08 February 2011

True Joy is Found in the God of the Gospel


Phil 1:27-30


• God is all powerful
• God is all knowing and unchangeable
• God is timeless
• God is completely sovereign
• God is everywhere present
• God is full of mercy
• God is full of grace and truth
• God is full of glory
• God is beautiful and majestic
• God is our stronghold and protector

God is God and I am man “For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those around Him. O LORD God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O LORD? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.” Ps 89:6-8. He is so awesome and worthy of our praise and adoration! John wrote in his last letter “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created." Rev 4:8-11. Let me ask you some questions as we jump into this portion of Paul's letter!Do people see that God is the joy of your life? Do they see a passion for the Gospel and the power it has over a sinner? Do they see the love relationship that you have in Him? When they see you on the street, in the store, at church! Do they see something they wish they had.....that something they’ve been missing their whole life? When we walk worthy people should react to us as having something that’s been a void in their own life! A godly lifestyle should be your desire and daily conduct especially in this present fallen world! Conduct (means) “to lead," a trained discipline," a way or course of life, your manner of life." As we come to this portion in Paul's letter.....we see that our conduct that Paul is speaking about is a conduct that:

• Believing God
• Fearing God
• Loving God
• Following God
• Obeying God
• Rejoicing in God
• Believing in Christ
• Loving Christ
• Following the example of Christ
• Obeying Christ

You may be saying to yourself  "that sounds like a lot of work don't you think"....but that’s what is required from every single person who claims the name of Jesus Christ!! All these conducts should be evident in our Christian life. Walking worthy of the gospel is not an easy life. The early believers in Philippi were under a great pressure which came from the Roman Empire........Hence the fact Paul writing this from a Roman’s prison cell! To serve Christ in a way that seemed unimaginable was hard to do, for the simple fact to be loyal to someone else other then Caesar was punishable by death. This wasn’t uncommon as we have the Old Testament saints as our examples! Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego or Daniel when he would not bow down in his heart. See since the tragic death of Stephen before the Sanhedrin and John’s brother James, Christianity has been under great oppression ever since! If you disagree! Go back and re-read the letters to the churches and you will begin to see an underlining concern for all our dear brothers and sisters...............................persecution wasn’t going away anytime soon! The greatest of example of this is  found in James letter.........Who is his audience? Scattered Jewish Christian’s because of heavy persecution. He wrote “To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,” James 1:1-2. Despite the troubles and the threats and the possible impending death, what does Paul do? He pens these simple words! “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v27). Which literally means: “only let your manner of life as citizens be worthy of the Gospel of Christ.”Though they were citizens of a Roman colony in Macedonia.....just as you are citizens of Canada! Paul is telling them and us, that this isn’t our home!! I may be born in Canada, but I’m a citizen of the living Lord who saved my wretched soul! First and foremost......The Philippians church family were to live out their citizenship onto Jesus Christ!  Which literally means “Live out your blood bought Heavenly citizenship” This is what it means to walk worthy of the Gospel. The Gospel is to be adorned by each and every one of us. Why? The Gospel is a bloody Gospel; it’s a sacrificial Gospel that cost Jesus his very life on our behalf! This was done so that our citizenship could be secured through His shedding blood for those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ through repentance and faith. The Philippians commitment to Jesus was an offence, a threat against the government’s power. A threat to the very fabric of society because the Gospel is not a compromising life. The Empire felt threatened by the church because they would join hands with Caesar. Remember! To have allegiance to another other then Caesar, bordered on treason! By definition treason is the offense of acting to overthrow one's government or to harm or kill its sovereign, a violation of allegiance to one's sovereign or to one's state, the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery. Roman’s pressure was always a pressure to the church to conform to their way of society! This is happening still today!! I have close friends who have had their first amendment right to freedom of speech removed. We are told to keep religion or the bible out of our schools, governments, and work places. We are told to be tolerant of all other walks of life as equal. We are told to accept homosexuality as a normal lifestyle. We are told to accept abortion. We are told to keep our religion to ourselves. For an example closer to home for me and for those who chose to home school their children.........If you want to educate your children at home, you are labelled a trouble maker, because you don’t want to conform! But my citizenship....my walk is to be worthy of Christ first! Not Canada............obeying God first in all things and then those whom the Lord has put to rule over us!!! So to walk worthy for the church of Philippi was hard work! “spiritual sweat” as Kent Hughes puts it. Heavenly citizenship worthy of the Gospel was costly and very demanding. The same goes for me and you!! This is something that was always apart of Paul’s life and this was Paul’s passion!! “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, "The righteous shall live by faith." Rom 1:16-17. The Gospel is God's plan of salvation in Christ. ................Christ only! John Wycliffe said "The gospel alone is sufficient to rule the lives of Christians everywhere...any additional rules made to govern men's conduct added nothing to the perfection already found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ." So Paul encourages these believers with some comforting advice through the direction of the Holy Spirit......

1. A TO BE A CITIZEN OF THE GOSPEL REQUIRES A SPIRITUAL STEADFASTNESS (V27b)

Steadfast means: to be stationary, that is, (figuratively) to persevere....We are to be unmovable because of the convictions found only in the Gospel. In order for this to work we need one man ingredient! The Holy Spirit. This can only be done through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3:5. This is where I believe many Christian’s stumble!! Not willing to stand fast in the face of opposition! Willing to go upstream when everyone else is going down, willing to go against the flow of what society deems best for us or our families. There are many ways that cause us to fall or easily moved from standing fast!

• It’s either because they have little confidence in the Spirit that lives within them.
• It’s a lack of true bible study and prayer devotion to the Sovereign Lord.
• It’s that the person who doesn’t want to offend for the sake of keeping friendships
• It’s that person who doesn’t have personal conviction or a stand on anything! When they try to defend themselves it’s like pinning jello to the wall it has no soild foundation.

That’s why we have to dive deep into this book....not once a week.....or say "I will read my daily bread and think I understand theology or a correct interpretation of the text!" Paul is talking about a passion a conviction that says “NO TO THE WORLD!” My allegiance lies with Christ first and foremost!!! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor 15:58. I’m standing firm by the power that lives within me! As I stand against the attacks of the Gospel.

2. A TO BE A CITIZEN OF THE GOSPEL REQUIRES TEAMWORK (V27B)

“striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” Because we desperately need one another!! Until you realize that!! You are playing on your own.....................and for that I feel sorry for you. The natural man thinks I can do this on my own and I’m afraid that way of thinking has permeated the church. I’m ok! I got my Jesus...................But do you have His fellowship with His children that He called out of the well of death and destruction? Our walking worthy depends to some degree on teamwork.......Keeping each other accountable! Caring for one another and just being there for a shoulder to cry on!

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO ENCOURAGE THE WEAK. “strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees” Isa 35:3.

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO BE EDIFIED BY THE WORD “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head- Christ” Eph 4:15.

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO SERVE ONE ANOTHER “that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine.” Rom 1:12 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22

TEAMWORK HELPS US TO GROW IN A CHRISTIAN WALK “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Prov 27:17

TEAMWORK MOST OF ALL GLORIFIES LORD WHEN WE STAND BEFORE HIM “so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Eph 5:27
3. A TO BE A CITIZEN OF THE GOSPEL REQUIRES FEARLESSNESS (V28)

Standing together as a team unmovable by the work of the Holy Spirit! Don’t panic, alarmed or terrified, for the simple reason, our citizenship is in Heaven! Remember God is in control so don’t be intimidated by those who would cause you harm or opposition.....“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Rom 8:3!.I like what D.A Carson said “your change in character, your united stand in the defence of the gospel, your ability to withstand with meekness and without fear the opposition that you must endure, constitutes a sign. That sign speaks volumes, both to the outside world and the Christian community. It is a sign of judgement against the world that is mounting the opposition; it is a sign of assurance that these believers really are the people of God and will be saved on the last day.” As children of the gospel.....we are determined to persevere as a team which requires a firm stand....teamwork and fearlessness to what or who stands against us!!Our fear shouldn’t be in the people around us......or those who oppose Christianity! Opposition of the gospel is (or was a) sign that we are His and a reality to the impending dome for those who oppose the Gospel message. A sign is................ proof or giving evidence that something is true. What is Paul saying to them and us? Christ is the light of the world and the one who is our salvation? Correct! If you believe in Christ, and have committed your life to Him, then that light and life should be manifested in you! The world will see that light and where it shines forth, there will be persecution. Jesus said “Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." John 8:12. The more your light shines, the more oppostion you will face! John MacArthur wrote “As the church struggles to fulfill its divine mission, it must never be intimidated, either by unbelieving opponents in the world or by critics from within its own ranks.” Why? The Hebrew writer penned these words ".....I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?" Heb 13:6 Remember what Jesus said to His disciples “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28.

Why do we need to walk worthy?.........................................Why do we have to do all this standing firm stuff.................teamwork..................fearlessness?!! He gives the answer in the verses that follow! I love how Paul finishes off this part of his letter with these comforting words!! (V29- v30) “It’s been granted to you to suffer for His name sake!!” The word “granted” can be literally rendered “graced”..........This means to give freely o by gracious favour! A prime example of this gracious favour is found in our salvation John 1:12-13 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13. The suffering that comes to a Christian is not a sign of God’s neglect or lack of care for His children, but rather a proof that His grace is at work in our lives. We are to stand together....strive together........walk side by side together.......live fearless together all for the blessed gospel! Why? Because our citizenship.....our allegiance is with the God of the gospel. We are recipients of His grace through salvation and were given strength and mercy though our suffering. This is what it means to walk worthy of the gospel!! Wherever we are or wherever we go................ God is there!! So let me ask you one question! Are you walking worthy of the gospel according to what Paul wrote here in his letter? Because true joy is found in the God of the gospel!!

2 comments:

Gregg said...

Great message!

Toyin O. said...

Thanks for sharing, great post.