Grab your Bible, and let’s dig into Philippians chapter 1.
Paul says in Philippians 1:3, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”
Paul is thankful for his blood-bought family even without their presence. That’s how blessed it is to be in the family of God.
Does your being a part of the family of God cause you to cry out with thanks to God? It means that much to Paul. It means that much to me. To be a part of this ministry is to be a part of a very special family.
Listen how Paul takes this to another level in verse 8:
Philippians 1:8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Paul is speaking of a family of God with an affection that is greater than other relationships. It is a part of his joy and rejoicing.
It is a part of his reality—his daily reality—that gives him enduring joy.
Does the family of God do this for you?
He says this another way in Romans:
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
This is not loving one another just with deeds. It is saying, “Have feelings for each other. Desire relationship and fellowship with each other.” The idea is that our hearts know joy when we are around each other or thinking of each other or praying for each other. Because we are family!
But the word for "love" in Romans 12:10 refers to a special kind of love. It refers to "tender affection, particularly family affection." So, the verse is calling for Christians to have "tender affection toward each other in family love."
This is a command for how we are to relate to each other in the body of Christ—we are to feel an affection—a tender affection for each other.
We also read in 1 Peter 1:22 (NASB), “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart.”
Here again is something much more than treating each other well. Here is something from the heart. Something earnest, something with fervor, something of family affection.
But I think Paul says it best in Philippians 1:8: “For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
The word for "affection" is "intestines" or "inner organs." The idea is, “I long for you and love you, not just with an act of will power, but with deep and tender affections. I miss you. I am homesick for you. I feel.”
Philippians 1:4 says, “always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy.”
I want to break this into two parts of focus: prayer and encouragement.
Pray for One Another
Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints
He wants them to know of the real brotherly love he has for them, and that it’s a love that drives him to CONSTANTLY, REGULARLY pray for them. This is a sweet thing, right? When someone is praying for you faithfully, it is very sweet. Like Paul, we are not just called to suit up and sit around. Like Paul models and commands, we are called to suit up and PRAY “AT ALL TIMES.”
We are called to “KEEP ALERT BY MAKING SUPPLICATION FOR ALL THE SAINTS.”
Supplication means prayers. Are you praying for all the saints? Are you praying for one another?
Jesus models praying for his brothers, knowing the war they are in!
Luke 22:31-32 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
Paul models this all the time for us. It is a part of his JOY to pray for his blood-bought family: “always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” (Philippians 1:4).
I love this prayer of Paul:
Ephesians 3:16-19 … according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
In your prayers for yourselves and for one another, are you asking for deepening eyes to see and ears to hear? An attentiveness to the gospel’s 24/7 work and power? That we, too, might be transformed and others around us might take on a new identity entirely from the lies and lostness of the temporary?
We need to pray for one another as an active way of loving and fighting for one another.
Romans 15:30 (NASB) Now I urge you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me
The basic point of the verse is to motivate the Roman Christians to "strive" or to "struggle" or to "fight"; it's a strong word—not just pray but strive or struggle or fight—in prayer to God for Paul as he goes to Jerusalem with a contribution for the poor Christians of the city.
Encourage One Another
Both in his prayers and in writing this letter, we see Paul encouraging his family.
It is an encouragement just to know I am being prayed for.
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
God commanded that His people encourage each other, because He knows we need it.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus warned that “in this world you will have tribulation,” which He then followed with a much-needed encouragement: “… But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus
Hear this today: If we are going to truly know and practice encouragement, we must first know the “God of encouragement.”
God cares for His people with a holy passion. The church of Jesus Christ is the blood-bought bride of His Son, and He loves us with a minute-by-minute, omnipotent care. Only in Christ do you have the care and loving engagement of the God of encouragement. Apart from Christ, you rightly sit under the perfect, just wrath of God.
Additionally, the “God of encouragement” has given us the weapon that is designed to defeat these enemies: “… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
Now look at the previous verse in Romans 15.
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
I pray that we see the joy it is for Paul to pray for and encourage his church family. I pray that you come to know the joy that it is in your life to practice these things. Even when, like Paul, you are in a hard time and maybe feeling lonely, may the ministry of prayer and encouragement be a way to stay joyful and know that you are not alone but connected to an awesome and eternal family.
Philippians 1:5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
Paul has been praying for them because of their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. He is acknowledging the special relationship that he has with all of his blood-bought family. His adopted brothers and sisters share an amazing bond—an eternal bond—in Jesus because of the gospel, which brought them new life in Christ and true unity. From their new birth until this point in the exile journey, they are family and partners in the mission God has given them.
Do you think about other Christians this way—even if you hardly know them?
Do you think that you share a partnership in Christ, a gospel partnership, that is a relationship like nothing else?
Think about the different people you meet along the way that truly love Jesus and share your purpose for living. This is truly a joy.
This is why the word says there are to be no divisions among you. Because you are partners in the gospel. You are not partners in a self-serving business venture that can go bad. You are not partners in a relationship where you can break up. You are not partners on a team that has a season, and then it’s over. You are partners in the gospel. Meaning from your new birth in Christ and for the rest of eternity, we are gospel partners. Paul gets this and is reveling in it. He is so pumped by this connection and bond in the gospel and the special mission that God has set before them. He is joyful to pray for them.
Skip verse 6, as we will come back to it in a moment, and look at verse 7 with me:
Philippians 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
Some might say it is strange he is so pumped about someone he hardly knows. They may even say, “I think it is weird that your similar religious convictions create such a strong bond.” But it is not religion or religious similarities. Those are superficial!
What does Paul say it is? He says together they are “… all partakers with me of grace” (Philippians 1:7).
This is why he holds them so dearly in his heart. This is why he feels this way about them. This partaking of grace causes them to run this race together despite what they face—imprisonment, the defense of the gospel, and the confirmation of it. They are suffering, but they endure.
For us to embrace being “partakers of grace,” we must rightly understand grace.
Grace defined: Unmerited favor (or an undeserved gift) given by an unobligated giver.
Grace is a gift from God! He is not obligated to give (His obligation is justice, judgment, wrath). We are not deserving to receive (we deserve His judgment, wrath).
It is in the gospel of grace in which Paul’s joy is grounded. It is like a well springing up to eternal life despite his circumstances.
Ok, moving on. Look back at verse 6 with me:
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Paul is joyful despite his separation from normal life and loved ones in that he understands the faithfulness of God to finish what he began. Paul is joyful, for he understands the saints will endure to the end and persevere to the end. WHY? Because their salvation belongs to the Lord.
Their faith is a gift from God and will endure to the end. How does he know? Because it belongs to God. Notice what he says: “HE who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, it is not up to you. If you are free, you are free indeed. If you are truly saved, you are saved forever. God doesn’t make a mistake in anything.
Do you remember we studied this in John chapter 6?
John 6:37b-40 “and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Here we see the beautiful doctrine known as Perseverance of the Saints.
Listen to the promises of Christ concerning the security of the saved ones as I highlight them here:
John 6:37b “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
They will not be cast out. God will not change His mind and reject them later. We did nothing to gain His love or acceptance. We can do nothing to lose it. We are forever His! Forever secure in His power. When the storms rage in your life, do you stand in this assurance?
John 6:39 “… I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
We cannot be lost. Every one of His sheep are precious in His sight. Not only are we precious, but we will stand with Him in victory. He will raise us up on the last day.
John 6:40 “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Eternal life--not eternal death and destruction.
Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Are you SURE? Do you rest on who you are in Christ no matter your circumstances?
He will bring it all to completion. He will finish what He began in you!!!
This is why Paul endures in joy! In what else do we have this kind of assurance and confidence as the house is raging on fire, our child is dying of cancer, our spouse abandons us for another? Only in Jesus. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion!
Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
9a: “And it is my prayer that”
Again, Paul loves his adopted family and is praying for them.
And what is his prayer for them?
9b: “your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment”
What did Jesus tell us about love?
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Mark 12:29-31 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
1 John 4:19-21 We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
I could go on and on. We are to walk and talk in love—love for one another and for our enemies.
This doesn’t mean we don’t stand on truth, for love is not love if not in truth.
Notice how he says it abounds—In knowledge and discernment.
The love of God is of God. Therefore, we must know and discern what God says is loving and true.
Not just go with our gut—our instinct—because our flesh is deceitful and self-serving, through and through.
So, Paul is praying that our “love may abound more and more.”
Why? Because it is the love of God that is at work in us and causing us to love others like He loves us.
What is the purpose of this?
10: “so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ”
So that we may approve what is excellent: the things that honor God.
I think it is the process of discerning true faith in Jesus—of a life that honors God.
Why? So we, the people of God, are pure and blameless for the arrival of the Groom—Jesus Christ.
Paul is saying, “This is the primary work, the work of love, of gospel testimony. The work of disciple making, raising up those who are excellent and pure and blameless as they grow in sanctification.”
Why? Because the Groom is coming for His bride. Because this work is the greatest thing in this life that we get to do. It is the joy of our lives to make ready the bride of God for the wedding feast of our Lord.
11a: “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ”
Where does the power to do these things come from? NOT FROM YOURSELF!
From God, “THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.” The fruit of righteousness or the Holy Spirit is the result of Christ at work in us. I want the tree of my life in Christ to bear much fruit—to be FILLED!
And ultimately, why do we do these things that Paul is praying for the church to do?
11b: “to the glory and praise of God.”
This is my prayer for you and yours as we live to make much of His holy name.