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Gospel partnership fueled by gospel affection

I had the joy of serving Bristol University Christian Union last night by preaching on Philippians 1:1-11. We posed the question, what is a CU? It fits with Paul's description of partnership in the gospel between himself, a missionary from Antioch and the members of a Macedonian church. Not a society or an organisation or a meeting, though partnerships may have those - but the name for a set of relationships for a particular purpose. We discovered gospel partnership fueled by gospel affection leading to gospel love and gospel speaking.
...Paul's own deep longings for the come with the affection of Christ Jesus himself- almost certainly meaning "the love Christ has for you, which is also at work in me for you". Such an uninhibited display of affection makes it clear that Paul was not an academic! He was, in fact, a passionate lover of Christ, which made him an equally passionate lover of Christ's people. Much can be learned here by those who have pastoral care of any kind, including parents for their children. Paul's emotion, after all, is simply the outflow of his theology and the spirituality that issues from such theology. His theology has to do with the gospel, which has God as its source and sustainer. Whatever else, those whom we love in Christ first of all belong to God. God has begun the good work in them that he has committed himself to concluding with eschatological glory. That good work is the result of the affection of Christ Jesus, through whom God has brought this "good news" on behalf of his people.... this works... if the caregiver also shares in the affection of Christ Jesus, by having a good measure of the same affection, predicated on being participants together in the gospel."
Gordon Fee, Philippians IVPNTC, p51
I want more of the affection of Christ - more of the gospel. And I long to have it's outworking in love for others with whom I can then partner in the gospel, suffering together, speaking together. Paul prays with joy for the Philippians because he has this, and he prays that their love would abound. Mine too! Mine too! More gospel-centred theology leading to gospel-fueled relationships.


  1. I've been spending a lot of time in philippians lately, with home group as with a youth group and you're right, part of it's brilliance is how much Paul's affection and joy shines through, for Jesus and for them. It's wonderful to see how recklessly cheerful he is in places because of his massive confidence in the gospel. If only I was more like that.


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