27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves 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 one spirit, contending as one man 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.
In these verses we see a challenge from Paul to live a "manner" of life that is "worthy of the gospel of Christ." Once again, Paul tells us to get our eyes and our thinking away from ourselves and turn our attention to God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the movie and TV series "Weird Science," the two principal actors continually use the phrase, "We are not worthy." There declaration had nothing to do with spirituality, but we too can ask ourselves, "can any of us really be worthy of the gospel of Christ?"
Tough question. As disciples of Jesus we can truly say that only Jesus is worthy. When we use the word worthy to describe ourselves, it has nothing to do with ourselves - and everything to do with Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ makes us worthy. Worthiness is not something we can achieve without Him. In some of our earlier quiet time notes we saw that the gospel is the good news of God coming to us in the form of Jesus to redeem, save, reconcile and heal us. A life "worthy of the gospel" must flow out of the gospel.
In Philippians 3, Paul talks about his radical change from being a Pharisee who persecuted the church to his personal relationship with Jesus. Paul says that a disciple's life must be based primarily on Jesus and not on a religious system. The Jews in the congregation at Philippi struggled to understand the relationship between the traditions of Judaism and their new life in Christ. The Gentiles struggled to understand the relationship between their Greek and Roman traditions and the new demands of following the gospel of Jesus. These struggles couldn't be resolved by a religious system. Resolving religious differences comes only from following God's word in our relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people believe that conforming to church tradition is something they need to do in their life as Christians.
These folks - some without realizing it - are giving religious tradition priority over God's Word and those who don't conform to their system are excluded.
The solution is simple - make the Bible your standard. Go back and look at what God's Word has to say and then do what it says. If we want to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ we must begin with the gospel - not by a set of rules set down by man. Notice how many times Paul refers to his presence or absence with regard to the church at Philippi. He says he might live and return to them or die and be with Christ, but not see them again.
19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
26 so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Paul has every intention of visiting the Philippians again, but he's making back-up plans because he's not sure how his trial will go.
19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.
20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare.
21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.
22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
23 I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me.
24 And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.
Paul says that his personal presence with church in Philippi isn't important. The Philippi disciple's lives are not dependent on Paul's presence - or the presence of anyone else. What's important is the gospel. Jesus should be our guide in what a "life worthy of the gospel" should be.
Each disciple of Jesus - individually and collectively - must define his or her life and view of the world by the gospel. A life worthy of the gospel must be lived from the inside out. A lot of people look good on the outside and talk the talk, but they're not walking the walk. Look what Jesus says in Matthew 23:25 and 26 -- "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean."
As disciples of Jesus we have a responsibility to carry our "life worthy of the gospel" to the community and share it with others. How do you relate to others? Are you living what you're talking? As members of the body we can't avoid asking ourselves that question. Is who you are written on your heart? Can others see that in you?
2 Corinthians 3:2-6
2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.
3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.
5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.
6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves 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 one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel
Paul says we are to "stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel."
If living a life worthy of the gospel means always having perfect inner motives and flawlessly behaving outwardly - then the gospel could be called nothing more than an exhortation to moral and ethical struggling and striving. If we follow that course we'll end up with a sense of failure. Some people studying to be disciples drop out and some who are already disciples fall away because they feel they could never be worthy. Could the real reason be because of some sin in their lives they don't want to give up? In any case, they miss the meaning of Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross.
Paul's letter to the Philippians also shows his concern about a possible break of the church into factions.
1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with 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 purpose.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
In these verses Paul urges disciples to be "like-minded having the same love" and "one in spirit." He encourages us to do nothing out of "selfish ambition or vain conceit," and to follow the example of Jesus. Paul would probably be appalled if he could see all the divisions and denominations of today. Being worthy of the gospel is not found in divisions and denominations. It's found in our common purpose as disciples of Jesus carrying out the great commission - and in our common love, expressed for each other and for Jesus as we "go and make disciples."
We're involved in a spiritual battle with the devil and the evil forces of this world. The Bible says the battle has already been won through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our real battle is within ourselves and for that we need to keep on the armor of God so that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion, as it says in Philippians 1:6, "until the day of Christ Jesus."
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.