"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, 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. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Introduction: Paul's Purpose For Writing this Letter:
The text for today opens our eyes to a dedicated pastor writing to the concerns and fears of one of the designated congregations the Lord gave him charge over….Apostle Paul…despite his judicial situation wrote from a Roman jail to the Philippian church… to give them words of comfort because they were a picked on troubled church. The Philippian church located in Caesarea Philippi…the city monikered with the "tag" as the “Chief city" was suffering persecution on every hand.
According to Acts 16…Paul organized this church because, he had a “night” vision that came from the Holy Ghost during his 2nd missionary journey… Paul was shown a man from Macedonia in a vision…The man was praying and begging him to come there and help them in Macedonia…. Now…it might not look like it…but this world is hungry for the living bread….Jesus said that the fields are white…ready for the harvest….So…the Bible said…Immediately, Paul set sail from Troas to a seaport in Neapois,… located in the eastern most part of Macedonia…From there…Paul found the main road…called the Egnatian Way and travelled it into Macedonia..
"Historic Review: The "Firsts" of the Philippian Church"
By the way…the Philippian Church is believed to be the first church to be founded on European soil…..What we glean from the bible is… many people in Philippi got salvation and deliverance because Paul preached Jesus Christ.., and preached HIM crucified….buried….resurrected….ascended…and soon to come back …descending with a shout….the voice of an archangel with the trump of God..Like I said….many got saved in Philippi…
There was Lydia, a merchant and seller of purple… who was the first European convert saved by hearing the gospel. Also, in Philippi…Paul was privileged to cast out a lying spirit in a slave girl was practiced divination and fortune telling. Now before the change…she made her masters a lot of money by prophesying and prophet-lying …but when God used Paul to cast out that spirit of divination in the slave girl…it bankrupted her master’s get rich quick scheme and got the slave girl kicked to the curb…And you know how crooked folk start acting when God breaks up their money making schemes…they got to blame somebody… So they blamed both for Paul and Silas and sought to cause trouble for them…The next thing Paul knew….
Trouble for Paul and Silas: "Arrested and Jailed"
Paul and Silas got arrested …brought before Roman magistrates… then they were thrown in jail…The record says… her mad masters pressed criminal charges against them in the marketplace…They accused them in the public but didn’t even realize …that what they accused them of in their public complaint …actually paid Paul and Silas the highest compliment they could have ever been paid….The slave masters said: Your honor: “THESE MEN are troublemakers…. They are greatly troubling this city…They are upsetting the city… They’re preaching and teaching a doctrine that’s caused us to lose a whole lot of money… As a matter of fact…what they are preaching and teaching is really unlawful for us to hear or observe…
What God expects from The church"
Let me tell you something… God is looking for some spiritual “trouble makers”! in HIS church…Think about it…Why should the devil be the only one to stir up trouble…The trouble he sirs up is evil…His mission is clear: He comes to steal…kill… and destroy….But whenever we share the gospel... the gospel stirs up trouble too …The gospel exposes you down-low and low-low schemes. The Gospel expresses that everybody born in sin and shaped in iniquity needs to be saved. It's just like Jesus said to Nicodemus: You must be born again...The gospel stirs up trouble where sin abounds..The grace of God that's preached through Christ moves in to move sin out!...So, the Gospel is always for the good of the saints and conversion of a new convert…but at the same time it works and is preached to the detriment of wicked unbelievers who rejects Jesus and refuse to be saved...The Gospel message lets us know Jesus came that we might have life and have that life more abundantly.
How the world should see the church
When the church is seen in opposition of the world in every way, the church is then in the eyes of the world a a body of troublemaker...God wants somebody in HIS church to catch on fire…with the fire and Holy Ghost…The Lord wants somebody to get stirred up by the Holy Ghost and let His presence rest on each one of them like cloven tongues of fire…take the Word of God and their personal testimony of to a sin-sick city, preaching it… teaching it…sharing their witness and personal testimony so the power of the Holy Ghost can cause those demons that got strongholds in the lives of the people to tremble at the name of Jesus cause people to leave crack houses…get off drugs. Stop prostituting and selling their bodies to stop stealing and killing…
"Jail House Rock"
Well… now in lock up…Paul and Silas while in jail, sang songs and gave praises to God, so much so, that their praise reached heaven and God responded by earthquake..The earthquake shook the jail….so violently that …. The quake shook off the chains of the prisoners…and flung the doors of the jail cell wide open: The Philippian jailer who thought all the prisoners escaped the open jail… began to draw his sword and was about to commit suicide when Paul cried out with a loud voice: “Don’t take your life…We’re all still here…..Relieve the earthquake didn’t cause a prison break…the jailer cried out to Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved”? You know what they told him: Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your whole house will be saved.
The Power of the "Preached Word"
Let me tell you something else: There is power in preaching the Word of God. Maybe your heart’s in jail….maybe your finances are on lock down, your health’s on the chain gang.,. Maybe the devil and his demons got you feeling that you lock up and locked out of the grace of God ….If you are feeling like you are busted, disgusted…and people feeling like you can’t be trusted,…. If you’re are constantly hung up in all your personal hang ups….you can rejoice today …because God is able to cause a quake in the Holy Spirit and a powerful shift in the atmosphere….The Lord can show you… through Jesus Christ….the Word of God …. And the power of the Holy Ghost how to shake yourself loose …from whatever the Devil’s using to keep you bound…and break every chain…break every chain…break every chain…especially if that chain is other people!!!
Now…consider this: "What does the world's attitude have to do with you and Christ?
Just because we live in these days and times when other people got itching ears and don’t want to hear the Word of God….what does that have to do with you? Yes I know that community radical extremist don’t want prayer in or creation taught in the public schools……but you paid taxes for that school too…. You have an equal right to have the school to teach creation too as they want everything else taught….
You know what?.... Sadly enough there are closet secular humanist that go to some of the same churches we do…. that is until they either get mad…or don't get things to floe their way...As soon as they get mad…they start leaving the church and some of them come back with revenge on their minds and vandalize the building…My question to the body of Christ is…What does that have to do with you and the Word of God? So okay...they may fight you to keep prayer out of the schools but what’s stopping you from covering yourself and your children with prayer at home before you send them off to school and you go off to work? Let me tell you about troubled times….Preaching God’s word will stir up Jesus haters. That’s what happened to Paul… And that what’s happening more and more in these latter days to preachers who are truly holding up the blood stained banner..
Biblical and Historical facts concerning Opposition of the Gospel and Jesus, the one the Gospel is about:
Every time Jesus preached…some got saved… the crowd’s got thinner and the Pharisees and scribes got stirred up…Not only that…even when Paul preached Jesus Christ as the Messiah the same thing happened… people got saved, in some places the crowd got thinner….and the “haters” got stirred up…Well… the same thing is happening in the church today…As long as you talk about prosperity…getting rich…networking without changing you jacked-up life and the preacher preaches and prophesies smooth things….people will flock to that church and say amen loud and proud….but talk about leaving a world of sin… leaving the low-low and the down-low and watch them leave and claim that they weren’t getting fed over there……
Throughout the history of the Christian church…in the Apostles ministry to this present day…whenever the work of the ministry goes about lifting up the name of Jesus and telling a sin-sick dying world that the wages of sin is still death but the gift of God is still eternal life…the church has gone through troubled times…The “Anti- Jesus” haters come out of the woodwork…and get riled up into a vicious “Jesus hating” frenzy…the next thing they do is begin to rampage and ram sacked … and act “thugnacious” as they attack the church…it’s program… and all the people. The Devil employs men and women of the baser sort”… heathen haters of the gospel to do anything and everything under the sun to get rid of God’sreal preachers …the ones who don’t mind telling you that God hates sin… but God loves the sinner..If the devil could….and don’t think for one moment he’s not trying to….he’ll try his best to get rid of the gospel message and everyone who dared to preach it ….believe it…and live according to its teachings. Look at how this Philippian church suffered…and boy did they have troubled times:
1. Members were publicly reviled, ridiculed, lied on, falsely accused and all manner of evil was levied against them just because they departed the old evil ways.
2. These heartless Judiasiers racially profiled them, questioned their patriotism, deemed them all a “threat” to homeland security and openly discriminated against them.
3. These Christ haters kicked them out of their synagogues, black listed and blackballed them from other civic and social organizations just because they made Jesus their choice and joined the church.
Oh it got so bad for these Christians, many times they suffered illegal arrests, had their property illegally seized …many members were tortured, and yes, some even died. This church needed to hear from their pastor and they wanted to know if there was a Word from the Lord that could ease their pain and heal their hurt? Was there a balm in Gilead that could heal the sin-sick soul? Paul…How can we rejoice when the road is so rough…and the going is so tough…and the hills are so hard to climb….Well there are about 2 or 3 things Paul shared with us on how the saints should live in troubled times and then we will wrap up the message:
I. Living victorious in troubled times…Your Attitude toward Christ...Your Suffering for HIM...and Attitude toward Fellow "Suffering" Saints
Paul recognized suffering persecution for the faith was one of the TRUEST TESTERS of REAL CHRISTIAN DISCIPLESHIP. …. Paul understood that this Christian journey requires that we all suffer for the cause of Christ….but to know also that there’s a glorious reward at the end of our suffering…He wanted all of us to know in our suffering that if we gladly suffer for Jesus while we live here on this earth…. In the world to come…. that He’s preparing for you and me….one day…we will reign with Him in glory…Paul learned that NOTHING will ever happen THROUGH YOU, unless SOMETHING has HAPPENED TO YOU! If the church is to be a comfort to anyone else that suffering for Christ….we can’t individually or as a collective body…afford to live our lives in the woe is me…Jesus said we shall have tribulations….but be of good cheer…because I… He said have overcome the world…When we realize that we are more than a conqueror… that even in our most troubled times… I can still say with conviction that the Lord is still my shepherd …my light …and my salvation…and the strength of my life…whom shall I fear and of whom shall I be afraid? I come by to tell you the Lord is still able to do exceedingly….abundantly…above all that you can ask…or think to ask…And because HE can…you can watch over one another in brotherly love….Remember each other in prayer…aid each other is sickness and in distress…That’s why Paul was able to write to this church with words of compassion…words that uplifted….words that reassured them that they could say to themselves….blessed assurance…Jesus is mind…oh what a foretaste…of glory divine….Heir of salvation…purchased of God….Born of HIS Spirit….washed in HIS blood….Yes we need encouragement too…so God gives us enough strength to bear the infirmities of the weaker and gain strength through our encouragement of others.
II. We can be victorious in our suffering because God is not finished with us…
Paul told the Philippian church in verse 6 that God started a good work…He started a glorious work in them and God intends to finish the very work He started in them ….and in us too…… My brothers and sisters….GOD is not the kind of God that does unfinished work….When Jesus hung nailed on the cross… beatened…. bruised…. battered…and bleeding… the work of redemption for the salvation of man wasn’t half done…Up on that cross…it was completely done…The reason I know… it was completely done is the next to the last thing Jesus said while dying on the cross was “IT IS FINISHED”…What does that mean?....It means…there is only one way to be saved and that way is through Jesus Christ…and our salvation happened when He decided in the Garden of Gethsemane to let the Father’s will be done….submitting Himself to the cross… and staying up on that cross… hearing the slanders and vile hatred hurled at him by those surrounding the bottom of the cross… knowing the evil that saturated the hearts of men…He could have come off the cross and spared Himself the pain and agony but love just would let Him let go… Now you know why we can say… at the cross…at the cross…where I first saw the light….the burdens of my heart… rolled away….It was there by faith….I received my sight….and now….I am happy…all the day…!
Jesus lets us know…even now in these times of trouble a that HE”S not a half saver…. a half healer….a half deliverer….He on the job full time… and He is always right on-time …… As a matter of fact….I might as well tell you….He’s working on you and me right now…He’s sanctifying us …He’s preparing all of us for something we can’t handle right now…so to get us ready...God’s filtering the church….HE”S separating the wheat from the tares…He’s running us through a Holy strainer…He’s hooked us up to salvation’s dialysis machine….cleansing us …with His precious blood….He’s detoxing us from our evil ways…He’s healing us from all of our hang-ups….He’s making us into a church without a spot or a wrinkle…
III. And then Finally…..it ends with "Pressing ON…the Upward Way
We suppose to forget those things which are behind us and press toward those things that are before us….Paul said" I press toward the prize of the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus…I heard Paul say… As you are pressing along the way...Only let your conduct be worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ… this mean that we are to reflect the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives not just by the way we talk….but also by the way we walk….how we live and how we give…
What comes with the gospel of Jesus Christ is not just salvation….It also comes with a code of conduct that covers every aspect of our lives. The rudiments of the gospel are to be applied to all our conduct-to including our conversations…, business transactions….. modes and style of dress… style of living, what we do for entertainment …I’m here to tell you…the Gospel covers everything. There is absolutely nothing which we do…nothing we can say… no purpose we can serve… that is the exception to the Gospel rules. Solomon said in Proverbs 14:12: There is a way that seems right unto a man…but the end thereof are the ways of death…God is telling us…there is only one standard of living …which is the appropriate response to the gospel message… and it’s by that standard which is the gospel requires…. There is something in which the gospel secures… as its proper fruits… in all our conduct… and by which all of our lives should be regulated…. Those proper fruits…they being…the Fruit of the Spirit of God… would distinguish us from being frivolous… distinguish us… from people whose supreme objective in life…. is to live just to seek honor and wealth.
If every Christians were completely under the influence of the gospel of Jesus Christ, there would be something completely different in their everyday dress, their temperance, conversations, and in their giving, which would clearly distinguish them from others… who have a form of godliness…but deny the power thereof…
I stop by here to tell you…It is very important that Christians strive to frame their lives by the rules of the gospel, and, to this end, should diligently study each and know every one of then… We need to know the Church’s covenant and take it seriously. This is important: because God’s way is the best and wisest of all ways. It is only in God’s principles…precepts… and Biblical truths that Christians can do good…We said that we have solemnly and joyfully entered into covenant with God and each other as one body in Christ…covenanted with the Lord to take his laws as their guide…Well…this is the only way we can enjoy good religion and when we come to the end of our journey…we can have peace on our dying bed… and declare the same thing that Paul told Timothy when he came to the end of his journey……The time of my departure is at hand…. I have fought the good fight…. I have finished the race… I have kept the faith….And one last thing… there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,…which the Lord, the righteous Judge… will give to me on that Day, and not to me only …but also to all who have loved His appearing. If every child of God lived their life as it becometh the gospel….we all can live well…We can live with honor and be honest…We are seen as people of truth …because we live our lives in the righteousness of God….In other words…
Remember: If you live right…..you can die right….
Dr. William Edward Boddie