Sovereign Grace Blog

Sermon Summary - Walk Worthy of the Gospel - Philippians 1:27-30

At the beginning of verse 27 (Phil. 1:27) is the first imperative (command) in the letter: only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. The Philippians are commanded to live in a manner worthy of the gospel so that Paul will see that they are standing together with a twofold goal. First, they are to be striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. And secondly, they are not to be frightened by their opponents. 

First, what does Paul mean by, “striving for the faith of the gospel”? It could either refer to the content of the gospel the way Jude uses it (Jude 3) or living by faith in the gospel. Since false teaching has not been an issue addressed in Philippians to this point, the latter seems to be the sense in which “the faith of the gospel” should be understood. 

Secondly, walking worthy of the gospel means not fearing opposition. There is also a twofold argument why the Philippians should be fearless in the face of opposition. First, the opposition is a sign of their opponents’ destruction. A look at the scary word “destruction” (Mat. 7:13, John 17:12, Rom. 9:22, Phil. 3:18-19) reveals the horror that’s coming to persecutors at the judgment. And second, the suffering is from God. Since God is in complete control of the Philippians’ suffering, they are encouraged to not be frightened. And Paul makes it clear that the suffering is “granted” by God - it’s a gift. That same truth is the power for us in America to not fear as persecution arises, and to stand against unbiblical ideas such as critical theory and the cultural acceptance of homosexuality. 

A paraphrase of the passage: “Philippians, the number one most important thing is that you live your lives in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. Specifically what I mean is this: stand firm together with one common purpose. And the first part of that is this: strive side by side to live by faith in Christ, which stems from the gospel. In other words, conduct your lives based on ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21), because He’s your highest treasure. And the second part is this: don’t be intimidated by the persecutions. Why? Because their opposition of the gospel is a sign from God of their destruction that’s coming and of your salvation that’s coming, and because your suffering is not by accident. It is ultimately from God and it has not only been given to you as a gift to believe in Jesus, but you have also been granted the gift of suffering for the sake of Christ. And that’s why you’re experiencing what you knew I experienced in Philippi and you know what I’m experiencing now.”

The application from this passage is clear: live your lives in a way that is worthy of the gospel of Christ. So what does that mean? Does it mean we are to seek to become worthy of the gospel of Christ? No, it doesn’t mean that you can or should try to merit the gospel. By looking at four other New Testament uses of the word “worthy” (3 John 6, 1 Thess. 2:12, Eph. 4:1, Col. 1:10), we see that you don’t merit the gospel, but the gospel merits something from us (walking worthy of the gospel). Colossians 1:10 together with Hebrews 11:6 gives a clue as to what it is to walk worthy of the Lord - to please Him in all respects (and without faith it is impossible to please Him). So walking worthy of the Lord at least means walking by faith, i.e. trusting God. Walking by faith is also described as a fight of faith, and perfection in this life is never to be expected. True repentance from lifestyles does happen, but to walk worthy of the Lord means the gospel is worthy of being trusted. And faith is the only thing that fits with what the gospel demands, thus demonstrating how worthy the Lord is.

Listen to the full sermon here

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