Citizens of the Kingdom of God: A Life Worthy of the Gospel
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Citizens of the Kingdom of God:
A Life Worthy of the Gospel
We have to understand who Paul is writing to so that we can understand the thrust of the text.
Brief history of Philippi:
-Founded by Phillip, the father of Alexander the Great.
-Preserved under Roman rule.
-Was populated with Roman soldiers and was nicknamed “Little Rome”.
-There was a sense of pride, of superiority, to being a citizen in Philippi.
-Citizens enjoyed all of the privileges of being Roman: free from scourging and arrests
-Paul, when he first went to Philippi and founded the church, A DECADE EARLIER, was beaten and arrested. (Acts 16)
-When they found out the Paul himself was a Roman citizen they panicked, apologized and released him & Silas.
-Paul is now a prisoner of Rome again and writing to ‘Little Rome’ and his message is explosive:
CONDUCT YOUR LIVES IN A WAY THAT DEMONSTRATES YOUR TRUE CITIZENSHIP in the KINGDOM of GOD.
A MODEL CITIZEN LIVES A LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
-Our English translations use a lot of words to try and convey the sense of what Paul is saying.
-In greek, this is one word: politeuomai (poly-too-uh-my)
-the simple meaning is to be a citizen.
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Phil. 3:20)
-This is an indicative! A COMMAND from the apostle Paul.
- standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side
-The image here is of Romans soldiers, aligned for combat, standing shield to shield. THE MESSAGE: STANDING TOGETHER.
-for the faith of the gospel
-What are they defending? The gospel. Paul is saying be unified in defense of the message of salvation.
-The assaults on the gospel come from all sides: Evolution attacks Creation, Homosexuality undermines marriage as the image of Christ and the Church, the Prosperity teachers undermine the sufficiency of Christ as our ultimate treasure – the church must be united on all these fronts. Any weakness threatens the whole unit.
And not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
-Being UNPENATRABLE: they can’t break your beliefs.
-their destruction/salvation. . . . and that from God.
-The Gospel is THE line in the sand. There are those that are saved by it and those that perish by it.
A MODEL CITIZEN WILL SUFFER FOR THE GOSPEL
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.
-the gift of believing and suffering
Being a model citizen involves suffering. IT IS A GIFT! Suffering is a ‘certificate’ of citizenship. What Paul is saying is that your opponents are going to attack. REJOICE! This means they’ve identified you with Christ. As you stand firm in your faith, you are only validating their belief. YOU WILL NOT BE PERSECUTED IF THE ENEMY DOESN’T KNOW YOU’RE A CHRISTIAN.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—
(2 Thessalonians 1:5 ESV)
The Beatitudes conclude with this same theme:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)
engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
-Paul is reminding them of the persecution he suffered in Philippi when he planted the church as well as the fact of his imprisonment now.
-Keep this in mind – Paul is a Roman citizen in jail under the Romans.
AND HE’S USING THIS AS A POSITIVE EXAMPLE! HE IS SUFFERING FOR THE SAKE OF CHRIST.
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
A MODEL CITIZEN IS A SERVANT OF OTHERS
-if there is any. . .
Are you enjoying the peace that comes through knowing Jesus Christ? Can you state that God has given you a new heart and has showered you with grace and mercy?
-complete my joy. . .
This is another command from Paul that refers back to 1:27.
. . . by being unified.
-Do nothing. . .
From personal interests.
-count others more significant
The fear of the LORD is instruction in wisdom,
and humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 15:33 ESV)
Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
(Proverbs 18:12 ESV)
The reward for humility and fear of the LORD
is riches and honor and life.
(Proverbs 22:4 ESV)
A MODEL CITIZEN HAS THE MIND OF CHRIST
-Have this mind among yourselves – collectively, corporately.
-The accumulation so far: Standing together in faith, suffering for the gospel, loving each other more than yourselves, and being humble – HAVE THIS MIND.
- WHICH IS YOURS IN CHRIST JESUS.
-All Paul has said to this point is summed up in this imperative:
Have this mind – think – like Christ Jesus.
1:27 said be a citizen of the gospel of Christ, stand firm in the faith of the gospel.
1:28 this is a sign of your salvation and the destruction of your enemies – according to God’s plan.
1:30 – You have been given the gift to suffer on behalf of Christ
And now he says, “THINK LIKE CHRIST”
THE MODEL CITIZEN
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:6-11 ESV)
THIS IS A PRIDE SMASHING TEXT.
-It is the declaration of the supremacy of Christ
-It is the declaration of humility of Christ.
-It is God’s salvation through judgment
-And it is the gospel of Jesus Christ
So we can understand what Paul is saying here – I want to take us back to the beginning in Genesis.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
(Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
(Genesis 2:15-17 ESV)
Adam is commanded by God to rule the ENTIRE EARTH for Him. He is granted control over all of it.
He has one stipulation – he can’t eat of the tree of good and evil. That’s it.
But then we turn to Genesis 3 and the Fall.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
(Genesis 3:4-5 ESV)
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
-The First Adam failed by failing to submit to the revealed word of God.
-He was tempted by the idea of becoming like God and seized the opportunity.
-Adam had forgotten who God was and who he was. His pride led to his downfall.
-This is the story of the Old Testament. This is the story of human history.
-Augustine rightly said that true peace and true freedom only come through submitting to the authority of someone else.
-Yet our pride and selfishness drive us to rebel against authority and ultimately exhalt ourselves as God.
Isaiah captures this mentality:
You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.’
But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
(Isaiah 14:13-15 ESV)
Jesus Christ shows us the only way to the Father.
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
(Philippians 2:6 ESV)
-form = morpheo. As one commentator said, Christ “possessed inwardly and displayed outwardly the very nature of God” himself.
-Grasped in this text means “did not consider it something to cling to for personal gain” THE KJV says ‘robbery’ – meaning Jesus did not see His deity as something to be seized.
-What are we clinging to right now? What are we holding on to as a source of pride in our life. Job title? Denomination? Family heritage? Being a Texan?
-Whatever we are clinging to here will loosen our grip on Christ.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
(Luke 14:26 ESV)
-but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:7 ESV)
-How does Jesus, the Son of God, ‘empty’ himself?
-by becoming human. THIS IS NOT A DIVESTING OF HIS DEITY! (explain)
-Consider this: the great reversal
-The First Adam is made in the image of God and sees equality with God as something to be grasped.
-Now the Son of God does not see his relation to the Father as a privilege, does not grasp it and is made into the image of man, taking the form of a servant.
-Jesus in his humanity submits totally to the will of the Father.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (John 5:19 ESV)
For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. (John 12:49 ESV)
-Jesus in his humanity submits to those that are in authority over him, even though he knows more and is God!
-Pride causes us to look down on those that we consider ‘not our equals’.
-We cannot stand being told what to do, much less by someone we consider beneath us.
-Yet, here is the Eternal Son, submitting to those He created and that absolutely loathe him.
-Jesus did this out of obedience to the will of the Father.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
(Philippians 2:8 ESV)
How low are you willing to go for someone you love? What depths would you go to saved those who mean the most?
-the humility of Christ goes even lower.
-the submission to the Father’s will brought him to the most excruciating and humiliating death known to the world – crucifixion.
-We have lost the shock of this event.
-Rome reserved this penalty for the most vile of criminals against the nation.
-And here is the nation of God, sending the Son to this death.
-listen to the insults, the hatred, the rejection of God in John 19:
Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.”
(John 19:1-7 ESV)
Hear again the words of Isaiah:
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:2-6 ESV)
-THIS IS CALLED THE GREAT EXCHANGE
Here is the eternal Son of God – lowering himself to our level and taking the punishment because of our desire to ascend to the throne of God.
And finally – Paul shares the result of this submission and humiliation:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11 ESV)
-What is the Name above all Names?
-THE NAME THAT EVERYONE WILL CONFESS – Jesus Christ as Lord
-When Christ returns, all will bow in submission. There will be no more clinging to selfish ambition and no more idolatry or God complexes.
-All will acknowledge Christ as Lord.
-All the hosts of Heaven. All the people on the face of the earth. And all those who have ever lived.
This is what David spoke of in Psalm 110 (the most quoted Psalm in the New Testament:
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
It is what Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 52:
Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.
(Isaiah 52:13 ESV)
The first Adam was given dominion over the whole earth and failed, bringing death into the world.
The second Adam, brought light into the world, suffered death and was given dominion over the whole earth.
Conclusion and Application
-Rome was a polytheistic society. They tolerated many gods.
-They demanded allegiance to Caesar.
-Citizens were required to declare “Caesar is Lord”.
-Failure to do so would cost them not only their positions of comfort and authority, but also their lives.
-Paul knew this very well.
-Paul knew that saving your life in this world would cost you your life in the next.
In Luke 14:27 Jesus says:
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:27)
-The original hearers would have immediately understood the message of Jesus – if you want to follow me, you have to die.
This is why he tells them to count the cost. It is steep to our flesh.
-When he said Jesus is Lord he was making 2 claims. The Jesus was the Lord – Adonai – of the Jews and that He was the One True God.
-Those that confess Christ as their Lord are telling the world, “You do not have dominion over me”. “My inheritance is with Jesus”.
-Those that confess Christ as their Lord have a correct view of themselves and of God – recognizing what he has done for them.
-As such, those that confess Christ as Lord, are unhindered by worldly titles and positions, clinging only to their risen Savior.
-Those that confess Christ as Lord demonstrate their allegiance by giving their lives in service of others, submitting to the will of the Father and demonstrating grace and mercy to those that seem unlovable, understanding that it is only by the grace and mercy of God that they are saved.
-My challenge to you today is this? What are you clinging to? Is it the Lord Jesus or something else?
-Your political party? Your country? Your state? Your family name? Your denomination?
-What is preventing you from unity in Christ? What is causing pride to swell? What is preventing you from laying your life down for the name of the Lord?
-Do you know right now that you are a citizen of the Heavenly Kingdom?
-Can you life be defined as worthy of the Gospel?
-Do you have the mind of the 1st Adam or the Second?
One last passage to consider and then we’ll close:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
(Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the final Word in the salvation of man.
The Son of God bore the wrath of God so that we may be saved from our sins.
We will either believe in the Son, and confess Him as Lord now – thereby securing our citizenship in Heaven – or we will confess Him later – securing our eternal punishment in hell.
I will be happy to talk with you and pray with you.