Sermon: Our Riches in Christ (Philippians 4:10-23)

Our Riches in Christ

Philip. 4:10-23 (ESV)

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.

[21] Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you.  [22] All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

[23] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Today, our journey through the Book of Philippians comes to an end.  It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend, a very trusted friend.  The Holy Spirit through Paul has left a treasure for the church in this book.  Where would the church be without this great writing?

Philip. 1:6 (ESV)

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.

Philip. 1:12 (ESV)

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,

Philip. 1:21 (ESV)

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Philip. 3:7-8 (ESV)

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  [8] Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

Philip. 3:14 (ESV)

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philip. 3:20 (ESV)

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Philip. 4:4 (ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Today’s text is no different.  The church has been given another treasure of biblical truth in this portion of Scripture… Our Riches in Christ

1. Content in Christ (4:10-13)

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.

Paul’s joy was heard throughout the prison cell when Epaphroditus arrived with the Philippian’s gift.  He knew the church really cared and they were showing their love as they gave from their poverty.  They themselves were experiencing hard time back in Macedonia and so their gift was all the more precious to Paul.  He wrote that they had revived their love for him.  This word is rare in the NT and it has in mind a blossoming flower like a perennial that blooms each year.  The Philippians had brought springtime into the Roman prison as their love for Paul was shown again.

The Apostle is very grateful for their gift.  He doesn’t want to make them feel bad for not giving before because he reassures them that he is well aware of their love for him.  However, he takes the opportunity to teach about what it really means to be content.

I wish we had more time to look at this text but quickly, what Paul is doing here is putting a Christian twist on the philosophy of the day.  During the first century, Stoic philosophers ruled the day.  Their teaching was that contentment was the accumulation of all good virtues and that by a humans own power, one could be content with life.  For them contentment was being independent of all other people and of all circumstances.  Their teaching slogan was this: The happy man is content with his present lot, no matter what it is, and is reconciled to his circumstances.  –R. Kent Hughes’ Preaching Commentary

Paul’s words sound very Stoic except for one very important part.  He says, he has learned contentment the essence of all virtues.  His words sound like he has found contentment regardless of circumstances.  He is independent of his circumstances.  However, all this is not as the Stoics taught.  Contentment is not produce from within a person by mere will.  Contentment only comes through the power of Christ.

[13] I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Paul received their gift with joy but reminded them that money has no qualities in which to place any trust.  Money will not bring contentment, only Christ can do that.  Money should not be trusted or worshipped; only Christ is to be trusted and worshipped.

2. Generosity Illustrates Salvation (4:14-20)

[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.

Before we begin this portion I want to illustrate by taking us to the Gospel of Luke.  Luke has a way of weaving his account together in order to teach truth through narrative events.  He does very well in the account of Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus was the head of the Jericho Mafia.  He was an extortioner.  He cheated people out of money.  His whole mission in life was to make money (anyway he could) and to keep all the money he could.

In Luke 18, we read the account of the rich young ruler.  He was a lot like our little friend Zacchaeus in that he loved his money as well.  He didn’t have to cheat to get it, he had his given to him, but he loved it every bit as much as Zacchaeus did.

Luke 18:18-27 (ESV)

And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  [19] And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.  [20] You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ”  [21] And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.”  [22] When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  [23] But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich.  [24] Jesus, looking at him with sadness, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!  [25] For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  [26] Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?”  [27] But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

The rich ruler desired riches more than he desired Christ.  Jesus Christ will suffer no rivals.  The King of Kings and Lord of Lords will not be second in your affections.  He must rule them.

Luke 19:1-10 (ESV)

He entered Jericho and was passing through.  [2] And there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.  [3] And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small of stature.  [4] So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way.  [5] And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”  [6] So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  [7] And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  [8] And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”  [9] And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  [10] For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Our friend Zacchaeus becomes a living illustration to the world as to what it means to seek and save the lost.

What Luke’s point is here is the one mark of true conversion is generosity with material goods.  Because what was once worshipped has now fallen away into rubbish because the worshipping one is now worshipping Christ.  This is a true mark of conversion.

So it was with the Philippian believers.  Their salvation was marked by generosity.

The same is true for us today.  What is our giving say about the condition of our hearts?  What does our giving say about where our true loyalty lies?  The Bible teaches that we are worshippers and we really only are able to worship one thing or one Parson at a time.

Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  [20] but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  [21] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We have a single treasure.  It is either Christ or it’s money or family or cars or homes but it cannot be all of the above.

Picture yourself taking a multiple choice test.  The question is this…

Which one of the items below do you worship?

A. Self

B. Material goods including money

C. Jesus Christ

D. Your Family

Which one of the items below do you think about the most?

A. Self

B. Material goods including money

C. Jesus Christ

D. Your Family

How would the test go for you?  We all say we worship Christ but what do our actions and thoughts reveal about the reality.  What we do with the resources God gives us is a window into our souls.  Our practices concerning what we do with what God gives us shows the reality of our hearts.

Paul’s joy was so complete in the Philippian church that their generosity became an illustration in giving.

2 Cor. 8:3-5 (ESV)

For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own free will,  [4] begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— [5] and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.

The Apostle reminds the church that giving is about caring for others.  It’s not only about giving money it’s also about receiving riches in return.

They gave out of their poverty but God returned their giving out of His riches.

[19] And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

If we faithfully give God will faithfully meet needs.  It may or may not mean that God will bless financially as many TV preachers promise.  He will, supply every need of yours. This happens through His riches.  Our greatest need is Christ.  God will meet that need according to His Word.  We will reach completeness in Christ as we practice faithful giving.  Stewardship is the mark of a true believer.  By practicing consistent giving we are constantly putting off the thing that often tempts us the most.  The idol that most ensnares our hearts is put away as we give.

Gordon Fee, in his work on the Book of Philippians wrote this,

The Philippian’s generosity toward Paul, expressed lavishly at the beginning of verse 18, is exceeded beyond all imagination by the lavish wealth of the eternal God, who dwells in glory full of riches made available in Christ Jesus.—Fee

The very thought of the wealth that was coming to the Philippian Church caused Paul to break out in praise himself.

[20] To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

3. Paul Says Goodbye (4:21-23)

[21] Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you.  [22] All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.

[23] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

His letter ends as does all his letters with a fond farewell.  For Paul it wasn’t only about theology but about real people being changed by a real Savior.  Sinners made saints by the grace of Jesus Christ.

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