Summary: We must have humility to maintain the unity needed to advance the gospel.
Prenote: After delivering this sermon, it would have been better as two separate sermons! Too much information!
I learned of a man who was out on a walk one day when he saw another man about to throw himself from a bridge into the river. He ran over to save him.
“Why are you killing yourself?” he asked.
“I have nothing to live for!”
“Don’t you believe in God?”
“Yes I do”
“What a coincidence - so do I! Are you a Jew or a Christian?”
“What a coincidence - so am I! Protestant or Catholic?”
“What a coincidence - so am I! Baptist or Charismatic?”
“What a coincidence - so am I! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”
“What a coincidence - so am I! Premillenial or Amillenial?”
“What a coincidence - so am I! Pre-Tribulation or Mid-Tribulation?”
At this the first man pushed the suicidal man into the river shouting "Die heretic, DIE!"
Isn’t it funny how we let the small and non-essential things divide us? This Christian faith has been splintered into so many camps that we tend to focus on what makes our brand of Christianity distinct. The truth is that the foundation of our faith isn’t what make us different from other Christians, it’s what we all have in common. That is, the gospel, or good news of Jesus Christ.
Today we’re starting a three part series called “The Worthy Life”. We’re going to be looking at the book of Philippians to see what Paul says is the central focus of our faith. That focus is: We must have humility to maintain the unity needed to advance the gospel.
We’ll be focusing on Philippians 2:1-4 today, but I’m going to expand our reading to include the end of chapter 1. There is an unfortunate chapter break. The end of chapter one sets the context for chapter two. It actually serves as a springboard from which chapter two gets its significance. Let’s read it together starting in verse 27.
27 Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together with one accord for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
1 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Mandate of Unity: “The Why” (1:27 – 1:30)
A. Why are we to have unity?
B. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God. (vs. 1:27)
a. Verse 27 “Whatever happens, as citizens of heaven…”
b. Philippi was part of the Roman Empire and they were Roman Citizens.
c. Paul adopts their understanding of Roman citizenship to show them that through Christ they have entered into a greater citizenship.
C. We are live in a way that is worthy of the gospel. (vs. 1:27)
a. Verse 27 “…live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ”
b. What is the gospel? It is the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is all that HE IS and all that HE HAS DONE.
c. You guys are citizens and you need to live in a way that is worthy of your citizenship.
d. In other words: By what you do, demonstrate who you are.
D. Since we have strong opposition from without, we must have unity from within. (vs. 1:27-28)
a. Verse 27-28 “Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together with one accord for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”
b. Basically what Paul is saying, is “Since we have strong opposition from without, we must have unity from within.”
c. Paul knew first-hand the price that they were paying for the gospel in Philippi. Let’s read Acts 16:22-24: “The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.”