The Pastor's Pen

Why a Sermon Series in Philippians?


While I was going through my old bible looking at the notes I made in Philippians, I was reminded of the acronym that really helps summarize the book of Philippians – JOY (JESUS, OTHERS, YOU).

In our last sermon series at the end of Habakkuk, in chapter 3:18, Habakkuk says “yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Philippians tells us how we can do that in Christ!

People all around us are looking for happiness. Everyone wants happiness, but most people seek it in the wrong way or the wrong place. Our modern culture says, “Follow your heart,” “You do you,” “Live your authentic life,” and so on. Such platitudes imply the key to happiness is found within. Or they assume that happiness comes through good circumstances, so they set out to improve their circumstances only to realize that ‘happiness’ is short lived.

As Christians we have the answer that people are looking for, we have the only genuine hope and joy that people need. Paul wrote this letter to the Philippian church around 1960 years ago, but because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, we need to learn the same lessons that the Christians at Philippi learnt; that genuine happiness is found in Christ and living for him, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

The book is about Christ in our life, Christ in our mind, Christ as our goal, Christ as our strength, and joy through suffering. Paul is sold out on Jesus and he wants the Philippian saints to be too. He is filled with joy and he wants them to be too, and even though Jesus Christ is the main theme of his letter, joy is another theme running throughout. Joy flows from knowing Christ. Repeatedly, Paul makes this point (1:18; 2:17; 3:1; 4:4, 10). Knowing Christ, however, is not merely a positional change that takes place at conversion (3:8–9). It’s dynamic, a progressive movement toward a goal that won’t be attained until we see Christ in all of his glory (3:10–11). This compels us to work out our own salvation, while knowing it is ultimately God who sanctifies us (2:12–13); this compels us to fill our minds with truth and to discipline ourselves in prayer (4:4–9).

Philippians is not just a letter of thanks and updates. Paul also writes to encourage the faith and growth of the saints in Philippi during his imprisonment in Rome, about thirty years after Christ’s ascension and about ten years after Paul first preached at Philippi. It’s easy to see why Paul loved this church so dearly as he writes to them to thank God for them and to thank them for their kind but very generous gift whilst he was in prison.

Even though Philippians is a deeply doctrinal letter, it is also an amazingly practical letter—sort of a “101” on Christian living. This letter has been recorded to encourage all Christians to joyfully live out their lives as citizens of a heavenly colony, evidenced by a growing commitment to fruitful service to God and to one another.

Pray with me that New Life Church will be encouraged in our faith, unified in our spirits and more Christlike in our conduct, through the teaching of this epistle. Pray that we would be equipped Christians, excited for the advance of the gospel.

Click on the link for the sermon series in Philippians: