Christ in Our Lives

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:1-2)

As we begin this morning in the book of Philippians, we will start the way Paul started as he penned this book. He begins with a greeting that was common in his day. He names himself and Timothy as the senders, he names the intended recipients of this letter and he adds a hospitable greeting with encouraging words. In a sense it is of a common form, a common beginning to a letter, and at the same time, it is uniquely Christian in its content and theological in its message. Its uniqueness is what is intriguing, or should be intriguing to us.

I mentioned last week that this letter is saturated with Jesus Christ. Paul makes sure that it is. A name for Jesus or a pronoun referring to Jesus is stated 61 times in just 104 verses. As I read the introduction, a total of two verses, Jesus is mentioned how many times? Three times: verse 1, “Christ Jesus,” again in verse 1, “Christ Jesus,” and verse 2, “the Lord Jesus Christ.”

When speaking of himself and Timothy, “servants of Christ Jesus”. When speaking of the Christians in Philippi, the congregation including the leadership, “saints in Christ Jesus”. When speaking of grace and peace he gives the source of grace and peace, “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

With that, Paul is setting up this letter to be a writing that has as its central theme the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus will not be a side note in this letter, he is not just going to be on the side bar of our study, We will not find His name as simply a formality in this study, but we will find Him, Jesus Christ, to be central to everything that Paul discusses in this letter. In fact, what I think we will see is that if there is a problem in the Philippian church or a problem with one of its members, that the problem will somehow relate to how the church, how the individual is factoring in the work and life of Jesus Christ in their lives. If we have a problem, that problem may have to do with how we are thinking about and responding to the Lord Jesus Christ. And so as we begin with these first two verses, I want for us to see, to consider, how we are to think and relate to Jesus Christ, in life and in all its circumstances. We can use Paul’s opening words to help us with that.

And so speaking of Jesus Christ let me ask us, “Where is Christ in your life right now?” I don’t mean, I’m not asking if He is indwelling you, I mean I should ask that, the first question should be, “Are you truly a believer in Jesus Christ?” Have you embraced Him as your Lord and Savior? Have you called upon His name for salvation, having repented of your sins, forsaken any other perceived form of salvation and righteousness? Have you given up trying to be good, trying to save yourself, trying to clean up your act to earn God’s favor? Have up gotten past all that and thrown yourself on His mercy? Have you come to the end of yourself, your feeble works and said, “I need a Savior, I am helpless without someone to save me”? Have you known that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners, that He has taken the sins of the world on Himself, that He was the sacrifice for the punishment of your sins? Have you believed by faith that He can save you? That is where it starts. If you have, then the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in you by His Spirit. You are His, He is yours, you are His child.

9 because, 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. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

That calling, calling on the Lord for salvation, is a recognition that you cannot save yourself, that you are hopeless to save yourself by your efforts, and so you must call out in humility, “Lord save me! Only you can save me!” And so the start of studying this book is to know Christ. Christ as Savior, Christ as Lord. This salvation is not just salvation to eternal life in the favor of a good God, it is also salvation from the wrath of an all-powerful God who holds all power, every ounce of power in His hand. 

9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. (Romans 5:9)

Hell is real, hell is for those who die and must bear their own punishment. Hell is eternal, it is unimaginably painful, it is frightening to think of it, the agony, the time effect. Salvation through Christ is salvation from that, from God’s just wrath, and it is just. Salvation from His pure judgment and salvation unto eternal life in His favor. Christ came so that we can enjoy Him forever, enjoy Him, not live in fear of punishment. Christ took the punishment, it is our duty to believe. And so when I say “Where is Christ in your life right now?” I hope the first answer is, “He is in my life as my Savior, He is my Savior and His Spirit is in me.” Paul says in Ephesians, he describes what happens when one believes:

13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14)

If you are a Christian you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit who is a guarantee of your future inheritance! And so for you who are here with us who do not know Christ as your Savior, my desire, our desire is that you receive Him, that you embrace Him as your Lord and your Savior. Cling to Him for eternal life, repent and believe that He can rescue you. And then come with us in this study as a new creation in Christ. Go with us through this book as one to whom it was written. If you are not a believer, you will not gain from this book as a life changing experience as those of us who have believed. I implore you to repent and believe.

But for Christians when I say, “Where is Christ in your life right now?” I mean, what place does He have in your daily life, where is He in your mind as you walk through life? Is He in a position of prominence in your life? Is He central to who you are, what you think, what you do? Is He ever-present in your attitudes toward life’s circumstances, whether good or bad? When you interact with your family, with your friends, with your co-worker, where is Christ in that? That is what I mean when I ask you, as a Christian, “Where is Christ in you life right now?”

I want us to see this morning how Christ Jesus factors into Paul’s life, into his mind, his attitudes, and how Christ actually is Paul’s life. And we can see this from many of Paul’s writings, but for today we see this simply from his short introductory comments in verses 1 and 2.

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:1-2)

There are three things that Paul states, three things for us to hang on to this morning that will help us to contemplate the question as Christians, “Where is Christ in my life right now?” Paul starts by telling us:
1. Christ Jesus owns him and Timothy
2. Christ Jesus owns the church
3. What Christ Jesus and His Father give to those whom He owns

Paul begins by using words of ownership regarding himself and his fellow minister Timothy – “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,”

Paul from the start puts himself and Timothy in their proper place. They are servants of Christ Jesus, or more literally, they are slaves of Christ Jesus. They belong to Jesus in a transactional sense, as a master would purchase a slave. The idea of slavery can be difficult for us. We are, most of us are, far removed from a culture and a time of slavery where a person actually owns another person and has full rights over that person. I am glad we are far removed from the atrocity of slavery in this country. But we see this truth about our positions as slaves of Christ all throughout the Bible.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 16:19-20)

22 Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. (1 Corinthians 7:22-23)

We as Christians have been bought, we have been purchased, the price of our purchase was not money or gold, but was the very blood of the perfect man, Jesus Christ. And so Paul boldly and unashamedly states that he is owned by Jesus Christ. What does this mean practically for them? It means that their wills are to be totally subject to the will of the one who bought and owns them. Totally. It means that they are not autonomous, they are not self rulers, rulers of themselves. It means that they are subject to the claims, desires, and will of the One who owns them.

“If my master,” they could say, “desires that I be imprisoned, in a Roman jail, then that is the prerogative of him who owns me, and that is where I will be. If my master desires that I be home with my family, that is where I will be. I am not my own, I have been purchased by God, I am His property.”

This position is also one of great honor. It is a high calling to belong to the God of creation. It is the same position that Christ Jesus Himself took on when we read later in this book that He emptied Himself, taking the form of what? Of a slave! Even Jesus modeled this for us, humbling Himself as a slave while on this earth, the One who is now highly exalted, and will be universally acclaimed to be the Lord of all, took on the form of a slave. His humble state of a slave led to His exaltation as Lord of all. Paul’s reasoning was simple. If Christ is Lord then we are His slaves.

The title as a servant or slave of Christ points to Paul’s view of relationships in Christ. When we as believers in Christ freely and joyfully accept this position as servants of Jesus Christ, we will be united in service with each other. Life and service does not become about what I want or what you want, but what does our common owner, master want? What is it that ruins relationships? What ruins relationships? How about things like, envy, rivalry, and selfish ambition? That is what Paul says later in this book. These things creep in when? When we think, “Today I will be the master, I will revoke my position as slave, with Christ as my master, my owner, and I will replace Him with me. Today, I will be the master.” And that opens the door to these things: envy, rivalry, selfish ambition. These are all “me” desires, “me-centered” thinking.

Relationships will thrive, however, when we, as friends, as family, humbly serve each other before looking out for our own interests, as Philippians 2:3-4 says. We are not called as servants to ourselves, to serve ourselves, but as slaves of Christ Jesus doing His will, which includes serving others.

This idea is setting us up to be in a better place to read and study the rest of this book, because a recurring question as we do will be, “Are we God’s servants? Are we His slaves? Is that how we view our position before Him?” And if so, then won’t we read His instruction to us and say, “Okay, because of who I am and who He is, I will do this, or I will think this way, or I will submit myself to His will, I belong to Him, He is my Master I will go His way.” We just have to settle this and move on.

But there is more. While calling himself and Timothy slaves, He refers to the church as those who are saints. “To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons”

“Okay,” you may think, “now that sounds better! They can be the slaves and I’ll take this title, I mean it doesn’t really describe me well, but it sounds a lot better than a slave!” Well it may sound better, but there are some real similarities, and we are in fact both these terms. Slave and saint actually complement each other very well, and in fact if we really understand this word saint, we will find that it too refers to ownership.

Most of us might say from time to time, “Well, I’m no saint!” Right? Well, If you belong to Christ, you are a saint in the biblical sense of the word, in how it is used biblically. Another way this is sometimes translated is that we are God’s holy people, or to be more descriptive we are separated unto God. That is what it means to be a saint. We are no longer a part of the general population, but we have been separated from evil, slavery to sin, and we now belong to God, are His, separated unto Him, in order that He might fulfill His promises. We are His chosen people as Christians, as saints.

This is descriptive of our new position as being now with God, through Christ. I think this has the same ring to it as that of being a slave of Christ Jesus. Though they sound very different, both speak of belonging. Slavery is belonging to a master, being a saint speaks of moving from belonging here, to this group, to these principles and ways, to a shift of now belonging over here to Christ, as His, to His principles and His ways. Set apart from this to this, from the world and evil, immersed in its fallen principles, to now set apart unto Christ.

These terms just blow up the idea that one can come to Christ, become a Christian, and receive salvation from hell, and yet go on with life as if nothing has happened, as if nothing has really changed except for obtaining a pass to heaven. What in the world would Paul say to that? No, life changes when one’s ownership changes, life changes when one moves from a harsh and evil taskmaster to a loving fatherly master, life changes. When one moves from being a part of an evil world system and its bankrupt philosophies, and is set apart unto a loving Savior with principles leading to abundant life. Everything changes! Life is new. Life is new for the servant of Christ, for the saint in Christ, all things become new. And much of that newness is this: new desires to love God and to walk in His ways. He is the master! And what are His ways? We are going to learn these things together in this book!

Now, one last point. Verse 2 says, and we have to get this: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

With all this talk about slavery and belonging or being set apart for another, we need to see this verse. It could be frightening to be a slave, right? I mean, someone can control your every move and circumstance, tell you this or that, and you have no say. That could be frightening. Slavery can also be a joy, depending on the master!

This is incredible, so incredible. When I read this of my Master it often times brings tears to my eyes, it amazes me, it dazzles me at times when I think of who our Master is. I didn’t have anything to do with who He is, and yet I get this from Him? Paul mentions grace and peace, and he tells us what the source of grace and peace is, or who the source is. It is whom? It is our Master. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The source of both grace and peace is God.

As we read this truth, as we understand better this truth that the God who has purchased us, the God who owns us, the One to whom we have been set apart, He is the one who possesses, and gives both grace and peace. He is like no other master, none other. This is what God does, this is what He gives to His children! Paul expresses in a condensed form the essence of his theology. His message is one of grace and peace. Grace being God’s unmerited, undeserved, unearned favor He bestows on us through Christ for salvation and peace, brings us into peace, a harmonious relationship with God and with each other. God is the source of our salvation, and keeps us saved, and He is the source which enables us to relate to Him as His children. Paul will unfold these two things for us as we go further into this letter.

So Paul’s introduction is not just niceties. It is not just a necessary beginning to get to the point later on. No, it sets the stage for us, it reminds us of our position before God and with Christ. We are His, and yet He is ours. And as His, we are blessed, extravagantly blessed to receive grace and peace, His grace and His peace! And so we mustn’t forget this. We have to start here. We have been bought with a price and so now, “Lord, give me my assignments. Share with me what I can do to serve you and to serve others! Teach me, lead me, equip me in your ways, for your glory and for the good and glory of your church.”

So are you excited about being a servant, a slave, of belonging to God as His purchased possession? I hope you are, for there is no better place to be than in His loving arms, in the comfort of His never ending care.