Will you go and send?
Missions Conference 2020
WILL YOU GO AND SEND? (PHIL 2)
The mindset of a missionary (church) - 2:1-8
The reward of a missionary (church) - 2:9-11
The character of a missionary (church) - 2:12-18
The partnerships of a missionary (church) 2 2:19-30
This year Midrand Chapel is 31 years old. Until last year our church has never had more than 100 members at any. We have 16 men who are past members who are now in full time vocational ministry mostly as pastors of churches.
6 of those served as elders in our church, 6 were trained, supported and sent out from the church to plant or strengthen other churches, 5 of them in the last 10 years.
If you take the wives into account, who are every bit as involved in this calling – that’s 32 people in 30 years.
Slides of men…..
On average, every year, this church has one of its members enter vocational Christian service. That’s an amazing track record and a glorious testimony to God’s grace toward this little church.
I have to believe that since God has been faithful over the last 30 years, He is going to be faithful over the next 30 years. This is not our doing, it’s His doing. And if God keeps working as He has, then there are a number of people sitting in this room, hearing this sermon – are going to feel a call to serve Christ as their vocation.
I want to speak to you this morning, because I know this sense of calling. I felt it soon after I got saved. I knew that I wanted to use all my time, all my talents, whatever money or skill or energy I could muster – to see a church planted among an unreached people group. Nearly 20 years ago I stood in this very church and shared my testimony and explained this burden, this vision, this desire….and it’s never gone away, it’s as fresh as it was 28 years ago. And yet it has still not been realized.
So I have to believe that one of you are going to run with that baton and light a fire for the glory of God where the gospel light shines least brightly in our world today. I have to believe that some of you, in the hearing of my voice – are going to count the cost, renounce your life and follow Christ onto His mission field with wreckless abandon to all worldly pleasures and pursuits. I want to speak to you this morning….
“Tell the students to give up their small ambitions and come eastward to preach the gospel of Christ” Francis Xavier
“The cross is not a terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoffer.
And I want to speak to the rest of the church because when Christ raises up missionaries and evangelists and pastor-teachers, He sends them out through the local church and it takes a particular kind of local church to send out so many workers. It takes a church that will count the cost and heed the call to partner with Christ in His mission. It has cost us a great deal over the years to send these men out and to find money to train them and support them. It has been painful at times and wearying, and some of us have grown tired of this calling. So I want to speak to all of you this morning – who will need to embrace the same vision and sense of calling as those who go.
So I’ve framed this mornings message as a question “Will you go and will you send?”
So I want to look at Phil 2.
The mindset of a missionary (church)
The reward of a missionary (church)
The character of a missionary (church)
The partnerships of a missionary (church)
1: THE MINDSET OF A MISSIONARY (2:1-4)
Read Phil 2:1-4
Here is the mindset which unites a church in selfless, sacrificial service…
Vs 4 – the mindset which considers others more significant than ourselves. Without this mindset – no missionary will go and no church will send, because the cost is too high, because we will always have needs and wants and desires that are unmet, we will always have good, legitimate ways we to spend our time and money, on ourselves….
Unless you consider the spiritual condition of over 3 billion people living amongst nearly 7000 unreached people groups as more important, more pressing, more valuable than your own personal comforts and careers – you will never be willing to go. Unless the local church considers the need of other local churches as more significant than its own needs – we will never be willing to send out our best men and women with the lion share of our resources….That’s the bottom line.
What you must see in this text is that the mindset Paul wants us to have as believers is the very mindset Christ had when He raised His hand to be sent on the Father mission to redeem a lost world.
Read Phil 2:5-8
This text explains the mindset of Christ to us.
Though He was in the form of God, though He enjoyed all the status and privilege and power and provision that belonged to God and God alone. Yet He had a particular mindset toward this status and privilege which He enjoyed with God the Father.
He did not consider it as something to be grasped. The verb there means – to hold on to something for your own advantage. He didn’t consider all this fullness and power and provision as something to be clung to, something to hold onto for His own advantage alone…..
Instead He considered it as something that He could use to give to others, to provide for others what they desperately needed - salvation.
So Jesus embarked on a mission from heaven to earth, from the place of highest honour to the place of lowest honour – taking on the status of a slave. From one who had all rights, to one who had no rights. From one who had everything to one who had nothing.
He made Himself nothing – so that He could give us everything of Himself.
And that is exactly what He did. The text explains this descent from heaven to earth, to humanity, to slavery, to death, even death on a cross. Christ held nothing back….
While the text focusses on Christ who went- we mustn’t forget the mindset of God who sent. As Rom 8:32 tells us “He who did not spare His only Son but graciously gave Him up for us all…how will He not along with Him graciously give us all things” God was willing to give His Son, to sacrifice His beloved, to send Him on such a self-sacrificing mission because the Father and the Son have the same mindset. It is God’s glory to be gracious, to give and to give freely and to give to those who don’t deserve it and can never repay Him….
God obviously wants us to be like Him and like His son – which is exactly why He is calling us to participate in the same mission – and that mission requires that the church, give sacrificially and freely and joyfully and completely. We are never more like Christ than when we are like Him in pursuing His self-sacrificing mission. When we are heeding the call to renounce self, take up our cross and follow Christ (Mk 8:34)
And it’s worth all the sacrifice…..Notice here the reward of missionary.
2: THE REWARD OF A MISSIONARY (9-11)
Vs 9 Therefore – because Christ had this mindset and was willing to give up everything – God has purposed to give Him back everything with interest – honour and fame and wealth and power.
We can never outgive God….God will never become our debtor. We will never give more than what we have been given, in fact we can only give from what we have been given. If God has given us money, or talent, or favour, or opportunity – then all we give is from what we have been given.
I think the motive here is not that we would be rewarded, though we certainly would be – the motive is that Christ would be glorified for what He has done. That’s God’s motive – that all the world, that every tongue and language and tribe and nation would recognize the glory and greatness of Christ.
How can we rest – when there are so many people who have no idea who Christ is and what He has done for them? How can we be happy until we’ve invited those 3 billion people to join our choir and raise their voices in praise of our saviour….Our great reward and delight is to see Christ exalted among the nations
3: THE CHARACTER OF A MISSIONARY (2:12-18)
The heading that my Bible has given this section is “lights in the world.” That is what this section is about – being lights in a dark world. Vs 15 we are living in the midst of a twisted and crooked generation. This world is a dark, depressing, dangerous, and devilish place for us to be – but we are called to shine the light of Christ in the midst of it – not to be overcome with the darkness, but to overcome evil with good. When things are the most difficult – that is when it is most important that we light our fire for Christ….
Here he is reminding them what it takes to do that – Christian character. What equips us to be effective lights is not great skill, or great intelligence, or great resources – but Christlike character
3 traits characterized the church which goes and sends.
A: Diligent Dependent Obedience (12-13)
Obey – not just because Paul says so or because Paul or someone else is looking. Obey out of fear of Christ, respect for Christ, desire to honour Christ. This is not legalistic conformity to the laws of men – but heartfelt obedience to the will of Christ.
Work out = means to produce, or bring out, or work out. It’s a present imperative in the Greek which in the present context means continue to bring out the fruit of your salvation. Let that which God has wrought in you – come out of you….
So the idea here is of effort, but dependent effort, prayerful effort. Not just striving on my own in my own strength for holiness, but trusting in God to help me strive and labour and work toward Christ likeness.
Application: be killing sin
Sin will make you ineffective in your service of Christ. Whatever sin you don’t deal with, or make a truce with, or cultivate – that sin will trip you up as you try to go out for Christ. So make it your aim to be killing sin and pursing righteousness in every areas of your life now. If you struggle with anger, or impatience, or lust, or discontentment, or pride – what are you doing about it, what are you doing to put off sin and put on Christ? What’s your plan, your strategy?
John Owen “Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. ... Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
B: Joyful Gratitude (14-15)
Do all things without grumbling and complaining. God doesn’t need our service and he doesn’t need us complaining the whole time about how hard it is to serve Him.
Complaining is what the Lord struck down the Israelites for in the wilderness – because He had just delivered them from bondage in Egypt and they found something to complain about. And we are the same. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We have been delivered from Satan, sin and death – and we find something to complain about every day.
Instead of complaining – give thanks! Make it your habit to live with gratitude.
I say joyful gratitude because in vs 17 Paul says, even if I’m literally dying in my service of you – I rejoice and you should rejoice with me. Because what was Paul’s perspective? Vs 17 this is a drink offering, this sacrifice is literally like the sacrifices that were offered as acts of worship to God at the Temple. This was Paul’s act of worship and we need to view our sacrifices that way or we start to resent them. Does serving God involve sacrifice, of course, is it hard at times, of course. But we can offer ourselves and our service and our sacrifices as acts of worship which produce a sweet smelling aroma in God’s nostrils and light up the sky with a message so clear that even the world can see – God is worthy! He is worthy of it all…
1) Diligent, dependent obedience, 2) joyful gratitude
3: Gospel Driven Devotion (16)
He tells us how we are to do everything…. without grumbling. Notice the “ing” here telling us how the main action is to be performed and the other participle is found in vs 16 holding fast the word of life which is the gospel. We are to do everything by not complaining and by holding onto the gospel. In other words, we keep going back to that same gospel we are preaching to others and we preach it to ourselves, we apply it to ourselves – because the gospel is what produces gratitude and motivates obedience and willing sacrifice.
Devotion to Christ is the motive and the gospel is what produces and sustains that motive for missionary service.
So we’ve looked at the mindset, the reward, the character of a missionary.
Lastly I want to look at the Partnerships
4: The Partnerships of a missionary (4:19-30)
Background of communication (19)
News traveling back and forth
In the first century, there was no email, or facebook or twitter – but communication was equally important.
Philippians heard of Pauls situation, sent Epaphroditus to minister to need (25).
Epaph taken ill, they had heard and were concerned (26)
Ephaph was concerned that they were concerned – how can I let them know that I am alright (26)
Paul now sends this letter to Philippians with Epaphroditus (28). Know Epaph o.k. Know what is happening with Paul, know that will send news with Timothy as soon as indiction of what is happening in the trial (23), he will come shortly (24).
Not just news but examples of servants
Normal to close letter with greetings, information about traveling arrangements.
Paul includes in middle of letter because these 2 people are examples of missionary service
They exemplify the mindset and the characteristic that he has just been calling the Philippians to.
2 examples of exemplary missionary service.
Pure motives, genuine concern (20)
No-one else like him – amongst those whom I could potentially send, none like Timothy.
Not Luke and Barnabus and other faithful servants, but amongst those whom Paul could ask – Timothy is unique
How is unique, what sets him apart and makes him the best candidate for the mission?
Not giftedness, not zeal, not abilities – but genuine motives
Genuine interest = he really cares about you and your welfare
Concern – anxious about, worries him
Application: pure motives
Sometimes think if I am serving others, if involved in ministry, enough. But not. Why are we doing what doing. Many wrong motives
· Guilt – we would feel too bad if didn’t. Possibly feel nice that are doing something for someone else and those nice feelings motivate us.
· Obligation – feel obligated to serve, care, do something.
· Recognition – Want some kind of reward or thanks or just to be recognized as someone who is spiritual. We want people to see how we are ministering
· Pride – we want to feel needed. Want people to need us, to be useful or helpful to other people.
· Reward – want some kind of reward. Sometimes even subconscious superstition – what goes around comes around. If I serve, then when I am in need I will be served and helped.
Service looks the same on the outside, nobody else can tell the difference – but God knows and so we need to evaluate our motives honestly and ask Him to reveal false motives in us.
Selfless service (21)
Constrast – everyone looks out for his own interests, everyone either looking to what they can gain, or overly focused on own problems and difficulties
May be reference back to 1:15-17
May be that actually trying to advance themselves or may be that just that too pre-occupied, to caught up in their own affairs to be willing at the drop of the hat, at great inconvenience to themselves to embark on this mission for the benefit of the Philippians and Paul.
What’s in it for me!!! Attitude
Devotion to Christ
· Where does this selfless attitude come from?
· Vs 21 – comes from looking out not for selfish interest but those of Christ Jesus.
· Contrast to looking out for self – is not looking out for others, but looking out for interests of Christ.
· Timothy concerned for others, but where did come from? Came from His devotion to Christ.
· He cared about them because He cared about Christ and Christ cared about them.
· So when he was serving them, was serving them, but ultimately he was serving Christ.
· The right motive then for ministry is love for Christ and a desire to please Him and to bring glory to Him.
· While it is possible for anyone to be a servant of others. Only those who are devoted to Christ can be a servant of Christ.
· Service should flow from and flow back into our devotion to Christ.
Proven character + ministry (22)
But – in contrast to those who have selfish motives, self-centered – Timothy is concerned about you!
How do know? Motives are hard to judge, so how can Paul speak so confidently of Timothy’s motives?
Proven himself – He is a worker who is approved. Idea that has been examined and found to be faithful
By his hard labour, consistent labour and sacrifice over a period of time, in the face of trials and difficulties and temptations.
Don’t get existed about missions and expect us to send you next month. You need to prove yourself in the trenches of everyday life, with the mundane needs and opportunities around you.
Slaved by my side. In the work of the gospel. Slave has not rights, slave can’t say no, don’t like that work, get someone else.
You know – not theoretical, they had personally witnessed and benefited from the ministry of Timothy at Paul’s side.
Acts 16 when Paul first brought the gospel to Philippi amidst great persecution, Timothy was one of his companions and had contined to laboured with Paul in encouraging the churches since that time.
Best men sent (23-24)
Paul is speaking of what a value Timothy is to him and to the ministry
Yet Paul isn’t selfish about keeping Timothy for his own benefit.
Considers the needs of the Philippians and so send his best man.
If have pure motives, if are willing to sacrifice in order to serve – then our worth to the gospel will become increasingly apparent. The genuine servant of Christ will be proved so through faithful service – here and now, in the small things, in the opportunities God is giving you today – aim to be faithful, to be a servant.
· We don’t have to start some major ministry or mission organization in order to be significant servants of Christ in God’s eyes.
“Greatness in God’s economy is not reserved for the gifted and privileged rather, it presents itself to every believer in the common and simple tasks of serving others.”
Sending back – his church may be disappointed in him or feel that he has failed Paul in some way, so Paul must explain why coming back.
The nature of the work (25)
Starts from most general description – brother in Christ
More specific – fellow worker. Labourer alongside me. Ministry is hard work, its sweat – not always fun, easy
More specific – soldier. It’s not only hard work – it’s a fight, it’s a war. One who would be a minister of the gospel must not only be prepared to labour, but must be prepared to fight a very real enemy.
Paul often uses the battle metaphore – Eph 6 struggle not against flesh and blood but against rulers and power and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Physical difficulties and hardships and sacrifices are expected in a war. Soldier isn’t surprised when meets opposition, when gets wounded in battle!
25:Messenger – One sent out. Apostoloi. This is your missionary is a good translation. – sent to take care of my needs. That’s what a missionary is. Not one who is sent to conduct his own ministry, one who is called by God to perform a ministry which is between him and the Lord – but one who has been sent out by the church to perform a ministry on their behalf. A missionary means one sent – other than the Apostles with capital A – that means sent out by the church to do something as their representative.
Bond between church + Epaph (26-28)
See that Ephroditus concerned about his people back home.
Mutual concern here between the church who is concerned for epaphroditus – and Ephaph who concerned about their concern.
Wonderful bond of love between the church and their missionary – mutual care for each other.
Application to missionaries
Aside – wonderful model of a missionary church
Mutual bond of concern between the church and its missionary
Missionary is serving on their behalf, carrying out the ministry they sent him to do in their place
Church is concerned about, honouring their missionary for the sacrifices he is making.
Giving money – in what way can we validly say our missionary
Just Receiving money in what way can validly say ministry is extension of the ministry of the church, on behalf of the church.
Want to nurture and send out Epaph type missionaries and be a supporting church like the Philippians.
Sacrifical service (29-30)
See the great sacrifice Ephaphridite made and was willing to make to fulfill his ministry
Risking his life to make up for help you could not give
They were partners with Paul in his ministry.
Paul had a need – so they sent a missionary on their behalf (gifts, money, personal help – from 4:18)
Missionary was their envoy, conducting the ministry on their behalf.
He was undoubtedly a valuable ministry in their own community, but released their best man to go and ministry on their behalf. They had sacrificed and collected money and goods and sacrificed by finding away of doing without Epaphrodituies so that could partner with Paul in furthering the gospel.
You wanted to help, but could not – so sent Ephaphrodictues to do on your behalf what could not do personally. That is the picture. Not missionary doing his own thing, church doing their own thing. Chruch sending the missionary to do their thing.
Church and Epaph both willing to sacrifice for this missionary service.
Paul is willing to release such a valuable minister to his needs in the interests of maintaining communication between the church and their missionary.
Those who send and those who are sent – are in partnership together. Faithful missionaries and gospel workers and pastor-teachers are produced in and sent out from faithful local churches. They share the same vision, have the same mindset, share in the same rewards, exemplify the same Christ-like characteristics.
Let us pray God make this church and our members more like Christ – who did not consider the privileges of heaven something to be clung to for his own benefit alone – but raised His hand at the fathers call and was willing to make himself nothing in pursuit of the fathers mission to redeem the los from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
May we say with Robert Moffat, missionary to Africa, “Oh that I had a thousand lives and a thousand bodies! All of them would be devoted to no other employment but to preach Christ to these degraded, despised, yet beloved mortals.”