The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 1, 2012


1) Philippians 1:27-30 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


Philippians 1:27-30
by Tom Edwards

In Philippians 1:27-28, Paul states, "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God."

Paul's joy and desire toward seeing the brethren united and striving like this can also be seen elsewhere.  For instance, in Philippians 2:2, he exhorts the saints to be "...of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose."  (See also Romans 12:15,16; 15:5,6; and 1 Corinthians 1:10.)

This "same mind" is the mind of Christ that we are to each acquire through our study and application of the Scriptures.  It's what Paul encouraged the Christians to develop in Philippians 2:5, where he instructs them to "Have this attitude ("mind," KJV, ASV) in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."  

Paul also desired to see the brethren "striving for the faith of the gospel." That is still needful for us today.  It involves our taking heed to the gospel message -- even when that is difficult to do.

Note, too, that Paul uses the phrase "striving together" -- for that faith.  The English words "striving together," in this passage, actually come from just one compound Greek word, which Bullinger defines as "to contend, contend for the mastery in the public games, e.g. Boxing, throwing, wrestling, etc."  So Paul is using this term not literally, but to figuratively express the effort and training that we need to put into striving for, maintaining, and growing in that one faith of the gospel.  

The need to put that much effort into it is also seen in Jude 1:3, where the Lord's half brother, declares, "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."  So as Jude shows, Christians are to "contend earnestly" for the faith, in which "faith" is being used objectively to refer to the gospel itself.  The Greek word, which is translated as "contend earnestly," is defined as "to contend as a combatant upon (i.e. For or about) a thing" (Bullinger), which, again, makes us aware of the diligent striving we are to do in maintaining that faith. 

In view of this need to "contend as a combatant" for the gospel, it is easy to see why Paul indicates that living the life of a Christian can be likened to a soldier on a battlefield.  For instance, consider Ephesians 6:10-17: "Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.  And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Paul, of course, not only instructed others to live as spiritual soldiers for Christ, but also did so himself.  In his last New Testament epistle, written shortly before his death, Paul was able to look back on his life and say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:7,8).

In this same epistle, Paul also exhorts Timothy to "Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 2:3).

So there is a striving for the faith that is necessary.  For the "faith" is what our very manner of life is to be based upon, as Paul shows in 2 Corinthians 5:7: "for we walk by faith, not by sight[.]"

We are often faced with temptations and trials while walking that walk, which makes it more challenging; but we must withstand these allurements and difficulties and press on in the faith.  

To encourage the Christians whose lives were facing suffering and martyrdom, Jesus assures them in Revelation 2:10, by giving them the following promise: "Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."  Some other versions translate "until death" as "unto death," which makes the statement even clearer.  For though we are to be faithful "until" we die, Jesus is indicating that these were to be faithful even when that resulted in their death.  These truly were contending for the faith and willing to pay the price of their very lives if need be.  

We can also emphasize that Paul shows that the Christian's striving is to be "together" for the faith.  So unlike those athletic games in which contestants would compete against one another to place first for the top prize, Christians are to each strive to help one another obtain the prize of eternal life, which we all can be a winner of, if we remain faithful.  

For example, after the Hebrew writer warns of the possibility of the Christian falling away from God in Hebrews 3:12, he then states in verses 13,14: "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end[.]"   Encouraging one another toward living for God is one of the ways we are to work together.  

The need of working together, and each saint being important, can be seen in Paul's analogy in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, in which he likens the different members in the church to the different members of a human body and shows them all to be needful.  Consider also Ephesians 4:15,16: "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love."

After exhorting the brethren to live the proper example, to be united in the faith and stand firm in the spirit, Paul then goes on to say in Philippians 1:28, "in no way alarmed by your opponents--which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God."  As you probably recall, it was in Philippi where Paul cast out the spirit of divination from the slave girl who had been making her masters rich.  They, as a result, dragged Paul and Silas before the chief magistrates, with the accusation that "These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans" (Acts 16:20,21).  Verse 22 then states that "The crowd rose up together against them."  From this, it appears that there were many in Philippi (non-Christians) who would be strongly opposed to the gospel and the church in their area.  Consider also 1 Thessalonians 2:1,2, in which Paul briefly states of the difficulties he underwent in Philippi: "For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition."

These Philippians were now undergoing conflicts, even as Paul had and still was. For note what he states in the last two verses of Philippians 1 (vv. 29 and 30): "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me."

In this statement, Paul is also implying that suffering for Christ is actually an honor.  This certainly was the way the apostles had viewed it in Acts 5:41; when after being released from prison, they went on their way "rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."  And that was said after they had been flogged for preaching the gospel.

In writing to Timothy, Paul gives some comforting words for facing adversity and persecution.  He assures him that "If we endure, we will also reign with Him..." (2 Tim. 2:12).  And Peter instructs the brethren in 1 Peter 3:14, 15, by saying,  "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence."

Whatever the persecutions the Philippians were undergoing, it was actually to be expected; for as Paul forewarns, "And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12).

The Philippians had heard about Paul's condition in Rome -- and, thus, sent Epaphroditus (Phil. 4:18), who would be able to also give them an updated report on his return (Phil. 2:25).  And, as we have just seen in Philippians 1:27-30, Paul's words of encouragement for them is that they continue to live in a manner that is in accord with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and in spite of the persecution that will bring upon them.  For then they truly will triumph over all evil and will ultimately attain to that eternal salvation in heaven itself. 


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following people:

* Gerald Farmer who will be having a procedure this Thursday, due to fibrillation that has caused a fluid build-up around his heart and shortness of breath.

* Jane Vierheller (wife of Michael) who because of damage done to her neck will have to have surgery this Thursday.  It will then be a couple weeks before she can ride in a car -- except the trip home from the hospital -- and will take about a month of recuperation before she can do much.

* Steve Wolfgang who had a complete knee replacement.  He is actually coming along very well in the healing process, better than the norm; but still has a way to go.

* Andrew Robertson who is seeking employment. 

* Mike Dubose who is receiving cancer treatment.

* Geneva Wilson, one of our elderly members, who has been very weak physically and not able to be with us at church for several weeks.

* Cheryl Crews who has been having chronic ailments.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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