Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SOLDIERS”

Philippians 1.27-28

EXPOSITION:

What are you going to do when real persecution comes to the San Gabriel Valley? What will you do should the government require our church to pay for abortions by staff members or tolerate sex outside marriage in whatever form by those applying for church membership? What if our nation continues to degenerate into anarchy and the government responds with more harsh and repressive laws in an attempt to get violence and crime under control? Every child of God has a favorable view of law and order. No believer is interested in anarchy and chaos. We find Christian ministry much more effective when there is peace both at home and in the streets.[1] However, what has frequently happened in the past is that attempts to curb the threat of violence by disarming the populace has been taken advantage of, by such men as V. I. Lenin, Adolph Hitler, and Mao Tse-tung, who imposed authoritarian rule over a disarmed citizenry. It has happened too many times to be coincidence in western history that as a society degenerates into mob rule the powers that be have instituted harsh measures to maintain control. Tragically and sadly, it has oftentimes been the case that the unintended consequences of the harsh measures taken to maintain rule have been laws that effectively restrict a Christian from serving God.

You know what happens when a law is passed for one reason, but which has the unintended consequence of restricting a believer’s service to God. For example: The RICO statutes, originally passed and signed into law to fight the criminal conspiracies of organized crime, have been used against law abiding people who are organizing nonviolent protests against abortion clinics. Both before and after the Revolutionary War that led to the founding of our nation, it was against the law for parents to withhold the sprinkling of infants. Both here and in Europe, it was tantamount to child abuse to raise a child in a Baptist home in which baptism was administered only to those who professed their own faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, believers, knowing that God must be obeyed, resorted to civil disobedience. After all, did not the Apostle Simon Peter say when he was told to stop preaching Christ, “We ought to obey God rather than man?” Acts 5.29 indicates that he did. What happens if our society becomes so violent that government requires all children to go to publicly administered facilities during the daytime, claiming that it is necessary for public safety that all children go to where the police can keep an eye on them? I remember a presentation once made by a police officer at a Monrovia City Council meeting, that I also saw at city council meeting in Buena Park and Woodland, California in which it was forcefully stated that child were raised to adulthood by a partnership between schools, parents, and the local police department Do not think those three identical presentations did not alarm me.

Many in different levels of government and elsewhere in our society increasingly believe in direct government involvement in the rearing of our children. As the push is on to get even four-year-olds into kindergarten, what do you think they will teach our children? What happens if the U. S. Supreme Court agrees that such a move best for societal safety? What happens if a majority of the good citizens who want law and order agree? Are not more and more people being accused of hate for speaking solidarity with Biblical values? Folks, that is not a terrible reach. Those kinds of conditions have prevailed in a number of countries in the world in the last century. What happens to the Christian who says, “Hold on a second. These are my children. I decide where they go, who supervises them and teaches them what is right and what is wrong”? When the Christians, who are no threat to any society’s law and order, resist such draconian laws, what will happen when the government and the general population decide that we are seditious and dangerous to the well-being of the majority? Of course, the members of the ministerial alliance here in town will agree that, “Yes, they are a threat to our community’s spirit of unity.”

Although the officials of the city of Philippi, as well as the majority of the citizens of that Roman colony city, reached their conclusions for different reasons, they felt that way about the members of the Philippian church Paul was writing to. They began to persecute those people because they perceived those Christians to be a real threat to civil order and good society. What will you do should such conditions prevail in our town, in our county, in our state, in our country? Are you going to move to Idaho or Montana? That is good. Look out for yourself and let the rest of Los Angeles go to Hell in a hand basket. In Philippians 1.27-30, Paul tells us what to do, just as he told the Philippians what to do. Stand with me and read the passage together:

27     Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

28     And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

29     For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

30     Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

In our last consideration of Philippians, I began dealing with this passage by showing you how Paul urged the Philippians to be good citizens, to be Christian citizens. Today we continue the passage by looking at Paul’s exhortation for them, and for you and me, to be good soldiers. I say soldiers because the words he uses have military application. We all realize that being a solder is quite different than being an ordinary citizen. Different tasks are required of citizens than are required of soldiers. What citizens do is behave responsibly and in a reputable manner. What soldiers do is fight. It is what they are trained for and it is what they live for. Would to God we had more Christian warriors to fight the good fight of faith, and not religious marshmallows who want only to sip tea and eat crumpets.

Notice what the Apostle Paul mentions to the Philippians about soldierly Christian conduct. There are two things in the last half of verse 27 and in verse 28 related to the Christian church member’s conduct:

First, CONDUCT RELATED TO YOUR AFFAIRS

In the last half of verse 27, we see two types of conduct a Christian soldier will be found to engage in when faced with persecution: “. . . that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Paul makes mention of the actions of the Christian church member:

First, there are the actions related to preservation: “that ye stand fast in one Spirit.” Those of you who are familiar with the book of Acts will not be surprised by what you see here in Philippians 1.27. You will recognize that since it is God’s will for each and every Christian to serve in and through the church he or she is a part of, certain things must be true to enable a group of individuals comprising a church to function as a single unit in service to God. Notice the pronoun. Paul writes, “ye.” He is not contemplating here anything being done by individuals in isolation. Although only individual sinners can come to Christ, saved people are designed and equipped by God to work together in concert and in harmony in the context of the local church. That is the reason Paul writes “ye” instead of “you.” If you insist on “you” instead of “ye,” you have a spiritual problem that needs to be dealt with. Therefore, we who truly know Christ are to all together in this congregation “stand fast in one Spirit.” There is no doubt in my mind, for numerous reasons, theological and grammatical, that it is the Holy Spirit Who Paul is referring to here, Who is the real Source and Author of unity in a church. What are we to do “in one Spirit?” We are to “stand fast.” We are to stand firm and hold our ground. The Greek word refers to the determination of a soldier who does not budge one inch from his post.[2] As soldiers who are holding the high ground against the onslaught of an enemy seeking to dislodge us and drive us into the sea, let us not be motivated by persecution and opposition to compromise our stand, to waver on our standards, or to buckle under pressure to give up or give in. To succeed we must stand fast in one Spirit. That is, there must be unity in this congregation. Unity such as can only be produced by the indwelling Spirit of the living God. What Paul is alluding to, though he does not use the Greek word here, is that word we have become familiar with from Acts 2.46, omoqumadon. What is required by the Holy Spirit in order to produce such unity? The willingness to sacrifice, the commitment to give up little rights and privileges for the good of our great cause, for the benefit of our church, and to advance the gospel. Just as no combat platoon can hold a hill against enemy assault unless it is one for all and all for one, so a church such as Calvary Road Baptist Church cannot and will not stand fast against the advance of the enemy unless we abandon the selfish notion of every man for himself and come together for the good of the cause. Why should you? Because, as the shepherd boy David said as he contemplated fighting the Philistine giant Goliath, “Is there not a cause?”[3]

You have to play defense sometime. That is what standing fast in the Spirit of unity is, playing defense. Team defense. However, to experience victory, and we do already have victory, we must also go on the offensive. Team offense. For the Christian, this entails actions related to propagation: “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Look at that. “Striving together.” This is not the agwnizomai referred to by the Savior in Luke 13.24 as a prescription for lost people, referring to inner personal and individual struggle.[4] The word here is sunaqlew, a completely different Greek word that speaks of engaging in a struggle along with others.[5] Imagine ten guys in a tug of war, trying to pull the other team. In order to win, those guys have to be of “one mind,” they have to get together; they have to get into a rhythm. The stronger and heavier team that is not of “one mind” will lose. It is the team that works together, pull, pull, pull, that wins. This implies to us that one person alone cannot obey this portion of scripture. It takes congregations to obey this portion of God’s Word. It takes churches whose members are willing to work together as a team, who are willing to grab the rope and pull in unison, or who are willing to work like rowers who pull to the beat of the coxswain. Are you willing to die to yourself? Are you willing to die to your selfishness? Are you willing to engage in this team effort? “But pastor, I have hobbies that I really like to do alone. I was never much for team sports as a kid.” I know a guy who frequently says, “I have never developed a herd mentality,” as if such spiritual isolationism is commendable and superior. Beloved, I speak not of childish team sports engaged in as a kid. I am talking about serving God, and God could care less about our hobbies, so long as they do not interfere in worshipping and serving the one true and living God. Perhaps you do not see the necessity of this kind of conduct now. However, remember, Paul wrote to a people who were persecuted. Is that what it will take to persuade you to do what you ought to be doing anyway? I sincerely hope not. I hope you will do right because it is right.

IN VERSE 28, PAUL DEALS WITH CONDUCT RELATED TO YOUR ADVERSARIES

“And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.”

Obviously, if there is persecution there will be persecutors. If there is opposition there will be opponents. Two things about those who persecute you because of your life and service to Christ:

First, react to their methods, but do not react the wrong way. If you are anything like me, you can get caught by surprise and stand with open mouth when someone comes up and verbally assaults you or confronts you unexpectedly. I suspect most people are like I am. I think that is why Paul gave instruction to the Philippians to be terrified by nothing done by their adversaries. Do not be spooked. Do not be startled. In other words, get ready for the worst. Expect the unexpected. And why should you not expect the worst? After all, the only thing your adversaries can do is kill you. What is so bad about that, for the Christian? These things need to be settled in your mind long before our adversaries escalate their opposition to vigorous verbal attacks and violence.

Then, realize what it means when you are persecuted. Consider the guy who persecutes you. You need to understand that his opposition to you is “an evident token of perdition,” is proof that he is headed for Hell. What about you being persecuted for serving Christ? That is evidence that you are going to heaven, that you are saved. For as Paul would later write in Second Timothy 3.12, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Notice the final phrase of verse 28. “And that of God.” Is that not comforting? That is just a little bonus Paul gives us, telling us that our salvation is of God. Of course, every genuinely saved person knows that salvation is of God, but it is wonderful to be comforted in the midst of persecution with a reminder. Salvation is of God, persecuted Christian. You will make it. You will get through it. You will, by God’s grace, persevere to the end. Because salvation is not of man, but of God.

SERMON:

Paul told those Christians how to conduct themselves in soldierly fashion in a fire fight, during persecution. Perhaps someday you will find yourself being persecuted. Will you know what to do and how to do it? Would it not be best to start doing now what you should be doing then? After all, you would not want to be one of those infamous Christians who is always there except when you need him, would you?

There are five words in Philippians 1.28 that I want to point out to you that capture my attention, the last five words: “. . . .salvation, and that of God.” As I mentioned just a few moments ago, what a wonderful reminder the Apostle Paul gives to his beloved Philippians, those wonderful Christians who were facing horrible persecution and who stood in need of some encouragement from one who was going through worse than they were.

It seems to be that when the child of God goes through the fire he is most comforted by the fact that salvation is of God. Even Jonah, who ran from the will of God, when he was swallowed by the great fish after being cast overboard by the fearful crew of idolaters, was comforted in his distress. Listen to what the prophet Jonah cried out. This is from the belly of the great fish prepared by God. “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD,” Jonah 2.7. “Salvation is of the LORD,” Jonah 2.9. Do you see what he got back to, this man who had been so foolish as to run from the everywhere present God? He got back to the fact that salvation is of the LORD.

As I conduct my ministry and talk to people from all walks of life, and as I listen to people speak their mind about spiritual things, it has become obvious to me that there is much confusion in the world today about God and about salvation. Some people think about God, but never think about salvation. Others think about salvation, but never think about God. Still others think about God and also think about salvation, but they think wrongly.

My intent, this evening, is not to preach the gospel. Rather, my intent is to lay some groundwork in your minds and hearts for gospel preaching in the future. I seek to do this by preaching, not on how to be saved, but on the subject of salvation and its relationship to God. My friends, please pay close attention. I am sure that most of you, if not all, will hear some things said in a way you have not heard before. Ponder what I am saying. Apply it to your own life and beliefs. Consider the state of your eternal soul in light of what I say.

I speak especially to you who are not saved, that you might consider this thing called salvation and its relationship to man and God. There are two parts to this message:

First, THERE ARE SOME FANTASIES ABOUT SALVATION THAT I WANT TO MENTION

By virtue of the fact that we are human beings, our understanding uninfluenced by God is perverted and twisted by sin, and in no area are the distorting effects of sin more pronounced than in the realm of the spiritual. In the realm of the spiritual, the distorting effects of sin cause no greater misunderstanding than those misunderstandings related to the subject of salvation. Let me describe three universally held fantasies related to salvation where great misunderstanding and destructive error exists:

First, the fantasy that salvation is from man. We know that Buddhists believe that the salvation of a man depends upon that man. We know that Hindus believe that the salvation of a man depends upon that man. We know that Mormonism and the other cults rely upon man to save himself. However, do you also realize that most so-called Christians have what is in reality a man-centered religion that pays lip service to God, all the while depending upon self for salvation? Consider: How many of you have been told that you will be saved if you but pray in the right way or to the right person? How many of you have been taught that if you believe the right things you will be saved? Think about this. These teachings and teachings like them reflect a religion that is based on a salvation that is essentially from man. Perhaps with God’s help, but with the critical feature in salvation being the man, not God.

Second, there is the fantasy that salvation is to man. Perhaps not as widespread as the fantasy just mentioned, this is the fantasy that believes salvation to be really nothing more than the reaching of one’s full potential. This fantasy finds its fullest expression in the New Age religions and eastern religions, which are really the same religion. This is also the target and goal of all Greek philosophy and thought. And how clever Madison Avenue has been to distill this religious fantasy into a single phrase that was once used to promote the United States Army: “Be all that you can be . . . in the Army.” Man at his fullest potential is where this fantasy salvation leads to. Just like the Nazis and their Aryan man, the communists and their communal comrade, the Buddhists attaining to Nirvana, the Mormons attaining to godhood, the JW’s attaining membership in the elite club of 144,000, Kenneth Copeland’s disciples attaining unto little jesuses, or the Roman Catholic’s attainment to sainthood. It is all the false notion of man somehow attaining the ultimate plateau or level of spirituality and godliness.

Third, there is the fantasy that salvation is for man. How very conceited is the notion that the ultimate goal and accomplishment of salvation is the salvation of man. A so-called Christian faith that has man’s salvation as its ultimate accomplishment is a faith that is so much like the imagination of spoiled children, who grew up thinking themselves being the center of mommy’s and daddy’s universe, and never having anyone show them otherwise. No wonder you have music that pleases men instead of God, preaching that pleases men instead of God, wearing attire that pleases men instead of God, and doctrines that please men instead of God. The notion that salvation is all about salvation for man is a fiction, people. It is just as much a fantasy as the other things I have mentioned.

Now, LET ME POINT OUT THREE FACTS ABOUT SALVATION

First, in contrast to the fantasy that salvation is from man, the fact is salvation is from God. Open up your concordance and count the number of times in the Bible where verses contain such phrases as “thy salvation” in reference to God and which show God as the Author of salvation. You will go past a hundred before you stop counting. Consider the fact that salvation is said to be by grace, which means it is a gift freely and without obligation given.[6] Consider the fact that the One Who died on Calvary’s cross to atone for your sins and mine was given by God.[7] Consider that this, the Bible, was given by God.[8] Consider the fact that the entire plan for saving sinners was devised by God, Who would have been righteous, just, and right to cast sinful men into Hell without the possibility of redemption.[9] Consider the fact that as a sinner, you cannot come to the One Who saves sinners unless the Father draws you to Him.[10] Consider that the One Who saves sinners will not save you unless God gives you to Him.[11] Consider that every breath you take and every beat of your heart is a gift given to you by God, one breath and one beat at a time.[12] Consider the fact that, spiritually, you are without strength to come to God, sinfully, you are unqualified to come to God, and as to your will, you choose not to come to God.[13] Consider these things the next time you ponder where salvation comes from. Salvation comes from God. True, it comes to sinners through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But salvation comes from the One Who works all things after the counsel of His Own will, and any belief system which is not built on that truth is not correct.[14]

Second, in contrast to the fantasy that salvation is to man, the fact is salvation is to God. My friend, you are a fallen sinner. Because of Adam’s original sin, you have been born into a fallen race of men who are estranged from God by an inherited sin nature that is corrupt, that is offensive to God, that is defiled and unclean, and that is in a perpetual state of rebellion toward God. When the Psalmist wrote, “All have sinned,” and when Paul quoted him in the New Testament to describe the condition and the behavior of mankind, they were talking about you.[15] Your standing before God is so poor, and your capacity for correcting it is so hopeless, and your distance from life is so great, that you are accurately described as being dead in trespasses and sins.[16] Your sin has so separated you from God that should you try to pray to Him He is not obligated to listen to you.[17] And He is infinitely beyond your reach to grasp and lay hold of Him for help.[18] It is a good thing for you that salvation is from God. It is a good thing for you that that God sent His Son to seek and to save that which was lost.[19] Should you someday become one of those lost who is found, one of those dead who is made alive, one of those defiled who is made clean, one of those guilty who is justified, the result will be reconciliation.[20] For you see, God’s intent is not to see you saved to become a better you, to see you reach your potential, or to see you be all that you can be. God’s salvation is to God. First Peter 3.18 speaks of “the Just for the unjust that He might bring us to God.” Thus, salvation is not so much to get you to heaven, but to get you to God, to bring you to God, and to qualify you for His presence.

Third, in contrast to the fantasy that salvation is for man, the fact is salvation is for God. Ask yourself, “Who is this for?” This is not for you, people. It is not for me. It is for God. Church is not for you and me. It is for God. Turn to Ephesians 3.21. You want to find the ultimate purpose for the church, the foundational reason for Calvary Road’s existence? It is right here in this verse: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” We preach Christ Jesus now, and we will continue to do so throughout all ages, for one reason; to glorify God. When we stop doing that we have no reason for existing. Everything we say and do must ultimately result in Gods being glorified. However, churches like ours are comprised of saved people who have been baptized after their conversion. Right? Therefore, it would seem to stand to reason that folks being saved would also glorify God. Right? John 15.8 shows this to be true. Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” Fruit, of course, referring to folks being saved. Understand, then, that sinners are not saved so they can go to heaven. Sinners are not saved so they will not go to Hell. Sinners are not saved so they can be happy and have a life of joy and delight. Certainly, those things all happen, but they happen as a byproduct of the ultimate goal and purpose for the salvation of sinners, which is the glorification of God. We see this because, not only does the church exist for God’s glory, not only are individual sinners saved for God’s glory, but because everything that is exists for God’s glory, Revelation 4.11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” So we see, salvation is not for you, though should you be saved it will benefit you beyond your comprehension. Salvation is for God. This church is for God. Everything is for God. Nothing is for you.

It can be quite a jolt to be raised in a society so intent on raising your self-esteem that you think you are something when, in fact, you are nothing. However, when you come to yourself under the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and when you realize that in you, that is in your body, dwelleth no good thing, then you will be most delighted to be raised up out of the miry clay and set upon the rock of salvation which is Jesus Christ. All the glory will go to God, for salvation is from Him and to Him and for Him, but it will be you who is saved through faith in Christ, and should that happen to you you will have no complaints.



[1] 1 Timothy 2.2

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 548.

[3] 1 Samuel 17.29

[4] Rienecker, pages 181-182.

[5] Ibid., page 548.

[6] Acts 15.11; Ephesians 2.5, 8; 2 Timothy 1.9

[7] John 3.16

[8] 2 Timothy 3.16-17; 2 Peter 1.21

[9] Acts 10.42; 13.48; 17.31; 1 Corinthians 9.27; Ephesians 2.10; 1 Peter 1.19-21

[10] John 6.44

[11] John 17.24

[12] Matthew 10.28; Acts 5.5, 10;

[13] Romans 5.6; 3.23, 11

[14] Ephesians 1.11

[15] Romans 3.23; Psalm 14.3

[16] Ephesians 2.1

[17] Isaiah 59.2

[18] John 14.6

[19] Luke 19.10

[20] 2 Corinthians 5.17-21



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org