A Genuine Concern for the Church
Of all the people you know, who is someone that is very similar to you in terms of the way they think, their preferences, and their personality?
Focus: The more we experience Christ, the more we will genuinely care for the church, i.e. other brothers and sisters in Christ. But we must learn to be “like-souled” and to “risk our soul” in order to properly care for the church.
I. Based on 1 Thessalonians 5:23, briefly review the 3 parts that we as human beings have. Also briefly review the 3 parts of the soul.
II. Read the following verses and identify: 1) the key word that is common in all of the verses, and 2) the different emphasis that each verse has regarding this key word:
A. Philippians 1:27 Only, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, that whether coming and seeing you or being absent, I may hear of the things concerning you, that you stand firm in one spirit, with one soul striving together along with the faith of the gospel.
B. Philippians 2:2 Make my joy full, that you think the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, thinking the one thing.
C. Philippians 2:20-21 For I have no one like-souled who will genuinely care for what concerns you; For all seek their own things, not the things of Christ Jesus.
D. Philippians 2:25, 30 But I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your apostle and minister to my need,…Because for the work of Christ he drew near unto death, risking his [soul-life], that he might fill up your lack of service toward me.
III. In the book of Philippians the experience of Christ is the key point. But if our seeking after Christ does not result in a concern for the church, our seeking is at least somewhat abnormal or biased. How does Phil. 2:20-21 show us this?
A. Read this excerpt.
B. Fellowship about any experiences you have had based on the excerpt.
IV. Once we have a genuine concern for the church, we must carry it out with a proper view of our soul. In Philippians 2:19-30 we see two crucial points concerning the soul. First, we need to be one in soul; second, we need to be willing to sacrifice or risk our soul. Both are necessary if we are to have a genuine concern for the churches with all the saints. Timothy was a like-souled person, and Epaphroditus was a soul-risking person. We also should be those who are one in soul and who are willing to risk our soul.
A. Being one in soul: If we exercise our spirit to be one in soul, our mind will be sobered, our emotion will be regulated, and our will will be adjusted. Then it will be possible for us to be one in soul with other saints. How can we see this in Philippians 1:27 and 2 Timothy 1:6-7?
B. Risking our soul: In Phil. 2:30 Paul points out a striking feature of Epaphroditus. Here Paul tells us that for the work of Christ Epaphroditus “drew near even unto death, risking his life, that he might fill up your lack of service toward me.” The Greek word rendered risking means “venturing, recklessly exposing one’s life, like a gambler throwing down a stake.” The Greek word for life in verse 30 is psuche, which translates to “soul.” Hence, to say that Epaphroditus risked his life means that he risked his soul. Epaphroditus was one who was willing to sacrifice his soul for the churches and the saints. This sacrifice of soul is revealed clearly by the Lord Jesus in John 10:11, where He says concerning Himself that, as the good Shepherd, He was ready to lay down His soul-life so that we could receive His divine life. In today’s times, what are some practical examples of “risking our soul” for the churches and the saints?