Friday, March 19, 2021

2021.03.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:27–30

Read Philippians 1:27–30

Questions from the Scripture text: With what word does Philippians 1:27 begin? Upon what one thing are they to focus in conducting themselves? What two possibilities remain for what will happen with the apostle? What does he want to hear that they are doing in one mind and one spirit? What does he want to hear that they are doing together? For what? What does he want to hear is not happening in any way (Philippians 1:28)? What will this lack of fear prove to their adversaries? What would it prove to the Philippians? From Whom is this salvation and its proof coming? How did they come to believe (Philippians 1:29)? What else was granted to them as a gift? On Whose behalf? For Whose sake do they suffer? What do they have in themselves (Philippians 1:30)? In whom had they previously seen it? In whom do they now hear that it is?

Believers, and especially pastors and their flocks, are to aim at increasing one another’s joy in Christ. The apostle looked forward to making their joy in Christ abound in Philippians 1:26, when they discover that for him to live and return to them was fruitful labor for Christ. And now in Philippians 1:27 he lets them know that he would like to have his joy in Jesus Christ increased by what he hears about their affairs: that they are living as citizens of the gospel of Christ. Specifically, he wishes to hear:

That they are standing fast unitedly. That they stand fast “in one spirit.” That probably deserves a capital S, because being in one spirit is further explained as standing “with one mind.” Believers have the mind of Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:16), because it is given to them by the Spirit who knows the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10–15). 

Christian unity is first and foremost a doctrinal unity. It is a unity forged by the Holy Spirit granting to them to be convinced of what the Holy Spirit has said in the Bible—both about Jesus and about everything else. But if they are convinced, then they will be obeying the same commandments and serving the same kingdom. So, while it is at least a doctrinal unity, it is never merely doctrinal. He also hopes to hear that they are “striving together for the faith of the gospel.

That they are standing fast fearlessly. Yes, in order to obey and serve the Lord Jesus, we must resist sin. But we must remember that there are also other enemies. Certainly the Philippian church had seen adversaries attack Paul (Philippians 1:30a), and they had sent Epaphroditus to him (Philippians 2:25-30) when they heard that he was in chains again (verse 30b, cf. Philippians 1:7Philippians 1:13, Philippians 4:14).

But when enemies attack the gospel and the church, it just shows that they are about to be destroyed by Christ (Philippians 1:28a). And when we fearlessly continue in our obedience to Christ, it shows that God is saving us (verse 28b). Rather than putting us in danger of death, the attack that exposes that living is Christ reveals that if we were to die, it would be infinite gain!

That they are standing fast thankfully. What should we do when we realize that God has made us unafraid of death? Recognize that we’ve been given faith as a gift on behalf of Christ (Philippians 1:29a), and that we have been given suffering for His sake as a second gift on behalf of Christ (verse 29b). How valuable is this suffering for His sake that exposes to us our salvation? Valuable enough that we learn here that Christ Himself has earned it for us. How thankful we should be for such a gift!

Would your theology gladden the brethren and the elders? How about your fearlessness? Your thankfulness?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

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