Joyful Thanks Living - Our Partnership in the Gospel

Joyful Thanks Living - Bible study 
part 5 of 10

Our Partnership in the Gospel
Philippians 1  
Paul was in prison when he wrote this epistle to the Philippians. 

Roman Colony
   “As a Roman Colony, Philippi was a Rome in miniature, a little bit of Italy on foreign soil.  Its inhabitants were primarily Roman [many retired Roman soldiers]. …[This] casts light on many of the references and expressions Paul uses in his epistle to the Philippians.  Families of Roman veterans would surely identify with the Praetorian Guard and Caesar’s household.  The lesson on Christians’ heavenly citizenship would be particularly meaningful to those who were so proud of their earthy citizenship.”  (People’s Bible page 8)

Generous Congregation
   “The Philippians sent gifts to help the apostle and support his work on several occasions.  …They were giving constant evidence of a loving and generous spirit.  They were ready to suffer, if necessary, for the sake of Christ.  The congregation had grown and seems at the time to have been untroubled by doctrinal controversy or severe persecution.” (People’s Bible pages 10-11)

Joy In Christ
   “Yet there were certain areas in which the congregation at Philippi, like every Christian congregation, needed encouragement.  With great tact Paul urges all the members to strive for greater harmony and humility in Christ.  …Joy in
Christ, in fact, is the key thought of the entire epistle, the music that runs through it and the sunshine that radiated over it. 
…In this epistle he shares that joy with the Philippians and the
Christian readers of every age.  As we study this little gem of an epistle, we pray that the Holy Spirit will also fill our hearts with the joy the apostle knew and move us to express and to share that joy with others in what, without Christ, would be a joyless world.”  (People’s Bible pages 11-12) 

Philippians 1:1-11 (NIV 1984)
   1Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:  2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 
   3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  
   7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. 
   9And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. 

    Jesus has given us eternal life as a free gift.  Our Savior invites us to share this gospel message with everyone.   Note that verse 5 mentions the Philippian Christians’ “partnership in the gospel.”  The People’s Bible (pages 18-21) discusses this important phrase:

Partnership In The Gospel
   “The Holy Spirit’s work in the Philippians’ hearts through the gospel had brought them into a wonderful partnership with the apostle and with all other believers.  …Believers who have been brought together into a gospel partnership joyfully give expression to their partnership. They do this in many ways. They worship, pray, and study God’s Word together. They joyfully acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. They show to one another a special measure of helpfulness and love. They encourage one another in Christian living, and they work together to promote the cause of the gospel in the world.”  (People’s Bible page 18)

Our Partnership
   “The importance that Paul places on the gospel partnership he shares with the Philippians has much to say also to us. Today we share a gospel partnership with the members of our congregation as well as with the members of our church body, our synod. Our worship life, our mutual support of the Lord’s work at home and abroad, our encouragements to one another to live as Christians are all expressions of that partnership. A similar expression is the special affection and concern we ought to feel and show for one another.” (People’s Bible pages 20-21)

A Precious Blessing
   “Our gospel partnership is higher and nobler than ordinary earthly relationships, but too often we tend to regard the precious gospel partnerships of our congregational and synodical memberships too lightly. We are inclined to look upon these partnerships not as precious blessings but as tiresome burdens and obligations. Only rarely do we regard the individuals with whom we share this partnership as special. Our relationships with all our fellow believers, our attitude toward our synod and its work, and the enthusiasm and the zeal with which we go about the tasks the Lord has assigned to us could all be significantly improved. We need to see those relationships as the apostle Paul saw them, as elements of our blessed partnership in the gospel. That, in turn, would make our whole spiritual lives more positive and more joyful.”
(People’s Bible page 21)


Our Partnership At Good Shepherd’s
   As members of Good Shepherd’s we share a “partnership in the gospel.”  We worship, sing, pray, and study God’s Word together.  We encourage one another.  We share in proclaiming the gospel message about everything Jesus does for us.  Some of us are pastors, some are teachers, some are laity, but we are all partners advancing the gospel together.  We each serve as a different part of one body, and should have equal concern for each other.
(see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). 
   We are brothers and sisters advancing the gospel through our prayers, our offerings, and our time.  We sing in choir, shovel snow, help on a planning committee, clean the church, teach Sunday School, sew bags to hold gifts for people moving into the neighborhood, hand out flyers at parades, fix leaking pipes, and serve in hundreds of other important ways. 
   We also share a partnership in the gospel beyond Good Shepherd’s.  Through our prayers and offerings we work with others to send missionaries around the globe, to train future pastors and teachers, to proclaim the gospel in prisons and hospitals, and to care for the elderly. 
Let Us Pray:
   Dear Lord, thank you for making me a partner in the gospel with my brothers and sisters in Christ at Good Shepherd’s.  Open the Scriptures to me that I trust you more each day.  Increase my love for everyone.  Amen.

For additional study:  “The People’s Bible – Philippians” 
pages 7 to 22.  (Introduction and Philippians 1:1-11)
Kuschel, Harlyn J. (1986).   Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. The People's Bible.  Northwestern Publishing House.

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The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? ~ PSALM 27:1