Summary: Working through the book of Philippians using consecutive expository preaching. Philippians 1:27-30
Sermon: “A Call to Arms”
Pastor John Bright
Philippians 1 “27 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, 28 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. 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”
In one of his first major speeches, on Jan. 27, 1838, Abraham Lincoln spoke about "the perpetuation of our political institutions." During that address, he said: "At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."
When we look around today – the church is in the same boat. There are forces from outside the church and from within the church that seek to tear down. That simply means that nothing has changed in 2000 years since Paul was writing to the house churches in Philippi. These verses I read look to the threat from the outside – the threat of persecution. Then, Chapter 2 begins with Paul’s instruction on how they can (and we can) face opposition and disunity on the inside.
With a sermon title like, “A Call to Arms”, I better clarify that I am not calling for us to literally take up arms. You already know how I feel about the 2nd Amendment, so hear me loud and clear that those who desire to destroy the Church, Christianity and all of Western Civilization can be defeated without firing a single shot. Paul gave clear directions and we need to remember them in the chaotic times – 2 Cor. 10 “1 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.”
We don’t use force. We don’t use chaos. We don’t use their language. So what’s left?
Live Like a Christian… No Matter What!
“27 Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…”
Paul is asking them to do no less than he has done when faced with outside opposition – live in a way that is totally consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had professed his conduct worthy when he faced the Jewish leadership in Acts 23 – “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.”
In that day, the folks in Philippi had to conduct themselves as Roman Citizens and as Philippian Citizens. Could their previous citizenship have come into conflict with becoming a Citizen in the Kingdom of God? Maybe so. It would be hard for them to stand up and be counted among the Believers in their city. What about now? Christians are silenced every day. We live in a day where certain folks – especially on social media – participate in what is known as “cancel culture.” If you share an opposing view to theirs, you are called vile names and they seek to get you shamed and fired and exposed and shamed and you are guilty of whatever they claim as soon as they claim it.
The folks in Philippi didn’t have to contend with a Twitter Mob or being “doxed” on Facebook, but did need to keep working and running businesses as Believers. We are all aware that being open about your Christian beliefs in the workplace can lead to trouble in today’s world.