We Have a Trustworthy God Who Holds Us
Philippians 1:3-6, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in your will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Picture a relay race. The teammates pass a baton after running their leg of the race. While one teammate runs, the next has to wait. After passing the baton, those finished with their leg cheer on the next. Only after the last runner runs his leg of the race do all the runners on the team win. They were in the same race, with the same baton, with the same goal, though each ran at different times. Remembering the 4x100 relay race in Track and Field, it was very strategic. Usually the fastest runner would run the last leg, and each runner had certain strengths which lended themselves well to running either a straightaway, a curve on the track, against the wind, with the wind, etc.
Likewise, God has sovereignly placed us in our time in history, so that He would prove Himself through his people. The course is our time on earth, the goal being glorified with Christ in His coming kingdom. The baton is the testimony of Christ in His Word and the perseverance of the faithful church through history.
vs. 3-4…Paul remembering the Church at Philippi in prayer, thanking God joyfully.
vs. 5…The reason he thanks God with joy is their participation in the gospel. *We can notice that the gospel is something to be participated in.*
vs. 6…”For” (or because) Paul has confidence in God’s ability to finish His work begun in the Church.
vs. 6…Paul is confident because he knows the Lord himself, but also the Lord is proving Himself through the Philippians’ faith! This encourages Paul. He is seeing what he has passed on to the Philippians come to greater fruition—the ultimate goal of being ready for “the day of Christ Jesus”—that is, Christ’s return.
So, “participating in the gospel” is participating in God’s faithful work! It is not just passing along a rote message.
The faithful work of God is to prepare a people for Himself, demonstrated by certain characteristics, as seen in the verses which follow:
vs. 9—abounding in love which stems from knowledge of Christ
vs. 10—discernment on what is of true value, worth focusing on. Sincere and blameless.
vs. 11—full of “fruit of righteousness,” that is Christ Himself being seen in our lives more. It is all about the glory and praise of God—not me.
These are all characteristics of those who entrust themselves to God’s faithful work.
It is not about what we are doing as much as it is about what we are becoming. We all have a different leg of the race we are running. I may have to forget even the ways I have operated in the past in my own life.
Philippians 3:12-14. In view of being perfected in Christ, Paul forgets what is behind and presses on toward the goal. CHRIST HAS LAID HOLD OF HIM, as He has laid hold of us for the same purpose.
THE GOAL OF THE “RACE” IS THE UPWARD CALL.
While we are running different legs of the race with different obstacles and challenges, the same principles are at work which were in Paul’s time. What we have to go through:
“That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).
—power of His resurrection…to live the new life now
—fellowship of His sufferings…the repercussions of living the Christ life now causes waves in the world around us
—being conformed to His death…we have to deny ourselves—our own desires, comforts, goals, plans, ways of thinking, self images (position, power, personality).
—WE WON’T BE DISAPPOINTED. Our trustworthy God will take us through this, ultimately to resurrect us and glorify us with Him.
THE “BATON” OF THE “RACE” IS THE FULL COUNSEL OF GOD outlined in these brief verses.
Is the full counsel of God what we are holding onto and passing along to the next generation? We can suffer through anything as we stay faithful to the gospel, knowing we have a trustworthy God!
Hebrews 11:39—12:2 carries the same message, also with the race illustration. Those who ran before us will not be perfected before us, but they currently stand rejoicing and cheering us on, as those who have run the previous legs of the race!
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!