Live a Life Worthy of The Gospel
27 Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
It is not just learning Bible verses that is important: it is living them out under the power of the Holy Spirit – putting them into practice – that is ultimately desired by God of us. He delights when we draw close to Him and experience His character. He has put on display for all to see through the Bible the framework of His conduct. Although God does interact with us on a personal (and sometimes unique) manner as befits us and our character, He is consistent in His dealings with mankind.
We have no excuse for not living a life of God-like character. Jesus has shown us the character of God the Father. Jesus said:
7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
We are told to stand firm and strive together in the Gospel. The most powerful thing that we can do is act in unity. When Christians are united, it is as if everyone is pulling on a rope attached to a great weight in the same direction. Imaging one hundred people pulling on one hundred different ropes in different directions. How far do you think the weight will move? If everyone took their rope, gathered together and pulled in the same direction, do you think it would have a different outcome?
When we do not work in unity, we are acknowledging to the world that (at least some of us) are not listening to the directions of our Commander-In-Chief, Jesus Christ, through the voice of the Holy Spirit. This causes onlookers to wonder if it is even possible to know God and listen to Him. When we unite together, great and powerful work is accomplished for the Gospel. God has said that when working in unity, nothing is impossible. We can choose to work in unity or not. Let us choose to be united.
God has placed within human beings an emotional response system. It helps guide us when intellectually we may not be as motivated to react to situations in self-preservation. The beauty of a tornado is awesome to behold, even if it is coming in your general direction. However, if we didn’t have fear, we might just stand there admiring it until it was too late. Fear helps us to avoid situations that might otherwise harm us through our action, or in other cases, through inaction.
However, we have a great and mighty God who is able to provide for all of our needs. He is able to shield us, protect us, and deliver us. When faced with threats from evil people, loss of life, or other situations that should normally cause us to flee or act in throws of fear when fulfilling the work of God, we are to be as bold as lions and stand our ground. We have a strong deliverer who will act on our behalf. Even if we perish we are to show no fear, for there is no fear in perfect love. This is not for our benefit, however.
Sign of Salvation
When people see that we do not show fear in the face of loss, death, torture, immolation, or any other threats or situations of physical, monetary, or property loss, our boldness is a testimony to our faith in the saving nature of our God. It is during these trials that our faith is on display for others. When they see that we are willing to lose everything for what we believe, our faith is made real in their hearts, and they then are the ones who will fear.
This is not a false sign of bravado, but rather an unshakeable knowledge (hope) that God, whether in life or death, is able to keep us and save us, whether alive in this world or with Him in glory. Most people love their lives more than they love their Savior, and in a moment of panic, may deny Him when they are threatened. We are told that when we put our full faith into effect, regardless of the outcome, this will be God’s sign to them that God is real, our faith is real, and they are in a lot of trouble:
Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
God has appointed us to suffering. He does this for several reasons:
- No student is above his teacher:
The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
10 Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
- Suffering is the vehicle through which God sanctifies us
- Perseverance through suffering displays the character of God for all to see.
- Life is difficult, and we can comfort those with the same comfort we received during the suffering we experienced in our trials.
As we experience trials and tribulations, we are continually being tested, and our character refined. Eventually, every Christian reaches a tipping point. We must ask ourselves a question and determine the answer in our heart: Is God’s love dependent upon our circumstances? The answer that we should come to (but may be very difficult to achieve when experiencing prolonged, significant, excruciating, painful, and unyielding agony) is that God’s love (or any part of His character) is not based on our circumstances. Rather, it is above our circumstances, for He is sovereign, and does not change. His love will never fail, and He will never leave us nor forsake us.
When we are striving for God, we are like a nail that has popped out of the board, and the devil has a hammer looking to put it right back down where it was before. Withstand the abuse, the torture, the threats, the loss, whatever may come. You have a much greater inheritance with God in Heaven, and this momentary pain will cease when you go to be with Him.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask ourselves a question: Are we living God’s character sufficiently to experience the sufferings that His Son, Jesus Christ, experienced?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You show us Yourself through Your Son, Jesus Christ. I thank You and praise You for revealing Yourself to me. Help me to live in such a way that I experience the same sufferings as Your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to see where You are working, to join in with that work, and the bring glory to Your name. And when I experience suffering, whether from the trials of living my faith, or from any other thing, help me to endure them so that You are glorified, and my character is refined. Sanctify me through these trials, and help me to learn the lessons that You are trying to teach to me. Give me the strength to persevere, and to wait until You release me from the trials. Help me to resist the urges to take control over these circumstances, and allow you to perfect and complete that which You have begun. This I ask in the precious and holy name of Jesus Christ, Your One and Only Son, Amen.