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For Progress and Joy! (Sermon Recap)


In our most recent sermon we reflected on Philippians 1:22-26 and got to see how important it is that the church experience progress in the gospel. Here is an overview of the sermon.

1) Paul sets an example for us in Philippians 1:12-26, showing us that we as Christians should care deeply about gospel progress in our own life and in the life of our fellow Christians and in the wider world. To be precise, the gospel makes progress in the world through evangelism, which results in more people becoming Christians. Then those who are already Christians make progress in the gospel, which means that we are growing in our spiritual walk and becoming better reflections of Christ.

2) Paul's profound care for the church is set in the context of his greater "desire... to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (Philippians 1:23 ESV). But even though being put to death for Christ's sake is is far better for Paul because that will result in closer fellowship with Christ, it is better for the Philippians if Paul remains on earth a while longer and continues his ministry to them. Thus Paul writes: "But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account" (Philippians 1:24 ESV) In expressing such care, Paul is "[looking] not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:4 ESV).

3) Further, Paul's care for the church is a reflection of the foundational care that God has for the church. Divine grace and peace are flowing to the Philippians (1:2); the Philippians are God's handiwork (1:6); Christ has great affection for the Philippians (1:8). Therefore it is right for Paul to refer to the Philippians as "my joy and crown" and "my beloved" (Philippians 4:1 ESV), and it is right for Paul to stand in the stream of Christ's ministry to the church and do his part in serving them and strengthening them in their Christian walk.

4) Paul's ministry to the Philippians has a particular aim: "[their] progress and joy in the faith" (Philippians 1:25 ESV). This is the most basic purpose of apostolic and pastoral ministry within the church, that Christians would advance in the gospel – to understand the gospel better, to grow in its transforming power, to be full of joy in the Savior and in His gracious gifts, and to be more faithful participants in congregational life and mission.

5) One of the implications of verses 25-26 is that we ought to welcome the ministry of God’s appointed servants. We ought to be thankful to God for sending to us ministers of the word who will labor diligently for our spiritual growth. Moreover, we ought to be careful to receive that ministry for the express purpose that it is given – for our “progress and joy in the faith.” The apostle’s high purpose is the same purpose that must occupy the pastor and the elders of each congregation, including South Paris Baptist Church. In all that we do as shepherds of the flock – whether preaching and teaching, or overseeing and guiding our ministries, or providing counsel and care to specific individuals – our purpose is that all of us make progress in the gospel, that we grow in our walk with Christ, and that with great joy we honor Christ in all that we do. Pray for us, that we would be faithful in our ministry to you. And pray for yourselves, that you would be faithful to receive this ministry and to cooperate with it, so that it proves to be “fruitful labor” (Philippians 1:22 ESV) that benefits you and the whole church family.