Worthy Citizens Part 3: The Fearless Citizens (Philippians 1:28-30)

Worthy Citizens Part 3: The Fearless Citizens (Philippians 1:28-30)

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MPS: The Church is one team fighting for one purpose, which is the glory of Christ.

In the last two weeks we unpacked verse 27 of today’s passage. We discovered that Worthy Citizens of the Gospel are united as one team and fight for one purpose. Today we will see that our greatest purpose is to glorify Christ and that this is accomplished through our fearlessness in the midst of the war for the Gospel.

Everyone knows who Superman is. An alien from the planet Krypton and his true name is Kal-El. He assumes an identity here on Earth as Clark Kent, and when people are in trouble he assumes his true identity, Superman. As Clak Kent he is a nerdy reporter at the Daily Globe. As Superman he is a muscular hero who rescues citizens of Metropolis from peril. 

Superman while living on Earth would have to conceal his identity except for the moments in which someone cried out his moniker. Then he’d quickly change his clothes in a telephone booth and fly in to rescue the damsel in distress. His citizenship here on Earth masked his true identity except for particular moments of need. Even then Superman would wear a costume and a cape that would point to his peculiarity. In the midst of exercising his superpowers onlookers would notice his bravery and outfit and see that there was something different about him.

Likewise, we as Christians are only temporarily citizens here. Our true citizenship isn’t on Krypton but Heaven. We aren’t brave in the midst of tragic events we are exercising God-given faith. Our true identity is masked by our sinfulness yet is truly revealed in Christ and His righteousness. Unlike Superman we aren’t the heroes but God is. 

Nevertheless, just as with Superman who wasn’t superhuman, but an alien from Krypton where everyone had those same superpowers; we aren’t superhumans, but exercise supernatural faith that is common among our brothers and sisters of the Kingdom of Heaven.

1) The Church is to be fearless in their war for the Gospel. (28)

28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. : The Philippians were very much in the midst of persecution. Their city that they had lived in for generations began to turn against them as the Church began to increasingly follow Jesus. Paul encourages them to not be afraid. 

In a moment we will discover why they shouldn’t be afraid. Right now we see that the result of their fearlessness in the midst of their persecution is a token, a symbol, a trophy, or a sign; their fearlessness in the face of the war for the Gospel is to remind them of their salvation in Christ and the destruction of the opposing Army.

Our firmness in the faith, our unwavering commitment to the Gospel in the face of opposition testifies to the salvation we have in Christ and the assured destruction of those around us who are at war with God. If those around us are at war with God then they are at war with us.

They might be nice and congenial, they might even attend a Church service a few times a year. However, unless one is saved by Christ then they are destined for destruction.

How might we remain faithful, fearless, and firm in our allegiance to God in the midst of opposition?

  • The Holy Spirit will hold us securely in God’s hand; keeping us firmly in the faith, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14)

Why should we be thankful for enemies of the Gospel who seek our destruction? 

  • We should take heart knowing that these are signs that we are on the right path. Calvin puts it this way, “even the sufferings themselves are evidence of the grace of God; and, since it is so, you have from this source a token of salvation.

2) The Church’s salvation and suffering are both on account of Christ. (29-30)

29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, : This statement by Paul particularly the term “granted”, highlights for the Philippians a key doctrine concerning the nature of God; that is that God is sovereign. For God to be sovereign means that nothing comes to pass outside of His having ordained it. That doesn’t mean that suffering proceeds from Him; meaning that suffering doesn’t organically come from His action. He simply sees the action or event that will take place and allows it to happen. 

God’s sovereign power is always at work. It was at work in the persecution of His Church in Philippi just as it is today. We are reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse is primarily describing salvation and calling of the elect, but inherent in the verse is that God works all things together to conform His people into the image of Christ. God works all things together to extol His glory to the nations through His people. 

You are His people just as the Philippians were. Therefore, God works through us in manifesting His glory here in Johnston County just as He manifested His glory in Philippi through His Church in which this letter was written.

It is by God’s grace and in His providence He will give us trials, persecution, and struggles. This has been given to us to assure us of our salvation. In the middle of these normal things of life we are called to live for the sake of Christ.

  • To live for Christ’s sake sees our motives and lives centered on the Gospel. We then are able to love our neighbors as ourselves, “If you thus go forth to the service of each day “for his sake”, realizing that he “for your sakes” gave himself to toil and agony, and even to death itself, you will daily grow into sympathy with Christ; his divine compassion for men will take hold upon you; you will be lifted up above the life of the world; and, as you go about doing good, you will be able to touch the sorrow of the earth with a tender hand. You will grow like him you serve.” (Spurgeon)
  • Jesus promises that because we follow Him that we will be treated with disdain just as He was, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.” (John 15:20-21)
  • Our perseverance in the faith is a fundamental virtue of following Jesus as we are called to lives of tumult due to living as Heavenly citizens sojourning in a fallen world. Paul says to the saints of Asia Minor, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” (Acts 14:22)

30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. : Paul relates his suffering back to their partnership and shared suffering. Likewise, when we undergo persecution, trials, and tribulations like those of our brothers and sisters in Philippi we are joining with them in their suffering.

How then should we receive suffering?

  • We who suffer for the cause of Christ should take heart as we imitate Paul as He imitates Christ. (Phil. 3:17)

 

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