Title: Gospel Living
Series: Philippians (10/20)
Reference: Philippians 1:27-30

We have been studying the book of Philippians on Sunday mornings.  Today we will finally finish up with chapter one.  The title of today’s message is Gospel Living.

I am going to begin reading with verse 27 and I am going to ask if you are physically able let’s all stand in honor and reverence for the reading of God’s Holy Word.  And the Word of God says in Philippians chapter 1, beginning with verse 27:

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel in no way alarmed by your opponents which is a sign of destruction for them but of salvation for you and that too from God, for to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me and now here to be in me.”

Father, would you add your blessing upon the proclamation of your Word, and it is in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.  You can be seated.

I think most of you know that I have four sons: Noah, Chase, Sawyer & Easton.  They are 9, (just about to be 6), 4, and 2 years old respectively.

Nearly every morning (before I leave for the office), I bend down, give them a big hug & kiss, and I say something along the lines of, “You boys listen to your mother, and behave yourself.”  I say that just about every morning because I know you think our boys are cute, and fun, and well-behaved (and they are, they are good boys)!  But I’ve to tell ya: there are some moments in our home that are just out of control.  And how kids can go from being well-behaved & controlled one minute, to being completely out-of-control another minute is beyond me.  I’m sure I wasn’t like that as I kid!

So each morning there’s this serious instruction of, “You really need to behave yourself.”

That’s something of what Paul is doing here in our passage of Scripture.  He says in verse 27: Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…”  And the word “only” there is emphatic.  There’s force behind this word!  It’s as if to say, “This one thing!”  It’s as if to say, “This & only this”–  Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent…

You guys remember last Sunday (in the previous passage).  Paul walks them through this internal dilemma.  He says on one hand I want to depart and be with Christ, and that would be “very much better” for me.  But on the other hand, Paul says “I want to live, and continue to strengthen the churches, and that would be better for you.”  Last week we saw that both of those were strong desires in the heart of Paul.  At one point he was saying “I don’t know which to choose.”  At another point he says I believe I’m going to remain & continue to build up the churches–but here’s the point Paul doesn’t want the believers in Philippi to miss:  27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. 

Paul says it doesn’t matter if I live or die.  It doesn’t matter if I stay here or if I’m released!  Only conduct yourselves…  Paul says this is the thing that matters, beloved!  The issue is not whether I live or die.  The issue is not whether I leave or remain–  The issue is: Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ… 

At the most basic level, Paul is talking about integrity.  Your notes start off like this:  Paul calls the believers in Philippi to live in such a way that is worthy of the gospel.

Paul calls the believers in Philippi to live in such a way that is worthy of the gospel.  The gospel isn’t just a message to be proclaimed, but it is a message to be lived out.  And the Bible calls me, the Bible calls you, the Bible calls us to live in such a way that is worthy of the gospel.

Integrity.  A lack of integrity is the one thing that has hurt and hindered the advancement of the church (and of the gospel) for far too long.  Because we all know & have spoken to others who say, “I can’t go to church there!  So & so goes to church there, and I know the way they live-  The way they talk–  The way they treat their spouse / their children / their employees–  There’s no way I’m going to that church.”  And while it’s true that we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2)–the reality is, we should be ever-growing in our capacity to live a life that is according to the Spirit and pleasing to the Father.

Integrity.  How we live matters.  Back in West Virginia we would say, “You can’t have the talkie without the walkie”–  The walkie & talkie are meant to work together, complementing one another and giving evidence to the those you rub shoulders with that you are different!  You are not the same.  The old things have passed away; new things have come, and you are not the same person that you used to be!

So integrity matters.  Paul calls the believers in Philippi to live in such a way that is worthy of the gospel.  Paul goes on to point out three ways to do that–  If you’re taking notes, three ways the church could do it then, and three ways we can do it now.  Number one is unity: standing together in the gospel.

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind…  Do you see the emphasis on unity?  Standing firm–  That’s what the church is doing, and how are they doing it?  In one spirit, with one mind (in unity)!

This phrase “standing firm” is an interesting phrase.  It was commonly used to speak of a soldier who was faithfully holding his position.  Not cowering in fear.  Not hunkering in defeat.  Not stooping in despair, but his heels are digged in–  His eyes alert; his mind sharp, his perspective is, “There’s no way this post will be compromised on my watch.

So this is a military word, which may seem strange being used in a Christian context, but listen to me, beloved…  You do realize you are in a war, don’t you?

You do realize there is a real enemy who wants to destroy you, your family, your testimony, and your church!  And he’ll do whatever it takes.  He knows how to put pressure on you from without.  He knows how to put pressure on you from within.  He’s going to oppress you, depress you.  He’s going to make you feel like you are defeated.  You have lost.  There isn’t any hope.  And yet the rallying call from God’s Word is to stand firm!

We are in a war, and the mission is too critical, and the stakes are too high, to remain in the barracks when God has called you to the battlefield.  Now is the time to dig in, get ready for a fight, and hold your ground–  To stand firm, and notice the verse doesn’t say “standing firm alone”.  But it says (verse 27)–standing firm in one spirit, with one mind  It’s standing firm in unity.  That’s where a great source of your spiritual strength is to come from.  It’s from supporting one another, helping one another, encouraging one another.  It’s together in unity!

I love the verse in Genesis 2:18.  Before sin came in the picture, God looked at Adam and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”  God said that before sin had birthed separation in man’s heart and messed everything up.  Adam lived in a perfect environment & experienced an unhindered relationship with his Maker, yet God still says “It’s not good for him to be alone.”

And it’s not good for you to be alone either.  You need to be part of a community of faith.  You need to be sharing your life with others who want to go the same place you want to go.

So Paul says “Only”–  That is to say, “Here’s the bottom line”–  “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel…”  Paul says watch your integrity, church–and you do that by standing firm (you don’t fall into compromise & sin)–  You don’t let your spiritual guard down because there’s a lion prowling out here (1 Peter 5:8), looking for someone to devour!

So you stand firm (a life of integrity–  A life without compromise)–and you also stand firm by being in one spirit, with one mind (unity is to be our strength).

We are strong in our gospel witness when we are unified!  Internal harmony is key to external witness!  This is why Jesus prays, in the High Priestly Prayer (John 17:20-21):  I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world maybe believe that You sent Me.  Internal harmony is key to external witness.

A life worthy of the gospel–  What does that look like?  It looks like unity: standing together in the gospel.  Number two is ministry: striving together for the gospel.

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together (and for what) for the faith of the gospel.

Paul shifts metaphors here and borrows a term from the athletic world.  “Striving together” carries the idea of a team working together toward a common goal.  There’s no way you’re reading this without getting past the call to be actively involved in the work of ministry.  Paul calls the church–that’s me, that’s you, that’s us–  Paul calls the church to strive together!  To take ground, to be on the offensive, to push ahead–but the reality is: that only happens “together” because each part has a part!

It’s just like any team sport–  (Speaking of team sports, did you see West Virginia take it to Missouri yesterday)!  That front line of WV was on their game yesterday!  A handful of men, down in the trenches, working together, side-by-side, laboring & striving for the same goal–and that’s the image Paul has in mind here!

The church is to work together toward one common goal.  It’s not fifteen different goals.  It’s not even five different goals.  The church has one mission; the one given by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 28:  “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.” 

That’s the mission of the church.  Here in our church, we’re learning to express that mission with the words “Making & Maturing Disciples.”  M&M (it’s real easy to remember), but this is what we want to be about.  This is the gauge by which we will strive to measure faithfulness–  Are we being about the business of making & maturing disciples?  Are we helping folks come to know Jesus as their Savior (making disciples), and are we helping folks to grow in their faith (maturing disciples)!

The Bible calls us to live a life worthy of the gospel.  What does that look like?  It looks like a life striving together in the work of ministry.  Not scattered in a million different causes, but unified–  Standing together in the gospel and striving together for the advancement of the gospel.

And this is something we have to be intentional about because it’s easy to get sidetracked in the church, and everybody ends up going in different directions (all of which might be good causes), but they fall short of getting after the mission!

I remember hearing a story about these two guys who were working with a stove.  They had backed the pickup up to the kitchen door, and they had the stove about half in.  One fellow was on one side.  Another fellow was on the other side–and they were pushing, and shoving, and lifting, and struggling–and finally they stopped.

One old boy wiped his brow and said, “I don’t think we’ll ever get this stove in the pickup!”  The other fellow said, “Get it in?  I thought we were trying to get it out!” 

We’ve got to work together, folks.  That means every part has a part, and every part is contributing its part!  That’s not to say you should be involved in everything, but it does mean you should be involved in something.

If God has led you to this church–  If God has put you here, in this family of faith–  It’s because you have a part to play.  When you play your part, the overall health of the church will be better.  But likewise–  When you don’t play your part, the overall health of the church will be less because of it.  Here Paul is saying that the church is like a team, striving together for the gospel.  We need you to get in the game.  We need you to play your part & to be actively involved in the mission & ministry of the church.

What does the worthy life look like?  It looks like unity; standing together in the gospel.  It looks like ministry; striving together for the gospel.  Real quick, the last one–  Number three is adversity: suffering together for the gospel.

28 in no way alarmed by your opponents…  So as you stand firm in one spirit–  As you strive together for the faith of the gospel, Pays says “Don’t be alarmed by your opponents.”  As you live your life for Jesus, others may make life hard for you!  But the Bible says don’t be alarmed by your opponents–(look at it in verse 28)–which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 

Paul is saying when opposition comes against you, it’s a sign you’re on the right path.  It’s a sign that you’re doing something right!  So the Bible says don’t be alarmed.  Think of it as confirmation that you’re on the right path.  In the end, those who stand against God will be destroyed.  Those who stand for God will be saved (and both of those: the destruction of some and the salvation of others are from God), and then he says this:  29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…

If suffering is a gift, most of us are looking for the return policy!  But the Bible says here that suffering is a gift granted to us by the Lord.  Why?  What could be so good about suffering that God would “gift” it to our lives?

Suffering assures you of your salvation.  It’s a very tangible reminder that you are on the right side.  Suffering produces the hope & expectation of heaven.  Suffering makes us long for righteousness.  Suffering prompts our prayers for Jesus to set the world right.  Suffering leads to eternal reward.  Suffering strengthens the church.  It has a redeeming influence over the lost.  It reveals where our faith is weak.  It strengths our convictions about what is true.  It causes us to fix our focus upon the Lord Jesus…   And those are just the reasons we know about.  I’m sure God is up to so much more in our suffering.

Paul concludes this section in verse 30 by saying “You’re not alone.”  Satan wants us to think that we are alone–  That no one will understand–  That we are the only person struggling & going through adversity, but Paul says you saw the same thing in me.  Paul says, “When I was in Philippi, you saw me suffering for the gospel, and you hear about my suffering now for the gospel–  You are not alone!  Nothing is wrong.  Nothing is off-course.  This suffering doesn’t mean you’re missing the mark; it actually proves you’re doing something right!”

What the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to say to the believers in Philippi is, I believe, the same thing God wants to say to us today.

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel…  Stand firm together, strive together, and be willing to suffer together.  And it’s not that we go looking for a fight (we’re not looking for suffering), but when we live for the gospel, suffering (in some way, shape, or form) will follow.

The devil will never allow us to focus on the gospel without paying a price.  2 Timothy 3:12 says it like this: Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 

Listen to me, beloved–  It’s time to put on your big-boy pants because we are living in a world that is increasingly becoming intolerant of Jesus.  If we are to stand for Him, and live for Him, and be about His mission…it will cost us something.  But I think Paul would say, and I think every faithful Christian that has gone on before would say, it’s worth it.  It is absolutely worth it.  And some day, when we stand before Jesus, we’ll know that.

Let me pray for us…

Father, thank You for this time together in Your Word.  Help us, Lord, as a family of faith, to stand, and to stand together, to strive together, and if need be, Father, to even suffer together for the gospel.

Father, would You speak during this time of response.  Strengthen our hearts to stand–  To live a life without compromise, and to stand together in authentic relationships with one another. 

Father, I thank You for every person that You have brought to this church–and I pray that we might all strive together with each part doing a part, Father, to build up the church and advance the mission & ministry of the church.  And Lord, as we do that–  As we seek to live for You (to live in such a way that is worthy of the gospel), help us to focus on the eternal and not get distracted & discouraged by the temporary.  In all these ways, and even more, Father, would You speak, encourage, and draw our hearts closer to You.  We pray all this in the strong name of Jesus we pray, amen.

 

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