Now I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this out of need, for I have learned to be content regardless of my circumstances.I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Nevertheless, you have done well to share in my affliction. And as you Philippians know, in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church but you partnered with me in the matter of giving and receiving. For even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs once and again. Not that I am seeking a gift, but I am looking for the fruit that may be credited to your account. I have all I need and more, now that I have received your gifts from Epaphroditus. They are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Paul, The Apostle of Grace
As we have noted continually in these teachings on Philippians, the Philippian people had been impacted deeply by the good news of grace (everything God did for us through Jesus, leaving us nothing to do but to receive and rest by faith in what he has done). The impact of grace began in the lives of the Philippians when the Lord opened Lydia’s heart to respond to Paul’s message of grace (Acts 16:13-15), the message the ascended Jesus had given him (Acts 20:24). Remember, Paul was given the assignment by Jesus of sharing the good news of grace with people all over the Roman world and establishing grace-based churches in its cities (Acts 20:23-24).
For Paul to fulfill his mission of sharing the message of grace and starting grace-based churches, he needed financial support. The Philippian believers understood the importance of starting grace-based churches, since their lives were impacted by grace so deeply, resulting in their church being started in Philippi. It was the heart of the Philippian believers to see the lives of other people transformed by the truths of grace as their lives had been. So they supported Paul financially in his mission to reach more and more people with the good news of grace.
It was Epaphroditus who brought Paul the Philippians’ financial gifts while Paul was in prison. Paul described their financial contributions this way:
“I have all I need and more, now that I have received your gifts from Epaphroditus. They are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”
Paul assured the Philippians that he was not seeking financial support from them, but was thankful to them for their support. He assured them their giving would be “credited to their account”. I take this to mean that God would reward them one day for investing in getting out the good news of grace.
Paul was not always fully supplied in his mission of taking the good news of grace to people. There were many times he was homeless and hungry. During these times, he learned the secret to contentment. His secret…
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
It took Paul time to learn this truth, since he said, “I have learned…” Paul faced many homeless and hungry days and nights. Yet, he discovered in these times, Jesus would strengthen him. Not only did Paul discover that Jesus would strengthen him when he was homeless and hungry, he also discovered Jesus would strengthen him when he faced brutal conditions and angry persecutions as he shared God’s grace and started grace-based churches.
Speaking of grace-based churches...we need them badly in our neighborhoods, towns, villages, and cities. All over the world legalistic churches abound. However, there are very few churches that teach the fullness of God’s grace. People who have come to embrace the revelation of grace given to Paul by the ascended Jesus have difficulty finding grace-based churches. In most communities, they are nearly impossible to find. Consistently, I hear from people all over the world, who strongly desire to be involved in a grace-based church, that they cannot find one where they live. This gives evidence that the need for grace-based churches is great. The need for missionaries who will establish grace-based churches is great. The finances needed to support these missionaries and to start these churches are great.
Originally, in the book of Acts, Paul established churches for the purpose of reaching people with grace and teaching people about grace. Grace was the core of Paul’s message and missionary journeys, and the churches he established were the communication centers of grace.
Much has changed since Paul first started grace-based churches. We are hard-pressed to find any grace-based church in most areas of the world. Most churches have diluted the gospel of grace by mixing law and grace (see Galatians), the old and new covenants (see Hebrews and 2 Corinthians 3:1-6:2), and prophecies concerning the earthly life of Jesus and the mystery of the church (see Ephesians). These legalistic churches create false measurements of spiritual maturity that leave grace almost exclusively out of the spiritual maturity process, if not out of it all together. Pastors of these churches take verses completely out of context, forcing verses to say something they were never saying in order to get their “spiritual agenda” into the hearts and minds of people. Desperate for people to “apply the Bible to their lives” according to their agenda, pastors force application of the scriptures in a way the context of the scriptures was never intended. Consequently, the majority of believers remain uneducated about the Bible, even though they are taught from the Bible every Sunday.
Yet, because most believers have never been educated about the Bible, even though they have heard thousands of sermons from the Bible, they are unaware that much of what they are hearing many Sundays is unbiblical. This is because the majority of pastors are teaching from the Bible, but are not teaching the Bible. There is a big difference in teaching from the BIble and actually teaching the Bible.
Most of these legalistic churches are well-funded financially. People are pouring money into these churches. Many pastors are persuading people to give more and more by promising people the blessings of God if they “tithe” and the punishment of God if they don’t. As if tithing is a part of the new covenant church.
In Philippians, Paul writes about giving, not tithing. Paul talks about sacrificial giving and giving to bless others, rather than giving to be blessed. Paul talks about giving, not for the purpose of avoiding God’s punishment, but because it brings God pleasure. Paul mentioned in his letter that God is well-pleased when people sacrificially give to financially reach more people with and teach more people about grace. About this Paul says:
“They are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.”
God is well-pleased when his children of grace give financially to reach other people with grace. Their financial sacrifices are sweet smelling to God. It pleases him greatly to see his children sacrifice financially so his grace can reach more people. It is much like when a parent sees his child give sacrifically to meet the needs of others, it pleases the parent.
By giving to spread the message of grace, the Philippian believers sacrificed their own needs to meet Paul’s needs. Paul wanted them to know that God would meet all their needs. Paul encouraged the Philippians by telling them, “my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
We do not give sacrificially so God will meet our needs. We do not give sacrificially because God is going to meet our needs. That would be law and self-centered giving. Rather, we give sacrificially because our lives have been changed by grace and we want other people’s lives to be changed by grace too. Therefore, we give to spread the good news of grace, to start grace-based churches, and to support already established grace-based churches. This type of giving is called grace-based giving.
People whose lives have been changed by grace are motivated to give, not by selfish (God will bless me if I do) or fearful (God will punish me if I don’t) law-based giving, but because their lives have been impacted by grace and now they want to invest financially in impacting the lives of others with grace.
Grace-based giving is how the Philippian church gave and grace-based giving is how we give.
To read more of Brad's teachings on Philippians, click below.