Paraklesis. Philippians

Dear friends, I have just started 6 weeks online evening Bible studies for St Jude’s on Philippians. Here are some reflections on Philippians 1. Notice the extraordinary concentration on Jesus Christ the Lord; and also on gospel and proclaim.

Peter Adam | June 2020 | stjudes.org.au/peteradam

Paul and Timothy, servants of ChristJesus, To all God’s holy people in ChristJesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the LordJesusChrist

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of ChristJesus

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of ChristJesus.  And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through JesusChrist—to the glory and praise of God. 

 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. It is true that some proclaimChrist out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaimChrist out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of JesusChrist what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in ChristJesus will abound on account of me. 

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospelwithout being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

And the connection between the two is found in vv. 15,17, 18  ‘Christ is proclaimed, and v. 27, ‘the gospel of Christ’.  

So I have been thinking about churches and ministries which focus on Christ, and neglect proclaiming the gospel; and churches and ministries which focus on proclaiming gospel, and neglect Christ.

And also, on individual Christians who focus on Christ, and neglect proclaiming the gospel; and others who focus on proclaiming the gospel, and neglect Christ.

What is it like to focus on Christ, and neglect proclaiming the gospel?

 Having an emotional attachment to Christ, but not much understanding of the content of the faith.

 Truly loving Christ, but not doing any evangelism, or being committed to world mission.

 Be committed to Christ, but misunderstanding who he was, and what he came to do.

 Thinking that everyone of good will is actually a follower of Christ.

 A purely individualistic Christianity.

 Liking to see the fruit of the gospel in Christlikeness, but neglecting the hard and confronting work of gospel proclamation.

 Too much focus on the Christ’s teaching, or example, or nature or healing miracles, to the neglect of his atoning death and resurrection.

 Failing to tackle the doctrinal passages of the Bible.

 Loving the gospel, but fail to proclaim it or suffer for it.

What is it like to focus on the proclaiming the  gospel, and neglect Christ?

 Having too great a concentration on orthodoxy and doctrinal correctness.

 Loving the gospel as a system, but not valuing human beings.

 Obeying the gospel command, but not loving the Lord Jesus Christ.

 Valuing evangelism, but neglecting our need to grow into the image of Christ, to imitate him, and follow him.

 Thinking that the gospel is such an important priority, that it justifies any means, even those which do not honour Christ or reflect his life or values.

 Becoming inadvertently legalistic.

 Having so much focus on the gospel of the atoning death and resurrection of Christ so as to neglect his incarnation, his example, his teaching, his nature and healing miracles, and his humanity.

 Failing to preach and teach the Gospels.

It is worth checking to see if we, and our churches and ministries, are committed to Christ, and committed to proclaiming his gospel. May we find joy in both!

I am currently enjoying seeing the rise in the level of preaching ability in young preachers, both in wisdom and ability in expounding the Bible, and wisdom and ability in relating to and communicating with the loving the people to whom they are preaching. They must have received good preaching, to be able to do it!

May God raise up many able and godly workers for his gospel harvest, in Australia and overseas.

And I am also enjoying seeing that God is not defeated by our current pandemic! He has a wonderful ability to do gospel miracles in ‘sub-optimal’ times!!!

Two notable Gospel Coalition website articles:

https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/why-you-should-ditch-your-digital-bible/?subscr=true

https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-lament-of-faith/?subscr=true

My recent article on God’s gracious judgements is at:

https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/repent-or-you-will-perish-covid-19-and-gods-gracious-judgments/

Thank you for your fellowship in ministry.

With warmest good wishes,

Yours,

Peter