Philippians • Sermon • Submitted
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This week we bring our time in Philippians to a close.
What makes this
Please open your Bibles to .
I read this passage and thought that it was appropriate not only for this week but also what is to come.
Later this week, 12 of us are going to be flying from LAX to the Czech Republic.
We will serve at a church in Kromeriz.
I think that Paul’s words are appropriate for the Philippians.
They are appropriate for us as we go to Czech to greet the Christians there.
And it’s also appropriate for the Czech Christians, as we travel across the world to greet them, and partner with them.
I think that this is an appropriate text for this week.
So, I’ll also be preaching this same message to the Czech church either next week or the week after.
Paul is in Rome, under house arrest.
He’s received a care package from a man named Epaphroditus, who was sent from Philippi.
Now, he’s sending his own letter back to Philippi.
He sends his greetings.
He says that those who are with him send their greetings.
As well as some surprise news from the Romans there.
He begins with these words, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.”
A number of years ago someone called me and asked for some help with their computer.
While in college, I went around helping people with their computer, and was fairly competent at it.
By the way, I promise this is not a preacher story, or a random illustration that I read in a preachers book of stories.
Someone had a computer, and was having trouble with their computer not being able to read a CD.
I had the person open up “My Computer” and look at the D drive, which was the CD drive on the computer.
But to no luck, it wouldn’t read the disc.
Finally, after spending plenty of time on the phone with the person, I said that I would come over and look at it.
Maybe it’d need a new CD drive installed into the computer.
Who knew? And I wouldn’t know till I was with the physical computer.
This person lived in Perris, so I made the 25 mile drive to his house.
I arrive at the house and go to the computer.
I see the problem disc on top of the computer.
I push the little button that ejects the CD drive.
I gently place the CD in the drive.
The man then says, again, I promise this is a true story, he says, “Oh, I’m supposed to put the CD in the computer.”
You don’t know the things that went through my head.
Of course you put the CD in the computer.
Paul says, “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.”
When Paul says “Greet every saint ...” he doesn’t mean greet like how we this man greeted his computer with a CD.
“CD say hi to computer.”
“Computer say hi to CD.”
To greet actually means to embrace.
To get close to.
To be intimate with.
Sadly, many Christians, greet each other in the same way that this man greeted his CD and his computer.
We say hi, but you never embrace.
We know their name.
But we never get any closer than that.
And then people wonder why they aren’t more connected to the church.
They say, “I go to church. I’m near it.”
That man’s CD was near the computer, why wasn’t it showing up?
But they haven’t embraced the church.
The answer is that they have never embraced the church.
They’ve come near it, but keep people at a distance.
Then like the man and his computer, they think something is wrong with the church.
Why this separation? Why this inability to get close?
I can’t say specifically.
Maybe it’s a fear of getting hurt.
You’ve been close to someone in the past, and they burned you.
Someone is rich, and doesn’t want to associate with
Maybe it’s because you don’t want to expose yourself to someone knowing that you are a sinner and have your own problems.
Maybe it’s because you don’t want to deal with someone else’s problems.
You don’t want the added burden of their stress in your life.
May I start with some positive reinforcement.
This unity, this warm greeting, this embracing, it’s a blessing.
says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!”
Then the end of the Psalm says, “For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”
This is a command, but it’s also a blessing.
God’s will for you and for me is that we embrace each other, that we greet each other.
For the church to be the way God designed us to be, we must open ourselves up, and connect.
Either way, as long as you aren’t greeting others, or embracing them you aren’t being obedient to Scripture or to God.
Now how do we do this?
If you are guarded how do you do this?
If you see the weaknesses in others, how do you this?
We do this by seeing the church the way Christ sees the church.
Paul says, “Greet every … saint in Christ Jesus.”
How do we see each other?
And as saints in Christ Jesus.
What is a saint?
Ignore the Roman Catholic view of saints that says the saints are the elite Christians, who are so good that their goodness can be passed onto other Christians.
Or that a saint can be prayed to.
A saint literally is someone who is holy. He is set apart.
To those of you who either know you’re a sinner and don’t want someone to find out about your sin.
Or you’re someone who doesn’t want to find out about others sins, I’ve got news for you.
We all have sinned.
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret about myself.
I’m a sinner.
And my sin is so great, that I deserve the hottest part of Hell.
I confidently say Paul’s words from , “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
There, I’ve told you who I am.
And I’m gonna get judgmental about you, you’re a sinner.
And the same thing about you.
In your sin, you deserve the hottest part of hell.
It’s not just me who is a sinner, we all are sinners.
In , in speaking to the church, Paul says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—”
Let’s just break that down.
Before you’re conversion, each and every one of you were so bad, that you were dead men walking, deserving Hell in your sins.
Not only that, but you were servants of the prince of the power of the air, that is Satan.
How about that for getting skeletons in the closets out?
That’s the dirt.
If you didn’t want people to know everything about you, well I just told everyone about you.
You are a sinner, who served Satan.
And so am I.
So what is there to hide.
Therefore, why are you so guarded?
What could surprise me about you?
You were a sinner, deserving Hell.
And what could surprise you about me?
The same thing, that I’m a sinner deserving Hell.
So we all share that in common.
If you’re afraid of people finding out about your past, well there it is.
You deserve Hell.
Yet, what makes us holy? What makes us separate? What makes us saints?
Christ has chosen you.
Despite your sins, He has said this one is mine.
says, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
Something that makes the church so special is that God has chosen the church, He has elected you, He has predestined you, to be His.
We are different.
And we share that in common.
Now as we begin to think about how we are to look to other Christians, let’s start putting this together.
Christians are sinners.
Christians are chosen.
And Christians are redeemed.
continues, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”
So in addition to sin, and election, look at the payment; how are we redeemed?
It’s not the really good Christians get to heaven by their righteousness.
Then the really bad Christians, have to do even more good works to eventually make it to heaven.
Christians are redeemed by one and the same payment, the life of Christ.
This means he who has sinned a little, and he who has sinned a lot, are redeemed by the same payment.
That levels the playing field doesn’t it?
Because if the cost is the same, then the value is the same.
Who are you to say, “I don’t want to take on that person’s dirt.”
Because your dirt is just as big as his dirt.
So now when you look at other Christians embrace them.
Because they are saints.
Because they are holy.
Because they are purchased with the same payment as you.
This should result in us being a single unit.
We have been chosen, and we have experienced something that sets us apart.
That should bind us together.
About 10 years ago, we took our high schoolers to something called Rock N Water.
We backpacked out 5 miles, and camped under the stars.
We brought only what fit in our backpack.
And the camp was strict with what we could and couldn’t not bring.
1 pair of socks.
1 pair of underwear.
We weren’t even allowed to bring a watch.
When we got there, that first night, there were tears.
These students suddenly weren’t so sure about this whole trip.
But by the end of the week.
After living under the stars.
After hiking 5 miles.
After rock climbing.
They were different students.
They were like animals.
We returned to the base camp, surrounded by other students who each had different experiences.
But our students were the only ones who lived in the outback for a week.
And compared to the other students, ours students were noticeably different.
We had shared in an incredible experience together.
And that experience had brought us together.
You too, have each experienced something tremendous, that sets you apart.
Therefore, view the church, the way Christ does.
And if He cared enough to die for sinners and then call them His own, then care enough to greet and embrace other saints; those Jesus died for.
Be in each others lives.
says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Let’s go the extra mile to help and support other Christians.
Don’t be like the CD outside the computer.
Saying, “I’m near, but it’s not working.”
In addition to the command to greet the saints, there is the news that Others Greet You.
In addition to the command to greet the saints, there is the news that Others Greet You.
Paul had originally come into Philippi a city with no believers.
There, Lydia’s family, and the Philippian jailer’s families were both converted.
And by the time Paul’s writing this letter, he begins by writing to the Christians, elders and deacons that make up this church.
The second half of verse 21 reminds the Philippians, that they are not alone.
“The brothers who are with me greet you.”
These brothers would be Timothy, who is mentioned in the 1st verse of this letter.
And Epaphroditus, who was sent to Paul in Rome.
There is always this need for us to embrace one another.
We are told to Greet every saint.
Participate in the body.
Serve one another.
These are all things that we do.
But then as we come to this part, The brothers who are with me greet you, we are reminded that here is something others are doing.
There is a church outside of us.
Week in, and week out, we are who we see.
This local church is who we have fellowship with.
This local church is who the elders are over.
This local church is who we encourage.
Now we are reminded that there is something bigger than Southwest Christian Church.
You are a part of the invisible church.
And this invisible church extends beyond our own doors and walls.
This invisible church is a fellowship that has notable members.
My dad likes to say that my family is related to Mark Twain and John Hancock.
I don’t know if that’s true.
I’m pretty sure it’s not.
But it’s fun to think that my ancestors were important historical figures.
While I’m not sure about my past, you are a part of something powerful.
says, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
One of the reasons why we strive for doctrinal purity, and truth, is because when we are teaching the truth, and believing the truth we are a part of this faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
When we believe the truth, you then have fellowship with your spiritual ancestors.
What the prophets taught … you’re a part of.
What Paul taught … you’re a part of.
What the apostles taught … you’re a part of.
And what Jesus taught … you are a part of.
And we have fellowship with them, and we call them brothers.
I remember hearing a story about John MacArthur going to Russia after the Iron Curtain fell.
During the Cold War, many American Evangelicals couldn’t go into Russia, they were forbidden.
Which means many valuable resources and teachers couldn’t go there to strengthen their church.
Finally, the USSR collapsed, and John MacArthur made a trip to Russia.
He was expecting to teach them the truth.
To straighten them out.
What he found was they already knew what he was going to teach.
Because they had the Bible.
And they believed it.
And they were obedient to it.
Because they too are a part of this faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
This is a reminder, that there is a church that belongs to Christ, that is bigger than we expect.
This next week, 12 of us are going to the Czech Republic.
Traveling thousands of miles.
About 19 hours of travel.
To go to a church that we’ve never been to, and know little about, can’t even pronounce the towns’s name.
But I can tell you this, they send their greetings.
They may speak a different language, and follow different customs, but in Christ, we are one.
They send their greetings.
They will embrace us.
And we will embrace them.
This all becomes a picture of a better day that is coming.
, describes 24 elders, singing before Christ.
“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,”
The beauty of the church is this.
And while I said we need to view each other the way Christ views the church.
It’s a good reminder that the Lord is building a magnificent church that extends beyond borders, language, color of skin, and even time.
And so as we gather each week, and serve, and worship, may this encourage you and remind you that the church is much larger than little Southwest Christian Church.
You are a part of something much larger.
The Kingdom of God.
And in Christ she greets you.
Next in our passage, there is also a Surprising Greeting
Next in our passage, there is also a Surprising Greeting
Look at verse 22, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”
Philippi was a city that was proudly adopted into the Roman Empire.
Many Roman military people lived in Philippi.
Many Philippians had connections to those who lived in Rome.
So when Paul says that there are people from Caesar’s household who send their greetings, this would have sent shivers down the necks of the Philippians.
Because there were people in Rome who the Philippians knew, and these Romans were sending their greetings.
Paul was imprisoned in Rome.
This imprisonment meant that those in Rome had heard the Gospel.
And some of them had even been converted.
There are Romans -
People in Rome -
People within Caesar’s own household -
And they are now part of the kingdom of God.
And they send their greetings?!
This would have been earth shattering, knee wobbling, exciting news.
What else can testify to the power of the Gospel, than of hearing that there are people, very near to the pagan Caesar, who have been born again?
This is not something the Philippians expected to hear.
This is a reminder that the Gospel is going out.
The power of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit is mighty.
Though Satan is described as a lion, prowling around looking to devour someone.
Christ is ransacking his kingdom, and dragging Satan’s prisoners into the kingdom of Christ.
, “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
It’s as if there are hostages in enemy territory, and Christ is going behind enemy lines and rescuing His own.
Is there someone that you’d love to see become a Christian?
Is there someone that seems utterly hopeless?
This is a person who you regularly pray for.
But you think that this person is too close to the world’s way of thinking.
He’s too tied into the world.
He’s too intellectual.
He’s too philosophical.
He’s too sophisticated.
He’s too educated.
And you grieve because this person is untouchable to the Gospel.
I’m sure that this is how many of the Philippians viewed their Roman friends, especially those who worked for and close to Caesar.
Those in Rome have heard lies about the Christian religion.
They have been given a negative and false view of the faith.
There’s no way they’ll be persuaded.
They’re too close to Caesar.
Now they send their greetings.
Never think that someone is so bad that they cannot be saved.
Never think that someone is too unlikely to enter the kingdom of God.
Because now Caesar’s household sends their greetings.
You never know if you will get a call from that friend.
And they will give you their greeting.
They will embrace you as a brother or sister in Christ.
I remember, way back when, when Amanda and I worked at Dairy Queen.
We had a co-worker that couldn’t have been further from Christ.
And one day, after years away, she came back into Dairy Queen as a customer.
She asked how church was.
Then she said that in her time away, she had become a Christian.
That was a thrilling conversation.
The grace of God is surprising in who He reaches.
Please be praying for the 12 of us going to the Czech Republic.
In 4 days, 12 of us will be going to one of the most secular nations in the world.
The Christian’s there send their greetings.
My prayer is that we will see the church grow there.
My prayer is that when we return, even more will send their greetings.
Pray for boldness.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to open hearts of the most secular.
The last greeting we have in the text is that Christ Greets.
The last greeting we have in the text is that Christ Greets.
We have seen that we greet others.
Then we saw that others greet us.
And now we come to the final greeting, and the most needed … Christ greets.
Verse 23, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
What makes this greeting so spectacular is it’s not initiated by us.
On our own we do not greet God or embrace God.
Sure there may be people who seem to be spiritual, or even religious.
On our own no one approaches God rightly.
No one willingly greets God.
No one wants God on His terms.
We see this demonstrated by our sin.
When we sin, we are not greeting or embracing God.
But rather we are pushing Him away.
Rejecting His kindness and His affection.
We are rejecting His rule.
Paul said it this way in .
“no one understands; no one seeks for God.”
The reality of the situation isn’t that people are here greeting God, or desiring Him.
When Jesus came to earth as a child, he was greeted with Herod killing all the boys in Bethlehem under the age of 2.
That’s a terrible greeting.
Jesus saw the reality of man’s desire to embrace God in , “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
No one can come to me.
“No one will embrace me.”
“No one will greet me.”
The only response from God that we deserve is His wrath.
tells us that the wages of sin is death.
And the day is coming when all people will stand before God and be judged.
And the response that people will deserve is to face His judgment, Hell.
And the surprising greeting of God is that He doesn’t punish the church for their sins.
The surprising greeting of God is that Jesus came to be with sinners.
He condescended to us.
He came down from heaven.
He came down to us.
Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost.
And in coming to be with us, to greet us, to embrace us, He has demonstrated the great love of God.
says, “In this is love, not that we have loved God” - because remember we didn’t - “but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
And so the greeting of Christ is an embrace.
God adopts us.
He makes us His own.
And this embrace, this greeting, means that for all those Christ redeems, they never have to fear death.
They don’t have to fear Hell.
They now can expect to be welcomed into eternity, with the confidence that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is surprising, because we sin.
And this is your greatest need.
Christians remember this.
Rest in this.
Be comforted in this.
We are told to greet the saints.
We are reminded that the saints greet us.
We are reminded of the surprising grace of God in saving the unlikely.
And yet, this is all in vain if you Christ hasn’t greeted you, if you haven’t been born again.
Are you in Christ?
Has Christ greeted you?
Has He changed your heart?
If that hasn’t happened, then may the Lord continue His surprising and mighty work in your heart.
And would that be made known by your responding by trusting and repenting.
And then watch as Christ greets you, and the church greets you.