INTRO: It seems to me that the book of Philippians cannot be studied or viewed in quite the same light as other New Testament letters. The reason? It is not just a letter from a preacher to a group of Christians (although, certainly it is that, too). It is in fact a letter from a friend to a group of his very dearest friends. It is a letter which possesses a keen and touching concern springing from a close and intimate relationship. It is wrapped in the idea of the words: because I have you in my heart. Thus, the apostles prayer as he begins his letter is truly a Prayer For Friends.
I. A PRAYER OF GRATITUDE (1:3a)
A. Though an apostle, he never felt above others
1. Paul was truly a blessing counter - 1 Thes 5:18
2. he could find blessings in even the most grave circumstances (look at v. 12)
3. thus, never became complaining, negative person!
B. Look at the idea my God
1. does this not emphasize personal relationship?
2. closeness we feel to God is directly dependent upon our involvement with/in Him - if God seems distant, who moved?
3. Acts 16:25 even in the jail, Pauls God was there!
II. A PRAYER OF MEMORY (:3b)
A. Does not time and distance blur names, faces?
1. yet, not so for Paul and these dear friends
2. he treasured them - had maintained contact with them
3. and isnt it a good feeling to be remembered - Oh, I remember you!
B. His memories?
1. he could have had some unpleasant ones!
2. to dwell on those would have taken the joy out of the memories of others - he just did not harbor the unpleasant
3. he could see each face and tell its story
III. A PRAYER OF SUPPLICATION (1:4a)
A. Im not certain of kinds of needs which existed
1. his care of all the churches - 2 Cor 11:28
2. his concern for inevitable persecution - 1 Thes 3:4,5
3. his concern for spiritual danger - Phil 3:2
B. Whatever the need, he was aware and praying
1. prayer needs to be that specific
2. and his request is for them - not for himself
3. did he believe in the power of prayer? 1 Thes 5:17 (note references to prayer in his letters!)
IV. A PRAYER OF JOY (1:4b)
A. This word joy may be keynote of this letter
1. Pauls prayer for these friends was one of joy
2. no doubt there were times when his prayers for others could not be filled with joy (note idea of phil 3:18)
3. but for these dear people Paul felt a sense of great joy - and encouraged them to be joyful - Phil 4:4
B. Joy does not depend on outward circumstances
1. most joyful man in Rome - the prisoner named Paul
2. people think that everything has got to be just right for them to enjoy themselves - what a fragile and artificial joy!
3. he joyed in memories, in relationships, in work, in his salvation ... joy was his way of life!
V. A PRAYER FOR PARTNERS (1:5)
A. This was a church concerned with spreading gospel
1. now, they all did not go into distant places
2. but they certainly supported him who went, and how important this was in Pauls ability to go on
B. The church here is a missionary church
1. we have ties to several men (families) - and their effectiveness depends greatly on us
2. yet, we must not forget our local needs and opportunities (Phil 2:15,16)
CLOSE: The people of Philippi were worthy and deserving of Pauls prayers of joy. As we study these people, let us emulate the qualities we will see in them. And let us learn to be people of joy ... enjoying, day by day, our faith in Christ.
Cecil A. Hutson
21 November 1999
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)