Sermon Excerpt
Satisfied Believers and Proud Pastors

Satisfied Believers and Proud Pastors

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain. – Philippians 2:14-16

How to have a grumble free life(Philippians 2:14)?

Doing all things without grumbling is a means to become blameless and shine as lights in the world(verse 15), and holding onto the word of life is also a means to that same end(verse 16). Which I think are not two means but one. You become grumble free by holding onto the word of life and as a result be blameless and shine.

But what is the word of life?

I think the word of life is the gospel. Here are my arguments from Paul and Christ for saying that:

  1. In Philippians 1:27-28, Paul told us to live a manner of life that befits the gospel or show the worth of the gospel, and this is by standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not being frightened by your opponents. And when you do that, it will be a sign to them of their destruction and of your salvation. In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul is fleshing out this manner of life. You show the worth of the gospel if you are standing firm and not complaining, hence be a sign and shine as lights in this crooked generation. Holding fast the word of life is the same as saying standing firm for the faith of the gospel.
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, The word preached is the gospel and it is a means to your salvation, which corresponds to life, if you hold fast, unless you believed in vain.
  3. In Philippians 4:11-13, Paul hinted on what is the secret of contentment. He said “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” All things means to be content in all situations, and Christ is the one who strengthens him to do that. In others word he must cleave to Christ. Paul said in chapter 3:7-8 he count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, and we know Christ through the gospel.
  4. Christ said in John 15:7-11 that we abide in him when we abide in his word and this word is a means to fullness of Joy.

Grumbling disqualifies Israelites

Now the noun form of the greek verb for grumbling and the greek verb for murmur immediately call to mind the murmuring of the Israelites in the wilderness (Exod. 15:24; 16:2, 7–9, 12; note also John 6:41, 43, which has Exodus 16 as its background, and cf. Paul’s explicit reference in 1 Cor. 10:10). Any doubts that this is the setting that Paul has in mind here are removed when we compare Philippians 2:15 with Deut. 32:5 LXX, where the Israelites are described as “spotted children, a crooked and perverse generation.” It is most interesting, and surely not a coincidence, that the other passage where Paul uses the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness as an example to motivate proper Christian behavior is 1 Corinthians 10:1–13, that is, when writing to a church plagued by division. One may object that the murmuring of the Israelites was directed at God. Yet here precisely we may find an important clue to the nature of the Philippians’ weakness. The complaining of the Israelites was indeed directed at God, but in the person of his representative Moses. Is it not likely—or even inevitable—that the disputes within the Philippian community involved complaints against the appointed leaders? We may point to Philippians 2:29 as a possible hint that the church leaders in Philippi were not being treated with full respect.

This means that like the Israelites, if the Philippians will not stop their murmuring against God and his appointed leaders, they will prove themselves to be spotted children who belongs to this crooked generation. Hence the leaders have labored in vain and would not have reasons to boast.

What does it mean to have a reason for boasting at the coming of Christ in Philippians 2:17-18?

  • Hope, Joy, our glory or crown to boast of, namely you(1 Thessalonians 2:19-20)

  • Boast about your perseverance(2 Thessalonians 1:4)

How can we make the ones who look after our souls proud at the coming of Christ?

To put it another way, how can we complete their joy(Philippians 2:1-3)? Do all things without grumbling by holding our gaze to the word of life(a manner of life that shows the worth of the gospel), so be proven blameless and as a result become our pastors’ reason for boasting at the coming of Christ, that they did not labor in vain nor that we believed in vain.

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