Philippians 1:3-8 Joyful Partnership in the Gospel

“I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (v.5). This word ‘partnership’ is a well-known Greek word, koinonia, often translated ‘fellowship’ a sharing in something, participating in something divine and eternal, something greater than we could ever be or do on our own. It means being caught up into a belonging or partnership which God has created and sustains. That is the Christian fellowship.

This is the challenge, to learn to treat fellow members, even those with the weakest evidences of grace, as valuable persons instead of stepladders for our own ambitions, to spend time with persons very different from ourselves, to forgive men readily when they have offended us refusing to bear grudges against them, to stop running with complaints to itching ears who feed on any tit bit of resentment against someone they hate. What barriers we erect against partnership in the gospel.

There are places in the world where the church is a tiny, embattled minority and there are no superstars, and when I see them I think I am looking at the future of the gospel church in [our city]. If those churches want to evangelise they have to do the work themselves. In other words, the whole church is a partnership in the gospel, not a bunch of observers watching other people perform. Paul and the church at Philippi were not sitting on a pedestal. They were still involved in partnership in the gospel since the day hearts were opened by a river and an earthquake hit a prison. They had not picked fights with one another. They had not left their first love. They had not become lukewarm. Paul always prayed with joy for them because of their partnership in the gospel from the first day until the day he was writing this letter from Rome.

That was a sign of God’s blessing on them, that they continued steadfastly in partnership in the gospel. God was doing this. They kept giving an answer for their hope with meekness and fear. They kept their confession, “We have a great High Priest.” They kept praying that God would revive his work. They kept believing the truth of Jesus Christ. They kept going out into the highways and byways and compelling people to come in. They kept working for the Lord. They allowed no resentment to silence them, no snub to turn them aside, no misunderstanding to build a wall against another. They wouldn’t drop out. They wouldn’t become detached. They wouldn’t become spectators. They were involved partners in the gospel.

How wonderful the grace of God that did that in them! How mature they were. What signs that they were in Christ. What evidence that they were true Christians. Is a person who is not in partnership in the gospel a believer at all? So Paul saw this mark of the divine blessing on their lives and he gave thanks to God with joy, for God was sustaining this.

Geoff Thomas

Heart Preparation
Read Philippians 1:3-8. Does the mission cause you to overflow with thankfulness? If not, where does your confidence come from for the mission? And how might you be creating barriers to the mission by not participating fully in what it means to be a part of the community of Christ?

Posted on: February 5, 2015 - 10:00PM

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