Philippians chp 3 vs 1 to 3 - Suffering as a Path to Rejoicing - JS Gillespie 

Joy as a Pattern – Perspective on Suffering (v1) 
Joy as a Passion – Path to Worship (v3) 
Joy as a Purpose (v8 to 10) – Pursuit of God and knowing God 

I am reminded of the experience of Mary Magdalene (John 20) overcome by: 


Staring into the tomb (John 20:11ff) 

From the experience of grief and sorrow there emerges an encounter with Jesus Christ! 

The most encouraging and exhalative experience of Christ; Grief that gives way to a vision of Glory. 

The same is true of the 2 on the Road to Emmaus 

The same is true of Jarius, of the widow of Nairn, of Mary and of Marth and of the disciples in the upper room. 

Grief gives way to a vision of Glory. 

Let’s be careful about judging where a path will lead by how it begins! 

Mary Magdalene could never have expected a day beginning with such sorrow and loss to have given way to such joy and gain, a day beginning with grief that ended in glory. 

Be careful about judging the end from the beginning. 

Eccl 7:8 “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof and the patient in Spirit is better than the proud in Spirit.” 

If I were to tell you that in Philippians, a prison epistle, we have a letter marked by joy and rejoicing; you may be a little surprised. 

If I were to tell you how that joy was reached; that I think may take a bit of believing! 

The joy and rejoicing of Phil 3 comes at the end of a path of sorrow and grief! 

Is this rejoicing in spite of the sorrow? 

Rather this is rejoicing because of the sorrow and adversity! 

It is the path of sorrow and suffering that leads to joy! 

1 Peter 1:3 “according as His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” 

What if that Divine power gives us a path of: 

Prison cell 

Is that sufficient for ‘life and godliness’? 

Does God know what I need and how to give it? 

What about the circumstances of Matthew 11:29? 

“take my yoke upon you and learn of me….” 

A yoke meaning that Christ share in our burden 

A yoke means that together we pull the burden 

A yoke means that we pull the burden together 

The discipline of that burden brings me into conformity to Christ 

The pulling of that burden brings me into step with Christ! 

Herein is the significance of the burden! 

In suffering and in then prison cell can be a spiritually and intellectually productive place: 

Nelson Mandela: ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – written in the prison 
Victor Frankyl: ‘Man’s search for meaning’ – written from his experiences in Auschwitz 
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: ‘Gulag Archepeligo’ and a ‘Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ 
John Bunyan: ‘Pilgrims Progress’n 

The background noise is turned down 

Lights dimmed 

The Glory shines the more brightly! 

We come to rejoice on what perhaps might at times seem to us a legitimate reason to rejoice: 

Spiritual progress 
Spiritual strength 
Numerical strength 

We are brough through this adversity to grasp rather the unique source of all rejoicing : Christ! 

We rejoice in His: 

His Providence (chp 1) 
His Pattern (chp 2) 
His Power (chp 3) 
His Person (chp 3) 
His Presence (4:9) 
His Peace (4:7) 
His Provision (4:10) 

This brings me surely to joy and rejoicing 

Joy as a Passion – Path to Worship 

‘worship God in the Spirit’ (John 4) 

Here is the missing link in John 4 

How to worship God in the Spirit? 

By ‘rejoice in Christ jesus’ 

John 5:23 

Mark 9:7 

There is little in this world for God to enjoy 

Little for us and God to enjoy together 

“all we like sheep have gone astray” 

“every imagination of the thoughts of man….” 

“walked according to the course of this world…” 

All that is in the world: 

Lust of the flesh 
Lust of the eyes 
Pride of life 

Here uniquely is the place we can fellowship with God (Phil 3:7)