Love Other Believers

Do you know, believer, that you are God’s beloved? Do you see that those around you in Christ are also His beloved and worthy of love, service, and unity in truth? Things to reflect on about your relationships to other believers in Phil. 4:1-3.

Part 16 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

After a lengthy section of exhortations to single-minded focus on Christ, His cross, and the coming resurrection glory, Paul transitions to a collection of short exhortations and commands about unity, joy, prayer, and right and godly thinking. I’ll get to a few of them today and more next time.

Love For Believers

Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

It’s interesting to see the ways in which Paul expresses his feelings for the Philippian believers: whom I love and long for…beloved. Paul assembles a few Greek words (agapētoi and epipothētoi) to convey his deep affection in the Lord for them (related: Phil. 1:8).

The word for “beloved” (agapētoi) actually appears twice in the Greek. This isn’t a word we use that often and there’s a rich beauty under its surface. He’s conveying the idea of these believers being dear to him, as being “divinely loved ones,” as Kenneth Wuest puts it. We are Christ’s beloved — His treasured ones, His precious possessions, His  children that He holds and cares for tenderly. Paul longs to see these people who dwell so profoundly in his heart again in person; it is not enough that they have sent gifts or sent a messenger. Continue reading

Enemies of the Cross

To live for the things of this earth and for the desires of our flesh — no matter what name we claim — is to live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Paul continues to offer guidance on godly role models with a sobering contrast of those who call themselves Christians, but whose lives tell otherwise. (Phil. 3:17-21)

What does this have to do with joy in Christ? There is joy in seeing a real diamond among a handful of cubic zirconia. There is joy in identifying the truth in a world of lies. And there is joy in having a right and godly perspective for today and the future.

Part 15 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Be Careful Who You Follow

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Here Paul tells the Philippian believers, be imitators of what you see in me of Christ and what has been taught to you of His ways. It is not that Paul sees himself as sanctimonious, high and mighty, or having arrived at perfection. We saw in the last study that he clearly sees himself as still running the race. He is also not in any way trying to gather followers for himself in the place of followers of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 3:4-5, he disparaged the notion of following a man and clearly stated he was a servant through whom you have believed. Continue reading

Keep Pressing Forward

Our past sins and regrets can often paralyze us, steal our joy, and have us looking back so much we forget what lies ahead. Paul encourages us in Phil. 3:12-16 to walk with the expectation and hope of our future resurrection glory, allowing that to motivate us to greater holiness by God’s enabling grace!

Part 14 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

We saw in the last study that Paul rejected the idea of his human accomplishments making him righteous before God, that he held solely to faith in Christ for his salvation. He moves on in these next verses to explain the diligence with which he pursues conformity to Christ on a daily basis, with a view toward glory.

Already But Not Yet

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.

When Paul says in verse 12, he has not already obtained this or is already perfect, he is referring back to verse 11 about resurrection. His sanctification is not complete; he has not been resurrected or glorified. But he does know this much: he belongs to Christ. He has been adopted into the family of God through faith — God’s gift to him — and because of this, he longs for ongoing progress in his sanctification. Continue reading

Losing It All To Be Found In Christ

What is worth holding on to in the face of death? Your house, car, iPhone? Your job and education? Awards and recognition? To Paul, following Christ was more important than anything he had done or been in his life. In Phil. 3:7-11, he covers the deep significance in gaining Christ through faith.

Part 13 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Forsaking All to Gain Christ

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

In the last study, Paul gave us a laundry list of why he looked righteous by worldly standards, but was clear that none of his reasons measured up. After he’s given us that list, he makes a sharp delineation here: these man-centered reasons are not just without value, but more emphatically, they are a loss, damaging, detrimental. However significant his background and training looked like it had value, when it came to comparing it to the value of Christ, it was a complete wash. When he trusted Christ, he turned his back on all that the world considered in him to be success and accomplishment.

Have you lost anything as a result of following Christ? Friends, work opportunities, the approval of others? Have you let go of dreams or plans that you thought were best for you in favor of pursuing things of eternal value? The next verse should be encouraging to you in that knowing Christ is worth more than anything you may have lost or given up. Continue reading

Rejoice in Christ, Not the Flesh

Self-help mentality is rampant in this world. We’re told from an early age, you can do it, you have the power, you’re strong enough. But the Bible tells us the complete opposite: it is in Christ alone that your ability to navigate this world resides. Paul contrasts the advantages of being in Christ with what the world sees as advantageous in Phil. 3:1-6.

Part 12 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Turning the Corner

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

The word “finally” (loipon) in verse 1 of chapter 3 links all that Paul has talked about so far as he prepares to turn to the next subject (and ultimately toward the end of the letter). He often uses this word to introduce the next round of exhortations (related: Phil. 4:4; 2 Cor. 13:11; 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:1) It is like when we say “so then,” “furthermore,” or “in closing.” The New Living Translation even goes so far as to translate this as “whatever happens.” Continue reading

What is True Freedom?

This weekend, many people here in the United States will be celebrating “freedom.” A large number of those people don’t really know what true freedom is.

I encourage those of you who are believers to take some moments of time outside of barbecues, fireworks, and splashing in the lake to pray for those near you who may not know the true meaning of freedom. Take the time to share how they can have a freedom that doesn’t begin with laws or more education or a better job. If you tell just one person the gospel this weekend, you have been a messenger of true freedom.

…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? (Rom. 10: 9-10, 14 ESV)

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Are you a person who doesn’t know Christ? Or perhaps you call yourself a Christian, but you’re not really sure what that means and it hasn’t changed your life in any way.

I invite you to check out the resources below. Or feel free to email me through my About – Contact Me form if you’ve had honest questions about Christ that have gone unanswered or if you’d like help understanding more about walking with Him.

What is freedom in Christ?
What is the gospel message?
Who is Jesus Christ?

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 6:23 ESV)


I pray that you have a safe and blessed weekend.

The Humble Servant

Christ’s life of joyful, humble obedience gives us an example to follow. Phil. 2:5-11 is full of rich theological “soil” that will deepen and enrich your understanding of Christ and your walk with Him.

Part 7 of a whole book study series called “Joy in Christ: A Study Through Philippians.”

Find the whole series in Philippians here.

Today’s passage of scripture takes the form of what many frequently call a Christological hymn. This means it has as its central object Christ, and speaks to His nature and to facets of His work of redemption. Other scripture likely to be thought of as Christological hymns can be found in Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:2-4, John 1:1-14. I will not be addressing whether Paul penned this content or inserted an existing hymn.

Verses 6-11 summarize the eternal Son in describing His pre-existence, constant and present divine nature, eternal equality with God, incarnation, humility, and exaltation. There is such a depth here that I will walk through it quite slowly as there is much to be learned and much to stand in awe of. I felt utterly inadequate to do full justice to these verses, but with God’s help have done what I can! Continue reading