Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Philippians 1: Christian Joy's Confidence

Philippians 3:1 "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you."

Today's post features what will be a periodic series on the Book of Philippians.  In the above opening verse we find the key verse and key theme of this wonderful short letter, written by Paul to the church at Philippi. In a past post I had written on the background, key themes and overall message of this wonderful book of the Bible, and simply refer the reader to that post at:

Philippians 1 will be the main chapter in today's study. The question to ask is: "what is joy"? In studying the more than 200 passages in the entire Bible that discuss this idea of "Godly Joy" or "Christian Joy", it appears that to be joyful = having confidence in God no matter what.  

Point of Application: 
We will list today's main anchoring point or point of application, followed by a brief outline that will aid us in walking through Phlippians 1: Wherever there is joy, there is confidence.  As we shall see, Christian joy supplies confidence in:

a. Living 1:1-6; 21-26
b. Suffering 1:18-19
c. The Gospel 1:12, 27-30

Christian joy supplies confidence for living Philippians 1:4-6 and 1:20-26
Philippians 1:4-6 is where we discover the linkage between joy and confidence in the daily Christian life: "always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." The joy of which Paul speaks is a delight that is produced by God's grace.  Paul sees how much the Philippians are persisting in their pursuit of Jesus Christ in the Gospel.  The term translated "persuaded" in verse 6 speaks of "having been persuaded".  Having a "firm persuasion" about a matter is very close to the Biblical definition of faith, thus we could say that the reason why Christian joy is so necessary for daily living is because it results in an overflow of faith.  

After writing to the Philippians about all that he has to endure for the sake of Christ, and how He sees great benefit in either dying for Jesus or living to encourage the saints, Paul writes these words in Philippians 1:25-26 "Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again."  Christian joy is not only meant for every day of the Christian life, but is also necessary for growth and progress in the Christian life until the very end.  So Christian joy's confidence is needed for daily living, but notice secondly...

Christian joy's confidence supplies joy in suffering. Philippians 1:18-19
As we back up through Philippians 1 we come to these words in verses 18-19: "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." In an unexpected way, Christian joy thrives when pressure and suffering are present and advancing.  Why is that? Because God's provision of grace is the endless fountain of supply for the believer who is in the "pressure cooker" of circumstances. 

Consider 1 Peter 4:12-14 "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." Or consider James 1:2-4 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  Other great passages spell out this same unexpected truth of Christian joy supplying confidence in times of suffering (2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

So in having seen how Christian joy supplies confidence for living and in times of suffering, let us look at the third reason we need the confidence of Christian joy.

Christian joy supplies confidence in the Gospel. Philippians 1:12, 27-30
You and I as Christians need to hear or read about the Gospel everyday.  The event of Christ's death, burial and resurrection according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-6) and the experience of that event by faith and repentance (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:24-26) includes with it an immediate appreciation for the Gospel.  At salvation God's grace brings the preciousness of the Gospel to roost in the human heart.  However following saving faith, the Christian's appreciation for the Gospel ought to heighten, being that its depths and richness are made increasingly clear.  Note what Paul writes in Philippians 1:12 "Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel". 

Christian joy and the appreciation for the Gospel go hand-in-hand. We read in Philippians 1:27 "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." Joy in the Gospel is supposed to spread like wild-fire among Christians.  There is hardly no more beautiful thing than to see an entire church-full of God's people express the same joy and confidence in the Gospel.  When that occurs, the people of God will look beyond themselves and see what is needed to accomplish God's Kingdom work. 

In today's post we aimed to see the necessity of Christian joy for confidence in three crucial areas:

a. Living 1:1-6; 21-26
b. Suffering 1:18-19
c. The Gospel 1:12, 27-30

In future posts we aim to look at Philippians, chapter by chapter, to discover more practical, life-changing truths about the necessity of Christian joy. 

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