This week, I am finishing writing my final sermon in our Philippians sermon series. This is a big deal for us at FBC for a couple of reasons: First, this is the first book we have studied verse-by-verse together. May this be the first of many books we study together! Second, it is my first book to preach in its entirety at any church. As this is a momentous occasion for us, I would like to highlight a few of the most important lessons I have learned from Philippians.
#1 The Christian life is all about Christ. While we all probably knew this before our study in Philippians, Paul’s writing to the Philippians displayed this in ways that I never expected. Every corner we turned and every rock we flipped in this book revealed Paul’s central life-focus: Christ. He described his life and circumstances (1:12-18), the current situation in Philippi (2:12-18), and even the glorious future (3:12-4:1) as all Christ-centered events in which the gospel is shared and God is glorified. It is for good reason that the “theme verse” of the book is “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (1:21).
#2 The Christian life is all about joy. No, Paul is not calling the Christian to live a life of unrealistic optimism, but he is saying that the Christian must find their joy in Christ. The words “joy” or “rejoice” are found throughout this book in every section. Paul constantly reminds the Philippians that joy is an essential part of living a Christ-like life. He best displays this through the joy he has for them (1:3-11) and the joy he has in his own life regardless of current struggles (1:18).
#3 The Christian life is all about unity. The Christian life cannot be lived alone. This entire book was written out of the joy and love Paul has for his fellow brothers and sisters in Philippi (1:3-11). In response to their partnership with him in the Gospel (4:10-20), Paul writes this letter encouraging them to be united as a church (1:27; 4:2-3). This is a book of friendship; Paul’s friendship with the Philippians (1:3-11), Timothy (2:19-24), Epaphroditus (2:25-30), Euodia and Syntyche (4:2), and Clement (4:3) all build on the joyful tone of the letter.
#4 The Christian life is all about growth. Reading Philippians, you cannot miss the constant encouragement to grow in the faith. The repeated appeals to sanctification show Paul’s genuine concern for the Christians at Philippi. Paul leaves the reader without question as to how the Christian life must look as they are to grow in love (1:9), knowledge (1:9), discernment (1:9), unity (1:27; 4:2), humility (2:1-11), good works (2:12), joy (4:4), gentleness (4:5), peace (4:6-7), and godly thinking (4:8-9).
Paul’s letter to the Philippians is certainly a book of joy. As a pastor, it has been my joy to learn and grow through my study and preaching of Paul’s rich letter to his friends. I have grown in my love for Christ, Scripture, and my church. I pray that it has brought much joy in your life as well!