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Philippians 1:18-26

Today, I was scheduled to preach at Union Grove Baptist Church in Fulton, MS. I planned to preach on Philippians 1:18-26, but God had different plans. I do not know why, but I am sick today. Yesterday, I had terrible allergy/sinus problems and hoped that they would be gone so I could preach today. They weren’t gone, obviously, and in fact, when I woke up, they were worse. My left ear particularly pained me, and I can’t speak loudly nor clearly (and preaching requires both in varying degrees). And so, I am home as I type this, not attending church at all. It feels weird to miss a church service, to miss an opportunity of fellowshipping with the people of God and worshipping Him corporately. I’ve watched a service or two on the TV, but it’s not the same. Plus, they weren’t from my home church; they weren’t the believers I normally fellowship with. Wonderfully enough, Philippians 1:18-26 (which I will now preach at a later date) deals with the joys of Christian fellowship and why Christian fellowship is so important. Textually, Paul expresses joy in the glorification of Christ regardless of circumstances but then joy at the glorification of Christ because of circumstances. Philippians 1:18-26 (ESV, of course):

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live on in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”

In these verses, Paul expresses confidence that the Holy Spirit will deliver him both from his temporary imprisonment and also provide ultimate salvation. Paul would rather depart and be with Christ, “which is far better,” yet for the sake of the Philippians’ “progress and joy in the faith,” he will be delivered and reunited with them. In this passage, we see the importance of Christian fellowship. The Holy Spirit uses other believers’ prayers to help us. Therefore, we should pray for each other specifically. Christianity is communal—not individualistic and isolationist.

Also, like Paul, our attitude should be that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Our lives should be utterly consumed by Christ and overflowing from Him! Christ must be our primary passion—not Christ plus anything else! All too often, we say “to live is work, or dating, or self gratification, or any number of things.” But to live for us as Christians should be Christ! Christ should be our reason for living! His glorification should be our goal, just as it was the goal of Paul. And one of the most effective ways we can glorify Christ is to glorify Him as a body of believers, united in His Lordship and salvation. Notice particularly the emphasis that the Hebrew writer puts on Christian fellowship in Hebrews 10:23-25:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Just in the days of this epistle’s writing, some Christians still neglect to meet with other believers. However, it is when we meet together that we “stir up one another to love and good works.” In meeting together, we are also “encouraging one another,” and the Day of our Lord draws ever closer with each passing opportunity for us to meet together as a local body of believers.

My ailing health has prevented me from fellowshipping with believers of my home church today, but I hope that you have not neglected such fellowship if you are in good health. I look forward to hearing Seth’s sermon later today (hopefully); it will (presumably) be posted on Eastside Baptist’s podcast at some point. Please note that this is not my full sermon; this is just a bare-bones sampling of what Paul addresses in this passage. I do hope that you are blessed by this, though, and I look forward to preaching a sermon on this text at a later date. Remember, our purpose in life is to glorify God—and now you know, you have no excuse—and one of the best ways we can do that is by glorifying Him together when we meet together as believers.

God bless, and I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday afternoon. If your church offers services tonight, please go to them if you are physically able, for in so doing, you will be glorifying God, which is what we all should be doing anyway.

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