JohnSWilson3 Blog


“”For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.”
April 24, 2010, 2:38 pm
Filed under: M Letter to Philippians

In the latter part of Paul’s letter to the Christians in the organic church plant in Philippi he has described Christ as being expressed more and more through those who have heard the good news as well as through those who have imprisoned him. This leads Paul to describe the importance of him being released “through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ” “for your progress and joy in the faith.” Isn’t the life of Christ meant to be a joy? Why such down faces brothers and sisters? Is our life about us or about Jesus? Paul, in the midst of being in a prison can say “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice” because it’s all about the advancement of Christ, it’s not about our flesh, it’s not about us!

So Paul continues and exhorts the Christians with “whatever happens,” let me repeat those two words, “whatever happens.” I think this means anything…right? “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” It is Paul’s hope that as the Holy Spirit gives interpretation of the words that he has just shared that the Philippian Christians could see that his “whatever happens,” being in prison, should be something that enables a more worthy walk in Christ. How do we respond in difficult circumstances? I think that would indicate how much we have of Christ, or better said how much Christ has of us. Christ is attempting to express Himself through us, that can’t happen until we die to ourselves and let Christ reign through us. As Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I don’t think just applies to dieing physically and being with Christ in heaven, but to “deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow” Jesus as we live our daily lives.

When we die to ourselves, when we decide to respond by the Spirit instead of in the flesh when difficult or stressful circumstances come upon us, and they will come, then Jesus will show forth His “fruit of righteousness…to the glory and praise of God”! “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 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Isn’t this that wonderful confident expectation that Paul had for them, that “he, Jesus, who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”? But this statement by Paul also seems to indicate that their Christ like conduct will be because they are standing “firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” First thing that comes to mind is Jesus prayer for the disciples in the gospel according to John:

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20-23)

Can it be that living the Christian life is really about living in the body of Christ? I cannot be a lone ranger Christian, it is at odds with our Triune God who lives in perfect mutual loving fellowship together and who desires that same kind of fellowship through the body of Christ, His family. We cannot bring “glory and praise” to God except through growing love towards one another in the body. As Paul said, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be sincere and unoffending until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” When we live a shared life together as a body with Jesus that means meeting “every day,” “breaking bread in their homes” and eating “together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God” because of our devotion towards Jesus Christ and His body as mentioned in the Acts. We are not there yet. May to God this could be the experience in our lives. Perhaps the reason for Paul to describe unity in the body as “contending as one man for (in) the faith of the gospel.” This kind of life requires us to make huge commitments, commitments of devotion towards one another that requires faith. Faith because it is not about flesh but about the Spirit, faith because it means dieing to ourselves and our wants, faith because that’s what the good news of Jesus is all about! Trusting in Jesus Christ alone not just for salvation but in denying ourselves, and our human way of life of security, and taking up our cross, that which does not come naturally, dieing to self, in order to let Jesus live through us to one another. Isn’t that following Jesus, isn’t that being a disciple? Isn’t that what “discipleship” is suppose to be about, instead of sitting in a classroom and going over a workbook? How many workbooks have I completed for Jesus, and how much of it was really impacting on my life? But let us have a few brothers and sisters in various maturity with Christ wrestle together face to face with the Scriptures, die to ourselves and give preference for one another in our daily lives, and love the Lord as King together…that’s an entirely different dynamic, an energy that is by the Spirit! That will bring unity!

This is a sign to the world! The body of Christ is a sign to all that is of the flesh! When Christ so lives in us as a body and Jesus life is living through us, “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you,” as Paul could attest to numerous times, “this is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved- and that by God.” Man! The spiritual conflict I read in these few words are truly incredible! It is destruction or salvation that is at stake! Is it no wonder Paul shared with them his prayer: “that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be sincere and unoffending until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God”! This is a struggle! We must live together in the life of Jesus! As a 6th grade science teacher I see a struggle going on every day in every classroom period. A struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. Teachers and students who are Christians know what I mean, especially in public schools. Of course, there are huge numbers of families who have self destructed from stories I have heard and read about. Those who are Christians and been in self destructing families know what this looks like. Of course these aren’t the only places where the flesh is in struggle with the Spirit. We really need the Body of Christ, we really need this shared life if Christ is going show forth His fruit through us!

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.” Organic churches need to see models of true organic Christian life. They need to see organic church planters who have helped form that body of Christ live by His life in ways that encourage the brothers and sisters “to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly…out of goodwill…(and) in love.” May the body of Christ who live in organic body life together encourage each other, love each other deeply from the heart, and as a result of their lives in Christ testify to the overcoming of the struggles of life, “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” out of goodwill and love, not with envy, rivalry, selfish ambition, insincerity, stirring up trouble.

Life in Christ, even when suffering occurs, is about expressing “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ – to the glory and praise of God.” That should bring joy, even in the midst of personal suffering, although it is not pleasant at the time. Is it any wonder that Paul now describes this kind of life in the first half of Chapter 2 of this letter?

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4 Comments so far
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Great study–Thanks! Don’t have a lot of time just now, but wanted you to know I appreciated this.

Blessings, Cindy

Comment by cindyinsd

Thanks Cindy, I think too often, especially in American culture we get too fixated on being prosperous both physically and materially when the scriptures speak more of prosperous spiritually. God bless you sister!

Comment by John Wilson

I Enjoyed Reading this Testament from my son.

Comment by John S. Wilson Sr.

Thanks dad! Amazing that while we dislike suffering God can still use it for our good and for His glory!

Comment by John Wilson




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