What We Learned Together This Sunday September 3, 2023
Today is the third message of this short series in this season for New Life Fellowship. We have seen Being Members of the Body of Christ in First Corinthians 12. We have seen Christian Call of Unity for the Church Body in Ephesians 4. The message today in Philippians chapter one “Only Conduct Yourselves In A Manner Worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” All that the message of the Gospel proclaims and means, calls us to be as His people and His church. The message of the Gospel is salvation, reconciliation, and transformation. The emphasis on sacrificial love and humble service, including repentance and obedience, seeing abundant grace and abounding mercy. There is the perfect righteousness of Christ and the holiness of God. Both forgiveness of all our sins and kindness of God toward sinners. A message of substitutionary death, the Lamb of God who dies for our sins, the Son of God who lived and died for our rescue and salvation, and the Spirit of God regenerates, renews, and restores.
First, Choose To Live Your Life in A Manner Worthy of the Gospel [1:27a]. Here is both PERSONAL DIRECTION and PERSONAL DECISION. The first word only places importance and significance in this matter for the church. And also consider all of the things which the Apostle Paul had going on in his life [1:12-14, 21-23]. The gospel emphasized here in this verse twice and in this first chapter in the book of Philippians [cf. 1:5, 7, 12, 16]. Here Paul begins “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . .” Different translations: only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ [NASB] . . . only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ [ESV] . . . only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ [NKJV] . . . But whatever happens, make sure that your everyday life is worthy of the Gospel of Christ [Phillips]. This first command in this epistle [verses 27-30 one sentence]. The Gospel of Christ meaning Gospel truths, Gospel blessings, and Gospel promises. Believe the truth of the Gospel, and also behave in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Believe God the Father and Provider! Believe Jesus is Savior and Leader! Believe the Spirit is our Comforter and Teacher! Such a threefold teaching with the will of God, the work of God, and Word of God! Choice made by you because of the change within you by His grace, so that the Gospel is lived in my life as a testimony of the salvation by God. Paul emphasizing living together with a people with responsibilities of belonging there and being here in this body. One commentator wrote, “but the word Paul uses in Philippians speaks of one’s manner of life seen as a duty to a body or group of which one is a member, and to the head of that group to whom he is responsible. It is a more inclusive word.”
“But in the form in which Paul gives the exhortation, the person exhorted is to recognize his position as a citizen of a heavenly kingdom, and while obeying the exhortation as a matter of obligation to God, yet at the same time realize his responsibility to obey it because of the privileged position he occupies, and literally exhort or charge himself to do the same. One could translate therefore: “Only see to it that you recognize your responsibility as a citizen and put yourself to the absolute necessity of performing the duties devolving upon you in that position.” [Wuest Word Pictures]
And there is this point by Paul in the middle of the verse, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear about you . . .” What are people hearing about us here at New Life Fellowship? What will they be talking about in regard to us here? We want them to say there they only conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel.
Here is the first of two measurements of conducting ourselves in the manner worthy of the Gospel. The Standing In Unity with Others in the Gospel. Here is the PRESENT ACTION for the church body. Paul writes “that you are standing firm in one spirit . . .” The same wording used in chapter four [cf. 4:1]. Standing Firm for the Gospel which means “unyielding in battle” giving imagery of soldiers. Who we stand with and why we stand here. Where I stand my ground including convictions and commitments with military imagery. Stephen Davey states, The verb here for standing firm, is a military metaphor that pictures the Philippian believers serving in the same army, battling the same foe – which in this word picture would represent disunity. He says, stand firm in one spirit. And he knew they knew – and we might not – that the Roman ground troops fought their enemy not as single soldiers, but in densely packed rows, eight soldiers deep. They moved forward in step – they even moved sideways and backward together – by trumpet or voice commands.” Its that season again, and you know what I mean. Its Fall so its football season! Defense and Offense and Special teams for good football. Here is the defense of the Christian unity when we gather with other soldiers with our shields protecting others from the enemies and warfare against us. Here at New Life Fellowship joining with other soldiers in discipleship meetings, Bible Studies, and Community Groups bringing our shields with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sad that sometimes we need shields because of other Christians in the church body turning against their fellow soldiers. In words of criticism and bitterness, or attitudes of self-righteousness and pride, so that the one spirit of not evident and present in the body.
Here is the second measurement of conducting ourselves in the manner worthy of the Gospel. The Striving for Partnership with Others with the Gospel. Here is the PRESENT PARTICIPATION. Paul writes, “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.” Striving Together for the Gospel which means “undivided in strategy” giving imagery of athletics. This is a present active participle meaning present participation as our character describing the present activity in our lives. What we are striving for and why we are working together. In this context Paul would expand teaching on the humility as he adds more teaching and the example of Christ as support [cf. Philippians 2:1-5; 3:12-14]. Here is the offense of the Christian unity when we work with other athletes with our efforts and ministries with others for the mission for us as a church body. Serving in unity in ministry together for the faith of the Gospel. Here at New Life Fellowship joining with other athletes serving, helping, ministering, working in different ministry plans bringing our efforts with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Here at New Life Fellowship praying for the 27 fellow workers in the AWANA ministry “with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel.”
Here is a summer of this verse by one commentator. “Only (since my only reason for remaining on earth is for your progress in the Christian life), see to it that you recognize your responsibility as citizens (of heaven), and put yourselves to the absolute necessity of performing the duties devolving upon you in that position, doing this in a manner which is befitting to the gospel of Christ, in order that whether having come and having seen you, or whether being absent I am hearing the things concerning you, namely, that you are standing firm in one spirit, holding your ground, with one soul contending (as a team of athletes would) in perfect co-operation with one another for the faith of the gospel.” [Wuest Translation]
We Choose To Live our Life in A Manner Worthy of the Gospel with both PERSONAL DIRECTION and PERSONAL DECISION, so that PRESENT ACTION and PRESENT PARTICIPATION be the character of our ministry and the quality of our testimony. First,The power of the Gospel should be demonstrated in our conduct together. Let our church body not merely be what men can do but how God does work through the Gospel! Second, Confess sins in our lives hindering the Gospel ministry and testimony. Communion Sunday the time for us all to take inventory and seek inspection of our lives as Christians. Strengthen our partnership & fellowship we have in the Gospel together. What will people be hearing about New Life Fellowship? How will we be obeying this command and fulfilling these responsibilities as a church body? May we each commit to standing firm for the Gospel and Striving Together for the Gospel. May they say of us in this community . . . “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” [Philippians 1:27].
What We Learned Together Today Sunday August 6, 2023
The title of the message today is A Promise of Hope for The Future Because of His Resurrection. Jesus comforts His disciples at the time with His words about the future so that they would have hope and peace as His disciples. Look at how Jesus encourages His disciples throughout this chapter knowing their situation [16:1, 7, 20, 23, 25, 33]. We have seen the blessed understandings in these words of Jesus. Now there are the blessed assurances with the words of Jesus. In this final section of chapter sixteen in these final words by Jesus he repeats His teaching about the Father. Jesus states, “ . . . the Father . . .” [vv .25, 26, 27 [2x], v. 28 [2x], v. 32]. The main teaching in this first section would be A Promise of Hope for The Future By Believing What Is True According to the Words of Jesus [16:25-28]. Next week A Promise of Hope for the Future by Experiencing What Is Real According to the Words of Jesus [16:29-33]. Both Understanding What Jesus Has Said and Knowing What He Has Done. Three themes for believing what is true: deeper knowledge, higher privilege, and greater advantage.
In verse 25 there is the Deeper Knowledge of Truth About The Father [16:25] Jesus says, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language . . .” Transition to a change and how things will be different in the days ahead for His disciples. Also Jesus said, “an hour is coming . . . but will tell you plainly of the Father.” See also John 16:32 His reference to the Father [cf. John 1:18; 4:25; 10:6; 16:12, 29]. This is an unique word used only here by Jesus “to announce or inform, with possible focus upon the source of information—‘to tell, to inform.’ Their Future and The Hope in Jesus as His Disciples is this Christian Clarity promised by Jesus. For the disciples ot have hoper for the future there will be increased knowledge of God the Father. Consider all that we learn about the Father through the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. What it means that He is the Father revealed by the Son. Who He Is as the Father connects with what Jesus says next in verses 26-27.
In verses 26-27 there is the Higher Privilege of Prayer To The Father [16:26-27] Jesus says, “In that day you will ask in My name.” Such personal requests and present needs of His disciples brought to the Father. Again all that He is and what He has done “ask in My name.” He states they have personal access to the Father. A future day after His cross and His resurrection—in that day. Look at verses 23-24 as Jesus repeats Himself putting emphasis on this matter for His disciples. As one commentator wrote, “all Christ’s disciples give themselves to prayer.” [Matthew Henry] Their Future and The Hope in Jesus as His Disciples is this Real Relationship promised by Jesus. And then Jesus says, “and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf.” Jesus does intercede on our behalf as our High Priest in heaven before the very presence of God the Father in heaven. Here His words emphasize how personal their relationship is with the Father as the Father they ask and that Jesus does not need to speak on our behalf or assist their prayer to be heard by the Father. The disciples of Jesus do not need the arm of Jesus for their prayers to get to the ear of the Father. And then in verse 27 Jesus adds, “for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me . . .” The word here is phileo meaning love of affection and delight, association and friendship. Different from agapao meaning love of action and decision usually based upon sacrifice. See the use by Jesus in previous teachings in the Upper Room Discourse [John 14: 21, 23; 15:13-14 17:23]. Two-fold emphasis by Jesus describing His disciples as “have loved Me . . . have believed . . .” Literally translated, “for the Father Himself loves you because you yourselves me have loved and have believed . . .” In contrast to the world hating the disciples of Jesus and Jesus Himself [cf. John 15:18-20]. Jesus knows who His disciples are, and His disciple know they are His disciples because they love Him and believe Him. This relationship then shows heart of the disciples of Jesus toward the place loving Jesus. This relationship then reveals feet of the disciples of Jesus on the path following Jesus. This relationship then informs the mind of the disciples of Jesus for the promise knowing Jesus. And this relationship then manifests the hands of the disciples of Jesus in the position serving Jesus.
In verse 28 there is the Greater Advantage of The Certainty About Jesus [16:28]. Jesus summarizes the accomplishment of His mission and fulfillment of His promises by the whole personal promise of these actions as the Son of God. “I came forth from the Father and . . .” Their Future and The Hope in Jesus as His Disciples is this personal promise by Jesus. Remember what Jesus said back in John 16:7. And Jesus said, “I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.” Remember what John wrote about Jesus at the beginning of this Upper Room Discourse [John 13:1, 3]. His words in verse 28 include His Incarnation, His Resurrection, and His Exaltation [cf. John 18:37]. All that He has promised His disciples in this Upper Room Discourse delivered by His victory and majesty as the Son of God demonstrated in these actions.
A Promise of Hope for the Future by Believing What is True. The lesson of crocus flowers. These wonderful bulbs herald the end of winter. They often bloom just as the snow melts, before winter finally retreats. “If you have ever lived in a place with harsh winters, you know that the coming spring is welcome with great anticipation. In some places, winter can last for around half the year, with bitter cold, snow, and dead vegetation. However, when winter is fading away the crocus appears. Even during an early spring snowstorm, this flower will still bloom. It is a sign of winter ending and spring beginning, even when there is still snow on the ground.” These final words of Jesus picture this great anticipation of what is next for His disciples. We can understand the truth in Jesus and about Jesus because of His words given to us by the ministry of the Spirit of truth. Being a disciple who is asking the Father in the name of Jesus holding to these words of Jesus are yours because you are His. Being a disciple who is knowing, asking, believing because of what is real. It is true that my relationship with the Father is not based on anything about myself but everything about Jesus Himself. Therefore He is exalted as the Son of God, Savior of the world, and the resurrected Lord in my life! Having Love for Jesus as His disciple because you are believing His words telling us that the Father loves us. It is not based on my experience alone and my feelings only in knowing the Father loves us.
1) Let us review again the teaching on communication in the Exemplary Husband book as the instructions for communication moving forward . . . “but speaking the truth in love” [Ephesians 4:15]. We ought to maintain a high level of biblical communication in our interaction as brothers.
2) Let us remind ourselves again of how we ought to relate and interact as brothers with the instructions by the Apostle Paul, “[I] urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” [Ephesians 4:1-3] We ought to walk with one another in such ways in which we live our calling and behave with such diligence.
3) Let us remind ourselves of remaining devoted to prayer to God, especially praying for another as the writer of Hebrews says, “Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things.” [Hebrews 13:19] We ought to pray for one another as brothers because of each of our responsibilities, concerns, problems, burdens, struggles, battles, failures, and sins. We need to pray for one another both privately and publicly, personally and presently, fervently and humbly.
4) Let us remind ourselves of what the Lord has done and what we believe He does do . . . “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3:20-21] We ought to speak forth this belief in the matters we are responsible as brothers giving thanks to Him when He does show Himself in our midst as Him who is able to do.
5) Let us remind ourselves of the importance of the work of the Spirit of God in our lives as brothers and the life of the ministry of New Life Fellowship. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the desire of the flesh is against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, in order to keep you from doing whatever you want.” [Galatians 5:16-17] We ought to walk in dependence upon the Spirit of God desiring the fruit of the Spirit brought forth in our discussions so that any conflict, disagreement, complaint, and sin do not manifest any of the deeds of the flesh.
6) Let us remind ourselves of the need in each of our lives for the confession of sin, repentance of sin, and faith in the Lord as we were given as a church body during our time at the Communion table on Sunday. We ought to live the Christian life as one examined by the Spirit of God bowing at the foot of the cross being those who are asking forgiveness from the Lord and from one another as sinners saved by grace.
What We Learned Together Communion Sunday May 14, 2023
We are focusing on John 3:16 this morning for our communion study. One commentator wrote, “What proclamation of the Gospel has been so oft on the lips of missionaries and preachers in every age since it was first uttered? What has sent such thrilling sensations through millions of mankind? What has been honored to bring such multitudes to the feet of Christ? What to kindle in the cold and selfish breasts of mortals the fires of self-sacrificing love to mankind, as these words of transparent simplicity, yet overpowering majesty?” It is a great testimony in this verse. These words in John 3:16 are important for each of us here this morning. The message of salvation here in the Gospel of John through the words of Jesus. We have entitled the message “Whoever Is Believing in The One and only Son. May we all go forth from this time together telling others the truth in John 3:16. The message we can speak this week because of our time of communion this morning as those who are believing in Him.
In this Scripture passage we are given truth from God for us about salvation. Here in these verses we see The Grace of God through the Truths of Salvation in Giving His Son [3:16-18]
In verse 16 The Truth of The Greatness of The Love of God. In verse 17-18 The Truth of The Seriousness of The Judgment of God. Four simple points from this one verse. This one verse contains just a few words in which a sermon could be preached on every word in this one verse.
First, His One and Only Son was given to Display—The Love of God. Verse sixteen begins “For God so loved the world . . .” The first word “for” points us back to verses 14-15 in John chapter three. There The Deliverance by God for the Consequences of Sin in Providing His Son. The Old Testament reference in Numbers 21 His provision for cure from the poison of the serpents. As one commentator said, “Moses raised a bronze snake on a pole as a cure for a punishment due to disobedience. So Jesus would be lifted up on a cross for people’s sin.” In verse 15 “so that whoever [sing] believes might in Him have eternal life.” The character of those who are believing personal and presently. The great declaration that Jesus would be lifted up! He would be raised up on the cross and die in the place of sinners. Jesus is the remedy and cure for the poison of our disobedience within as the very One lifted up that we would look to Him for salvation. You Have This Salvation Who Believe in The Savior To Save Me The Sinner. Deliverance from sin in the look to the solution which God provided for them and for us! God so loved the world, meaning He loved the world in this way and in this manner. Not how great is His love, for it is great indeed! The very nature and character of God as The One who loved the world. We must begin with God for He is first in this truth. Not His emotion but His action. Not His feeling but His giving, doing, the sacrificing. His personal actual, and real love for the world where mankind dwells. “God’s love is to be admired not because the world is so big and includes so many people, but because the world is so bad.” John would write later in his epistle of First John, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” [I John 4:9-10] He gave the greatest and the best, His only begotten Son, for the least and the worst.
Second, His One and Only Son was given to Provide—The Gift of God. Then John writes, “that He gave His only Son . . .” Language uniquely used of Jesus. For Jesus is “the one and only/only begotten” “unique,” and there is no other like Him or can take His place or has His importance. The one most precious and therefore God was most generous in giving His One and Only Son! “Who can estimate the value of God's gift, when He gave to the world His only begotten Son? One that thinks lightly of man's need and man's sin, would do well to consider man's Saviour. Sin must indeed be exceeding sinful, when the Father must needs give His only Son to be the sinner's Friend!” [J. C. Ryle]
Third, His One and Only Son was given to Believe—The Promise of God. Here the purpose is given for the giving of the Son “so that everyone who believes in Him . . .” This is the repeating of the phrase in verse fifteen. No matter who they might be and what they have done, and how bad of a person they are or what kind of sinner they have been. My belief which results in an active faith that looks at Jesus & His provision for me. He is the remedy. He is the cure. He is the Only Savior. “The love of God in the great gift, and then in the great plan by which that gift becomes available to guilty men.” [Charles Spurgeon] Whoever Is Believing In The One and Only Son!
Fourth, His One and Only Son was given to Testify—The Truth of God. “ . . . will not perish, but have eternal life.” In the context the consequence of not looking up to the snake lifted up that one would die because of their sin. Perishing does not mean that one ceases to exist but suffering the death as the consequence of the judgement of God. A reminder for us all there are two kinds of people. We gather here this morning as a people declaring we are believing in Jesus as the remedy for our sin, and the cure for the poison in our lives. There are some who are perishing because they would not believe and will receive the punishment of the judgment of God. This verse calls us to be such ones who are the believing ones, and even as we gather together as a church body giving testimony as ones who are believing in Him. As we celebrate communion together we are stating publicly, “I am a believer. I am believing. I look to Jesus. He is my Savior.”
Is John 3:16 more than words you learned a long time ago? Is it the way you live your life? Does this verse express who you are believing in the One and Only Son? If that is true than people would hear us declaring to them the truth of John 3:16. And there is the truth in the next two verses. “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” [John 3:17-18] Our testimony this morning is that I am believing, that Jesus is my Savior. Our testimony that we are the one which John 3:16 describes as whoever is believing in Him. I know this is true for so many here today who are believers. But there may be one here today who has not believed. Understand what you see as wrong in your life that God see its also and that Jesus is the remedy for your sins in your life. Look to Jesus this morning!
As Charles Spurgeon said, “Will anyone refuse? This good gift, this perfect gift,-can you decline it? Oh, that you may have faith to lay hold on Jesus, for thus he will be yours. He is God's free gift to all free receivers; a full Christ for empty sinners. If you can but hold out your empty willing hand, the Lord will give Christ to you at this moment. Nothing is freer than a gift. Nothing is more worth having than a gift which comes fresh from the hand of God.”
Christ Suffered and Died . . . To Absorb the Wrath of God 
The Passion of Jesus Christ, John Piper pp. 20-21
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.” Galatians 3:13
God put [Christ] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. Romans 3:25
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10
If God were not just, there would be no demand for his Son to suffer and die. And if God were not loving, there would be no willingness for his Son to suffer and die. But God is both just and loving. Therefore his love is willing to meet the demands of his justice.
God’s law demanded, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). But we have all loved other things more. This is what sin is—dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences. Therefore, the Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We glorify what we enjoy most. And it isn’t God.
Therefore sin is not small, because it is not against a small Sovereign. The seriousness of an insult rises with the dignity of the one insulted. The Creator of the universe is infinitely worthy of respect and admiration and loyalty. Therefore, failure to love him is not trivial—it is treason. It defames God and destroys human happiness.
Since God is just, he does not sweep these crimes under the rug of the universe. He feels a holy wrath against them. They deserve to be punished, and he has made this clear: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4).
There is a holy curse hanging over all sin. Not to punish would be unjust. The demeaning of God would be endorsed. A lie would reign at the core of reality. Therefore, God says, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them” (Galatians 3:10; Deuteronomy 27:26).
But the love of God does not rest with the curse that hangs over all sinful humanity. He is not content to show wrath, no matter how holy it is. Therefore God sends his own Son to absorb his wrath and bear the curse for all who trust him. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
This is the meaning of the word “propitiation” in the text quoted above (Romans 3:25). It refers to the removal of God’s wrath by providing a substitute. The substitute is provided by God himself. The substitute, Jesus Christ, does not just cancel the wrath; he absorbs it and diverts it from us to himself. God’s wrath is just, and it was spent, not withdrawn.
Let us not trifle with God or trivialize his love. We will never stand in awe of being loved by God until we reckon with the seriousness of our sin and the justice of his wrath against us. But when, by grace, we waken to our unworthiness, then we may look at the suffering and death of Christ and say, “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the [wrath-absorbing] propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Amidst us our Beloved stands,
And bids us view His pierced hands,
Points to His wounded feet and side,
Blest emblems of the crucified.
What food luxurious loads the board,
When at His table sits the Lord.
The wine how rich, the bread how sweet,
When Jesus deigns the guests to meet.
If now, with eyes defiled and dim,
We see the signs, but see not Him;
O may His love the scales displace,
And bid us see Him face to face.
Thou glorious Bridegroom of our hearts,
Thy present smile a Heaven imparts;
O lift the veil, if veil there be;
Let every saint Thy beauties see.
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.