Pressing on in Joy

by | Feb 4, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Philippians 3:1-21

There is nothing more contagious than a joyful Christian. Joy is the manifestation of heaven breaking open and God coming into our lives. The Psalms tells us that in the presence of God is the fullness of Joy. If we can do nothing else for the advancement of the Gospel Mission, we can be joyful people. Only joy is not something we can manufacture. Joy is the gift of God’s grace through his Son Jesus Christ alone. Joy in our lives begins to fade as we put more and more confidence in ourselves and not the finished work of Christ for our salvation and righteousness. Philippians 3 invites us to return to the joy of our salvation and confidence in God alone.


So today we’ve made it to uh to chapter three in our series on uh Paul’s letter to the Philippians uh and just to remind you the the reason we’re doing this is because the main theme of of Paul’s letter to the Phil Philippians is to encourage them to continue advancing the gospel to not quit and and we’ve seen how they’ve they’re undergoing lots of external threats to this uh the Gospel Mission and to continuing it uh they’re in the secular culture around them uh they’ve been threatened uh their lives have been threatened the the culture around them doesn’t like Christians uh and feels threatened by them and so they’ve put pressure on them uh they’ve had uh pressure from within the the church and that uh those judaizers those folks who have uh who have decided that to to be Christian you also have to first become Jewish and subject yourself to the Jewish law they’ve been coming in and telling them that you know what your faith in Christ isn’t enough you got to do more you got to really earn the the righteous place with God they’ve also we we looked in the very beginning they’re facing Financial struggles uh they were they were in poverty and it was a difficult time for them but yet in all of that as Paul’s writing his letter back to the Philippians uh he doesn’t seem to be concerned at all about these external threats he doesn’t address them he’s not worried about them because he’s concerned about a greater threat to their being able to advance The Gospel Mission and that’s the threat that lies within the internal threat and so far we’ve we’ve seen Paul addressing things like there that his desire for them to love one another we’ve seen his desire for them to to look with in themselves and the importance of humility and their life with Christ we’ve seen his concern with them about Pride entering into the church and the destruction that it can bring and these are greater threats to the gospel than any external threat could ever possibly be I know many of you uh think well that’s not true you know there’s all these threats in our culture we look around today and yes there are things that we need to speak into that we need need to address those things are all important but the church has always faced external threats and the church is always continued to grow the gospel continues to go out when when the church stalls and begins to lose the culture in those Seasons where it happens it happens because of internal issues not the external ones and so today Paul is concerned about another internal issue that affects the advancing of the the gospel and that is the Philippians Joy you know if you’ll remember it’s been uh it’s been 10 years since Paul first uh went in his mission and preached the gospel uh to the Philippians they they’ve been walking with Christ for 10 years now so there’s a concern Paul has with all that they’re going through that all they’ve experience that there’s going to be a fading of the joy that they first experienced in their relationship ship with Christ and the free gift of God’s grace that he had proclaimed to them and Paul seems to know that that is a greater threat than anything than anything else why because if you ever think about it Joy is probably might be the most effective and contagious Witnesses witness of the gospel for a Christian than anything else it makes sense doesn’t it you know CS Lewis uh he said this he said Joy is the serious business of heaven and if Joy is the serious business of heaven then Christians who who are able to express and show and witness that joy to those around them what they’re really doing is they’re they’re they’re giving witness that heaven has broken into this world and into our lives and we’re walking Witnesses of it but if we’re a people with no joy well that’s not a very compelling message for Christianity what doesn’t make any difference in our lives and Jesus furthermore said I’ve said these things that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete we’re the walking Witnesses of the the people whose Joy has been made complete in Christ joy in a Christian Life it’s the evidence that the heavens have been opened and that God has come down and entered in into our lives Joy is incredibly important in the Christian Life it’s essential for advancing The Gospel Mission in this world but what is it exactly what is this joy that Paul’s talking about a and how can we get it and why is Joy so hard to to hold on to and ultimately where can we turn to find Joy once again in our lives well these are some of the things I I happening in Paul’s speaking to uh In this passage this morning and so I want to invite you to open up your bulletin or your Bibles to to Philippians uh chapter 3 as we look at this uh passage together Paul begins this section with finally my brothers rejoice in the Lord to write the same thing to you is no trouble to me and it’s safe for you so this is a recurring theme and Paul’s like it needs to be we need to keep talking about Joy that’s how important Joy is in the Gospel Mission and our ability to Bear witness for Christ around us and to Rejoice you know simply is to express the joy in our lives right that exists to express it uh the root word that exists here in rejoice it means uh to lean towards to lean towards and so Psalm 1611 we know that uh in the presence of the Lord is the fullness of joy and so when we take that that understanding of to lean towards to Rejoice means to Delight in the reality that God has leaned into us that God has leaned into you and to me you know Thomas aquinus the 13th century uh uh Christian philosopher and priest he said the soul is like an uninhabited world that comes to life when God lays his head upon you that’s what Joy is joy is God leaning into you him coming into your life that’s what salvation’s all about the joy of God that’s broken through the heavens and he’s leaned into us and he’s done it through his son Jesus Christ so to Rejoice is to take joy uh Delight in the fact that Jesus loves us you and me so much that he came and he suffered and he died and he rose again and he did it all to be with us not only then not only now but

forever and verse 12 I think shed I’m going to skip down to verse 12 but I’ll come back to to what’s in between but verse 12 shed sheds further light and to what Joy uh is all about uh Paul’s talking about the Perfection of you know attaining the the resurrection uh but at the end of it he says something incredibly powerful he says not that I’ve have already attained this the resurrection uh or that I’m already perfect but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus had made has made me his own that’s my friends is what Joy

is that Christ Jesus has made us his own because Joy it’s that Blessed assurance that God’s Grace has leaned into us he’s come to us and it’s the confidence that he’s made us his own rejoicing fills the heart when we have come to life by the work of God in our lives his work through Jesus Christ that’s where true Joy resides St Augustine said a Christian should be uh should be in Allelujah from head to toe that should be our lives that should be what we reflect to the world around us and that kind of Joy it’s contagious because that kind of Joy it’s

divine ultimately it’s the it’s the witness of the Transcendence of a good and gracious God who’s broke into this world to come to be with us and so Paul’s telling him Rejoice Rejoice it’s great for me to tell you this again because I need it to we need it over and over and over again especially after 10 years they had been walking with Christ in the midst of so much struggle around them uh so much has been uh working against them they’re they’re worn down they’re beaten down and they need a reminder to Rejoice have you have you experienced that in your life you know maybe with that first time where where where you where you came where Christ came to you and and you knew that he had leaned into you and you felt the joy of Salvation or maybe you know maybe it was the first time you just realized it was true and then over time life gets hard you face various struggles and that Joy begins to fade a little bit a little bit more and a little bit more until life can feel just a lot more like just trying to get through can it yeah yeah I know I know that there’s hope at the end of the the the tunnel here but I’m in the tunnel and the tunnel’s dark and the tunnel’s difficult one day the light will be there but that’s not what Paul’s saying he’s saying even now within the midst of all of it we have joy we have joy because God has come to us because of his work in our lives that by faith in Jesus we have salvation and he’s with us always now and to the very end and what are the threats to this joy in our

lives you know Christian Life starts with real Joy but that joy as I said can fade over time 10 years later Paul’s concerned about them their Joy seems to be fading and because their Joys fading their witness to in their advance of the Gospel is in jeopardy

and so what does Paul tell them is the real threat to Joy is it the external stuff is it all the stuff that they’re facing in the culture and with the judaizers and well a little bit with the judaizers some more what they’re they’re doing uh what they’re saying um but what’s the real threat to the gospel well that’s what Paul uh continues to go into in verse 2 through3 he says look out for the dogs look out for the evil doers look out for those who mutilate the flesh for we are the circumcision who worship by the spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh and put no confidence in the flesh see as I said before Joy starts with assurance and a confidence in God’s work in our lives that he came to save us that he died on the cross to save us that by his resurrection we are raised to New Life with him by faith alone it’s his work that he’s come into our lives for but it begins to fade in our lives the more we live the longer we go as we begin not because of the external stuff but as we internally more and more take confidence in our own flesh that’s the real threat to Joy that’s the joy killer in our lives and then in verse 4 to 11 Paul goes on to to explain to them a little bit more about this the main reason why and he uses his own life is the example right but the main reason why we lose uh our joy and Paul says Let each of you oh that’s sorry that’s verse two that’s vers chapter two though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also if anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh I have more I was circumcised on the eighth day of the people of Israel of The Tribe of Benjamin a Hebrew of Hebrews as to the law of Pharisee as to Zeal a persecutor of the church as to righteousness under the law blameless but whatever gain I had I count as loss for the sake of Christ indeed I count everything as lost because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord Lord for his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but that which comes through faith in Christ the righteousness from God that depends on

faith so Paul gives some reasons there how we put confidence in the flesh that ends up in the end stealing the actual joy that we so desperately need that is the whole witness to the world of the in Breaking of of heaven and of God into our sinful lives and he talks about uh his religious zealousness right he talks about that he was a Hebrew of Hebrews circumcised on the Eighth Day a follower of the law a persecutor of Christians meaning that I did everything right no one had it over me by my own flesh and my own works I was the top I was the top he talks about he was from born from the right people came from the right places knew all the right folks as far as his own status in the world he had it he was part of the right Club a Pharisee part of the right

group but what it all revealed would all of that stuff reveal field was it his confidence wasn’t in God his confidence was in himself where all that stuff in us when the joy begins to fade and we look to well I’m going to church I’m doing all the right things I’m having all my quiet times I’m I’m reading my Bible regularly I mean I’m in the right clubs you know maybe it’s in that sense that I’m I know all the right people I I’ve made this status I’ve uh I’ve done all the things that I’m supposed to do but why are they leaving me empty why are they not fulfilling me in some deeper meaningful way because that’s not confidence in God and in his work that’s confidence in our own flesh confidence in our own Works see we lose Joy not because of the pain of life not because of the suffering that we experience not even the loss of the people we love the most in this world not even outside persecution none of those things are what steal our joy because they cannot touch the confidence that we can have because God has come to us we can’t come to him it’s in putting confidence in ourselves and our own righteousness before God that steals the joy right out of our

Lives when as GK Chesterton wrote when we actually love ourselves more than we love joy that’s when the joy dies in our own Hearts if our joy has faded the reason isn’t because of the things that are going outside of ourselves it’s because of what’s going on in our hearts that’s what’s going on in here we’re loving ourselves we’re putting confidence in what uh what we do to please God we’re taking Delight in our own self-righteousness not in God’s given righteousness alone we’re not taking our confidence and our assurance and what God has already accomplished in his son Jesus Christ to save us you I found another was I was preparing this and was getting kneee in GK Chesterton if you ever start you know you won’t end because like everything he says is like just so great uh but he had there was one kind of shocking quote and at risk for shocking you I’m going to read it um he said do not enjoy yourself enjoy dances and theaters and joy rides and champagne and oysters that’s not controversial yet uh enjoy jazz enjoy cocktails it’s getting a little iffy enjoy nightclubs if you can enjoy nothing better enjoy bigamy burglary and any crime in the calendar in preference to the other alternative but never learn to enjoy

yourself that’s pretty heavy stuff right it’s it’s shocking but but but what what what he’s getting at there is he’s pointing to the joy and where where you find Joy all of those other sins all those really shocking ones right the bigamy and the burglary and the you know the all the crime uh not so much the Jazz and the oysters those are fine um but all those other sins are sins that can easily be dealt with there there’s sins that actually can drive us back to the Lord

they’re they’re the kind of sins that we can come back and repent from but when we look at Jesus’s life who did Jesus associate himself with who did he dine with he died with Sinners tax collectors and

prostitutes the gospels are full of those encounters aren’t they those and those folks who were able to see their own sin when they were confronted those who were able to see the the the poorness of their own spirit and their desperate need for a savior they could see it you know who the ones who never could see it it was the self-righteous it was the Pharisees was the Sadducees why but what Chesterton was getting at in a shocking way was because ultimately they loved themselves more than they loved Joy meaning then they loved God and the presence of God in their lives they took confidence in the flesh that’s what self-righteousness is that’s what uh pH Pharisees were all about that’s what the Sadducees were all about so how can we then if if Joy is absolutely Paramount to our ability to continue to advance the gospel and it’s not being fading away in our lives because of outside influences and forces it’s fading in our lives because we are becoming more self-centered and self-confident versus putting our confidence in God’s finished work in our lives how can we reclaim Joy the kind of Joy that’s contagious the kind of joy that others want to come to know the kind of joy that communicates that the heavens are broken open and God has come to us because he loves us it doesn’t happen by S in the external problems I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to solve the external problems but that’s not going to bring

joy solving all of society’s ills and all the ways that they’re they’re they’re fighting against Christianity those things are important and we need to be about that but solve them isn’t going to solve the problem of real joy in our lives the kind of joy that is infectious to others that kind of Joy only comes from finding our rest in the reality that God came to you and he came to me because he loves us to lean into us that through his son Jesus Christ by faith in him that we’ve been made

alive true Joy only comes when we make that our confidence when we make that our Blessed Assurance Hebrews 10:34 tells us that for the joy that was set before him Jesus endured the cross despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the Throne of

God Jesus’s Joy wasn’t determined by any ex external forces it wasn’t deterred by any external forces in fact everything and everyone had gone against him except one except one God was for him and in his Heavenly Father’s Love Jesus was confident he was confident that God was with him he was confident in God’s plan for salvation friends to keep advancing The Gospel Mission we need to be an Allelujah people but that doesn’t mean faking it that doesn’t mean pretending that we’re happy it means being full of joy meaning be full of the confidence and the assurance that we have been saved and we have been made righteous by the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for

us we have to come and die to ourselves we have to die to the confidence that we’re putting in our own flesh humbly and graciously receive this gift the gift of joy that God is with you and that he has leaned himself into your life amen


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