Partnership in the Gospel
November 14, 2021
This might be your first ordination service for many of you. Many people don’t
understand how the church is structured or how it functions. Well, maybe you will
have a better understanding after today’s service. My desire this morning is to
encourage us as a church to seek to glorify God through Jesus Christ through
partnership in the gospel. I have chosen the first six verses of Philippians as our text.
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at
Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: 2 Grace and peace to you from God
our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In
all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the
gospel from the first day until now, 6 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.1.1-6 NIV)
The Church at Philippi
Joy is a predominant theme throughout Paul’s letter to the Philippians and in these
opening verses we see that Paul experienced joy was because of the partnership
with the Philippian church in the gospel.
I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until
Philippi was a Roman colony located in the northeast corner of what is now Greece.
It was not a big city, but it was on a very important trade route, located on the main
highway between Rome and the eastern Empire. Philippi was primarily a Gentile
city. The Jewish population wasn’t even large enough to start a synagogue. Paul
founded the church at Philippi during his second missionary journey about 51 A.D.
The book of Acts tells us that Paul went to Philippi in response to a vision causing
him to conclude that God had called him to preach the gospel in that region. (Acts
16.6-10) The city of Philippi was the first city that Paul visited after receiving the
vision and the first church planted in Europe. But now it was ten years later, and we
see that the church is fully established with elders and deacons leading the
We Are All Partners in the Gospel Together
Paul greets the church writing, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at
Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons. (1.1) Brothers and sisters, every
believer in Christ is a partner in the Gospel. That is what makes the local church like
the Church at Philippi or Christ Covenant Church so important. The local church
gives the believer the place to do ministry together. Of course, you can do ministry
individually but that isn’t God’s design. God designed for Christians to partner
together for the Gospel in the context of the local church. Have you ever noticed that
thirteen of the books of the New Testament were written directly to either local
churches or local church leaders? And even though the General Epistles were
written to a broader audience the instructions are still aimed at the ministry of the
As I mentioned before, the Apostle Paul founded the church at Philippi during his
second missionary journey. According to Acts sixteen the first members of the
church of Philippi was a wealthy garment merchant by the name of Lydia and her
household, another woman that Paul had just casted a demon spirit out of, and an
emotionally unstable jailer and his family. This is not your “all-star” core group for
starting a church. But God had great plans for this church. Paul does not give us any
indication of the size of the church, but we do see God’s work of grace in their lives
when Paul writes, “To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi.” Other
translations say, “to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi.”
All the Saints in Christ
Some church traditions teach that a saint is a super-spiritual Christian that performs
miracles but that is not the way the Bible uses the term. The Bible tells us that every
believer in Christ is a saint. We are all saints set apart for Christ and His gospel. We
are not super-Christians. We are normal Christians that have been set apart for the
Gospel. We are saints in Christ Jesus. When I was in Bible College, I had a professor
who would greet the students of every class saying, “Good morning saints.” Or “Good
afternoon saints.” Being eighteen years old and a young Christian I thought the
greeting was odd, but as I grew in God’s Word I discovered that his greeting was
appropriate. In the Apostles Creed we confess together that we believe in “the holy
Christian Church, the communion of saints.” We are the “holy Christian Church”
because by God’s grace we are set apart in Christ to be a “communion of saints” and
to partner together for the Gospel.
Elders and Deacons
Notice that Paul continues, “To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at
Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons.” Notice that God’s people at the
church at Philippi were together with the elders and deacons and the elders and
deacons are together with God’s people at the church of Philippi. There is no
hierarchy in the church. There is no elite class of Christian in the church of Jesus
Christ is the head of the church and then there is you and me, all of us together as
one body. Yes, we have gifts that differ from one another, but we are one body
functioning together for the Gospel. Therefore, since we have gifts that differ
according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them according . . . if service, in his
serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he
who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy,
with cheerfulness. (Rom.12.6-8)
Since it is Ordination Sunday, I want to say a couple of things about the role of elders
and deacons in the church. The title “overseer” used in our text this morning is
synonymous with the title “elder.” Even though the New Testament Church was
founded by the ministry of the Apostles we see the office of elder and deacon were
established by God as the perpetual offices of the church. Even though the office of
apostle and prophet were limited to the first century of the church, the office of
pastor, elder, and deacon will continue to serve the Lord’s church until He returns.
Elders and deacons partner together with the pastor to lead the congregation in
partnership in the gospel. The New Testament is clear that elders and deacons are to
be appointed in every church to function together with the congregation for the
advancement of the gospel in both word and deed. Elders are called to shepherd the
church of God and the deacons are called to provide service to the people of God and
provide ministry to the poor and needy. There is no “Grand Puba” in the church.
There is no “Pope.” There is no such thing as a “solo-pastor” making all the decision
for the church. There are elders and deacons serving together with the pastor for
the advancement of the gospel in and through the church.
Partnering Together for the Gospel Brings Joy
Partnering together for the gospel in the church brings joy. Paul thanked God for all
the memories he had of the congregation at Philippi. These fond memories of the
Philippian church caused the Apostle Paul to offer prayers of joy for all of them. He
writes in verse four, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of
your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (1.4)
There was a special bond between the Apostle and the Philippian church because of
their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. From the first day and
every day for the past ten years the Philippian church partnered together with Paul
for the ministry of the gospel. They had an unending support for the Apostle Paul,
which is something every pastor seeks to enjoy. Their faithful partnership led Paul
to say, “I am confident of the very thing, that He who began a good work in you will
perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil.1.6 NASV) Basically, Paul was confident
that God wasn’t finished using the church of Philippi. Paul was confident that God
still had things He wanted to accomplish through the church at Philippi.
God has Work He Wants Us to Do
Paul is confident of this (the Greek word means he is “fully persuaded”), he was fully
persuaded that God would finish the good work He began in the church of Philippi.
How could Paul so confident about this? Because it is God who started it and God
always finishes what He begins. God is no quitter. God began a good work in each of
our lives when we surrendered your life to Christ. We are His workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk
in them. (Eph.2.10)
You don’t just receive Christ and walk away. God who began a good work in you will
carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. That word “until” means it is
an ongoing process. You don’t just receive Christ, then do nothing, and suddenly be
perfected when you go to heaven. No, God is working in you every day to make you
more like Christ. And He has good works for you to do – works of love and grace and
mercy for others. The Psalmist declared, The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your
steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. (Ps.138.8a)
Even though today we will elect, install, and ordain three men as deacons in our
church I want you to know that the Lord has good works for you to do. He has a
purpose for you that He will fulfill. He who began a good work in you will carry it on
to completion from the first day, every day, until Christ returns. But God is not only
completing the good work He began in you. God is also completing the good work
He began in the church. Paul’s words certainly apply to individual believers, but it
would be a mistake to think that his words only apply to individuals. Paul’s words
were originally addressed to the church. God had begun a good work in the church
at Philippi, and Paul was confident that God would complete the good work that He
God began a good work here at Christ Covenant Church over thirty-one years ago.
And you know what? God is not finished yet! He has more work for us to do, more
people to come to Christ, more families to reach, more spiritual growth for us as a
church, and more good works and ministry. God who began a good work here at
Christ Covenant Church will carry it on to completion. Do you believe it? I do!
Because what God starts, God finishes.
Brothers and sisters this is Christ’s Church. Jesus Christ is the head of the church,
and He has brought us together to partner in the Gospel. If God has called you to be
in Christ, then He has place you into His church, and together we called to partner
together for the gospel. Brothers and sisters, God isn’t finished with you yet and God
is not finished with us as His church. Let us strive for what lies ahead for the glory of
As your pastor and by virtue of that office, I will serve as the moderator of this
congregational meeting for the purpose of electing, installing, and ordinating Jerry
McMurray, Edwin Negron, and Chase Pepper to the office of deacon in this church.
Elder Robert Bullen will serve as the clerk.
Over a year ago this congregation nominated these men as deacons of this church.
At that time their nominations were presented to the congregation without
objection. They have served faithfully among you as interns for over a year
participating in the duties of a deacon. In addition, the new candidates have gone
through hours of biblical and theological training that concluded in sustaining a
Election of Deacons
Are you now ready to proceed to the election of additional ruling elders and deacons
from the names presented? In your bulletin is a voting card. Please use your voting
card to register your vote. Ushers will collect the cards and tally the votes.
Each nominee has been elected by this congregation to serve this church.
Questions to the Candidates
- Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as originally given,
to be the inerrant Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
- Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith and the Catechisms of
this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures;
and do you further promise that if at any time you find yourself out of accord
with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will, on your own
initiative, make known to your Session the change which has taken place in your
views since the assumption of this ordination vow?
- Do you approve of the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian
Church in America, in conformity with the general principles of biblical polity?
- Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon, as the case may be) in this
church, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof, and to endeavor
by the grace of God to adorn the profession of the Gospel in your life, and to set a
worthy example before the Church of which God has made you an officer?
- Do you promise subjection to your brethren in the Lord?
- Do you promise to strive for the purity, peace, unity and edification of the
Question to the Congregation
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive these brothers as
deacons, and do you promise to yield them all that honor, encouragement and
obedience in the Lord to which this office, according to the Word of God and the
Constitution of this Church, entitles them?
Prayer of Ordination with the Laying on of Hands
Pronouncement of New Officers
I now pronounce and declare that Jerry McMurray, Edwin Negron, and Chase Pepper
have been regularly elected, ordained and installed as deacon in this church,
agreeable to the Word of God, and according to the Constitution of the Presbyterian
Church in America; and that as such they are entitled to all encouragement, honor,
and obedience in the Lord: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Deacons – Mike Porter (Chairman of the Diaconate)
For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and
great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (ITim.3.13)
Congregation – Robert Bullen (Clerk of Session)
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those
who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be
unprofitable for you. (Heb.13.17)
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or
think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph.3.20-21)