Philippians 3:1 “Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you, and it is a safeguard for you.”
Contrary to what some people think, the Christian faith is not mostly about rules and restrictions. It is not mostly about obedience or sacrifice. These things have their place, it is true. We have no right to ignore them or throw them out. But those are not the things that make us rejoice.
Nor is the Christian faith just an empty emotion of joy. There is a hollow, temporary joy some people get from drugs or entertainment. There is a shallow, undependable kind of joy some people get from having the money or the things that they want. There are even churches that try to give people joy by giving them money or keeping them entertained. One I know even uses drugs. That’s not what Paul means when he says, “Rejoice.”
“Rejoice in the Lord.” In the Lord Jesus God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. In the Lord Jesus we find God’s mercy and grace. In the Lord Jesus our sins are forgiven, because in the Lord Jesus our sins were all punished and disposed of by his death on the cross. In the Lord Jesus God sees us as his holy children and loves us as though we were only innocent and pure. In the Lord Jesus we will live forever and heaven is our home. In the Lord Jesus everything that happens in life must serve us. Even the devils cannot hurt us. In the Lord Jesus we have the strength to resist sin and love each other. In the Lord Jesus we have a real reason to rejoice.
There is nothing I would rather do than spend long hours each week studying and thinking about this grace. I will get far more out of my sermons than any of my listeners ever will. That is no trouble for me. It is the joy of preaching the same old thing.
But it is also a joy because I know what it will do for those who hear. As Paul says, “…it is a safeguard for you.”
The same old thing is a safeguard. It continues to steady our faith and put it on sure and certain ground. And we need that in the years ahead, because Christian faith makes us something of a target. The devil has put a bounty on our heads because we believe the gospel. The world is all too ready to assassinate our faith. They would be happy if we were to believe almost anything except the gospel.
That’s why preaching and teaching the same things is a safeguard. An emphasis on the gospel keeps our spiritual compasses pointing north. In the face of competing ideas about God and sin and salvation; in the world’s wilderness of ideas about priorities and truth and spirituality; familiarity with the simple Bible truths makes sure that we can find our way home to grace. There, our joy in the Lord will always be waiting.