The Kind of Church We Ought to Be

May 10, 2015 00:32:51
The Kind of Church We Ought to Be
Covenant Words
The Kind of Church We Ought to Be

May 10 2015 | 00:32:51

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Rev. Christopher Chelpka
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Episode Transcript

WEBVTT 1 00:00:00.920 --> 00:00:04.400 If you're able, please remain standing and will hear God's word this evening from 2 00:00:04.440 --> 00:00:24.780 Philippians chapter four, Philippians four, two through nine. Hear the word of 3 00:00:24.820 --> 00:00:30.940 the Lord. I entreat IODIA and I entreat Syndici to agree in the Lord. 4 00:00:31.780 --> 00:00:34.859 Yes, I ask you, also, true companion, help these women 5 00:00:35.420 --> 00:00:39.049 who have labored side by side with me in the Gospel, together with Clement 6 00:00:39.450 --> 00:00:43.170 and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. 7 00:00:44.450 --> 00:00:47.890 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice. 8 00:00:48.689 --> 00:00:52.439 Let your reasonableness be known to every one. The Lord is at hand. 9 00:00:53.359 --> 00:00:57.159 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, 10 00:00:57.799 --> 00:01:02.159 with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the 11 00:01:02.280 --> 00:01:07.670 peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your 12 00:01:07.790 --> 00:01:12.590 minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is 13 00:01:12.629 --> 00:01:19.140 honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever 14 00:01:19.260 --> 00:01:25.459 is commendable, if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, 15 00:01:26.340 --> 00:01:30.980 think about these things, what you have learned and received and heard and 16 00:01:30.219 --> 00:01:36.209 seen in me. Practice these things and the God of peace will be with 17 00:01:36.329 --> 00:01:55.840 you. God bless the Reading and preaching of his word may be seated well 18 00:01:55.920 --> 00:01:59.640 here. At the end of the book of Philippians and the chapter four, 19 00:01:59.760 --> 00:02:04.790 versus two through nine, Paul begins to close his letter to this church with 20 00:02:04.950 --> 00:02:13.629 some instructions. Some of them are very specific, addressed specifically to two women, 21 00:02:13.949 --> 00:02:19.139 even named, possibly even a third named person. Will come to that 22 00:02:19.180 --> 00:02:23.060 a little bit later. But addressed to these two specific women who are told 23 00:02:23.180 --> 00:02:27.740 that they need to get along. I'm. He entreats them, I'm, 24 00:02:27.900 --> 00:02:32.490 openly and publicly, perhaps indicating that there was some kind of public nature to 25 00:02:34.250 --> 00:02:38.650 their dispute. He calls them to agree in the Lord. But in addition 26 00:02:38.729 --> 00:02:45.319 to these specific instructions to the specific individuals, Paul also gives instructions in a 27 00:02:45.479 --> 00:02:52.520 general way that without a doubt apply to our church, to covenant OPC just 28 00:02:52.639 --> 00:02:57.400 as much as it did to the Philippian Church, instructions that we are to 29 00:02:57.680 --> 00:03:01.389 heed, to he year and to follow. I'm just as Paul says, 30 00:03:01.469 --> 00:03:06.750 they're at the end of Philippians four, verse nine. He says, what 31 00:03:06.870 --> 00:03:12.069 you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things. 32 00:03:13.099 --> 00:03:17.060 This is what our God has called us to do through his through his apostle 33 00:03:19.259 --> 00:03:24.419 we also, though the Apostle Paul hasn't been among us in person, has 34 00:03:24.500 --> 00:03:30.009 certainly been among us in other ways. We have his his acts, his 35 00:03:30.330 --> 00:03:34.330 works, his life given to us in quite a bit of detail in the 36 00:03:34.449 --> 00:03:38.569 pages of scripture, in the acts of the apostles, in that book and 37 00:03:38.889 --> 00:03:42.960 and throughout this letter and in many other places. I'm there are many ways 38 00:03:43.000 --> 00:03:46.759 in which we can look and see each of these things. I'm written for 39 00:03:46.919 --> 00:03:51.560 us. Commands to follow, but also commands that are written in the example 40 00:03:51.680 --> 00:03:59.430 of this apostle, commands that teach us as as church who we are ought 41 00:03:59.469 --> 00:04:02.629 to be, the kind of church that we ought to be. So I 42 00:04:02.710 --> 00:04:09.310 want to consider those with you tonight, thinking very particularly about our particular church. 43 00:04:10.139 --> 00:04:15.900 What kind of church has God called us to be? Well, first 44 00:04:15.139 --> 00:04:19.019 in verses two through three. will go through these in order. I'm versus 45 00:04:19.100 --> 00:04:24.649 two through three. God calls us to be a unified church. This comes 46 00:04:24.689 --> 00:04:32.649 out implicitly in his exhortation or admonishment to Yodia and to synthikeate. He says 47 00:04:32.689 --> 00:04:36.569 that they are to have unity with each other, we are to find peace 48 00:04:36.649 --> 00:04:42.920 among themselves. The fact that this applies to us is obvious. I think 49 00:04:43.160 --> 00:04:46.240 I'm just from it being written. But to prove it with yet one other 50 00:04:46.399 --> 00:04:50.959 thing, we could note that what he says to them to be of one 51 00:04:51.079 --> 00:04:55.790 mind or to agree in the Lord, is something that he's said at other 52 00:04:55.949 --> 00:05:00.029 times and in other ways throughout the letter. You Remember, back in Ephesians 53 00:05:00.069 --> 00:05:04.069 chapter two, verse two, Paul says this. He says, complete my 54 00:05:04.230 --> 00:05:10.019 joy by being of the same mind. He also says in verse three, 55 00:05:10.300 --> 00:05:15.019 do not thing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, count others 56 00:05:15.139 --> 00:05:20.889 more significant than yourselves. or in verse five, have this mind among yourselves, 57 00:05:21.889 --> 00:05:27.730 which is yours in Christ Jesus. And these various ways, Paul calls 58 00:05:27.769 --> 00:05:32.610 us to seek unity. He says a similar thing we read earlier in Romans 59 00:05:32.730 --> 00:05:38.879 Fourteen. He says welcome the weak brother, but not to quarrel with him. 60 00:05:39.399 --> 00:05:43.240 We of course do this. We find people that we can disagree with 61 00:05:43.439 --> 00:05:46.959 simply for the purpose of disagreeing, I'm not for the purpose of finding unity, 62 00:05:47.199 --> 00:05:53.430 not for the purpose of coming closer together. Paul, here, I'm 63 00:05:53.550 --> 00:05:58.550 doesn't take sides, he doesn't tell one and he doesn't actually give them very 64 00:05:58.589 --> 00:06:02.509 specific instructions about what to do. He simply says, you need to agree, 65 00:06:03.540 --> 00:06:08.620 you need to work it out. He puts the responsibility on them. 66 00:06:08.819 --> 00:06:12.540 He says, in a certain sense, you're mature enough to handle this. 67 00:06:13.100 --> 00:06:19.129 I'm you need to come to one mind. He calls this, he calls 68 00:06:19.170 --> 00:06:24.009 them to this, and also, I'm calls the church to this as well. 69 00:06:25.009 --> 00:06:30.769 He addresses someone in verse three and asks that this person help them. 70 00:06:30.689 --> 00:06:33.879 He says, yes, I ask you, true companion, help these women 71 00:06:33.920 --> 00:06:39.160 who have labored side by side with me in the Gospel, together with Clement 72 00:06:39.279 --> 00:06:42.680 and the rest of my fellow new workers whose names are written in the book 73 00:06:42.720 --> 00:06:46.189 of life. There's the sense that these women, along with Clement and along 74 00:06:46.230 --> 00:06:50.709 with this other, possibly unnamed person, have all been a part of the 75 00:06:50.790 --> 00:06:55.990 same team, along with Paul, working together for the sake of the Gospel. 76 00:06:56.949 --> 00:07:00.069 He doesn't say exactly in what ways, but they are laboring side by 77 00:07:00.189 --> 00:07:04.699 side, even as he has called us to do in the church. I 78 00:07:04.779 --> 00:07:08.579 don't mean to be coy about this third person. I'll just kind of get 79 00:07:08.579 --> 00:07:12.699 this out of the way. It's a little bit difficult to know who he's 80 00:07:12.699 --> 00:07:16.529 addressing in the way it's translated here in the ESV. It doesn't a name, 81 00:07:16.569 --> 00:07:20.410 a particular person, and all kinds of guesses have been made as to 82 00:07:20.569 --> 00:07:30.120 who it is he's addressing, without any particular person being very convincing and conclusive. 83 00:07:30.959 --> 00:07:34.199 One possibility you might see in your notes is that a word that he 84 00:07:34.319 --> 00:07:40.360 uses here is actually a proper name when he says I ask of also of 85 00:07:40.439 --> 00:07:44.829 you, true companion. In the notes here it says or loyal, scissor, 86 00:07:45.029 --> 00:07:49.110 sidgus. This is a possibly he's it's a it's a person who's named 87 00:07:49.149 --> 00:07:55.750 after a quality, like a lady might be named peace or or something like 88 00:07:55.910 --> 00:08:00.819 that. Something like that may be going on here. It doesn't matter a 89 00:08:00.899 --> 00:08:03.379 whole lot, just to have kind of move that out of the way and 90 00:08:03.500 --> 00:08:07.220 say that what we do have, clearly, though, here, are specific 91 00:08:07.379 --> 00:08:11.540 people, I'm laboring side by side For the sake of the Gospel, and 92 00:08:11.740 --> 00:08:16.170 Paul wants them to remember that and to seek their unity in in remembering that. 93 00:08:18.250 --> 00:08:22.170 Well, the same is true for us. I'm dismemberment harms the church 94 00:08:22.209 --> 00:08:26.569 as much as it harms the physical body, and so unity must be one 95 00:08:26.569 --> 00:08:31.040 of our main objectives. We must do it whenever we can and whenever we 96 00:08:31.279 --> 00:08:37.039 can to bring ourselves together. So we are called to be unified and to 97 00:08:37.200 --> 00:08:43.350 have peace. Then in verse four he says that we are to rejoice, 98 00:08:43.669 --> 00:08:48.149 we are to be a rejoicing people. This is clear enough. Rejoice in 99 00:08:48.230 --> 00:08:54.509 the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice. Paul repeats it explicitly 100 00:08:54.710 --> 00:08:58.620 twice, even tells you that he's repeating it. Rejoice in the Lord always. 101 00:08:58.659 --> 00:09:05.259 Again I will say rejoice. And Paul has been rejoicing throughout the letter 102 00:09:05.419 --> 00:09:11.409 for various reasons. He's called us to rejoice, if you remember, back 103 00:09:11.529 --> 00:09:16.570 in a chapter three, verse one. Finally, my brother's rejoice in the 104 00:09:16.649 --> 00:09:20.289 Lord. So in addition to being a unified people, we are called to 105 00:09:20.370 --> 00:09:24.159 be a people that rejoices. We are to people, be a people who 106 00:09:24.240 --> 00:09:30.600 knows what it means to have joy and to let it spill out in prayer 107 00:09:30.759 --> 00:09:33.559 and in praise. And if you think about it, there is of course 108 00:09:33.600 --> 00:09:39.029 much to give thanks for. Think about what God has done for you, 109 00:09:39.190 --> 00:09:45.309 just in your physical and temporal needs. Has God not cared for you abundantly 110 00:09:45.509 --> 00:09:50.389 and in many ways, even in spite of your many sins? As God 111 00:09:50.509 --> 00:09:56.019 not provided for you food and clothing, strengthen your body, all kinds of 112 00:09:56.139 --> 00:10:03.620 pleasures and good things, music to listen to, things to watch and read 113 00:10:03.899 --> 00:10:09.970 and enjoy a family, friends and if you are a Christian, you can 114 00:10:09.009 --> 00:10:13.250 add to this a whole host of spiritual brought blessings as well. You are 115 00:10:13.289 --> 00:10:18.490 a child of God. The Holy Spirit has enlightened your mind so that you're 116 00:10:18.490 --> 00:10:24.440 no longer pursuing sin and darkness and death. I'm he's given you the Scriptures 117 00:10:24.519 --> 00:10:30.080 and is opened and revealed him self in his word. He's strengthened your will 118 00:10:30.320 --> 00:10:33.600 so that you might live your lives in accordance with that word. He's giving 119 00:10:33.639 --> 00:10:39.029 you security in his death and in his resurrection. He's given you confidence in 120 00:10:39.190 --> 00:10:43.429 your prayers and forgiveness for your sins, and the list just goes on and 121 00:10:43.549 --> 00:10:50.379 on and on. Isn't God good? Isn't God good? Doesn't he take 122 00:10:50.500 --> 00:10:54.659 care of US and provide for us in every way? Paul says that we 123 00:10:54.779 --> 00:10:58.580 are to be characterized, the Church of God is to be characterized, by 124 00:10:58.700 --> 00:11:05.690 rejoicing, and of course he does. We have much to rejoice in, 125 00:11:05.610 --> 00:11:09.570 and the rejoicing of Christians, he says, is not a one time thing 126 00:11:09.769 --> 00:11:13.850 that sort of snuffed out in a moment, but it is a thing that 127 00:11:13.929 --> 00:11:20.279 happens always and difficult circumstances as well. We remember that this one who is 128 00:11:20.440 --> 00:11:24.240 calling to calling us to rejoice, Paul, is one who sits in a 129 00:11:24.360 --> 00:11:30.000 prison as he writes these things, as one who is enduring persecution for preaching 130 00:11:30.120 --> 00:11:33.309 the Gospel, is one who is suffering the attacks of even other people in 131 00:11:33.389 --> 00:11:37.509 the church. And he says, this one in prison, this one suffering 132 00:11:37.629 --> 00:11:43.149 these things and many others in his life, says rejoice, be thankful, 133 00:11:45.110 --> 00:11:50.100 James says in his letter, in James one hundred and seventeen, every good 134 00:11:50.179 --> 00:11:52.820 gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of 135 00:11:52.899 --> 00:11:58.899 lights and whom there is no very shan or shadows do to change. To 136 00:12:00.059 --> 00:12:05.929 connect those ideas that God is good and that he doesn't change, that he 137 00:12:05.049 --> 00:12:09.370 is the father of lights and whom there is no shadow and whom there is 138 00:12:09.409 --> 00:12:15.690 no variation due to change, and that he is good and provides good for 139 00:12:15.720 --> 00:12:20.879 us, should indeed cause us to rejoice and to rejoice always. So we 140 00:12:20.960 --> 00:12:26.200 are to be a unified church, we are also to be a rejoicing church. 141 00:12:28.399 --> 00:12:35.350 Next, he says that we are to be a reasonable people. He 142 00:12:35.429 --> 00:12:39.549 says we are to be a reasonable people. Let your reasonableness be known to 143 00:12:39.750 --> 00:12:46.259 everyone. The Lord he goes on to say is hand be reasonable. Other 144 00:12:48.100 --> 00:12:54.500 translations, other English translates and translations translate this as as gentleness. I think 145 00:12:54.539 --> 00:12:56.620 Luther had it right when he said that we are to be those who don't 146 00:12:56.700 --> 00:13:03.169 insist on our own rights. There's a sense in which it had reasonable here 147 00:13:03.289 --> 00:13:07.129 is used in the sense not of being smart, but in the sense that 148 00:13:07.210 --> 00:13:11.889 you might say to someone, come on, be reasonable, that kind of 149 00:13:11.129 --> 00:13:16.240 tone of voice, that sort of meaning behind it. Don't insist on everything 150 00:13:16.360 --> 00:13:20.759 that you might insist on. Show some gentleness, show some compassion, be 151 00:13:20.960 --> 00:13:28.710 reasonable here. Consider others interests along with your own. Remember, Paul says 152 00:13:28.750 --> 00:13:33.350 that at the beginning of the letter. I'm going back to Luther or I 153 00:13:33.389 --> 00:13:37.990 want to read to you a little bit from an illustration he gives of this. 154 00:13:39.029 --> 00:13:43.580 Luther writes, I can't illustrate this any better than to them by two 155 00:13:43.620 --> 00:13:48.899 good friends. How you see them treat one another is how we should treat 156 00:13:48.940 --> 00:13:54.059 all people. Now, how do these two act? Each one conducts himself 157 00:13:54.100 --> 00:13:58.769 in a way that benefits the other che each one forfeits, yields, tolerates, 158 00:13:58.929 --> 00:14:05.649 does allows what they perceive as useful and beneficial to the other. And 159 00:14:05.009 --> 00:14:11.039 all of this is done freely, uncompelled, so each one accommodates and adapts 160 00:14:11.120 --> 00:14:16.399 their self to the other. Neither compels the other to act for their benefit, 161 00:14:16.039 --> 00:14:20.360 and so if one infringes on the other's rights, they forgive them. 162 00:14:20.399 --> 00:14:26.830 In brief, there is no law, no rights, no compulsion, no 163 00:14:26.070 --> 00:14:33.190 necessity, but rather pure freedom in favor. Everything is done in such abundance 164 00:14:33.710 --> 00:14:37.149 that even by law and compulsion, we would not be able to produce even 165 00:14:37.190 --> 00:14:43.700 a hundredth as much. And this is true, isn't it? You can 166 00:14:43.860 --> 00:14:46.019 try, for example, in your workplace, to set a kind of a 167 00:14:48.460 --> 00:14:52.409 mission statement and, and I was set of rules. This is how we 168 00:14:52.610 --> 00:14:56.769 treat each other in this workplace. In your families, you can set a 169 00:14:56.889 --> 00:15:01.690 list of rules and and regulations down to the finest details about how we will 170 00:15:01.690 --> 00:15:05.289 speak and how we will act. And even if those, even if the 171 00:15:05.330 --> 00:15:11.240 rules were kept exactly, it wouldn't have the joy and the freedom and the 172 00:15:11.440 --> 00:15:16.159 love that comes out when we are reasonable with each other, when we are 173 00:15:16.240 --> 00:15:20.710 gentle with each other and loving toward one another, when we're not insisting on 174 00:15:20.830 --> 00:15:26.429 our rights and insisting that everything be perfect. All the time exactly in the 175 00:15:26.509 --> 00:15:30.629 way that we think it ought to be. One good example of that, 176 00:15:30.870 --> 00:15:35.549 going back to the passage we read earlier in Romans Fourteen, is a perfect 177 00:15:35.590 --> 00:15:41.259 example of that. It's not an ideal situation Paul describes there. The weak 178 00:15:41.379 --> 00:15:46.820 person is characterized as weak, the strong person is characterized as strong. There's 179 00:15:46.820 --> 00:15:52.169 a kind of inequality among the among the faith of these diff varying believers. 180 00:15:52.970 --> 00:15:58.090 There are mistakes and difficulties. It's kind of a messy situation, but he 181 00:15:58.210 --> 00:16:03.090 calls them to love nevertheless. He calls them not to all everybody insist on 182 00:16:03.210 --> 00:16:10.000 their own rights, but to be gracious and gentle toward one another. This 183 00:16:10.120 --> 00:16:12.159 is to be true of our church as well. We are to be a 184 00:16:12.360 --> 00:16:18.559 reasonable people, a gentle people, people that do not insist on their own 185 00:16:18.559 --> 00:16:22.590 rights, but treat each other, even those we might have a hard time 186 00:16:22.750 --> 00:16:27.590 getting along with, as friends. So we are to be unified, we 187 00:16:27.710 --> 00:16:33.139 are to rejoice, we are to be reasonable, and then we are to 188 00:16:33.259 --> 00:16:38.139 be prayerful. Excuse me, the air conditioning keeps blowing my pages away. 189 00:16:38.139 --> 00:16:45.860 Here we are to be prayerful. He says this in verses six and following. 190 00:16:45.860 --> 00:16:49.529 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and 191 00:16:49.649 --> 00:16:56.169 supplication, with Thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and 192 00:16:56.289 --> 00:16:59.690 the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and 193 00:16:59.809 --> 00:17:03.359 your minds. In Christ Jesus, when you think about the anxious person, 194 00:17:03.440 --> 00:17:10.000 I hope you'll think of a slave. An anxious person is a slave. 195 00:17:10.079 --> 00:17:14.839 There are a slave of the things that they're anxious about, whether it's a 196 00:17:14.880 --> 00:17:18.910 particular fear they have, is often someth what it is, or a particular 197 00:17:18.069 --> 00:17:22.869 love that they have. People are anxious about money, people are anxious about 198 00:17:22.869 --> 00:17:30.700 getting things done, they're anxious of people's perceptions or their particular cares or responsibilities. 199 00:17:30.579 --> 00:17:34.380 Sometimes they're anxious about things that are terrible and you should never love to 200 00:17:34.500 --> 00:17:41.819 the smallest degree. But oftentimes we're anxious about good things, but we are 201 00:17:41.859 --> 00:17:47.529 anxious and fearful and slaves to them in a kind of inordinate and unholy and 202 00:17:47.690 --> 00:17:52.609 even sinful way. We are in we are slaves to them. We are 203 00:17:52.730 --> 00:17:56.930 not slaves to God. When we are ruled by our our care for money 204 00:17:57.529 --> 00:18:03.880 or people's perception or getting things done or any number of things you might list, 205 00:18:06.119 --> 00:18:11.990 we are, it trapped we are enslaved. The answer is not to 206 00:18:12.069 --> 00:18:17.750 give up on good things, nor is it simply to wait for a favorable 207 00:18:17.910 --> 00:18:22.390 solution from God before we finally say, okay, well, I don't have 208 00:18:22.509 --> 00:18:26.750 to be anxious anymore. What is scripture say? The answer is to our 209 00:18:26.750 --> 00:18:34.220 anxiety. It is to pray, simply to pray. John Calvin compares prayer 210 00:18:34.339 --> 00:18:40.940 to an asylum. It's a place that you can run to and seek protection 211 00:18:41.140 --> 00:18:45.890 when you are tormented. We do so with Thanksgiving, a sort of on 212 00:18:47.130 --> 00:18:51.049 the way there, and while we are there we lift our hearts up with 213 00:18:51.210 --> 00:18:56.640 Thanksgiving, because we come to God knowing that he will answer prayer. If 214 00:18:56.680 --> 00:19:02.319 you come to God not believing that he will answer, what kind of prayer 215 00:19:02.400 --> 00:19:06.880 is that? If you go, for example, and you ask your boss 216 00:19:07.319 --> 00:19:10.670 for a raise that you know they won't give and don't have the money in 217 00:19:10.750 --> 00:19:14.910 the budget to give sort of what's the point? Do you think your boss 218 00:19:14.910 --> 00:19:18.589 will hear you? And if your boss knows your heart on these things and 219 00:19:18.670 --> 00:19:22.069 he knows that you know the money's that there and he knows that you know 220 00:19:22.230 --> 00:19:25.819 you haven't been performing well and he knows that you know, he won't give 221 00:19:25.859 --> 00:19:33.660 it to you. It's nothing more than mocking, perhaps an action of insubordination, 222 00:19:34.180 --> 00:19:40.450 of causing strife. Whatever it is, it's not good when you do 223 00:19:40.529 --> 00:19:42.849 the same thing, when we go to God, not believing, not with 224 00:19:42.970 --> 00:19:47.930 Thanksgiving and praise in the God who is good, as we've talked about earlier, 225 00:19:48.490 --> 00:19:52.289 the God who takes care of us. No, we go to God 226 00:19:52.490 --> 00:19:56.599 in faith, knowing that he hears our prayers, that he is good, 227 00:19:56.640 --> 00:20:00.920 as we read from James or we remember from Jesus's words that, like a 228 00:20:00.960 --> 00:20:04.279 father, he is pleased to take care of his children. He gives us 229 00:20:04.359 --> 00:20:08.150 what we need. He even tells us to pray for what we need. 230 00:20:08.950 --> 00:20:15.109 When you pray, pray like this and give us our daily bread. God 231 00:20:15.309 --> 00:20:18.470 calls us to ask for these things and says that he will take care of 232 00:20:18.630 --> 00:20:25.579 us. And so we have anxieties. Rather than making up excuses for why 233 00:20:25.779 --> 00:20:30.980 we are rightfully so anxious about these things, or rather than simply waiting for 234 00:20:30.059 --> 00:20:34.579 them to be over, we are called to be a prayer for prayerful people, 235 00:20:36.210 --> 00:20:40.130 to go to God and to rest on him for these things. We 236 00:20:40.210 --> 00:20:45.009 are called to pray and when we do so, we are told that a 237 00:20:45.250 --> 00:20:51.839 peace, a peace which surpasses understanding, will guard your hearts and minds. 238 00:20:52.079 --> 00:20:57.920 The image is like a battalion of soldiers guarding and protecting. God says that 239 00:20:59.000 --> 00:21:03.880 when we go to him in prayer, constant prayer, he will protect our 240 00:21:03.119 --> 00:21:10.710 inward lives from going a muck. So we are to be a prayerful church, 241 00:21:10.750 --> 00:21:17.309 a unified church, a rejoicing church, a reasonable church. All of 242 00:21:17.430 --> 00:21:22.819 this is concluded. All of this is concluded in verses eight, when Paul 243 00:21:22.859 --> 00:21:29.299 says he gives this kind of statement, this long list of things by which 244 00:21:29.299 --> 00:21:33.049 we are to then judge all things. One way you might connect these various 245 00:21:33.049 --> 00:21:37.450 ideas is each of these things that we've been called to be prayerful, rejoicing, 246 00:21:37.690 --> 00:21:44.130 reasonable, unified. We are to approached it and to strive after it 247 00:21:44.289 --> 00:21:48.000 through this particular lens as well as the rest of life. It's a way 248 00:21:48.079 --> 00:21:52.799 to direct our prayers, to focus our thoughts, to find unity and rejoicing 249 00:21:52.839 --> 00:21:59.039 and many more things. What does he say? Verse Eight? He says, 250 00:21:59.960 --> 00:22:04.789 finally, Brothers, whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, 251 00:22:06.589 --> 00:22:12.910 lovely, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise, think about these things. 252 00:22:15.619 --> 00:22:19.859 What are our conversations like? What are the things that we talk about. 253 00:22:19.900 --> 00:22:25.380 What are the things that we enjoy when we com together and fellowship with one 254 00:22:25.380 --> 00:22:30.450 another? What are the things that we are pointing one another toward? These 255 00:22:30.529 --> 00:22:33.809 are the things that are to be the work of our minds and hearts, 256 00:22:33.730 --> 00:22:40.650 things that are true and noble and excellent and Pure and praiseworthy. Through, 257 00:22:40.970 --> 00:22:47.599 through this filter, everything that we come into contact must pass, and not 258 00:22:47.759 --> 00:22:55.519 just once but continually. Notice the verb Paul uses. He says practice these 259 00:22:55.640 --> 00:23:02.430 things. He says, practice these things, practice, grow in them, 260 00:23:02.910 --> 00:23:07.390 try it again and again and again. Become in the habit of thinking on 261 00:23:07.549 --> 00:23:12.420 these things. In them you will not only find holiness, but a holy 262 00:23:12.460 --> 00:23:17.299 God. You will not only find peace, but a god of peace, 263 00:23:17.339 --> 00:23:21.339 as he says, practice these things and the god of peace will be with 264 00:23:21.500 --> 00:23:26.420 you. So this is the kind of church God calls us to be, 265 00:23:26.569 --> 00:23:30.930 a church that is unified, a church that is reasonable, a church that 266 00:23:32.089 --> 00:23:37.809 is a rejoicing and prayerful, a church that thinks about things that are excellent 267 00:23:37.250 --> 00:23:45.480 and praiseworthy and loves to meditate on them and dwell on them, a church 268 00:23:45.599 --> 00:23:51.079 that directs all of our hearts and our thoughts on through that particular lens or 269 00:23:51.160 --> 00:23:59.789 filter. Now I will have failed entirely at my job if I were not 270 00:23:59.950 --> 00:24:07.589 to say that these things were entirely impossible and told and are totally unattainable to 271 00:24:07.750 --> 00:24:12.220 those who live their lives apart from God. We can't simply say these things 272 00:24:12.420 --> 00:24:17.339 and say here is what you are to be, now go and do them, 273 00:24:18.299 --> 00:24:22.180 as if it were that easy. We know in our sinful flesh, 274 00:24:22.220 --> 00:24:26.450 as we hear these things over and over, that we have not done them, 275 00:24:26.329 --> 00:24:30.049 that we are at Church, that is guilty, at Fay, and 276 00:24:30.210 --> 00:24:33.970 Fay has failed at every single one of these points. We can think about 277 00:24:34.009 --> 00:24:37.880 it in our individual lives and some of our relationships with one another, and 278 00:24:38.039 --> 00:24:44.279 we can think of it a corporately as well, not just here but our 279 00:24:44.359 --> 00:24:49.480 denomination and Christianity as a whole. We have not always done well on these 280 00:24:49.599 --> 00:24:53.630 things. In fact we've probably done more poorly than we've done well. We 281 00:24:56.309 --> 00:25:00.190 don't have anything here that we can pat our backs on, our pat our 282 00:25:00.269 --> 00:25:04.430 backs and say keep on keeping on. There is a lot to be humbled 283 00:25:04.470 --> 00:25:11.660 about, but it is even worse for the one who seeks of these things 284 00:25:11.700 --> 00:25:18.380 apart from God. They're not just difficult and and challenging, but they are 285 00:25:18.420 --> 00:25:26.930 impossible, entirely unattainable, and the scripture is very clear about this. These 286 00:25:26.130 --> 00:25:34.410 commands and the expectation for their fulfillment is directed specifically at believers, specifically at 287 00:25:34.490 --> 00:25:38.799 these believers, and the same is true for these promises. Take a look 288 00:25:38.839 --> 00:25:45.400 at them again briefly, verses two and three. This unity that they have 289 00:25:45.759 --> 00:25:48.759 is not an arbitrary unity. It's not a unity that they are here to 290 00:25:48.799 --> 00:25:55.069 be seeking in something that is that is simply decided upon from them, but 291 00:25:55.190 --> 00:25:59.309 they seek a unity in something that is higher than them, namely the Gospel, 292 00:26:00.069 --> 00:26:03.619 which convicts them of their sin and promises salvation in the death of Christ 293 00:26:03.660 --> 00:26:10.859 as those who are unified in him and him in his death. These sisters, 294 00:26:11.099 --> 00:26:15.740 this church is to seek a unity that they already have. They are 295 00:26:15.779 --> 00:26:19.970 not to attain it entirely, as as though they were to work for it 296 00:26:21.170 --> 00:26:25.609 and simply attained on their own. They are to strive to and enjoy a 297 00:26:25.970 --> 00:26:32.769 closeness that they already possess. They are already sisters, they already work side 298 00:26:32.809 --> 00:26:36.960 by side for the sake of the Gospel and are united in it. In 299 00:26:37.119 --> 00:26:38.880 a sense, you could say it's not so much about getting a blessing, 300 00:26:40.039 --> 00:26:44.839 but getting out of its way. They are called to be unified, not 301 00:26:44.960 --> 00:26:51.710 in something arbitrary but in something foundational, and that's namely the Gospel, something 302 00:26:51.829 --> 00:26:59.190 that his unified them together before they unified themselves. Similar thing is true with 303 00:26:59.349 --> 00:27:06.619 rejoicing. Those who rejoice apart from Christ have a baseless joy. They have 304 00:27:06.859 --> 00:27:11.180 they treasure things that will soon be taken away and removed. That's not the 305 00:27:11.259 --> 00:27:17.650 case for Christians, though. We can be commanded and expected to rejoice and 306 00:27:17.809 --> 00:27:22.849 even fulfill it in a certain measure, rejoicing in all things, because we 307 00:27:22.009 --> 00:27:33.799 rejoice specifically in the Lord. Hardships don't overly concern us or trouble us because 308 00:27:33.880 --> 00:27:38.759 we have Christ Christian martyrs can go to their death and say, you can 309 00:27:38.839 --> 00:27:44.309 take my life from me, because I have everything and you can't take him 310 00:27:44.309 --> 00:27:49.069 from me. Nothing can separate me from his love because of the strength of 311 00:27:49.190 --> 00:27:52.950 his love, not because of the strength of my faith, but because of 312 00:27:53.069 --> 00:27:59.299 what he has done. It is God who guards and protects and works for 313 00:27:59.420 --> 00:28:03.980 our good. It is God who has forgiven our sins, resurrection from death 314 00:28:03.099 --> 00:28:10.099 and victory over Satan. We are freed from sin and therefore freed to rejoice. 315 00:28:11.539 --> 00:28:15.690 But if you are enslave to your sins, what is there to rejoice 316 00:28:15.730 --> 00:28:21.009 in? What is there to rejoice and when all the world and even God 317 00:28:21.089 --> 00:28:26.690 himself is against you? To consider the good things of God and yet were 318 00:28:26.730 --> 00:28:34.960 to reject him is only to incur a greater ground for his judgment. But 319 00:28:36.079 --> 00:28:38.599 those of us who worship and rejoice in the Lord do indeed have something to 320 00:28:38.680 --> 00:28:44.470 rejoice in. This is why Paul's reminder at the end of verse five the 321 00:28:44.549 --> 00:28:48.230 beginning of verse six is so helpful. He says the Lord is at hand. 322 00:28:48.589 --> 00:28:53.150 When you know that the Almighty God loves you, how easy it is 323 00:28:53.349 --> 00:28:56.259 to let go of fear, to let go of your rights, to let 324 00:28:56.299 --> 00:29:02.859 go of your slavery. It is God who works in us. It is 325 00:29:02.940 --> 00:29:07.420 God who is protecting us and is watching out for us. These thoughts, 326 00:29:07.539 --> 00:29:11.650 these assurances of our salvation, are the things that start to put to death 327 00:29:11.730 --> 00:29:18.049 our fears, our anxieties, our slavery's you remember what David says and the 328 00:29:18.089 --> 00:29:22.250 Psalms. Though I walk through the Valley of the shadow of death, I 329 00:29:22.529 --> 00:29:30.039 will fear no evil because of God watches over him, who is his rock, 330 00:29:30.200 --> 00:29:36.000 who is his salvation, who are the WHO has the wings that overshadow 331 00:29:36.079 --> 00:29:41.589 him and protect him. This is why we can find unity and rejoicing in 332 00:29:41.829 --> 00:29:48.549 gentleness and prayer, because we find it not in some arbitrary standard or some 333 00:29:48.710 --> 00:29:53.299 kind of end to which we are trying to attain, but because of God, 334 00:29:55.660 --> 00:29:59.579 because of what he has done for us already in Christ because of the 335 00:29:59.660 --> 00:30:04.539 kind of people he is established. We're not trying to establish the church that's 336 00:30:04.579 --> 00:30:11.289 already happened. We are simply trying to act in accordance what God has given 337 00:30:11.369 --> 00:30:18.609 us. A church that is adorned with these graces described here is a church 338 00:30:18.730 --> 00:30:23.000 that is adorned in this way not because of her amazing effort, but because 339 00:30:23.039 --> 00:30:27.680 of God's amazing grace. Another way to think about it is to say that 340 00:30:27.759 --> 00:30:33.200 the peace of God belongs to us. When we belong to the God of 341 00:30:33.279 --> 00:30:40.829 peace, when we are taken care of him, we are taking care by 342 00:30:40.910 --> 00:30:44.869 him. When he watches over us, we know that we are watched over. 343 00:30:45.029 --> 00:30:48.230 When we pray to him, we know that he hears our prayers. 344 00:30:49.619 --> 00:30:56.140 We belong to him because he has made us his own, and that's what 345 00:30:56.220 --> 00:31:00.740 it means to hear these commands as Christians. It's to hear them, not 346 00:31:00.900 --> 00:31:04.650 in the strength of our own wills and to get up and say we will 347 00:31:04.809 --> 00:31:10.529 create this church, but it is to say this is who God has made 348 00:31:10.569 --> 00:31:14.130 us to be, this is the kind of place, in the kind of 349 00:31:14.289 --> 00:31:19.519 people he has created through the work of his son, through the Holy Spirit, 350 00:31:19.720 --> 00:31:25.119 in welling us, the trying and God has worked in us. And 351 00:31:25.240 --> 00:31:30.960 it is entirely in this perspective that Paul is framing all these commands to rejoice 352 00:31:30.160 --> 00:31:36.190 in the Lord, to pray with Thanksgiving in the Lord, to find peace 353 00:31:36.430 --> 00:31:40.670 in God, to be united side by side in the Gospel. All of 354 00:31:40.750 --> 00:31:44.829 these things remind us that, as we just seek and desire to be the 355 00:31:44.910 --> 00:31:48.819 kind of people God has called us to be, we do it knowing that 356 00:31:48.059 --> 00:31:53.819 God is the God is the kind of God who he is. So we 357 00:31:53.900 --> 00:32:00.890 are called not merely to seek morality but to seek God, not just excellent 358 00:32:01.049 --> 00:32:07.490 and praiseworthy things, but the excellent and praiseworthy king who has revealed himself to 359 00:32:07.609 --> 00:32:15.210 us in Jesus Christ and the God of all grace in the good news to 360 00:32:15.329 --> 00:32:19.599 us is not only that he has he revealed himself very freely in this way, 361 00:32:20.799 --> 00:32:23.440 but they the god is also promised that all those who seek him will 362 00:32:23.440 --> 00:32:29.839 find him. So let us seek him, let us search after these kinds 363 00:32:29.880 --> 00:32:34.630 of things and these graces that he has has called us to. Let us 364 00:32:34.630 --> 00:32:37.670 seek to obey the commands that he has given us as a people that have 365 00:32:37.789 --> 00:32:43.670 been called and made in his name, because when we seek after God, 366 00:32:44.619 --> 00:32:49.339 we will find him and he will bless us. Let us pray

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