For The Faith Of The Gospel

Sunday, July 21, 2013, 4:30 p.m. – the song “Should I Not Preach Jesus” was playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Philippians 1 (ESV):

Partnership in the Gospel

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Paul, along with Timothy, thanked God for the saints in Jesus Christ at Philippi because of their partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A partner is a cohort and/or a coworker who has joined with others in a united (team) effort (struggle, labor) toward some type of common purpose, goal and/or objective. In this case they were coworkers with Paul and Timothy in all that was a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This began at the moment they believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and as Savior of their lives, it appears, and it continued at least through the time of the writing of this letter to the saints. They not only believed in Jesus Christ, and gave their lives to him in surrender to his will for their lives, but they were also committed to the purpose of seeing others come to faith in Jesus Christ.

Yet, not only were they partakers with Paul and Timothy in the gospel of Christ with regard to their faith in Jesus Christ, and their commitment to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they were also partakers with Paul in his imprisonment. In other words, they must have prayed for and encouraged him, ministered to his needs, and stood by him and supported him, etc., perhaps even in the face of their own encounters with great opposition, rejection and persecution. That’s dedication! And, because of this, Paul was confident of their continued faith, perseverance, commitment and determination in their walks of faith, and in their partnership in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he knew to be the work of Christ/God within them, and that only Christ Jesus could and would bring it to completion on the day when he returns. And, so he encouraged them in this manner.

When we read the word of God, we do not read it merely to gather knowledge or historical facts, or so we can debate theology, or so we can show how much we know about the Bible. That would be futile! No, we read the word of God because it is the living, breathing and life-giving word of God, and because this is where God speaks his heart to us. He encourages, instructs, counsels and directs us in the way we should go through his word.

So, what I get from this is not just an understanding of Paul’s letter to the saints in Philippi, but what I believe are God’s words of encouragement for us, his saints, today. I believe he wants to encourage those of us who have committed our lives to him, and to his gospel, to not get discouraged or disheartened when we face opposition, persecution and/or rejection for the sake of the gospel, or when we don’t always see the evidence of the fruit of our partnership in the gospel. He wants us to know that it is Christ who began this work in us, and it is he who will continue it in us until the day he comes back to take us to be with him forever. So, we rest in him. As well, we are encouraged here to persevere in our faith in allowing Christ Jesus to grow us, mature us, and increase his love within us, coupled with much knowledge and discernment (very important), so that, in Christ, we will walk in purity and in the fullness of his righteousness until the day he comes back for us, to God’s glory.

Advancement through Persecution

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear…

Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

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, 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. 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, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

If we read the beginning of the book of Acts, in particular, we will see how the gospel of Jesus Christ was not hindered, but it actually spread through times when the church suffered great persecution. I think sometimes that the church here in the USA could stand some persecution in order to get the church off their couches of complacency into being compelled of the Spirit of God to get the message of the gospel out to as many as possible before Christ returns.

I find great encouragement in Paul’s (of the Spirit) words here, especially during times when I suffer rejection, opposition and/or persecution for the sake of being a servant of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can tell you that I probably would not be doing what I do nearly every day in sharing the word of God on the internet had I not gone through times of great suffering for my testimony for Jesus Christ. The suffering, though at one time in my life I let it defeat me, has actually worked to strengthen my resolve to obey my Lord, to follow him, to do what he has called me to do, and to share his gospel. So, it has served for the advancement of the gospel, and I hope will be for your encouragement, as well.

Should I Not Preach Jesus
An Original Work / July 4, 2013

Based off 1 Corinthians 9:16-10:13

Woe to me should I not preach Jesus.
I’m compelled to preach the full gospel.
I make myself a slave to ev’ryone
To win their hearts to Christ.
All this I do for my Lord Jesus,
And for the sake of His Name;
Do it for the sake of His gospel,
So that I, its blessings gain.

Scripture notates the sins of others;
Written down for us as examples
To keep us from setting our hearts
On evil as did those of old.
Do not worship other gods of man;
Do not give your hearts to them;
Not partake in immorality.
Do not test your Lord and King.

So, be careful if you think you are
Standing firm in your faith in Jesus.
God has given his word to warn us,
So through faith we will not fall.
No temptation has o’ertaken you
Except what is commonplace.
God is faithful to not let you be
Tempted past what you can bear.
He gives the way of escape.