Whatever area of life and service you are in, the wisdom and skills you have are given by God for the furtherance of His Kingdom.
Scripture: Philippians 1:1-11
- In this chapter, Paul is offering a prayer of thanks for the Philippian church and their partnership in the gospel.
- Paul addresses the “saints.” There is a called-out community, a covenant people. We are a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9). Through Christ, this is our identity as much as it was that of Israel
- Paul highlights four things that the church is to be mindful of: 1) the centrality of gospel; 2) their partnership in the gospel; 3) the defense and confirmation of the gospel; and 4) the fruit of the gospel which in the end brings glory to God.
- God is our Father, Christ is our Lord. Paul's salutation emphasizes the centrality of the gospel.
- “Grace to you” was a common greeting of that time. “Peace” (shalom) was the Jewish greeting. Paul combines these two together and puts a gospel meaning on them.
- Christ's lordship is the reason that we can have confidence in the effectiveness of the gospel when we make it known.
- The apostles preached the Lordship of Christ over that of Caesar.
- You must either cast your lot with God or with idols. We are a gospel-centered people in an idolatrous age.
- The church at Philippi helped Paul by supporting his ministry, and even sent him gifts to meet his needs when he was in prison.
- True partnership in the gospel is not about having a function within the church building or serving the institution as pastor, deacon, etc.
- The chief craftsman, Bezalel, who was responsible for the building of the tabernacle, was filled with wisdom (skill) and with the Spirit (Ex 31)
- Whatever area of life and service you are in, the wisdom and skills you have are given by God for the furtherance of His Kingdom.
- We are all Christ's ministers. We are partners in the work of the gospel in all our daily tasks.
- The egalitarianism of our culture doesn't recognize the beauty of God-created differences in skills and vocations.
- Paul was called to this by God. His ministry existed for the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
- Paul defends the gospel against the Epicureans and the Stoics.
- We too are confronted by ancient pagan philosophy, which was revived in the Renaissance and has become prominent in our day.
- Peter Singer, chair of bioethics at Princeton, advocates infanticide and bestiality. Recently, a judge in Western Canada justified infanticide on the basis that there is no abortion law.
- We are close to the pagan ethics of Rome.
- The greatest challenge from the world confronting us today is the resurgence of paganism.
- In the church, the challenge facing us is abstract theology. Characteristics (e.g. love, justice, grace) are separated from objects and persons in order to create a theoretical ideal. Everything is simplified by leaving out the concrete details.
- Sin, law, justice, judgment, and inequality are considered not worthy of God. Alienation no longer refers to sin but is changed to mean 'economic inequality'; 'justice' and the kingdom of God is then realized through state-enforced wealth redistribution.
- Abstract theologians envision an egalitarian society that will bring about the kingdom of God through the arm of the state.
- Paul, however, defines “love” as the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10)
- We have to be governed by and be faithful to the Word of God, not develop our own abstract ideas.
- Theology is not a subset of philosophy. It is taken from God's Word.
- Psalm 1. The stream is life, it's Christ, and if we are planted in Him we will bear fruit.
- All of this is to the praise of the glory of God: the partnership, the defense and confirmation, etc.
- Everything we do is to God's praise. As a church, we are called to this. We are to bring Him glory by our faithfulness to the gospel.
- What does it mean to be a “partner in the gospel”?
- Is there such a thing as a “secular” vocation? Can the skill of making children's toys or farming vegetables be God-given?
- How does a purely abstract theology conflict with what the Bible says? Provide references to support your answer.
- How would you answer the question 'what is love'? What is Paul's answer to that question? (See Romans 13:8-10). How should Paul's answer impact our thinking and way of life as Christians?
- How do we build our theology?
- What is King Jesus calling us as the Church to do? How am I called to serve my Lord, Master, and King?