Pastor David B. Curtis

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Saints, Glory and Grace

Philippians 4:20-23

10/24/1999

This is our last message in Philippians. This is the forty fifth message. It's been a rich study for me, very challenging, very convicting. Though our series ends today, I pray the truths learned in Philippians will live on in our lives.

Paul closes this epistle with a doxology and a few brief words of greeting. I want to focus our study this morning around three key words: saints, glory, and grace.

Paul uses the word "saint" twice in these last four verses. Paul opens the epistle by calling the Philippians saints.

Philippians 1:1 (NKJV) Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

And Paul closes the epistle by calling them saints.

Philippians 4:21 (NKJV) Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.

I believe that he does this for a reason, I'll explain that reason as we go along this morning.

I want to give you an outline this morning as we go over these verses. We are going to look at three areas: the Character of Saints, the Call of Saints, and the Capital of Saints.

"Saint" is probably a very familiar word to you, but it's often understood wrongly by many people. If someone were to ask you if you were a saint, what would you tell them? If someone walked up to you at work and said, "Are you a saint?" What would you tell them? You might be a little afraid to answer the question because the term "saint" is loaded by so much that is not representative of its biblical meaning. Most people don't think of the term in its New Testament sense. We might be reluctant to say, "I'm a saint" because we live under the assumption that someone who is a saint lives on a much higher spiritual level than we do. We don't want to sound proud. People might misunderstand what we mean if we say we're a saint, especially if they have any kind of Roman Catholic background.

In Roman Catholic theology, which has tended to dominate the definition of the term saint, a saint is a super-person. Roman Catholic theology says, "A saint is one who has exhibited unsurpassable devotion to Christ." If you take that definition of a saint, you might be reluctant to call yourself a saint. It would be hard for you to say, "My devotion to Christ has no capability of being surpassed by anyone, anytime." At least I hope it would be hard for you to say that.

The Roman Catholic Church says that people who have lived lives of unsurpassable devotion to Jesus Christ are worthy to be called saints, to be canonized, which means: "to be made the spiritual standard" or "lifted up as spiritual models." They make statues and stain glass windows of the saints. They are to be venerated (worshiped), prayed to, appealed to, praised, exalted and honored. That makes us uncomfortable with the term saint. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that saints are exalted in their heavenly life to a position of special clout with God. The reason we appeal to them, honor them, and extol them is so they, in receiving our honor, veneration, and prayers, will intercede with God for our needs. They become intermediaries, intercessors for us and we want to stay in their good graces.

The Roman Catholic Church also teaches that they have a special work in interceding with God for the souls of people which are captive to the pain of purgatory. As you pray to the saint, you appeal to them to intercede with God to release the one that you love from the pain of purgatory. Roman Catholic doctrine says that Purgatory is a purifying process where you suffer for a time to work off your sins before entering heaven. This is an attack on the finished work of Christ. He paid for your sins in full - total payment. Purgatory is not biblical, it is a straw doctrine invented by man to raise money for the church by buying loved ones out of purgatory. Candles are lit, and as long as the candles are burning, the prayer is perpetual to the saint.

These things make us very uncomfortable with being called a saint. However, you might be interested to know that Paul's favorite word for Christians is the word "Saint." He uses it forty times in his epistles. And when he speaks of saints, he is referring to ordinary Christians.

Philippians 4:21-22 (NKJV) Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.

Here he uses the term "saint" in its common use of all believers. In 1:1, he identifies all of the people in the Philippian church as saints, including the deacons and elders.

Philippians 1:1 (NKJV) Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

As Paul closes this letter, he reminds them of the identification he gave them at the beginning, that they, in fact, are saints.

CHARACTER OF SAINTS - HOLY.

Philippians 4:21-22 (NKJV) Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.

In verse 21, the word "saint' is in the singular and comes from the Greek word hageos. In verse 22, the word "saint" is plural and comes from the Greek word hageoy. These Greek words simply mean: "set apart ones, separated ones, or sanctified ones." Perhaps the best definition is: "holy ones." All these terms are synonyms for saints. The concept of saint is of being set apart, being separated.

We know that God is holy. This Greek word that is translated "saint" here is often translated "holy" in the Scripture. God is separated, He is separated from sin - that is the purest definition of God's nature. It is the only attribute of God repeated three times.

Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV) And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"

It defines God as utterly unlike us because we are sinful. He is separated from sin. What is a saint then? It is one who has been separated from sin, unto God, for holy purposes. That is what a saint is. We are separated from sin.

Romans 6:1-2 (NKJV) What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

We died to sin, and death is separation. WE are separated from sin by our union with Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:21 (NKJV) Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.

Notice that the saints are "in Christ Jesus." This is very common to Paul, it defines the Christian's identity. We are "IN" Jesus Christ, we share his life. That is why Paul says:

Philippians 1:21 (NKJV) For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Our very life is Christ:

Colossians 3:4 (NKJV) When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

Our separation from sin is accomplished when we are baptized in the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit at the moment we believe. We are one with Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV) But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
2 Peter 1:4 (NKJV) by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

As believers, we partake of the divine nature, we share His life. Every believer is a saint, we are in Christ, separated from sin, unto God, for holy purposes. There should be no reluctance in your mind of calling yourself a "saint." Our only reluctance might come from the fact that we're not living as a saint should live - holy. The title "saint" we deserve by virtue of our being in Christ.

Paul uses this title for the most messed up believers in the New Testament.

1 Corinthians 5:1 (NKJV) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife!

With all of their sin, some of which was worse than unbelievers, Paul still calls them "saints."

1 Corinthians 1:1-2 (NKJV) Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, CALLED TO BE SAINTS, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

"Called to be saints" is literally: "saints by calling." The word "called" is kletos, which means: "appointed to." We could translate this: "called to belong to Jesus Christ."

Paul reminds the Philippians and us that all believers are saints. And because we are saints, we ought to live up to who we are. We are holy! And we are to live holy lives. Paul's closing comments remind us that we are to live out, to put into practice all he has taught us in this epistle. Paul is saying, "Remember, you are saints, live a life that is separated from sin."

The character of saints is that they are holy - set apart ones. Next let's look at the....

CALLING OF SAINTS or THEIR DUTY.

Philippians 4:20 (NKJV) Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

As saints, our calling, our duty, is to glorify God. Saints are to worship, not be worshiped. This is a doxology. The word "doxology" comes from the Greek word doxa, which means: "glory"! A doxology is a word about glory, it is ascribing glory to God. Doxologies are responses of praise to truth. It is the response to doctrine. Verse 20 flows from the Apostle's joy over the whole letter and the truths of God enclosed. Worship is the fitting response to doctrine. We touched on this in discussing grace giving. Giving is worship, and it is in response to doctrine.

2 Corinthians 8:7-9 (NKJV) But as you abound in everything; in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us; see that you abound in this grace also. 8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.

In verse 9, he talks about the kenosis - God becoming man. He is telling us that what God did for us in becoming man to die for our sins should motivate us to worship through giving.

Philippians 4:20 (NKJV) Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The heart of the doxology in verse 20 is the word "glory." There is no verb in the Greek before glory. The verb supplied should be the indicative "is" not the imperative "be." It is an affirmation, rather than a wish. To God is glory!

What is God's glory? God's glory is intrinsic - we don't give it to Him. It is His by virtue of who He is. If neither men nor angels were ever created, God would still be a God of glory. God's intrinsic glory is the manifestation of His attributes. When we see His attributes, it causes us to give Him glory - praise and adoration. Look with me at Exodus where Moses requested to see his glory.

Exodus 33:18-23 (NKJV) And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." 19 Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." 20 But He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." 21 And the LORD said, "Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. 22 "So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. 23 "Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen."

In verse 19, "my name" is the embodiment of all God's attributes.

God's glory causes worship.

Exodus 34:5-8 (NKJV) Now the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. 6 And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 "keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children's children to the third and the fourth generation." 8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.

God showed Moses His glory, which was His goodness, grace, mercy - His attributes.

God's glory is not given to Him, it's already His. We cannot add one thing to God. Now, you might ask, "Aren't we supposed to glorify God?" Yes, we are. We can't add one thing to God, but we are to "adorn the doctrine of God."

Titus 2:10 (NKJV) not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

We are to enhance the teaching of God in the world by our holy behavior. God is a God of glory and we are to declare it.

1 Chronicles 16:24 (NKJV) Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.

As we live our lives, we are to be declaring his glory by the way in which we live. Many people's only impression of God will come from you. What are you teaching them about God? Are you teaching them that God is a God to be trusted?

In the book of Romans, we see a beautiful doxology. After 11 chapters of doctrine, Paul bursts forth in praise.

Romans 11:33-36 (NKJV) Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! 34 "For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor?" 35 "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?" 36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Praise is always the fitting response to truth. Doctrinal teaching produces worship. We, as saints, are to worship.

Philippians 4:20 (NKJV) Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

The words "forever and ever" are literally: "for the ages of the ages." It means: "unending." We exist for the purpose of worshiping God! Is your life given to worship? Only as we live as worshipers will our lives be complete and joyful. Look with me at what I think is the greatest description of a saint.

Philippians 3:3 (NKJV) For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,

We worship in the Spirit and have no confidence in ourselves.

John 4:23 (NKJV) "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is seeking worshipers, we were saved to worship, and this must be done in Spirit and truth.

How do we, as saints, ascribe glory to God, how do we worship? How do we fulfill our calling, our duty, practically? Paul give us several areas in this book.

1. RIGHT THINKING

Philippians 4:20 (NKJV) Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Our God and Father" - our own personal, only true God. You cannot worship God if you don't know who He is. And you can only know who He is through the Word.

Hosea 6:6 (NKJV) For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Burnt offerings were a form of worship that God had prescribed. But more than all those things, God wants us to know Him!

Idolatry is not only creating a false God and worshiping it, it is equally idolatry to attempt to worship the true God in an unacceptable manner. Idolatry is thinking thoughts about God that are untrue of Him. Don't most Christians today do this? Most believers today don't understand that God is absolutely sovereign. I received a letter from a man last week that would not accept an all sovereign God. He wrote:

If I was not a Christian and you, as a minister, came to me preaching Christ, but also that it was God's divine will and decree for my wife and babies to be tragically murdered by a thug, I would tell you to take your God and shove him! Why would anybody want to love and serve a God who has proven by His own actions that His will was for my family to be brutally destroyed? 'Tony, it was my will and purpose that your wife and children be mutilated. It was I who decreed and inspired it. But I want you to love and serve me.' How do you think most people, even Christian people would respond to that? I will tell you: 'I'd rather be in hell, than to love, serve, and commit myself to a God who would do that.'

My response to him was, "If it wasn't God's will that it happen, then did it happen against God's will? If so, then God is not sovereign. And if our all wise and loving God is not sovereign, than who is? Most Christians have invented a god that they are comfortable with, they have made God in their own image."

Worship, glory is always in response to truth. So our first duty, as saints, in glorifying God is right thinking.

Philippians 2:5 (NKJV) Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

Only as we think biblically will we have the mind of Christ. In this passage, he is particularly talking about humility. Christ esteemed others as better than himself. Do you have the mind of Christ? Are you humble? The world we live in promotes pride, not humility. If you're going to be humble, you had better spend time in the Word learning to think right.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.

These are the things that we are to think about. Where are you going to find these things? You find these things in God's word. You are a product of your thinking; "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he...." (Proverbs 23:7). The way you think will be how you live, and if you are ever going to bring glory to God, you need to learn to think right. The greatest conflict of the Christian life centers in the mind.

Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV) Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

We must learn to think biblically. This is the key! This is where it all starts if we're to glorify God. Right thinking is the overriding principle.

2. TRUST.

If we are going to bring God glory, we must learn to trust Him. Look at:

Philippians 4:6 (NKJV) Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;

"Be anxious for nothing" - if you are trusting in God, you don't need to worry. God is in control, and we just need to trust in what He is doing. When we trust in Him, it brings Him glory.

Romans 4:20-21 (NKJV) He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.

Are you convinced that what God promised he is able to perform? Do you believe that Romans 8:28 is true? Do you live it out? Do you believe that Philippians 4:13 is true?

Philippians 4:13 (NKJV) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

What does Paul mean when he says, "I can do all things through Christ"? He means that because he is in communion with Christ, the power of Christ is available to him for every need. Do you believe that you can go through any circumstance because Christ's strength is available to you? Do you trust Him? Then why do you panic and become consumed with fear when going through a difficult circumstance? What Paul is saying is, "I have the power of Christ to sustain me in life's difficult circumstances." His power is available! Will you trust Him? When you do, you bring Him glory.

It starts with right thinking, when you think right then you know that He is worthy to be trusted.

3. HUMILITY

Humility brings God glory.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NKJV) Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Humility will only come from right thinking. Pride is wrong thinking. We have nothing to be proud about. God hates pride and is glorified in our humility.

If we are going to glorify God, we do it by right thinking, trust, humility and....

4. UNITY

Unity or Love is so strongly stressed in this book.

Philippians 1:27 (NKJV) Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,

Our unity is something that Christ prayed for and our unity brings glory to God. We are one in Christ, and we are to guard that unity.

Philippians 2:2 (NKJV) fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Paul's joy and God's are fulfilled in our unity. Unity will only come from right thinking - knowing who we are in Christ and realizing that our unity with Christ joins us to every other believer.

5. GRATITUDE

Philippians 2:14 (NKJV) Do all things without complaining and disputing,

Complaining and murmuring is a symptom of a deep seated problem - failure to trust in God and failure to be submissive to his providential provision. We must come to realize that every complaint against our circumstances is directed to God who controls our circumstances. Thankfulness brings glory to God, especially in the midst of adversity.

6. CONTENTMENT

Philippians 4:11 (NKJV) Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

Paul was content no matter what his outward situation was. Why was he always content? It was because he knew that his loving Heavenly Father was always in control of every circumstance that he was in. Would others characterize you as a content person? Our contentment brings glory to God because it shows our trust in Him. Pride causes discontentment - we think we deserve better than we are getting. Remember, what we all really deserve is Hell. So, what ever your circumstances are, they are far better than you deserve.

Now, 1. Right thinking, and 2. Trust, have to be in first and second place. The rest of these you can put in any order but the last one will be:

7. STABILITY

Philippians 4:1 (NKJV) Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.

Spiritual stability glorifies God. Stability comes from right thinking, unity, humility, faith and gratitude. They're all connected. When you work at these in your life, you will be a stable individual. It all starts with right thinking and ends in spirituality stability.

Let's look at the last three verses.

Philippians 4:21-23 (NKJV) Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

These last three verses were probably penned by Paul himself. When Paul wrote, he used an amanuenses, a secretary. After dictating most of the letter, he would write the last sentence or two in his own hand. This was Paul's signature, his authentication. This was important to protect against fraud. You might ask, "How do you know that?" Paul told me!

2 Thessalonians 3:17 (NKJV) The salutation of Paul with my own hand, which is a sign in every epistle; so I write.

Paul said it was a sign in every epistle to close the letter with his own hand writing.

Galatians 6:11 (NKJV) See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!

Paul's closing signature must have been quite obvious.

Paul says, "Greet every saint" - every individual saint, it's singular, it's personal. The elders who read this were to give Paul's greeting to every saint.

"The brethren who are with me" - who is this? The brothers here with me are mentioned separate from "all the saints" in the next verse so they must be a different group. I think that Paul is referring to his co-workers! We don't know who they were other than Timothy and Epaphroditus. And we know that these two were committed men, and he simply calls them "brethren." There were no superior people in Paul's group, no hierarchy, just saints.

Philippians 4:22 (NKJV) All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar's household.

All the believers at Rome greet all the believers in Philippi. Fellowship knows no geographical, ethical, or social bounds.

"Especially those who are of Caesar's household" - I'll bet Paul was smiling when he wrote this. The name "Caesar" was given to all the emperors after the time of Julius Caesar. Nero was in power at this time, and he hated Christians and Christ. And those in his employment were coming to Christ.

Philippians 1:13 (NKJV) so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;

It was a pulpit which he could not have achieved if he had sought it. But as a prisoner, he was able to preach to the Roman guards. It was a pulpit that came through suffering.

The Character of Saints is they are Holy, the Call of saints is to Glorify God and the....

CAPITAL OF SAINTS IS GRACE

By "capital", I mean resources. What are our resources? How can we live in such a way to bring glory to God? Only by Grace!

Philippians 4:23 (NKJV) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

We received grace at salvation - God's unmerited favor in Christ. But that is not the end of grace, it's just the beginning. You didn't deserve to be saved, and you don't deserve to be kept saved. You are no more worthy of salvation now than the day you were saved. We are sustained by grace.

Romans 5:2 (NKJV) through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We stand in grace. We are constantly in need of God's grace. The Christian life, from beginning to end, is all of grace.

Paul begins and ends this epistle with grace:

Philippians 1:2 (NKJV) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 4:23 (NKJV) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Saints are saints by grace. I love the truth of the hymn, "Oh to grace how great a debtor!" We are debtors to grace. When you see the vilest sinner or even a Christian who is in sin - don't be proud. Realize and say to yourself, "There, but by the grace of God, go I." Then sing, "Oh to grace how great a debtor."

"Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" - He is the theme of this whole letter. The name of Christ is mentioned forty times in these four chapters - an average of about once in every two or three verses.

Our whole life is Christ, and since He is our life, our strongest longing should be to live in obedience and fellowship with Him. We are saints in the Lord Jesus Christ, and, as saints, our character is HOLY, our calling is to bring Him GLORY, and our capital is GRACE.

May God help us all to be able to apply the wonderful truths of this book.

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