Sermon: Philippians 4 — Principles of a Healthy Church

25 Jun

Philippians 4 – Principles of a Healthy Church

Introduction – I’d never really thought of Philippians 4 as being a chapter about church life. There are many great verses here that we celebrate as individuals (be anxious for nothing, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory) but these verses were written to the church body at Philippi. They are to be walked out in the context of a church community. And I believe that to the degree they are walked out here at West Hickory, we can be a healthy and flourishing local church. Of course that means that individuals must take up these things and walk in them, but we walk as individuals in the midst of a community of believers because as Paul says elsewhere, “we are members one of another,” “we are the body of Christ, made of many different parts,” and “we are God’s holy temple being built up brick by brick for His glory.” So what directives does Philippians 4 give us for Church Life?

The Practices of a Healthy Church . . .

  1. Gospel-Focus (4:1). What is it? All Paul had talked about to this point. 1:21; 2:4-8; 2:13; 3:10-14. How do we have it? Consistent hearing of gospel preaching and teaching (Preaching, Ephesians study tonite, Sunday School, summer studies, personal Bible reading, memorizing/meditating on Scripture, discussing things of God with members, family devotions, books)
  2. Relationally Unity (4:2-3). What is it? A spirit of mutual warmth and high regard for one another without any hint of animosity or bitterness. How do we have it? Flows from the gospel (those forgiven forgive). Release or Reconcile.
  3. Happy Humility (4:4-5). What is it? A spirit of joy and gentleness that characterizes those who are walking in the love of Jesus. How do we have it? The Gospel (Eternal life, forgiveness, adoption, new life, the Spirit, the Word, blessing upon blessing, yet all undeserved). How can we help but be happy and humble? Awareness of God’s Person and Presence (in the Lord, the Lord is near). Awareness of Others, Regard for them (Let your gentleness be known to all).
  4. Prayer-Saturation (4:6-7). What is it? A spirit of anxiety-killing, fear-destroying prayer without ceasing to the God who saved us and calls us to a life of holiness and usefulness in His kingdom. How do we have it? The Gospel (Jesus death has opened the way to access to God and Jesus intercedes for us, as does the Spirit). Really praying together. Relating to God. 9am Prayer Time. Prayer Days. Revamping Our Prayer List. Stop and Pray as we talk. Pray always in all ways (praise, intercession, confession).
  5. Thinking and Doing (4:8-9). What is it? An approach to life that values setting the mind on what is godly and good while also valuing walking in what is godly and good. How do we have it? The Gospel (Jesus, the greatest theologian was the greatest servant). Set your mind on things above. What do you think about when no one is around? Talk with one another about the things of God. Small group Bible study. But remember to know is not enough (James). Everyone is a theologian but true theology always overflows into service.
  6. Compassion (4:10). What is it? A heart that is concerned for others and for the work of God’s kingdom. How do we have it? The Gospel (God so loved the world). Do not center your life on your own agenda but yield to God’s agenda (Not my will but yours be done). Be interrupted for the glory of God. Care about more than what’s in it for you. Ask how you can glorify God in a situation.
  7. Contentment (4:11-13). What is it? A wholehearted trust in our Sovereign God that enables us to be satisfied in Him not our circumstances. How do we have it? The Gospel (We have all we need because our eternity is secure and our life here is abundantly blessed). We lean on our sovereign Savior and know that He is enough. We lean on each other through encouragement. Sometimes we need less advice and more listening and encouragement.
  8. A Mission-Mindset (4:14-15). What is it? A desire to be involved in God’s world-transforming work in the gospel. How do we have it? The gospel (God so loved that He sent His Son). Outward focus (get out of the bubble). Don’t focus on dollars or attendance but on what God is doing to change lives. See the world in need as an opportunity not an obstacle.
  9. Generosity (4:16-19). What is it? A heart that delights to give of money and time to the kingdom of God. How do we have it? The Gospel (For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son). As Jesus is your great treasure hoarding for yourself will become distasteful and investing in His kingdom will become a delight.

The Results of a Healthy Church  . . .

  1. Stability (4:1). Psalm 1 People.
  2. Peace (4:2,7) from God and with one another. What everybody wants but almost nobody seeks in the right way.
  3. Christ’s Protection (4:7). Jesus promises to guard those things which are most precious in life (my heart and mind).
  4. God’s Presence (4:8). If God is for us who can be against us. Also contentment and freedom from anxiety springs from God’s presence with us (Hb. 13:5-6).
  5. Bringing Blessing to Others (4:1, 10). It is more blessed to give than receive.
  6. Ability to Deal with Ups and Downs (4:11-12). Everyone has emotional ups and downs but wouldn’t it be nice to live free of debilitating days.
  7. The Strength of Christ for Every Need (4:13). Its more than a slogan on a t-shirt, it is a reality. Fear not I am with you be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will support you with my righteous right hand.
  8. Receiving the Blessing of God (4:17). Blessing on God’s terms is always better than what we could come up with.
  9. Pleasing God (4:18). Paul says elsewhere, “we make it our aim to please God.” It is not a denial of the gospel to please God. God delights in the praises of His people and God delights in healthy local churches.
  10. The Supply of God for Every Need (4:19). God knows the needs and He will meet them. We can trust Him.
  11. A Life for God’s Glory (4:20). The chief end of humanity will be fulfilled in us as we become the healthy church God intends us to be.

Conclusion – No local church is perfect but every local church body can become more faithful to living out the gospel in their life together. That’s what we want to do here at West Hickory. As I look over the practices of a healthy church in Philippians 4, I see seeds of all of those things at West Hickory. But I also see much room for progress and growth. I truly believe that if we as a people were largely marked by the 9 practices in Philippians 4, we would see the results that emerge from this chapter as well. So when there is weakness, instability, fearful anxiety, open rebellion, and relational conflict, we know that Christ still has a lot of change to bring among us. I want to submit to that change and pursue it. If you do too let’s ask God to do His good renewing work in our midst. Let it begin today as we become, by His grace and power, a healthier church, bearing good fruit for the glory of God and the blessing of the world.

 

 

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