Together to Do Battle (Sermon Recap)
RECAP OF 04.15.18 SERMON
In our most recent sermon we reflected on Philippians 1:27-30, where Paul gives us the first glimpse of what a gospel-worthy way of life looks like within the church community. It looks like this: a unified, fearless, and graced army of suffering soldiers who do battle for the cause of the gospel, and who do so in fellowship with our gospel partners in other parts of the world. Consider (all quotations from Philippians 1:27-30 ESV)
1) The language of battle: "standing firm" and "striving side by side" (v. 27); having "opponents" (v. 28), suffering (v. 29), and "[engaging] in ... conflict" (v. 30).
2) We conduct this battle as a unified army: "[stand] firm in one spirit" and strive "with one mind" and "[strive] side by side" (v. 27). With hearts knit together and arms locked, we fight for the same cause.
3) And what is our cause? The cause of the gospel! We "[strive] side by side for the faith of the gospel" (v. 27). We pursue this amid opposition. The enemies of the gospel oppose the church's message, mission, and members, but by God's grace we preserve the message, press on to further the mission, and help each other to be strong in the battle.
4) In the face of such opposition, we are to be fearless! (v. 28) Our fearlessness is not the result of Stoic indifference or brazen swagger, but is instead the fruit of our confidence in the Lord. As we trust in the Lord and take to heart His promises, there really is nothing to fear.
5) But though there is nothing to fear, the suffering itself is real – and this suffering is actually a great privilege. First, the Father bestows upon His chosen ones the gift of saving faith; then second, He bestows upon His now faith-filled chosen ones the gift of suffering for Jesus: "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" (v. 29). As we demonstrate our commitment to the gospel, it is our privilege to suffer for Jesus as we walk with Jesus on the path that leads to glory with Jesus (see Philippians 2:6-11, Philippians 3:10-21, Romans 8:17).
6) All this, in fellowship with our gospel partners – and indeed in fellowship with all true Christians and gospel-loving congregations – in other parts of the world. Paul was doing battle for the gospel, and the Philippians were "engaged in the same conflict" (v. 30). The Philippians had a work to do in Philippi, even as Paul had a work to do in other parts of the Roman Empire.
Each congregation is one battalion in the Lord's unified, fearless, and graced army of suffering soldiers who do battle for the cause of the gospel. South Paris Baptist Church is one such battalion, and we have a work to do in the Oxford Hills. Let us be faithful to do it!