FREED: to be Family | Philippians 1:1-11

April 15, 2018 Speaker: Christopher Rich Series: PHILIPPIANS | FREED

Topic: New Testament Passage: Philippians 1:1–1:11

Christopher Rich – April15, 2018

FREED | From Prison to Peace

Freed to be Family |Philippians 1:1-11  

 

Introduction | What is your family?  

Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we’re continuing our series FREED: From Prison to Peace.

 

What is your family like? The one you grew up with? The one you didn’t grow up with because one of the parents wasn’t there? The one you’re apart of now? The one you’re estranged from now? What do you think about when you think about family? Is you family all just like you? Did everyone go down the same paths, thinks the same way, enjoys the same things? Or is your family a bit more diverse? Where people have gone down different paths, where thanksgiving is a bit awkward. Much of what we think about family is shaped primarily by our direct experience, popular culture, or other examples. How we think about and view family will impact us in how we engage with other people, how we form relationship and what we expect from each other. This becomes more important for those who claim the name of Jesus when we remember that the people of God, Christians, the church, is spoken about as a family. It is a family of estranged sinners adopted by God through the work of Jesus on the cross in their place into a forever family. The church is a family, becoming and being a Christian is to be part of a family. A weird family.

 

Last week we saw how this church family in Philippi was planted. It was and eclectic group. There is Lydia a wealthy business woman dealing in a world of luxury who is still searching for some sort of meaning that can only come from God. A slave girl who has been spiritually oppressed and human trafficked by men seeking to profit from her. And a middle class roman jailer with a family who is so afraid of failure at his job and wrath from his superiors that he’s ready to kill himself when it looks like he’s lost his prisoners. Each of these people were trapped, imprisoned in the condition of their lives without the God of the Bible.  In each case they were met by or encountered the truth of the Gospel of Jesus who sets people imprisoned by sin, oppression, and hopelessness. Each was engaged with differently, but each heard and responded to the word of Jesus…and they were set free. Not feed to be alone They were FREED to be Family.

 

PART I | FREED to Flourish and Function like Family | v1-2

Phil 1:1-2 | Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Freed to a Flourishing family. This family that started pretty weird has grown up a bit. This is 10-12 years later. They were started in a way that shouldn’t have worked and yet after over a decade of faithfulness they are flourishing in many ways. Their flourishing allowed them to be a consistent blessing to other churches. They have supported church planting. They had contributed to relief efforts in Jerusalem.

 

Freed to an immediate family. This is a specific family. They are a family that has participated in the planting, mission and support of other churches like an extended family, but they are tied together uniquely as an immediate family. Paul is writing to a group that is defined and distinct in Philippi. Our family over spring break went and visited a few Lead Pastors’ families from Acts 29 in WA and OR. It was a blast, it was great to see the context of their cities, where their churches meet, etc. It was visiting extended family. So enjoyable, so encouraging, can’t wait for the next time… but this is immediate family.

Freed to a family that functions. Starting loose and weird is great but with maturity and growth comes greater organization for the family to continue to function well. The churches Paul planted had an emphasis on leadership development and growth. This family had arranged themselves in a model we see often in the new testament. Paul starts with to all the saints (these are members, everyone who is part of the family, and makes a distinction for the elders(overseers), deacons (those who serve). Scripture teaches that God has organized the people of His church into different roles in the church, each with different responsibilities.  These roles are members, deacons, and elders each support one another in fulfilling the “work of ministry”.  

 

MEMBERS | Family Relationships and Responsibilities: A family is not a family without members of it, otherwise it’s just a name an idea. One does not have to have specific office or role in order to contribute to the “flourishing of the family.”  In fact, the life of the church is more dependent upon individual members living a gospel centered life more than its leaders running programs, starting ministries, or teaching Bible studies. Some members will be called to godly leadership, but all members are called to godly living.

 

DEACONS | Leaders who Serve: The name deacon, or diakonos, is translated to mean: "servant", "waiting-man," "minister" or "messenger."  Deacons are only explicitly mentioned in two places in the New Testament, both in relation to elders, because the two groups of leaders work so closely together. Deacons

In other words, when senior spiritual leadership is overburdened to the degree that they are unable to simultaneously get time for prayer, Bible study, and care of needy people, they are free to appoint pastoral assistants to help alleviate some of their burden—Deacons serve the church, being faithful to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to them by the elders, meeting community-wide needs and finding solutions to problems. This demands character, faithfulness, and Deacons are an example to the church and heralds of the mission, possessing a clear understanding of the faith, living consistently with the truths, especially in ordering their lives and families in accordance with God’s principles. Deacon manage and execute various ministries and church functions. Example: Hospitality, Women’s, Sound, Road Groups, Benevolence. etc.

 

ELDERS | Servants who Lead: Due to a tremendous amount of confusion and corruption in the history of church leadership, we feel it necessary to explain how our leadership functions and aligns with Scripture.  The ordering of the church is not simply a matter of personal preference. Harmony and fruitfulness in our individual lives, our family life, and the life of our church are all dependent upon following God’s principles. The leaders of God’s household are more accurately described as “pastor-elder”, “shepherd-elder” or the like.  To use biblical terms, the elders shepherd, oversee, lead, and care for the local church.  In that sense, Damascus Road is an elder-led church. The words elder/pastor/bishop or overseer are all used interchangeably in the new testament to refer to the leaders of the church so these are not three distinct types of leader but rather overseer=elder=pastor. There all of our elders are considered pastors, men called by God to shepherd and lead this local expression of God's church. According to Hebrews 13.17, these men will have to give an account for those in their charge.  These are the offices or ways the family functions.  

 

Freed to a family with a perfect Father. This family has God as their father. They are part of a forever family. It is a family that is defined by the grace of God, people being given something they did not earn. And that grace from God being Peace with God. You are no longer estranged from God and His family but you are now part of this family If you have Jesus as your Savior-King.  This grace and peace in found IN Christ in a new identity as part of this family. The Family of saints has been Saved by Jesus’ Work, they have God as their heavenly Father, they are empowered by the Holy Spirit to follow Jesus as our King.

 

PART II | FREED to Partner and Preserve Like Family | v3-6

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 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. 

Freed to Partner Like Family. The family has a united purpose, it’s not a collection of individual on individual missions. They are unified around one purpose, that can express itself in many ways. God has worked in and through this church. Bringing them together locally and partnering with Paul and other churches regionally and beyond. They were and are brought together by the Gospel, and they are partnered FOR the advancement OF the Gospel. From Day one, Lydia was generously hosting the ministry team in her home and later they’re sending out support to other churches, and to Paul. This led him to Joy. This joy drove him to pray back to God, thanking GOD for what He is doing in and through these people. There is a cycle and thread God Acts > People Respond in Obedience > Joyful partnership is produced leading to fruitfulness> Thanksgiving to God is given to the God who Acts! Repeat on a loop please!

 

I say they are characterized by obedience to the Gospel Truth of who Jesus is Paul isn’t correcting doctrinal error like what had happened in Galatia. We see this because Paul doesn’t spend countless chapters having to correct immoral behavior around money, sex, status, and worship like he does with the Corinthians. He doesn’t have to tell them to lighten up on their fear of the Holy Spirit and quit waiting for rapture and get to work like the Thessalonians. The church in Philippi is a rad church!  And because they’re rad, Paul really appreciates them with a genuine affection. They are a family of people who have been Saved by Jesus’ work, are being Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and are Living on Jesus’ Mission. This word partnership is koinia in the greek it means fellowship. It is a binding that brings people together for a common purpose like a business, team, mission, family. It is co-laboring for the Gospel so it is much deeper than coffee and cookies (that why we don’t call it a “fellowship hall”). They are freed for a purpose.  

 

Freed to persevere This Partnership had perseverance. It has perseverance because of the starter and the finisher. As great as the church in Phillipi is they’re not the hero of their own story. If they endure it will not be because of their efforts but because of the one who began the work in them. Who is the starter? Who is the starter of your story? Who is the starter of your family? If we’re the starter than there is a great pressure we have to be the finisher. God is not running the first leg of a relay with us handing us the baton and saying ok now don’t drop it and make sure you run you heart out on your own across the finish line.

 

Who is the finisher? In our stories on our own we are trying to be the finisher but we can’t. Where is the confidence in your story to finishing strong, finishing well? Is it you? We get tired. We get distracted. We get discourage. We waiver. Not our God. God always finishes what He starts! We start and wain and rarely complete. God doesn’t get tired. Our God is a God of endurance and He can call us to endure. This call to endurance and completion is as communal as it is individual. God began the good work in Philipi and He will bring it to completion. If God has begun a good work in you, He will bring it to completion.

 

This is not a whew, it’s gunna be taken care of so I don’t engage. It is a call to engage with full assurance of perseverance.  Does that mean because I prayed a special prayer at a camp/meeting/service that what ever I do in my life now doesn’t matter because once saved always saved? To quote Dr. Art Azurdia “I believe in once saved, always saved….Not once prayed, always saved.”  You should work out your salvation with fear and trembling, it says later. You shouldn’t rely on a prayer or an emotional service, or a season engagement followed by years of stagnation but the ongoing presence of God in and though you through the Holy Spirit regularly pointing you back to Jesus. The road at times may be a little windy but If it’s the work of God that began in you He doesn’t give up. You maybe far off today, come back, you may have stopped walking, start again. You may have been a prodical, you may have had long seasons of doubt or disobedience. Come back. Run again.

Where have you seen growth? Endurance? Praise God? If you’re family know you’re family forever receive this and live as a member of the family. The family God has called you to in the gospel. There is an initiation in the Gospel, God initiates, God sends Jesus. There is sacrifice in the gospel. God sacrifices in Jesus on the cross. There is completion in the Gospel of Jesus saving us. Jesus on the cross cries out “it is finished!” There is newness in the Gospel “behold I am making all things new” There is growth is the gospel as God changes us. There is the finish line (or rather new start line) in the Gospel of Jesus return and restoration of all things. We worship a finishing God. I sleep well when I remember God is the hero of my story and every story. Don’t be sure of yourself, be sure of God. So we rest. And we resolve to continue to walk out the new life God has for us because He’s is empowering us to keep going with His Holy Spirit. God’s finished work encourages us to strive with assurance that failure is not an option for our God.

 

PART III | Feed to Feel like family | v7-8

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. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 

 

Flourishing, functioning, partnering and persevering. This is a family we should all want to be a part of and yearn for. This a family that is enjoyable.  What is driving Paul to feel an affection for these people he’s had a great distance from? He doesn’t talk like this about the other churches. These guy are his friends. They’re not his favorites, but he has people who he share both experiences, battles, losses, victories with, AND he enjoys them as friends. He’s thankful for all the churches….but this one is a bit easier to be thankful for. But Paul is also encouraged to love these people. Why?  They had an affection and support of Paul in times his ministry was flourishing and times when he was facing great hardship. This support was beyond just good thoughts and kinds words it was tangible. There was a dirty word, they had some loyalty to Paul. Not idolatry of leaders or great teachers we can sometimes have. But a mutual love, respect, and affection was clearly seen. Everyone was on the same page. God is the hero AND everyone has a place and purpose in the family. The church knew Paul enough, and Paul had a consistent track record of preaching/teaching the gospel, that in a short time they said “this is our guy, preaching our God.” They funded him in Thessalonica so he could plant there before the church there could support him. When he was in Corinth and starting to get tapped out serving a church that was immature in their giving (and countless other areas) they supported him, and now a decade plus later as Paul under house arrest in Roman they sent Epaphroditus with another financial gift. They liked Paul and Paul liked them and he says “its right.”  

 

Sometimes there are people you just click with and other times you don’t. It’s not always a sin issue. There are just natural (not evil) affinities for others. These are not somehow less than or shallow, in fact they are a gift from God to have some relationships that are easier than others. Relationships in any family, and especially God’s family are going to be difficult enough as it is. Savor and enjoy the times and people where things feel easy and enjoyable. That doesn’t mean there aren’t amazingly beautiful gospel friendship where the only thing in common is the gospel. It doesn’t mean we should disengage with every relationship when there is difficulty. He didn’t simply state “I know because of the gospel we’re brothers and sisters so I will try to endure with you even though beyond a theological truth there is NOTHING

that seem like we’re actually a loving family so I’ll just put up with you like that awkward relative you don’t call” No, Paul was saying “it’s right for me to feel this way because ya’ll acted like a loving and encouraging family” How? “You supported me when I was preaching the gospel, churches were being planted, and the mission was advancing AND you supported me when I was imprisoned and not able to lead the charge in the same way. We’ve been through good time and bad together and have endured together because of the grace of God to us. In a sense this church made the job of leading them more enjoyable by being supportive of Paul. They acted like family, endured like family, so Paul held them in His heart like family, cherished them like family, and had feelings of joy for them like family.

 

But this doesn’t happen by accident It requires intentionality. If this doesn’t seem like your experience “feeling like family” why is that? What could or should change?  What would it look like for all of us instead of waiting for people to start treating us like family would initiate in reaching out to others and begin to treat them like family. To ask ourselves in this place and space, where can I encourage someone else? Where can I partner with this church for mission?  

 

PART IV | FREED to Pray for More| v9-10

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

There great things happening in and though the life of our church and the churches we’re connected with so be encouraged! But also be desiring of more. And let that desire for more drive you and us to pray.

Pray for More. Don’t be complacent. Want more. We are to pray for more!  This prayer is very practical.

 

Pray for more Love to abound. If we are called to love God and love people and we know because of sin we can’t and don’t we should pray for God to gift us this. There are always threats to disunity. Mistrust. When not clicking can turn to clashing. When personality and philosophical differences can threaten peace. IF God has been the one that is planting and growing churches out of love for His people and His Gospel then let us pray for this love that saves and changes us to draw us together more. Even when it’s not easy but requires endurance.  Where do you need to have love for another grow?

 

Pray for more knowledge – To know what is true and right about God. To not ignore our natural emotions but also not be led exclusively by them. To have such an intimate knowledge of God and His promises, His person in Jesus that when storms hit, discouragement comes, or counterfeit gospel or doctrinal error comes it can be met with the truth God loves His people, sin hurts and has consequences, Jesus saves, we repent and believe. This is not a prayer for more knowledge that puffs up but for knowledge that builds up.

 

Pray for more discernment – to be able to see this world for what it is and engage properly. To be able to make moral judgement in your life. To be sensitive to what is happening around you to see when there may be opportunities to share the gospel to point people to Jesus. We are a family on mission together. Where do we need more discernment to be on this mission of the gospel deeper and wider?

 

Prayer for a purpose - The purpose of this is so we can approve what is Excellent, be pure/blameless with nothing missing, and nothing to fear or have guilt or shame for. To know what is best in each situation, and having the wisdom and discernment to know what is good and do, to know what is evil and abstain.

 

Prayer for purity – From D-Group Study (Sincere – Broken and blemished pot were filled with hard wax. It was fake. It couldn’t be seen in the shop, but it could be when it was held up to the sunlight. If you purchased it an took it home it wouldn’t hold up and you’d be out your money. It would be junk. Honest dealers would mark there sine cera (without wax) because it had past the sun light test. We are all broken and blemished pot. We have been filling ourselves (and have been filled by other who have been dishonest to us) with fake filling that we hope will help us get by. So a prayer to made pure is a pray to have what is fake, insecure that you’re relying on to get by that you’re hoping will hold up and endure but you know is fake and have it removed. To be made whole, to be “without wax” to be able to pass the test of the light of the sun. We all need to be made pure to be made “sincere” to be made whole.

 

So pray for this purity.  Pray it for the first time or pray it daily that God would begin a good work, if it’s begun that it would continue, if it’s continuing that He would complete it in us. That when we pray for God to make us pure to save us and change us that we would remember we are part of His forever family of adopted broken pots being made whole as we Trust Jesus.