While I am Here I’ll Live for Christ
Philippians 1:21-30 SCC 12/12/10
So why are we still here on earth? Our destiny is heaven, which is far better than life on earth. If salvation meant we were to immediately be saved, then we would promptly be taken to heaven the moment we believed. But that does not happen. So there is a reason why we are still left on earth even after belief in Christ. That reason for remaining is explained by the apostle Paul. The fact that we remain is good for others and us. We can still have an impact that has eternal value. Even though heaven is far better it is to our advantage to remain here on earth as long as possible.
WE LIVE ON IN THE FLESH TO MAKE DISCIPLES UNTIL WE ARE TAKEN TO HEAVEN
22-25 There is a further development of vs 21 from living is Christ and dying is gain back again to the significance of living here rather than dying and being in heaven. The best option is to stay here—since we will never have this life again. We get it once and then it is over. That being the case it is better to opt to stay here to live on in the flesh. It is actually not a choice since God has our days numbered but we live as if we have that choice. Paul is even convinced of this for himself in his present circumstance vs 25. The reason it is better to remain:
(1) It will mean more fruitful labor for us in people’s lives. We need to view our lives with purpose of being fruitful with it. There is a fruitful labor associated with the life we have been given and the salvation we have received. (2) It is necessary for others that we remain. He says so in vs 24. We can still have an influence in their lives. We can still move alongside them and have an impact. As long as we are here that is possible. And this influence and impact is necessary for two reasons: First, for their progress and second, their joy in the faith vs 25. So life here is about impacting people in such a way that there will be progress and joy in the faith.
He saw his presence as a necessary part of their ongoing progress and joy in the faith. Eventually God would take him off of the scene, but until then, he would remain on with them. This was defined as writing to them, traveling to be with them, and sending others to see them. Actually, when the Apostles were gone, the churches in the 100 and 200’s began a process of hierarchical leadership, which substituted, diminished and replaced ministry to one another to ministry from a hierarchy. We are meant to invest in people spiritually as a way of life while on this side of the grave. Notice what is missing. We are not to try and make the world a better place to live. We are not to focus on eradicating poverty or fight AIDS. We are not to fix culture by political means. Fruitful labor is spiritual labor—for progress and joy in one’s faith—for spiritual nurture through discipleship.
26 The purpose for staying on in the flesh is that through a spiritual impact in others live, there is a growing confidence and joy in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is into personal transformation. He wants to make you a different person from the inside out. Now you are not aware of the changes that must be made but you will enjoy the fruit of those changes once they are evident. Here he says he will be released from prison and will visit them again giving them a cause to rejoice in all of the work—both salvation and discipleship—associated with Jesus Christ. The word ‘proud confidence’ actually means to ‘rejoice in an accomplishment’. Sometime it is necessary to tell what you have done and of course gives God the credit and glory. He used you to do it and if we do not say so it does not give the true picture of what happened. But pride is different in that it places value in a person or thing independent from God. It is valuable when God uses us and that should be described in a positive way.
So make joyful declarations about what Christ has done but never do it with pride!
DISCIPLESHIP INCLUDES IMPACTING BELIEVERS TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST
27 We see that the emphasis for our ministry while we are still here is to impact the conduct of our disciples. Here the conduct is especially connected to the gospel—to live in a manner worthy of the gospel. And what manner is that? He describes it as a kind of unity demonstrated by: (1) Standing firm for the faith of the gospel. So an outcome of our discipleship ministry is more knowledge of the gospel—(the grace that has saved us and keeps us and we live by that grace gospel now) and greater ability to stand for it wherever necessary. (2) Striving together for the faith of the gospel. There will always be detractors of the gospel. In vs 25 is progress and joy in the gospel. In vs 27 is striving together for the gospel. It is all about the faith of the gospel. We lose that then we lose Christianity. So a greater awareness of the need to strive for the faith of the gospel is an outcome of our continued ministry here.
And this is all done in one spirit and with one mind. This is the standard then for standing firm and striving together—that you all think alike. When we are of the same mind and same soul we have unity. Unity is defined as agreement about what is true. It is oneness between individuals. Community is agreement about what can agree is true. It is a union of individuals. Unity and not community is the pursuit of biblical discipleship.
28 The idea of opposition begins to emerge. Unity about the nature of the faith of the gospel will bring you into conflict with opponents of that gospel. Unity around what is true is essential to endure this conflict. We must not be alarmed at the enemies of the gospel. The enemies of the gospel are at a disadvantage. The fact that they oppose the gospel is a sign of that disadvantage since they will not reap the benefits of it. Also, the unity of the Philippians will put the opposition at bay. They will lose their power over the Philippians. Unlike believers who do possess their salvation—a salvation that comes directly from God! Because of the advantage of the gospel, we do not need to fear gospel opposer’s. Actually they are to be pitied.
29 The main point here is that we are marked out to suffer for Christ. Being on behalf of Christ means two gracious gifts given to us by Christ:
(1) Our salvation is a gracious unmerited gift from God. Our belief in Christ is a part of that gracious gift.
(2) Our suffering form Christ is also a gracious unmerited gift favor from God. Why would suffering be a gracious favor? The same reason salvation is. They both have benefits that are realized in heaven. And this is why we are still here. To help beach other grow up in such a way that they enjoy the gracious favor of God both in salvation and suffering for Christ so that they are greatly rewarded by Christ. If we were not here to participate in this then we could not be rewarded for it in heaven. So you are still here to make disciples who grow in their understanding of the faith of the gospel and live in that reality suffering in places for that gospel to be remembered and rewarded by Christ.
30 That gracious gift of suffering is also part of their fellowship with Paul. They have the favor of God to experience a similar kind of suffering that their discipler has. Their fellowship with Paul included their experiencing a similar gift of agony or conflict for the sake of the same gospel of Christ.
1. Don’t try to avoid suffering for the faith of the gospel. It is not Christian to avoid hardship, rejection, marginalized, ignored, irrelevant, obscure, loss, ridiculed, scorned because of the truth of our faith in Christ and His Word. You may be surprised by the kind of suffering you will be called to endure and from the quarters whence it comes.
2. Unity is more valuable than community. Unity about what is true rather than union over what we may agree to be true is the biblical call to unity.
3. The faith of the gospel will always have opposers. Satan does not tolerate the exclusive nature of the truth of God. So He counters with a mishmash of tolerance to smother the truth. Make no mistake: society pushes political correctness and tolerance because that is what Satan wants. Out God of the Bible is marginalized by this and so is Bible truth.
4. Commit yourself to invest in one another spiritually. Make disciples who know the nature of the gospel of grace and can stand with you and strive with you for it no matter the opposition. We have far too many so-called believers who cave into society’s will. Stick to the truth. Stand beside it. Contend for it and raise up disciples that way.