Philippians 1:12-14 ESV
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.
When we commit ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, to follow him in his ways, to do what he says, and to share his gospel message with others, we are going to gain enemies. It is just the reality of the situation. For, Jesus said that we, as his followers, will be hated as he was hated, and that we will be persecuted as he was persecuted. So, when this happens, it should not surprise us. Therefore, we should not let it take us out.
In America, so far, most of us have not had to face physical persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ. Most of us have not had to face beatings and imprisonments and death just because we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. But, that doesn’t mean that American Christians do not face persecution. For, there are followers of Jesus Christ in America who are serious about their walks of faith, who are spreading the truth of the gospel, who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ.
And, the biggest persecution is not coming from the world. It is coming from the gatherings of the church, or what is falsely called “church.” But, isn’t that what Jesus faced? His biggest persecutors, and those who called for his death on a cross, were not the people out in the world. They were the leaders – the rulers in the temple of God who knew and who taught the scriptures. They knew the prophecies of the coming Messiah, and yet they rejected, persecuted, hounded, falsely accused, flogged and killed him.
And, in today’s modern church here in America, which is largely market-driven businesses of human making, not only is the gospel, that was taught by Jesus, being replaced with humanistic philosophy and a cheap grace message, but there are those who are serious about their walks of faith who are being silenced, and who are being pushed out of these fellowships by those who don’t want them to say anything that might offend anyone.
For, so much of today’s church in America has gone the way of the world. They have adopted the ways of the world, too, in how they conduct “church.” So, they use human-based business marketing schemes for how to draw in large crowds of people from the world into their gatherings.
And, in order to draw in these large crowds, they make “church” entertaining, fun, casual, non-offensive, pleasurable, comfortable and inviting to the flesh. And, they dilute the gospel message to make it more acceptable, too. For, they are hoping that people will come back to their gatherings.
Yet, persecution has its benefits. It is painful, for sure, but it helps us to grow in our faith, and to be even more serious about our Lord. And, it motivates us to get out his gospel message, too. It draws us closer in our walks with the Lord, and it moves us toward holiness, righteousness, and purity, too. And, then we are able to encourage others, too, who are going through times of persecution and/or trials, for we are able to empathize with them in their suffering. And that helps strengthen them in their faith, too.
Philippians 1:21-26 ESV
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.
Persecution, too, has a way of making us deeply serious about our Lord. It pushes us into the arms of our Lord for our help, strength and comfort. We realize, too, that we must make a choice. Either we are going to live to please humans, which will never happen, or we are going to live to please God. And, if we live to please God, truly, we are not going to make a lot of people happy with us. It is just the reality of it all.
So, we have to go to the cross. And, we have to choose Jesus and his righteousness above human approval and acceptance. And, we have to be willing to be hated, rejected, falsely accused and ill-treated because we stand on the Word of God and we don’t compromise with the world of sin. And, we do this not only because we love our Lord, but because we love our fellow humans, too.
So, we speak the truth in love to them, because we want to see them rescued from their sinful lifestyles, and we want them to have hope, and we want them to have eternal life with God. And, we know this is only going to happen if they hear the truth, and if they believe the truth, and if they act on the truth they have received. And, the truth is that they need to die with Christ to sin that they might live with him to his righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24).
Philippians 1:27-30 ESV
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.
“The Good News” of Jesus Christ is not merely that we can be forgiven our sins and have the hope of heaven when we leave this world. It is that we can be rescued out of the darkness, that we can be delivered from our slavery (bondage, addiction) to sin, and that we can walk in holiness and righteousness, living lives which are pleasing to God. And, this is all because of God’s grace to us, and because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us.
And, our goal, as followers of Jesus Christ, and as ministers of the gospel of our salvation, which we should all be, ought to be that we and others might walk in holiness. It is that our manner of life, i.e. it is that what we practice might be worthy (commendable) of the gospel of Christ. And, this means that our lifestyles should coincide with the teachings of the gospel of Christ. Thus, we should be living holy lives surrendered to the Lord, and we should no longer be living our lives to fulfill the lusts of our flesh.
And, we should be courageous in sharing this gospel message with others so that they, too, can be delivered out of their prisons of sin, and so they can walk in purity and holiness before God. For, this is where they will find true peace, in submission to Christ as Lord. And, this is where they will find true salvation from sin, in surrender to Christ and to his will for their lives.
And, we also should not be afraid of what others will do to us or say about us when we do step out in faith, and when we do get serious about God, and when we tell others the truth of the gospel. For, suffering for our faith is part of what it means to be followers of Jesus Christ. So, we should be thankful to God that we do suffer for his sake.
Thus, we should rejoice in our sufferings, for it means we are being made to be like Jesus, and it means that we will be encouraged to tell others about Jesus, too. And, that means that people will be saved from their sins and grow in their walks of faith with God and that they will walk in ways which are consistent with the gospel of our salvation, too. And, that they will, in turn, help the body of Christ to grow to maturity in Christ.
The Lord’s Anointed
An Original Work / December 16, 2011
Based off Isaiah 61
The Spirit of the Sov’reign Lord on me;
Anointed to preach the Good News;
Sent me to bind up the brokenhearted;
Proclaim freedom for the captives.
He sent me to preach release for pris’ners
Who are walking in sin’s darkness;
Proclaim God’s grace to all men who’ll listen;
And tell them about God’s judgments;
Comfort all who mourn;
Give crowns of beauty;
Oil of gladness and thanksgiving.
They will be called oaks of God’s righteousness,
A planting of our Savior, God,
For the display of our Lord’s splendor, and
They will rebuild God’s holy church.
God will renew them, and will restore them,
And you’ll be called priests of the Lord.
You will be ministers of our God, and
You will rejoice in salvation.
The Lord loves justice;
He is faithful to
Reward those who are seeking Him.
I delight greatly in the Lord;
My soul rejoices in my Savior, God.
He has clothed me with His salvation,
And in a robe of His righteousness.
He has given me priestly garments to wear,
As the bride of Jesus Christ.
As the garden of our Lord and Savior,
He causes us to grow in Him.
He makes righteousness,
Praise, and thanksgiving
Spring up before all the nations.