INTRO: When you pray for friends from whom you're separated, for what do you pray? What are your requests to God in their behalf? We perhaps pray for their good health, their prosperity, their being permitted a safe journey to visit with us ... and so on. Paul is praying for his friends in Philippi. His has been a prayer of thanksgiving for their great care for him, their partnership in the gospel and, too, a prayer of desire to be present with them. Now, however, he includes a request or petition to God in their behalf ... a prayer for "Abounding Love".
I. IT IS REALLY A PRAYER FOR MATURITY
A. "Love" existed in the church, the people there
1. they assuredly loved God, Christ (1:29)
2. they had demonstrated their love for Paul
B. But he prays for love abounding "yet more and more"
1. abounding ... full and overflowing!
2. 1 Thes 3:12 with 2 Thes 1:3
3. faith, hope and love seem to be "cornerstones" of maturity in Christ as paul viewed it ... and "love" was (is the quality which gives "life" (or validity) to all else (so, Col 3:14)
II. THE QUALITIES OF MATURING LOVE (1:9b)
A. The first is knowledge
1. in Christ maturity depends on one's knowledge of God's word -- our possessing the "mind of Christ"
2. so -- Phil 2:5; 1 Pet 4:1; 1 Cor 2:16
3. this sets out something of the idea that emotions are not totally in control -- "love" (agape) is "informed"
4. they need, then, to grow in knowledge (2 Pet 3:18)
B. The second is in the application of knowledge
1. possession of isolated facts may be considered knowing
2. can memorize theorems, formulas ... but "maturity" is in being able to apply right formula to specific problem
3. so in our lives ... to apply the knowledtge to actual life situations is our challenge
4. note 1 Cor 1:10 "same mind and in the same judgment"
III. PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE (1:10,11)
A. Start by making right, wise choices -- v. 10a
1. ability to distinguish between good and evil; right and wrong ... God's way and the world's way
2. so often in New Testament we are urged to "test" or "prove" something: 2 XCor 13:5; 1 Thes 5:21; 1 Jno 4:1
3. obviously, testing is to permit the right choice
4. skill with God's word absolutely essential to "test"
B. Such choices result in our purity (character) - v.10b
1. "sincere" -- able to stand examination in sunlight
2. thus, no longer conformed to world - Rom 12:2 ... our approving excellent things will move us away from usual view the world takes into transformed life
3. there is no "mixture" of the world in our hearts -- "real" disciples ... not counterfeits
C. They result, too, in actual sin - less - ness - v.10c
1. "without stumbling" ... void of offence
2. perhaps we make too much of our inability to live sinless lives because our humanness is so apparent -- and we certainly are not Jesus!
3. yet, the aim of growing is toward a life in which sin becomes less and less a problem, a fact in our lives
D. Fruitful, productive lives -- v.11a
1. we "excise" the sin from our lives
2. but we fill our lives, then, with "fruits of righteousness"
3. that "fruit" may be in our praise to God (worship); our search for souls; our growth in Christian "graces"
E. Acknowledging a new "center" of emphasis in lives - 11b
1. righteousness is possible as Jesus controls our lives - influences our minds and decisions
2. and the glory for anything I do or become is "God's
3. my life and yours need to be bringing glory to God ... not to ourselves
CLOSE: Even something as abstract as the subject of "love" has such a practical side in Christ. The abounding love for which Paul is here praying is transforming love ... making of ugly lumps of clay beautiful works of art!
Cecil A. Hutson
12 December 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)