Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 1:3-7     

3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: 7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…   

The saints of God that we come in contact with often make an indelible memory on our minds.  The fellowship we share, the love we have for the Lord, our desire to hear the truth, the shared experiences in serving the Lord.  The joy we share in serving and worshipping the Lord leave us with blessed and fond memories of those who we have shared them with.  Often times we may be separated by great distances and not have many opportunities to visit with one another, yet even the memories of the few visits we have together is better than the interactions we have with worldly minded individuals.  As Paul thanked God for every remembrance he had of the saints, so we should thank God for the remembrances we have of the saints.  We are blessed to know that we are not alone in this wicked world, but that there are fellow travelers to whom we can share and relate our joys, fellowship, concerns, prayers, and hopes.   

Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…  

It has been my experience in having fellowship with distant saints that when I think of them that I often desire to have the opportunity to share in their fellowship once again.  As a minister of the gospel, I know that I am to go where and when the Lord directs me.  Sometimes I may not have the opportunity that I desire to return to certain places that I have had sweet fellowship in the past.  However, in prayer I can request the Lord that I may have fellowship in the gospel with them once again.  We always should pray, "The Lord's will be done."  Please note that Paul desired fellowship in the gospel.  To have fellowship we must be agreed.  Amos asked, "Can two walk together except they be agreed?"  The answer is implied that they cannot walk together except they be agreed.  If I believe in the true gospel and someone else believes in a perverted gospel, then we cannot have fellowship in the gospel.  The basis of our fellowship in the gospel is a common belief in the true gospel of Jesus Christ.            

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ… 

It is God that begins a good work in ourselves.  We do not begin the work, but God alone who is capable of beginning the work.  When God chose us before the world began, he did so by covenant arrangement: 

Rom. 8:29, 30 "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."  

 According to this covenant God calls, justifies and glorifies those he chose before the world began.  God begins this good work in us by quickening us into spiritual life when we were before dead in trespasses and sins.  This work in us continued on the cross when Christ died to redeem us from our sins and thus justify us before a just and holy God.  Paul was and we should be confident that God will continue this good work until the Lord Jesus Christ returns in the morning of the resurrection and changes our vile bodies to be fashioned like unto his glorious body.  Paul was also confident that the Philippians' brethren were chosen of God and would be finally resurrected.  He had this confidence because he saw the evidence that God had called them into spiritual life.  He saw the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.          

Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.   

The affection that Paul had for these brethren was apparent as he had them in his heart.  He earnestly desired their joy, fellowship, and well-being.  He also had them in his bonds.  Paul considered them to be fellow servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Just as Paul considered himself to be a bondservant of Jesus Christ, so he also by experience believed the Philippians to consider themselves to be bondservants of Jesus Christ.  Paul also considered that they shared his interest in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  All true disciples should share a common interest in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  We are to both defend against the attacks that are made against the gospel and to confirm to God's children, who are seeking, the precious truths of the gospel.           

Paul said that the Philippians' brethren were partakers of his grace.  Certainly, God's grace is extended and manifest unto every one of us.  However, it took the grace of God for Paul to preach the gospel.  When someone is blessed to preach the gospel, we are partakers of the grace of God given unto him to preach the gospel.