This is the sermon for Wednesday, August 11th, 2010.
Philippians part 5
Suffering for Christ’s sake
Philippians 1:27-30 ESV – 27Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28and 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. 29For 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, 30engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.
INTRODUCTION: Last time we looked at the proper attitude a Christian should have when it comes to living and dying. This attitude can be found in Paul’s short statement in verse 21, “to live is Christ, do die is gain.”
Now within the remaining verses of Philippians chapter 1, we see that Paul deals with the subject of suffering for the sake of Christ.
Suffering is never enjoyable, nor easy. It can bring a lot of stress personally, within families, and even within churches. But the good news is that suffering is temporary. Look at the promising word that Paul gives.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV – 16So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Let’s now begin to unpack our text.
The Gospel of Christ is worth suffering for.
Philippians 1:27 ESV – Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
Another way to translate, “only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ,” would be, “only behave as citizens of the Gospel of Christ.” The believers in Philippi are in Christ; they are citizens of the kingdom of God through Him. So they must live as citizens before this world in a worthy manner.
Now before we think that Paul is applying some legalistic teaching here; the context of this paragraph is suffering. I believe it is hinted in verse 27, “I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
Let’s do a little Greek study.
- Greek word, steko (stay’-ko).
- To persevere, to stand fast.
Striving side by side:
- Greek word, sunatheo (soon-ath-leh’-o).
- To wrestle as a team (as in an Olympic event).
- To work or labor together.
It’s easy to stand firm with no pressure or struggle, but difficult when going through suffering. That’s why the church needs each other, so that we can stand together.
Our suffering is a sign of coming salvation.
Philippians 1:28 ESV – 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.
Paul is encouraging the church in Philippi to stand firm in the midst of suffering brought about by their opponents. This standing firm gave two evidences.
- Evidence of their opponent’s destruction.
- Evidence of their future salvation at Christ’s second coming.
Now not every scholar or commentator agrees with me here. Why do I feel this is talking about the salvation we have at the second coming? Well, our opponent’s destruction is future tense – will ultimately take place at Christ second coming. And at the same time our full salvation will be realized at Christ’s second coming as well. Notice what Paul says in another passage.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 ESV – 5This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
We must remember that ultimately the authors of Christian suffering are not people, but Satan himself. We must stand firm and fight him together in Christ’s name. And when Christ comes again Satan will be destroyed and all suffering will end.
Ultimately our suffering for Christ’s sake is a gift from God.
Philippians 1:28-29 ESV – 28and 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. 29For 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.
Let’s do a Greek word study here.
It has been granted:
- Greek word, charizomai (kharid’-zom-ahee).
- To grant as a favor; a gift.
- Same Greek word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians concerning God giving the gifts of the Spirit to the church.
- Greek word (pas’-kho).
- To experience pain.
Now notice what Paul says here, “It has been granted…that…you should not only believe in Him, but also suffer for His sake.” The ESV Study Bible notes says, “Paul teaches that both suffering and faith are gifts of God.”
Notice that Paul is not excluded from suffering in verse 30, “engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
What can be learned here? It is difficult in our, “prosperity, best life now,” culture to accept suffering as a gift from God; but it is. And since it is a gift of god, we must trust Him and be honored to suffer for His sake!
CONCLUSION: Suffering is never easy, but down-right painful. We must learn that the same God who grants us faith, is the same God who grants us to suffer. Why do we suffer? For Christ’s sake. If we learn to have this attitude toward suffering, these light, momentary afflictions will be more bearable.