NTB-11-GEPC-3 - Philippians: The Joy of Christianity
Please feel free to download audio and video for personal listening or teaching. Please do not alter any content. All material is copyrighted and intended to be used in its entirety and is free for distribution under these terms. To save, simply click the button and the download will begin.
Introduction by narrator accompanied by a cappella singing:
THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now,
“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain,” Philippians 1:21
The book of Philippians is a joyous book, in which Paul, reminds us of the
purpose, person, prize, and power of this life that we live.
Let's begin by noting some background information about the book itself. The
apostle Paul indeed had some reasons to be down and discouraged in Philippi. Acts
chapter 16:25, Paul and Silas are in prison in a deep dark dungeon in Philippi. They
weren’t treated like criminals today are, rather they were left pretty much to their own
devices, and thus they were imprisoned. The Bible says they were singing hymns to
God and praying. The prisoners were listening to them. How is it that the apostle Paul
could be in that deep, dark dungeon in Philippi and still their songs, their prayers, and
their joy could go beyond the walls of that prison? Simply because Christianity, the joy
of Christianity itself, makes that possible.
The Scripture tells us that we do have true joy in Christ. Hebrews 4:12, “The
word of God is living, powerful, sharper than any two edged sword piercing even to
division of soul and spirit joints and marrow, it's a discerner of the thoughts and intents
of the heart.” The word of God, God's message, and God's truth had the power to
permeate and go beyond the walls of that prison, and the bars of that cell. The joy of
Christianity could not be bound, even though Paul and Silas were bound.
A key verse in the book is Philippians 4:4. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always,
and again I say rejoice.” Paul earlier said in Philippians 3:1,”You’re my crown and joy.”
The whole book has the tone and the tenor of joy, blessings, and happiness that are
only found inside our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact the word joy occurs in some
form 16 times in this short four chapter book.
The idea of joy reminds me of what the psalmist said in Psalm 1:1-3. “Happy is
the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of the sinful, but rather happy is the man whose delight is in the law
of the Lord.” The person who's putting God first, regardless of difficulty, trial, temptation,
sickness, and disease, that person's joy can transcend any of that, because we’re not
living for the temporary, we’re looking for the eternal; 2 Corinthians 5:1-2.
You've got the background to the book of Philippians. A Macedonian call that
occurs; Paul hears these people of Macedonia say, ‘come over and help us also’, he
arrives in that area, and behold there's a prayer meeting by the Riverside. He runs into
Lydia and her household. They obey the gospel. There's a young damsel who has a
spirit of divination, an unclean spirit. Paul cast that out, and because people were
making money off of her, he's put in jail. Yet the power of God opened the doors of that
jail cell. The greatest question ever ask comes, ‘Sirs what must I do to be saved?’ The
Philippian jailer and his whole family obeyed the gospel and become Christians. So
that's the backdrop to the book of Philippians.
Let's turn our attention to what we identify as the four main themes in the book of
Philippians. Each chapter in this book is divided very uniquely, in a very easy flow. Each
chapter has a unique division that complements the theme of joy in Christianity.
How can my life and yours be a life lived with joy? When Christ is our purpose in
life we can have real joy. Where do we find that at? Philippians chapter 1:21, Paul said,
“For to me to live is Christ and to die is only a gain.” Paul, how do you view life? What
about in this prison cell? What about when you're in the ocean those days? What about
when you face different trials and difficulties? “For to me to live is Christ and to die that's
only a gain.” Paul did not view death in the same dark, evil way that so many people do.
Paul viewed death as a gain. Why? You can’t get to heaven without dying first. Let's
realize that requires some things on our part. This requires for the child of God that he
have complete devotion to the Lord. Remember this is the same apostle Paul who said
“former life, I've been crucified with Christ it's no more Christ lives in me.” Paul would
say in 2 Corinthians 5:14 and 15 that because of “the love of Christ, it compels us to die
to self and to live for Christ daily.” Paul was trying to be faithful unto death and no doubt
it required that he die to self-daily, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. Luke 9:23. This
requires on my part, and on your part that every waking hour we spend, should be used
to the glory of Almighty God.
Paul would say in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether we eat or whether we drink or
whatever we do we're to do all to the glory of God.” It means I've got a walk in the
footsteps of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:21. It means I've got to imitate Christ, just as Paul did. 1
Corinthians 11:1. It means I've got have the mind of Christ in every way, Philippians 2:5.
For Christ to really be our purpose in life, this also requires of me and you that we put
our self under the authority and power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Matthew
28:18, who is it that has all power? Jesus said, “All authority has been given to me in
heaven and on earth.” Whatever we do, we're to do all in the name of or by the power of
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This is so pertinent, because one day, I'm going to be judged by the words of
Christ. John 12:48 Jesus said, “He who rejects me and does not receive my word has
that which judges him; the word that I've spoken will judge him in the last day.” On the
final day, one day all men will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, Romans
14:10-12. On that day books are going to be open, Revelation 20:12-15, and one of
those will indeed be the words of Christ by which we are judged. So, like Paul, if I'm to
have real joy, Christ must be my purpose in life.
That's not a bad thing; that's a good thing. If my purpose is to live for Christ, then
every day I want to try to obey Him. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Let us hear
the conclusion of the whole matter, what's life all about? “Fear God keep his commands
for this is the whole duty of man.” Why? “For God will bring every work and judgment
including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” God's going to judge us and thus we
must, the whole duty of man, is to fear and obey Him. Hebrews 5:8-9, the Scripture says
that, “Jesus is the author, the originator of eternal life. To all those who obey him.” Luke
6:46 Jesus asked that ever pertinent question, “Why do you call me Lord Lord and do
not do the things which I say?” Matthew 7:21 Jesus said, “It is not everybody that just
looks up in heaven and says Lord Lord that's going there, but he who does the will of
my father in heaven.”
For Christ to be my purpose, I've got obey him. I've got to submit to his authority.
I've got a live faithfully to him each and every day. Here's the good news if Christ really
is my purpose in life, ‘For to me to live is Christ,’ there's good news with that. Do you
remember the rest of the verse? ‘Then to die is gain.’ The child of God, who's living for
Christ, whose life is held safe in the hand of God, who is serving the Lord every day,
does not have to fear death and the things that we’re not sure of sometimes.
We do have power over death. There are a couple of verses that really illustrate
this idea. Psalm 116:15 the Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of
his saints.” What a beautiful verse! When a child of God, who's a living for Christ, dies
how does heaven view that? Precious! Revelation 14:13 to encourage Christians who
are suffering, some are put in prison, others who are dying, the Bible says, “Blessed are
the dead, yes says the spirit that they may rest from their labors and their works to
follow them.” Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. That is the blessing that goes
along with that. We know Paul says, “that if our earthly house, this tent is destroyed, we
have a building from God not made with hands, eternal in heaven,” 2 Corinthians 5:1.
Remember the beautiful words of Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:1 following, “I go to
prepare a place for you, let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God believe also
in me, if I say I go to prayer place for you, and if I go to prayer place for you, I will come
again and receive you to myself, that where I am there you may be also, in my father's
house are many mansions or dwellings were it not so, I would've told you, the way I go
you know,” Jesus said, “I'm the way you go, I'm the way, the truth, and the life,” John
A second quality to have real joy, not only must Christ be the purpose in life for
me to have true joy, Christ must be the pattern or person of my life. Notice Philippians
2:5, the Scripture records, “let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
What is the attitude I need to really serve and have that happiness in my life? “Let the
mind of Christ be in you.” Well Paul, what you mean? That was a mind of selflessness.
Having the mind of Christ is the most selfless mind you can ever imagine. Putting others
and their desires before self. That's the way a Christian is to be. Mark 10:45 the Bible
says, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom
for many.” When I'm following the pattern of Christ, it’s the total opposite and absence of
selfishness in my life. I'm looking out for others interest, Philippians 2:3-4, not only the
interest of my own.
Now let's talk a bit about the context. Philippians chapter 2:5-9, tells us some
things that Christ gave up that really help us to see the glory and the beauty of what he
did. Jesus gave up his deity, “Who being in the form of God did not consider it robbery
to be made equal with God.” We’re not saying Jesus wasn't God, but He gave up
equality in the sense that he came to this earth took upon Himself the form of a man,
humbled himself to God and died the death on the cross, Philippians 2:5-8. Jesus had
that equality with God. He is God, “I’m the father are one,” Jesus said in John 10:30. He
is a part of the Godhead, it dwells in him, the fullness of God, and Godhead dwells in
him in bodily form, Colossians 2:9.John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God.” John 1:14 tells us what that word was, “The Word became flesh
and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory as the glory the only begotten of the
Father.” Jesus submitted His will to the will of the Father Jesus gave up Heaven.
Do you remember 2 Corinthians 8:9? The Bible says. “You know the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ. That though He was rich yet for your sakes, He became poor that we
through His poverty might be made rich.” Try to fathom this idea, the very place that
I'm struggling striving and trying with every fiber of my being to go, Jesus gave that up
so that I can one day live there. Talk about selfless! Can you imagine if you made it to
heaven? Would you give it up for somebody else to get a chance to go there? Jesus
was in Heaven; He gave that up so that we can have the hope. He became a man, the
creator became the creation. Think about that for just a moment. God himself became
the creation so that the creation could one day live with him.
To further illustrate what Jesus gave up, note that He also sacrificed that life. He
was beaten. He was mocked, spit upon, forced to wear the crown of thorns that was
embedded into his head, stripes were placed on His back. He had his hands and feet
nailed to a cross, and for every breath Jesus struggled and died, until He said, “It is
finished.” Jesus gave up his very life. 2 Corinthians 5:21, the Bible says that, “God
made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf that we might be made the
righteousness of God in him.”
So when I have the mind of Christ, what's that going to motivate me to do? It's
got to motivate me, like Jesus, to take some things real seriously. Jesus was all about
trying to reach the lost. If you've got the mind of Christ, that's the mindset that you need
to have. Luke 19:10 the Bible says that,” the Son of Man came to seek and to save that
which is lost.” Jesus gave us this directive, “Go into all the world preach the Gospel unto
every creature,” Matthew 28:18, He said “the gospel is to go to all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Recall the tender picture of Matthew 9:36-38, Jesus looked out on the crowd, and
the Bible says, “Looked out on them with compassion, because they were like sheep
without a shepherd,” and then he said this to his disciples, in view of that fact he said,
“truly the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few pray the Lord of host that He will
send out laborers into His vineyard.” Like the early church, we need to go everywhere,
preaching the word.
Another thing that if we really have the mind of Christ, we’ll be serious about, is
this, we’ll try to be and live more righteously every day. I'm not going to be righteous in
and of myself, that righteousness no doubt comes through Jesus and through the blood
of the Lamb no doubt, but I’m going to try my best to live for him in a right way. The
Bible says, “Be holy as he who called you is holy, for without holiness no one can see
God,” Hebrews 12:14. We’re to be that that special people set apart and holy for good
works Titus 2 verses 11:12, surely will to strive every day to seek first the kingdom of
God and to live for Him in truth.
Notice the third attribute. We've noticed that to have real joy, first I've got have
the right purpose in life that is I've got to be living for Christ and realizing that death is
only a gain. Secondly, I’ve got to have the right person or pattern in life and that is I’ve
got to be following Jesus every day. A third attribute to really have true joy in life, is
you’ve got to realize Christ is the prize of life. Notice Paul's words in Philippians chapter
3:12-14 Paul speaking, “Not that I have already attained or am already perfected, but I
press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me,
brethren I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do, forgetting those
things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press
toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” How can we
have true joy in this life? Paul mentions several things here, but the main idea is you've
got to stay focused on the prize. Hebrews 12:1-2 complements this idea, “Let us lay
aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares,” the Hebrew writer says, “and let
us run with endurance the race that is set before us looking unto Jesus.” There's the
idea, to keep your eyes on the prize, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our
We think about prizes, they’re always certain things you have to do and meet
before Christ can really be that prize in our life. For Christ to be my bride, I have to
forget who I was, and I have got to realize that none of that matters anymore. Paul said,
“Forgetting those things which are behind.” In fact in Philippians 3:1-7, Paul would say,
“I was of the strictest sect, I was of the tribe of Benzamine, that I was a member of
Hebrews, I had all this going for me, and then he’ll say, I count all that as rubbish to gain
Christ and to be found in him.” All of that is garbage compared to being in Christ and
really living in him. Luke 14:11, “Whoever humbles himself, he'll be the one is exalted
whoever exalts himself will be humbled.” I've got to realize that outside of Christ there
are no prizes. In everything I was before him, it doesn't really matter and is not going to
matter in the grand scheme of things. I've got to rid myself of pride. “Pride goes before
destruction a haughty spirit before a fall.” I've got to be transformed to the image of
Christ, not to my old life, which must die. According to Colossians 2, I must humble
myself under the mighty hand of God that he can lift me up in due time.
For Christ really to be the prize there has to be that continual growth process in
my life. Paul, who had gone to great difficulty, who had gone many miles spreading the
gospel, who faced great difficulties, Paul the apostle said, “Not that I've already attained
or I’m already perfected, I press on.” Paul, what are you saying? I’m not there yet. I’ve
not reached where I need to be. I'm afraid that sometimes Christians kind of think
they've arrived. This is where I need to be as a Christian; I've learned enough the Bible;
I know what I need to do; I’ve done evangelism; I'm set as a Christian. Paul said, not
me, “Not that I have already attained or perfected but I press on.” What's that mean?
Christianity for really to have the joy you ought to have, has to be a continual growth
process. 1 Peter 2:2 starts out like a baby, “as newborn babes desire the pure milk of
the word that you may grow thereby.” If we grow like we should, we can deal with the
troubles, trials, and difficulties that do come, but that growth must be continual, 2 Peter
3:18. Toward the end of his book Peter would say, “But grow in the grace and
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
In the Lord's church there is no retirement plan or program. There is no point in
time when you can say, ‘I've done enough, let’s let the young people come and do it or
I’ve done enough let's let others fill that spot.’ Wait a minute now, if I'm to be faithful until
death, that means there's never a day or a time when I can say, ‘I'm where I need to be,
I’ve arrived, I'm attained as a Christian.’ We need to continually grow.
There's one other thing that we must mention for Christ really be the prize in our
life and that's this, to really have the joy you ought to have, you've got to learn to forget
the past was that hard for Paul? You know it was. Acts 7, holding the coats of and
consenting to the death of Stephen. Acts 8, wreaking havoc on the church. Acts 9,
going into homes and dragging men and women to prison. Was that difficult? It had to
be. But Paul is the one who said, “Forgetting those things which are behind reaching for
those things which are ahead I press toward the prize.” Thus, whatever I've done in my
past life, if I've obeying the gospel, it is in the past. Hebrews 8:12 God says, “I'll be
merciful to their sins, their lawless deeds, I'll remember no more.” Psalm 130:3-4, “The
Lord, he hasn’t dealt with us supporting our sin, punishing us for our iniquities, rather
God is ready and willing to forgive us.” In fact the picture is in Micah 7:18-19, “God will
cast all your sins into the depths of the sea.” The message that really brings joy is, if it's
in the past let it stay in the past. Forget the past those who look in the past and keep
their eyes focused on the past, their doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Instead
we need to look ahead to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The fourth attribute, not only must I have the purpose, the person, and the prize
of life to have real joy, I've got have the right power. Notice Philippians chapter 4:13, “I
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” How do I have true joy? Paul
didn’t say I can do it myself. Paul didn’t say I can do it through someone else. Paul said,
“I can all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Where is the source of power? In
Christ. He is the one who gives us the ability to do all things. If I put my faith and trust in
the Lord, I can do all things with his help. I love the words of Paul in Acts 27:25. It looks
like the context is, they’re in the ship out of the ocean, looks like it's going to be busted
up, and an angel comes to Paul and reveals to him that ‘no loss of life is going to occur.’
Paul relates that to the men on the ship. He says these words, “Take heart men, for I
believe God that it will be just as he told me.”
I've got have the faith to trust in the Lord, and to know all things will work out for
good to those who love the Lord. I love the example of Hebrews 13:5-6, the writer said,
“let your life be without covetousness, be content with such things as you have, why?
for He himself has said, I will never leave you nor for sake you so that you may boldly
say the Lord is my helper I will not fear what can man do to me”. Is Christ really the
power of our life? Does Christ have the power over the joys in our life? When we
rejoice, do we rejoice in the Lord? 1 Thessalonians 5:16, does Christ have the power
over times of worry in our life? Do we do as Luke 18:1 says? “Men ought always to pray
and never lose heart.” Do we keep focused on things which are above? Colossians 3:1,
“if then you were raised with Christ, look on those things which are above.” Do we really
meditate and think about holy things? Are we really doing all that we should do to live
for Jesus Christ every day?
Remember, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7. If Christ is the
power, if Christ is the prize, if He's the person to pattern my life, and if no doubt Christ is
indeed my purpose for living, then I can have true joy.
Stop for just a moment and think practically and personally, do you have joy in
your life right now? Do you have joy that transcends sometimes the difficulties and
challenges of this life? Maybe your answer to that is, ‘well no I really don't.’ Friend, we
would ask you, do you really have Christ in your life? For the Christian, I’m not saying
you are going to walk around with a smile, that's not the idea, but the Christian can
overcome his troubles and trials and still have joy that transcends this earth through
Maybe you've never obeyed the gospel, that's where true joy is. Acts chapter
8:37-39 when the Ethiopian Eunuch heard the word, believed in Jesus, when he no
doubt changed his life, made the good confession and was baptized into Christ, the
Bible says, “He went on his way rejoicing.”
Real joy is found in obedience to the gospel of Christ. Have you done that today?
If not, we encourage you to.
Study Questions for: “Philippians”
1. According to Hebrews 4:12, what is sharper than any two-edged sword?
2. In Philippians 4:4, what does it say for us to rejoice in?
3. According to Psalm 1:1-3, happy is the man whose delight is in what?
4. In Philippians 1:21, what did Paul say to die was?
5. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 tells us the duty of man is what?
6. According to Psalm 116:15, what is precious in the sight of the Lord?
7. According to Philippians 2:5, what mind should I have?
8. Why did the Son of Man come, according to Luke 19:10?
9. According to Philippians 3:12-14, what must we press toward?
10. Who does it say strengthens us in Philippians 4:13?