Exhortation to the Church in Philippi (Part II)
Phil. 1:27 – 30
As we have learned last week that we are engaged in a fierce battle to depend or to contend for the faith of the gospel. With all the lies, deceptions, and excellent speeches, these false teachers are spreading false gospel. One thing is, it’s very hard now to discern who is real and who is not (Mt. 7:21-23). How do we fight then according to Paul?
I. Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
A. To stand fast here is to persevere or stand firm together. It is used for soldiers who have to defend his post and position at all cost even unto death. Paul was telling the Philippians to stand firm together for the conviction of depending the gospel from all opposition that comes. Standing fast is two sided, standing fast for God and standing fast against the devil.
B. In one spirit here means to have unity in goal, aim, and purpose. There must be no division in the church. If the church is to move on, there must be unity. By the way we are not talking here about the Holy Spirit. You must know that man is a tripartite being. We have a physical body; we have a soul which is the seat of our intellect, emotion, personality, volition, your will. Contrary to the teaching that we think with our brain, we think with our soul, we decide with our soul. Our spirit is the one that is in contact or make communication with God.
C. One mind striving together. Mind here is the same word as soul. Sometime they are used interchangeably in the Bible. Paul means here is for the Philippians to jointly wrestle or jointly fight against the enemy. The devil’s strategy is to divide and conquer. Churches are rendered ineffective if they are divided and fail to get along. Are you fighting side by side with fellow church members for the furtherance of the gospel? In a nutshell, church members should work as a team.
Illustration 1: Eccumenicalism
“To remain divided is sinful! Did not our Lord pray, that they may be one, even as we are one”? (John 17:22). A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is, “Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization, regardless… Unite, unite!”
Such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. Truth alone must determine our alignments. Truth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our Lord’s prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context. Look at verse 17: “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” Only those sanctified through the Word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise is to betray the Gospel.
Charles H. Spurgeon, The Essence of Separation, quoted in The Berean Call, July, 1992, p. 4
Illustration 2: Getting Along
Mark Twain used to say he put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment, to see if they could get along. They did, so he put in a bird, pig and goat. They, too, got along fine after a few
adjustments. Then he put in a Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic; soon there was not a living thing left. (Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace, Zondervan, 1997, p. 33)
II. And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. (Phil. 1:28)
A. Paul not only wants them to stand firm by “contending as one man” for the truth about the gospel, but he also wants them to stand firm by not being frightened in anyway. Many Christians panic under pressure, and in face of difficulty and persecution, become weak, disappointed, and defeated. They run away. I would say that when we share Christ, adversity will come. You will experience hard times,
rejections, heartaches, insults, accused of being evil and a fool.
B. In nothing means there should be no circumstances that a believer should be afraid.
It is obvious that the enemies or adversaries of the church in Philippi were trying to throw them into panic in an attempt to dismantle and destroy them.
C. Which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. The term evident carries the idea of proof or testimony, a declaration. What I would say here is that their enemies are lost; they are sons of perdition, while the
Philippians are saved, and they are sons of God. No reason for them to be afraid.
Our enemies can only harm or destroy our bodies and that they can only do if it’s the will of God. All the things that Satan can do cannot affect our eternal joy which awaits us in heaven.
We need to be courageous with our fight. We can only do this through the help of the Holy Spirit. The gospel is fought here now, how we represent the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives in our testimony.
Godly life and Godly church with the Word of God as her final authority, the gates of hell cannot prevail against it (Mt. 16:18). During the dark ages, many Bible believing Christians were put to
death, burning them alive, putting them in the arena to be fed to hungry lions, yet Christianity grew beyond control. They did not fear death. In fact some of them are praising God, praying, singing, as
they face death. Christ is our best example, prays for His enemies while dying in the cross.
III. Sufferings. (Phil. 1:29)
A. Paul says that two things have been given to the Philippians and that both of them, believing and suffering, are on behalf of Christ. The word “given “is the same word Paul uses on many other occasions to speak about God’s salvation, freely and graciously given to believers (cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Rom 8:32; 1 Cor. 2:12). A person must
be a believer first before he can suffer for Christ.
On a wall in his bedroom Charles Spurgeon had a plaque with Isaiah 48:10 on it: “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” “It is no mean thing to be chosen of God,” he wrote. “God’s choice
makes chosen men choice men….We are chosen, not in the palace, but in the furnace. In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed; yet here
eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice.”
What happened to the twelve apostles and to the apostolic fathers? They were all faithful to our Lord yet they all suffered and died a horrible death. In verse 30, Paul was telling having the same
struggle which his brethren saw when he was in Philippi, the same situation now is happening in Rome, yet he is still joyful.
Unity and team workis the key word here. We should act as one man, and fight the battle. No room for fear for Christ is with us and greater is He that is you that he that is in the world (1 Jn.
4:4). Suffering for Christ should be an encouragement for us. Brethren, let’s work together for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.