Fellowship of the saints 2 – fellowship with God in Christ

The aim of the module is to grow in understanding and habitual practice of Biblical Fellowship.  (Recommended read for overview of the module: True Christian Fellowship)

Scripture

Philippians 1:1-30 [ESV]

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.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4  always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

7  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of [God’s] grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9  And it is my prayer [to God] that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10  so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

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.

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19  for I know that through your prayers [to God] and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20  as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  24  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26  so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

27  Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28  and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29  For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30  engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Observations

  1. As we study our fellowship (sharing) with God, mark every reference in Philippians 1 to God, Jesus Christ or God’s Spirit. And write down whether this reference is an objective reality or subjective experience (i.e. do we share in God in this instance through our activity, or passively)

(If you are not pressed for time, do this with Chapter 1-4)

Application

  1. Looking at Paul’s relationship with God through Christ and His Spirit in Philippians only,
    1. In which do you fellowship / share in God today without any effort on my part (i.e. objective reality) such as “being saints in Christ Jesus”?
    2. In which ways can you fellowship with God today through my activity (i.e. subjective experience) such as “prayer” etc?

Prayer

Paul mentions the prayer that he prays for this congregation (1:9-11).  Take a few minutes and pray this prayer in your own words for your small group or Bible Study friends.

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Fellowship of the Saints: Partnership in the Gospel

The aim of this devotional Bible Study is to grow in understanding and habitual practice of Biblical Fellowship.  Perhaps a good read to give a overview of the subject is this brief article on True Christian Fellowship.

Scripture

Read Philippians chapter 1 and Philippians chapter 4 (A literal translation such as ESV or NKJ is recommended)

Philippians 1:1-30 [ESV]

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.

3  I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4  always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

7  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10  so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

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.

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19  for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20  as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22  If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.  24  But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26  so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

27  Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28  and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29  For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30  engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 4:1-20 [ESV]

1  Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2  I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3  Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  5  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

10  I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11  Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

14  Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.  15  And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16  Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17  Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

18  I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20  To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Observations

  1. Write down the four or five big events or thoughts that Paul is writing about in these two chapters. (one word per thought)
  2. It is clear that he had a special place in his heart for this congregation. Look at each of the following verses and write down how Paul defines their relationship.
    1. Phil 1:5
    2. Phil 1:7
    3. Phil 1:27
    4. Phil 4:3
    5. Phil 4:10-11, 14-15, 18
  3. Again looking at the verses above (and perhaps noting the sending and receiving of Timothy and Epaphroditus in 2:19-30) how did Paul and the congregation in Philippi have relationship, or as he says “partnership in the gospel”?

Application

  1. How does this “partnership in the gospel” challenge you today in the following relationships?
    1. Your relationship with Christ?
    2. Your relationship with your local church?
    3. Your relationship with the world around you (neighbours, co-workers, family)?
    4. Your relationship towards missions and missionaries?
  2. What do you need to adjust in one or more of these relationships to follow the example of Paul or the Philippians?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you were sent by the Father to save this world.  Thank you for your selfless sacrifice and example in obedience.  Again I affirm my partnership with You as part of Your church for the spreading and witness of Your Gospel.  Strengthen me with boldness and friends to “partner in the gospel” in a practical way.  Let your Kingdom come in and through me today!