August 30, 2020
Most of you know that I play golf a couple mornings a week. But before I leave the house to play there’s one thing I’m quite religious about. I make sure I have plenty of water to drink. For if I don’t have enough water, it can actually be dangerous to play golf in the kind of heat we’ve been experiencing. But that’s not just true about golfing, it’s also true about life. We need water to live. We can go without food for about three weeks, but we can only live three or four days without water. Water is a non-negotiable for life. Without enough water you become fatigued, light-headed, your heart rate will increase, your muscles will cramp, and you’ll overheat. And if you are severely dehydrated, your organs will begin to shut down and you can even die. We need water to live. That’s a physical reality.
But in the spiritual realm, in this thing called the Christian life, there is one thing each of us needs everyday in order to truly live like Jesus. Do you know what that this? Some of you might say, love. We need the love of Jesus in order to live the Christian life. Some of you might say, truth. We need truth in order to live the Christian life. And some of you might say, faith. We can’t live the Christian life without faith. And yes, we do need love, and truth and faith. But there’s one ingredient we all need that replenishes our love, truth and faith like water. And that’s what Paul leaves us with today as he concludes this letter to the Philippians. So what is the one thing we need everyday? Well, listen to Paul’s parting words written in Philippians 4:21-23. Where he says, Greet all God’s people in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings. All God’s people here send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Did you catch it? Did you hear the one ingredient we really need to live our Christian faith? We need the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s how Paul concludes his letter to the Philippians. This is Paul’s parting shot of grace in a prayer. For it’s from this little prayer Paul tells us Why the Grace of Jesus Christ is Everything to Us
First of all… The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ captures the essence of the gospel Paul wants you to know how it is the grace of Jesus Christ that began our salvation and will complete our salvation. In fact, there’s no better way of expressing this, than the way Paul said it to the Corinthians when he wrote, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 That’s the perfect summary of the whole way of salvation. The grace of the Lord Jesus made your salvation possible. Without his willingness to become one of us and give His life for us, there’s no way anyone could be saved. And yet that’s exactly what Paul has spelled out in this letter of the Philippians in describing Jesus mission to us: Who, being in very nature God,did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2:6-8
That’s the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He left heaven’s glory to take the lowest place and became one of us, so his sacrifice could be for all of us. As a result, today, no one is outside the scope of His salvation. Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord can be saved. For Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
So Jesus became one of us, to offer himself for us, to give us salvation. That’s grace. Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. That’s the beginning of our salvation. But it’s also the completion of our salvation. I love the way the writer of Hebrews explains how the blood Jesus purchased our salvation once for all. Speaking of Jesus he says: He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. Hebrews 9:12 Jesus purchased your salvation with His precious blood. That’s grace. Jesus did this for you, so you can rest in His grace. That’s why Paul began this letter with this promise:being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:6
Jesus began your salvation, and He will finish your salvation. Every part of your salvation has been accomplished for you by Jesus. That’s grace. That’ why Paul told the Ephesians: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 So Paul concludes this letter by praying this prayer: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. He prays this so the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will be the foundation of your faith, the anchor of your hope, and the catalyst for living your new life in Christ. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is really everything for us. That’s why Paul ends this letter with grace. That’s why Paul prays this prayer for us.
And that’s why Paul adds this phrase “be with your spirit.” The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. It is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that motivates us to live our new life in Christ. His grace is like water to our spirit. It is the catalyst to living this new life in Christ.
I like how D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains this. He says, “Our spirits are the highest part of our natures; everything that is central and most important is ultimately in the spirit. It is by our spirits that we are capable of communion with God. We are body, soul, spirit, and the spirit is the highest. The spirit within us is a kind of link between ourselves and God. The spirit within, in spite of our sin, marks us out as distinct from animals, and reminds us we are made in the image and likeness of God. Ultimately, it is true to say that our spirit controls the whole of our life.”
So what Paul is praying for here is this: If the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with your spirit; if Jesus’ spirit of grace is controlling the spirit within you, then no matter what you face in life, you’ll be all right. Think about this from Paul’s perspective. Even in prison, where everything seems to be against him, he has joy and peace, and is above it all because the grace of the Lord Jesus is with his spirit. Re-read this letter and you will see this. He has joy. He is thankful. He is not envious of other people’s success. He doesn’t complain. He is free from the pull of life’s ambitions. He’s has peace. And He is content. And what I see here from Paul is not only a new way to pray for one another, but a new way to live: by grace. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen
Think of the opposite with me: Is not a wrong spirit that causes most of our troubles or problems in life? Look back at your life and think of what made you unhappy or caused you anxiety or distress. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have to admit that it’s often a wrong spirit in us that has led to our problems. Evil thoughts, holding grudges, being jealous, being envious – often cause us to struggle with discontent or discouragement. Just think how much unhappiness we could avoid if only our spirits were sweet and pure, and lifted up by the grace of Jesus.
You see, that’s why Paul prays “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” For when God’s grace transforms your spirit, there’s no room for no evil thoughts, for jealousy or envy, or holding grudges. And there’s no whining and complaining to your spouse or your God, when your spirit is enveloped with the sweet grace of Jesus.
So then, When His grace is with your spirit, that’s when Jesus will motivate you to live the new kind of life He’s called you to live. That’s what we’ve seen in this letter: The grace of Jesus flows through every part of this remarkable letter.
- When His grace is with your spirit you can have joy. That’s why He saved you in the first place, so you can be right with God, know His smile and delight in you, you can share in the joy of knowing Jesus as your Savior and Lord.
- When His grace is with your spirit you can rest in His salvation. You no longer have to try to live up to some standard to get God’s approval. You already have it. And Jesus will continue to work in you and bring your salvation to completion on the day of Christ.
- When His grace is with your spirit you can grow in His love. By His grace you’ve been set free from the law so you can now learn to love more and more like Jesus.
- When His grace is with your spirit you can be free of envy. You won’t care who gets the credit when someone does something good for the kingdom. Instead, like Paul you’ll rejoice that Jesus is being preached and the kingdom is advancing because grace means its not about what you do, but about what God is doing. Grace sets us free from envy.
- When His grace is with your spirit, you’ll want to make much of Jesus! You’ll find that life’s no longer about making a name for yourself but making a name for Jesus, and be able to say like Paul, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” You’ll want to honor God, lift up Jesus and bring glory to Jesus. You’ll find you’ll want more and more of Jesus in your life.
- When His grace is with your spirit this world will lose its grip on you. You become more and more a kingdom citizen, and see the turmoil going on in this world more in line with eternity.
- When His grace is with your spirit you’ll start thinking more like Jesus, serving more like Jesus and giving yourself like Jesus. You’ll see emptying yourself as the way you can begin imparting grace to others – just like Jesus.
- When His grace is with your spirit you will start becoming more like Jesus. His grace will begin to change you from the inside out and you’ll become more gracious with those who fail you, more including of those who are not like you. You’ll become more compassionate, more merciful, patient, joyful and gracious – just like Jesus.
- When His grace is with your spirit you will gain a new kind of confidence. Your confidence will no longer be found in what you do, but in what Christ has done for you. You will rest in the righteousness Jesus has given you and experience the freedom that grace gives you from trying to live by the law.
- When His grace is with your spirit your past will no longer define you. Following Jesus will define you because you will want what He wants more than anything else.
- When His grace is with your spirit you will find peace in the midst of turmoil. For you will bring your worries and fears to God in prayer and He will surround your heart with His peace.
- When His grace is with your spirit you will begin to set your thoughts on the things of the Spirit. You will fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word, the goodness of grace, the purity and beauty of God’s Son.
- When His grace is with your spirit you will learn true contentment from Jesus. You will find that Jesus is all you need. You will learn Jesus is enough.
- When His grace is with your spirit you will give of yourself and your resources to be God’s instrument of grace in your world. For you know that because of God’s grace to you, He will always give you all you need.
So there you have it. That’s the message of Philippians in a nutshell. It’s all about grace. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is like water to our spirit. For when His grace is with your spirit, you will rest in His salvation and His grace will empower you to live a life of grace. So then, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ change you and make you an instrument of grace in your marriage, in your relationships and in our world. After all, if there were ever a time our world could use His grace coming through your life, now’s that time. So may you grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, so we might become the peddlers of grace our world needs… so the world might just experience the grace of Jesus, through your grace to them. Let’s pray.