Philippians 1:1-6 Acts 16:6-7 Acts 16:9-10 Acts16:12 Acts 16:13-15 Acts 16:16-18 Acts 16:25-33 Philippians 1:3
Philippians 1Take a look at Philippians 1:1-6. “Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”What do the following people have in common: A philosopher, a traveling sales lady, an ex-fortune teller, and a jail keeper? They were all members of one of the most amazing churches the world has ever known…the church at Philippi. We’re going to study that church this evening.The first thing I want you to notice is the formation of the church. How did there get to be saints at Philippi? Every Christian is a saint. There are just two classes of people: saints and aint’s! But to see how these saints came to be in Philippi we need to look at Acts 16:6. It’s going to become obvious that the Holy Spirit formed this church. And as we look at the formation of this church, I want you to notice the restraint of the Spirit. Look at Acts 16:6. “Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia.”Isn’t that strange? The Holy Spirit forbade them to preach in Asia. Look at verse 7. “After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.”The Holy Spirit was restraining Paul and his missionary company. If you’re going to become a good servant of Jesus Christ, you’re going to have to listen to the “No’s” of the Holy Spirit as well as the “Go’s” of the Holy Spirit. The stops as well as the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.The Holy Spirit would not allow these men to preach the Gospel in Asia. I’m glad these men were amendable and willing to listen to the Holy Spirit instead of going their own way. Many Christians have high-powered engines, but they don’t have very good brakes! As a result, they leave the spiritual highways strewn with wrecks. We must learn that the Holy Spirit has a right to place His soldiers wherever He wants to place them.Someone said that a fanatic is someone who, having lost sight of his goal, doubles his speed! Paul was no fanatic. He was a man who was able to be guided. The Holy Spirit knows where He wants to place you. Are you willing to let Him?This church was at Philippi because Paul could hear the Holy Spirit saying, “No!” The problem with modern churches and preachers today is that they’ve went where they ain’t been sent!Don’t ever get upset if God doesn’t give you what you want. God will always give you something better than you wanted. God told Paul, “I don’t want you to preach in Asia, because I want you to open all of Europe to the Gospel.” And it was through Paul’s preaching that the Gospel was opened up to the western world and to us! The Gospel came to America because Paul listened to the restraint of the Holy Spirit.But along with the restraint of the Holy Spirit comes the release of the Spirit. Look at Acts 16:9-10 and 12. “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” “And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days.” That’s how God got to Philippi. Verse 10 says that when the Spirit prompted Paul he responded immediately.Because there was the restraint of the Spirit, and because Paul was able to put on the brakes, and because there was the release of the Spirit, and because Paul was able to use the accelerator; we see the results of the Spirit. I want you to see what starts to happen when a man allows himself to be compelled and propelled by the Spirit.Paul immediately begins to reap converts. Look at Acts 16:13-15. “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshiped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”The very first convert in Philippi was a traveling sales lady from Thyatira. The Lord wouldn’t let Paul go to Asia, but He brought the woman from Asia to Paul.If you want to be an effective soul-winner, learn to obey the Holy Spirit. What are the results of the Spirit? First, Lydia is saved. But the next convert is a demon-possessed slave girl. Look at verse 16. “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us…” There is a spirit of fortune-telling which is an unclean spirit: a demon. Don’t go to a fortune teller or you’re liable to become possessed yourself! Let’s look at Acts 16:16-18. “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”This girl was liberated by the power of the Holy Spirit. She had been following Paul and Silas around saying, “These men are the servants of God.” You say, “What’s wrong with that?” Well the were the servants of God, but they didn’t need the patronage or endorsement of the devil. This was an obvious attempt to link the ministry of Paul and Silas with the occult. I believe the devil was trying to embarrass the ministry of Paul by linking him with something that was unclean and unrighteous.Billy Graham said that every time they went into a city for a crusade the devil would try to pull some trick like this. Just before they came to Las Vegas for a crusade, a young lady whacked her hand off with a machete. She struck her hand over 30 times until she finally severed it from her wrist. When they asked her why she did it she said, “Jesus told me to do it.”That’s nothing more than an attempt to embarrass the cause of Christ. Later on, when Ruth Graham talked with her, she admitted that it wasn’t Jesus, but the devil who had inspired her to do such a thing. The devil still tries to embarrass the true ministry of Christ just like he did in Paul’s day.But because Paul was in the Spirit and was obedient to the Spirit, he had power over unclean spirits. So, a little demon-possessed slave girl is liberated by the glorious Gospel of Jesus and becomes one of the saints at Philippi.As a result of healing this little girl, Paul and Silas end up in prison. She had been a money-maker for her masters, and since Paul and Silas had taken away their ability to make money, they were put into prison. Look at verses 25-33. “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s hands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”The jailor, his family, and some of the prisoners I believe, were saved. Paul and Silas are down there at midnight in that dark, dank, prison. They are praising the Lord and saying, “Lord, how wonderful that you let Lydia and her household get saved today! And thank you for your power over the demon-possessed girl. Thank you for delivering her.” And Paul turns to Silas and says, “Silas, I feel like singing!” They began to sing some praise song to God and the other prisoners heard it.They couldn’t believe it. They’d heard cursing down there, but they’d never heard praising. The prisoners and the jailor are all listening to this….and God was listening, too. And God sends His earthquake angel and says, “Go down there and shake that place!” This was the original jail-house rock! All their bonds came loose and all the cell doors came open.The jailor thought, “All the prisoners have escaped! I’ll be executed! I might as well go ahead and get it over with.” But Paul says, “Don’t hurt yourself! We’re all here!” Not a single prisoner left. They didn’t want to go. They knew God was in that place!The devil didn’t stop the revival in Philippi by having Paul and Silas thrown into prison; he just changed the location of the revival! What the devil meant as harm to Paul and Silas, turned out to be a part of God’s plan to reach the jailor. Isn’t it great to see how God uses the axe the devil has sharpened against him?Paul had listened to the restraint of the Holy Spirit, he had experienced the release of the Holy Spirit, and he now enjoys the results of the Spirit and a church is born!It’s a church made up of a traveling sales lady, a former demon-possessed slave girl, and a bunch of jailbirds! They get together and form one of the greatest, sweetest churches in the Bible. Isn’t it amazing what God can do?When a church is built by the Holy Spirit it ceases to be superficial and becomes supernatural. God is in the business of changing the monotonous into the momentous. We just have to follow Him and walk in the stream of the Spirit. We must learn to listen when the Spirit is talking as our church continues to grow in these days of grace.We’ve been talking about how there came to be saints at Philippi. But I not only want you to see the formation of the church; I want you to see the fellowship of the church. Look at Philippians 1:3. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Do people thank God when they remember you? Do they say, “Thank the Lord!” or do they just say, “Oh, Lord!”Verses 3-5 say, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making requests with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.”Underscore that phrase “your fellowship in the gospel.” Paul was greatly impressed with the fellowship at this church. The word “fellowship” is the Greek word koinonia. It means “something that we have in common.” You can’t have Bible fellowship unless you have something in common with the other saints that pertains to the Lord. These people had a common Lord, therefore they had a common life, therefore they had a common love, therefore they had a glorious fellowship in the Gospel.
How sweet is the fellowship of a church when the Lord is upon it! You may not have two nickels to rub together, or you may be a millionaire. You may not even know the person sitting next to you, but when you have this kind of fellowship, you feel a common bond, don’t you?
We aren’t wired together by organization, or rusted together by tradition, or frozen together by formalism: we’re melted together by the Holy Spirit! He can take such diverse people and make them one body in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You might say, “Pastor, to be honest, I don’t feel this fellowship you’re talking about. I come on Sunday morning but I feel more like an outsider.” Well, that may mean that you’ve never gotten involved.
The word “koinonia” or “fellowship” has to do with sharing and involvement. If you want to feel the fellowship around here, I can tell you three ways to do it. First, find somebody to go soul-winning with. Paul talks about a fellowship in the Gospel. That means we’ve fellowshipped in getting the Gospel out.
Suppose there’s a football team called The Red Raiders. They’re playing an important game against the Blue Marauders. The Red Raiders win. The Raider fans stand and cheer. The boys hug the girls and they’re all saying, “We won!” The cheerleaders are doing cartwheels and the band is playing the fight song.
But if you go down to the locker room you’ll find a couple of boys who played that whole game together. They’re so tired they can hardly walk. They’ve got blood stains and grass stains all over their uniforms. They’re wet with sweat and they’re arms are so tired they can hardly get their jerseys over their heads. One of them takes his helmet off and flings it down on that old cement floor. One of them looks over at the other one and says, “Jim, we won!”
There’s something about that which none of the other fans knows anything about. Those guys have been side by side on that line doin’ it. And if you want in on the fellowship of this church, then get in on the fellowship of the Gospel. Don’t just stay out there on the sidelines. Get in there and do something!
There is the fellowship of the church, but there’s also the fellowship of the Spirit. Look at Philippians 2:1. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit….” When your spirit and my spirit are both tuned to God, we have to be tuned to one another.
Here’s another way you can get in on the fellowship around here. Get a prayer partner. You can’t pray with someone without loving that someone. If you tune the organ and the piano to one tuning fork, then they have to be in tune to one another. If the two of you get your hearts in tune with God, then you have to be in tune with one another. That’s when you start to experience that fellowship of the Spirit.
There’s the fellowship of the service and the fellowship of the Spirit, but then there is the fellowship of sufferings. Look at Philippians 4:14. “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.”
The word “communicate” is the same word “koinonia.” It’s just been translated differently here. It’s just a way of saying that as Paul suffered, they suffered with him.
Many times I’ve witnessed someone in this church who’s hurting…and I see another member sit down and hurt with them. When you do that, you’ll never be anything but close. You’ll have fellowship together.
How we need to guard and protect and feed the fellowship that we have here! You don’t have to know everybody to have this kind of fellowship. They know Jesus and you know Jesus and that’s all that matters.
Two men met on a ship. One was a former Hindu who had been saved. The other was a man from New Zealand. Both of them were Christians. Both of them noticed that there was something that just radiated about the other one. Then one of them noticed that the other one had a Bible. They couldn’t communicate with each other, so they started pointing to their Bibles and to their hearts. They smiled and walked away. They both knew that the other was a Christian even though they couldn’t communicate with each other verbally.
Finally, the former Hindu turned and said, “Hallelujah!” And the New Zealander turned around and said, “Amen!” Those are two words that mean the same thing in any language…did you know that?
But not only do I want you to see the formation and fellowship of this church; I want you to see the future of this church. Look at Philippians 1:6. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Now he’s talking about the days of glory. Up to now he’s been talking about the days of grace.
Have you ever started something that you weren’t able to finish? Maybe you started to build a model airplane but weren’t able to finish it. Or maybe you started to restore a piece of furniture and weren’t able to finish it. Or maybe you started a fight and weren’t able to finish it. But what God starts, He finishes! “…He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it…”
Do you know why some people start and then fall away from the church? It’s because they were do-it-yourself Christians. They thought they were saved by what they did for God, and they fall away because they weren’t able to finish what they started.
When you stop trying to save yourself and let God save you, He’ll perform that work until the day of Jesus Christ. This is one of the hundreds of reasons I believe in the eternal security of the believer.
When you get saved, the Holy Spirit is the One who convicts. He convicted you of your sin: it wasn’t your idea. We love Him because He first loves us.
But not only is He the convicter, He’s the converter. You were born supernaturally from above.
But He’s also the completer. He began it; He will perform it. This is the future of the church. Some people go away because God never started anything in them. You aren’t saved by your works; you’re saved by God’s work in you.
The difference between a salvation that lasts and a salvation that doesn’t last, is the difference between your works and God’s work. If God’s doing a work in you, He’ll finish it. If you’re trying to do it, you’re going to run out of gas!
Christians are to do good works, but not in order to be saved. We do good works because we’ve been saved.
Let’s wrap this up by looking at two days. Look at Philippians 1:5. “…for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…” And look at the last part of verse 6. “…will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Do you have a first day? Was there a day when you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Let’s ask Lydia. “Lydia, was there a first day in your life when you asked Jesus into your heart?” “Oh, yes! I was down by the river side. God sent Paul and he opened up the Word and God opened my heart!” Thank you, Lydia.
Little demon possessed slave girl, do you have a first day? “Oh, yes! I was filled with misery and pain and possessed with an unclean spirit. And I’m glad there was a man of God with enough power to do something for me. The Lord set me free and my heart is now filled with joy! I will never forget the day Jesus came into my heart.”
Jailer, was there a first day with you? “Oh, yes! I was so miserable that I was about to take my own life. I didn’t know which way to turn. But the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel and said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” I believed and that was the first day of the rest of my life!”
Do you have first day? Has there been a day when you confessed, “Oh, God, I’m lost and I can’t save myself. I want to be saved, and right now, with all of my heart, I trust You to save me.”
Has Jesus saved you? Salvation is gloriously simple and simply glorious! Jesus will take that life you’ve given to Him and shape it into what He wants it to be. And if you have that first day, He will continue to perform that work of salvation in you until the second day…..the day He returns to take you home to Heaven. Do you have a day of grace and will you have a day of glory?