Philippians 1:3-6 ESV
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Partnership in the Gospel
This letter is addressed to the saints in Christ Jesus, specifically to those who were at Philippi at the time this was written, but we can apply this today where it is biblically applicable to all the saints in Christ Jesus everywhere. So, what is a saint? It means the same as the word “holy,” which means “different (unlike), other (otherness).” And it means “likeness of nature with the Lord” because “different from the world” (source: biblehub.com).
And what does it mean for us to be in partnership in the gospel? The word translated “partnership” is “koinonia” in Greek, and it is the same word as “fellowship.” And it means “contributory help, participation, sharing in.” So, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not something that we just verbalize as what we believe, but it is something we are engaged in fully as participants, not as bystanders nor as spectators, but as doers of the word (James 1:22-25).
And what is the gospel? Well, Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (die daily to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of Jesus Christ we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, and so we are living to him and to his righteousness, then we have the hope of eternal life with God (Luke 9:23-26; 1 Peter 2:24).
And we read in Philippians 2 that Jesus Christ, who is the only begotten Son of God, and who is God, the second person of our triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – left his throne in heaven, came to earth, and he took on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
And then in Romans 6 we get a good picture of what Jesus’ death on that cross means for us who believe in him with God-given faith. We are crucified with Christ in death to sin and we are raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, no longer as slaves to sin, but now as slaves to God and to his righteousness. Therefore, we are not to let sin reign in our mortal bodies any longer, to make us obey its passions. For if sin is what we obey, it will lead to death, not to life eternal with God. But if obedience to our Lord is what we obey, it leads to righteousness and to sanctification and to eternal life with God in his heavenly kingdom (see Romans 6:1-23).
And Jesus also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For many will stand before Jesus one day claiming him as Lord and professing all that they believe they did in his name, and he is going to say to them, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness,” because they refused to obey the Lord and so be saved.
And then in 1 John 1-3 we read that if we say we have fellowship with God but while we walk (in conduct, in practice) in darkness (sin, wickedness), we are liars. And if we claim to know God but we do not obey his commands (New Covenant), we are liars. And we are not to let anyone deceive us, for whoever practices righteousness (of God) is righteous, as God is righteous, and whoever makes a practice (habit, addiction) of sinning is of the devil. So no one born of God makes a practice of sinning.
So, this letter, as applied to today, is speaking to those who are holy, who are different from (unlike) the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t mean we are absolutely perfect in every respect, but it does mean that we are in the process of taking on the nature and the character of Jesus Christ and we are no longer just like the world in all its ungodliness and wickedness of mind and character. For Jesus didn’t die on that cross just to forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of our slavery to sin and to empower us to live holy lives, pleasing to him.
We are also those who are in partnership with the gospel. And this means that we participate fully in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We cooperate with God in his work of grace in our lives, and we do what he says. We are in agreement with him and with what his word teaches regarding the faith required for salvation from sin, and regarding what it means to be saved from our sins, and with regard to his will and purpose for our lives in saving us from our sins. So we die with him to sin and we live to his righteousness, by his grace. We are in a marriage covenant relationship with Jesus Christ.
So, when Paul said that he was certain that God/Jesus Christ, who began a good work in the saints, would bring it to completion at the day of Christ, he wasn’t saying that Jesus would do it all and that nothing is required of us. For this cannot happen without our cooperation, without us dying to sin daily and without us walking in obedience to our Lord. But we also cannot do that in our own flesh nature. We need the power of God within us giving us all that we need to live godly lives to the glory of God. And thus it is called a partnership where we cooperate with God in his work of grace within us.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
An Original Work / February 21, 2013
Based off Luke 9:22-25
Jesus, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross.
Anyone who would come to Him
Must deny himself and follow.
He must take up his cross daily;
Die to sin and self each day.
Father, God above,
Loved us so: gave His Son.
If you want to save your old life;
Keep on sinning, follow your ways,
You will lose your life forever;
Hope of heaven gone away.
Spirit of our God
Gives us life in God’s Son.
Nonetheless, if you die to self;
Forsake your sin; follow Jesus,
You will live with God in heaven,
And forever praise His name!