Partners in the Gospel
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Partners in the Gospel

From Series: Take Dead Aim, Volume 1

Philippians 1:1 (ID: 2038)

Writing from jail, Paul was nonetheless thankful, prayerful, and joyful in his greeting to the church at Philippi. His zeal was fueled by their ongoing partnership, which was grounded in the Gospel, and by the prospect of one day seeing and sharing in the glory of Christ. In this introduction to our study in the book of Philippians, Alistair Begg helps us see that despite disappointments, we can be confident that God will finish the work He began in us.


Sermon Transcript:

It is our custom to read the Scriptures publicly, and we turn now to the book of Philippians. Philippians 1:1:

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

“[It’s] 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. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Amen.

You may actually want to put your finger in Acts chapter 16 as we look together at these opening verses of Philippians 1, because there in Acts chapter 16, Luke gives to us the record of the arrival of this small band of messengers on this particular Sabbath day all these years ago. It would at first sight have appeared to be little more than a picnic: a group of travelers gathered with another group of, apparently, regulars at the river’s edge. If we’d been walking by on that occasion, there would have been little about their appearance that would have made us understand that what we were looking at was actually one of the pivotal events in the unfolding plan of God in the history of redemption. We probably would have just walked by and missed them. Certainly, there would have been no reason for us to conclude that these men who were there were those who were described as the ones who have been “causing trouble over all the world,” as Luke records it in Acts 17: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here,” he says of their arrival in another place.[1]

Who are these individuals? Well, they are Silas and Timothy and Luke and, of course, Paul. Twenty years have elapsed now since the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth—just twenty years in the same way that you and I know twenty years: long enough to have a little one, bring them through these early stages that we’ve seen this morning, bring them through the process of education, send them off to university, and find that they now are adult and twenty years have gone by.

And in these intervening twenty years, God, as he has promised, was working his plan of redemption out. Jesus had said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself,”[2] and the apostles had gone out confident in that and in obedience to the command of Christ, and they had gone everywhere telling others of the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ. And here on this Sabbath morning, in a very quiet, unassuming, unprovocative fashion, this little missionary team—a converted Jew and his cronies—walk into Philippi. And while it may appear to be little or nothing, in actual fact the gospel places its feet on the European continent for the first time in world history. And out of the shadows and the darkness of the previous evening you have this tremendous, momentous setting forward of God’s plan for the world.

Now, Philippi was obviously a real place as well. I say that because I want always to remind you—and particularly our young people—that when we read the Bible, we are reading history and we are reading geography. This will frame and form our understanding of the world; this will give us a perspective on social studies quite like nothing else is able to do. Philippi was founded in the middle of the fourth century BC; while the prophets were still writing, Philippi was founded. It was named after Phillip II of Macedonia, whom I’m sure you’ve all spent a tremendous amount of time this week thinking about. You’re saying to yourself, “I didn’t think about him at all.” “Did you?” you say to your wife; she hasn’t got a clue. And you’re consigning him now to the realms of darkness, but let me let you know that he had a famous son, Alexander the Great. You know him? Okay, so now we’re back on track; now you’re nudging, saying, “Hey, I know him, I know him.” Very good.

Those of you who do Shakespeare will also know that Philippi was the site of a famous battle between Brutus and Cassius, who were, you will recall, the defenders of the Roman Republic, and they were fighting against [Antony] and Octavian, who were the avengers of Caesar’s death. And when you read secular history and you read of that battle, then it was taking place here in this city of Philippi. It was conquered by the Romans in the middle of the second century before Christ, and it became a Roman colony 42 years BC. And so it was a kind of mini-Rome: socially, politically, and even architecturally, if we had been there we would have said to ourselves, if we had ever been in Rome, “You know, this reminds me a lot of Rome.” And, of course, it should, and it would, because it was set up in that way.

It was in this place that God had purposed that the unfolding of the gospel would begin to take place. The story of that is in Acts 16, which I give to you for your homework. I hope you do homework. I hope you follow some of this stuff up. I hope you turn it up to find out if what I said was actually in the Bible, because I make mention of a lot of places, and I see you looking at me and going, “Well, I guess so,” but you’re not all going to check. You must check, you must do your homework. Do you really think that you will become a mature believer on forty-five minutes of a study a week? It’d be a disgrace if that’s all you did to prepare as an actuary, or as an attorney with your briefs, or as a nurse for her tutorials. It’s amazing we think we’re gonna turn the world upside down with so little effort, isn’t it? I can’t do all your study for you. We tell our kids that, don’t we? “You’re my children. I can’t do all your study for you. You must study.”

And in Acts chapter 16, when you do your homework, you will find it’s very exciting. Because on that occasion there’s a lady called Lydia. I’ll give you a little whiff of it, as it were, so that you can go there later on and fill in the details—a little taste, if you like: Lydia was a worshipper of God. She had her own business. She had a nice home. And the Lord opened her heart, and she trusted Christ, she got baptized, and when she put her head on the pillow that night, she was radically different from the way she’d wakened up in the morning. That’s what it means, incidentally, to be a Christian. Here was a religious lady who was interested in God, who was concerned to do prayers, and yet when she woke up in the morning she did not know Christ; when she went to her bed at night she was a baptized follower of Jesus Christ. It has been my prayer, it is our continued prayer in relationship to all that we do continually here at Parkside Church—not least of all on a day like this—that there will be some who walk into the building as Lydia in the morning and leave as Lydia in the evening.

And then, quite dramatically, Paul exorcises a demon, “a spirit of divination,”[3] from a slave girl who had been making a tidy profit for her owners by predicting the future; she became a pain in the neck, and so Paul dealt with it. And having dealt with it, he was then dealt with, and he finds himself with Silas in the jail. In the jail they get a whacking, and at the end of having a jolly good beating they sit down, look at one another, and decide to sing some choruses. And as they sing the choruses, everybody says, “Well, we knew these people were certainly weird to follow this unrisen Jesus, whoever he is, but goodness gracious, I never thought they would go to this extent.” And then suddenly in the darkness of the night there’s a rumbling, which becomes a major rumbling, and as everything starts to cave in around them and as the shackles come out of the walls, the jailer, who has just gone down, told his wife, “I’m doing the night shift, it’s a routine evening, I’ll be back up in the morning, we’ll have some breakfast and go as planned,” and all of a sudden, he has a sword and he’s ready to kill himself, and Paul says, “Hey, hang on, don’t do that. We’re all still here, and everything’s cool, man.” He didn’t say that, you know, but it was like that. Nobody should really speak like that. But he said, “Hey, we’re all here,” and the Philippian jailer turns ’round and says, “What must I do to be saved?”

That’s unbelievable to me. Does that strike you as incredible? Must’ve been something going on in this jailer’s mind. Maybe he had heard this slave girl out on the streets shouting out about Jesus of Nazareth, because actually God was using her predictability of the future and her weirdness in order to champion the cause of the gospel. But whatever it was certainly speaks of the initiative of God, because out of the blue nobody ever stands up and says, “Hey, what must I do to be saved?” I can guarantee you that if you go out from here and survey every living person that you can meet and get a conversation with in the hours of the afternoon, there won’t be one in a thousand that, if you just say, “Just say the next thing you want to say,” will say, “What must I do to be saved?” But I can guarantee you if you meet one who does, it’s because God is at work in their heart.

See, that’s why I have great confidence when I preach the Bible. That’s why I don’t feel any monkeys on my back about people coming to faith in Christ. People ask me all the time, “Well, why don’t you invite them down the front? I mean, why don’t you sing some of those lovely songs? The choir was singing, it gets everybody woozy in their stomach, and when they get woozy in their stomach, you know, they’ll do anything when that happens.” I know they will. And plenty of you have. And in my absence, sometimes we see the evidence of that. And we pick up the pastoral responsibility of that. No. God saves. He’ll take care of it. That’s what he did here, and that’s why there was a church.

Well, that’s the introduction. Did you enjoy that? Good. There’s a kid poking his mother, says, “I thought that was the whole sermon. If he said it was the whole sermon, I’d answer yes. But if it’s just the introduction, I’m not so sure.” But I must proceed.

Paul kept in touch with this church. He went away and he came back on his third missionary journey; he showed up and was nice to them. By this time he’s now in the jail, as you know. They send Epaphroditus to him to say, “Here’s some stuff; we love you.” He sent Epaphroditus back to say, “Here’s a letter; I love you.” And the letter that he sent back is the letter that you have before you now, called Paul’s Letter to the Church at Philippi.

Now, you will notice in his greeting that it was the customary greeting of the day; unlike today, where you find your name at the end of a letter, he put his name at the front of the letter. That was simply standard practice: the writer’s name, the recipient’s name, and then a little greeting—unlike today, where it all comes largely at the end, apart from the recipient’s name, which we put at the beginning.

“Servants of Christ Jesus”

Now, what I’d like to do is summarize the first two verses by giving you three words to hang my thoughts on. The first word is “servants”—“servants.” “Paul and Timothy, who are you? What are you? Tell me about yourself.” “We’re servants of Christ Jesus.” In other words, no long autobiographical introduction; no trumpeting of his creditable past or his peculiarities in the present; just simply, “Hey, it’s Paul and Timothy, the servants of Christ Jesus.”

This is characteristic of Paul; it’s characteristic of all who truly are laid hold of by God and are malleated by, moved by his Spirit. When he writes to the Corinthians he says—with their squabbling about “Well, I like Apollos, I like Paul, I like Peter when he preaches; Peter’s this, Paul’s this, Apollos says that”[4]—he goes, “Listen, listen, please! What, after all, is Apollos? What, after all, is Paul?”[5] He doesn’t use the masculine; he uses the neuter. He doesn’t ask who; he asks what. See, we’re preoccupied with who: “Who’s coming, and who’ll be there, and who is he?” Paul says, “What am I? I’m a servant.”

Pastoral ministry is the service of Christ by the service of people.

He reiterates it in the fourth chapter and in the opening verse, and when by the time he’s writing his second letter in 2 [Corinthians] 4:5 he says, “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for [Christ’s] sake.”[6] Apostolic ministry is a servant ministry. The servant of God is a servant of the people of God. Therefore, pastoral ministry is the service of Christ by the service of people . So, to quote my mentor, Derek Prime, “It is the pastor’s responsibility always to remind his congregation of this: I will always be your servant, but you will never be my master.” And that distinction is vital. And it is because of the absence of that distinction that you find autocratic tyranny on the part of some who fulfill the role of pastor. And it is because of the failure in that distinction that you find congregations who constantly manipulate and squeeze and constrain those whose call is not from them, ultimately, but from God. So I meet pastors, and they’re afraid to say certain things because of their people. Well, there’s a rightful sense of fear, but it’s “the fear of [God]” which “is the beginning of wisdom.”[7] We serve one another in serving Christ.

“Saints in Christ Jesus”

“Saints” is the second word—“saints.” I’m glad I’ve come to this, because last week, after worship, somebody asked me this very question. They said, “Why is it that in certain parts of Christendom people pray to the saints? Does it work? And secondly, are these saints really saints? And thirdly, what in the world are saints?” It was like the guy was gradually getting to the bottom line, and the bottom line was, “I don’t have a clue what ‘saints’ means!” Some of you are glad he asked that question, ’cause you’re gonna get the answer now that you’ve never been able to answer yourself.

Saints are not a special group of outstanding Christians who have done something peculiarly pious. No, saint is actually the New Testament word to describe every Christian. That’s why when you read the introductions to Paul’s letters in Romans 1, in 1 Corinthians, and so on, he is frequently using the word saints, he addresses the group as “saints.” Because they are “holy ones”—hagios, which gives us [hagiology], which is the study of saints. And how come they’re “holy ones”? Well, because they have been set apart from what they once were, and they have been set apart from sin, and they have been set apart to Christ. They are his peculiar possession, and it is because they are peculiarly his that they are described as saints. So, while there are individuals in life who have been peculiarly useful and mightily used, in the language of the New Testament there is no substantiation for the notion that they would be called, you know, Saint Whoever, and that the rest of us would just be called Bill or Mary or George or any old thing. No. We all share the designation. And the key to being a saint is being “in Christ Jesus”—“in Christ Jesus.”

This is the second part of your homework: to go home and work out this whole idea of being “in Christ Jesus”; to think out the distinction between being “in Adam” and “in Christ”; to ponder this whole concept, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ [shall all] be made alive,”[8] from 1 Corinthians, the chapter on the resurrection. By nature we are in Adam; we are not in Christ. Therefore, unless we are placed into Christ and we remain in Adam, then we will die in our sins. So that the coming of Christ and the atoning death of Christ on the cross is in order to execute an atonement whereby people are brought from their experience in Adam to their new experience in Christ. Paul puts it this way: “If [any man] is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, [and] the new has come!”[9] When Jesus came as the second Adam, as Paul refers to him,[10] he came to do all that Adam failed to do, and he came to undo all that Adam did in the fall, so that by his death and resurrection Jesus dealt with the guilt and the power of sin. And when we come to believe into Christ, then all of the benefits and blessings accrue to us, having been placed in Christ.

When we are placed into Christ, he gives us one blessing after another. We were once dead, and he has made us alive. We were once lost, and he has found us.

You know, sometimes you go to a conference, and when you go to a conference you have this registration, and then with the registration you get a package. And sometimes it’s fun, and sometimes it’s not so fun, but you get a whole bunch of stuff. And the person says, “Here you are.” And you say, “Oh, no, I didn’t sign up for that.” And they say, “Oh, no, it comes with your registration.” “Oh, it does? You mean I get the songbook, and I get the notebook, and I get the pen?” “Yeah! Get the whole thing.” “Hey, that’s nice! That’s nice.” That’s what the Bible says: when we are placed into Christ, he gives us one blessing after another. We were once dead, and he has made us alive. We were once lost, and he has found us.  

Can I ask you this morning, have you worked this out? You see, this is the real question: Am I in Christ? Not, Am I in church? It’s good to be “in church,” but you can be “in garage” and not become a car. You can be “in hospital” and not become a doctor. And you can be “in church” and not become a Christian. And you can be “in the restaurant” and die of starvation. That’s the question. It is to this end that we labor and serve, “to present every man and woman mature in Christ Jesus.”[11] That is the whole burden and emphasis of our ministry.

Well, if people are going to grow to maturity, they must first be born, and they need to be born again of the Spirit of God. “And as the wind blows and you can’t tell where it is coming from or where it’s going, so,” says Jesus, “is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”[12] The earthquake hits, and the jailer’s born again, and so is his wife, and so is his children; they have their own baptism service. The wind blows down the riverside, and Lydia is born again of the Spirit of God and is baptized and is never the same again. The wind blows through, and the slave girl is relieved of her demonic presence. “If anyone is in Christ, he’s a new creation.” If anyone is not in Christ, he or she is still the same old stuff: religiously painted up, spiritually interested, but the same old stuff.

So the real issue is not where you’re at; the real issue is where you’re in. In Scotland people always ask, “Did you get into the golf club yet?” And if somebody said to you, “Are you in?”—at least amongst my friends—“Are you in?” only meant one thing, and that is, “Did you get in the golf club?” Because the waiting list was so jolly long, and they’d asked you so many times that the first time they asked, they said, you know, “Did your name come to the top of the list, and have you now become a member of the such-and-such such-and-such?” and then have gradually, as time gone by, in the course of conversation, they simply say, “Are you in?” And you say, “No,” and you keep going. He knew what he was asking, I knew what I was replying to: “Are you in?”

Can I ask you, are you in? Are you in? See, you’re either out or in. If you’re out, you have no privileges. If you’re out, you’re not allowed to go and hit balls. If you’re out, you can’t drive up the driveway and park your car there. You’re out, you’re not in! But when you’re in, you’re in. “One door and only one, and yet its sides are two. The outside, the inside, on which side are you?”[13] Are you in? If not, may I invite you to come in?

Now, you’ll notice that his greeting is the standard greeting: “Grace and peace.” Grace comes first; it needs to, ’cause you’ll never know peace unless you know grace. The Father and the Son are mentioned, the Spirit is implied; for it is the Spirit, says Jesus in John 16, who applies the work of the Father and the work of the Son to the life of the believer.[14]

Thankful, Prayerful, and Joyful

That’s the first two verses. I’m sorry to have taken so long. I’ll give you the outline of the rest. I want to say three things about the next two verses. Notice that he’s thankful, prayerful, and joyful—thankful, prayerful, and joyful.

Verses 3 and 4: The relationship between a pastor and his people is a vital part of congregational life. Congregations have cycles. This is what happens: first they idolize you, secondly they criticize you, and thirdly they ostracize you. If you stay around long enough, it repeats itself, and you find yourself in the cycle somewhere. And that’s fine, that’s part of the deal. It’s the same in your business. It’s not unique to pastors. It’s actually the same of golf professionals, I’ve found. They idolize you: “Whoa, you ought to see him hit it!” They criticize you: “He’s got a duck hook, the worst thing you ever saw in your life.” And they ostracize you: “I don’t want to play with him, you play with him.” Stay around long enough, new group comes in: “Hey, you ought to see him hit it!” So that’s just part of life. There are good groups and bad groups. There are nice people and ugly people.

But it is crucial, if a church is to go forward, that the relationship which exists between the pastor or pastors and the people is genuinely one of thankfulness. Now, I want you to know this morning—and I’ll say more about it next week, when I’ve worked up to it—that I am genuinely, sincerely, honestly thankful for you. This week, I haven’t always been thankful. Some of my friends know that. I haven’t been thankful about the building project, I haven’t been thankful about the radio ministry, I haven’t been thankful about a number of things. I have been downright grumpy in some respects. But as I traveled yesterday and I thought about all the things I have to be thankful for, I want you to know, I can honestly tell you, I am thankful for you and for this place. Done. Thankful. You know. I may not always be that way—there’s still a few hours left in the day—but right now, existentially, I’m thankful. Now, to the degree that you are thankful, we go on together. When I get unthankful or you get unthankful, we split. Because otherwise it’s no good. Incidentally, in most churches the people get unthankful before the pastor gets unthankful, and they run him out of town. In this case, I’m staying thankful longer than some of the rest, and they’re running out of town. So that’s just a different strategy. In other words, I’m staying; you leave if you wish. “Bumptious!” they say. “Rude person!” That’s right.

Thankful, prayerful—prayerful! Now, I’m not thankful for you because you’re perfect any more than you’re thankful for me ’cause I’m perfect, ’cause I’m far from perfect. But that’s what fuels our prayers for each other. And as he prays for them, he says he engages in prayers which are comprehensive: “all my prayers for all of you.” In other words, he didn’t just pray for those who were doing well; he didn’t pray for those who were in his inner circle; he prayed for all the folks. We need to learn to do that. Indeed, many of the people with whom we have problems, if we pray for them we will discover that the same people can become some of our best companions. And apparently—well, we’ll say to ourselves, “Oh, well, they changed, you know.” But no, we changed. Because we added prayerfulness to thankfulness.

And then there was joyfulness. Some prayers involve pain. You pray for somebody, and it hurts you. There’s heartache involved in it. You get under the burden of your brother or your sister, and they’re agonizing over their kids or over their marriage relationship or over the loss of a job, or they’ve got a great concern over illness or bereavement, or whatever it is—and there’s a burden in that. At other times, it’s like, instead of swimming against the tide, it’s like going with the waterfall. And that’s how Paul felt about Philippi. He says, “I’m full of joy when I pray for you.” Incidentally, that’s what prayer is: it’s bringing people’s situations and needs and triumphs and failures before the throne of grace and getting underneath it with them. It’s not just the rehearsing of long lists.

Thankful, prayerful, joyful.

Partnership, Progress, and Prospect

Verses 5 and 6: three words, and we’re through. Why is he thankful, prayerful, and joyful? One: because of their partnership. What is the nature of this partnership? It is theological in its basis. It is grounded in the gospel—notice, “because of your partnership in the gospel.” In other words, this is not a fellowship that is the lowest common denominator: “Well, you believe a little, and I believe a little. Let’s all get together and believe a little.” No, this is “We have come to an understanding of the gospel, and on the basis of that, we unite together.” It’s theological in its basis, and it’s practical in its expression. That’s why he was on the receiving end of all these wonderful gifts that came to him.

So partnership, then progress. Their partnership wasn’t static, according to verse 5. It was an ongoing thing “from the first day until now.” You go to somebody saying, “How’s your partner?” he says, “Oh, he left me.” You say to someone else, “And how are you getting on in that group that you’re with?” “Well, it’s dissolved.” But the partnership that he enjoyed with these people was an ongoing partnership. They were continuing to “work out [their] own salvation with fear and trembling.”[15] The work which God had begun, he was now bringing on and continuing. And so there was a progression in the lives of these people, both in terms of their relationship with Paul as their servant and their relationship with Christ as their Savior.

And the last word is the word prospect. “I’m thankful and prayerful and joyful,” he says, “because of your partnership, because of your progress, and because of the prospect that yet awaits you.” What is the prospect? It’s “the day of Christ Jesus.” God has a long-term plan for his people. He is planning that every one of us will see and share in the glory of his Son. And that, you see, is the end to which he is working “all things” in Romans 8:28. And it is because of the long-term plan that he has that we need to ride out—to mix my metaphors here—we need to ride out the bumps in the market, as it were, as the people always ask you, you see, if you have ten shares of Coca-Cola, or some vast investment like that. My son is a major stockholder in our family: he has four shares of Disney stock. And so I ask him, I say, “Are you in it for the long haul?” You know? That it would ever matter!

God has a long-term plan for you. There’s a view at the top that’ll knock your socks off.

But you see, this is what helps us. I look out on your faces, I see you: you’ve lost kids, you’ve lost your wives, you’ve lost your job, you are a compendium of potential disappointments, but you’re still here, you’re still singing, and you’re still going. Why? Because God has a long-term plan for you. And there’s a view at the top that’ll knock your socks off . So that as we stumble along the journey, and as we face the difficulties, and as we are struck by the disappointments, and as we’re tempted to go back down to the bottom of the mountain and take off our hiking boots and put on our plimsolls and head home for our house, the Word of God comes to us again and again, says, “Come on, now, let’s go on. Let’s just try it for another sixty seconds. Let’s see if we can’t do this for another minute. And then we’ll see.” Isn’t that what they do when they have you exercising? You’re supposed to do these reps. Did you ever hear the guy say, “Go on, give me twenty-four more of those”? No. He always says, “Come on, one more. Come on, one more. That’s it. One more.” Don’t be concerned about all of your tomorrows; just one more. One more what? One more minute. Then we’ll work it up to a quarter of an hour, then we’ll go on from there. “I am confident,” he says, “that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[16]

You see, the great, great confidence builder is that he began the work. He began the work! Lydia was a nice lady, had a nice house, and a nice interest in religion—and she got changed. God began the work. The Philippian jailer came off the night shift radically changed. He began the work. So when Lydia or the Philippian jailer were tempted to say, “I’m not sure that I can keep going,” the Word of God is, “You didn’t start it, and you aren’t gonna finish it, and you’re right that you can’t keep it going—but he did, and he will, and he can.”

So it all boils down to this: Number one, Am I in Christ? If I am, then that means I’m a saint, so I can put that in front of my name if I choose, and maybe you want to put that on your letterhead: Saint Jeffery, or whatever. That’s a novel idea, actually. (Okay, we’ll leave that alone. Nobody thought it was a good idea at all; let’s just leave that aside.) Am I in Christ? Therefore I’m a saint, okay? Then, if I’m a saint, I’m called into partnership with others, and in this whole pastoral thing, therefore, I want to be thankful and prayerful and joyful, because I’m a partner and because I’m making progress and because I have a wonderful prospect.

The work which His goodness began,
The arm of His strength will complete;
His promise is [yes] and amen,
And never was forfeited yet.
Things future, nor things that are now,
Nor all things below or above,
Can make Him His [promise] forgo,
Or sever my soul from His love.
 
My name from the palms of His hands
Eternity will not erase;
Impressed on His heart it remains,
In marks of indelible grace.
Yes, I to the end shall endure,
As sure as the earnest…

 

the promise, the deposit—

 

As sure as the earnest is giv’n;
More happy, but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heav’n.[17]

So those whom God has taken to himself are happier, but no more secure, than those whom he has called to himself and who are about to walk back out these doors and into the privilege of living for him in another week. Live to the praise of his glory.

Let us pray:

Father, we do bless and thank you that we have a Bible to read. Bring your Word to bear upon our hearts and minds, we pray. Stir up the worshippers of God that they might see their need of you and become followers of Christ. Encourage the disheartened. Pick up the fallen. Grant confidence to the wavering. And without any sense of selfishness we do pray that you will make Parkside Church a thankful, prayerful, joyful, progressing, prospective partnership, not so that people would have occasion to commend us, but in order that we might have an occasion to commend Christ.

“And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and forevermore. Amen.”[18]


[1] Acts 17:6 (NIV 1984).

[2] John 12:32 (paraphrased).

[3] Acts 16:16 (KJV).

[4] 1 Corinthians 1:12 (paraphrased).

[5] 1 Corinthians 3:5 (paraphrased).

[6] 2 Corinthians 4:5 (NIV 1984).

[7] Proverbs 9:10 (NIV 1984).

[8] 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NIV 1984).

[9] 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984).

[10] See 1 Corinthians 15:45.

[11] Colossians 1:28 (paraphrased).

[12] John 3:8 (paraphrased).

[13] “One Door and Only One.” Traditional children’s song. Paraphrased.

[14] See John 16:8–15.

[15] Philippians 2:12 (KJV).

[16] Philippians 1:6 (paraphrased).

[17] Augustus Toplady, “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” (1771).

[18] Jude vv. 24–25 (paraphrased).