THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI: WHAT MATTERS MOST - PHILIPPIANS 1:18b-30

What matters most

Legal challenge to Canada Summer Jobs Program new 'abortion' clause underway

As most of you will already know, the Trudeau government recently announced that any organization or business that wishes to apply to the Canada Summer Jobs Program must first prove their eligibility by submitting an “attestation” that affirms their organization’s support of abortion, transgenderism, and a laundry list of other progressive causes. Justin Trudeau’s idea of diversity is limited to those who actually agree with him on nearly every issue, and his government is now setting an extremely dangerous precedent by insisting that Canadians meet certain ideological criteria before becoming eligible for a previously neutral government program.

The notion that people who disagree with the government on controversial moral issues such as abortion must either adopt the government’s view or be excluded is acceptable in totalitarian regimes. It is not acceptable in Canada — a country that strives, in the words of the Charter, to be a “free and democratic society.”
Brian Bird, policyoption.irrp.org,; Jan 16, 2018

It’s much worst at Philippi.
Let’s go through additional background information to help in our study of the Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
The People of Philippi
•   Patriotic Roman City - loyal to Caesar, the were considered mini Rome
•   The system of Patron/Client - Networked together family, business, social, economic

Under Roman Regime
•   Day to day culture controlled by Rome
•   Religious dimension - Economy, politics tied to religious life
•   The greater influence of Caesar himself which commonly called = saviour, king or a son of a god
•   Caesar reign is recognized as “good news”
•   Every is expected to be loyal to the emperor

Imagine you belong to an assembly called Philippians
•   Jesus is recognized as Lord and King not Caesar
•   You proclaim another gospel
•   Jesus is recognized as Saviour not Caesar
•   You claim the your real citizen is in heaven not Rome
•   You have a Jewish Saviour which was crucified by the Roman

What does it make of you now?
As a believer who happen to be a Philippian, you are outside of the parameter of an acceptable place in the society.You are going to suffer because of your other commitment.

In Acts 16 we find the accounts of how Paul and Silas suffered in Philippi

Acts 16:16–24 ESV But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, “These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Paul and Silas was punished and thrown into jail without due process of the law.

Imprisonment: served to advance the gospel
Philippians 1:12 ESV I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. If it were not for the gospel, whatever happened to Paul will be just a random events.

The advancement of the Gospel is God’s priority

Two groups preaching the gospel:
In Phil 1:15-17 addressed the two groups of people preaching the gospel while he was in prison.

Philippians 1:15–17 ESV Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment.

If it happened then it’s also happening now. That people (believer as they claimed) preach Christ with right and wrong motives. If Paul’s imprisonment and the people preaching the gospel with right and wrong reasons are advancing the gospel, then we should rejoice.

Philippians 1:18 ESV What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice,

Paul expressed his confidence that he will receive deliverance either by dying or by being alive for the advancement of the gospel

So what is the bigger picture that enables Paul to look beyond his circumstances and rejoice? It is his confidence that these things will turn out for his deliverance (1:19). This confidence is based on two things: the prayers of the Philippians and the support of the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 1:19–20 ESV for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

From Paul’s perspective to live or die is a no-lose proposition. Whatever his end might be, he come out benefiting from the outcome.

Let’s summarize the progression of Paul’s thought.

•   Imprisonment, rival preaching - what now?
•   Rejoice and continue to do so - why?
•   leads to deliverance - say what? How?
•   Imprisonment, rival preaching - what now?
•   Rejoice and continue to do so - why?
•   leads to deliverance - say what? How?

Philippians 1:21 ESV For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Big idea: If seeing Christ exalted really was the most important thing in our lives, how would that change our priorities and perspective?

·      What would it do to our outlook for the future?
·      How are we to live differently? In private and public?
·      How will you to live with your spouse?
·      How will you parent your children?
·      How will you act an employee or employer?
·      How will you serve God through this church?

Philippians 1:21 ESV For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

We are going to tackle the practical implications of life and death, aside from what we think or feel. How can Paul say that Christ will be exalted either in his life or death? Living means continued work for Christ, and dying means going to be with Him. The simplicity with which Paul treats life-and-death issues casts things in a whole new light.

To me indicates that Paul’s values system reflects his own perspective on the matter, but by implication it is one that we should adopt as well.

What matters most to Paul? What should matter most to the Philippians? What matters most to you?

The advancement of the gospel

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. I Cor 9:19-23

While in prison, Paul was presented with a dilemma or a problem

I. THE DILEMMA: Paul’s Dilema: v.21-24

Philippians 1:21–24 ESV For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.

In this section, Paul went into details his dilemma of whether he will stay or he will go. Seeing that either he live or die the gospel will advance he is free to participate or not, should he stay or should he go?

This section is essentially a pro/com list, identifying the advantages and disadvantages of living versus dying. It’s critical that we get the context of Phil 1:21 so as not to misapply this truth in your life. In here Paul walks us through his decision making before giving us his choice whether to go or stay.

I do hope that this will help us in our decision making process too.

To live (in the flesh) = Christ, fruitful labor, your benefit

To die = gain, depart to be with Christ, better

Dying seems to be the better option

After listing the pros and cons of each option, Paul makes known his choice. He could have skipped comparing the options, but doing so would have obscured the significance of his decision.

II. THE DECISION

a. Paul: Remain in the flesh for their progress

Philippians 1:25 (ESV) Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,

The needs of other seems to the choice for now

It is clear that departing is better path considering he will exit from the pain, suffering and persecution of life but Paul chose to stay, to stay for their sake. Convinced that the Philippians’ needs outweigh his own desire to depart and be with Christ, Paul chooses to remain serving them.

Paul’s decision to remain (free or not) and serve the church was not conditioned on anything; he decided to put the Philippians’ interest before his own.

Implications: Personal or corporate
·      Opening up his decision-making process challenges us to follow in his path.
·      How do we decide to get involved in a ministry or not, to minister to someone else’s needs or not?
·      Do we consider only our own interests?
·      What about the interests of others?

But if remaining was on Paul’s to do list, then the Philippians must understand what he expected them to do in return.

b. Philippians:

Paul begins to reflect more on the situation of the Philippians. In the light of his experience, he now call their attention to how they ought to live.

      1.  Live in a manner worthy of the gospel

Philippians 1:27 (ESV) 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,

Philippians 1:27 (NLT) Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.  ...

Express your real citizenship in heaven.
·      Your primary citizenship is not Romans but heaven.
·      Your King and Saviour is not Caesar but Jesus.
·      The goodnews that you will proclaim is not the reign of Caesar but the reign of Jesus, the Kingdom of God.

How them will you live?
                    Philippians 1:27 (ESV) ... I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, ..
                   One spirit -
spirit of God, having received the same Spirit, stand firm as one in the  
                    spirit of God

                    What does it practically look like to stand firm in one spirit? Paul elaborates on this           
                    by providing both a positive and a negative component.

                       a. Striving side by side
                       Philippians 1:27 (ESV)... , with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the
                       gospel,

                       The positive part is contending for the faith—and not just in any old way. He  
                       wants them to contend with one mind—not every person for themselves.
                       With one mind = one soul

                       Even the action of striving (ESV) includes the idea of unity. It could be more
                       literally translated as doing something side by side (see LEB).
                       It’s not gonna be easy.

                       b.  Not intimidate
                      
Philippians 1:28 ESV and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a
                       clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.

                       The negative part has to do with how we respond to opponents. Adversaries will  
                       come from outside and within the faith. It should not come as a surprise that
                       we’ll face opposition to the gospel, even if it doesn’t entail imprisonment like
                       Paul faced.

                       The key question is: how will we respond when it comes? Will we be alarmed and  
                       cower? Will we allow ourselves to be intimidated? Since we know that opposition
                       is inevitable, it’s critical to decide how we will respond now, before our backs are
                       pressed against the wall.

       2.  Share  in the suffering

         Philippians 1:29–30 (ESV) For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you
         should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sak
e, 30 engaged in the same
        conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

        In these last two verses Paul brings the whole discussion back to v.12.

        Paul’s main goal is to make the Philippians understand that his imprisonment and suffering  
        are not a mistake
, but part God’s large plan - to advancement the gospel.

        Paul was not looking for empathy. He is preparing them that there is more to following  
        Christ than believing.

       The word translated as granted is more often used in the context of forgiveness, sharing  
       the same basic root as grace. It is also used to describe granting something positive, as in
       2:9 where Jesus is given a name above all others.

       So why phrase it this way? From a human perspective, not many people want to suffer.
       Suffering is often viewed more as a burden to bear than as a gift to cherish.

       Phrased as it is, Paul presents suffering as a special thing graciously granted by God. It’s
       like the difference between an invitation saying, “Come on over!” and one that reads, “We  
       graciously request the pleasure of your presence.” Runge, S. E. (2011).

For Paul, the key is exchanging our view for God’s. Paul processes his circumstances through God’s perspective, and he challenges the Philippians to do the same. We shouldn’t just accept the fact that we may suffer for Christ; we should embrace it.

 

Closing Challenge:

What matters most? “The advancement of the gospel whether I live or die
If seeing Christ exalted really was the most important thing in our lives, how would that change our priorities and perspective today?