Stephen Caswell © 2003
For Paul, Jesus Christ was his life. He shared this conviction continually. Paul was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Firstly, he interceded for the Philippians Fellowship in the Gospel. Secondly, he informed them about the Furtherance of the Gospel. Today we will see how Paul instructed the Philippians concerning the Faith of the Gospel. He commanded them to conduct themselves worthy of the Gospel of Christ: The word conduct politeuomai is related to our word politics. It means to behave or conduct yourself like a citizen. Heavenly citizens Worthy Walkers, Willing Workers, & Wise Warriors.
His Most Cherished Accomplishment
Patriotism is seen in the following epitaph: Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor-Teacher, Born, Edinburgh, March 3, 1847, Died, A Citizen of the U. S. A. 1922. He could have listed his numerous inventions and honors. But that he was a citizen of the U. S. A. This was his most cherished accomplishment; and it was his wish that such be engraved on his tombstone. Do you rejoice that you are a citizen of heaven?
1. Worthy Walkers
Philippians 1:27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
Paul commands believers to behave like heaven’s citizens. He wants them to walk worthy of the Gospel. This would have caught the Philippians attention right away. Philippi was a Roman colony and its citizens were actually Roman citizens. Roman citizenship provided many privileges for the people. But it also carried certain responsibilities.
Firstly, Roman Citizens were registered on a citizen’s role. They had papers to prove that they were in fact citizens of the empire. This documentation enabled them to claim the privileges of their citizenship. Paul had Roman citizenship and used it a number of times when requesting justice. People became Roman citizens by being born to Roman parents, or by purchasing it with money, or by an edict of the emperor. Philippians 4:3 tells about the roll for heaven’s citizens: And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life. Jesus Christ gives heavenly citizenship to all who believe in Him. He has purchased this for us with His own blood. In fact by the Kings royal edict we can be born again into His family. Heavenly Citizenship is a precious gift. Are you a citizen of heaven? Is your name in the Book of Life?
Secondly, Citizens were expected to obey the laws of the Roman Empire. They were to set a good example for the rest of the community. Their conduct was to be appropriate as Romans. Philippians 1:27a: Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ. Heavenly Citizens have been saved from sin. They are expected to live for Christ and keep His commandments. As heavenly citizens we should live holy lives; lives set apart for Jesus Christ.
Paul speaks about this again in chapter 3 contrasting heavenly citizens and earthly citizens. Philippians 3:18-20: For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, How should heavens citizens conduct themselves? In chapters 1 and 3 Paul says to be holy, worthy of our calling.
He Admitted To The Governor
Governor Neff, of Texas, visited the penitentiary of that state and spoke to the assembled convicts. When he had finished he said that he would remain behind, and that if any man wanted to speak with him, he would gladly listen. He further announced that he would listen in confidence, and that nothing a man might say would be used against him. When the meeting was over a large group of men remained, many of them life-termers.
One by one they passed by, each telling the governor that there had been a frame-up, an injustice, and judicial blunder, and asking to be freed. Finally one man came up and said, Mr. Governor, I just want to say that I am guilty. I did what they sent me here for. But I believe I have paid for it, and if I were granted the right to go out, I would do everything I could to be a good citizen and prove myself worthy of your mercy. This was the man whom the governor pardoned.
Shouldn’t this be the experience of every believer? Because God has pardoned us from sin, we ought to conduct ourselves worthy of the Gospel. The word worthy ἀξίως means of equal value to, after a godly sort, suitably. If we are to be worthy of the Gospel, we must be holy. The Gospel is God's good news of how sinners become saints through the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. The Gospel calls men to repentance and faith in Christ. The word repent means to turn from sin to God. When people know that you are a Christian, they are watching you every day. They are watching to see if you have a consistent witness, a life marked by purity. Paul wanted to hear that the Philippians were living in a worthy manner. 2 Corinthians 3:2 says: You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; This poem summarizes it well.
You are writing a Gospel, A chapter every 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?
Is your name in the Citizen’s role for heaven; the Lamb’s Book of life? You are a saint or holy one; are you living like one? Are you living worthy of the Gospel of Christ? Are you conducting yourself like a citizen of heaven or like a citizen of earth? Does you lifestyle magnify Jesus Christ or Self? God calls us to live like heavenly citizens. Are you?
2. Willing Workers
Philippians 1:27b: so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel,
a. Cooperation for the Gospel
Secondly, Paul commanded them to work willingly for the Gospel. The words stand fast στήκω mean to persevere, to persist, to stand. The idea here is one of faithfulness to the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 16:13 says: Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Paul wanted the Philippians to work together regardless of whether he was present or absent. They had an important task to do; to work together for the Gospel. This vital ministry demands our combined efforts. In the great commission Jesus commanded the disciples to preach the Gospel to every creature. Christ commanded us to make disciples by sharing the Gospel and living it out.
Tribe Working Together
The story is told of a time when a little child in an African tribe wandered off into the tall jungle grass and could not be found, although the tribe searched all day. The next day the tribal members all held hands and walked through the grass together. This enabled them to find the child, but due to the cold night he had not survived. In her anguish and through tears, the mother cried, If only we would have held hands sooner. It is not enough that we all share a common goal. We must all work together to accomplish it without hesitation.
In the same way Paul encouraged the Phillipian Church to work together for the faith of the Gospel. He emphasized this by saying it in three different ways, stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the Gospel. The words strive together sunaqlew means to wrestle in company with, to jointly seek, to labor with. The emphasis being on cooperation in the Gospel. Unless the Church works together it won’t accomplish much for the Lord. Churches are weakened through division. So we must be careful to maintain the unity that we have in Christ.
Roman Citizens were expected to live peacefully with their countrymen. As loyal citizens they were to maintain the unity of the nation and keep it strong. They were to work together in a spirit of cooperation. They were to uphold the cause of their fellow citizens. Through their united effort the Roman Empire became a great empire. Philipp Melanchthon, summed up Christian liberty well: In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.
Ephesians 4:1-6 speaks about Church unity: I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Bound Together For Safety
For safety reasons, mountain climbers rope themselves together when climbing a mountain. That way, if one climber should slip and fall, he would not fall to his death. He would be held by the others until he could regain his footing. The church should to be like that too. When one member slips and falls, the others should hold him up until he regains his footing. We are all roped together by the Holy Spirit.
Are you standing together for the faith passed down to us? Are you striving together for the faith of the Gospel? Are you loyal to Christ?
3. Wise Warriors
Philippians 1:27b-28 that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
a. Be United
As we read through the book of Philippians we find unity mentioned several times. Why did Paul make an issue of this? Because there was division in the Church. Philippians 4:2 gives more details. I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. These two women were striving against each other instead of together for the Gospel. Satan’s tactic has always been to divide and conquer. Unity is God's intention for the body of Christ.
Lord Nelson at Trafalgar
Lord Nelson at Trafalgar had just come on deck. Here he found two British officers quarreling. Immediately he whirled them about — and pointing to the ships of their adversary—exclaimed, Gentlemen, there are your enemies.
b. Be Courageous
Roman Citizens were expected to be loyal to the Emperor and fight for him if necessary. Rome had many enemies. So they remained constantly alert lest their enemies attack. Roman soldiers were courageous on the battlefield and sought to hold their ground against the enemy. Anything less was regarded as treason. This patriotic zeal enabled the Roman Empire to stand for centuries.
Jude 3: Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. It is the Church’s responsibility to defend the faith; to stand up for Jesus and unite against any attack of the Truth.
As Heavens Citizens we too are required to be loyal to our commander Jesus Christ. Christian soldiers must be ready to fight the Adversary. Ephesians 6:10-13: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Christians are called to take up arms against the Adversary. The weapons of our warfare our not worldly but spiritual. 2 Corinthians 10:4. In Ephesians 6: the verses that follow describe the armor of God in detail. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 says this: You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. Paul encourages believers not to be terrified by the enemy. We must persevere in the battle. Satan is a defeated foe. Jesus Christ defeated him on the cross. Satan knows that his time is short and his judgment day is coming. Let us take up the Gospel armor. Let us go on the offensive through prayer and the Word of God.
Lord Wellington At Waterloo
Lord Wellington said this after the great victory he won over Napoleon at Waterloo. Our men were not braver than the enemy. They were brave five minutes longer.
c. Be Wise
Paul gave three good reasons why we should suffer as soldiers of the cross.
1. Adversity Is A Proof Of Salvation
Paul encouraged them by sharing that the opposition they were encountering was proof that they were on the right track. The Philippians may have thought that God was punishing them through their adversity. So Paul set the record straight. If Christ suffered adversity when He was on earth; Shouldn't his followers also suffer adversity? Paul said this to Timothy. 2 Timothy 3:12: Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. These adversaries were motivated by the devil. Satan will always attack the servants of Christ. He won't bother Christians who don't bother him. But when people follow the Lord he gets after them immediately. If you’re suffering for your Christian witness praise God that He’s using you. Paul calls this the fellowship of His sufferings in Philippians 3:10. Adversity in the work of Christ proves that you are saved. It’s also a sign of coming judgment on the wicked.
2. Adversity Is A Privilege From Christ
Philippians 1:29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Paul's second reason for believers to be confident in adversity is that it is a wonderful privilege. He says it has been granted to us as a gift. The word granted carizomai means to give freely or graciously as a favor of God. What does he mean by that? Paul is saying that we can represent our Lord and Savior by suffering in His name. He suffered and died for us. We were given the privilege of salvation through His name. Now we have the privilege of suffering for His name. Men and women give their lives for their country during wartime. They fight for king and country. They count it a privilege to die for their king. How much greater privilege are we given to suffer for our King who suffered and died for us.
The Apostles had this attitude when they were afflicted by the Sanhedren. Acts 5:40-41 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
3. Adversity Is Paul's Experience
Philippians 1:30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Paul's third reason was a simple one. In case they doubted God's love for them in allowing them to suffer he gave his own example. He reminded them of the conflict they saw him endure in Philippi. He reminded them of the conflict that they heard he was currently passing through in Rome. Paul told them that the adversity they were experiencing was normal for the Christian life. In fact Christians everywhere suffer for their faith. 1 Peter 4:12-13 speaks of this: Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
Are you a soldier of the cross? Are you fighting the Adversary through prayer, and the Word of God? Or are you fighting against your brethren? Are you confident in adversity? Or do you doubt God's love in allowing trials to come? Paul gave three reasons why Christians suffer.
1. Adversity Is A Proof Of Salvation - It shows that we are on God's side
2. Adversity Is A Privilege From Christ - Jesus Suffered for us. God has given us the privilege of suffering for Him. Should we not accept His gracious gift?
3. Adversity Is Paul's Experience - We are not the only ones suffering. People have suffered and died for Christ all down the ages.
Today we have seen how heavenly citizens Walk Worthily, Work Willingly, & Wage Warfare. Are you conducting yourself like a heavenly citizen?
Benediction 2 Corinthians 13:14: