Philippians: A ministry of joy

January 6, 2011

I’ve just returned from the Crieff Fellowship New Year Conference.  This year Sinclair Ferguson gave four talks expounding Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  Not to put too fine a point upon it, Sinclair was at his best.  In culinary terms this was prime beef at its most tender, most edible.  Quality that was a joy to digest.

I have preached Philippians twice but listening to Sinclair makes me wonder if I have ever even read the book.  Let me give you some juicy morsels:

From chapter 1 – thanksgiving is characteristic of Paul – but this is not always true of Christian ministers.

Paul prays that the Philippians will be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.  We need to keep the end, the judgment in sight.  The pastor’s job is to prepare his people for the end.

Paul’s attitude to those who preached the gospel out of rivalry – is my ministry what’s most important to me, or is it the gospel? Paul is not defined by his ministry but by God’s designs for him.  To live is Christ, to die is gain. 

From 1:29 – suffering is as much a gift of grace as faith.  Suffering is subservient to the gospel.

From chapter 2 – there was a lot about how the imperatives (the commands) flow from the indicatives (the facts).  Thus the command for unity flows from the fact of Christ’s humility. 

To love Christ is to hate any misdescription of him. 

Christ’s obedience to the Father increased over his life – he was at his most obedient on the cross. 

Fear and trembling – we are so superficial that we fail to tremble at the love of God. 

Grumbling is one of the most destructive dangers for the church. 

The secret of unity is humility. 

Most profound of all to my mind – from chapter 4 – Rejoice in the Lord – I am here to bring joy.  My aim is to produce this Christ-ful joy in my people.  This is the funnel through which I want to pour out my ministry this year.  May it be a Ministry of Joy!


One Response to “Philippians: A ministry of joy”

  1. william Says:

    Great to hear how much you were encouraged by the Philippian studies – and wondering ‘if I have ever even read the book’. I’ve just finished studying Philippians with the aid of Gordon Fee’s magisterial commentary in the NICNT series. I was left with the same thoughts!
    It’s the wonder and experiential nature of Paul’s gospel that is staggering – Rejoice IN THE LORD always[4.4]. Fee sees the bulk of Paul’s letter sandwiched between his concern for their ‘standing firm’ and ‘having the same mindset’ [1.27b & 4.1-3]. The prime beef of the sandwich is the paradigms for imitation [see 2.5, 3.17] – of Christ [in ch2] and Paul [in ch3].
    Get hold of the commentary and a major series on Philippians will maintain both your joy AND your folks’ in the comming year – IN THE LORD!

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