Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on June 14, 2015
Open your Bibles to Philippians 4:14-20. Today is our second to last sermon in this series from the book of Philippians. Next week, I will be wrapping it up, and on the 28th I will be preaching about Church Membership with the hope that I will convince many of you to become committed members of Cornerstone Church. Not because we want to put your name on a list, but because the Bible encourages deep partnership within the local body.
Then starting in July, I will be beginning a two month series that I am entitling, a “Summer of Psalms,” where each Sunday I will be unpacking a Psalm. With that said, I would ask that all of you pray for me as I start to wade into those waters, for it is new territory for me to preach from the Psalms, and I want to above all handle the word rightly. But today and next week, let us choose to finish strong in the book of Philippians. Let us read our text, pray, and allow God’s Word to work on our hearts.
Let us begin by way of review. The book of Philippians is written by Paul to the Saints in Philippi. This relationship between Paul and this local Church began with the conversion of Lydia. This event is documented in Acts 16:14.
Catalyst to Giving
Why? Why was this local body of believers so radical in their giving? Why did they stand out amongst the dozens of Churches when it came to their sacrificial partnership in proclaiming the Gospel? I believe that over the last 6 months we have been answering just that question.
The catalyst to giving can be summed up with one word, the Gospel. The Church in Philippi had been radically and forever changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God had begun a work in them. They had become partakers of Grace. They were filled with the fruit of righteousness. They accepted the battle cry that to live is Christ and to die is gain. They did nothing out of selfish ambition. They emptied themselves and took the form of servants, working out their salvation with fear and trembling knowing that it was God who worked in them to will and work for his good pleasure. And while doing so they held fast to the word of life, and poured themselves out like drink offerings. They were brothers, fellow workers and fellow soldiers of God. They counted everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, specifically knowing the power of his resurrection. Because of the Gospel they no longer set their minds on earthly things, but recognized that their citizenship was in Heaven, and because of that they rejoiced in the Lord always, which flowed into a peace with God that surpassed understanding. Producing a life of contentment due to the power of Christ working in their weakness and making all things possible.
It was out of this gospel transformation that they gave. When no one else was giving, the Philippians gave. They were not concerned what others Churches did, they gave from a heart that was bursting with the Spirit of God.
And this is what happens when Christ takes up residence in your heart. You give. When you repent and turn towards Jesus, and place your faith in the sufficiency of his sacrifice, and you commit your like to him as your Master, Jesus comes and lives in you heart. This morning we talked about this is Hebrews 8.
John the Baptist says this in John 3:30 about Christ, “I must decrease and he must increase.” You see it again in the apostles John and James who left their boat and their father and followed Jesus. You see it in the apostle Matthew upon Jesus saying two simple words “follow him.” Without hesitation, he quit his job of collecting taxes and lining his pockets with the dust of this world and instead gave of himself to the point of martyrdom. You see it in the conversion of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:8 when Zacchaeus pays back fourfold of what he had taken from the poor. You see it in the women with the alabaster jar in Matthew 26, pouring it on the head of Jesus in sold out sacrificial worship while those around scoffed at the waste. You see it Joseph of Arimethea, a rich man who gave his grave to bury the Author of Life. The list could go on and on, for every time someone goes from death to life, the life they live is one of love. Love for God and love for others. In fact, one sign that you may not be saved is your lack of giving.
This was the reality for the rich young ruler in Matthew 19. Jesus, the Great Physician, was examining his heart and told him to give up everything and follow Him. The rich man walked away sad for he had great wealth and Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle then for a rich man to get into heaven. Folks, I have some bad news, if you own your home you are richer than 90% of the world's population. You are the rich young ruler. However, don't lose heart, for Jesus said perhaps the most Calvinistic and perhaps the most precious words every to be spoken. The disciples said, “Who then can be saved?”26But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
What is the power of God that makes rich men give up everything to follow Christ? It is the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, a salvation that produces radical, reckless, self-sacrificial giving. It was a Gospel that touched the hearts of the Philippians, and they couldn't help but give. It was their new spiritual DNA.
The question for us today, is it ours? Is the DNA of Cornerstone consumption or Gospel giving? Are we the rich young ruler, or are we the Philippians Church? Do we spend our money on ourselves, or do we lay it at the feet of God? Do we work our 40 hours to line our pockets, or do we work as if working for the Lord? Are we spraying the perfume of our wealth upon our necks, or pouring it on the head of our Savior?
The Fruit that Increases to Your Credit
Now here is the interesting thing about Gospel giving. It is not really giving to lose, but it is actually giving to get. Look at verse 17.
The real question when it comes to giving for the fruit that increases to your credit, is do you believe it? Do you trust God enough to implement it in your life? Do you trust that will hold up His end of the bargain? Many people do not. They are not willing to take the risk, they instead want to maintain the control that they have in their life and build bigger bins. This however is foolish, for we are chasing dust instead of the eternal riches our our Maker. Perhaps Jesus said it the best.