God’s Glory and Grace to You

20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:20-23)

Today we’re going to finish up a book we started some time ago, the book of Philippians. I’ve enjoyed studying this book with you. It is always hard for me to leave a book so I usually try to draw it out, but I’m not going to do that this time. I’m looking forward to a new study.

Where will we go after completing Philippians this week? My plan is to spend a few weeks, probably between nine and twelve weeks, taking a look at Matthew 5:1-12. These verses are often referred to as the Beatitudes. They serve as the introduction of sorts to what is called the Sermon on the Mount, which was Jesus’ first recorded public sermon which kicks off His three year earthly ministry. What is really exciting about the Beatitudes is that they lay a foundation for us of what the Christian life is to look like. Attitudes we are to carry throughout life. They are not simply things we go do on occasion or ways to behave from time to time that come and go, but they are attitudes to carry with us and permeate all of life. 

I want to read through them today. My motivation for reading through verses that we will not look at until next time is to hopefully whet your appetite or to pique your interest in this study that we will begin, Lord willing, next week. Listen carefully to these words of our Lord.

1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-12)

So there’s my sales pitch! I’m looking forward to learning with you and applying God’s Word with you as we study through this part of Jesus’ sermon together. 

But for today, I trust the Lord will teach us through these last few verses in Philippians.

20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:20-23)

In these final verses we have two important, theologically important statements that Paul gives to us. First is verse 20, and then verse 23:

To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:20)

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:23)

And in between those two statements he passes on some personal greetings that we will look at as well.

In all of these verses we see not just statement of truths or of greetings, but we see great comfort, assurance, and peace from our Lord and from those around us who minister in the name of the Lord. We see not only God at work accomplishing His will, but we also see a community of believers who love each other being used by God in particular ways. And we see evidence that the gospel is reaching into some of the most unexpected places. All of that by God’s grace.

To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:20)

Paul here states the ultimate purpose of life: we are here to glorify God. Meaning we are here to represent Him rightly in this world, to make Him known, to lead others into His presence, to tell the story of redemption. That is what it means when we say that we are here to glorify God. We are here for His fame, to share the goodness of His name. We are here so the world can see how God upholds those whom He places His special love on. We are here to proclaim that God is trustworthy and true no matter what the circumstances of life hold. To lift Him up in others’ eyes. We are here to live for Him. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

It is in a sense all about God. And yet, as we have gone through this book we see an amazing truth, which is that God is displaying His glory, and at the same time He is showering on us His grace and kindness. As we glorify God, He is holding us up in joy and peace, which also glorifies Him. In us He shows His glory in many ways.

It is like when we came to Christ, then He appoints us to be special vessels for His glory. We willingly enter into this relationship with Him in which He makes us more like the Lord Jesus Christ and makes us as lights in this world to project His glory. When life is hard, He carries us through amazingly so, showing us and others His providential care for His people. When we speak the gospel with power it is to glorify God, because it is by God’s power that His word goes forth. When we fail, we sin, we repent and are forgiven, showing us and others His mercy in our lives and His continued grace. When we say, “To Him be the glory,” we do so understanding theologically that that also accrues to our good. It is all wrapped up together, that is God’s glory and our good. 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

How about that? Displaying of God’s glory includes supplying all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus!

Paul consciously remembers the ultimate goal, our ultimate goal, which is to bring glory to God now and forever. There is nothing more glorious in this whole universe than that we put God on display, because there is nothing more glorious than God. It is our duty to do that, and it should also be our most intense desire.

In discussions with individuals, I will often ask after hearing of their struggles and concerns, their troubles in life, “In this situation, what is your goal? What do you want most? What is your goal in life?” Many times the goal is something like, “I just want to get through the pain,” or, “to have some peace,” or, “to cut off a painful relationship,” or, “to restore a relationship,” or, “to make someone see how wrong they are,” or, “to rescue a child who is straying,” or, “to regain lost wealth,” or, “be once again healthy.” Some of these things are good, however none of them should stand out as our primary goal in life. Maybe secondary, or maybe not at all, but never primary. 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (Romans 5:9)

and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Many people say, “What is my purpose in life?” and then look for something big to do or to be. Our purpose is clear, and that is to glorify God in everything we do, to abide in Christ, to walk with Him in this life!

Paul does not want us to lose sight of that goal, so he leaves the Philippians with that thought. Secondly he brings others into the picture, the fellowship of believers.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:21-22)

In the Christian life we don’t go it alone, we are not meant to go it alone. God surrounds us with family, a family of believers. Paul found such family in the strangest of places. 

First, a general statement of “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.” He is saying, “Send my regards to all the Christians there, my brothers and sisters in Christ.” Some of them he would know personally, but others he would probably not meet until they met in heaven, but they are nonetheless connected spiritually as part of the body of Christ. 

There are people all around us and people spread out all over the world who share our love for Christ and this goal of glorifying God. It’s like praying for missionaries whom we will never meet, because we share the same goals with them. Or lifting up a friend of a friend, a Christian brother or sister in need whom we do not know, yet they are family. Because they and we belong to Christ. I’ve seen many prayer requests for people I don’t know and will probably never meet, yet they’re brothers in sisters in Christ so we can lift them up to the Lord.

Last Sunday our family went out to lunch after church. When you go out to lunch on a Sunday you see many people who are dressed in a way that we assume they have been to church that morning. It used to be easier to see that. We’re a lot more casual than we used to be in the old days. Not that I was around in the old days, but that’s what I hear. We see people with all different backgrounds. We don’t know them, but we can assume that many of them belong to Christ. We don’t know them, but probably a lot of them we have things in common with. With many of them we share the same Savior, have the same Father. They have the same Spirit in them that Christ has given to us. We don’t know them, yet we will someday share a heavenly home with them, a place where we will get to know them.

Paul is saying, “Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus,” probably meaning, “those I know and those I don’t know, but that I will some day know!” He also wants to send a greeting to them from others who are with him back to the church. It’s like a reunion or a first meeting verbally, it is family known and family unknown greeting one another.

And next comes what may be the surprising part of these greetings.

All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. (Philippians 4:22)

I love this! Paul mentions saints specifically from Caesar’s household. This is the Caesar who is holding Paul as a prisoner, who has incarcerated him, the pagan leader who is ruling according to his pagan ways even over places like Philippi, which was a colony of Rome. Some would say, “That’s the enemy, Caesar is the enemy, the enemy of Christianity.” And yet the gospel of Christ has penetrated that fortress, has gotten into the household of Caesar. The gospel is getting in. We saw that early in Philippians, right?

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. (Philippians 1:12-18)

Do you remember that? God had so strategically, according to His wisdom and grand design, placed Paul in the enemy camp, and fruit was being produced! To Paul they weren’t so much the enemy as they were a mission field. We could probably take a lesson there!

Now when Paul says the household of Caesar, we understand that differently than how we may think today. If I say the household of Ryan, I would mean Ryan and Jessica, and that is it. We think of a household as immediate family who live in one house together. But here we understand Caesar’s household as much broader than that, including his slaves, employed servants, and even high officials in his government. Think of it more as people who immediately served him and worked for him, so it would include even the guards and military types. It was the government under Caesar’s command in that particular place.

These are the ones that were getting the gospel, and some of whom were coming to Christ. This does not mean there would be a transformation in the government. That didn’t happen, and it wasn’t the goal. This does not mean that Nero would begin to rule under the tenants of Christianity. This was no ushering in a Christian movement into the government itself. What it means in this case is that God was saving people, in spite of the government, in spite of the rule of the day, an evil government. I think God is showing us here that no one is out of His reach, no one can keep Him out, not even all the power of Rome. Isn’t that how God works? He chooses whom He will, He saves some of the most unlikely at times, He faithfully gathers His own under some of the most unexpected circumstances.

We are so prone to think, “Why do I have this job with these people,” “Why am I in this family,” “Why do I live here,” or, “Why is God calling me to move somewhere else?” Maybe God is using you or me to save the most unlikely people in the most unlikely circumstances. Maybe to save a people who may be most sheltered in normal life from the gospel, and then here you are, right there to speak truth into their lives, one who can faithfully lead others into truth, just as Paul did as a prisoner in Rome.

I don’t know about you, but I am really encouraged by Paul’s words in that short phrase, and this potent reminder of God’s work when he said, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.”

Paul finishes his greetings and concludes with this:

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:23)

What we need most and what Paul wanted for his friends is for the grace of the Lord to be active in their lives. Grace is favor from God, undeserved favor, grace is you and I getting from God what we don’t deserve, what we can never deserve, what we cannot earn. Grace is what we received when saved from God’s wrath.

5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:5, 8-9)

All this grace comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. So in conclusion, really just three things.

1. Glory belongs to God, and we can glorify Him with our lives in His strength, as His children. That is our purpose, that is why we are here. In any situation we can ask, “Why is this happening? What is the purpose?” and we can say in a broad and yet confident way, “It is for God’s glory.” When we get there, we can embrace that, go with it, unite in that, and seek to walk with Him through it all.

2. In Christ, we walk with other people. We share like goals with believers in all places, some people we know and some we don’t. We can rejoice in what God is doing through others, even in places that may seem dark and impenetrable with the gospel. Places like in Caesar’s household, a pagan government. God is calling people from all walks of life in places unimaginable, calling people through faithful people to Himself! No place, no person is out of God’s reach. He works faithfully in a variety of ways to draw people to Himself. Along those lines, I am already hearing incredible stories of how God is working through the tragic accident that took Daniel Lager’s life on Thursday. Painful, painful events, events that none of us would ever want to endure. Even in that, God has been and is drawing people to Himself. God not only shows His glory in how he upholds the hurting, but in some ways how He draws people to Himself through those hurting people. A reunion in heaven will take place, and I’m sure we will all be surprised by some we may find there, and maybe even more surprised by the events surrounding their salvation. God is at work, He is at work in a variety of ways, in a variety of people, through so many circumstances. He is at work for His glory and the good of many people.

3. We are upheld, we have great hope in a sure future so that we can face tomorrow and the next day, because God’s grace has come to us through the person of Jesus Christ.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!

20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:20-23)