Dr. Elias Medeiros preaches a chapel message on Philippians 1 and Christian living at RTS Jackson.
If you have your Greek New Testament you can open it as well. I’m not going to read the Greek New Testament, but you can follow it. Today I’m going to tell you why. Listen to the infallible, inherent, inspired, sufficient, and efficient Word of the living God. I’m reading from the New King James.
Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake, having this same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.
Keep your Bibles open. O, Lord, may the meditation of our hearts and the words of our mouth be pleasing to you. In Jesus’s precious name.
Now, keep your Bibles open. Brothers and sisters, I have shared in my classes and told the people to read biographies. Biographies have been a great blessing in my life since I started my ministry in the Amazon jungle in 1975. I remember many times during that time I almost gave up in the middle of the jungle and went back home some thousand miles away. Get a plane and go back if it was not by God’s grace, by that intimacy with him through his Word and also reading biographies of servants of the Lord. Many times I wonder, “It’s nothing, what I’m experiencing here, compared to all the servants that God has used.”
As a matter of fact, when you read the Scriptures, implicitly or explicitly, and most of the time explicitly, you are going to find reference to the life and the situation of someone. The Scriptures are filled with those references, both in terms of propositions and also of stories. We cannot even read the book of Romans without realizing that. You just read the first chapter, the beginning, references lives and situations. It has been a great blessing in my life reading not only biographies but reading the Bible, looking through both the propositions that you find in the Scriptures, the statements that you find in the Scriptures, and also the stories and the circumstances of God’s people.
By the way, just as a footnote, we always use footnotes. Sometimes people think because you’re in missions, you don’t care very much for the languages. That’s what some people think. I think if you are really in missions, and think about the Bible in translation, you cannot avoid them. You have to stress the languages. The greatest heroes of my life in terms—when I say heroes, be careful, I’m not hagiographic of them, I grew up watching them—but some of the people that God used in the past and have been a great example for my life were people like William Carey. One day I was looking at one part of his diary, and there was that day and I wrote it down. Listen to this. That’s William Carey’s diary, Thursday, the 12th of June, 1806, Calcutta.
Then he put there, 5:45 to 7:00 AM. That’s when he woke up, 5:45. And he wrote, “Dressed. Read a chapter of Hebrew Bible. Devotions.” And then he goes on about all the day, telling about every time, comes to 7:00 at night and 7:00 to 9:00 PM, “Prepared and preached an English sermon.” He’s not just preaching, prepared and preached. And he took maybe one hour to prepare that sermon. Prepare and preach an English sermon. Then he comes to the end of the day, and he puts 9:00 to 11:00 PM. Listen to these. “Translated Ezekiel 11 into Bengali,” and he translate from Hebrew, “Have cast aside my first edition translation, letter to Ryland” that’s his brother back in Great Britain. And then he writes, “Read a Greek New Testament chapter, committed self to God.”
Many times we miss some things when we don’t pay attention to the order of the words.And I ask you to keep your Greek text in front of you. Let me tell you why. Let us go and let us study the Bible together this morning and let us see verse 27 first. As Paul writes to the Philippians, “Let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast on in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
Now, for those of you, if you have your Greek New Testament in front of you and you read it and you realize that the order there is not the way we have here. And if you look at that, if we’re going to translate as it is there, you’d probably put, Paul said it this way, “Only in a manner worthy of or suitable to the gospel of Christ: live!” That’s the way it is. Many times we miss some things when we don’t pay attention to the order of the words.
For example, I cannot help when you go to Matthew 28, I’m just encouraging you to go through your languages. I tried to do that. Matthew 28 in verse 18, and you’ll find in your translation, “When Jesus came and he spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth.” You go to the Greek New Testament, the Greek New Testament starts with “edothai moi.” In other words, “given to me.” In other words, the emphasis there is not simply the authority, but in the recipient of this authority. To me, all authority has been given. Many times you forget those nuances, and it’s there.
Also, for example, I love it when you go to Matthew 28:20. “I am with you always.” And you know that “always” is panta or pasas tas hemeras. In other words, every single day, the article is there: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. And you go every single day, those articles you cannot miss.
And when you come to Philippians 1 that’s the first statement you find. Paul really states it this way, “Only in the manner worthy of the gospel of Christ: live!” Now, if I would do this exposition, which I have a lot of time, because since I came here, that clock is always ten to nine. I’m guiding myself with this clock. No, don’t worry, I’m going to put mine here.
But I’m going to meditate with you all this morning on this particular verse, because there is so much here. I always tell my students, “When you go to the Scriptures, it’s not like you go to a supermarket, and you’re going, looking for some food, selecting some food. When I go to the Scriptures, for me, it’s like going to a jewelry place. We’re going to look for gems. And every time you go through every word of the Word of God and you find enough gems that you can buy a whole supermarket.”
I’m going to address five questions, and let us see how far we can go. And the first question I’m going to ask—that’s the way I study the Scriptures. I ask the question, and I don’t give the answer. I would like to go through this to see how the Scriptures answer those questions. My first question would be, as you read it here, who ought to live or conduct himself in the manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? That’s the first question.
The second question would be, what does it mean for Paul to live, to conduct our lives in the manner suitable to the gospel of Christ?
The third question will be, if we have the time, why should each one of us live this way?
The fourth question will be, what for ought I to live in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ?
And the fifth question will be, what faith is that when he talks about the faith of the gospel?
Five questions. Let’s see how far we go. I have to be careful of my watch. Don’t worry.
Eric Alexander said once here in the chapel. He put his watch here like that and said, “My children used to say this is dad’s most meaningless gesture.” But don’t worry, I’ll finish on time.
Who Ought to Live in a Manner Worthy of the Gospel?
The first question is this: who, according to the Apostle Paul, ought to live or conduct himself or herself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? Who? It is very clear. Every believer because he is addressing all the saints (1:1). How do you know that? Because even the verb here is the second plural, second person, plural. In other words, as you would say in Mississippi, “y’all.” Not just the seminary professors, not just the pastors, not just the elders, not just the deacons or Sunday school teachers, but Paul say every member of the body of Christ only in the manner worthy of the gospel of Christ should live.
Now, what impressed me here also is the verb that Paul uses, and if you have your Greek New Testament you can see it: politeuesthe. And you know the verb there. When I read it here in my New King James it says, “And let your conduct.” But you know that the verb there is the imperative. The verb is a command. In other words, to live, to walk, to conduct our lives in this manner is not an option for us. For the believers, it is a command. This idea of carnal Christian, as we used to say, is estranged to God’s teaching. We cannot live like Talkative. And that’s what he says. No option here. This is a command of God. That verb is an imperative.
What Does It Mean to Conduct Our Lives in a Manner Worthy of the Gospel?
My second question is, what does it mean for Paul to live, to conduct our lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ? What does it mean for Paul? Now, for you to understand that, you have to read Paul. And let me just suggest, let us just keep in mind, the letter to Colossians, since they are such interrelated letters. I believe what Paul means, is to live your every single day setting your minds on the things above. I’m saying that because if you have your Bibles go there to Colossians 3. And there is a very interesting parallel with the text that I read to you. In Colossians 3, listen to what Paul writes. Verse 1, 2, 4, “If then you are raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting on the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Set your mind on things above. And I think when Paul talks about here to conduct your life in the manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, that’s what Paul has in mind, to set your mind on the things above.
Because the opposite of that you find in Philippians 3. Go with me. Philippians 3:17–21 has the opposite of living this kind of life. Listen: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk [or conduct their lives and live their lives], of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping.” Listen, the opposite of living your life and conducting your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, setting your mind on things above. Listen to the opposite. He says, “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, in whose glory is their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
There is a very strong correlation between the character of God’s servant and the service of such a servant.And he says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.”
In other words, when you begin to study the Scriptures and the gospel and about this conducting of our lives, you begin to see there is, my brothers and sisters, a very great correlation between intimacy with God, holiness, sanctification, obedience to him and serving him and working for the Lord. You cannot dismiss it in your life. You’re going to struggle with that every day. There is a very strong correlation between the character of God’s servant and the service of such a servant.
God has blessed me through life, through so many brothers and sisters, and by the way, if the Lord ever calls you and sends you to a place far away from your family, we are assuming, you know, when you leave U. S. and go somewhere, you are getting away from your family. I left my family in Brazil. But what I mean is that sometimes I think you leave it and you lose it. Remember when Jesus says to be a follower of him means that you have to lose father and mother for his sake. And then Peter comes along. I love Peter. I think Peter was a Brazilian. Then Peter comes along and said, “Lord, We’ve left everybody!” Jesus says, “Oh Peter, cut it out. Let me tell you what I meant. You lost nothing because those who leave father and mother and sisters, et cetera, for my sake, will receive already in this worlds hundreds of fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers.”
And that’s what God has done in my life. Look, I’m here with all my brothers and fathers and sisters in Christ. He just added more. We lose nothing. We gain everything. When you think you’re losing you’re gaining. That’s with the Lord Jesus Christ. And in this process for the Lord has given me so many parents, so many fathers and mothers in Christ. One of them that I will be thankful to the Lord for the rest of my life has been my father-in-law. Some of the professors know him. Godly man. He was a worker, an ordained minister. You may call him a missionary or a servant through whom all the people in Brazil came to know the Lord. He worked in Brazil for more than 40 years. He was also my professor when I went to seminary in 1971 in Brazil. And I never forget. He made every student memorize a few verses. The students were really sometimes mad at him. “Wait a minute, we have to memorize those verses?” Yes. Here you have catechism, there they have catechism and some key verse you have to say by heart if you are going to graduate.
Of course, you study the Bible. The Bible says that the Word of the Lord should be not only on your mind, on your computer, but in your heart. My father-in law made all of us—and I never forgot—to memorize. But, you know, now I have to memorize in English and in Portuguese. Those I have in Portuguese, I have to memorize in English.
Set your minds on things above because you are a citizen of another country.Psalm 69, go with me there very quickly. And I hope that you’re going to put it as your prayer as well. Psalm 69:6. What does it mean to live, to conduct your lives in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ is really to set your minds on the things above every single day, every single hour, every single minute, asking yourself, “Lord, what in the world does it have to do with your glory, with the sanctification of your people, the salvation of the lost.”
Listen to this. Verse six. What a prayer of David. “Let not those who wait for you, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me.” You and I can be a stumbling block. And he says, “Let not those who seek you be confounded because of me, O God of Israel.” And Paul talks about to live, to conduct yourself, to set your minds always on the things above, because he knew the will of God for his servants and for every believer in the body of Christ and especially, brothers, for us as leaders of God’s people, is our sanctification. He writes this in Thessalonians: “This is the will of God, your sanctification, that you abstain from sexual immorality.” Last year our brother Allen Curry preached on that issue. In Hebrew says, you know, “holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” Set your minds on things above because you are a citizen of another country.
This world is real, but Jesus tells us you are in this world, but you are not of this world. Remember that, but this world real. Set your minds on the things above. Otherwise, it will be like those who set their minds on earthly things and become enemies of the cross of Christ.
Why Should Each One of Us Live in a Manner Worthy of Christ?
My third question, why should each one of us live this way? Why? Let me tell you, and I think I’m going to give you three reasons that Paul gives. Why should we all live that way?
First, Paul says, because we are citizens of heaven. Now if you look at the verb used there, politeuesthe, that’s related to the word citizen. He says very clearly to his people. Pay attention. Philippians 3:17, “For our citizenship is in heaven,” politeuma, which is very correlated to the verb that you find translated as conduct, live like a citizen of heaven. That’s one reason. Remember that. Peter says that we are resident aliens, pilgrims, sojourners, and I think we have lost that vision of our lives. Our citizenship is in heaven. The first thing we have to keep in mind.
Peter says that we are resident aliens, pilgrims, sojourners, and I think we have lost that vision of our lives.Secondly, he says, we should live that way because we will be transformed and conformed to his glorious body. Listen. Philippians 3:19 on says, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.” Why should we live this kind of life? Because we are not of this world.
When I came to the USA, they gave me a green card. At that time was, I loved this green card. I still keep a copy of it. I have another one. But at that time, they put on my green card, “resident alien.” That’s what I am, literally in America. The government gave me that title. It’s biblical. But all of us are like that. I have a Brazilian passport, but our citizenship is in heaven. As Paul says, “Not only that, but remember, one day you’ll be transformed and you’ll be conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Therefore,” he says, “only conduct, live in a manner worthy of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sometimes I wonder myself in my studies. Lord, how can we live? We know that we have been saved. And we know that sanctification is a work of grace, the Holy Spirit in our lives, that enables us to fight against sin, to mortify sin. And I know, Lord, that that I will be like Christ, but how can I how should I live in this world? And Paul tells that and the apostles tell that. First John 3. Let me give you a message for you all if you don’t have one for this weekend. First John 3:1–3. John is putting this in the same way as Paul is putting it here.
First John 3. Listen to this. John says there, writing for the believers, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know him. Beloved, now we are children of God.” That’s the first statement. What are we? We are called by God children, and in reality we are children of God. That’s what we are. We belong to another family. We belong to another country. But then he goes on. OK, that’s great. We’re children of God. That’s nice. Now listen to verse two, “And it has not yet been revealed what we shall be.” Did you see that correlation with what Paul is teaching here too? “But we know that when he is revealed [he’s talking about the coming of Christ] we shall be like him.” We are children. What shall we be? He says, “We shall be like him.”
The gospel of Christ is worthy. It ought to be honored by the way you conduct your life.So what is that to do with my life here now? How should we then live? And John says, “Everyone,” he means every believer, anywhere, anytime, “who has this hope in him purifies himself just as he is pure.” That’s the way it goes. Why should we live this kind of life? We are citizens of heaven. We will be transformed. We will be like him. When we are there we will be like him.
But Paul gives us another reason too: because the gospel of Christ is at stake here. Listen, “only in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ: live!” And he goes on to say, “so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in the spirit, with one mind striving together for the faithful of the gospel,” the gospel of Christ. In other words, why should we live that way? Because the gospel of Christ is at stake here. Realize, brother, what is behind that statement here. The gospel of Christ is worthy. It ought to be honored by the way you conduct your life.
Listen to Peter. First Peter 2:11–12, Peter says, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners [aliens, strangers, exiles] and pilgrims [temporary residents, refugees] abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
Or 1 Peter 3:13–18, “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.’ But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Get it? “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense.” Do you see the correlation here? Because the gospel, the proclamation to make Christ known is at stake.
That’s the most serious reason why we are not bolder in making Christ known: lack of intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ.I have heard many reasons why people are not bolder in making Christ known, in telling others about the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, I have heard people say, “Oh, because of fear.” Some people do not share the gospel, tell others about Christ because of fear. No, that is cowardice. Sometimes.
And the second most common reason that they give is because of ignorance. In other words, they don’t know how to start. It’s a matter of methodology for them. We don’t know how to talk about Christ. But it always amazes me. When my children tell me that, I say, “That’s amazing. You don’t know how to come to someone and tell them about your savior? But when you need money, you know how to ask me. You talk about any subject with me, but when it comes to Christ . . . .” But I believe some people don’t know how to start to talk about Christ. Or ignorance in the sense of they don’t know what to say. There is a lack of doctrinal knowledge, but I believe there is another reason for that. And that’s the most serious reason why we are not bolder in making Christ known: lack of intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s one of the reasons. Peter says, “Sanctify the Lord God in your heart, always be ready.” And Paul says, “Remember to conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel” because the gospel is at stake.
For What Reason Should We Live in a Manner Worthy of Christ?
My fourth question: what for? According to Paul, what for ought I—I say “ought I” because the verb is an imperative. What for ought I to live in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ? What for? And he tells you. Look at your Greek texts there. “So that,” hine. “So that I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
What for? So that with one mind, I hear that you’re striving together for the faith of the gospel. In other words, brothers and sisters, he says, “Live your lives in the manner worthy of the gospel with one mind united, believing, and thinking, striving together for the faith of the gospel.” When I read that statement, each phrase, each statement, or each word makes me tremble. With one mind striving, striving together, for the faith of the gospel.
You were probably wondering when he’s going to ask the question, what does this have to do with mission? That’s it. Striving together for the faith of the gospel. Have you realized, Paul was consumed by (and you find it in verse 1:12) the furtherance of the gospel. In verse 1:17, by the defense of the gospel, by Christ being preached (1:18).
I don’t know about you, but I believe that if you are a follower of Christ and if you are intimate with Christ, you cannot help but preach Christ, but share Christ, but make Christ known. And Paul is calling here every believer in the body of Christ to strive together, and he uses another term in Colossians. Here he used the verb sunathleuntes, from sunatheleo, while in Colossians he used the verb agonizomai, almost interchangeably, almost as a synonym. When you compare the texts he is calling everybody to strive together, to agonize together for the faith of the gospel.
When Paul comes to the end of his ministry and he writes to Timothy, his last letter. Listen to this. Second Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight.” Now, let’s look at your Greek New Testament. What he says is, “I agonize the good agony.”
Listen, Colossians 1:28–29. Because the language of Colossians and Philippines are so close. There’s so much overlapping here. He says “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving [agonizing] according to his working, which works in me mightily.”
Colossians 4:12. Listen to this. He talks about another co-laborer. He says, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring [and the verb is again agonizing] fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”
My dear brother in Christ, John Piper used to say, “Brothers, if you don’t understand that life is war, you don’t understand what Christian life is for.” He said many times, “We live in the Disney World of the universe, and people are dying and going to hell across the street and around the world.” And Paul says, “Please live your life this way, striving together for the faith of the gospel.” In other words, for Paul he is striving in prayer as he tells the Romans, he’s striving in preaching together with all the believers, he’s striving in persecution. He’s striving to partner with the Lord himself. Because brothers, when everything is said and done, all of us, each one of us will be before him. And by his grace and only his grace,I pray that he’s going to tell you and me, “Well done, faithful servant. Not so much fruitful, but faithful servant.
Let us pray. Dear Lord, bless us as we leave this place here today that only we may live in a manner worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the gospel of Christ. Of this faith, Lord, which refers in your Bible, in your Scriptures, both to the body of the soteriological doctrine but also the saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, help us to be passionate. Help us to be intimate with you and passionate for you and for your gospel. Even when we are dying, as Paul made it so clear. We ask for these things in the precious name of Christ. Amen. Let us stand up and sing together 478.