“How to Be Ready for the Lord’s Return”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Philippians 1.9-11
Philippians 1. A wise master builder lays to foundations. He calls on two contractors to build whatever building they want on their foundation. He promises a reward for the one who builds a building that will stand the test of time. So one wisely builds on his foundation gold silver and precious stones. The other on his foundation builds wood, hay, and straw.
And then a forest fire comes through and the quality of each man’s work became evident.
You could tell I modified that from 1 Corinthians 3. This illustrates a truth for all those who have trusted in Christ. We are each contractors called to work in the Lord’s house. Each one, great or small, super talented, not so talented. How you live your life, the good and worthy works you perform, will be rewarded.
The men in our story were each tested and only 1 was rewarded. 1 Corinthians 3:15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
It’s not like the guy who built with wood hay and straw is not saved; he is saved, yet so as through fire.
I don’t know about you, but on that day I want to have much work to present to him that is useful and that is rewarded. Most of all I want to please my master and my heavenly Father.
We need to be ready for that day, for Christ’s return; this is the big concern of Paul’s prayer in Phil. 1:9-11 … see if you can pick up on it…
Philippians 1:9–11 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul has a vision: being successful at the day of Christ. He knows you need, end of verse 10 … he knows you need to be sincere and blameless for that day; he knows that you need, verse 11, to be filled with righteousness for that day. But how are you going to get there? How are you going to get to the point where you are sincere, blameless and filled with righteousness? Answer v. 10 … approving excellent things. Approve excellent things…why, what will that do? … approve excellent things in order to be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ.
But one would wonder how it’s possible even to do that: how to approve excellent things. We’ll all sinners, weak, weighed down with iniquity, the only good in me is from Him. How could we possibly approve excellent things?
And the answer to that is verse 9, it all begins with an abounding gospel love. That’s Paul’s main prayer. I pray that you’d have an abounding gospel love so that verse 10 you’ll approve excellent things, and if you approve excellent things, you’ll be first of all, sincere and blameless and second … verse 11, you’ll be filled with righteousness, all for God’s glory.
An abounding gospel love will lead to you choosing excellent things which will result in a rewarding day before God. On judgment day, you won’t answer for your sin, but for your works. Did you get that? On judgment day, if you are a Christian … you won’t answer for your sin, but for your works. Our sin was judged at the cross, but our works may or may not glorify Him. So, did you serve the Lord? Did you serve the Lord? What works did you do for Him?
You say, “I haven’t done anything for the Lord.” Well, even a cup of cold water won’t go unnoticed by our gracious Lord. Matthew 10:42 “And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”
Of course, good works do not rescue us from God’s wrath. The death and resurrection of Christ rescues us from God’s wrath. And when we trust in Him, and He saves us, we have eternal life. But the Christian life doesn’t stop there.
Good works must play a role in the Christian life after you become a child of God. Good works are rewarded if you are already rescued from sin.
Ephesians 2:8–10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. [you’re not saved by good works but … ]10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for [the purpose of] good works [we are created to do good works], which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
And these good works will be rewarded.
1 Corinthians 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
Revelation 11:18 “And the nations were enraged, and Your wrath came, and the time came for the dead to be judged, and the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name, the small and the great, and to destroy those who destroy the earth.”
Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.
He wants you to do good works and he wants to reward you.
1. The incorruptible crown (1 corinthians 9: 24-27, kjv), for those who practice self-discipline
2. The crown of righteousness (2 timothy 4: 8), for those eagerly awaiting Christ’s return and live in light of it
3. The crown of life (james 1: 12; revelation 2: 10), for those who especially persevere under trials and tests.
4. The crown of rejoicing (1 thessalonians 2: 19, kjv), for those who’ve lead souls to christ
5. The crown of glory (1 peter 5: 1-4), for pastors, elders, and deacons who faithfully shepherd god’s people.
I trust that excites you! How does Paul want to make this a reality for you? Paul knows that for you to do good works that will be rewarded you must first have an abounding, a growing gospel love.
So how can I be ready for the Lord’s return? The answer is: Pray for and work toward a growing gospel love.
2 points this morning, first the goal, second the how to. First, the goal. The goal is “I’m ready for the day of Christ.”
The Goal: Be ready for the day of Christ (1:10b-11)
Let’s clarify the goal … there are 3 parts to it
end of verse 10 … we need to be [first] sincere and [second] blameless until [or for] the day of Christ; 11 [and third v.11 … we need to be] filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
The goal is that you be sincere, blameless, and filled with righteousness when you stand before the Lord. And obviously, these words don’t speak to our sinless perfection; because even Paul didn’t claim to have that … Philippians 3:12 he says … 12 Not that I have already … become perfect, but I press on.” None of these three things demand sinless perfection when you stand before the Lord.
But you must have sincerity, the first one.
First, be sincere
You need to be sincere. This word occurs only twice in the Bible; once here and once in 2 Pe. 3:1. The word sincere has the idea of unmixed … having a pure motive. Without hypocrisy!
ILL: There is debate about the history behind the English word sincere. It is alleged that it was formed from two Latin words which mean “without wax.”
One of the biggest industries in ancient times was the pottery industry. Cheap pottery was thick and could be easily made and was sold in abundance. But the best pottery was thin. It had a clear color and could be sold for a higher price. And because it was thin, was very fragile and so it would crack in the oven.
Now the potter has a decision. Should he throw away this cracked pottery? Dishonest potters would say “no” and fill in the cracks with wax. And the wax would blend in quite well with the more clear-colored pottery. Especially if you would paint the pottery, the cracks would not show up well. However, you could lift the pottery up to the light of the sun and see the wax.
But honest merchants would post signs over there pottery that read sin cher a … sincere, “without wax.” It was honest, sincere.
Now, 2 Corinthians 4:7 says I’m a clay pot and you’re a clay pot. And your sin nature is such that it wants to hide all your defects. It doesn’t want you to open up about your struggles and it wants you to just put some deceptive wax in the cracks of your life so you still look ok, to the untrained eye.
APP: Are you listening to this and Christians think you’re so spiritual, but at home alone or with your family you’re something else? You’ve placed the wax in your life, so that everything looks well. But there is sin in there and you’re not dealing with it?
If you’re regularly more angry at home than at church, there is some hypocrisy there. If you can fight with your spouse or siblings and come to church like nothing’s wrong, there’s hypocrisy there.
ILL: You know, when you are fighting in your home, with a family member “Arg, I can’t believe you, this or that bad you said to me … .”and then someone is calling you on your cell phone, “O hi, how are you …”
A sincere Christian that’s getting ready for the day of Christ may get into an argument, but they repent! They hate it and they admit their faults, they don’t hide them. We’ve all got cracks; don’t stuff wax in there and fake it! Deal with your sin before God and others.
Jesus died for your hypocrisy! Take the wax out and be sincere; confess your faults. Let’s get ready for the day of Christ so that when your life has the light of the Son of God shining through it, you’ll be found honest, sincere, “without wax!”
APP: To be ready for the day of Christ, you must be sincere, no hypocrisy. Confess your sin to those you sin against. What good will your righteous works be, Christian, if you’re two-faced? You’re an actor at church and the real you comes out at home or at work? Wood, hay, and straw.
TRANS: To be ready for the day of Christ, you must be sincere, honest, the real deal. Confess, repent, and forsake your sin. Second to be ready for the day of Christ you must be…
Second, be blameless
Blameless. This word only occurs only 3 times in all the Bible, also in Acts 24:16 and 1 Co. 10:32. Literally this word can be translated without stumbling. KJV and NKJV both translate it “without offense,” which is the same idea as without stumbling. The best way to understand this word is this … “not stumbling so as to fall from grace, to fall from the Christian faith.” You don’t want to stand before God having forsaken His Savior!
It’s the idea of …
Jude 24 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
God is able to keep you from stumbling. That word doesn’t mean “to keep you from sinning,” although God can accomplish that. The point is that He’s able to keep you from forsaking your trust in Christ, not stumbling.
In other words, the goal at the day of Christ is that you could say … I’ve “fought the good fight, I’ve finished the course, I’ve kept the faith.” “Without stumbling so as to reject Christ” is the idea. You’ve kept on trusting in Christ; you’ve haven’t left the faith…
You haven’t fallen from grace, Gal. 5:4, for example by adopting a works-based salvation. You haven’t fallen away and given up hope in Christ to go back to your old sinful ways. You are without offense/without stumbling … this is Paul’s desire, his goal for you! Keep on trusting Christ!
TRANS: Be sincere, without hypocrisy. Be blameless, or better don’t stumble so as to forsake Christ. And third to be ready for the day of Christ … be filled with righteousness.
Third: Be filled with righteousness.
Philippians 1:11 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
EXP: You need to be filled with fruit which is righteousness. You need to be filled with righteousness so that in your life you produce good works. Your heart needs to have real righteousness in it so that you can produce good works.
ILL: As our Lord said, a good tree produces …. good fruit. It doesn’t take a dendrologist to figure that out.
Jesus is the vine and the Father is the gardener. Every branch connected to Jesus are people. Every branch that doesn’t bear fruit he takes away every branch that bears fruit the Father prunes that it might bear more fruit.
Those who are saved bear fruit, Jesus says in John 15:3. And so Jesus says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Paul says that the fruit of righteousness comes through Jesus Christ into your life. As the branch doesn’t bear grapes by itself, neither do you bear righteousness. As the branch gains strength by its connection to the vine, so also you gain strength and bear fruit through your connection to Jesus Christ.
You need to be filled with righteousness. As a branch needs to be filled with life so as to produce fruit, so also you need to be filled with righteousness so as to produce good works … so that you’re ready for the day of Christ’s return.
2 Peter 3:11–12 Since all these things of earth are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
EXP: And it’s not like this is all so you get a pat on the back; no it’s to God’s praise and glory. You’ll be rewarded, of course, but God’ll get the fame and praise.
APP: Some of you want greater fruit and you can’t seem grow like you want to. Know this, it’s fruit, it takes time. As a fruit tree produces fruit in it’s own time, if you follow the how to, the fruit will come in greater quantities. Just like our gooseberry bushes we just planted this year, we don’t expect a harvest right away. But if we put the work in, it’ll come.
So, the how-to … how can you be ready for the day of judgment? How can you get sincere, blameless, filled with righteousness? Where’s that all going to come from?
The How To (1:9-10a)
Your love must abound in knowledge and discernment
Verse 9 … it begins with answered prayer … We can’t forget this is a passage about prayer. Verse 9 ….
Love abounding still more and more
Philippians 1:9–10 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent
There is the how to…how to be ready for the day of Christ. Prayers answered that your gospel love may abound so that you might approve excellent things.
Paul prays that the Philippians’ love abound still more and more. And he can say “still more and more” because in the previous passage they displayed that love. And that love was a love for the gospel.
You remember verse 5 that they are participating in the gospel, they v. 7 are partakers of grace with Paul, we learned, in his suffering. And you remember Paul is writing to them partly because he wants to thank them for their generous financial gift.
They have displayed great love for Paul; they have stuck with him through thick and thin when no other church would. And their love for Paul was a demonstration of their love for the gospel, can you see that? They loved the gospel, the received the gospel, they preached the gospel, and they expressed love for that gospel toward Paul.
They rejoiced at Christ’s death for them and they were filled with gratitude for His resurrection for them and that so moved them that they expressed love in the context of the gospel and the mission of Christ … out of a desire to love God and others.
And now Paul prays that their love, their gospel love would abound still more and more. They have grown, they have expressed gospel love and Paul’s prayer is that they would abound still more and more in this gospel love…. Those who have expressed it, like the Philippians, will always have the need to abound more in it.
Love abounding in knowledge and all discernment
But it’s not just a flippant, reckless love that Paul’s driving at here. This isn’t some blind, ignorant, and inflamed love.
No, this is a love that abounds in real knowledge and all discernment.
That knowledge isn’t just surface knowledge, but deep, abiding knowledge. Heart knowledge, not head knowledge. Life-changing knowledge.
If you want to be ready for judgment day, you need to a growing love for the gospel. Love for the gospel grows in deep, personal knowledge of God. And so you must know God!
Paul is on fire that Christ’s followers grow in real, deep, heart changing knowledge of God. Knowledge!
Ephesians 1:17 17 [Paul prays] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Ephesians 4:13 13 [Paul’s desire is that] we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Colossians 1:9–10 9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Colossians 2:2 2 [Paul desires] that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
1 Timothy 2:4 4 [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The Lord desires you to increase in the knowledge, the real deep knowledge, heart-changing knowledge of God.
Why? Because to know God is to love Him. And to love Him will help you to love others who are made in His image.
Gospel love grows when you have know God. Your love also grows when you practice Phil 1:9 … discernment, or insight. This is practical insight for day to day living; an insight that leads to your ability to make good practical decisions in your life.
Paul is praying that your love would grow in the soil of knowledge of God and as you practice day to day discernment.
ILL: Just like if you had a large garden this year, cucumbers abounded in soil and water. It takes water, sunlight, and good soil to grow cucumbers.
Just like that…gospel love grows in your knowledge of God and it grows as your practice daily decision making, discernment. It takes knowledge of God and it takes daily wisdom practice for you to have a full harvest of gospel love.
When you know God, you’ll love God, and you’ll love others.
When you love God, you’ll love people with a heart for them to get saved! You won’t do certain things for them and will do other things for them. You don’t give a drunk on the street money, that’s insight. You’ll buy him a meal and sit down with him.
And so you can’t possibly divorce true gospel love and knowledge. That’s like feeding water to cucumber with no soil. “Doctrine divides, love unites” they say .. NO! Gospel love will not flourish without true knowledge of God!
APP: To know God is to love Him. So what do you have to do? You have to know God. This isn’t complicated; read the Bible, pray over the Bible, memorize the Bible, imbibe the Bible. And study God; observe His ways in the OT; How does He respond in this situation and in that situation.
ILL: Before my wife and I were married, we had a superficial knowledge of one another. And then, we got married. And we grew to know each other more and more. We communicated with one another and listened to each other; observed each other’s ways. We’ve grown spiritually just from having been married for 10 years and God being at work. God’s been good to us in so many ways.
But it took time and energy. We grew to know each other more because we spent time and energy with each other.
That’s the same with your relationship with the Savior. You can’t expect to have an abounding, growing love for God if you’re not spending quality time with Him…observing Him in His word, talking with Him in prayer and listening to Him in His Word.
You want to be ready for judgment day? Deny yourself and grow in true, real, deep knowledge of Him by giving yourself over to prayer and His word. You need a growing love for the gospel. That’s going to take getting to know God and practising day to day discernment.
TRANS: And obey His word. You don’t just memorize Christ’s words; you must obey them, practising discernment. Gospel love abounds only in real knowledge, all discernment, so that you …
You must learn to approve excellent things
Philippians 1:10 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent…
Your love for the gospel, for Christ and the Father who sent Him … will grow as you get to know Him. And so when you know Him more you’ll love Him more and you will love others more.
And when that happens, you’ll also grow in discernment: You’ll approve excellent things; you’ll put your stamp of approval on excellent things.
EXP: Paul prays that Christ’s followers learn wisdom and increase in discernment, the ability to weigh options and make a wise choice…thereby, approving excellent things.
ILL: Physical children, like spiritual children are prone to lack discernment. At our house this summer we went to the lake and found some tadpoles. We put them in a container and brought them home and kept them in an empty ice cream bucket. Pazli, our 2 year old, showed her ability to discern when upon seeing the tadpole water, forthwith began to drink it.
She lacked discernment. She has been prone to drink soapy dishwater, suck on a wet mop head, attempt to drink cornstarch out of its container, pull random leaves from the forest and eat them, suck on a plugged in cell phone charger… which she described as “spicy.”
She as of yet, as compared to an adult,… she lacks discernment.
EXP: When the prayer for gospel love for God and others abounds in real knowledge of God, you will grow in your ability to make excellent choices.
ILL: You have so many choices to make everyday, perhaps more than in the history of the world. You have leisure time, work time, family time, what to watch, not to watch, play, what not to play, read, listen to, what to buy, how to save money, who to give to, how to serve, where to serve.
When you have an abounding gospel love, you will discern how to use your time for the gospel.
EXP: What you love is seen by what you choose. Did you get that? … what you love is seen by what you choose. Your approval of excellent things comes from your gospel love, “Love must abound in knowledge so that you can approve excellent things.” Your love will govern your choices.
If you have a growing love for the gospel because you know God and you’re practising day to day biblical discernment, you’ll choose excellent things…not ok, not good, but the excellent things.
What choice would you make in this situation if you loved the gospel/mission of Christ? If you loved the gospel, would you choose to speak like that? If you did, would you watch or listen to that? If you loved the gospel and your love for the gospel was growing in your knowledge of God, whom would you marry? Where would you live, what vehicle would you drive, what clothes would you wear, what friends would you hang around with? If you loved the gospel, how would the process of choosing a life’s mate work … would you date like the world dates?
If you loved the gospel mission of Christ, would you serve in the church or not?
Gospel love that’s growing in the soil of the knowledge of God and daily practical discernment will, in the end, make you ready for judgment day. Gospel love growing in your knowledge of God, helps you make wise choices. It’ll give you discernment. This is spiritual maturity. You’re going to want on judgment day to be spiritually mature. By the grace of God, you can do this.
And so what you choose shows what you love.
Will you choose Him? Will you choose to have your gospel love grow? Will you let it grow in your true knowledge of Christ by getting in His word? What about prayer, this is a passage on prayer. Do you regularly pray for your own spiritual growth? Pray.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Philippians 1.9-11
This is going to take time…time praising God for Christ; time meditating on the gospel. Time praying over His word, letting it impact you. Time observing God’s actions in His word. You need a growing gospel love …and the only way that’s going to happen is if you get to know God more and practice wise decision making … then you’ll be ready for judgment day.
Pray for yourself for this; pray for others for this. Pray for a growing gospel love that’s grounded in true knowledge of God … pray that you grow in discernment.
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