Session 5

Philippians Study – Session 5

(Philippians 1:19-20)

 

In this session we are going to focus on one of the most optimistic, positive, confident statements in the Bible.  Look at Philippians 1:19-20.   Notice how v.19 begins...”For I know...”...not “For I guess...” ...not “For I hope...”...not even “For I am praying...”...but “For I know...”...that is, “It is my fixed, unshakeable opinion...”...there is no doubt...no uncertainty...no wavering...no questioning...this is a statement of absolute trust and confidence in God...want you to see in these verses--

What Paul knew with such confidence...

How Paul knew it...

We will begin with the “how” part and then focus on the “what” part.

 

How Paul knew what he knew

1.      Look again at the phrase “...through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ...” in Philippians 1:19...that is a very significant statement...it tells us something very important about the Christian life...it tells us there are two sides, two dimensions to the Christian life...

--there is a human side and there is a divide side...

--the Christian life involves human intercession and divine intervention...

--there is our part and there is God’s part...

2.      Notice what Paul says in this verse...his confidence comes from two sources...the prayers of the Christians in Philippi and the provision of the Spirit...

--the Christians in Philippi did their part in encouraging Paul...they faithfully prayed for him...there is a whole sermon in that little phrase “...through your prayers...”...we must never discount the importance and the power of prayer...as we intercede on behalf of others and seek God’s guidance for our lives, our confidence in God and our assurance of God’s presence with us grows

--Paul’s confidence came not just from the prayers of his friends...also came from “...the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ...”...there’s interesting picture behind the word translated “provision”...that is the word from which we get our word “chorus” or “choir”...when a Greek city had a special festival, the government depended on a private donor to pay for the singers and dancers...for a good festival, a large donation was needed...so the word came to mean “to provide generously or lavishly” [ Wiersbe, p.44]...Paul saying, I find confidence/encouragement in the lavish resources of God...He is ever faithful to meet my needs...

 

What Paul knew (Basically, he mentions two things.)

Paul knew that he would be delivered

  1. Look at the first part of v.19...”For I know that this shall turn out for my deliverance...”...the word translated “deliverance” in the NASB is actually from the same word family from which the word “salvation” comes...in the overwhelming majority of places the word is used in the NT it is translated “salvation”... What did Paul mean in saying that he was confident that his imprisonment “...shall turn out for my deliverance/salvation?”
    • He certainly wasn’t talking about salvation or deliverance in the sense of salvation from sin and eternal security with God...

                                                              i.      Paul was not saved because he courageously endured imprisonment...we are saved not by what we endure...we are saved by what Christ endured for us on the cross...

                                                            ii.      Paul was not saved because he suffered for the cause of Christ...we are saved not because we suffer...we are saved because Christ suffered in our place...

Salvation, in the sense of having our sins forgiven and relationship with God restored does not come from what we do...and that is certainly not the kind of salvation to which Paul is referring in this verse...

    • Nor is he talking salvation or deliverance in the sense of being released from or delivered from prison...when Paul wrote these words he did not know how his case would come out...he didn’t know whether he would be released or kept...live or die...and in the next few verses he even says that’s not important to him...his focus wasn’t on personal safety...

2.   If Paul wasn’t referring to salvation in the sense of eternal salvation or deliverance in the sense of being released from prison, what did he mean by “...this shall turn out for my deliverance?”...I think he was talking about his personal well-being or personal growth as a Christian...he was saying, “I am confident that God will use my situation to mold me into a better person...to accomplish in my life his ultimate purpose for me...”

3.      Paul had a clear understanding of God’s ultimate desire for his life...he understood that God’s purpose for each person is to, in the words of Romans 8:29, conform that person “to the image of His Son...”...in other words, God wants to make us more like Jesus...and Paul was able to look beyond his immediate circumstances and say, “I know God is using this time to make me more like Christ...”...and that knowledge, that confidence helped Paul endure and make sense out of his circumstances...

4.      And so it is in our lives as well...if you can look at every situation...challenge...difficulty you face in life and see God working in those things to make you more like Jesus, then you are much more likely to make sense of and make it through such times...

5.      I have seen over and over again people who have gone through heart wrenching experiences in life who have come out on the other side of those experiences better people, more Christ-like people...

--nowhere in Scripture are we promised that if we are faithful to Christ we will be immune, exempt, insulated from trouble in this world...to claim that is to claim something that not even Jesus had...

--but over and over again in Scripture are we told that God will help us through times of trouble and that He will use those times to sharpen and refine our lives...

6.      Paul had great confidence that God was going to use his circumstances to make him more like Christ...

 

Paul knew Christ would be exalted in Him

1.   Look at the phrase in the last part of verse 20…“...Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted...”...that phrase tells us Paul’s ambition...it tells us the goal of Paul’s life...it tells us the main thing which consumed Paul...one writer put it this way:

“Paul’s ambition was not to be successful.  Therefore, he was not bothered by an occasional failure.

His ambition was not to be popular.  Therefore, he was not disturbed when others did not like him.

His ambition was not to be comfortable.  Therefore, unpleasant circumstances did not throw him.

Paul’s ambition was not even to have a long life.  Therefore, death did not frighten him.

Paul’s ambition was to exalt Christ ... Whatever he did, Paul wanted to make Christ conspicuous, to make Christ look great, to bring glory and praise to Christ.  That was Paul’s desire.”

[Harbour Philippians notes]

That should be the goal of every Christian...our lives should exalt Christ...lift Him up...bring glory to Him...Philippians 1:20 tells us two ways that Paul desired to exalt Christ...and we who follow Christ today should desire to exalt Him in those same two ways...

·         Paul desired to exalt Christ with his words and we should seek to exalt Christ with our words - You might look at Philippians 1:20 and think, “Where in the world do you get that from that verse?  I don’t see anything there about words or speech.”...but it really is there...look for a moment at the word which is translated “boldness” in the phrase “...that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted...”...in Classical Greek that word “boldness” is the word used to express the idea of freedom of speech...our concept of democracy was born in Greece...and this is the precise word the Greeks used to describe the democratic right to say what a person wished to say...This precise word is used eight times in the NT letters written by the Apostle Paul...let me just point out two examples—

--Ephesians 6:19 - “And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness [with freedom of speech] the mystery of the gospel...”

--2 Corinthians 3:12 - “Having therefore such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech...”

And by choosing to use this particular word in Philippians 1:20 Paul is saying, “It is my desire to exalt Christ with my speech, through the words I say.”...when he made this statement he may have been looking forward to his pending trial before Caesar...he was looking forward to exalting Christ before Caesar by what he said at his trial...

 

Aesop, the ancient storyteller, told a fable about a donkey that found a lion’s skin. He tried it on, strutted around, and frightened many animals. Soon a fox came along, and the donkey tried to scare him, too. But the fox, hearing the donkey’s voice, said, “If you want to terrify me, you’ll have to disguise your bray.” Aesop’s moral is that your words always give you away...[Illustrations A-Z, speech]

 

Those of us who are followers of Jesus should exalt Christ, lift up Christ, magnify Christ with our words...when others hear us speak they should be able to discern from what we say our loyalty to Christ...that means two things—

--it means we don’t use words in a negative way to cut, destroy, tear down, and hurt people...we must be careful that the words we speak do not drive people away from the Lord we claim to serve...but just avoiding negative speech is not enough...

--it means that we take every opportunity to share a positive word about Christ to those around us...we should be speaking of our love for the Lord, our commitment to the Lord, of what the Lord has done in our lives...

Our attitude toward speech should be the attitude reflected by David when he prayed, “Let the words of my mouth [as well as the meditation of my heart] be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”

 

  • Paul desired to exalt Christ with his actions, and we should seek to exalt Christ with our actions - It was not enough for Paul to exalt Christ by what he said...he also wanted Christ to be exalted by what he did...notice what he says in this verse...”...that with all boldness, Christ shall even now, as always, be exalted in my body...”...the phrase “in my body” refers to Paul’s actions...to the things he did...Paul was well aware that it is never enough for Christians merely to say the right things...we must also do the right things...no-one is going to take what we say very seriously unless it is backed up by what we do...

 

In the year 1522 Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, was asked to give the eulogy at the funeral service of a well-known German pastor...the pastor’s name was Nicholas Haussman...the people who gathered for Pastor Haussman’s funeral service expected a long, glowing eulogy from Martin Luther...but when Luther stood to speak all he said was, “What he preached, he lived.”...can’t think of a better tribute to a Christian than that...”What he preached, he lived.” [Illustrations A-Z, example] 

 

That was certainly Paul’s desire...he wanted people to see in his actions, in his life, the things he preached...the phrase “...whether by life or death...” at the end of Philippians 1:20 is Paul’s way of saying, “I don’t really care what happens to me...it doesn’t matter whether I am released from prison or sentenced to death... what does matter is that my actions point others to Christ...I want to exalt Him whether by living or by dying...” 

 

And we, who claim to be followers of Jesus should constantly by asking ourselves—

--Does my life, my example, make it easier for others to come to Christ or more difficult for others to come to Christ?

--Are others drawn to Christ by what they see in me, or are they pushed away from Christ by what they see in me?

--Are my actions consistent with what I profess to believe or do they undermine what I profess to believe?

In other words, “Is Christ exalted by what I do, by my example?”...Jesus said, “Let your light [meaning life] shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

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