Summary: Being saved by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ creates an eternal bond with the Gospel. As we grow and mature in the Lord, the Gospel continually shapes our lives. The life of every believer should be directed by the Gospel.
The Bond with the Gospel
Philippians 1: 27-30
For the past few weeks we have been considering the impact of the Gospel in our lives and the challenge of allowing the Gospel to be central in our lives. Clearly the Gospel brings about an immediate transformation, from the inside-out. 2 Cor.5:17 – Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Through salvation, our lives are radically transformed in Christ. The old man of sin is now dead and we are resurrected a new creation in Christ.
While this transformation happens from within, there will also be evidence without. One cannot encounter the Lord in salvation, having received the Gospel, and remain as they were. The relationship with have with Christ will completely transform our lives. This doesn’t happen all at once; our Christian journey should involve continual growth and maturity in the faith. We cannot expect a new believer to live the same as a mature believer, but there will be a change in our lives. This may sound harsh, but if there is no evident change, I would wonder whether genuine conversion ever happened. We cannot encounter the risen Christ, through the transforming power of the Gospel and remain as we were.
As we conclude this series focused on Gospel Centered Lives, I want to consider the characteristics revealed in the text as we discuss: The Bond with the Gospel. Paul reveals the marvelous transformation that takes place in the lives of believers.
I. The Gospel affects our Behavior (27) – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel. As we consider this powerful statement, we must understand that their conversation doesn’t refer simply to their words or manner of speaking. This speaks of “their citizenship and manner of conduct according to the laws and customs of a state.” Keep that in mind as we consider this verse. Notice first:
A. The Exhortation (27a) – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. As Paul refers to their manner of conduct as citizens, he exhorts them to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner, worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Their thoughts and behaviors were not limited to, or dictated by what was acceptable in Philippi. They had a much higher and holier responsibility. Their actions were always expected to honor Christ and the Gospel.
The western church needs to understand and embrace this biblical principle. There is much that is acceptable within society and according to the laws of the land, but they are contrary to the Word of God and certainly do not honor Christ. This must be the litmus test for every action and deed for the believer – does it honor Christ? If not, we must refrain from such activity.
B. The Anticipation (27b) – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs. While he longed to be present with them, Paul was currently hindered, and had no way of knowing when he would see them again. Regardless of his physical presence in Philippi, he expected to hear of their faithfulness to the Lord and continued righteousness. Whether in his presence, or in his absence, he still expected the church to live in a way that brought honor to the Lord. There should never have been a question regarding their faith or loyalty to Christ.
This expectation remains for every believer today. Our lives should not be lived any differently within society than they are in the presence of those within the church. Our loyalty and devotion to Christ should be such that it dictates our actions and attitudes regardless of the cultural setting. We must bear in mind that the Spirit is with us wherever we are and observes every action, while knowing every thought. I pray we will always live in a way that honors Christ, regardless of those we are with.
C. The Determination (27b) – Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit. Paul also exhorted them to stand fast in one spirit, possessing an unshakeable faith and resolve for the Lord. This would not be easy while facing increased opposition and mounting pressure to conform to the standards adopted by society, but they were expected to remain committed to the faith. They could not straddle the fence. Their undivided loyalty belonged to Christ. In fact, some within the church may have been tempted to stray or compromise, but Paul urged them to remain committed to the Lord and the Gospel. Compromise was not an option for those who sought to serve the Lord.