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vv. 1-11 Sons enjoying the fellowship of the gospel.
vv. 12-26 Servants sharing in the furtherance of the gospel.
vv. 27-30 Soldiers defending the faith of the gospel.
One major criticism of our movement today is that we are militant and aggressive. And if we are militant toward people, that is wrong. We are soldiers, but our aggression is to be toward principalities and powers, not people. Sometimes I think we forget who our real enemy is.
Some major denominations remove from their hymn books any references to warfare: Stand up for Jesus / Soldiers of the Cross / Onward Christian Soldiers
But the Bible abounds with such references.
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
... war a good warfare;
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
We have an enemy, he is hostile towards us, and we are in a battle.
Because we are sealed with the Spirit, he cannot have our soul ... he has already lost that battle. But he isn't going away, and fights us on other fronts. His focus has shifted. He can't have your soul, but he wants your joy, effectiveness, and testimony!
He wants you to end up a wounded, weary soldier on the sidelines.
Some Christians think I've been reading too many comic books. I think they've been reading too little of the Word!
Start with 2 Kings 6, where the king of Syria sent spies to look for Elisha in Dothan. He was found, and so the king dispatched a great army of horses and chariots of iron to surround the city. The next morning Elisha sent his servant boy out to survey the situation. He saw this great army surrounding them, and was petrified. He returned to Elisha and reported.
Elisha said, good thing there's more with us than with them! The servant thought, you're crazy! There's only 2 of us, and many of them. "Lord, open his eyes!" With spiritual sight granted, he saw the hills filled with the army of the Lord!
Can you see the battle going on right in our own church. No, it's not the Hatfields and McCoys. It's a battle for souls. It's a battle for the hearts of believers. It's a battle of wills! It's a battle to change minds and attitudes.
Church is a battleground, not a playground! A fight, not a frolic. A struggle, not a stroll.
Man your battle stations!
1. Consistent conduct.
v. 27a 'conversation' = manner of life / behavior
'becometh' = flattering or enhancing the gospel
Our walk talks louder than our talk talks.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
Are there inconsistencies between what we say and what we do?
We sing, "Sweet Hour of Prayer". Do we pray more than at mealtime and for a few minutes at bedtime?
"Onward Christian Soldiers" - yet we have to beg and draft people into so many areas of service.
"Blest be the tie that binds" - easily offended, wearing our feelings on our sleeves.
"I love to tell the story" - and go years without witnessing.
"I must tell Jesus" - then worry ourselves sick.
"Showers of Blessings" - but stay home if raining.
We need an 'Honesty Sunday', where we fix the words to the songs and tell it like it is, and for the invitation we can sing, "Some to Jesus, I surrender..."
“You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel
According to you?”
We need to walk out these doors and behave what we believe!
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
1. Consistent conduct.
2. Continued cooperation.
v. 27b 'striving together' = teamwork. An athletic term.
16 times in this epistle Paul talks about unity/teamwork. There was a ripple in this church, and Paul heard about it in prison.
4:2 It affected the whole church!
Satan's motto is divide and conquer.
"There's no limit to what we can do, if we don't care who gets the credit."
When a team has a glory hound, in competition for attention, everyone loses.
I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
Power can go to anyone's head, and they throw their weight around.