Gospel Fellowship (Philippians #1)

Text: Philippians 1:1-8

Philippians is a thank you letter written from prison by Paul.  You wouldn’t know Paul is in prison unless he said so because the spirit of the letter is joyful and grateful.  Philippians also deals with Christian psychology. Having the right thoughts and right perspective and right mindset leads to joy, the fruit of the Spirit, regardless of circumstances.  The Philippians were very helpful when it came to the ministry of the gospel. They were helpful in tangible ways which endeared Paul to them and them to Paul, in Christ.

There are a number of ways to have fellowship with people.  Societies to get involved in. groups to join. Clubs to be a member of.  And some of those things you would have to remember the warning, Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers.  But this is the gospel fellowship.  

Let’s go over these first eight verses and summarize what’s going on here.  Salutation in verses 1-2. Then Paul expresses his immense joy and gratitude for the Philippians in verses 3-5.  Verse 6 is Paul’s confidence that the Lord is certainly working in the Philippians’ lives. Then verse 7 lists the reasons Paul is confident God was working in the lives of the Philippians.  This is where we’ll start tonight.

Who is in the gospel fellowship (vss 1-2)

  • You see saints, servants, bishops, and deacons.  This isn’t just one church, it’s multiple churches in a big city apparently.
  • Notice the people involved in the fellowship of the gospel are not just leadership, it’s everyone.

Gratitude for the gospel fellowship (vss 3-5)

  • Certainly the Philippians were in his heart as much as they were a part of the ministry of the gospel and particularly Paul’s ministry.
  • Paul said, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (vs 3).  When Paul thinks of the Philippians, he is grateful to God for them
  • When Paul prays for them, he prays with joy for them.  He said, In every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy (vs 4).  Joy, Paul says he makes request with joy for the Philippians.  The specific aspect of joy is gratitude.
  • Fellowship in the gospel first meant that they were knit together in the work Christ.
  • Not always the case that missionaries, pastors, or church planters like Paul remember folks with joy.
    • Sometimes missionaries feel neglected when trouble hits.  And sometimes they are neglected.
    • Sometimes pastors feel like the congregation just wants someone to fill the pulpit, but isn’t interested in going in God’s direction.
  • Serving God is lonely by design and by the nature of the task at hand.  And when a servant of God finds a fellow servant of God, there is great joy, by design, in the fellowship of the gospel.

Confidence of God’s work in the gospel fellowship (vs 6)

  • Confident of the Lord’s work as Paul says, Being confident of this very thing…
  • This is a great verse on eternal security for people who are active participants in the gospel.  This is NOT a great verse on eternal security for people in pews who call themselves Christians.
  • When Paul writes this it’s been 10-15 years since the Philippian church was started.  They’ve had a history of participating in the gospel ministry. That history was what gave Paul confidence that God was working in them.
  • Notice in verse 7 he says it’s meet for me to think this of you BECAUSE, and he lists the reasons why.

What is the gospel fellowship? (vs 7)

  • In his heart – The Philippians sent him money to continue the work.  Philippians 4:10, 14-17. Which led to spiritual fruit to their account – they shared the joy of the ministry having given to it.
  • In his bonds
    • Then Paul says as much as you’re in my heart, you’re also in my bonds.  You were with me in prison.
    • You didn’t cut and run.  You didn’t abandon me when the pressure was put on.  (You understand that abandoning Paul would be abandoning Christ.)
    • Look at Acts 16:12-15.  Then Paul and Silas get thrown in prison is Philippi.  Philippians jailor gets saved and Paul goes back to Lydia’s house in spite of him being known as a public nuisance in the city.
  • In defence and confirmation of the gospel
    • The Philippians were actively defending and confirming the gospel.
    • If the gospel is God loves you.  What is to defend? If the gospel is, Do you want to go to heaven when you die?  What is to defend?
    • The gospel is first Jesus Christ’s death for your sins.  If the thoughts and actions that God defines as sin are what separated between you and God, then you have to change your mind about those thoughts and actions and turn to Jesus Christ ALONE for reconciliation.  Otherwise you’ll think, God forgives me and loves me because that’s what the preacher said, but I don’t really know what I’ve done wrong.
    • Then when their sin that has come between them and God comes up they get mad, they defend it.  They attack the preaching.
    • Kind of like, we’ll just ignore Jesus Christ on the cross and go straight to see him at the resurrection.  It doesn’t work that way.
  • They are active participants with Paul in the ministry of the gospel.
    • Unlike Lot whose testimony was shot.  So when it came time to warn others they thought it was a joke.  Lot said, You need to be a Christian like I am or else you’re going to burn.  They all laughed and said, We ARE Christians like you.
    • Participation in the gospel ministry will make you a regular recipient of grace.  Notice what Paul said at the end of verse 7; because of your participation in the fellowship of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.