Paul's Perspective - Part II
Tim Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Philippians, chapter 1, beginning with verse 19:

Philippians 1

19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.
25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
27Only 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;
28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
30Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

We will stop our reading there with the end of the first chapter. From time to time, an event comes into our lives that causes us to review our priorities. Sometimes that event will be in the form of a financial crisis, and when God allows a financial crisis to come into an individual's life, we have to face the issue of whether money or Christ is the most important thing in our lives. To face the prospect of losing a great deal of money or having our money in a position of jeopardy will cause us to analyze or think carefully about how important that money is.

If God allows our health to be taken away, we have to face the question of whether health is the most important thing in our lives. If some problem comes in the area of our children or our marriage, we have to sometimes stop and think if our relationship with our children or with our wives is the thing that our lives are built around.

All of these things in and of themselves are very good and very commendable. There is nothing wrong with having money. God has given us everything that we have. He has given us money with which to be administrators of His estate on earth. So there is nothing wrong with money unless it becomes that around which our lives revolve. Certainly there is nothing wrong with having good health. God wants us to enjoy good health unless that becomes the thing around which our lives revolve. From time to time God, for many different reasons, allows us to have less than perfect health.

And there is nothing wrong with loving your family unless family becomes our god. So even though God doesn't always allow these things to happen just for the purpose of causing us to analyze our priorities, when problems come in various areas, that should be our reaction. Just how important is this thing to me anyway?

A New Perspective

This is the situation in which Paul finds himself as he writes to the Philippians, and he is talking about that in this second section of the chapter, as he talks about his perspective of life.

You will remember back in verse 12, as he began this section, that he is writing it so that the Philippians will understand what has happened to him. Paul, in his pastoral way, is concerned that perhaps the Philippians will have their faith shaken a little because of what has happened to him. So in verse 12, he says:

Philippians 1

12But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

He is saying that the things that have happened to him have been for the good. “There has been some real pleasure in my life,” he says, “because of the things that have happened to me.”

When we began looking at this passage, we noticed the things that had happened to Paul, and certainly we see his bravery and his fierce spirit as he says, “the things that have happened to me.” He sums up some very serious problems in his life with that one little phrase, “the things that have happened to me.” Yet he says, “Those things that have happened to me–my imprisonment, my trial, my transfer to another prison, and my experience in prison with no idea of when it might end–those things have all happened for the furtherance of the ministry; therefore, they are of great joy to me.”

As he has come to that conclusion, it is the result of analyzing his priorities. As he faces the loss of everything that he has enjoyed in his lifetime, he has had to take stock of his situation. Paul had lost his freedom. I am sure, though he doesn't say so specifically in the Scriptures, as you know from human experience, Paul had had to stop and think, “Really, is my freedom the most important thing in my life anyway?”

Paul had lost his public ministry. I'm sure that he had had to stop and analyze, “Is my ability to preach in the synagogue and on the street corners, my opportunity to speak in public what my life revolved around?” He had lost his apostolic authority in the local church. He still had authority, but he had lost the opportunity to exercise that authority and to go and personally minister to people. I'm sure that even that had been a source of thinking and analysis for him: “Is that the most important thing in my life?”

Because of the loss of these various things, he had realized that those are not the pre-eminent things in life. The very fact that he had had to lose things that he had a right to, the things which in themselves were good, he said was one of the greatest things that had ever happened to him because it caused him to realize what was really important in life. Even though he had lost his freedom, he realized that Christ was still with him. Even though he had lost his public ministry, he realized that he still had the opportunity to preach the Gospel; and as he said back in verse 13, “Because of my bonds, the people in the Praitorion Guard are hearing the Gospel.” And so his public ministry was a simple sacrifice to make. He still had a ministry, and though he had lost his opportunity to exercise his apostolic authority, he had realized in a new way the personal authority of Christ in his life. So this crisis that Paul had gone through had been one of the greatest things that had ever happened to him. As a direct result of his imprisonment, Paul had a new prespective of life. This is what he is describing in this passage at which we are looking here in verses 12-26.

A Summary of His Prospects

We noticed in our last lesson the source of his pleasure, as he talks about that in verses 12-18. He says he has recognized that even being in prison and the loss of all of these things had given him new opportunities for the Gospel. We looked at several things there that were the source of his pleasure, and we will not take the time to go into those again, but in verses 19-26 we have a summary of his prospects. Paul faced the very real possibility of never getting out of prison as he faced the possibility of execution. The charges that were brought against him in the Roman Empire and the Roman society were a capital offense. He was charged with subverting the government, and he knew that he could be put to death for that. As he faced that possibility, he had to evaluate all of his standards and goals, and he came up with a summary of his situation in life. He came up with a statement of his perspective of life from there in the prison.

A Continuing Dependence

We want to think about the point of that perspective. Notice in verse 19 one of the points of his perspective of life is a continuing dependence. If you will notice in verse 19 of Philippians, chapter 1:

Philippians 1

19For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Being in prison caused Paul to realize for the first time how really dependent he was on the prayers of the Philippians and other Christians and on the power of the Holy Spirit.

Notice in verse 19, the term, “my salvation.” That is a confusing statement if you just read that verse by itself and do not consider the context, but actually the word “salvation” used here is not spiritual salvation. Obviously, Paul had been a believer in Jesus Christ and had had spiritual salvation for a number of years by the time he wrote these words. It is a reference, rather, to deliverance from false standards of satisfaction. In the context, that is what he is saying. “I realize that I am now going to be delivered from false standards of satisfaction. I know that this imprisonment shall turn to my deliverance, because I have recognized that what I really need, what I am really dependent on, is not all of those things that I have lost. I'm not really dependent on my opportunities to speak publicly. I'm not really dependent on my physical freedom. Those are not the things that really bring happiness. The things that I need and that I cannot get along without, rather, are your prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit.”

A Consistent Growth

He had continuing dependence. It is an interesting thing to notice, if you are thinking with me, that Paul, here in the last years of his life, is still learning. Do you see that? He is saying, “I am recognizing some things I never realized before.” Here he is, a great apostle to the Gentiles, a believer for a number of years, founder of a number of churches, countless people led to Christ through his ministry; and he said, “I am realizing for the first time something about the Christian life and something about my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I don't know how that strikes you, but that is a very reassuring thing to me and a very thrilling thing to me that no matter how long you know the Lord, you don't need to get stagnant. No matter how far we go with the Lord, we don't need to worry about coming to a level of being sated and beginning to get bored with the things of the Lord. If we are willing to walk with the Lord day by day, no matter how long we have known Him, if we are willing to stay in fellowship with Him, we can be constantly learning, as long as we live, as long as we walk with the Lord. Anybody who walks with the Lord consistently is going to see new growth all along the way. Paul is a perfect example of that.

A Confident Determination

Another prospect that Paul faced is in verses 20-26, and this is what we are referring to as confident determination concerning his life. Notice in verse 20, he talks about the dedication of his life. We read:

Philippians 1

20According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Remember, we are saying that the prison experience caused Paul to go through a deep analysis of his life; he was confidently determined about the dedication of his life. Notice he said, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope…” Paul says, “As I look at the future of my life, as I look at my perspective of life, my prospect, what the future holds for me, one thing I am determined about, no matter what else may come along, is that my life is going to continue to be dedicated to the Lord.” The dedication of life.

Notice he says in verse 20:

Philippians 1

20…in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body…

“I'm determined about that,” he says. “My life is dedicated to magnifying Jesus Christ. Even,” he says, “whether by life or by death.” Again remember that Paul was facing the possibility of execution, and because of his analysis of his life situation, he has realized that may be the way that God chooses to glorify Himself, by letting Paul be executed. And Paul says to those Philippians, “If you hear that I have been executed, don't think it's been a failure, because I am determined to magnify Jesus Christ, whether by life or by death.”

The Principle of Magnifying Jesus Christ

Let me digress here for just a moment and point out that this is a very good standard for determining our actions. We human beings have a real tendency to organize things, to formalize things, to make lists of things; and one of the great problems that we have in the Christian world today, and always have had, is the problem of legalism. If we do this and we do that, and on the other hand if we don't do this, and we don't do that, if we stay away from those things and we do these wonderful works over here, then we will be spiritual–just an automatic thing.

Of course, we recognize that that is not spiritual at all. The way to be spiritual, if we want to use that terminology, is to walk at the direction of the Holy Spirit step by step, one step at a time, one situation at a time, as the Holy Spirit guides and directs us. That's what spirituality consists of.

Certainly there are things that God does not want us to do; certainly there are things that do not honor Christ, and things we as believers should stay away from. One way to determine what we should do and what we should not do, aside from those things that are specifically stated in the Word of God, is this principle of magnifying the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are trying to decide whether we are going to be involved in something or not, ask yourself the question: Does this magnify Jesus Christ?

I think that is the concept Paul is determining about himself. “I am determined that whatever I do for the remainder of my life, it will be to magnify Jesus Christ. That is going to be the basis of my decisions. That is going to be the basis for my activity, that it will magnify Jesus Christ, so that even if I have to die, my death will magnify Jesus Christ.”

Paul's Definition of Life

Paul was able to speak this way, and I think only able to speak this way about his dedication, because of his definition of life that he give us in verse 21, and the first part of verse 22. We will not be able to speak with such determination about the dedication of our lives unless we can share Paul's definition of life. It is a very famous verse in the first chapter, verse 21:

Philippians 1

21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Notice that this well-known verse begins with the word “for,” and it ties it in directly with the verses that have just gone before. Paul is able, as I said, to speak so confidently about the dedication of his life because of his definition of life.

How could he say, “I am determined to bring glory to God, to magnify Jesus Christ, no matter what.”? Why was he able to say that? Because he said, “For me to live is Christ. Christ is my whole life. Christ is what my whole life revolves around.”

Think back to a few minutes ago. To begin our discussion, we were talking about the fact that sometimes the loss of things in our lives, or facing the possibility of the loss of those things, will cause us to analyze how important they are. And remember that is exactly the situation that Paul was in. He had lost a number of things that he had held very important in life. Certainly we would hold them very important. As a result of losing those things and facing the possibility of, in fact, losing his life, he comes to this conclusion: “For me to live is Christ.”

Let me quit preaching and go to meddling for just a minute. If we were to pass out slips of paper and ask you to cover it and not let anyone else see it, but write on that paper, “For me to live is —-.”, if you had the opportunity and the will power and all of the rest of it, to be perfectly honest, what would you write in that blank? “For me to live is” what?

To be perfectly honest, some of us would have to say, “For me to live is to meet my sales quota this year.” “For me to live is to marry that girl that I am so wild about.” “For me to live is to marry that guy that I think I just about have snagged.” “For me to live is to make the dean's list.” “For me to live is to graduate from college or high school.” There are dozens of things which, if we were honest with ourselves, many of us would have to write down. You will never be able to magnify Jesus Christ in your life until you come to the point that you are able to write in that blank what Paul wrote:

Philippians 1

21For to me to live is Christ…

We have a phrase that we use sometimes: “Now, that is really living.” That is what Paul is saying. “Christ is really living. If I can know Christ, if I can honor Christ, now that is living.” This is Paul's definition of life.

Paul's View of Death

Now, think what he says here in verse 21.

Philippians 1

21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Think about the significance of that for just a moment. You see, the only way you can make a statement like that is if you have the same definition of life that Paul had. “For me to live is Chirst.” If your life really revolves around Christ, then to die and to go into His presence could be nothing but gain. But you see, if anything else is in the position of prominence when death comes, you are going to have to leave that other thing behind. “For me to live is to make that sales quota.” Well, if that is the case, you certainly don't want to die before you get that quota made. “For me to live is to get married.” Maybe for me to live is to get married and I really don't even care who to, just so I can get married. Senior panic. “Everyone else is getting married and here I am 19 1/2 years old, and I am not married yet.”

You see, if “for me to live is to get married,” then certainly you don't want to die. If there is anything else in that blank besides “Christ,” death is a specter. Paul said:

Philippians 1

21For to me to live is Christ, and [therefore] to die is gain [because to come to the end of life would simply mean to be in the presence of the One around whom his life revolved] .

In verses 22-24, this definition of life causes a dilemma for Paul, and it is going to take us a few verses here to see exactly the importance of this dilemma. But notice he says in the last part of verses 22-24:

Philippians 1

22…yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

You see, his living is centered around Christ. Certainly we know, since this is inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul was telling the truth here; his life really was centered around Christ, whether it had been before or not. As a result of this prison experience and the analysis of his life that he had made because of that prison experience, “Now to me to live is Christ,” he says. And since that is the case it would be much better to die and be in His presence. This is what he says in verse 23.

Paul's Dilemma

And yet in verse 24 there are some legitimate spiritual reasons for him to stay behind:

Philippians 1

24Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Paul says in so many words, “There are still some things you Philippians need to know. There is still some ministry that God has for me to do here on this earth, so I am in a dilemma. I am in a strait betwixt two.” Incidentally that is a good little phrase to use if you are casting around for some way to say that you are in a dilemma. Put that one down somewhere and then amaze your friends with your vocabulary. But that is exactly what he is saying: “I face a dilemma, whether to depart and be with Christ, which is far more pleasant to think about, or to stay here with you, which is more needful for you.”

Paul's Decision

Now, the dilemma is settled with a decision concerning his life. In verses 25 and 26:

Philippians 1

25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

There is the decision concerning his life. Notice the phrase in the beginning of verse 25, “having this confidence.” Many Bible teachers believe that phrase indicates a special revelation from God. Maybe just as he was writing this, God revealed to him, “Paul you are not going to die. You are not going to be executed. You are going to live and get to minister to the Philippians.” Because God gave him that revelation, Paul wrote in verse 25:

Philippians 1

25And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

The problem with that idea is that we do not have any record of God revealing that to Paul, and we do not have a record of whether or not he got out of prison and got to go back and minister to the Philippians personally. Even though he did obviously finish the letter, we don't know if he ever got to go back physically or not.

So what is he talking about when he says, “Having this confidence?” Well actually when he said, “Having this confidence,” he is talking about something he has already said. If you will think with me, I think we will be able to see a very practical point concerning the dilemma and the decision concerning that dilemma.

When he says, “Having this confidence,” I believe Paul is talking about what he said back in verse 21, “For to me to live is Christ.” Paul said, “My confidence is that my life revolves around Christ. Since I have this confidence,” in verse 25, “I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith.” “If it is true, if God realizes, as it appears to me, that I need to stay and minister to you,” as he says in verse 24, “to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” What he is saying in verse 25 is, “If God agrees with that, then I will stay and abide with you. I will stay and minister to you. If in God's opinion it is more needful for me to stay with you, then I have the confidence that He will let me stay with you, because for me to live is Christ. My life revolves around Christ.”

Personal Preferences In Perspective

Here is the practical point involved in this: When Jesus Christ is the center of life, when our lives revolve around Jesus Christ, it causes everything else to be in perspective. When Jesus Christ is the center of life, then things of the world fall into their proper place, things of sin fall into their proper place, and ministry to others takes its proper place. Everything is in perspective. Everything runs smoothly.

Have you ever been to the circus and seen a car that the clowns drive where the axles are off center, or maybe you have a car that is old enough or in bad enough state that the axles are off center in your car? You know what a rough, uneven ride that is, what an unsteady ride that is. If the axle is out of place, the whole wheel is out of round and causes the car to bump and jostle and not run smoothly. Exactly the same thing is true in life. If Jesus Christ is not the center of life for the believer, then the whole life is out of round and everything is out of perspective.

If Paul had said, in verse 21, “For me to live is” anything other than Christ, he would not have been able to say what he said here in verse 25: “I'd rather go and be with Christ, but it is more needful to stay with you, and therefore I will, because that is what's honoring to Christ, whatever is honoring to Christ. Whatever He needs me to do, that's what I want to do. I may have my personal preferences. I would rather go and be with the Lord, but if it is needful for you for me to stay here, because my life revolves around Christ, then I will gladly stay here and minister to you.”

Do you see what I am saying? If Christ is the center of your life, you will be able to make those difficult decisions. If Christ is the center of your life, you will be able to put your personal preferences in perspective. “I may prefer to do this, but if the Lord wants me to do this, I would much rather do it, because my life revolves around Jesus Christ.”

Christ as the Center of Life

Let me say also, and perhaps I should have mentioned this a little earlier, everybody has a center of life. Everybody has something around which their life revolves. You know, the Old Testament is full of a lot of information about idolatry, and we think that is something that we don't have in our society today. We don't, in the sense that people are actually bowing down physically and worshiping idols, but everybody has a god of some kind, even those who don't know Jesus Christ. Your god is whatever the basis of your decisions are made on. The center of your life is that which motivates you to do the things that you do. Why do you dress the way that you do? Why do you go to places that you go? Why do you stay away from the places that you stay away from? Why do you read the books that you read? Why do you get involved in the hobbies that you get involved in? There is a reason for all of those things, and whatever that reason is, that is the center of your life.

“I go the places I go because that's where everybody else goes. I dress the way that I do because that is the way they dress these days. I have this hobby because there are a lot of neat people who have this hobby. I meet a lot of really interesting folks.” If you answer those questions in that way, then it is very obvious that the center of your life is the interesting folks around you, the neat kids, or whatever you want to call it. “I do this because my parents make me do it.” Then your life then revolves around maybe not specifically your parents, but the fear of your parents perhaps. “I do this because my wife demands it and expects it of me.” Then your life revolves around your wife. “I do this because it is what a good American would do.” We could go on and on, but that which determines your decisions is that around which your life revolves, and you will not be able to make God-honoring choices and decisions unless you are able to say with Paul, “For me to live is Christ. That is the one around whom my life revolves. He is the center of focus.”

In verse 26, there is an interesting statement we need to pay attention to, although he is basically saying the same thing that he said in verse 25. In verse 26, he says:

Philippians 1

26That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

That is a continuation of verse 25, saying that if it was needful for him to stay with them, he would. But it sounds kind of egotistical. Let me point out in Paul's defense that what he is saying is that if he does survive this prison experience and come and minister to them, God will have vindicated their claims, because the Philippians were claiming that he would come to them. So Paul says, “When I come to you, you are going to rejoice that God has answered your prayers. You are going to rejoice that He has vindicated your claim of my coming to you.”

Evidently that was one of the reasons Paul felt that he was needed by the Philippians. Evidently someone had brought him a message that the Philippians were claiming that he was going to come and minister to them again. The Philippians were perhaps claiming that he was going to survive this prison experience. And so he says in verse 26 that, “God is going to let me survive. If it is really needful for you, then I am sure God is going to let me survive, and your rejoicing will be more abundant because it will have been the Lord Himself who has made it possible.”

Paul's Plea to the Philippians

Finally, in verses 27-30, Paul makes a plea to the Philippians on the basis of this perspective. His plea is in three parts. First, in the first part of verse 27, his plea is for the Philippians to stand:

Philippians 1

27Only 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, [notice] that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

The question may come up, “What if Paul didn't get out of prison? What if he didn't get to come to the Philippians?” Paul is covering that possibility because he didn't know whether he was going to get to come to them or not. But he uses that possibility for an opportunity to teach them. He says, “Even if I don't get to come and see you Philippians, let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ.”

His reasoning is this: If Paul had come to them, they would have lived lives that would have been pleasing to Paul. They would have been so happy to have Paul in their midst, they would have been careful not to do anything to offend Paul. What he is saying is, “I don't know if I will get to come to you or not, but let your conversation be that which would become worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ. If I were with you, you would live lives worthy of me. Well, Christ is with you now; live lives that are worthy of Him. The Gospel is present with you now, so live a life that is worthy of the Gospel.”

Stand Fast In the Gospel

We talked about this a little earlier in the first part of the study. Paul said, in Acts, chapter 27, verse 23:

Acts 27

23For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve,

Remember whose you are and whom you serve. Live a life that is worthy of the Gospel. How does that strike your life? I can ask myself the same question: Is my life worthy of the Gospel of Christ? How would I be living? Would I make the same decisions and go to the same places and do the same things if Jesus Christ were present with me? Live a life that is worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

This is referred to as “standing fast,” in verse 27: “That you stand fast in one spirit.” We hear some talk these days about taking a stand for the Gospel. Well, here is what is involved in taking a stand. It is not arguing with everybody that disagrees with you and denouncing everybody that says something different about the Gospel than you do. Standing fast in the Gospel is living a life that is worthy of the Gospel.

Strive Together for the Gospel

In the last part of verse 27 and going into verse 28, his plea to the Philippians is not only that they stay, but that they strive. Notice, he says in the last part of verse 27:

Philippians 1

27…that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

Remember, he has just been saying in the first part of verse 27, “to stand for the Gospel.” What he is saying here is, “Stand together for the Gospel. Strive for the Gospel.” A natural result of a life that is centered around the Lord Jesus Christ is going to be presenting and defending the Gospel. If for you to live is Christ, you will not be able to avoid it. You will be looking for opportunities, and opportunities will come that you do not even have to be looking for. Your life will be a testimony in the eyes of other people, and there will be opportunities to present the Gospel.

Strive together for the Gospel, he said. To do this effectively, believers have to stand together. If one believer is a light of testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ, then believers need to get their lights together and stand together. This is the second part of his plea.

Suffering for the Lord's Sake

Then in the second part of verse 28, and going on through verse 30, is the third part of his plea to the Philippians. It is that they be willing to suffer for the Lord's sake.

Philippians 1

28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.
29For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Notice that, “not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

I'm sure that you are aware that this is one of many passages in the New Testament that makes it very clear that believers will suffer. It is an interesting thing to me that God doesn't try to hide that fact. We try to hide it sometimes, and maybe that is wise when we are witnessing to someone about the Lord Jesus Christ, or when we are first beginning to talk to a new believer, but God doesn't hide it. In II Timothy, chapter 3, verse 12, he says it as clearly as it can be said:

II Timothy 3

12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

Someone says, “Well I don't know about that. I really haven't suffered too much. I'm not sure that all believers suffer persecution.” Well remember what he said:

If that is your reaction to the concept of suffering, then it may be an indictment of your Christian life. If Christ is going to be the center of your life, you can count on it. Someone is not going to like that, and you are going to suffer some persecution. That is part of Paul's plea, to recognize that in spite of your best efforts you are going to suffer, and don't shy away from that suffering. Don't try to alter your life so that you don't have to suffer. Go ahead and live a life that is pleasing to Christ, recognizing that the suffering is going to come, but living that way anyway.

The Reaction to the Suffering

So the third part of his plea is to suffer for Christ's sake but really the emphasis here notice, is not so much on the suffering, but the reaction to suffering.

In verse 28, he says:

Philippians 1

28And in nothing terrified by your adversaries…

It is a foregone conclusion that we are going to suffer, but he said, “Don't get terrified of that suffering. Don't worry about that suffering. Don't try to back away from that Christian testimony because of the possibility of suffering.”

As we conclude with this point, turn with me to Acts, chapter 4, as we have a good example of this kind of suffering and what it can produce. Acts, chapter 4, records some of the events in the first century, in fact the first year after Christ ascended back to Heaven after His Resurrection. In Acts, chapter 4, notice a few verses in the beginning of the chapter:

Acts 4

1And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
4Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Then it goes on to describe the trial. Notice down in verse 13. After they had passed sentence that they were not to be doing this kind of thing anymore and stirring up the people this way:

Acts 4

13Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Think carefully about this verse. Do you see what it is saying? They saw the boldness of Peter and John and knew that they were ignorant and unlearned men. That just means that they were not educated; they were not eloquent. Do you see what the verse is saying? It wasn't their eloquence or their education that caused people to see Jesus Christ. It was their boldness in the face of suffering. In a real sense it was not what they said, but what they did that spoke most loudly to those who were trying to cause them to suffer.

Back to Philippians, chapter 1. That is exactly what Paul is saying. “Don't be terrified by your adversaries. If Christ is the center of your life, you are going to suffer. Just chalk it up and expect it. If Christ is the center of your life, you are going to suffer. But don't be terrified by that, because the very calmness with which you can face suffering will cause people to see the Lord Jesus Christ. They will take knowledge of you, that you have been with Jesus, because of your boldness.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, let me ask again the question: What's the center of your life? What would you write in that blank? Be honest with yourself. Fortunately for many of us we're not going to ask for audible suggestions or ask you to write it down, but ask yourself, “What would I write if I had to write down, 'What is the center of my life'?”

All of Paul's prospects for the future revolved around the fact that Christ was the center of his life, and he is exhorting the Philippians and us to have that same sort of center of life.

Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost made this statement concerning Christ being the center of our lives. “The Christian life is not living by a set of rules. It is pleasing a Person.”


Home Contact Us Bible Studies Books King James
Abilene Bible Church Living Bible Studies
Dr. Daiqing Yuan Tim Temple Dr. Joe Temple
Some icons on this site used courtesy FatCow Web Hosting

www.livingbiblestudies.org