It has been an exciting year of learning to delight in and savor the gospel, by meditating upon just how powerful it really is. RGC’s half-year sermon series on the book of Philippians has challenged me to not only center all of my thoughts, emotions, and actions on the gospel, but to also appreciate Christ more as my precious Lord and Savior.
So even though the book of Philippians is only four chapters long, it still reveals much about Christ’s nature and how the gospel should affect one’s relationship with God and other believers.
The first sermon we had on Philippians was about how fellowship is rooted in the gospel, not compatibility between people. This was challenging to me as a collegian because I often equated “fellowship” with “hanging out,” without giving intentionality a second thought because I was so comfortable in my bubble of friends. But what was the Philippian church initially made up of? A woman named Lydia and an ex-jailer and his family. Definitely not a community we would expect to see today if fellowship were based on similarities in personality. The fellowship that existed in the Philippian church, however, was Christ-centered because the gospel transcends differences and unites believers in Christ.
Relationships & The Gospel
Also, let’s consider how the gospel affects our relationships with others. We only need to turn to Philippians 2:1-4 for various commands on how to treat others (maintaining the same love, doing nothing from empty conceit, looking out for the interest of others). But in the context of the whole book, these are more than just commands. Paul’s exhortation is based on the example of Christ’s own humility and is seen later in Philippians 2:5-11: Christ, who is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, had every right to take advantage of His equality with God. But instead He gave up that privilege, humbled himself by becoming human, and obediently died a shameful death on a cross for us while we were yet sinners. The world generally seems to agree that the commands in the first four verses are good things. But they mean nothing if they are done for the sake of being done. If we were to take the first four verses without the second half about Christ, the commands become empty suggestions. The gospel should affect every aspect of our lives. Even the famous Titus 2 passage on roles of men and women in the church concludes with a reminder that the grace of God has appeared and that Christ has given Himself for us to redeem us.
Evangelism & The Gospel
The centrality of the gospel also has great influences on evangelism. Now obviously in these situations, the gospel must be shared verbally. But at the same time, just as importantly, we must also live a life that is worthy of the gospel (Philippians 1:27). In my own experience with campus evangelism, there have been many instances in which I just wanted to win the debate and have the satisfaction of presenting a thoroughly logical and irrefutable argument. I was so concerned with my own glory that I failed to realize the heartbreaking reality of a lost soul. Instead of being considerate and patient, I was hasty and forgot about God’s role in salvation. But upon reflection on the gospel, I remembered that I was once a sinner, dead in my transgressions, saved only by the grace of a loving God who revealed the truth to me.
On a similar note, Paul tells Timothy at the end of 2 Timothy that the Lord’s bond-servant must correct those in opposition in gentleness, because perhaps God may grant them repentance. But this is after he tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8-9 to remember Jesus Christ, for whom Paul suffers all things for. The point is clear: do things in relation to the gospel.
And the final culmination of Paul’s letter? Rejoice in the Lord always! How? By dwelling on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, and excellent.Things like the gospel, God’s holiness and grace, fellowship, creation, encouragement in Christ, and love.
None of this is to say that I am now super awesome and am able to fully appreciate all the complexities of the gospel all the time. There is still a constant struggle for me to see Christ as the treasure that He is, more delightful than any of my other desires. Which is why I am so thankful for the powerful Word of God, for it is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword. So even though the book of Philippians is only four chapters long, it still reveals much about Christ’s nature and how the gospel should affect one’s relationship with God and other believers. May an overwhelming love for Christ cause us all to boldly proclaim, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)