I used to think of the gospel as the baby steps into Christianity.
I was wrong. It isn’t just the baby steps.
It is all of the steps.
It is every step for every day.
It isn’t just for the future.
It is for the here and now.
This is a new way of seeing.
And so I am inviting you to a different kind of study.
We are going to look at Philippians, but it will be through the lens
of the gospel for the here and now.
God has blessed us with a precious fellowship here — one I never imagined was possible through the internet. When Paul tells the Philippians that he thanks God every time he remembers them, he is remembering “their partnership in the gospel.” I feel that way about you who have come on this blog. We are rediscovering the gospel together and it is changing our lives.
I have come to realize that God has given us the privilege of being a part of a revival of recovering the gospel. Indeed, we are “partners in the gospel.”
RECOVERING THE GOSPEL TOGETHER
Our tendency is to forget the gospel — to forget God’s amazing love — and to go back to:
Instead of saying, as Paul did, “For me to live is Christ,” we think:
- For me to live is family
- For me to live is health
- For me to live is happiness
- For me to live is success
The gospel keeps slipping out of our hands, but together we are recovering it.
Every once in a while you meet someone with a gospel-transformed heart — and they stand out. Most people and even many in the church are “seeking their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 2:21) But I have seen gospel transformed hearts here, and I pray that “our love may abound more and more,” and that as we practice this new way of seeing, of seeing the gospel everywhere, that we will be changed, that we will be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:11)
Before we begin, it is so fitting to give a tribute to two men who stood out for their gospel transformed hearts and who died this week. You will hear, in their own words, what transformed them.
THE GOSPEL TRANFORMED HEART OF BRENNAN MANNING
CHRISTIANITY TODAY began their remembrance with:
The first time the late singer-songwriter Rich Mullins heard former Franciscan priest Brennan Manning on tape as he drove through the edge of the Flint Hills in Kansas, his eyes filled with tears. He steered the truck to the side of the road. There, as he later wrote, the message “broke the power of mere ‘moralistic religiosity’ in my life, and revived a deeper acceptance that had long ago withered in me.”
DURING ADVENT ONE OF THE POSTS FEATURED MANNING’S RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL. (LINK)
LISTEN TO BRENNAN MANNING SHARING “THE ONE QUESTION” THAT GOD WILL ASK YOU AT HEAVEN’S GATE (under four minutes)
THE GOSPEL TRANSFORMED HEART OF GEORGE BEVERLY SHEA
Before he sings this song with which we have come to associate him, he tells how it came to be.
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. Have you read anything by Brennan Manning? If so, share something about it — or something else you know about him that has caused you to ponder or change.
3. Have you studied Philippians before — and if so, do you have a favorite verse? (If you have been with us for a while and are beginning to “get” the breadth of the gospel, does it give you any new light on that favorite verse?)
MONDAY-WEDNESDAY BIBLE STUDY:
THE UNIQUE FELLOWSHIP OF PARTNERS IN THE GOSPEL
Read Philippians 1:1-11
4. From whom does this letter come, according to verse 1, and how does Paul describe their identity?
Paul felt “knit,” to Timothy, as many of us are feeling “knit” to one another. He calls him, elsewhere, “my son in the faith.” When you see how the truths of the gospel that you have shared have the power to transform a heart, and what you are seeing is being passed on to another, there is a feeling akin to giving birth to a child. As I have many of you grow, my heart is knit to you. Then, in turn, I see you mentoring and encouraging one another, as the Spirit moves, giving us this incredible partnership in the gospel. This is a fellowship like no other. Zechariah, in his song of praise when his tongue was loosed, called Jesus “the sunrise from on high.” The power of the gospel spreading through our hearts is like the rising sun, giving light and warmth throughout the land.
5. Compare this fellowship to the fellowship you have with those who share a common interest such as work, children, or gardening — how does this fellowship differ? Contemplate.
6. Learn more about why Paul was so knit to Timothy in Philippians 2:19-21. Meditate on these words. Then answer this challenge question: Why does a gospel-transformed heart lead to the kind of character Paul described in Timothy in Philippians 2:19-21?
7. How does Paul begin his prayer in verse 3? How could you echo that for your sisters here?
8. What is Paul sure of in verse 6, and why can He be sure of this?
9. In a past lesson, Tim Keller said if you don’t have all the fruit of the Spirit, you may not have any. For those who were with us (or who want to attempt an answer!) why did he say that?
10. Those with gospel-transformed hearts are likely to be willing to pay the cost to stand beside others when they are facing trials. How did the Philippians do that for Paul according to verse 7?
11. Share one example of a believer standing beside you in adversity though it cost them to do so.
YOU PUT THIS LOVE IN MY HEART
12. How much affection does Paul feel for them according to verse 8?
As Deitrich Bonhoeffer said, “It is a dangerous error to think the heart can pray by itself.” Scripture saturated prayer is the most powerful prayer in the world. Take verses 9 through 11 and pray it, here, for your sisters, as they begin this study on The Gospel According to Philippians.
THURSDAY-FRIDAY: FREE TIM KELLER SERMON
THE CHURCH PLANT AT PHILIPPI INCLUDED THREE NEW BELIEVERS: LYDIA, A WEALTHY CAREER WOMAN, A SLAVE GIRL WITH A SPIRIT OF “A PYTHON,” AND A SURLY JAILER.
Our fellowship crosses the lines of age, race, and socio-economic standing. The church in Philippi began with a wealthy woman, a girl that is akin to a child prostitute, and a rough and cruel jailer. God moved differently with each to use His gospel to bring them into His family.
13. Share your notes here.
14. How did God initially move in your life to woo you in?
15. What is your take-a-way and why?