A Servant’s Gospel-Cause (A synopsis of the message preached on January 2, 2011)

INTRODUCTION:

Today I want to look at the servant’s Gospel-cause. What or Whom will I serve? Will I serve the cause of Patriotism, the cause of Justice, the cause of Success, the cause of Money, the cause of self-preservation, or the cause of the gospel

 Listen to our text today:

 Philippians 1:27-30   27 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,  28 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.  29 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,  30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

 In this text Paul only has one exhortation that sets forth our cause and encompasses the Christian’s responsibility to live for Christ – let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.

 We are to Serve the Cause of the Gospel.

 1. The Gospel-Cause is the measure of a worthy life.

It is important to understand the nature of the gospel and its implications, lest serving the gospel becomes no more than a private or a church matter. To serve the gospel rightly, we must understand that gospel and its implications.

 What is the gospel?

The gospel is the proclamation of good news that the promised Messiah/Deliverer has come and that His name is Jesus. This proclamation of good news is rooted in the OT promise of the Messiah/Deliverer who comes in both suffering and glory to rescue mankind and the cosmos from the effects of Adam’s rebellion and the resultant curse.

Without diminishing other aspects of the good news that the promised Messiah/Deliverer has come, I understand that the heart of the gospel is that Jesus lived the life that we failed to live, died the death that we deserve to die, and rose again to restore the life we forfeited because of our sin.

The Gospel has implications at numerous levels:

Personal level – the Gospel is about the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, and the greatest transforming power – because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Church level – the gospel creates a new community of believers whose lives corporately reflect the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, and the greatest transforming power.

Societal level – the gospel takes transformed individuals living in transformed community to bring about transformation in all areas of society that have been affected by the ravages of human rebellion and idolatry.

Cosmic Level – the gospel guarantees the consummate transformation of all things at the Second Coming of Christ in the ushering in of the New Heavens and the New Earth.

 The standard of measurement is nothing less than the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is primarily about a person – Jesus, the Son of God – and His death and resurrection – I Cor. 15:3-4.

 How you estimate the value of the person and work of Jesus Christ will affect how you live your life. Listen to Paul’s estimation later in this book:

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ– the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

One question I should always be asking is: How do my choices in life relate to the gospel?

 This is a command to be obeyed or disobeyed. It is a command that indicates an ongoing responsibility. Living the Christian life is not automatic. It is series of choices, an ongoing, progressive work of the Holy Spirit. It is possible to live a life that detracts from the gospel and has no benefit for the kingdom of God.

 The Gospel which brings us the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, and the greatest transforming power is to be the defining cause of our lives.

 2. The Gospel-Cause is a life-consuming cause.

The word Paul chooses for “manner of life” refers to the entire scope of one’s life.’

 A life that makes a difference is a life lived worthy of the gospel in the church pew as well as in the traffic jam, in the choir as well as at the grocery counter, in the church foyer as well as on the telephone, in the lab, in the office, in the classroom, in the your home.

The Gospel which brings us the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, , and the greatest transforming power is to be the defining cause and character of our lives.

 3. The Gospel-Cause is what unifies the church.

The result of carrying out this commitment is the unity of the church.

that you stand firm in one spirit

 Unity is not denominational, nor racial (homogeneous), nor cultural (styles of worship, etc) – it is gospel centered – otherwise unity is man-made and fragile.

 The Gospel which brings us the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, , and the greatest transforming power creates the basis of unity and creates the qualities that make unity possible. 

4. The Gospel-Cause brings about a united effort to engage fearlessly in the advance of the gospel.  contending as one man for the faith of the gospel, 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.

 Though militaristic language is used, our mission is not a hostile mission – or a vicious, revengeful mission – but rather a mission that reflects the values of the gospel

 The Gospel which brings us the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, , and the greatest transforming power defines how we engage those outside of Christ.

5. The Gospel-Cause is a sign of judgment and salvation.

This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved– and that by God.

Your engagement in the fearless advance of the gospel indicates that you are recipient of God’s salvation. Your engagement in the fearless advance of the gospel is a powerful witness to the lost that God will one day judge them.

Let me say that every believer needs to experience this confirmation in his or her life and every unbeliever needs to face this warning in his or her life.

 What could be a greater evidence of the gospel and more powerful conviction than to live out the grace of the gospel?

The Gospel which brings us the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, and the greatest transforming power is the most convicting sign of judgment and salvation.

 6. The Gospel-Cause is motivated by two gifts which God has graciously given us.

                29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,

1. He has graciously given us the gift of faith.

“To believe on Him” is a wonderful gift that brings forgiveness and eternal life.

 There are a lot of things we do not understand in the mystery of how we come to Christ, but one thing we know – even our ability to believe is a gracious gift from God.

2. He has graciously given us the privilege of suffering for Him.

“To suffer for Him” is a wonderful gift because in that suffering for the gospel God confirms our identity with Christ.

                Paul later expresses his yearning that he might know “the fellowship of His sufferings.”

Paul simply says that because of Jesus Christ God gave you faith to believe; He also gives you the privilege to suffer because of Jesus Christ. 

The ground or basis of God’s gracious giving is Jesus Christ; the ground or basis of your suffering is Jesus Christ.

Why should God graciously give you anything? There’s only one reason – Jesus Christ.

Why should you suffer willingly? There’s only one reason – Jesus Christ.

 The Gospel which brings us the most passionate love, the deepest mercy, the most magnificent grace, the most underserving forgiveness, , and the greatest transforming power should bring us to a point of such profound worship and love for Christ that we would endure anything for the sake of the gospel.

This suffering is a common experience of faithful believers in Jesus Christ.

                30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

 What are you living for today? What is the cause that drives your life?

More importantly – for whom are you living? Does the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ give energy and direction to all of your life? We have a New Year before us – will we serve the gospel-cause or will some lesser cause capture our hearts.

 

To Every Man

To every man there openeth
A way, and ways, and a way.
And some men climb the high way,
And some men grope below,

And in between on the misty flats
The rest drift to and fro.
And to every man there openeth
A high way and a low;

And every man decideth
Which way his soul shall go.

(John Oxenham Leadership, VI, p. 1)

 Charles Spurgeon was saved on January 6, 1850, and on February 1 he wrote the following prayer of consecration:

O great and unsearchable God, who knows my heart, and tries all my ways; with a humble dependence upon the support of Your Holy Spirit, I yield up myself to You; as Your own reasonable sacrifice, I return to You Your own. I would be forever, unreservedly, perpetually Yours; while I am on earth, I would serve You; and may I enjoy You and praise You for ever! Amen. (Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 235)

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On September 10, 1970 I came to understand the great love of God for me, a sinner and a rebel. That evening I received God’s forgiveness and a new life through Jesus Christ, who died in my place and rose again to offer forgiveness and new life. I have been senior pastor for over 30 years planting two churches in Buckingham, PA and Queens, NY and serving two other churches in Brooklyn, NY and Roslyn, PA. I am currently the lead pastor at Grace Church of Philly.

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