PHILIPPIANS-SERIES NR 7 : Only thing only
PHILIPPIANS 1 : 27 – 30
The Apostle Paul was not completely sure whether the Lord would give that
he would be released from Rome or not! He was in prison in Rome so that
Caesar could hear his case. Not because he did something wrong, but because he appealed to Caesar in his struggle against the non-Christian Jews who
wanted to kill him because he preached salvation and redemption by the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Would he perhaps get to the church in Philippi to teach and encourage them with the Gospel-message in person? Or would he remain in prison and perhaps be executed by Caesar – then the Philippians would just have to continue on
their own and merely depend on his letters and everything that they had
heard from the Apostles?
ONE THING ONLY was important! Not whether Paul would personally get to
them or not. But that they would cling in faith to the content of that which
he (as apostle) had taught them. Because the Apostles had a unique authority. They were the people who were chosen by the Lord to establish the
foundation of the NT-church (Eph 2:20). Foundation concerning TEACHING
(doctrine) and CONDUCT (the practical life of the church). There can and must never be apostles again. The apostolic function (and office) has been closed for 2000 years, and is still closed! All that is required from the church for the
past 2000 years, is to teach and preach the teaching/doctrine of the Apostles
to all people. And of course that is the entire content of the New Testament.
Therefore, Paul was telling the church in Philippi (and us too): “There is only
one thing that is important to you: That your daily walk must always be in
line with the Gospel-message”. With “Gospel-message” he meant the
handed-down teaching and traditions of the Apostles – the pure message of
the New Testament.
Literally in Greek: Conduct = CITIZENSHIP. “Conduct yourselves in a manner
worthy of the citizenship of the Gospel”.
He is saying: “Yes, you are indeed Roman citizens and you are proud of it, and your practical life is as that of Roman citizens BUT in reality you are citizens of a completely different Empire – the heavenly kingdom of God. The kingdom of God of which you acquired citizenship through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and by repentance and placing your trust in Him alone, and the Holy Spirit
who entered your life. And now it is vital that your practical everyday life
(practical citizenship) be in line with that kingdom”. That is what it is all about.
But what does it mean exactly? That is the question!
Now listen carefully, please: For believers to live in agreement/harmony with
the Gospel of Christ (to live as citizens of the Lord’s kingdom) imply SIX things (we take it strictly from the text):
1 It means to stand firm in one spirit: Even if there are differences among
Christian-believers, it must not bring the unity among them into contention.
Sinful human nature always wants to divide and destroy and is self-seeking. But the Lord Jesus over-turns it and changes our hearts so that we can uphold
unity with other believers and realize how important it is.
This obviously means unity IN THE TRUTH! John the Apostle says in plain
words, in 2 John and verse 1, that mutual love is only possible IN THE TRUTH! When differences arise about matters that are taught in Scripture as Truth,
can and must there not be unity! Outside the truth no unity is possible.
But when there are mutual differences over matters that are on the outer
edge – things about which the Bible does not say anything in particular, or
about which there have been clerical differences for centuries – there MUST be unity in absolute truths.
Examples are legion, think about the differences about how the government of the church should be represented (ie episcopal or presbitarian), the differences about baptism, different practical ways of celebrating Holy Communion, the
second coming of Christ etc. Christians who are driven apart because some
believe in a rapture and the thousand year reign and others do not, are
absolutely wrong. The Apostle condemns such divisions.
But when it concerns matters like for example, who and what Jesus Christ is,
the Trinity, the infallibility and sufficiency of Scripture, marriage and sexuality
and so forth, there MUST be unity.
2.It means to contend for the Truth. Christians who are like-minded, can
contend for the truth much easier. It is more difficult as an individual.
Christians should not only know and love the truth, but must be prepared to
stand up and suffer for it, and defend it against opposition.
With “the truth” is meant THE GOSPEL as complete package of truth. It is
nothing to do with how much water should be used at baptism and if wine or grapejuice is served at Holy Communion. It concerns the explicit teaching of
Scripture about which the Church of Christ has always been in agreement. That is why our Reformed Confessions are so important because it summarizes the truth.
That is why it is so important that all Christians should always study and read and remain informed about matters. Because how do you defend something
about which you are uncertain or ignorant? And if we neglect to defend it,
we sin and are accountable before the Lord.
CONTEND for the Truth. Even if you are overpowered by the false preachers’
clever philosophical arguments. Even if you are mocked and scorned and loose Facebook friends. What does it matter? Only thing that does matter is the
Truth of the Word of God.
3.It means not to be frightened by those who oppose you: Once again:
Christians who stand together as ONE are not easily frightened or daunted.
Paul was not frightened – he did not function as individual, but worked in
collaboration with the other apostles and fellow workers. Sometimes a Christian must have a thick hide in order to live faithful to the Lord in the world.
Therefore: DO NOT BE FRIGHTENED by the enemies of the Truth. STAND by
what you know is the absolute truth. See to it that you are part of a church and ministry where the Truth is preached without compromise. Do not become lukewarm and spiritually anaemic! Do not be indolent in diligence. Be
spiritually ZEALOUS. Serve the Lord! (Rom 12:11).
4.It means to believe. Faith-trust is utterly and completely received from God as a gift of grace (Eph 2:10). It is not possible for a sinner to believe the
Gospel and trust the Lord Jesus as Saviour, because by nature man is
spiritually DEAD (Eph 2:1) and unable to believe or to choose.
Listen how Rom 8:8 and 1 Cor 2:14 put it: “By nature no person CAN please God” CAN NOT!! And “the natural man IS UNABLE to discern and understand
From A-Z everything must come from the Lord. He brings to life those He
wants and He does it without their consent. On the cross HE forgave and
wrote off all the sin of His people. On the cross HE included all His people in Christ. HE allows this good news to be proclaimed to sinners. HE awakens and creates faith in their hearts so that they can believe it and trust Him! It is a free gift! Read Eph 2:1-10 and convince yourself!
5.It means to suffer: Suffering for the Lord is also received from God as a
gift of grace. In the same breath that Paul is saying that faith is a gift from
God, he also says that suffering is a gift from God.
Suffering for the sake of the Lord and His Truth, is the fate and privilege of
all Christians (2 Tim 3:12). Christ suffered and so will His people. Everyone
who wants to be devout and stand out for the Lord Jesus Christ WILL be
You will discover that one does not get much opposition when you try to
stand out for the Lord without specifically standing up for the LORD JESUS
Recently I heard an actor on TV confessing “the Lord” and spoke of “faith”. It is commendable, but it is no confession. Godless people and people from other religions will possibly even pat you on the back.
But what does Scripture say? Who is the rock over whom people will stumble and fall? The Lord Jesus Christ. Dare to confess that NAME openly and you
will discover what opposition is.
But take note: This suffering is a gift from Above. He uses suffering in our
lives for our benefit, the way Jesus’ suffering ended in His resurrection!
6 It means to experience the same struggles that the Apostles experienced:
This struggle is not unique. The struggle that the apostles experienced 2000
years ago, is still a struggle everyone must go through who are passionate
about Jesus and the Gospel-message! The Truth will always be opposed out of the same demonic pit. Everyone who wants to live for the Lord and His truth WILL be persecuted.
There is a definite link between the original Apostles and all
believers throughout the centuries from all nations. And it is a precious unity. The unity is not only the Truth which is confessed. The unity is also the
In short, these 6 aspects describe what it means to live a practical life as a
citizen of the Lord’s kingdom!
Translated by Marthie Wilson