How influenced are we by the gospel? Does it shape our lives? Are we transformed by it? Or do we want (or know) just enough to ensure our salvation but not enough to actually convert (or transform) our lives?
For Paul, the gospel was everything...
(Outline is from D.A. Carson's book on Philippians.)
1. Put the fellowship of the gospel at the center of your relationships with believers (1:3-8)
- he gives thanks as he remembers them (3)
- he prays with joy over the partnership they share in the gospel (4-5)
- this partnership leads to spiritual progression and maturity (6)
- they share in God's grace together (7)
- he longs for them with the affection of Christ (8)
- what binds them together is the gospel, not their activities, or friendships, or whatever; although those are important, Paul wants them to keep the gospel central
- Q: how do you view your fellow believers? what do you talk about?
- for their love to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight (i.e., into how to practice mature love)
- to discern what is best and to be pure and blameless for the day of Christ
- to be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Christ
- Q: how is Paul's prayer different than our typical prayers? How is the gospel front and center to Paul's prayer?
- Paul uses his current (bad) circumstances for the glory of God (12-14)
- what happened to him advanced the gospel -- this is what matters
- He focuses on what matters--that Christ is preached--not the motivation of his opponents (15-18)
- Q: what is most important to you?
- Q: what interests do you spend the most time advancing?
- Q: what Christian things/issues do you spend the most time on?
- Paul looks at the dire circumstances of his life and longs to be with Jesus but stays on for their benefit
- his whole life is committed to the growth of his converts (esp 22-26)
- he decides things based on them
- he denies his own gains for their sake
- Q: how often do we make decisions based on what would be best for our church? our fellow believers? Christians or new disciples we've worked closely with? vs. making decisions based on what is best for us?