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Philippians 1:6 (Sermon Excerpt)

April 15, 2008

If I were to ask you to tell me what you thought was the main theme of Philippians many of you would probably answer “joy”.  And that would be right, but incomplete.  The reason Paul teaches them so much about joy is to serve a larger purpose–to encourage them to persevere in suffering.  Finding joy in Christ is a key to persevering in the faith.  And Paul is confident that they will persevere.  What we will see today is that having this confidence in God’s preservation of the saints and therefore confidence in the saints’ perseverance is the key to praying with joy.

The fact that the Philippians are supporting his ministry and joining in suffering for the gospel and contending for the faith is an occasion of rejoicing in prayer for Paul.   I choose that word “occasion” carefully.  The Philippians partnership is the occasion of Paul’s joy, but it is not the ultimate ground of Paul’s joy.  The ground of Paul’s joy is verse 6, his confidence that God is going to finish what he started in the hearts of the Philippians.  verse 5 is the occasion of rejoicing, verse 6 is the fountain of rejoicing. 

This is a subtle distinction, but it is tremendously important so let me belabor the point.  The word “because” in verse 5 is too strong.  NAS is better “in view of”. “being confident” in verse 6 is a participle going back to the verbs “give thanks” and “pray with joy”.  So let me try to rearrange and simplify this sentence to make the point stand out.  “In view of your partnership in the gospel, I pray with joy being confident…”  I hope that phrase will stay with you this morning because that is my whole point. “I pray with joy being confident”  Confidence in God is the key to praying with joy. 

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