Text: Philippians 1:1-11; also, 1 Thessalonians 5:11
First mark: a pray-er disciple (3-4). Here, Paul prays for the church at Philipp. He gives thanks to God during his regular prayer time. And whenever he prays for them, he has this joy when thinking of or hearing about them.
Second mark: participation, partakers of grace, partnership entails they are connected with one another. How are they connected with Paul? The church at Philippi supports Paul financially. Hence, Paul giving thanks for their connection with one another.
Third mark: equipped with the gospel; “the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (v. 7b); “with knowledge and all discernment” (v. 9).
Fourth mark: worship in excellence (v 10); “pure and blameless,” “to the glory and praise of God” (v 11).
Last mark: encourager; “I hold you in my heart” (v. 7), “I yearn” (v. 8); “love may abound more and more” (v. 9); there is joy in their gospel partnership (v. 4-5).
How about if we are struggling or going through a lot? Can we still encourage them? Paul was writing this letter thanking and encouraging those Christians outside the prison. While for us, just a minor inconvenience, and we started complaining about how others ignored us.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Be an encourager. Encourage one another. This mark had been true to the Philippian church. Paul was saying, “Just as you are doing.” This is not new to them; this has been present in their church. Likewise, let us also do the same. Each UCBC member is to be an encourager, a source of encouragement.
What happens if we do not have these marks? We quench (or grieve) the Holy Spirit. ** When the Spirit is grieved, the believer’s soul is restless, being punished—as it is just to do so—and losing the sense of joy and comfort in one’s life. Christians experience dullness in life, are easily tempted, feeling of brokenness, a feeling of being left behind, ingratitude, indwelling sin becomes more active, contempt, and bitterness. More results are being poor in spirit, easy to stumble, dead faith, dissatisfied, does not see Christ in his life, insensitive, living without peace, and lazy pursuing holiness. Richard Sibbes said, “Discouragements are not from the Spirit,” but rather caused by our fleshly sinful nature.”
This is my encouragement to all of you. Spiritual progress is “rooted in what God has done (cross), is doing (through the Holy Spirit), and will do (“new things” last days)—read verse 6; righteousness comes through Jesus Christ, not on our own (verse 11).
Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
May 7, 2023
Photo by Tara Winstead: https://www.pexels.com/photo/red-check-mark-over-black-box-8850706/