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A Life Worthy of the Gospel

Philippians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Much like a parent sending off a child for the first time, Paul admonishes the Philippians to conduct themselves in a way worthy as those who are citizens of heaven.

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Introduction:

Three week’s ago we began studying Philippians as we find it has a lot of circumstances we can identify with during this shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus.
Paul is under house arrest and is experiencing some isolation. He could not go where he wanted to go, however, he was still able to receive people that would visit him. We can identify this. We are under shelter-in-place orders. We are technically, supposed to stay at home as much as possible. However, we can still go places and people can still come to us, we are just to stay at some distance from each other.
Paul is permitted from gathering with the people he is most fond of, that being the Philippians. They have sent a care package to Paul. We do not know what all it contained, only that Epaphroditus has delivered it and nearly died doing so. We also, have been permitted from gathering with those we are fond of, that being the people of our church.
Paul anticipates a future when he will be able to be with them again, as do we. I am thankful that we are drawing much closer to that time. I will encourage you that we are already making plans to make that happen as soon as it is feasible to do so.
And finally, we see that Paul has a parental care and concern for these people. No matter what happens, his desire is that they will continue to grow in their spiritual walk with God until that day they are with God eternally. I so identify with Paul in this desire as it is my same desire for you!
To begin, allow me to briefly review what already has transpired.

I. Introduction (Phil 1:1-11)

Look with me at verse 7 as I feel it is the key.
Philippians 1:7 NIV
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.
This is the heart of Paul’s letter. He loved these people and they love him back. This encourages Paul and he feels they are partners with him in all that is achieved.

II. Advancement of the Gospel (Phil 1:12-26)

The key verse we see here is verse 12.
Philippians 1:12 NIV
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
Despite the hardships that Paul is suffering, he is encouraged knowing that the gospel is being advanced. The reason it is advancing is because of the difficulties that are happening to Paul. Paul’s only focus is that the purpose is being fulfill. That is what matters to Paul. Paul then shares the inner conflict within him. He longs to be with God, however, he loves people and if remaining here and suffering here serves the purpose that people come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and others through his teaching are growing closer to God, he is willing to remain here to what he is called to do. He then makes the famous statement for which songs have been written about.
Philippians 1:21 NIV
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul will live as Christ lived, preaching, teaching and suffering to teach the truth, however, Paul’s true victory will be experienced at the time of his death.
That brings us to today’s text, Philippians 1:27-2:11
Philippians 1:27–2:11 NIV
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. 1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Pray
Precious Father,
We are so blessed to be able to read your Word. For every circumstance we may experience, we can find stories and lessons in your Word that are similar and instruct us in our path. Paul’s circumstances are somewhat different from our own, yet we feel some similarity. As we read his letter to the Philippians, Father we ask you to guide us to see how to apply his message from them, to our lives and circumstance today. In Your blessed name we pray Jesus, Amen.
Introduction to Message:
Most people grow up with the dream of getting married and having children. There is just something special about those little people that look like us, parrot us, and bring lots of activity to our homes. The love of a child cannot be matched! It is unconditional and special. If we have a healthy understanding of parenting, we know it is our job to help teach these little children to be adults. So we set up rules helping them to learn right from wrong. We discipline them when they misbehave in order to protect them from bad choices in the future. We give guidance and instruction about God, morals, ethics, work ethics, etc… all with the purpose of helping provide them with a good life as adults.
Then comes the day. They are ready to leave home for the first time. What do we do in those final days and moments? We encourage them to remember all that we have taught them. We encourage them to make good choices and make us proud. Is our pride in the fact that they obeyed us? In part, but it is much more than that. It is the peace and confidence that they will have a healthy life and family because they learned and applied truth to their life.
As I read Philippians 1:27-30, Paul’s words remind me of this final parental guidance one would give a child. In many ways, pastors are like parents. We teach people with the desire to promote maturity in their Christian walk. We desire to see them take it to heart and apply it so all will go well with them and when we see them again we can rejoice in what they have achieved.
I recently had such an experience. Last summer I attended the wedding of a girl I met when she was 4 or 5 years old. I was children’s pastor at her church. She quickly became an eager learner and even lead another young girl to the Lord when she was 5 or 6 years old. A month ago I received a wedding photo with a note on the back thanking me for being at her wedding and she shared, “it meant everything to have someone so instrumental & influential in my walk with Jesus to be there, so thank you!” I felt like a proud parent in that moment. Proud because I knew that despite a difficult home life, she had listened to God’s truths I had taught and applied them to her life. I feel confident that God will lead her and her husband in the right path.
So we see Paul demonstrating this same desire for the Philippians. However, even though he communicates as a parent, he also continues the theme of partnership. He requests they be...

III. A Partnership Worthy of the Gospel (Phil 1:27-2:30)

It is important that we remember what we are representing; God, God’s love, God’s compassion, God’s salvation, etc… It is a Holy God we represent. Our job is to breath, walk and conduct ourselves in a manner of our Holy God. Therefore, Paul in his parental instruction relates to them as partners of similar circumstances but then instructs them as a parent would on how they are to conduct ourselves in these circumstances.
Look with me at vv 27-30.
Philippians 1:27–30 NIV
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
The first way they are linked as partners of the gospel is because they are...

A. Partners in Suffering

Just as Christ suffered for the gospel, so do Paul and the Philippians. They are suffering through opposition. There are those opposed to the gospel and trying to shut them up, just as the Pharisees worked so hard to shut Jesus up. This common struggle ties them together. They are partners in this suffering. Not only partners with each other, but also with Christ. However, this “partnership” is in some trouble. There is something the Philippians lack to be the partners they need to be. In vv 27-30 Paul reveals what is lacking among them; It is “unity.”
Unity is very important if partnerships are to be successful. As a teenager, I worked for a couple who were “partners” in business as well as marriage. They owned a taco business somewhat along the lines of Taco Time. They had the best soft shell tacos I have ever eaten to this day. They taco was unique and very popular among those in and out of town who had ever had one. However, the business was suffering for one reason! The husband and wife were not in unison on how the business should be run. The wife always made everyone miserable when she came in as she always wanted everything to be done a different way; her way. The husband and wife would often disagree on things in front of the employees. In all fairness, the husband tried not to make a big deal of the situation in front of us, but you could always tell he was not happy even if he didn’t say anything. They eventually ended in divorce. I believe the business is still open in one place, but two others had closed last I heard.
It is hard to get things done or have success if there is not unity among the partners. Now if you have read all of Philippians, you find later in the letter that there are a couple woman that are not getting along and Paul admonishes them to do so, but it must have been more than just these two women. Perhaps they are a symptom of a greater problem as Paul addresses the subject of unity in Phil 1:27-2:18.
For today, I want us to focus on vv 27-30 as Paul reveals they need for “unity.”
To begin, look at verse 27.
Philippians 1:27 NASB95
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;
Do you hear that parental tone I mentioned? “whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know...” :-)
Paul then shares three essential of unity. The first essential is...

1. Consistency (1:27a)

This verse reads very differently in various translations.
NASB - conduct yourselves in a manner worthy...
NRSV - live your life in a manner worthy...
KJV - let your conversation be as it becometh...
In the old English, the word “conversation” had to do not with talking, but with walking. Many people say many things, but what people remember is how they act. In 2 Corinthians 3:2 Paul says,
2 Corinthians 3:2 NIV
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone.
They way we conduct ourselves is a witness before all peoples.
It is interesting that the verb that Paul uses in verse 27 is related to politics. It had to do with citizenship. In Philippi, citizenship was a big thing. They were Roman citizens and this carried power and privileges that others did not have. However, the Philippians are not citizens of Rome, but citizens of heaven. They live by a higher standard then Romans, not to gain salvation but because of salvation. We are not saved by our works, but the love of God within us should develop a desire within us to love Him and love others as that pleases Him.
As I look back over the past year and I recall how strongly I felt called to preach the exile series and the persecution series, I look where we are now and what is happening in our world and I believe God was preparing us for “such a time as this.” We are not citizens of this world. We are exiles, aliens of this world. Do we look at the politics of our world with anger and fear? No! Concern, yes! But we are not citizens of this world but of heaven. The things happening here will one day be no more. We can look with dismay, but hope for a future when all this will be past.
So, what identifies us as citizens of heaven? Our conduct. The way we conduct ourselves in the world here and now.
In our current climate, many are taking the law into their own hands. They do not agree with the government or the laws being made and adjudicated. So they are taking matters into their own hands. It is easy to want to do the same thing. “Well so-and-so has done it!” Well we are not so-and-so and we answer to a higher calling. Look at Paul’s teaching in Romans.
Romans 13:1–2 NIV
1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Whether we agree or disagree, we are called upon to obey the laws of man unless they hinder us from worshiping God or obeying God in some manner. We may not like the politicians over us, but we need to remember that God has placed them there. We may not understand it but God has a purpose in all He does. We trust in Him for better or worse. Before Christ can return, there are things that need to take place here on earth and some of those things happen because of rulers we would disagree with. God has a plan and we need to trust in that plan!
We have our own purpose. It is to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. I Cor 15:3-6
1 Corinthians 15:3–6 NIV
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
Christ died for the sins of all. It has been proven that He arose, conquering death so that we may also. An unknown source wrote...
You are writing a gospel,
A chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do
And the words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithful or true:
Just what is the gospel
According to you?
Source unknown
The next essential aspect of unity that Paul share is the need for...

2. Cooperation (v 27b)

Philippians 1:27 NIV
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel
The scriptures tells us in various places we are to “stand” or “stand firm.”
1 Peter 5:8–9 NIV
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Ephesians 6:13–14 NIV
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and it continues with the various pieces of armor.
Now Paul tells us that we “stand firm” together in “one Spirit”; UNIFIED! “Striving together as one”! The word translated “striving together” is the same word from which we get our word “athletics.” It has to do with working as a team!
When you look at a football team, the quarterback seems to be the star player. They get a lot of recognition and acclaim when a team wins, however, the quarterback could not do it alone. There are strong men that work to keep the other team from gaining ground. Others work to protect the quarterback to enable him to do what he must do. There are coaches who design the plays. There are even team members you never see. The folks who make sure to provide water and towels and so forth.
In basketball, usually there are one or two guys who make the most baskets. The team works together to pass the ball to the men forwards on the team so they can make the shot. However, they all are key and important and if they do not work together, they do not win.
We all come with our gifts and talents and work (strive) together to do the work of the ministry. That means everyone has a part to play and just as in team sports, some players get more recognition but it does not mean others are any less important. Often the church struggles as a few are doing the work of all. Teams where all the players do not put out 100% do not get the title! It is the same with the church. The church cannot accomplish its task when players on the team are not doing their part or are squabbling with each other.
Paul really stresses this idea of “together”. In the Greek language, the prefix “sun” means “with, together.” Paul used this prefix some 16 times in the book of Philippians. In verse 27 he uses, “sunathleo” meaning “striving together as athletes.” As I shared earlier, we know that there were two women who were in conflict in the Philippian church. It is very possible that this was beginning to cause division as people began to take sides. This is obviously concerning Paul since he uses this prefix so many times. It would have definitely gotten their attention much like a parent who says, “Do you hear me?! This is important! Pay attention to what I am saying here!”
In other places, Paul calls for strong action on behalf of those causing division. Look with me at Romans and Titus.
Romans 16:17–18 NIV
17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
Titus 3:8–11 NIV
8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. 9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.
So we are to live consistent as citizens of heaven here on earth and we are to work as a team in full cooperation with each other. We are also to walk in bold...

3. Confidence (vv 28-30)

Philippians 1:28–30 NIV
28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
There will be opposition, both within the church and outside of the church. It is called “spiritual warfare.” The enemy will use all means at his disposal to try to shut us up or close us down. The Philippians were experiencing just this kind of opposition. So, what does Paul tell them? They are to “strive together for the sake of the gospel without being “frightened in any way” by those who oppose them.
The words Paul uses of those of a horse shying away from battle. We have all seen a horse shy from something. They turn their heads and jump back some to the left or the right with the intent of running in the opposite direction of what has frightened them. However, we are not to be frightened but to “stand our ground.” We do so as we have the confidence of God standing with us and before us.
Psalm 139:5–6 NIV
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Psalm 34:7 NIV
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
Paul then shares three things to give encouragement to us for those moments.

a. That battle proves our salvation (v 28)

In Philippians 3:10 Paul says,
Philippians 3:10 NIV
10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
How best do you get to know someone? You get to know them the best when you have walked in their shoes.
Many people walk through their lives with no challenges to their lives. What I mean is, good or bad, they just do whatever and people just leave them alone whether they approve or disapprove of the way they live. However, we are often rebuked, put down or challenged for our faith. Some think we are stupid for living as we do, for sacrificing things they feel are essential to happiness. Things like giving 10% to the church instead of keeping it for ourselves. Going to church on Sunday when that is the day to have fun after a week of work and house maintenance. Spending time studying a book that is not entertaining but instead calls for hard self-evaluation.
Many today feel that if they believe in Christ that He is obligated to provide all their wants and desires. However, Jesus was always clear and called for people to count the cost before following Him. The scriptures are full of verses showing that we should expect troubles and tribulations in this world.
John 16:33 NIV
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
2 Timothy 3:12 NIV
12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
When we experience this kind of tribulation and persecution, we know we are living the way we are supposed to live. The very fact that we do so sets us apart showing we are different and it points to their guilt which is why they fight against us so hard.
The next encouragement that Paul gave is...

b. Our suffering is a gift from God (v 29)

I can hear you now. “Woo, back the truck up!” Suffering…a gift? Look at v 29.
Philippians 1:29 NIV
29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,
He suffered and died on our account. Are you not willing to stand up and fight for Him? As we do so, we walk some in His shoes. We get to know Him better. We feel the Spirit working in and through us in the process. We grow in our love of Christ and God. We become stronger for the journey.
The third encouragement Paul shares is...

c. We are not alone (v 30)

Philippians 1:30 NIV
30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
We are walking this journey with Christ…with Abraham…with King David…with Paul…with generations of believers who have loved God and followed His call.
Satan would like us to think we are all alone. I really believe Satan is behind this pandemic and the shut down. I said it before and I say it again. Joseph’s response to his brothers when he revealed himself to them in Egypt all those years later after they had sold him into slavery. “What you meant for harm, God used for good.”
Conclusion:
However, with that said, let me tell you this. I am not sure things will completely return to the way things were. There was a security we knew in our nation that was shattered with this shut down. Our confidence in our nations governing bodies was already teetering in the balance. It is difficult what will happen with our personal finances in the future as we come back from this. It is difficult to know what will happen with our economy and how that all will effect us.
There is one thing I do know. Satan is not finished yet. He has been able to close us down for a short time and he is not going to make it easy for us to come back.
Our church board is about to meet (or perhaps has already met as I am hoping we can meet on Saturday) in order to start making plans to enable us to come back together soon. There will be obstacles to overcome. Stipulations that need met. Many will still be unable to come for awhile due to health issues that make them particularly at risk for this virus.
Some will come and feel no concern and be ready to hug again. Others will feel cautious and be fearful of such actions. In light of such conflicts of response we need to push forward. It is interesting that the word we use for conflict is also the word for which the word “agony” comes. It is the word “agony” or “agonia” that is the same word which describes Jesus struggle in the garden. So when we feel the pinch of this struggle, we need to remember what Jesus experienced and how He overcame.
I suspect Satan will try to cause conflict. We still hope to sell the Bryant Center as well as the rest of our properties and buy the Baptist Church. This happening is not dependent on our community or national economy. It is only dependent on God’s will. If He so wills, He will so provide. However, when that time comes, we will need all hands on deck to help us with the transition. I hope there will be little we will have to transition as they already have most of what we need. But there still will be some things that need moved. Everyone will have their own ideas of what rooms they want to use for what. Some of these will most likely be in conflict. So we need to be alert! We must remember these things we are learning today and not allow conflict to divide us. We need to keep focused on our mission, our purpose. We must move forward in “one Spirit” and be “striving together for the faith of the gospel. In Spiritual teamwork, we can still have an impact on our community. We need to conduct ourselves with “consistency, cooperation, and confidence” in light of national upheaval. If we do all this, we will be able to “stand firm together!”
Pray
Father,
We have come through a time of quiet isolation, however the time will soon call us to be busy once again. Help us to not forget the lessons we have learned these past couple months. May we remain faithful to the reading of Your Word. May we be consistent in prayer and time alone with you. Equip us for the work and hardships that are yet to come. And Father, we pray, may you find us faithful to all the tasks You place before us, not looking around at what others are doing, but looking straight ahead to Your leading! Thank you for dying on the cross for us and Father may we not shy away from the tribulations that we will yet face.
In Your ever Holy Name we do pray, Jesus! Amen.
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