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Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
Established November 2008 Published Weekly on Friday
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men (and women) to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:3-4)
Welcome to HBS.
We ended last week’s Bible lesson and Philippians chapter 1 with this verse: Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me (1:30).
Here our Apostle Paul reminds these Believers he suffered for preaching the gospel of grace during his initial visit to Philippi (Acts 16) and affirms the Philippians were suffering the same conflict (persecution) that befell him.
In saying “and now hear to be in me,” Paul let’s these folks know their suffering is not out of the ordinary and they do not suffer alone. Whenever and wherever true Believers live as they are called to live, when they strive together for the sake of the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the natural result is suffering:
“…all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
While serving the Lord in Philippi, Paul and Silas were jailed and shackled to the prison floor however their tribulation could not silence God’s message of grace. We note they didn’t doubt God’s love or show signs of distress, instead they rejoiced praying and singing hymns of praise. Their positive spin on a negative event brought about the salvation of the jailer and his household (Acts 16:20-34).
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed (poured out as water) abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us (Romans 5:3-5).
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
“I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distress for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Please open your Bible at Philippians 2:1-2.
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels (affection) and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
We’re starting a new chapter this week, but Paul’s message remains the same. We know this because of the word “therefore.” This word is connected to Paul’s communication in 1:27-28 where he exhorts these Believers to be mindful of their conduct, as they stand as one, striving together to further the gospel of grace.
Was this church like-minded? Not really. These folks were experiencing the same common church malady as the churches in Corinth and Ephesus it’s called disunity. So, Paul called for unity in verse 1:27 and will again in 4:2. When Paul called for these Believers to be like-minded in 2:2, he’s highlighting their disunity again. Thus, we observe Philippians 2 begins where Paul left off. He’s imploring these saints in Christ Jesus to have the same love, being of one accord, and of one mind for the gospel’s sake.
“Why is church unity so important?” The short answer is God said so.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness (humility) and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3).
To live the Believer’s life to its fullest, Paul is saying “As recipients of God’s grace and members of His one body, see to it you practice what you preach.” Love should always be the motivating factor in our interactions with other Believers in Christ, with longsuffering (patient; not easily provoked), forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Paul builds on that truth in Ephesians 4:4-6 by describing the seven-fold unity of the Holy Spirit: There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Please understand the Holy Spirit has established this seven-fold unity and these seven building blocks serve to form the foundation of the Body of Christ, or the one body.
Since God the Holy Spirit has established it, adherence to this seven-fold unity is not open to debate, and this takes me back to my opening remark “God said so.”
Next question: “Why is there disunity in the churches?” To answer this question fully, would require dedicating a Bible study to it. However, suffice to say beginning in Genesis the Scriptures make clear anything that is of God Satan opposes and seeks to destroy. The adage “A house divided cannot stand” applies here. Since the fall of Adam, the devil is the god of this age (world systems - 2 Corinthians 4:4), so wherever the Lord’s work is being done, Satan is there attempting to undo it. Paul is aware of Satan’s track record and his attempt to disrupt the unity of the Philippian saints has not escaped his attention.
Knowing the importance of church unity, Paul sought to defuse this problem and ease the built up tension between these folks by appealing to four truths they knew about but had obviously lost sight of. Each of these truths begin with an “if” clause. The word “if” introduces a “conditional” statement. The Bible verse below is one example from many in scripture that may help you understand this principle:
Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (Exodus 19:5).
So then, the word “if” expresses the idea of an uncertain outcome. Today you might hear someone say, “If my tax return arrives on time, then I can make my mortgage payment.” However, Paul’s four “if” clauses assume what he’s about to say is the truth. His statements therefore convey the meaning of “confident assurance.” For instance: “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ (and there is), then the Philippians response to persecution and suffering ought to be in view of this truth.
Over 2,000 years ago our Apostle Paul informed the Corinthian church the Lord Jesus Christ is the firm foundation for every true Believer’s life: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).
A reliable building contractor knows the foundation is of utmost importance because it supports the entire structure. When it comes to the Believer’s life, our foundation is exceedingly more important than that of a building because it has been placed there in accordance with God’s will: According as he (the Creator God) hath chosen us (His church) in him before (what) the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in (what) love: Having predestined us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will (Ephesians 1:4-5).
We recently learned the Philippian church was suffering the same persecution as Paul, so His remark regarding consolation in Christ serves to remind them the Lord does not desert His body, the church, at any time. As a building is supported by its foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ supports the members of His one body. He’s been alongside them on every occasion to encourage and strengthen them in their time of need.
If you read Philippians 2:1-2 carefully, you’ll see the assumed truths he mentions in verse 1 he answers in verse 2.
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ,” “fulfill ye my joy… that ye me like-minded.” Paul wanted these folks to be on “the same page,” i.e. thinking alike. This same message was conveyed to the saints in Corinth: Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11). Paul wants these people to live together harmoniously.
“If any comfort of love,” is linked with “fulfill ye my joy… having the same love.” They are all recipients of God’s love and mercy, so Paul wants them to respond in kind demonstrating the same compassion, love, and patience toward one another. Opinions may vary on certain topics of interest; however their sincere love for one another should not falter. Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10).
“If there be therefore… any fellowship of the Spirit: answers to “fulfill ye my joy… being of one accord.” “of one accord” is the Greek word Sumpsuchos, Strong’s Greek #4861, which means “of one soul.” Paul’s saying the Holy Spirit provided oneness at their conversion, and the only way to preserve it is by yielding to the Spirit of God. Here Paul reminds them they were all baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, they have all been sealed by the Spirit, and if they apply these truths to their lives then “oneness” or fellowship with one another is possible (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Finally, “If there be therefore… any bowels (affection) and mercies” answers to “fulfill ye my joy… be of one mind.” The Corinthian Believers were known for their “carnality” or self-centeredness. Instead of recognizing the needs of others, many of them were selfish and didn’t care who knew it. Evidently some of the Philippians adopted a similar mindset. This is what prompted Paul to say, “If there be therefore… any bowels (affection) and mercies.” “fulfill ye my joy… be of one mind.” At one time, probably at the onset of their walk with the Lord and each other, there existed a genuine bond of love between these folks. They used to look out for each other’s concerns, but now they were insensitive to the needs of others and acted indifferently. This is why he reminds them, as he did the saints in Rome, to be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10).
Our Apostle Paul took the long route to say he wanted the Philippians to “walk the walk” and not just talk the talk. They were to possess a sincere love for each another united in plan and purpose. To get there they must put off those things that bring about division and strife. We pick up on this in verse 2:3.
Let nothing be done through (what) strife (bitter conflict or rivalry) or vainglory (excessive pride); but in lowliness of mind (humility) let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things (interests) of others.
Let’s review a couple of Bible verses that support what Paul is saying.
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:20-21).
We then that are strong (in the one faith) ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me (Romans 15:1-2).
Charity (love, benevolence, good will; that disposition of one’s heart that inclines Believers to seek another’s highest good) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: (1 Corinthians 13:5-8a).
The common theme running throughout these Bible passages is lowliness of mind or humility. Humility and “striving to get ahead (climbing the ladder of success) by stepping on and over one another” are polar opposites. Since these saints are citizens of heaven, their conduct should reflect this truth 24/7/365 (Philippians 1:27). But the Philippians were not behaving as such, so Paul spoke against their misconduct saying “Let nothing be done through strife (bitter conflict) or vainglory (excessive pride).”
The Greek word for humility is Tapeinophrosune (tap-i-nof-ros-oo’-nay), Noun Feminine, Strong’s Greek #5012, and it means: lowliness of mind, modesty; having a humble opinion of oneself:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Colossians 3:12-13).
Paul’s message is clear every true Believer in Christ is to regard their brothers and sisters in the faith as more important than themselves or as he put it “let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things (interests) of others.”
In Philippians 2:4 Paul goes on to say he wanted his audience to adopt the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ, who did not think only of Himself, but had the eternal well-being of all in mind when He became obedient unto death on the cross.
(To be continued)
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