From the recording Philippians

A sermon preached from the letter to the Philippians chapter 2 verses 5 to 17 as part of our series if systematic bible studies expounding Paul's letter to the Philippians verse by verse. Free to download audio mp3 audio files.
Yours by Grace in Christ
Dr J Stewart Gillespie


3 practical applications of the mind of Christ:
1. To be great means to be gracious
2. The sinner does not justify the sacrifice, the sacrifice justifies the sinner!
3. You won’t lose at the altar!

Many of the NT epistles are specialist epistles:
• Romans – gospel, justification by faith
• 1 Corinthians – sanctification and some church truth
• Ephesians – Christ and the church
• Colossians – Christ and the occult
• 2 Peter and Revelation – prophetic
Philippians is very much a generalist
Deals with the entire Christian life
Philippians follows:
• Life of Christ
• Life of Paul
• Life of the believer

1. Persecution, trial, imprisonment, unfaithfulness of friends, contradiction of sinners (chp 1)
2. The cross and sacrifice (chp 1)
3. Resurrection (chp 3)
4. Crown and rejoicing (chp 4)
Interestingly this presse of the Christian life emanates from the prison cell!
Not from the Christian life going smoothly, but in the trial and the testing.
From this experience comes the heart beat, the pulse of Christian experience, distilled into 4 chapters.
This ministry is the product of turmoil and not of peace!
Christianity works in the deepest and darkest of experience.
Christ is able to sustain, no matter how difficult the path and the circumstances.

From this experience is distilled the essence of Christian experience:

1. To Live Christ – chp 1
2. To Think Christ – chp 2
3. To Know Christ – chp 3
4. To Rejoice in Christ – chp 4

1. To Live Christ – chp 1
Both a challenge and a comfort
CT Studd:
Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last. ”

In his poem / hymn Studd brings the challenge of 1:21
Not only is there CHALLENGE in this verse there is also COMFORT in this verse
Living according to this rule and principle has led Paul into the prison cell!
He looks around and understands his circumstances in the light of this great principle:
‘for me to live is Christ!’
If Christ brought me here
If obedience to His call and His gospel brought me to this point there must be significance, meaning in where I am and in what I’m doing.
Christ must have purpose in it!

Just as He did:
• Placing Joseph in the prison cell
• Moses in the backside of the desert
• Daniel in the lions den
• Shadrach Meshach and Abednigo in the fiery furnace
If Christ and His gospel led Paul into this experience there must be purpose
Design infers Destiny
Plan infers Purpose
Paul sees that:

1) Sinners have been saved
2) Saints have been encouraged
3) Self has been built up
4) Christ has been glorified
This is not a catastrophic disaster
This is unforeseen part of God’s plan!
What is our response / reaction to plans going wrong?
We didn’t understand the plan (1:12) !!

2. To Think Christ – chp 2

2:6-11 – deeply doctrinal, also profoundly practical
3 practical consequences of these verses:
1. To be great means to be gracious
‘robbery’ – ‘harpagmos’ – abstract noun
Not a ‘thing to be grasped after’ but ‘grasping’ itself
To be God doesn’t mean to grasp. But to give
‘thief’ – noun – concrete
‘thieving’ – noun – abstract
Not a thing to be grasped but grasping as a thing
To be God means to give rather than to take
This is part and parcel of the character and nature of God
To be great is to be God like
To be God like is to be gracious
Grace will not diminish your greatness nor belittle who or what you are!
God is great: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal He is so great He is not controlled by the attributes of His greatness!
He has absolute control over His power!
He is not a victim of His power.
‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ – a reasonable deduction from 20th century European history! That is indeed true in the hands of fallen men.
Hand a fallen man absolute power, he has more power than he is able to handle! We see amplified the traits of a fallen human nature!
God is not enslaved by His own power
He is able both to extend:
• Righteous judgment on a world by flood
• Grace to Noah in the Ark
God is not victimised by His power
Christ is greater than His miracles
God is greater than the power He displays
He has power to extend wrath to the murmuring Israelites and power to restrain that Judgment and provide the brazen serpent.
God remains great whilst He has and when He gives!
He remains the same!
To be God means not to grasp but to give.
One of the lessons of John chp 13; no one wanted to take the lowly place; for to take the place of the servant diminished who you were!
Not at all!
Christ takes the lowly place, it does not diminish who He is!
Christ is not the slave of His greatness; needing to hold on to what He possess or to His reputation, in case that would change in some way who He is!
He is able to act graciously and stoop down and take the lowly place.
Who He is abides absolutely, His essence is unchanged.

2. The sinner does not justify the sacrifice, the sacrifice justifies the sinner!
The sacrifice of 2:8 was not compelled by the greatness and goodness of humanity
Humanity did not work to deserve that sacrifice!
Here the thought is are others worth my service?
In point 3 – is my service worth it?
Cf. 2:17 – Paul willing to be poured out on the sacrifice and service of your faith.
Did the Philippians deserve it?
Did they live up to a standard that compelled this level of commitment and sacrifice from Paul?
I very much doubt it?
Cf Phil 2:30
There was at time a lack in their service yet Paul did not hesitate to pour himself out on the sacrifice and service of their faith!
It is not necessarily because of what you see in others but at times it is in spite of what you see in others!
Perhaps if we had assessed the disciples by what we had seen of them in the gospels, the pouring out of the sacrifice of Calvary would have seemed somewhat futile!
What was poured out, was poured out in faith!
In faith, what did Paul achieve?
The Philippian epistle!
A blessing to the sacrifice and service of the faith of all of God’s people and at all times:
1) To Live Christ
2) To Think Christ
3) To Know Christ
4) To Rejoice in Christ

3. You won’t lose at the altar.

You won’t find losers at the altar!
The altar will cost you but you won’t lose out!
Not at God’s altar!
Service leads to the cross but the cross leads to the crown
• I have paid so much
• This has cost me so much
• I have invested so much
Such is seen in the sovereign purposes of God in OT:
• Jacob -> service -> Israel
• Joseph -> service and slavery -> saviour of the world
• Moses -> shepherd in the backside of the desert -> leader and deliverer
• David -> shepherd and fugitive -> king
• Gideon
• Samson – finally at the end he pours himself out
I have seen over the years some who get discouraged by:
• Burdens they carry
• Responsibility they shoulder
• Commitment they make
• Cost they pay
Philippians 2:6-11 – you won’t lose at the altar!!
There is a path to the altar
There is a path from the altar
Sacrifice leads to the cross
The cross leads to the crown

Chp 2 vs 5 to 13 is presented not only as a presentation of the person and work of Jesus Christ but as an example; ‘let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’
• Incarnation
• Humanity
• Stoop
• Death
• Crucifixion
• Resurrection
• Exaltation
• Glorification
There was at the end of this not defeat and failure but exaltation and glorification.