Exhortation to the Church in Philippi (Part I)
We are now in last part of Chapter 1. Looking back, we have seen how despite of his bondage, Paul is still joyful. He may be in prison but the gospel still spreads. He rejoices even some preaches the Word of God out of contention and envy. We read about his hope that he will be released from prison, and his attitude about death. His confidence that whether in life or in death Christ will be magnified. We now take a look at his exhortation or word of encouragement to the church at Philippi.
I. Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. Phil. 1:27.
A. The word conversation here is very much different to the modern use of today which is limited to our oral communication or plain talks. In the Bible it refers to conduct or I would say the way we live or our Christian walk. In the original Greek language it means “to behave as a citizen”.
B. Paul writes in Phil. 3:20 that our conversation is in heaven, meaning, our “citizenship” is in heaven. We are living here on earth but in reality true Christians are citizens of heaven. With this privilege, comes responsibility also. We must behave as heavenly citizen not citizen of hell.
Illustration 1: To Be Like Christ
When the wife of missionary Adoniram Judson told him that a newspaper article likened him to some of the apostles, Judson replied, “I do not want to be like a Paul or any mere man. I want to be like Christ. I want to follow Him only, copy His teachings, drink in His Spirit, and place my feet in His footprints. Oh, to be more like Christ!” (Anonymous)
Lots of people want to go to US to have a green card and be a US citizen. For them, US is the best place to live to realize their dream. Asians, and other nationalities who does not want to go to US, would rather go to Canada, Australia or New Zealand or Europe. Let us remember that Philippi is a Roman colony and during that time, Roman citizens have much better privileges and rights than any other nationalities. However, living in other countries requires us to live and behave according to their way of life, their laws and custom, which leads us to our second point
II. Our life should be “as it becometh the gospel of Christ.
A. The word “becometh” in Greek means we should live a life “worthy” of the gospel. After a Godly sort. It’s just like having a standard and the standard is the gospel of Christ.
B. Generally speaking, the gospel can be defined as “good news” of salvation about Christ. It includes in it knowledge of the person of Christ himself, as well as his work and its significance for people of all time.
C. In 1 Cor. 15:1-8, the gospel was summarized in a brief manner. There is a true gospel and there is a false gospel. The Lord gave a warning to those who preach or teach another gospel. (Gal. 1:-9)
D. Since the standard is the gospel of Christ, we expected not just to behave as law abiding citizen of a state but also as members of the church. What a shame if a professing Christian can be seen drunk in the street, gambling, womanizing, back biting, dressing inappropriately, and cannot even get along with other church
E. Our walk or conduct should distinguish us from all the people around us. We should live consistently with what we believe, teach, and preach. (Eph. 4:1, Col. 1:10, 1 Thess. 2:11-12). We must live a holy life. This, Paul wants to hear of the Philippian believers whether in his presence or absence.
Illustration 1: Impact of Religion
The Princeton Religion Research Center has measured the impact of religion on day-to-day work. Comparing the “churched” with the “unchurched” on a wide range of behaviors like pilfering
supplies (stealing), overstating qualifications on resumes (lying), calling in sick when not sick (lying and stealing), and overstating tax deductions (lying, stealing, and cheating), the center finds “little difference in the ethical views and behavior of the churched and the unchurched.” What differences there are “are not significant or are of marginal significance?” The lesson here is, religion, is not really life changing.
Illustration 2: Queen Victoria
When Queen Victoria was a child, she didn’t know she was in line for the throne of England. Her instructors, trying to prepare her for the future, were frustrated because they couldn’t motivate her.
She just didn’t take her studies seriously. Finally, her teachers decided to tell her that one day she would become the queen of England.
Upon hearing this, Victoria quietly said, “Then I will be good.”
The realization that she had inherited this high calling gave her a sense of responsibility that profoundly affected her conduct from then on. (Source unknown).
III. An appeal to unity: stand fast in one spirit and one mind.
A. I would not want to go to the details of every word here, but I honestly think that Paul wants the Philippian Christians to realize that there is a battle going on. This battle is not carnal but spiritual. The language stand fast in one spirit, with one mind,
striving together, and on verse 28, your adversaries, in verse 30, conflict, are strong language which tells about warfare. We are in spiritual war. Christian life is not a bed of roses but a fierce battleground.
B. But some may say, what are we fighting for? We are striving together for the faith of the gospel. The solid truth of God how we are saved from our sins because Jesus Christ came into the world to be the Saviour of sinners. He has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
C. But the world hates and rejects this message. With all the philosophies, world views, ideologies, even theologies are opposed to this. We as Christians are called to depend the gospel. Jude 1:3 tells us to contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 1 Tim. 4:1 also gives a stern warning about the people
departing from the faith.
D. People now are teaching that there’s another way to go to heaven. That there is no difference between the God of the Bible and the god of Islam, the god of the Jehovah’s witnesses, and the god of the Mormon, that eventually all will be included in heaven. What a lie!
Whether you accept it or not, the battle for the truth goes on. We are fighting under the banner of the cross of Jesus Christ and He is our leader. However, the enemies out numbers us and we are
surrounded. The gospel we teach is the truth that was taught by the apostles down through the ages. We will continue this message next week.
We are exhorted to live a righteous life as followers of Christ. We should “walk our talk” to show that we are really citizens of heaven. Christian life is not just a struggle but a battleground. It’s our
duty to depend and uphold the gospel. We can only do this if we knew the right gospel and if Christ is within us. Enlist now as a soldier of Jesus Christ.