Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
When it comes to living the worthy Christian life, it is not enough to just stand firm in what we believe. We haven’t been left here in this life to simply endure until Jesus Christ returns. We’ve been left with a mission which features clear and direct orders. Jesus said:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
The church has a responsibility while it awaits the return of Christ. Its job is to spread the gospel throughout the world. This includes baptizing those who believe and continuing to teach them all that Christ commanded. In short, it is to make disciples of Christ.
God expects much more from believers than that we simply know what we believe and refuse to compromise. The gospel is far too powerful to be kept within the walls of our churches. God’s plan for the church is that we bring the truth of the gospel to bear upon our world. It is through believers in the church, striving side by side to advance the gospel of Christ, that God calls men and women to himself and thus changes the world – one soul at a time (1 Cor 1:21). For any of this to take place, the church will have to mobilize in preaching the good news to the world.
Romans 10:13-15 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
God’s plan for the spread of the faith is that His people would go out and confront the world with the gospel message. He expects his church to be engaged in faithful, unified labour, striving together to bring the good news of salvation to the lost and dying. The Philippians, in large part, already knew this and were engaged in it (4:3). Remember, Paul encouraged them by stating, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (1:12).
So far, we’ve learned that we must know what we believe; we must be determined to not waver from what we believe; and we must be committed to spread what we believe. But, even beyond these things, if we are to strive for the faith of the gospel, we must also know why we believe what we believe and have an ability to defend it. We must be willing to contend for the faith.
Contending for the Faith
Jude 3-4 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
The church has always faced attack. Some of these attacks come from without and some of them come from within. The world attacks by rejecting the truth while others attack by perverting the truth. Whether its battling unbelievers, or false teachers, the church must learn to defeat these challenges to the gospel by contending for the faith.
The Philippians had their own challenges. Paul warned them: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” (3:2) In this case, it was from those Jews who would teach that circumcision was necessary for salvation and who would attempt to bring believers back under the restrictions of the law. If the Philippians were to strive side by side for the faith of the gospel, they would have to learn to defend the pure gospel message against such attacks. They would have to be so educated regarding the true gospel that they would be able to dismantle every attempt at corrupting it.
Are you able to labour alongside your fellow believers in defending the faith? If you received a knock on your door from a Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon or other cult member, would you be able to confront their twisting of scripture?
If you’ve answered “no” to the above, how can you better educate yourself in order to be able to come alongside your fellow believers in defense of the gospel?
Paul not only encouraged the Philippians to strive but to do it with one mind and side by side. It was essential that they be unified in what they believed, because that same unity would have to hold as they engaged a hostile world with the message of the gospel. They would have to be unified in both standing and striving.
In God’s divine wisdom, he designed the church to exist within community. That is, he has made believers dependent upon one another. This mutually encouraging relationship is essential, because the task which God has given us is sure to result in times of hardship, difficulty and even persecution. Knowing this, God has given us to one another – to help, encourage, support, and protect one another, as well as to bear one another’s burdens. To live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ is to work hard to maintain this unity.
The above is an excerpt from Pastor Rick’s study through the book of Philippians