Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
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Midweek Advent 2 – December 13 – Phil. 1:2-11 – “God’s Gifts Of Faith, Purpose, And Love”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text for this evening is the Epistle Lesson just read, from Phil. 1.  We begin with prayer. 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Elitism and “hierarchy” often slip into the thinking of the church.  We experience so much of this in our everyday lives that I suppose it is only natural to assume that the same principles and dynamics would prevail within the church. 
  • Such thoughts would lead to sharply distinguishing between what the first “apostles” were doing and the “life” of the people who made up the church.  We would extend these distinctions to our own times and the life of the church today.  We would then sharply distinguish between “pastors” and the “laity,” the “common” members who make up the congregation.  We would admire the pastors for being about “the work of Christ” full-time, and appreciate that we don’t have much responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the church or for the principle work of the church.  We could just tend to the mundane and temporal affairs of the congregation – and let the pastor do the rest of the work. 
  • That this is not what God’s Word teaches, and not how the early apostles looked at the life of the church is made rather plain and evident in our text, and we would do well to consider it carefully.  God has given gifts to us, to each of us personally, and these gifts bind us together in a common purpose and cause, as well as binding us together in faith and love.  It is His own Word that reveals and teaches these things, and His own Word which effects this blessedness within His church.  We learn from our text that:


I.  God Has Made Us Partners In The Gospel – All Of Us


Text:  “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, BECAUSE OF YOUR PARTNERSHIP IN THE GOSPEL FROM THE FIRST DAY UNTIL NOW.”


A.  He Has Made Us Partners In The Gospel By Bringing Us To A Common Faith And Salvation


Text:  “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.  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.”


B.  So Also God Has Made Us Partners By Incorporating Us All Into The Mission Of Bringing The Gospel To All People


Text:  “You are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the Gospel.”


Statement:   The same can be said, and is true, of each and every one of us.  We too have been made “partakers” of God’s grace and mercy, through faith in Jesus Christ.  This began in our baptism, and continues through our fellowship together in God’s Word – its preaching and teaching, and our fellowship together in Christ’s Sacrament – His body and blood “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  God has begun this work in us and will bring it to completion on the Last Day, “the day of Jesus Christ.” 


Application:  This means that we are now also “partners in the Gospel,” and also partners in the mission of the church, the ministry of the Gospel in all the world.  How could a pastor do his work without such partners?  Where would this building come from?  Where would the pews, the music, the altar and pulpit, the communion supplies, the hymnals, the bells, the organ come from if there were no “partnership in the Gospel”?   


And how would all the people that you know – family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers – ever come to know about Christ and about His church if only the pastor was doing “the work of the church”? 


So, while it is true that we have somewhat different chores, tasks, and responsibilities within our life together as a church, we all have the same purpose and goals – we are working together for the same things!  Any pastor who does not appreciate this is blind and deluded.  Likewise, congregation members who do grasp, understand, and fully embrace our partnership together in the Gospel are forfeiting their greatest, noblest, and most fulfilling purpose in life! 


Transition:  How is all of this facilitated so that the congregation is “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God”?  Well, it is clear from our text that:


II.  God Wills For Our Love to Abound More And More


Text:  “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more.”


A.  Such Growing And Abounding Love Is Filled With Knowledge And All Discernment – So that We May Approve What Is Excellent


Text:  “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent.”


B.  The Result Of This Growth In Love, Knowledge, And Discernment, Is A Life Of Holiness Filled With Fruits Of Righteousness


Text:  “So that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”


Statement:  Knowing God’s great love for us, and continually growing in our faith in God’s love for us, we do come to abound in love for God.  Such love for God makes us eager to support and participate in His work, His purposes.  In our personal lives, this means devotion to what is truly good and excellent, what is pure and blameless.  Toward others, it means helping them to come to faith in Jesus – that they too might share in His righteousness through faith, and also come to the blessings of love and purity of life.  Always, our gratitude to God for His salvation moves us to bring “glory and praise to God.”


Application:  This is our partnership in the Gospel – and it includes doing all we can to help others become “partners” with us in the grace of God and in God’s purposes.  This is the pastor’s work, but it is not his alone – it is the center of our life together as a congregation and as friends who love each other in Christ Jesus.  It is a most noble and glorious purpose and partnership – which is shared also with God, obviously.  While it brings all glory and praise to God, it also brings all blessedness and good to us! 


Conclusion:  So all of this negates all notions of “hierarchy” and spiritual “elitism” from the life of the Christian congregation.  While certainly we discern differences in our lives, responsibilities, and activities, we understand that the main thing is our “partnership in the Gospel.”  This brings more and more love into our lives, more purity and blamelessness, and an ever growing crop of the fruit of righteousness – to the glory and praise of God.


All of these blessings come to us through the Word of God, and our life and mutual purpose is shaped and molded by the Word of God.  This is our prayer – for our pastor, for our members, and for our congregation.  It is also God’s great and blessed will for us – and He will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  Thanks, praise, glory, and honor be to Him forever, Amen.


Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.