May 28, 2009

A Walk Through Philippians

We recently spent some time looking at Paul's experiences in Philippi. I'm planning on following that series with a walk through his letter to the Philippians. I should have the first post up sometime next week. I hope to see you here. In the meantime, please take 3 minutes and drop me a line about yourself. I would like to get to know my readers, if you would be so bold to share a little of yourself with me.

May 25, 2009

Paul in Philippi - Part 6

And now we come to the conclusion of this little series. Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke have ministered in Philippi, bringing the truth of the gospel to a small group of women who gathered by the river for prayer. Lydia was among their number, whose heart the Lord opened to receive the gospel preached by the traveling band of missionaries. A demon-possessed slave-girl is the catalyst that ultimately leads Paul and Silas into suffering for the sake of the gospel.

After they are beaten, bound, and imprisoned; Paul reveals that he and Silas are Roman citizens. They should not have been treated in such a manner. And here is the rub for us today. Paul waited to reveal their citizenship until after they suffered terribly. Why did he wait? The text does not say and I have found precious few commentators who devote any space at all to theorizing. So while there may not be any dogmatic conclusions concerning this delay, it is a question worth meditating on. Think about how you might react in the face of real persecution from the state. Should we always withhold our defense until after unrighteous punishment has been meted out? I don't think we can say that conclusively because the text does not specify. But are there times when it would be the right thing to do, what God calls you to in that season? It appears to be a distinct possibility. God may call you to suffer unrighteous persecution for the sake of the gospel, even when there is a way out of the persecution before it occurs.

Can we begin to wrap our "successful Christian life" minds around this? Were we to fall into this kind of trouble for the sake of the gospel and then fall back on what we've learned about "victorious Christian living", where would we land? After all, if we are doing (and saying) the right things, there should be only victory. At least that's what some people tell us, some very "successful" people who lead churches and ministries defined by a message of "victory". Yet, here we have Paul and Silas giving us an example to follow that is so very unlike the "victory" lifestyle. I understand the temptation... weighing the promise of great physical blessings against the reality of trials and persecution.

Brothers and sisters, one of these lives is victorious. One is a lie. God calls you to true life,




May 19, 2009

Paul in Philippi - Part 5

As promised, here is the sermon based in large upon Paul's experience in Philippi. In I Thessalonians, we have a great example set before us.

Gospel Courage
Gospel Character
Gospel Concern

I Thessalonians 2 - The Courage, Character, and Concern of the Gospel

May 18, 2009

No, Mr. President

Paul in Philippi - more to come this week

The last two weeks have been furiously busy. I had to fill the pulpit at my church for the last two Sundays. Preaching is not something I take lightly. Needless to say, I was preoccupied with preparations. The sermon I preached two weeks ago is a practical application of the truths I've been writing about concerning Paul in Philippi. I will be posting the sermon here tonight, followed by a final post for this series later this week.

I have also been teaching through Philippians in my adult Sunday school class. I have been challenged on many fronts, especially the gospel courage that Paul, Silas, and Timothy display during their journey.

Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me. Writing is not a quick thing for me. You are more patient than I deserve. I have opportunity this week and next to devote myself to serious studies. God help me to mine precious gold with hands of clay.

May 16, 2009

Berkhof's Systematic on sale

Berkhof for $12.99 @ CBD. Includes his prolegomena (Introduction to the Study of Systematic Theology) combined in this volume.

MacArthur: The Truth War on sale

CBD has a great deal on John Macarthur's book The Truth War. $7.99 for the hardcover edition.

May 2, 2009

Paul in Philippi - part 4

During Paul and Silas' midnight prison worship service, an earthquake has opened up the doors of the Philippian prison and everyone is unshackled. The earthquake awakens the jailer, who upon surveying the open prison immediately decides suicide is his only option - assuming the prisoners have escaped. Strangely, not one of them is missing. Paul cries out in order to save the jailer from himself, who now seeks lasting salvation from the hand of the Savior. What a dynamic turn of events! Confusion, fear, thoughts of suicide, the metallic rattle of a sword being drawn, despairing of life itself, hope, true freedom. The jailer, roused from sleep by an earthquake and thrown immediately into utter despair, has found rescue at the foot of the cross, led there by the very prisoners he placed within the prison that same night.

Paul and Silas, shown no mercy by the jailer since their arrival, answer his plea with a simple message of mercy. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." The jailer's heart is changed, demonstrated in washing their wounds, housing, and feeding Paul and Silas. There is much rejoicing in his home, for real life has come to stay. Where death and fear have reigned, rejoicing drives them out as the Lord ascends in the heart of this man and his family.

The next day, the magistrates send their messengers to the jail with instruction to release these two prisoners. Paul insists that the magistrates come themselves and apologize for mistreating him and Silas, who are Roman citizens. Fear boils over in the hearts of the magistrates. They, as rulers in a Roman colony, have abused their fellow contrymen.

Here is the point I find supremely stunning and challenging. Paul and Silas could have asserted their Roman citizenship when all this trouble began, but they didn't. Think about that for a day or three. I'll be back in a few with some more thoughts on this curious turn of events.