December 14, 2008
This is the last section of Philippians One.
Let me quickly review to here:
1. Paul thanked God as he remembered the faithfulness to the gospel of these people. Do others thank God as they remember us? Can they pray for us with joy or with sorrow that we are not being what we should be for the Lord?
2. Paul prayed for these people that their love for one another and for the Lord would increase.
Bettie, Lora and Cadie have been singing in the Bean community choir. They sang the first time last Sunday night (and will again tonight) at the Morefield Church of God. They evidently have just moved into their big, new beautiful building. Jewlian and Blake told us of how many of the girls in the "dance team" are experimenting with all kinds of sex to see if they want to be sodomites. The monasterial association was the sponsor of the Sunday night sing.
They talked about Christ, how we should work together and about love. Of course, they never define what working for Christ meant.
Vv. 9-12, the overflowing love Paul talks about is love for Godly knowledge which results in proper judgment of all things. It results in being able to determine what is right and wrong according to God's word, and living what is right while rejecting what is wrong. Paul's type of love results in righteous living.
The world has quite a different definition of love. Their love is defined as not being "judgmental," and getting along with everyone, except those who do not agree with them. That is, You have no right to "judge" my actions as I do as I please.
3. Paul was confident that everything that happened to him, even his imprisonment, was for the furtherance of the Gospel of Christ.
4. Vv. 12-20, Paul's imprisonment gave two motives for others in Rome to preach. Boldness and ill will. He does not doubt the salvation of those who responded to the gospel as preached by those with ill will. In other words, God honors his word, no matter who proclaims it. So no matter what the motive behind a work being done in the name of Christ, we must rejoice that something is being done.
We see that wrong motives and a right message can lead to genuine conversions, for really there is no preaching with a perfectly right motive.
On the other hand, it is impossible for right motives to make a wrong message right. If the message is not the true gospel message, then the hearer cannot follow Christ's instruction to repent and believe the gospel. Mark 1:15.
5. Vv. 21-26. Paul was indifferent as to whether he remained here or whether he went to be with the Lord. On the one hand, he could strengthen them in the faith. On the other, he would see Christ.
Note that he was not concerned about standing before the Lord to answer for all the things done in his earthly life. Can we say the same?
Vv. 27, 28.
Paul tells them that whether he is permitted to come to them or not, they have only one duty; that is, to live as it becometh the gospel of Christ.
Paul presents the same idea in Philippians 3:20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
Paul is writing to a Roman colony where the people possessed Roman citizenship, which held great world-wide reverence and fear in that day. Paul was also proud of his own possession of Roman citizenship. They, as did he, understood what it meant to be a Roman citizen.
So, Paul is basically saying in v. 27: "let your walk be as citizens of the heavenly state; that is, of the heavenly Jerusalem where you are fellow citizens with all the saints of old." Hebrews 12;22, Ephesians 2:19.
The standard of that heavenly city is As it becometh the gospel of Christ. Of course, the gospel of Christ starts with Christ:
Colossians 1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:Certainly the gospel includes all of the law of Moses, but the standard of the gospel is much higher than the law, for the gospel of Christ deals with the mind, will and emotions. It requires us to avoid even the appearance of evil and worldliness.
If we are members of the kingdom of God, live like it. Our new kingdom has a King, and his laws are clearly spelled out. He has promises, standards of holiness, comforts, faith. Let us live as members of another kingdom here on this earth.
But such living does not mean that we withdraw from the world around us. Christ's parable of the "Good Samaritan" in Luke 10:30-37 makes it very clear. WE CANNOT PASS THROUGH THIS WORLD UNCONCERNED ABOUT THAT TAKES PLACE AROUND US.
The laws of the gospel of Christ are clearly spelled out by the King himself. They are pretty well summed up in Matthew 5. Christ ends his sermon with vv. 17-20:
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Our King made it very clear that the Commandments given at the Mount are very much a part of his kingdom. Note also that the laws of his kingdom are stricter than the laws as given by Moses:
1. The laws of His kingdom are to be applied to all of our thoughts and actions: our business transactions, our modes of dress, our style of living, entertainments, ....
2. There is a way of living that, if not actually required by the gospel, is appropriate to the gospel. There is to be something in the dress, conduct, temper, talk, goals, recreation, which distinguishes the Christian from the world. Can the casual observer see that we are a follower of Christ? Are those around us able to tell that we are a Christian and a member of another kingdom?
If the casual observer can not identify us with Christ by our appearance (dress and/or hair style), then we have denied Christ just as much as if we had spoken that denial. We have confused the sexes, and denied the faith we say we have.
If the principles of the gospel can not influence us in the heart and our outward appearances, how can we expect the gospel to influence others?
If we had plenty of time, I would love to develop the meanings of these two verses, but we will only look at them.
1 Cor. 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
He says exactly the same thing again:
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not..
Expedient - profitable, to the advantage of one. Thus, not all things that are lawful for the Christian to do are to the advantage of the cause of Christ or the advancement of His Kingdom.
3. In vv. 9-11, Paul made it clear that a Christian must make the gospel of Christ his guide. Therefore, it is very important that the Christian study the word of God to know what becometh the gospel of Christ.
If we live as becometh the gospel, we do well. Our lives will be honorable, respected and remembered. No man will ever regret having made the gospel of Jesus Christ his standard of living.
4. whether I come and see you, or else be absent. In other words, Paul tells them to do these things whether he is able to come to them or not. I know Christians who will live faithfully by the rules of the gospel as long as the pastor is around, or any one on a great multitude of other reasons.
There is an extremely sad story in 2 Kings 12. There we have the good king Jehoash starting his reign at the age of seven. He served the Lord with all of his heart for several years. But when the priest died, he quit serving the Lord, and became so wicked that his own servants killed him, v. 20.
Jehoash illustrates that it is the believer's responsibility to be faithful to his profession regardless of the man of God.
Over the years I have seen many people who swore undying love for the Lord. But as soon as the pastor was out of sight, they went back to their old manner of life. I saw this especially at Merrywoods. When the pastor resigned, you would have thought that the Lord Himself had left the church. I was absolutely amazed at what took place. In fact, someone who was one of the most trusted men in the church still owes me $300.
It is indeed a shame (and a sham) that the pastor was their standard, but the commitments made under his influence are no less binding. Jehoash was certainly responsible before the Lord even though the priest died.
Paul tells them to keep their different manner of life whether he can come to them or not.
I MAY HEAR OF YOUR AFFAIRS. Whether he gets to come to them or not, Paul desires to hear that they are living as becometh the gospel of Christ.
1. Hear That ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. He wants to hear of their steadfast, united dedication to spread the gospel of the kingdom of God, Acts 28:31.
Sad to say, there is much steadfastness, but it appears to be determined steadfastness to not be moved to service for the King. There is plenty of steadfastness to sports, to the T.V., to the occupation, and at times, even to the family. It is amazing the commitment people can have to these areas, but steadfastness to live the gospel and the laws of the kingdom of God, that is a different story. When it comes to steadfastness in the work of the King in His kingdom, many are as unstable as water.
There is much striving together among the people of God, but
seldom is it for the sake of the gospel.
2. V. 28. The second thing he desires to hear of them is that their adversaries did not terrify them into abandoning their conversations as becometh the gospel of Christ. Adversaries here is speaking of any opposition to our obedience to the gospel of Christ.
Primarily, he is referring to the ones who were trying to influence them to go back to the Jew's religion. There was persecution of the worse sort involved is this effort.
Not only was there severe suffering from the Jews, but there was coming terrible suffering from Rome as Rome would seek to force the Christians to burn incense to Caesar. Caesar Augustus had it proclaimed throughout the Roman empire at his advent (coming to power), that there was no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved, other than the name of Caesar. Of course, this was a declaration of war against Christ and Christians.
Paul was imprisoned under Nero, 54-68. In fact, all the New Testament was written by the time Vespasin, who destoryed Jerusalem, reigned, 70-79. Most of the New Testament was written under Nqero.
The Apostle is saying, "Don't be alarmed at anything those who are opposed to the gospel might do or try to do. As they stand against you, don't give up on your godly manner of life. In the end they will be destroyed, and if you will remain faithful, you will be vindicated."
We naturally think of our adversaries as maybe some external influence standing against us as we try to follow the kingdom laws, but that is not always true. According to James 3:15, we have three adversaries, the world, flesh and the devil. The world offers its appealing allurements. The devil also presents his pressures, but by far our biggest problem is from the flesh. The old sinful nature which is always calling us back to the old things.
Our faith in Christ will deliver us from that adversary, but it will be a battle.
Which is to them an evident token of perdition. Perdition means destruction, as found in HEB 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Now, what is the token spoken of by Paul here?
Geneva sums up the thought well.
We ought not to be discouraged but rather encouraged by the persecutions which the enemies of the Gospel imagine and practise against us: seeing that the persecutions are certain witnesses from God himself both of our salvation, and of the destruction of the wicked.
In other words: First, persecution against the body of Christ, the church, are certain witness from God himself of the destruction of the wicked in God's good time. And second, ersecution proves that they are children of the Most High.
2 Timothy 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Here we see that those who get along with no problem with wicked men are not living a godly life.
Habakkuk 1:1 ¶ The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. 2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention. 4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth
The prophet Habakkuk ask, How long Lord are you going to allow the heathen to prosper and get away with serving their false gods? How long O Lord, how long.
The Lord's answer was that He has His appointed time, it will cone to pass and He won't be late. Our job is to hang fast onto our profession and keep on doing right.
And that of God. The persecution is a proof that God will intervene in due time and save His people. The hostility of the wicked toward God's people is one evidence that they are friends of the God of creation, and they shall be saved.
This is a statement that goes completely against human reasoning. For unto you is granted this favor by God. Strange indeed.
God's favor is not great wealth, fame, power, cloud 9 all of the time, good job, security, love from others, fair weather nor smooth sailing.
In behalf of Christ. For the cause of Christ, or for being a faithful consistent Christian, being obedient to the standard of the gospel of Christ, this is the privilege you have.
Not only to believe on him. It is considered here a privilege to be permitted to believe on Christ. It is a privilege not made available to everyone. The list is endless of the advantages of being a Christian, and we should not take this privilege for granted.
(The freedom of the mind that comes through Christ; the deliverance from the doom and gloom, darkness; the friend we now have in Christ who knows all about us and our trials; the victory over fear and death.)
There is no one in here who will not admit that it is a favor bestowed by the heavenly Father on a chosen few to be part of the body of Christ, and a privilege to be thankful enough for that we willingly serve Him.
But the favor from the Father extends further than just salvation. This is the part that is beyond human understanding, but also to suffer for his sake; Now, my human nature is repelled at this thought.
The apostle here presents suffering for Jesus' sake for the cause of the kingdom of God, as a privilege. The same privilage is preseted througout the New Testament. Acts 10:41, Col. 1:24, 1 Pe. 4:13, Jam. 1:2.
Scripture considers it a a privilege to suffer for the cause of Christ. (I'm afraid that most of our suffering is for our own sake, brought on ourselves.)
The flesh says, "That's crazy to count it a privilege to suffer for anyone." The Spirit says, "Count it all joy when we are called on to suffer shame for His cause."
Last verse, v. 30.
The same stand for Christ that Paul took and that we all are to take, will result in the same conflict that Paul had. As we mentioned in the book of John, it is the applied word of God that brings the conflict with the world, not the individual.
As we take Paul's statement here with v. 29, we see that the suffering for the Lord's sake was to bring joy. Why? Because it was the same suffering that Paul went through.
These people to whom he writes could fully expect the same treatment, jail, as the apostle received, if they took the same stand for the gospel of Christ. They would have the same enemies he had. They would have the same warfare.
Not only was he reminding them of the conflict which they saw him go through for his stand for Christ, but also what he is now going through in Rome.
I must admit that serious persecution we see in others would discourage us to take the same stand in their situation. However, it is the Lord who gives the courage to his people when and if the time comes for serious persecution. Here Paul is using the conflicts that he is going through to encourage these Christians forward for the Lord.
Some time ago, I read of missionaries who told their Chinese listeners that if they would get saved the Lord would deliver them out of the coming troubles. When he did not deliver them, many "converts" left their profession of Christ and considered the missionaries liars. And they were.
I could not count the number of times I have heard the same message, Get saved and miss the terrible tribulation that is coming. Here we see with Paul that such a message is in total conflict with the word of God.
This message that Paul left with these Christians is just as opposite as it can be. He told them, Get saved, stand for Christ, and suffer the same thing I am suffering. We would think that such a message would turn people off, but this new church grew by tremendous strides.
I think that many times we make the message of Christ far too easy and then wonder why people fall away.
God has given us through Paul a wonderful illustration of the true spirit of a Christian in circumstances exceedingly trying. The apostle was in a situation where what was in the heart will come out. If the spirit of Christ is there, it would be evident. If He is not, that would be equally evident.
> He had been unjustly accused.
> He was about to be placed on trial for his life for no just cause, and no certain outcome.
> He was surrounded with enemies.
> The false friends were not a few and were taking advantage of the situation to increase their own influence and undermine his.
These things combined to bring out the truth of what Paul was made of. Our trying circumstances will do the same for us.
The letter he writes from this situation is one of the tenderest recorded from the heart of this great man.
> He remembered them in prayer.
> He gave thanks for all that God had done for them.
> He saw God's over-ruling hand in these trials to the furtherance of the gospel.
> He saw the Gospel spread into the palace.
> Even with all of the evil he saw attempted against him, he had no ill-will or desire to get even. Rather he rejoiced that the message of the Savior was proclaimed.
As he faced death, he felt no fear and had no desire one way or the other. He was fully ready to meet the Master, but he also desired to remain for the benefit of those he was concerned about.
His desire to depart was not the result of a discouragement with life here, but a desire to see Christ. His desire to remain was not an attachment to this world and its allurements, but a desire to continue in his service to Christ and others.
Let's close this chapter with this thought. If we were in similar circumstances, what would they reveal about us and our relationship with Christ?
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