Calvary Road Baptist Church

“INTERRUPTED MISSIONS GIVING”

Philippians 4.10

 

We used to be a wonderfully missions-minded church. At one time we had 22 missionaries that we gave $100 per month to as regular support. We seemed to have missionaries coming through here all the time. And then something terrible happened.

Let me go back to my beginning so you will understand. When I arrived at Calvary Road Baptist Church in December of 1985 there was no missions program. Not a single missionary was being supported by Calvary Road Baptist Church at that time. And why not? Simple. The church was almost bankrupt at the time and the reason was very simple. Either continue to support missions and cease to exist as a church, or stop supporting missions projects and try to salvage the church. Before I became the pastor the church had discontinued supporting missions entirely, including the founding pastor, who was trying to plant a church elsewhere. Thus, my role as the new pastor was not in discontinuing missions support. That decision was made prior to my arrival. My role was to work as hard as I could to salvage the church and rebuild its ruined reputation in the community. Over the next seven or eight years that was done, by God’s good grace. Folks gave sacrificially and the congregation surged. The Sunday morning attendance swelled, and then swelled again, and then swelled again, until we had two Sunday morning services, an evening service on Saturday night, and a service on Sunday night. And along the way God blessed our ability to give to missionaries until we supported a total of 22, as I said earlier, at $100 per month.

Then something terrible happened. Roughly twenty years ago we experienced a church split that crippled us badly. The result was devastating. Never before had I experienced the need to do this myself, but I went before the church and pleaded with folks to suspend their missions giving and direct all of their giving to the church. For the church to survive such a redirection in giving had to occur. Had you who were members at the time not supported my decision and followed my leadership we would have, humanly speaking, sunk. However, in God’s Providence a reexamination of important doctrines and practices took place, a renewed determination to evangelize the lost resulted, a great many prayers were answered, and we are now rebuilding our missions ministry with such choice servants as Dr. Samuel Rai in Nepal and Carol Elkins in Nicaragua, and possibly in the near future the Chris Goodman family who serve in Australia. I am thrilled.

This, then, is a bit of our background as we head into the final section of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, in which he thanks his beloved friends for their renewed financial support of his ministry. Turning to Philippians 4.10, let’s stand and read through verse 20:

 

10    But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

11    Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12    I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13    I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

14    Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

15    Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

16    For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

17    Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

18    But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.

19    But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

20    Now unto God and our Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

My text for this message is verse 10. What I want you to see in the course of my introductory remarks about this verse is that circumstances sometimes interrupt a church’s ability to give to a missionary. It’s tragic. You try to avoid it. But it happens.

Three things we see in Philippians 4.10 that deals with this harsh reality:

 

First, WE SEE THE MISSIONARY’S RECEIPT

 

Let me broaden this out beyond our text for just a few moments. What does a missionary want? What does a missionary need? Congregations need to ask and then answer these questions. Remembering that the Apostle Paul was a church planting missionary, leaving New Testament churches and pastors behind him everywhere he went that he wasn’t in prison, here is what the Apostle Paul says he wants from churches:

First, he wants prayer.

In First Thessalonians 5.25, the first inspired epistle Paul ever wrote, he said, “Brethren, pray for us.” In Romans 15.30 Paul wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.” To the Ephesians he wrote in 6.18-19:

 

18    Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

19    And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.

 

Finally, to the Colossians, in 4.2-3:

 

2      Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

3      Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.

 

So, Paul wanted those churches to pray for him. And every missionary in his right mind wants churches to pray for him. Why? Because God answers prayer. Amen?

Second, Paul and every other missionary want helpers. A missionary would be crazy not to want help. Every missionary wants help. But he wants help from helpers who are faithful, who are trustworthy, and who are actually helpful. Paul and Barnabas had John Mark as their helper. But he proved to be unhelpful. He turned out to be a liability.[1] So Paul jettisoned him in favor of young Timothy.[2] Paul had Silas as a helper.[3] He had Aquila and Priscilla as helpers.[4] To get his epistle to Rome, Paul had Phoebe from the church in Cenchrea.[5] In Crete he had Titus.[6] The Philippians sent Epaphroditus to take an offering to Paul and to minister to him. However, along the way, you will remember, Epaphroditus got so sick he almost died.[7] He was so sick that Paul, facing an imminent trial before Caesar, didn’t want him around, so he sent him back to Philippi. Not at all his fault, he was nevertheless a helper who couldn’t help. The point being, with both John Mark and Epaphroditus, a missionary is always delighted to have helpers who are helpful. But helpers who will not help, like John Mark who was at that time in his life too immature and too cowardly to help, and helpers who cannot help, like Epaphroditus who was too sick to do anyone any good, the missionary would just as well do without. Give him an Aquila and a Priscilla, though, and a missionary will be most grateful.

The third thing a missionary wants is money. And it’s money that’s referred to in our text for today, when Paul writes that “your care of me hath flourished again.” Their care of him was money. Sometimes missionaries want money for special projects they are involved in, such as in Second Corinthians 8 and 9, when Paul was raising money to take back to the Jewish Christians in and around Jerusalem who were starving during an extended famine. Sometimes missionaries want money to help them open up a new mission field, such as when Paul mentioned the fruit he hoped to obtain from the Romans in Romans 1.13, which he identified as money in Romans 15.28. Paul was usually reluctant to take money from churches for his own personal needs because of the advantage afforded by supporting himself as a tent maker, though he urged the Corinthian congregation to support their pastor financially.[8] As a matter of fact, to the Corinthians he indicated with exaggeration that he had “robbed” other churches on those few occasions he did accept money from churches.[9] However, his relationship with the Philippians was different. It was unique. From them, and only from them so far as we can tell in scripture, would Paul gladly receive offerings directed to the meeting of his own personal needs. Prayer, helpers, and finances. Those are the three great needs of every missionary, and should be the consideration of every missionary Baptist church.

 

Second, WE SEE THE MISSIONARY’S RESPONSE

 

How did Paul respond when the love gift from Philippi arrived in the hands of Epaphroditus?

First, notice the designation of Paul’s response.

 

“But I rejoiced . . . .”

 

The Apostle Paul was, without a doubt, ecstatic when he received this token of love and partnership in the gospel from those folks. And what causes a man to (as Paul designates it) rejoice, but to be filled with joy that simply has to find expression in rejoicing.

Second, notice the direction of Paul’s response.

 

“But I rejoiced in the Lord . . . .”

 

Read Philippians repeatedly and you will notice that Paul never comes right out and says, “Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you” to the Philippians. Is it because he’s an ingrate? Not at all. It’s because his gratitude is rightly directed to God, from Whom all blessings flow. Paul rejoiced in the Lord because although the offering actually came through their hands, it was sent from heaven to meet Paul’s physical needs.

Third, notice the degree of Paul’s response.

 

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly.”

 

This is word “greatly” is the adverb form the word “mega.” Paul rejoiced in the Lord hugely. I can just imagine him cutting loose with an “Amen, glory to God,” after he had hugged Epaphroditus and was told he had an offering with him from the Philippian church members. Understandably, missionaries love to get offerings.

 

Finally, WE SEE THE MISSIONARY’S RECOGNITION

 

Particularly those of you who love missionaries and who love to give to missions, this part is just for you. I want you to clearly see three things here:

First, I want you to see the return of the church’s care.

 

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again.”

 

This word “flourished” would be the word you would use to describe how a plant seems to come back to life in the springtime after a cold winter. Not that their care for him was dead, but that it had the appearance of being dormant. And now that the little buds are growing on the twigs again, so to speak, Paul is very happy. The phrase, “at the last” means that Paul has been waiting. He has missed their care of him. Not that he has missed the money aspect of it, as we shall see in later verses, but he missed their involvement in his ministry in a substantial way. That’s what the missionaries we used to support so plentifully miss from us, folks. They miss our participation in their ministries.

Second, I want you to see his realization of the church’s care.

 

“wherein ye were also careful”

 

This word “careful” comes from a word that means mindful and attentive.[10] Paul recognized that even when there was little evidence that the Philippians were paying much attention and praying much for him, he knew they still were. However, not all of our missionaries are Apostle Pauls. Not every missionary we doled out piddling amounts of money to knew that our hearts were with them. Some of them, no doubt, thought we just didn’t care any more. I don’t know this, but I would guess that some of our missionaries thought we didn’t love them anymore like we used to. I just hope they eventually realized what Paul realized about the Philippians.

Third, I want you to see the restrictions of the church’s care. The verse concludes with these words:

 

“but ye lacked opportunity.”

 

You and I need to realize what Paul realized, and what I hope some of our missionaries will realize. Sometimes there are restrictions that make a church’s care for a missionary impossible. With the Philippians it was a combination of their own poverty, Paul being in Roman custody in Caesaria and then in Rome, and perhaps finding the right man to get the money to him. With us it was financial problems that made us seriously choose between having a church or supporting our missionaries. Are such times over for us? I sincerely hope so.

 

We are still not back in the kind of financial shape that we can increase our missions support to the levels we once enjoyed. We are a church that counts on the faithful support of every member, and we feel the effects when even one member does not give faithfully and regularly. Someday Calvary Road Baptist Church will be a really strong missions giving church again. No one is more eager for that day to come than I am. However, until that day comes, please, recognize the importance of praying for our missionaries, and also faithfully giving.

By the way. Study God’s Word with spiritual illumination and you will discover that giving to missionaries is not an activity that Christians engage in as individuals. It’s something that is rightly done corporately, as a congregation. Why do I say that? I say that to remind you that your missions giving should be done through Calvary Road Baptist Church, not to individual missionaries.

 

SERMON:

 

In our text we have seen the Apostle Paul, with the tenderness of a spiritual father, showing his delight that the Philippians had once again resumed their financial support of him. At the same time he was careful to communicate something that a great many people have so much difficulty understanding. There isn’t always opportunity. How it must have pained the Philippians so to want to give to Paul, but to find no opportunity of fulfillment. And how pastoral it was of Paul to lead them to an understanding of the fact that you can’t always do what you want to do. That same truth applies to you lost folks who are here. You can’t always do what you want to do. But whereas the Christians in Philippi had difficulty accepting their inability to give to support the ministry of the Apostle Paul, you sinners have difficulty accepting that you cannot be saved from your sins when you decide to.

I will stand before you, as I am today, extolling the virtues of Jesus Christ, explaining to you His directive to come to Him for salvation, warning you of the danger to your soul of continuing in your sins and the certain destiny that awaits you, yet you will not be stirred, you will not flee to Christ, you will only delay, delay, delay, awaiting what you presume will be yet another opportunity to be saved.

Why do you do that, sinner? Why do you put off facing your need of Christ? Why do you seek only to delay?

 

First, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT A SINNER WANTS

 

And since you are a sinner, that’s what you want. After all, you’re no different than any other sinner who’s ever lived. You may pretend to be saved. Maybe you even have me convinced that you’re saved. But you’re not saved, and you know you’re not saved.

You’re just like those of Noah’s generation, before the Flood. For 120 years Noah, the man of God, preached to those people, and preached to those people, and preached to those people, yet they would not turn from their sins. Noah pleaded with them, warning them, and urging them, but they would not respond. With them it was just like with you, always delay, delay, delay.

And you’re like Lot’s sons-in-law. They were in the city of Sodom when the angels came to take Lot and his family away. But they wouldn’t listen to their father-in-law Lot. The Bible says that Lot seemed to them as one who mocked.[11] In other words, they looked at his life of compromise and decided that he wasn’t worth listening to. Another time, perhaps. Delay, delay, delay.

But it doesn’t take a carnal witness for a sinner like you to justify a delay. Consider the man named Felix, in Acts 24. He was married to a Jewish woman named Drusilla and held high political office. Paul was his prisoner. Yet when he sent for that spiritual dynamo, Paul, who reasoned with him of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, it didn’t matter. Though he actually trembled with conviction, he still said to Paul, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” You see? The same old thing sinners have been doing for thousands of years. Delay, delay, delay. Put it off, stall, and procrastinate until next Sunday.

That’s what you want. The gospel can be preached to you by a wicked man or a spiritual man, but your response will be the same. Though you have been under conviction and you are positive that you are Hell-bound and in need of Christ, still you delay, delay, delay. You’re just like every other sinner who has ever lived. Delay is what sinners do, so, since you are a sinner, that’s what you do. You just delay, put off, and stall. You see, you don’t want to take advantage of the opportunity afforded you to be saved. You claim you don’t want a false hope, but you refuse in any case. You want another opportunity.

 

BUT WHY DO YOU WANT ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY? WHY DO YOU NOT WANT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITY GIVEN TO YOU NOW?

 

There are several reasons gleaned from the Bible I’d like to mention:

First, there is lust. Turn to James 1.14-15:

 

14    But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15    Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

 

Now turn to Hebrews 11.24-25:

 

24    By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;

25    Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.

 

Lust refers to an appetite or a strong desire. It’s your lust which leads you to commit sins. And the sins you commit you commit because you derive some sort of pleasure from them. The reason you put off addressing this matter of salvation, the reason you delay and seek another opportunity instead of this present one, is because of lust. You see, you commit sins. You like to commit sins. They are pleasurable to you. And you know enough about salvation to know that should you ever be saved your relationship to sin will be forever changed, and you don’t want that. Do you?

Second, there is pride. There is humility associated with salvation. When a man is saved he bends his knee and bows his head and confesses that Jesus is his Lord. But you are too proud to bow to anyone. You’re too proud to submit to anyone. You’re too proud to follow anyone’s lead, even God’s. Far too delightful it is to maintain control of your life, no matter how lousy it might be, no matter where it might lead, than to turn control over to someone else. Amen? No, you don’t want to be saved today. You’re too proud.

Third, stubbornness. That is, stiff-necked rebellion. You don’t want to be saved for any other reason than because your brother was saved and you don’t want to be like him. You don’t want to be saved for any other reason than because your husband wants you to be saved, or your wife wants you to be saved. And you don’t want to do anything that’s someone else’s idea. You see, you only enjoy doing those things that you fancy are your ideas. So, you delay and put off what you know God wants for your life, what Jesus died on the cross to procure, for no other reason than because you are just hardheaded. You even laugh and joke about being that way. But you’ll not laugh and joke about it in Hellfire. And you don’t plan to. You plan to be saved someday, but when you decide.

Finally, ignorance. Poor ignorant fool. Poor misguided lout. Don’t you realize what Jonah cried out from the belly of the whale?

 

“Salvation is of the LORD.”

 

Salvation starts with God. Salvation ends with God. And salvation is all of God in the middle. Thus, God determines the time. God determines the circumstances. God determines everything about salvation. You think you can be saved just because you want to be saved? Listen to John 1.12-13:

 

12    But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

13    Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

 

Think you can just decide whenever to respond to the gospel invitation to be saved? Listen to what the Lord Jesus said in John 6.44:

 

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”

 

You want to put things off and delay your opportunity to be saved because, #1, your lust motivates you to want to commit yet more sins, #2, your pride motivates you to maintain control of your life just a little longer, #3, your stubbornness motivates you to refuse doing anything anyone else wants you to do, and #4, you are ignorant enough to think there will always be another chance to be saved.

 

BUT WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO BE SAVED?

 

First, the Bible says that today is the day of salvation and that now is the accepted time.[12] It was time for the people of Noah’s day to repent of their sins and be saved when Noah said it was time, not later. It was time to turn their backs on the sins of Sodom and be delivered from the wrath of God when Lot told his sons-in-law it was time, not later. It was time for Felix and Drusilla to be saved when Paul said it was time, not later. We never read in God’s Word that the opportunity for Felix and Drusilla to be saved ever returned. Today is the time to be saved, and if you ignore the command to believe the gospel you simply commit greater and greater and greater sins, for which there will be no remedy on Judgment Day.

Second, the Bible strongly teaches that further opportunity to be saved is not guaranteed. Consider the word salvation. Salvation means rescue from danger, deliverance from imminent harm or destruction. By itself the word is correctly understood to deny guarantee of future rescue. When the fireman climbs a ladder to rescue an old man trapped in an upper story apartment fire, does the old man say, “Fireman, could you come back, say, next week?” Of course not. He knows that fireman on the ladder is there to save him from certain death. I used to be a lifeguard, and I have never heard of a drowning man telling a lifeguard to come back later, when it was more convenient to be saved from drowning. You see, as James 4.14 tells us, and as a Los Angeles County firemen once killed in a helicopter crash with the little girl being flown to the hospital could tell you, and as students and a teacher in a little town in Arkansas who were gunned down years ago by an 11-year old and a 13-year old could tell you, your life “is but a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Maybe you will return to the next church service. Perhaps you will come back next Sunday. But you have no way of knowing that you will ever have opportunity to be saved again. What God said more than 4000 years ago still applies. “My Spirit will not always strive with man.”[13] There will come a day when God says, “That’s it for you.”

Finally, “salvation is of the LORD.”[14] That’s what Jonah cried out from the belly of the whale. But what does it mean? What are the implications of the words? It means that everything connected to the salvation of a sinful soul is of God. It’s God’s plan. It’s God’s purpose. It’s God’s program. It’s God at the beginning and at the end. The faith comes from God the Holy Spirit and when given to the sinner is then fixed upon God the Son.[15] The purchase price for sin is the blood of God the Son given as a ransom for sin to God the Father. And the Agent in regeneration, which occurs when a sinful soul is saved, is God the Holy Spirit, Who seals, indwells, and sanctifies.

 

My dear, sinful, friend. There’s much too much of the “me” in you. Recognize that salvation is all about what God wants, when God wants it, how God wants it. This concern you have for what you want, for when you want it, for how you want it, is the very essence and core of sin. Doesn’t the power of sin to bind you, to blind you, to damn you, frighten and scare you?

I say all that to conclude with this: You want an opportunity to be saved other than right now. You will delay seeking salvation now so that you might have another opportunity. You will risk perdition now in the hope of salvation in the future. But it may not be. It just may not be. Doesn’t that concern you? For you see, there is not always another opportunity to be saved. Jesus says to you, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”[16]

Come now, while there is time. Come today, while it is day. Because today is the day of salvation and now is the accepted time.



[1] Acts 13.13

[2] Acts 15.36-16.5

[3] Acts 15.40-17.14

[4] Acts 18.2, 18, 26; Romans 16.3; 1 Corinthians 16.19; 2 Timothy 4.19

[5] Romans 16.1-2

[6] Titus 1.4-5

[7] Philippians 2.25-28

[8] 1 Corinthians 9.1-14

[9] 2 Corinthians 11.8

[10] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 562.

[11] Genesis 19.14

[12] 2 Corinthians 6.2

[13] Genesis 6.3

[14] Jonah 2.9

[15] 2 Corinthians 4.13

[16] Matthew 11.28


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