Download Sermon Outline
Sermon Manuscript . . .
Remembering What’s Important
A summary of salvation and words of relationship
Philippians 1:1 to 2–part 4
1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ever struggled with being misunderstood? Has your spouse or a friend said something to you causing you to react negatively, only to discover you completely misread what they said because of the words they chose? The words had a double meaning. What are some fun double-meaning words?
Arbitrator \ar’-bi-tray-ter\: a cook that leaves Arby’s to work at McDonald’s—an arbitrator
Counterfeiters \kown-ter-fit-ers\: workers who put together kitchen cabinets—counterfeiters
Heroes \hee’-rhos\: what a guy in a boat does—heroes
Pharmacist \farm’-uh-sist\: a helper on the farm—pharmacist
Rubberneck \rub’-er-nek\: what you do to relax your wife—rubberneck
Selfish \sel’-fish\: what the owner of a seafood store does—selfish
Subdued \sub-dood’\: like, a guy, like, works on one of those, like, submarines, man—subdued
Double meaning words can also be powerful. By expressing familiar words, but using them uniquely, you can make a strong statement. By taking familiar phrases but changing them slightly, you can get people’s attention and engage their memory. This is now what Paul does in Philippians 1:2. Take out your outline and turn to Philippians 1–we are finally to verse 2!
What you have here is Paul using some common words of greeting, changing them slightly to point to profound truth. Unfortunately, because we live 2,000 years later, we miss the nuance that makes this greeting a powerful statement. And because most believers don’t understand the depth of the words themselves, we miss the blessing God is trying to shower us with.
Take a look at verses 1 to 2, Paul’s greeting to the Philippians. “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Like the preview of a movie, in verses 1 to 2 we have seen Paul give us a hint about the issues he’ll address in this letter.
He skipped the authoritative title, Apostle, and called himself a bondslave to model humility needed to create unity in this special church that is beginning to divide up. He called everyone saints, reminding them no matter what kind of disagreements they were having, they are all set apart for service to Christ. He recognized the overseers and deacons as a part of the saints, reminding everyone they’re all one family and should not complain against each other.
So now as Paul greets the church in verse 2, he takes a common greeting of his day, tweaks it slightly, summarizing the Gospel and reminding the Philippians and us of the intimate relationship we have with God Himself. I’m certain it is not typical of any family at FBC, but I am also certain both husbands and wives can go a half day, maybe a full day, and not think about their spouse. Will you admit it?
Now when you were single and pursuing each other, you thought about each other every thirty seconds–but that changed as the responsibilities of your lives intensified. True? We can do the same thing with the God who loves us. We can go through days without remembering His remarkable salvation, all the blessings He has lavished on us, and the incredible intimacy we enjoy with Him now. Some of us can go for weeks without allowing God’s amazing grace to affect our hearts. We thank God for salvation on Sunday, but we remain cold or indifferent throughout the week.
In order to summarize the Gospel and highlight the intimacy with God that comes through Christ, Paul has taken the common greeting of his day and transformed it into a reminder. He takes familiar words, fine-tunes them, and adds a new twist to stir up the hearts of the Christian readers in the first century. Verse 2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
These words sound a bit strange to modern ears, because we don’t know what they mean. Today grace means charm, good manners or attractiveness. Peace may only refer to the alternative to war. But in reality, grace and peace refer to the deepest spiritual realities, and are meant to warm our hearts.
So this morning, if your heart is a little cold towards the things of God, if you haven’t thought about your salvation in days and your intimacy with God for weeks, then allow this greeting to fan the flames again and restore your first love. Or you are here and know about religion, but don’t have an intimate relationship with Christ, these words are for you. As Paul greets the Philippians and us . . .
#1 Be reminded of your great SALVATION
In verse 2, Paul reminds us of “Grace to you and peace.” It is almost as if Paul turned everything into a Gospel message. Have you heard of the believing eye doctor who said, “Read line one.”
“God is my Creator and King.”
“Good, now line two.”
“I have rebelled against God, called sin.”
“What do you think about what you just read?”
The traditional greeting of Paul’s day was to state your name, state the recipient’s name and say, “Greetings.” The verb “greetings” was used in thousands of letters in the first century. But by changing the word ever so slightly, Paul turned it into a noun and saluted his brothers and sisters in Christ with, “Grace to you”–not greetings to you, but grace to you. From greetings to grace–from a traditional hello to a powerful reminder of God’s dealings with us. The sum total of God’s activity towards you and me can be summarized by this one solitary word–grace.
Paul adds the word peace–affirming God’s grace given to us results in peace between God and His children, and giving us an experiential peace the world knows nothing about. The word order is important, in that it’s God’s action of graciousness towards us that results in peace, reminding us all we have comes from God first. God did the work of grace so we could have the fruit of peace, affirming God is sovereign in salvation and sanctification. God chooses to shower His grace upon you, which results in you having peace with God and peace of heart. If you’re not smiling or thankful yet, maybe you don’t understand what grace and peace really mean.
First Don’t forget God’s GRACIOUSNESS to you
Grace is that character trait of God causing Him to have a kind, loving and merciful favor towards His children, giving to us freely, liberally and continually. God graced you, is gracing you, and will grace you–and God’s grace will always be . . .
1 UNMERITED, Undeserved, and Unconditional Grace
The first word of greeting Paul has for the Christians in Philippi is “grace to you,” recalling God’s unmerited favor toward you and me. God’s grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. God’s grace is giving us what we don’t deserve. No matter who you are, we all struggle with thinking God has been gracious to us because of what we have done–because we’re religious, faithful, or we act nice.
But God is not gracious to us, nor love us because of that. Paul reminds us in Romans 5:8, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Christ died for people who were hideous in His sight because of sin. If we’re ever to understand the grace of God, we must begin with the knowledge that God has acted graciously toward us only because of Christ, entirely apart from any human action or wish.
John Newton knew about unmerited grace. Raised in a Christian home in England, orphaned at age 6, he lived with a Christ-mocking relative until he ran away to become an apprentice seaman in the British navy. Eventually he deserted and ran away to Africa to, in his own words, “sin his fill.” In Africa, he joined the slave trade and was treated with contempt by his partner’s family. Finally, he fled by thumbing a ride back to England on a ship as a navigator. On the way home, he got drunk, fell overboard and almost drowned.
Then toward the end of the voyage, Newton’s ship was blown off course and began to sink. Newton was ordered down into the hold and told to man the pumps. He was frightened to death, certain the ship would sink and he’d drown. He worked the pumps for days, and as he worked he began to cry out to God.
He began to remember verses he had been taught as a child, and as he remembered them he was miraculously transformed–he was born again, saved, forgiven, washed, made new. He went on to become a great preacher of God’s Word in England, and it was John Newton who penned these words:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see.
Newton was a great preacher of grace and it’s no wonder. He learned what all genuine Christians learn and what Paul means as he greets the Philippians with, “Grace to you.” Grace is of God and it is always unmerited, undeserved and unconditional grace. And verse 2, “Grace to you” is also . . .
2 ABOUNDING Grace
You cannot sin deep enough, bad enough, or sick enough that God’s grace does not abound much greater. There is no sin so bad God can’t forgive because of His abounding grace. Romans 5:20 proves it. “The Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” Have you embraced abounding grace?
There is a true story of a young man working as a waiter for eight dollars-an-hour that exemplifies abounding grace. Without warning, he inherited three million dollars. Imagine on the day before his windfall, the owner of the restaurant had decided entirely on his own initiative and without any reason on the part of the young man, to increase the young man’s salary to ten dollars-an-hour. That is grace. But in receiving three million dollars–that’s abounding grace.
It’s the same with you and Jesus Christ. God tells us we don’t have the slightest claim upon Him. We deserve Hell at His hands, and anything He might do for us, however insignificant, is grace. But God’s grace is not insignificant, and it certainly does not stop with a single act in the past. It is not two dollars-an-hour more grace. You have millionaire grace when you’re in Christ.
Grace is one of the qualities which moved God to send His Son to suffer God’s wrath for our sin and die on our behalf. God’s grace moves us to surrender our lives to Christ in salvation. God’s grace is what keeps us currently broken and overwhelmed over what Christ actually did for us. God’s grace blows genuine believers away, because grace represents what God gave to us at no cost to us, yet it cost Christ everything. The grace Paul refers to here, verse 2, “Grace to you,” is not a mere greeting, but the grace of God which is abounding. Verse 2, “Grace to you” is also . . .
3 SUSTAINING Grace
Without exception, the apostle Paul begins and ends each of his thirteen New Testament letters by blessing the churches he writes and all the Christian readers through the ages with daily sustaining grace. At the beginning of the letter he says, verse 2, “Grace to you.” And at the end of the letter in Philippians 4:23 he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
He begins with “grace to you” and ends with “grace be with you.” It’s like giving you a present. By beginning and ending each letter with grace, Paul is blessing his readers, including us. A biblical blessing happens when we say something like, “May God bless you with grace.” That’s what Paul is saying at the beginning and ending of his letters, even though he doesn’t use the word “bless”.
A blessing focuses on the persons spoken of, but they also appeal to God to do something. The person who blesses, like Paul here, takes a position between God and the readers and makes his words a conduit of blessing between God and the readers. Paul has in mind this letter itself as a channel of God’s grace to the readers. Grace is about to flow from God through Paul’s inspired writing to the Christian readers. Paul says “grace to you,” meaning grace is now active, and is about to flow from God through my inspired writing to you–as you read, grace be to you.
But as the end of the letter approaches, Paul realizes the reading is almost finished and the question rises, “What becomes of the grace that’s been flowing to the readers through the reading of the inspired letter?” Paul answers with a blessing at the end of every letter—“Grace be with you.” With you as you put the letter away and leave the church. With you as you go home to deal with a sick child, or an unaffectionate spouse. With you as you go to work and face the temptations of anger, dishonesty and lust. With you as you muster courage to speak up for Christ over lunch. With you as you go to school with its untrustworthy friends and cruel talk.
Paul is telling us not only that grace is a huge priority in the Christian life, and that all grace comes from God the Father, and every time we read the Scripture we receive grace. But we learn grace will abide with us as we lay down the Bible and go about our daily living. In other words, stop thinking of grace as only expressed in the past on the cross of Christ, but start thinking about unmerited, abundant grace made available each new day as we live by faith in Christ.
Daily sustaining grace is ready to be poured out on those who look to Christ. As Newton wrote, “Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Your salvation came partly because of unmerited, abounding grace, but that grace didn’t stop once you are saved. It is daily available grace to those who will look to God for it. God’s grace is sustaining you right now. And also . . .
Second Don’t forget God’s PEACE given to you
Paul greets the Philippians with a theological twist by adding verse 2, “Grace to you and peace.” Many have pointed out that grace is the Gentile greeting and peace is, of course, the Hebrew greeting shalom, peace. And because this greeting is used repeatedly by Paul, it’s almost viewed as a common, every day, off the lips kind of greeting.
First Corinthians 1:3, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Second Corinthians 1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Galatians 1:3, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 1:2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
But because every single word of Scripture is inspired, and you noticed that the words grace and peace are tied directly to our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, verse 2, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” That tells us the word peace is not merely an average greeting, nor even a nice Christian greeting. The peace in Paul’s mouth represents a huge change in the Christian’s life. Simply, peace is the fruits of justification and the tranquility of heart only a true Christian can know. What do I mean? Every true Christian has a . . .
1 POSITIONAL Peace Verse 2, “Grace to you and peace.”
The angels taught us we’d know peace through Jesus when they said in Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” And Paul affirmed in Romans 5:1, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We’re not naturally at peace with God. We’re at war with God, either passively or actively. And being at war with God, we’re also at war with each other and ourselves. That’s why we experience so much misery and why there’s so much unrest in our world.
But God gives perfect peace. The war is over because Christ signed the peace treaty using His own blood. When we come to God through Christ, the war is over and now we’re at peace with God. We are no longer God’s enemies, but now forever His friends. Every true Christian also has access to a . . .
2 PRACTICAL Peace Verse 2, “Grace to you and peace.”
The Greek word for “peace” in classical Greek actually meant to bind together, resulting in harmony. It makes me think of a three-legged race. If your legs are not tied tightly, then you’ll both trip over each other. But if you bind those center legs together, you can run in harmony. God binds His children to Himself through salvation, and as a result we can live/run experiencing His peace.
Once you are born again, the Holy Spirit indwells you. So when a believer depends upon the Spirit by the Word of God, they can experience a peace the people of this world can only imagine. Paul reminds the Philippi church of God’s peace in 4:6 to 7. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
If you’ve never experienced God’s peace, then you’re not His child. If you’re not experiencing His peace now, it’s because you’re not depending on the Spirit in prayer and following His Word. But you say, “Chris, I’m praying, but I still lack peace.” Then you need to hear Paul in Philippians 4:9. “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.” It’s not merely prayer, but a life seeking to live practicing, dependent obedience to the Word of God.
How do you cure a struggling Christian marriage? Each partner committed to live moment by moment by the power of the Spirit, according to the Word of God. You say, “That’s too simple.” God’s answers are simple–not easy, but simple. With intense emotion and a history of painful hurt, it’ll be extremely difficult–but the answer is still the same, still simple, still possible for anyone truly in Christ. Live in the power of the Spirit by the Word of God.
Grace and peace is not your ordinary Greek and Hebrew greeting, but a reality desired by all people–but only enjoyed by the born again Christian. Paul uses grace and peace to summarize the Gospel–introducing and recapping all his teaching. So today, be reminded of your incredible salvation. Be stirred by grace, be comforted by peace. Never let your heart grow cold to those twin truths. Why? They are gifts, blessings, power, actions of love from your Father and your Savior. That’s why you and I also need to not only . . .
#1 Be reminded of your great SALVATION, but also
#2 Be reminded of your intimate RELATIONSHIP
Verse 2 says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace and peace, salvation and blessing come from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I sometimes get free stuff in the mail–an emblem, a sticker, or even a ticket to some event . . . most often it’s from some nameless organization and ultimately doesn’t mean much to me. But when I receive a small gift from a close personal friend, even though it may be less expensive than the nameless free stuff, it means a hundred times more to me than the junk mail gift, because it was from my friend.
All the forgiveness from your sins, all the graciousness of God, your salvation, your family, spouse, your church, the peace you enjoy between you and God, and often in your heart–all those blessings you have, are now experiencing and will experience in the future have come personally from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I have James 1:17 written inside my wedding band about Jean. “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” All that is good in your life came from a person–from your loving heavenly Father, through the work of Christ your Lord, by the power of the Spirit. The Spirit isn’t mentioned here in this greeting, but He is referenced later in Philippians 1:19, 2:1 and 3:3.
But our God, who is one in three, one in essence yet three distinct persons, gave you all the blessings of grace and peace personally. God didn’t send you a bulk mailing, but gave you all of what you enjoy right now, intimately. He chose you individually and called you personally–He blessed you.
First Don’t forget God is your FATHER
As our Creator, God is the Father of everyone, saved or lost. God is the Father of all, as the SUSTAINER of life. But God is only the relational father, the family father, and the intimate father of those who are His true children by faith in Christ, receiving the Spirit of Adoption. When God saves you, He adopts you and makes you His child. God is your Father.
Some of you have a hard time taking comfort from God as your Father, because your earthly father was abusive, harsh, indifferent, non-affectionate, mostly absent or never there. But your heavenly Father is not like your earthly father. God’s thoughts towards you are more than the sand of the seashore–He knows the number of hairs on your head. And if He knows every time a sparrow hops, you can know for a fact He is watching over you right now.
Often when a young son is being beat up at school, with the threat of more to come, dads often prepare their boys with Scripture, prayer, with practical lessons on what to say, and at times, training in self-defense. They often will send their son off the next day with a big hug, a firm handshake and words of encouragement. But what most boys don’t know is, the dads I know also, without their son knowing followed them to and from school–close by, ready to step in if things got out of hand.
No matter how alone you think you are, as a Christian your heavenly Father is always intimately with you, close by. In fact, your Father is so close to you, Galatians 4:6 says, “because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” God is so close to His children, the Spirit of God in you cries out to Him with the same word a two-year-old uses to call for help—Daddy. Abba means daddy. Don’t forget God is your Father, and . . .
Second Don’t forget Jesus Christ is your LORD
Verse 2 says, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus Christ is your Lord who sacrificed all to give you the grace and peace you desperately needed, couldn’t earn, or get on your own. Paul uses the title “Lord” fifteen times in Philippians, like . . .
1:14 and 2:24–trusting in the Lord
3:1 and 4:4 and 4:10–rejoice in the Lord
3:8–knowing Christ Jesus my Lord
4:1–stand firm in the Lord
4:2–live in harmony in the Lord
4:5–the Lord is near
But what does Paul mean by calling Jesus “Lord”? Some say Lord means Jesus is our Savior. But Philippians 3:20 says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul doesn’t mean to say we’re waiting for a Savior, the Savior Jesus Christ–so Lord doesn’t mean Savior.
Two other passages in Philippians tell us what Lord means. Philippians 2:9 to 11, “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Every person alive and dead will bow in submission to Christ the Lord. And if you’re still doubting what Paul meant by Lord, read Philippians 3:20 and 21. “We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”
I can’t even get my dog, Cali, to do what I want her to do. My wife and children are beyond my control. I certainly don’t control you, any more than I control the weather. But Jesus will subject all things to Himself–He has the power to control everything on earth, in your life, every detail. Jesus being Lord means Master, the One in charge, the One who has all authority over everything.
Now get this–Jesus is Lord. And you say, “Right Chris, and every good Christian should make Him Lord of their life.” No, that’s heresy! Jesus IS Lord–you don’t make Him Lord. He is Lord–you’re either currently submitting to Him as Master, or you are rebelling from Him as Master. Every knee shall bow before Christ now and later. You either submit now as Lord as He makes you His child, or you’ll submit as Lord later, as He condemns you to Hell. But every Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, Mormon, Catholic or other religionist will submit to Jesus Christ later, because Jesus is Lord, and He will subject all things to Himself.
Even if you call yourself a Christian, but in your heart Christ is not your Master, you are not saved. You may have embraced a Jesus, but not the one of the Bible. Christ being your Lord doesn’t mean you always obey Him, but you will always want to obey Him, even when you don’t. Only those who submit to Christ by grace in dependent faith are saved. There is no salvation apart from submission to Christ. You are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness. You either serve yourself, or serve the Lord. Only those who do the will of their Father are welcome to Heaven–all others will hear, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”
The faith that saves works. The repentance that brings new life changes your life. The gift of salvation comes with a new heart of submission to Christ. Jesus Christ is your Lord or you are not related to Him–period. And because Jesus is Lord, you don’t make Him Lord–He is Lord. You are either submitting or rebelling.
And Christian friend, what better friend can you have than the one who can transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has, even to subject all things to Himself? He can change you, He can subject anything and everything. He’s in charge, and yet every single one of you who’ve been saved, Jesus calls you His friend. What a friend we have in Jesus!
The title of today’s sermon is Remember What’s Important. Don’t forget your great salvation, which includes abundant grace and amazing peace. And don’t forget the intimate relationship you have with your heavenly Father, and with your all-powerful Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul changes a standard greeting and turns it into a theological wonder, and there are some truths we must not forget.
1 Remember we have the SAME Father and Lord
Years ago, my brother and I were arguing in fun over who was going to fix my mom’s flat tire. My son, Matthew, said under his breath, “It’s hard to believe in forty years, Daniel and I are going to be like that!” Daniel spoke up and said like a parent, “You two, stop arguing!” It was a funny moment, but a reminder–if we have the same Father, if we are the same family, we shouldn’t argue or complain. As Christians, we insult our heavenly dad when we can’t get along.
Repent today of any issue between you and another–go to them and ask forgiveness so you can start behaving like God is your Father, and the Lord Jesus is your Master.
2 Remember to live in daily GRACE
You’ve been given unmerited, abounding grace, but it’s also sustaining grace, ready to be poured out on those who look to God for it. Don’t try to pay God back for what He’s given you–don’t even try. But believe God, and look for His grace in His Word, prayer, a heart of surrender, and a life of worship.
You don’t need to fill up your life with Netflix, pleasures, toys, or relationships, when God wants to bless you daily with His amazing grace. This is the joy you’ve been missing. Confess your sin of neglecting your Lord and Friend, and watch Him pour out His grace upon you.
3 Remember the source of real PEACE
If you’re struggling with a relationship or weighted under a difficult circumstance–if your heart is not content this morning, then try Paul’s peace solution. Philippians 4:6 and 7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Avail yourself of God’s grace through prayer. Take the time to sit at your Master’s feet, and in your heart He can turn your pressure into peace.
4 Remember the only way of salvation is to SUBMIT to Christ
You can’t win against God. You won’t win in the end. You can try to come up with your own terms of salvation. You can redefine Jesus, ignore the Word of God. You can live good, come to church and say nice things, but until you submit to Christ by grace through faith, you’re not saved. He is Lord–you will bow, now or later, but you will bow. The only question is, will you bow now or later? Let’s pray.