Today we kick off our brand new Book Club/Bible Study where we will study Paul’s letter to the Philippians with the help of Matt Chandler’s book To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain. Before we can zoom in on the congregation of Philippi, we need to know how it all began.
Reading for the week
Chapter 1 of To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain.
Then the jailer brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”Acts 16:30-31
Paul starts a thriving congregation with three very unlikely converts: a fashionista CEO, a demon-possessed girl and a jail guard. If I had to choose a team to start a new congregation, this would probably not be my first choice – but that’s what makes Paul so inspiring.
Lydia was the head of a fashion empire, but she knew her life was lacking something. Paul found her at a women’s Bible Study by the river as she was seeking the Gospel. He engages her reason and intellect, to show her the way to the finished work of Christ on the cross.
You can say that the conversion of the slave girl was a happy accident – but God’s hand is evident in her story too. She irritates Paul to the point of him casting out her demons that announced his ministry and she becomes free in every sense of the word. The Asian entrepreneur and the Greek slave girl could not be more different, but Jesus got hold of both their hearts in the way that best related to them.
Then, perhaps the most surprising of all is Paul’s testimony to the very man who must ensure that he stays captive. Matt Chandler says it so well: “If you hated the gospel, wouldn’t the apostle Paul be the most frustrating human being alive?” You can’t do anything to him to stop him from testifying about Christ. So, if you’re bound to him by a literal ball and chain you better be ready to listen. This show the jailer has no choice but to hear the gospel. But it is only through the miraculous release of Paul and Silas that his eyes are opened and he asks the question “how can I be saved”?
“This is how the Philippian church begins – with a Jewish fashionista businesswoman, a demon-possessed slave girl, and a glue-collar ex-GI duty-bound to the Roman Empire. Probably not exactly your dream church-planting team, but the Spirit works in strange ways to utterly redeem the unlikeliest and most diverse people.”Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
Song of Reflection
Psallos has composed a whole album setting the scene for the book of Philippians. In this song, you can see the women Bible sitting by the river seeking quiet among the noise.