Sermon #50 Through The Bible Series
“Rejoice in the Lord”
Text: Philippians 4:4
Tape # Y-15a
The book of Philippians was
written to the saints at
In the midst of terribly difficult circumstances, even in the prospect of being put to death because of his faithfulness in preaching the gospel, Paul repeatedly speaks of his unbridled joy in Christ and calls upon us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”
“The words ‘joy’ and ‘rejoice’ appear sixteen times in this brief letter, and references to Christ (including pronouns) are found 61 times in its 104 verses. It is obvious that Christ, not circumstances, was the source of Paul’s joy.” (Roger Ellsworth)
In the midst of great
heaviness, Paul here teaches us to rejoice in Christ. In the midst of great
tribulation, he teaches us to be content in our Savior. The Philippians might
well remember that he and Silas rejoiced as they sang praises to God with
bleeding backs when they were prisoners at
Matters of Joy
Pause to consider those things presented in these chapters as things in which Paul rejoiced and for which he tells us we ought to rejoice.
He rejoiced in the sweet
fellowship of God’s saints. Paul counted the
(Phil 1:3-6) “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, (4) Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, (5) For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; (6) Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”
(Phil 4:1) “Therefore, my brethren, dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
Did you notice the word of
confident assurance given in verse 6? Paul says to these saints at
Paul was confident that these Philippian believers (and all believers) would persevere unto the end because he was confident that the work of God cannot be overturned. In verse 7 he says, it was right for him to think this way because they had been made partakers of the same grace of God he had experienced and proclaimed.
(Phil 1:7) “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”
Look at the tender words he uses to describe his feelings for these saints he had not seen in a long, long time.
· “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (v. 3).
· “I have you in my heart” (v. 7).
· “I long after you” (v. 8)
(Phil 1:8) “For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.”
· I pray for you, that you may be “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (v. 12).
He rejoiced that in God’s good providence his sufferings for the gospel were one means by which the Lord God was pleased to advance the gospel (1:12-20; 2:17).
(Phil 1:12-20) “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (13) So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; (14) And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (15) Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: (16) The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: (17) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. (18) What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (19) For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (20) According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.”
(Phil 2:17) “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.”
Paul rejoiced and was completely happy to suffer, or to die, or to live, as the Lord willed, because he knew that Christ would be magnified and the best interests of his people served as God graciously accomplished his will (1:19-26).
(Phil 1:19-26) “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, (20) According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. (21) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (22) But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. (23) For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (24) Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. (25) And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; (26) That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.”
This faithful servant of God found his joy full when he knew that God’s saints walked and worshipped together as one (2:1-2).
(Phil 2:1-2) “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”
The unity of God’s saints is something Paul mentions in all his epistles. It was a great grief to him when the fellowship of God’s saints was interrupted and a great joy when he saw it being promoted.
Paul rejoiced in the company and ministries of his fellow-laborers in the gospel. He is truly the servant of Christ who rejoices in and promotes the labors of other servants of Christ, as laborers together with him. Paul specifically mentions Timothy and Epaphroditus (2:19-30).
· He could not have spoken more highly than he did of his young friend Timothy (2:19-23).
(Phil 2:19-23) “But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state. (20) For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state. (21) For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. (22) But ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father, he hath served with me in the gospel. (23) Him therefore I hope to send presently, so soon as I shall see how it will go with me.”
· And he could not have spoken more honorably and tenderly of his old friend Epaphroditus, who was (apparently) the pastor of the Philippian church (2:25-30).
(Phil 2:25-30) “Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. (26) For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. (27) For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. (28) I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. (29) Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: (30) Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.”
How could a man in the midst of such adversities express such joy in so many directions? How could a man who was about to be executed on trumped up charges be joyful and content? What was the secret of his joy? Read Philippians 4:4-7, and you will find the answer.
(Phil 4:4-7) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. (5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. (6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
If ever we learn to rejoice in the Lord, we will be able to rejoice in the Lord always, no matter what our circumstance may be. “Rejoice in the Lord.”
· His Person
· His Pardon
· His Presence
· His Providence
· His Promise
If ever we learn to rejoice in the Lord, we will learn to “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
· I cannot rejoice in my sorrows; but I can rejoice in the Lord who sent them.
· I cannot rejoice in my bed of languishing; but I can rejoice in the Lord who makes my bed.
· I cannot rejoice in bereavement; but I can rejoice in the Lord who gives and takes away as he will.
· I cannot rejoice in my emptiness; but I can rejoice in the Lord’s fulness.
· I cannot rejoice in my pain; but I can rejoice in his presence.
Life and Death
In the first chapter Paul teaches us by his own marvelous example what our attitude ought to be our attitude about life and death as believers (1:20-24). Of this one thing, we ought to be certain ― “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” If we are confident of this, what more can we want?
(Phil 1:21-24) “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (22) But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. (23) For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: (24) Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
The Mind of Christ
In Philippians 2 Paul admonishes us ever to have the mind of Christ. In verses 5-11 he tells us of the matchless goodness and grace of our Savior as the voluntary Servant of God, descending step by step in humiliation, until he had fulfilled all the will of God as our Redeemer in this world, telling us that his humiliation under the hand of God was both the accomplishment of our salvation and his path to exaltation.
(Phil 2:5-11) “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (9) Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (10) That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (11) And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
May God give us grace to have the mind of Christ. That is the secret to unity and fellowship in the kingdom of God. If we live with the mind of Christ, we will walk in sweet fellowship, each preferring the other better than himself (2:1-5).
In chapter 3 we come to the heart of this epistle. The chapter begins with another call to rejoice. Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” We ought always, in the depths of our hearts and souls, to rejoice in the Lord. No matter what our providential experiences and circumstances are, we always have reason to rejoice in the Lord. Here is an exhortation to joy. What a blessed command! “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say rejoice!” Rejoice in…
· the greatness of his person as our all-sufficient Substitute.
· the power of his blood, which cleanses us from all sin.
· the perfection of his righteousness, which is imputed to us for justification.
· the abundance of his grace, which is always sufficient for us.
· the immutability of his love, which never fails.
· the rule of his providence, which works all things together for our good.
· the fact of his intercession, which is continual and effectual on our behalf.
· the fact that your names are written in heaven.
This is the exhortation with which Paul opens this chapter ― “Rejoice in the Lord!” May God give us grace ever to do so for the glory of Christ and the good of his people. This is “the joy of faith” (1:25).
In verse 2, the apostle gives us a serious warning. ― “Beware of dogs.” ― He warns us to beware of false prophets. He calls them dogs because that is what the Word of God calls male prostitutes. False prophets are men who have for their own sakes prostituted the gospel of Christ and the glory of God (Deut. 23:18; Isa. 56:10-11). He continues, “beware of evil workers.” ― This is a warning against those who teach, preach, and promote any system of man centered, works based, free will religion. Our Savior calls such people “workers of iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23).
Man centered, works based, free will religion is the single greatest cause of evil in this world. The good works of religion without Christ are the most abominably evil works done in this world.
· They rob God of his glory.
· They trample under foot the blood of Christ.
· They do despite to the Spirit of grace.
· They gradually abase man to his lowest, most contemptible state (Rom. 1:25-31).
Paul is not done yet. He calls these people “evil workers.” As he uses the term in this context, “evil workers” are Arminians, freewillers, and legalists, people who teach that God’s salvation depends upon and is determined by man.
Verse 2 concludes with “beware of the concision.” ― Those who are of the concision are men and women who cut, mutilate, and torture their bodies in hope of winning God’s favor.
· Doing Penance
· Observing Lent
· Monasticism, Flagellation
· Religious Taboos, Asceticism
In essence, Paul is saying, Beware of Christless religion. Beware of any religious custom, doctrine, or service that is centered in yourself and encourages you to focus attention on yourself.
Now look at verse 3. Here we are given a description of true religion.
Philippians 3:3 “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
True religion is not man centered, but Christ centered. True religion is not ceremonial, but spiritual. True religion is not a matter of creed, but of conviction. True religion is not outward, but inward. “For we are the circumcision.” ― We are God’s true, covenant people, the Israel of God, Abraham’s true children, which…
“Worship God in the Spirit.” ― We worship God as he is revealed in the Scriptures, by the power of his Holy Spirit, in our spirits, and in a spiritual manner. True worship is spiritual worship, not carnal, ceremonial ritualism.
John 4:23-24 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
“And rejoice in Christ Jesus.” ― We trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone, placing all our confidence in him as our Savior. We are complete in him.
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
Colossians 2:9-10 “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:”
“And have no confidence in the flesh.” ― We place absolutely no confidence in our flesh, the experiences, emotions, or (imaginary) excellencies of our flesh. The privileges of the flesh, the feelings of the flesh, and the works of the flesh are no basis of confidence before God.
In verses 4-8, Paul is set before us as an example of self-denial.
Philippians 3:4-8 “Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung.”
Self-denial is an essential aspect of saving faith. Though it increasingly comprehends all aspects of life as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, self-denial begins with a denial of all personal worth and merit as a grounds of hope before God.
Here is a legalist of highest order laying aside the filthy rags of his self-righteousness for the blessed, pure, perfect righteousness of Christ. Paul counted all his fleshly, carnal, natural privileges, religious distinctiveness, and educational advantages as nothing but dung before God. He placed no confidence in his flesh. He found that one Pearl of Great Price, and sold everything he had to get it (Matt. 13:45-46).
NOTE: This was done on the Damascus Road when the Lord saved him (v. 7). And this was a decision he made everyday, with increasing, growing commitment and consecration to Christ. He counted all things but dung for Christ.
Why? What was the cause of this man’s self-denial, consecration, and commitment? What made this man willing to forsake everything and follow Christ? Paul was inspired, motivated, and driven to the point of utter obsession by four great ambitions of faith.
Ambitions of Faith
He gives us those four great ambitions in verses 8-11. Look at the last line of verse 8.
1. “That I may win Christ!”
What an ambition! The life of faith is the lifelong pursuit of Christ. Faith looks upon Christ as the most precious, most desirable, most lovely, most valuable Person and Object in the world. The more he is known, the more he is wanted. Therefore true faith willingly forsakes all to follow him.
Christ is the Treasure hidden in the field, for which we would gladly spend all. He is the Pearl of Great Price, for which we must sell all. Jesus Christ is the “one thing needful” who must be chosen. Christ is the one thing we must have.
· I am thankful for the many comforts of life with which I am blessed; but I must have Christ.
· I am thankful for my friends; but I must have Christ.
· I am thankful for health; but I must have Christ.
· I am thankful for my family; but I must have Christ.
“I count all things loss that I may win Christ.”
2. “And be found in him” (v. 9)
Philippians 3:9 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
This is the believer’s standing. We are in Christ. This is Christianity. This is salvation - to be in Christ, nothing less, nothing lower, nothing different. It is not partly in Christ and partly in the law, or partly in the ordinances, or partly in the church. To be saved is to be in Christ.
· Religion is knowing doctrines and facts. Salvation is knowing God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).
· Religion is knowing what I believe. Christianity is knowing whom I believe (2 Tim. 2:12).
· Religion is being reformed. Salvation is being regenerated (John 3:3).
· Religion makes men new converts. Christianity makes us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17).
· Religion is being in the church. Salvation is being in Christ (John 15:1; Eph. 5:30).
Believers are people who are in Christ,
· By God’s Eternal Decree.
· By The Holy Spirit’s Operations Of Grace.
· By Personal Faith.
Illustration: Grafted into Christ
To be in Christ is to have perfect righteousness before God. ― Our righteousness is not something we establish by performing good works, but something Christ established for us as our Representative before God. We do not make ourselves righteous by our obedience to God’s law. Christ made us righteous by his obedience to the law for us.
Romans 5:19 “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”
Our righteousness before God is the righteousness of God in Christ imputed to us by God himself.
As I stand before the holy Lord God, I want to be found in Christ.
· As I live in this world.
· When I offer any service, prayer, or sacrifice to him.
· When I leave this world.
· When I stand before his great bar of judgment!
Now, look at verse 10.
3. “That I may know him”
Philippians 3:10 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”
I know that Christ is mine and I am his. Yet, I count all things but loss and dung, that I might win Christ, that I might be found in Christ, that I might know Christ. I know him; but, oh, how I want to know him! I want constantly renewed, ever increasing knowledge of and communion with the Son of God. This is the ambition of my heart - I want to know him, my God and my Savior, my Redeemer and my Lord!
I want to know him who is the great Benefactor of my soul.
· The Mysteries And Glories Of His Person
· The Riches Of His Grace
· The Greatness Of His Salvation
· The Benefits Of His Mercies
· The Depth Of His Love
May God give us grace never to take our eyes off of Christ! My soul, let Christ be the all-consuming Object of your being! “That I may know him!”
I want to “know him in the power of his resurrection.”
· The power of his resurrection declares that I am justified (Rom. 4:25).
· The power of his resurrection gave me spiritual life (Eph. 1:19).
· The power of his resurrection guarantees my resurrection (1 Cor. 15:47-49).
· But I want to live everyday, experimentally, walking in the knowledge of the power of his resurrection.
Walking with Christ in the newness of life, I want the power of his resurrection to dominate, control, and direct my life in all things. I want to be continually made new by him.
I want “to know him in the fellowship of his sufferings.”
· To Know My Personal Interest In His Sufferings
· To Know What He Accomplished In His Sufferings
As his sufferings are his glory, I want his sufferings to be my glory (Gal. 6:14).
Galatians 6:14 “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
I want to know Christ and the fellowship of his sufferings to such an extent that I am ever “being made conformable unto his death.” This is what that means ― I want to be conformed to Christ in his death.
· Entirely Consecrated To The Glory Of God.
· Perfectly Submissive To The Will Of God.
· Motivated By Nothing But Love For My God And His People.
4. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (v. 11)
Philippians 3:11-14 “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Certainly, this includes a great desire for the resurrection of my body at the last day. But primarily, the yearning spoken of here is a yearning for that moral, spiritual resurrection of grace that lifts us out of the death and darkness of sin. The world, the flesh, and all human life is death. In Christ there is life, real life, eternal life, a life of righteousness, peace and joy in communion with God! This is what I want. I have not yet attained it; but I am reaching for it.
I want what God purposed for me in eternity and Christ purchased for me at Calvary (Eph. 1:3-6). I want to be like Christ!
These are the ambitions of my heart, the goals I seek, the things for which I live. I pray that God will make them more and more real to me. And I pray that he will make them your hearts’ ambitions as well.
· “That I may win him.”
· “And be found in him.”
· “That I may know him.”
· “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
Children of God, set your hearts upon these things, and by the grace of God you shall have them (vv. 20-21).
Philippians 3:20-21 “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (21) Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Surely these are the things Paul has in mind, which he urges us to think upon continually, that we might have peace and joy and contentment in this world (4:8-13).
An Acceptable Sacrifice
In latter part of chapter 4 Paul speaks of the thoughtful, loving gift the saints at Philippi sent to him by Epaphroditus, assuring them that their gift to him was “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God” (v. 18). Then, he assures them that as they had ministered to him according to their ability so the Lord God would supply all their needs according to his ability (v. 19).
(Phil 4:19) “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
Three Great Comforts
Go back to chapter 1 and look at three great facts revealed in this chapter that sustained and comforted Paul as he lived in this world and prepared to leave it. Let us learn them, and they will comfort and sustain us as well.
1. Paul understood that everything that happened to him was brought to pass by the will of God and would serve the cause of Christ’s gospel (v. 12).
(Phil 1:12-18) “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (13) So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; (14) And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (15) Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: (16) The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: (17) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel. (18) What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
2. He knew that everything he experienced in this world was for the good of his soul and worked for his own eternal salvation (v. 19).
(Phil 1:19) “For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
3. Paul knew that everything he suffered in this world he suffered by the will of God (v. 29).
(Phil 1:27-30) “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; (28) And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. (29) For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; (30) Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”