of your sin to seek forgiveness in this way. Therefore, not being forgiven your sins, you have not the joy that comes from sins forgiven.

Next, YOU HAVE NO JOY BECAUSE YOU ARE AT WAR WITH THE FATHER

Is it possible for the creature to have joy while he is in active rebellion against his good and gracious Creator? Of course not. Perhaps you delude yourself into thinking, ďBut Iím not Godís enemy. I realize that Iím not Godís greatest ally, but Iím by no means Godís enemy.Ē Thatís a nice sentiment, friend, but thatís all it is. In Romans 5.10, the great Apostle Paul, who was perhaps the most righteous unsaved man who had ever lived before he was saved from his sins, acknowledged that every one of us is Godís enemy unless and until we are saved from our sins and are forgiven all our sins.

However, thatís never happened to you. Perhaps without realizing it, you are Godís enemy. Thatís another reason why you have no joy. Laugh and joke and have fun and merriment all you want, my friend. But until you are saved you will not have, you cannot have, the joy that comes when you are no longer Godís enemy.

Finally, YOU HAVE NO JOY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT THE SPIRIT

Galatians 5.22 begins, ďBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy . . . .Ē The Spirit of God, who indwells each and every saved person, each and every person whose sins are forgiven, each and every person who used to be but no longer is an enemy of God, produces joy in the bosom of every single person who is saved. However, you donít have the Spirit of God indwelling you. Why not? Because sins are not horrible to you and because youíve not sought the forgiveness of those sins which defile and contaminate your eternal soul. Lest you miss the connection, let me remind you that the Holy Spirit is a spirit who happens to be holy. Holiness is His nature. Holiness is the essence of His being. Because this is true, He will not indwell anyone who is not clean. He will not abide in anyone whose spiritual filth and defilement, which began at conception, remains.

Therefore, because the One who produces joy in a personís heart does not indwell you, real joy is impossible for you to experience, is impossible for you to imagine, is impossible for you to conjure up. So long as the holy Spirit of God is missing from your life, the joy which He alone brings will also be missing from your life.

I suppose I could have spent this time preaching about Hell. After all, a person whose sins are not forgiven is bound for Hell. After all, a person who is Godís enemy is bound for Hell. After all, a person who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God is bound for Hell. However, Hell is a long way into the future for most of you here today. True, it may be only minutes away for one of you. However, for most of you in our audience who are unsaved, Hell, as a practical reality, is probably years into your future.

What about now? What about this minute? Do you realize that joy is the present possession of almost everyone who is genuinely saved, and that those who are genuinely saved, who do not have joy right this moment, can have joy as soon as they comply with Godís will for their life? But you who are not saved, you who might be just an imitator of real Christianity, especially if you come from a church where there is confusion about how to be genuinely saved, you have never known real joy.

Do not seek after joy. Do not pursue joy. Rather, seek the forgiveness of your sins. Seek reconciliation with God through faith in Christ. When all is truly well with your soul, when you have confidence that your sins truly are forgiven and that you are reconciled to God through faith in Christ, then joy unspeakable and full of glory will be yours.



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