Making the Gospel the Center of Everything

Stefan Nitzschke February 20, 2022 Philippians 1:27-30
Outline

Philippians 4:2-3 - I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

3 ways to develop gospel unity

I. Grow in Unity by Understanding the Work of the Gospel in Your Life (vv. 1-2)

Philippians 2:1 - Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion…

Philippians 1:27-30 - Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents-which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

A. The motivators for gospel unity (v.1)

1. Is there any encouragement in Christ?

“Paraklēsis (encouragement) has the root meaning of coming alongside someone to give assistance by offering comfort, counsel, or exhortation.” (John F. MacArthur Jr., Philippians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press, 2001, 104)

paraklēton = “another helper”

John 14:16 - I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper (paraklēton) that He may be with you forever…

2. Is there any consolation from love?

“Paramuthion (consolation) has the literal meaning of speaking closely with someone, and with the added idea of giving comfort and solace.” (John F. MacArthur Jr., Philippians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press, 2001, 104)

Romans 5:6-8 - For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

3. Is there any fellowship of the Spirit?

a. Believers have the fellowship of the Spirit in their lives

- We are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19)

- We are sealed by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22)

- We are empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)

- We produce spiritual fruit as a result of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)

- We are strengthened in our weakness by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26)

4. Is there any affection and compassion?

Colossians 3:12 - So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…

B. The indicators of gospel unity (v. 2)

Philippians 2:2 - …make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

1. Being of the same mind

Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Romans 8:4-5 - …so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Colossians 3:2 - Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

2. Maintaining the same love

Romans 12:10-13 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

3. United in Spirit

“To be united in spirit is to live in selfless harmony with fellow believers. By definition, it excludes personal ambition, selfishness, hatred, envy, jealously, and the countless other evils that are the fruit of self-love.” (John F. MacArthur Jr., Philippians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Chicago: Moody Press, 2001, 108)

4. Intent on one purpose

II. Grow in Humility to Strengthen Our Unity (vv. 3-4)

Philippians 2:3-4 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

A. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit

Isaiah 14:12-17 - How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?”

B. With humility of mind regard others as more important than yourself

1. Recognize the importance of another’s first approach to life

Galatians 6:2 - Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

Romans 12:10 - Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor…

“Care for another person is at the heart of a right relationship to God, and all rebellion against God is inevitably linked to a corresponding disregard for others.” (James Montgomery Boice, Philippians: An Expositional Commentary, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000, 103)

“Everything in our Christian lives is designed to produce a greater humility in us. The word of God sanctifies us, promoting humility as a mindset. The cross tells us that all we bring to our salvation is our sin. It is impossible to enter the Christian life with pride! Prayer puts us on our knees before God with empty hands. Worship causes us to look up to God, which puts us in our proper place. Our trials humble us, reminding us of our human frailty. And yet despite all this, our hearts still struggle not to feel proud. Our default position is to exalt ourselves, despite all the evidence that there is nothing about which we should be proud. So, we need to take Paul’s words here to heart. Just as he stated them to the Philippians for their growth, so we need to affirm them to ourselves for our own growth today. Since we have all the encouragement and consolation and fellowship of Christ through his Spirit, we should see others not as opportunities to bring glory to ourselves, but as people we can serve in order to bring glory to Christ. Since we know the affection and compassion of Christ, we must aim to calculate others’ interests and needs as far above our own as our Savior did for us.” (Steven J. Lawson, Philippians for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You, The Good Book Company, 2017, 94)

III. Follow the Example of Christ (vv. 5-11)

Philippians 2:5-11 - Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

A. Christ the humble servant (vv. 6-8)

1. He existed in the form of God

John 1:1-2 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

John 17:5 - Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

“From eternity past, Jesus was fully and truly divine. From before time began, he has always possessed all of the divine perfections that belong to God alone. Jesus was in the form of God from before the foundation of the world. The divine perfections that have belonged to the Father are also the eternal possession of the Son. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father.” (Steven J. Lawson, Philippians for You, ed. Carl Laferton, God’s Word for You, The Good Book Company, 2017, 95)

2. He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped

3. He emptied Himself

Matthew 20:28 - …just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.

John 13:14-17 - If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

4. He became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

John 10:18 - No one has taken it (my life) away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:6 - For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

B. Christ the exalted Lord (vv. 9-11)

Question for you all – if I were to say the name: Jimmy Doolittle – what comes to mind

*likely B-25 bomb raid over mainland China (4 mo. after Pearl Harbor)

But less know is his feat accomplished on Sept 25th, 1929 (about 13 years’ prior)

Leading up to this feat, the already famous aviator Jimmy Doolittle had been working with a team to develop the “artificial horizon” – the predecessor to today’s attitude indicator

To that point in history, what do you suppose pilots relied upon to fly aircraft? (*eyes)

To prove to the world that instrument flight was possible, on Sept 25th of 1929, Doolittle and his check pilot climbed into an outfitted NY-2 Husky [insert Doolittle pic]

*canvas

Though the flight only lasted 15 minutes, Doolittle changed the course of aviation

Today, pilots arguably use their instrumentation more than their senses to fly aircraft

Instruments like Doolittle’s artificial horizon (*explain purpose)

This morning, amidst our annual series of Growing in Gospel Gratitude, we continue our walk through the Book of Philippians

We’ll be in Ch 1, vv 27-30 [pg. 154] as we talk about Making the Gospel the Center of Everything

This one-sentence passage (in the Greek) packs quite the punch, and as we are about to approach the text, I’d like you to visualize something with me

For a moment, step into Doolittle’s seat on Sept 25th of 1929

Zip up the canvas. Start up the plane. Accelerate and feel the lift of the wings

In the spirit of keeping you and your check pilot alive, what are you looking at as you fly and intend on safely landing?

Your artificial horizon provides the life-sustaining source of truth necessary to navigate the flight

Do we have any such instrument for LIFE?

Let’s read our passage together…

27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

Looking now to life’s most essential instrument, let’s talk about 3 recentering truths of the gospel

The first truth that we see from our text is that…

I. The Gospel is Worthy of Changing Every Aspect of Your Life

The passage begins in a profound manner

Paul has just finished stating that to live is Christ and to die is gain

Yet he’s convinced that he is going to stick around for a while longer so that he can minister to the church at Philippi

But to prepare them for his arrival, he gives one of the most UN-“let-go and let-God” statements (*explain?)

Philippians 1:27a – Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…

What’s the first word of our passage?

ONLY

That’s a heavy word, isn’t it? It denotes importance

*parents going out of town: “only remember to feed the dog”

What’s being conveyed when using the word “only?”

Forget all other things – this is most important!

It’s also exclusive: I have only 1 life – I have only 1 wife – I have only one God

Meaning, this is the only life I have to live, this is the only wife I have to love, this is the only God I have to worship – there are no others!

Paul deploys this important and exclusive word, and applies it to our conduct

What does “conduct” mean? – it’s the matter in which someone behaves; their thoughts, actions, tendencies, habits

It’s the perceivable and imperceivable attributes and responses that characterize and comprise a person

In other words – it’s what ya do (*repeat)

But before we get too far into this explanation – it’s important to distinguish between two possible implications

There is a right way to think about this passage and a wrong way to think about it – but don’t take my word for it…

“The initial description of the conduct is staggering: conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Clearly, the standard is immensely high. But what exactly do these words mean? Certainly, they are not suggesting that we ourselves become worthy of the gospel, as if Christ sets up a standard and then somehow by dint of effort we become worthy of it and gain its benefit. The gospel is the good news that Christ died and rose again for sinners. By the death and resurrection of his Son, by the power of the Spirit whom he has sent, God has transferred us out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Col. 1:13). Already we have received the Spirit as the down payment of the promised inheritance, and one day we shall enjoy the inestimable glories of the new heaven and the new earth. To conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” therefore does not suggest we should try harder in order to secure something, but argues that because something has already been secured for us we should try harder out of gratitude and out of frank recognition that this is what the gospel has saved us for. We are to be diligent to live up to the good news that we have received, the good news that has saved us.” – D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians, 54.

A wrong understanding of this passage is to believe that our lives can earn any merit with God

A proper understanding of this passage is that a life truly impacted by the good news (gospel) will necessarily involve a changed life! (*good news explanation)

And is good news something that you do? Is it something that you earn?

NO! Good news is (1) received and (2) proclaimed

Again, the point we’re discussing is “the gospel is worthy of changing every aspect of your life”

This “good news” should change the way you view friendships (*what Jesus did for His friends)

It should change the way you parent (*Father giving His Son)

It should deeply impact you as an employee (*selflessly serve and give)

Paul is making the gospel incredibly PRACTICAL – he is giving to relevance to the grand and the mundane

Primarily, the gospel ought to change every facet of our conduct because the God who orchestrated this “good news” is Himself WORTHY

So, we are to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel because…

A. He Is Worthy

A Christian who lives their life under this understanding (He is worthy) will live differently

And it starts with a proper understanding of the gospel, as well as a proper understanding of who God is (specifically in comparison to us)

And who better to explain this than a riled-up RC Sproul:

*What’s Wrong With You People clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP4A3C3E4Cs)

If I have a right view of who God is – perfect in all His ways, merciful, infinite, inexhaustible, gracious, loving, incomparable, and frankly: indescribable – that changes my conduct

Now, this God who is worthy of Himself to be followed as Lord, dictates my every move

And we like to simplify this concept in our college ministry (for my sake):

What does it mean for Jesus to be LORD?

If Jesus says it, we do it

Why? Because He is worthy

But also, we see from our text this morning…

B. The Gospel is Worthy

“conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel” is how it is specifically stated

That means all our decisions should be vetted through this lens: is this worthy of the gospel?

I want to think this way – is it worthy of the gospel?

I want to live this way – is it worthy of the gospel?

I want to respond this way – is it worthy of the gospel?

How does this thought or action or response square with the sacrifice that Jesus paid for MY sins?

The gospel becomes our instrument (like Doolittle’s artificial horizon) by which we live and gauge our life off of

Now the $1 mil question: How often does the gospel factor into your conduct?

*HW: daily think of gospel and thank for gospel

If you are faithful to vet your conduct through the lens of the gospel, it will change your life, and it will change it for the better

Paul wanted this for the Philippians – ONLY live in a manner worthy of the gospel

But he drives the nail in further…

II. The Gospel is Worth Courageously Standing Up For

We mentioned the context of this passage a bit ago – Paul just explained that his desire is to come and visit them

And after compelling them to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, he leaves room for the sovereignty of God, saying: “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you…”

And what is the result that he is expecting from this group of men and women who are all seeking to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel?

A. Unity with other Gospel Driven Believers

He continues with his emphatic rhetoric by stating what this unity ought to look like:

Philippians 1:27b – I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel

We see four different ways this unity for the faith of the gospel is described here in this passage – the first is that he will witness them…

i. standing firm

What does this look like?

If only we, as a church family, had an example of what it looks like to stand firm on biblical conviction…

(*celebrate and thank for 31-21 resistance)

There will be more opportunities as a church family and as individuals to stand firm for the gospel – to stand firm for truth – to stand firm for Christ

And it’s because of Him that we are able to do it in…

ii. one spirit

There is debate as to whether this is referring to spirit (lower-case “s”) or the Holy Spirit (upper-case “S”)

You see that the NASB favors the former

Either way – a coming together around the gospel of Jesus will result in followship of spirit as well as unity in the Holy Spirit

And curiously enough, we are to strive for the unity of…

iii. one mind

(*SMP survey results)

Have we failed as a church family? Some of the responses could not be more antithetical!

Paul speaks to this nuance in Romans 14:

Romans 14:5-7 – One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself…

There will be differing opinions within the body of Christ – the Word of God even says “each person must be fully convinced”!

But even this can serve to strengthen the church and grow unity, presuming we are all…

iv. striving together

And this takes humility…

(*my idea: FW pool instead of parking lot (for community + gospel opp))

(*your idea: resurface parking lot)

And let’s say your idea is selected over mine (b/c you can’t do both…)

How should I reply?

Well, I’d need to ask myself that all-important question: how should the gospel factor into my response? I need to look at my instruments…

We’ve determined together (because we all have one goal in mind) that resurfacing the parking lot will serve the greatest gospel-end

Therefor I can rejoice – even though my idea was rejected

A church that is “striving together for the faith of the gospel” will be unshakable in its unity

And by way of reminder, this is all under the heading of “the gospel is worth courageously standing up for”

Standing up for the gospel will produce an incredible unity, but will also stand…

B. In Opposition to Opponents of the Gospel

Paul gives a curious result of a church family who is striving together for the faith of the gospel:

Philippians 1:28 – in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.

This courageous stand for the gospel should not result in fear, or even alarm!

Why is that?

Paul gives the…

C. Two-fold Results:

The unity that we share provides…

i. Assurance of salvation for believers

God’s promises are valid

No matter the opposition – whether from without (as we recently experienced) or from within – Christ is keeping his global bride in one piece

His promise that the gates of hell would not stand against her rings true today

And this unity and steadfastness provides assurance of salvation: His promises are true

But for those who have not submitted themselves to Jesus, it provides…

ii. Assurance of defeat for unbelievers

Looking at verse 28, the unity we share in the faith of the gospel is a sign of destruction for those who stand opposed to Jesus

We see a vivid example of this in the OT – specifically Joshua 2 (*expl context)

Rahab goes on to say to the Israelite spies:

Joshua 2:9-13 – “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

Salvation has been promised to ONLY those who have adhered to the God of the gospel

Rahab cried out for salvation, knowing full-well what happens to those outside of God’s people

That offer of salvation remains today, and it is found at the cross

(*gospel (never be “worthy,” but Christ was))

It’s exclusive power to save is one of the main reasons why we are willing to take a courageous stand for the gospel

And though the goods news provides freedom, forgiveness of sins, life eternal, and unity with one another – there is no promise of ease and comfort for those who live their life with Christ at the center

But we know that…

III. The Gospel is Worth Engaging in the Conflicts That It Inevitably Will Bring

While we don’t need to be alarmed by those who stand opposed to Christ and His Word, we ought not expect different treatment than Jesus received

Lucas Leite quote (suffering servant)

And living with the gospel as the center of your life can do amazing and incredible things

One shocking point that Paul bring up is…

A. Suffering for the Gospel is a Gift

Let me frame this by saying Jesus never calls us to “cheer for the fall”

*sin vs righteousness (want righteousness)

*brokenness vs order (want order)

*death vs life (want life)

But look at what vs 29 says:

Philippians 1:29 – For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake

We would all say and agree that belief in Christ (and the results that follow) are an incredible blessing

But vs 29 mixes suffering in with all of this (*explain “granted”)

To give deeper insight, Richard Melick says…

The fact that suffering was connected with believing reinforces Paul’s claim that it is a grace gift. Paul lived with persecution, and he realized its redemptive value, but here he did not address that. The key to this phrase “on behalf of Christ” is Phil 3:10 where Paul revealed his deepest desire of knowing Christ. That knowledge involved knowing resurrection power and the fellowship of suffering. Suffering confirms Christians’ faith, brings them into closer contact with the Lord, and provides a vehicle for making commitment real and tangible. It is one thing to accept suffering and resign oneself to it. It is another to realize the privileges that come through it. – Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (NAC), 91.

The pilot committed to holding a steady course, according to his finely-tuned instruments, may need to fight against heavy crosswinds as he seeks to stay the course

The Christian committed to living his life in accordance to the gospel is guaranteed to face the crosswinds of culture

Ephesians 4:14 – As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

Facing the suffering that accompanies fighting the crosswinds of culture for the sake of the gospel is a gift, since it grows us in conformity to Jesus – the suffering servant

And as each one of us is holding fast to keeping the gospel at the center, we will see that…

B. Engaging in the conflict is our privilege as believers

Closing this passage, Paul points out that they will be:

Philippians 1:30 – experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me

Suffering together as we stay the course serves to increase our unity

But the true church of Jesus Christ is filled with pilots, not passengers… (*repeat)

In other words, it’s only those who are engaging in the conflict, who are conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, who are standing firm for Christ that attain to this unity

Conclusion

As we close, let me ask a series of aviation questions for your consideration…

(1) are you flying by your instruments? (*The Gospel is Worthy of Changing Every Aspect of Your Life)

(2) are you holding strong against the crosswinds? (*The Gospel is Worth Courageously Standing Up For)

(3) Are you a passenger? (*The Gospel is Worth Engaging in the Conflicts That It Inevitably Will Bring)

Authors

Stefan Nitzschke

Roles

Pastor of College Ministries - Faith Church

Bio

B.S. - Management Information Systems, Iowa State University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Stefan has been serving on the pastoral team at Faith Church since 2016. He and his wife have a passion for discipleship and evangelism. They are the blessed parents of four carefree boys and one sweet girl. Stefan is certified as a biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC) and is a board member of Faith’s Community Development Corporation.