Why, why, why was this book not required reading for me in seminary?
I finally got around to reading Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, by D.A. Carson after being so impressed and helped by his The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthian. I am currently using it in a discipleship relationship I have with a new believer. I find it hard to imagine how this resource was never suggested for this very thing at any point while I attended the seminary at which Carson teaches. He thinks and writes with such balanced and penetrating biblical sense that, aside from the main emphases of the book (which are excellent), the book should be required reading for pastors and Christian leaders simply for the way it models careful, thoughtful, and thorough biblical exposition and application, even despite how desperately the book need a new cover. Someone at Baker Publishing needs to be pummeled for this cover.
An excellent excerpt on biblical fellowship:
“Both from Paul’s example and from that of the Philippians, then, we must learn this first point: the fellowship of the gospel…must be put at the center of our relationships with other believers. That is the burden of these opening verses [of Philippians]. Paul does not commend them for the fine times they had shared watching games in the arena. He doesn’t mention their literature discussion groups or the excellent meals they had, although undoubtedly they had enjoyed some fine times together. What lies at the center of all his ties with them, doubtless including meals and discussion, is this passion for the gospel, this partnership in the gospel.
What ties us together? What do we talk about when we meet, even after a church service? Mere civilities? The weather? Sports? Our careers and children? Our aches and pains? None of these topics should be excluded from the conversation of Christians, of course. In sharing all of life, these things will inevitably come up. But what must tie us together as Christians is this passion for the gospel… . This means that in our conversations we ought regularly to be sharing in the gospel; that is, delighting in God, sharing with one another what we have been learning from his Word, joining in prayer for the advance of the gospel (not least in the lives of those to whom we have been bearing witness), encouraging one another in obedience and maturing discipleship, bearing one another’s burdens, and growing in self-sacrificial love for one another for Christ’s sake. In short, we must put the gospel first. And that means we must put the fellowship of the gospel at the center of our relationships with fellow believers” (19).