Gospel Stance

Bridge Builders  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

When a church is united in attitude and practice, they receive peace through Christ.



Well, good morning! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving…got some good food, spent some good time with family. And listen, got their hearts ready for Christmas…Amen? It’s Christmas time…and nothing makes me happier. We’re getting some good Christmas music…some good ‘ole Hallmark movies…I mean it couldn’t be any better, right? I love this time of the year…And just look, got the Christmas decorations out and all. This is awesome! Right?
Alright, if you have your Bibles, go ahead and open ‘em up with me to Philippians chapter 4…Philippians chapter 4. This is the last chapter in Paul’s letter to the church of Philippi and as he kind of wraps everything up, he wants to give these first century believers a word of exhortation and encouragement. Because here’s the deal…things are about to get really bad for this church. If you’re a history buff then you know there’s this guy named Nero…he’s the Roman emperor…and he’s out of his mind. He’s insane…he’s a manic. And in just a short amount of time, he’s gonna amp up his effort in persecuting the Christians. He wants to annihilate…he wants to completely destroy the church…he wants to wipe Christianity off the face of the earth. And these Philippians are gonna have to deal with some really really difficult circumstances. It’s gonna be like their whole world has been turned upside down.
And listen, I think we can kind of relate in a way, right? I know I’m young but I can’t remember a time quite like this…where it seems like everything is just coming undone. It seems like every day we wake up our country and world is in more of mess than it was the day before. And it’s like, we need this stabilizing force to help us from getting tossed to and fro. We need this stabilizing force to keep us steady against the waves of society and the winds of culture.
You know for sailors…for hundreds of years…they didn’t have these gps’s and all this theology…and so they would use the north star to help them navigate the seas. They would fixate on the positioning of the north star and it would be their guide. And listen, by focusing on it, they could determine…are on we on course, are we off course…where we are headed? When storms and winds treated their voyage…it was the north star that was their stabilizing force.
Guys, as we get ready to dig into these passages together…I wanna start with a question this morning…what’s stabilizing you today? Who’s the stabilizing force in your life? You see, that’s what Paul’s gonna write about today…he challenges them to stand firm…but he takes it a step further and he gives some practical ways to stand firm…he shows them what it’s going to take.
And so if you’re there with me this morning, let’s stand together as we read what the Apostle Paul wrote in verse 1. He says this, “1 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. 2 I entreat Euodia (You-o-dia) and I entreat Syntyche (Send-ties-cha)to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Thank you, you can be seated.
Listen, the first thing Paul says here is “therefore,” meaning because of what I said last, do these things, right? He’s saying, “Because you’re citizens of heaven…do what I’m telling you to do next.”
And listen, the first command in a list of many commands in these nine verses is to stand firm. It’s a rousing call to stability. The word “stand firm,” its actually a military word, and it carries the idea of standing one’s ground, of holding one’s position, being steadfast. Paul says, “Stand firm in the Lord.” If you remember, that’s how he ended things in chapter one.
And he doesn’t just say “stand firm,” but he says, “stand firm thus in the Lord,” right? That little word “thus,” its a conjunction that usually points forward to what’s gonna follow that statement…Almost as if Paul’s gonna tell them how to stand firm. And we see that here…we see that in the commands he gives ‘em.
And so, as we dig through these verses this morning, I think we can separate these commands into two categories; our attitudes and our practices…that’s how we stand firm. And listen, attached to those commands is a promise…the promise of peace that God will give. He’s giving them the stabilizing force.
And so, if you’re following along with me…let’s look at each of these together.

1.) The Attitudes We Demonstrate (vv. 1-5)

First of all, Paul lays out the attitudes we should demonstrate…it’s the attitudes that help us to stand firm. And listen, there’s three of ‘em here that he gives us…three commands, attitudes that we’re to express…to embody in our lives.
The first one, it’s found in verses two and three…Look back at these two verses again with me. He’s giving us a call to agree in the Lord. In these passages, Paul’s calling out these two women, right? And he’s calling them out because there’s a disagreement between them…he commands them to agree in the Lord.
Now, we have to remember…we have to imagine the scene here. Remember when Paul wrote this, there would’ve been just one copy and it would’ve been read to the whole congregation at one time. And here’s this letter…he’s exhorting them to have the mind of Christ…to put the interests of others before their own…to be of the same mind. And then, they get like three-fourths of the way through and Paul calls out these two women…they’ve been at odds with one another…I mean just imagine…maybe they’re sitting on opposite sides of the room…maybe they hadn’t talked in months....everyone knows there’s some kind of rift between ‘em and Paul calls ‘em out. And listen, he tells them to agree in the Lord.
Guys, imagine if we started doing that here. How many times have you gotten into something with a brother or sister in Christ. I mean just imagine if we ended every service by exhorting people to settle their differences and to agree in the Lord.
That phrase “agree in the Lord,” specifically the word “agree,” its the same word we looked at last week, phroneo. Its the word for “think” or “mind”…it literally means to be of the same mind, to have the same mindset.
And then…check this out. Paul doesn’t just command them to agree in the Lord but he charges the church to “help these women” in verse 3. These women…as Paul says…whose name’s are written in the book of life. He’s affirming them…he’s saying…these women, they’re believers…they know better…they need to be restored…they need help being restored. Unity means we have to agree in the Lord. They’re charged to help because this unity is important to the church…it’s important when it comes to standing firm. These two women bickering with one another, they threatening Philippi’s ability to stand firm. A little leaven ruins to whole lump, right? And so, not only are we each called to agree in the Lord among one another…but we’re called to help others agree in the Lord and hold them accountable…we’re here to help resolve issues.
Now let me explain this…agreeing in the Lord…it means, we might have disagreements in culture or political ideas…or we might have different perspectives on all kinds of different issues in the local church, right? And listen, that’s okay…as long as we agree in the Lord. As long as we agree in the gospel…in the things that matter most…as long as we’re able to lovingly affirm one another and embrace one another, in spite of our differences…because it’s our common salvation, our common relationship with Jesus that brings us together.
That’s the first attitude Paul commands here. The second, and we’ve seen this over and over already…it’s to rejoice in the Lord. Look at verse 4 again. Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” He repeats his command here. He makes it all-inclusive, that we’re to rejoice in the Lord all the time, always, in all circumstances. Right? We’ve looked at this in detail. We have to find joy in Jesus…we have to find joy in what He’s doing in us and what we know He will do. And guys, tying this into last week…joy, it’s a mark of spiritual maturity. It’s one the fruits of the Spirit. It’s rooted in Jesus and our relationship with Him. It’s not found in our circumstances. That’s the second the thing that allows us to stand firm…finding joy all the time, in every situation.
The third attitude Paul commands here is reasonableness. Look at verse 5 again. Paul says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.” The CSB translation says, “Let your graciousness be known to everyone.” That word there, epieikēs, it means gentleness, kind, tolerant. Scholars tell us that this Greek word, its not easy to translate. Having a “gentle forbearance with others” is probably the best…highlighting the “meekness and gentleness of Christ.”
But speaking about this conflict again with these women…Paul’s making an appeal, “Let your gentleness…let your gentle spirit be known to all men.” In the midst of this relational storm, these believers weren’t to allow their emotions to escalate or to intensify…they weren’t to become so angry at others that it would cause them to react harshly towards another. It’s a call to be patient towards those who would otherwise provoke a response of anger. It’s why in Matthew 18, concerning church discipline or just disputes in general, we’re to do it first one on one…in love. We shouldn’t be name calling…we shouldn’t be looking to excommunicate people without just cause…we shouldn’t be so upset that it causes us to deal wrongly with them or it causes us to lose our ability to worship alongside ‘em. We’re to be gentle…because ultimately…it’s our gentleness that communicates to others our humility…our self-denial…it shows others that this isn’t about us…it’s about something greater.
Guys, we need a willingness to give up our preferences and show grace to others. This call for graciousness or gentleness…this forbearing spirit…its important not only in the church…but in the world as well…especially as we engage them with biblical truth. Guys, there’s some pretty volatile issues in our culture right now…homosexuality…gay marriage…abortion. And nothing creates more criticism and outrage than teaching and saying there’s been a historical position on marriage…one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. Guys, as we take our stand on these types issues…and we absolutely should take a stand…but listen to me, we need courage…and we need grace mingled in with it. You understand what I’m saying?
Church, is your graciousness…your gentleness…is it evident to your friends and your family? Is it evident to your fellow church members? Maybe a better question is…do you even desire that character trait? I mean what do you wanna be known for? Fame, success, beauty, honesty? What is it? Listen, can I challenge you? Just as Paul writes here…may we all aspire to have a reputation, as individuals and as a church…one of agreement, joy, and gentleness. One of grace as we deal with issues both inside and outside the church…it’s our attitude that gives us strength as we stand firm together, all for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

2.) The Spiritual Disciplines We Practice (vv. 6-9)

But listen, that’s not all Paul commands here. That’s not all there is when it comes to standing firm. He also commands to observe certain practices. They’re what we might think of as spiritual disciplines.
If you remember, back in chapter two…Paul said to “workout your own salvation,” right? He was charging us to discipline ourselves spiritually…read our Bibles, spend time in prayer, fellowship with other believers, serve in the church…all those things that grow us. And listen, here he is doing it again. He gives us three practices that really help us stand firm by growing us and connecting us to Christ. These things, they’re a means of grace…but listen, they require obedience.
The first one we see…it’s in verse 6…it’s prayer. Paul says, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Listen, because this is one of those verses we see plastered all over t-shirts and posters, right? It’s a verse that brings us comfort…that reminds us of power of prayer. And the reason we see it everywhere is because it’s one of the most comprehensive verses there is on prayer. He shows these Philippians exactly how they’re supposed to pray. There’s four elements he lays out here: 1.) Prayer, 2.) Supplication, 3.) Thanksgiving, and 4.) Request.
And notice he tells them to pray in contrast to being anxious. He says, “don’t be anxious about anything.” That word, it carries the idea of anxious care, of worry in our lives. And listen, Paul doesn’t mean that we should never have concern of any kind for anything…in fact, he uses this same word in another context back in chapter two when he talks about Timothy being concerned for the Philippian church. It’s right for us to have concerns…but listen, they should align with the heart of Christ. Are we concerned about the things He’s concerned about? And that first element of prayer, it’s eliminates any excessive worry we might have in this world…it’s the antidote for worry. It’s why our prayer life is so important. That’s why Paul says, “don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything by,” what? Prayer…let your requests be made known to God.”
So what should you and I being praying for? We should be praying that nothing would tempt us to worry…or anything that might bring us concern and distract us from Jesus and the work He’s doing through us. If you continue with that constant theme of joy that Paul’s been talking about…why’s prayer so important? Because anxiety, it’s a joy killer. It’s robs us of our peace…it distracts us from, it keeps us out of the mission God’s called us to. Your anxiety…it has to be combated by prayer. And listen, you might be sitting there thinking but “Pastor Steven, I have real mental anxiety issues…I can’t control them…I have to have medication and all…I can’t help it.” And listen to me, I understand…I’m not questioning whether your anxiety is real. I know it is…But examine your prayer life…what’s it look like? If it’s strong and you’re still struggling, then let’s talk. But Paul says, prayer, it combats worry and anxiety and it allows us to stand firm…because listen, it keeps us focused on the only One that can do anything about our problems and it causes us to depend on something other than ourselves. I’ve seen first hand God deal with anxiety and depression with prayer. I’ve seen it.
And so, I’ll ask you…what’s your prayer life look like? And listen, not just individually…but what about with your spouse? Your kids? And listen, what about corporately with your church family? When’s the last time you’ve done those things? Because as Paul says, that’s all part of maturity as a believer.
And so, prayer that’s the first practice Paul commands here. The second, it’s controlling our thought life. Look at verse 8 again. Paul says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
I love the balance we see in Paul’s letters. First, he exhorts us to pray (that is, to put things in Jesus’s hands), and then he exhorts us to control the way we think. To control our thought life. This is what psychologists would call self-regulation skill…its the ability to control your thinking, to govern your thoughts. We talked a little bit about this last week and how when we’re focused on the end…on our citizenship…we can’t help but think in godly ways. It impacts the present, the here and now.
But listen, this balance…controlling our thoughts…it’s only possible when we’re in full submission to Christ. You understand what I’m saying? You can’t have one without the other…they go hand-in-hand. When we’re submitting to Jesus…depending on Him, our thoughts, they’ll align with His.
I love D.A. Carson’s comments on this passage…he says, “Think about true things, Paul insists, not about the false; think about noble things, not the base; think about whatever is right, do not dwell on the wrong (listen, what’s this say about the shows we watch on TV or the music we listen to?);He says, “think about whatever is pure, not the sleazy; think about the lovely, not the disgusting; think about the admirable, not the despicable. Whatever is excellent, think about it.”
Guys, Paul’s charging us to govern our thought life…and again…you might be sitting there thinking, “There’s no way I’m changing what I watch on TV…there’s no way I’m changing the music I listen to.” But listen, this is all part of spiritual stability. If your thinking’s not right, your life’s not gonna be stable. If your mind’s always going to the darkest places, to the most worrisome places…if it’s going towards things that are base or vile or forbidden…if your mind’s going towards selfishness and self-centeredness…you’re not going to be stable and fruitful in your Christian life…you’re not going to grow and mature. But if you think about these things…the things Paul lists here, it’ll help you develop this stability in your heart and in your life…it’ll help you stand firm with those in this church family. And so, pray your concerns…control your thought life.
And then real quickly, the third practice he gives us is to put into practice the things that we already know to be right and true. Look at verse 9 again. He says, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is another place where Paul’s telling his reader to follow his example. He’s saying, “We’re to follow the word that we recieved from Paul and all the other apostles…we’re to obey it, we’re to put it into practice…the things we know to be true…we’re to obey what the Scriptures command.” He’s saying, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” We have to put into practice what it is we learn.
Guys, do you realize…if I fail in my job of teaching and explaining Scripture to you each week…it’s a sin? If you walk away and you didn’t learn anything from the messages each week, then I’ve failed? But guys, if you walk away and you don’t apply what it is you learned…if you’re not putting into practice what we’ve talked about? Then that’s flipped to you. You understand what I’m saying? We have to practice what we know to be true and pure. It’s a driving force when it comes to our stability…our ability to stand firm.
Listen to me…there’s some super smart guys and ladies in our church family, right? But simply having a theological understanding of Scripture…just having knowledge isn’t enough…You see, the Spirit of God…if He dwells in you…He’ll take what you heard and He’ll cause you to apply that in your circumstances.
I think it’s pretty easy for us (I certainly think I’m like this, and I think all of us can be like this), when we hear messages or we read books or things on just basic Christian living—(read your Bible, pray, go to church), just basic discipleship—we hear those things, and it’s easy for us to just kind of check out and say, “Yea, I’ve tried that. I’ve tried that, but it’s not really helping me a lot.”
I wonder, really, are we giving time and effort and devotion? Do we really cultivate lives of prayer…do we really govern our thoughts? For most of us…those practices…the things Paul’s talking about here…it stops at prayer and because of that…we can’t control our thinking and we certainly can’t practice what we know to be true. And listen, I’m not being mean…I’m an analytical guy…I like spreadsheets and facts…it’s why I went back to get my doctorate…I like research. And listen, the facts…they say we’re not a praying church…we’re not a praying people. And if we’re gonna be able stand firm…that’s the first area we’re gonna have to fix.
Guys, part of spiritual stability, its to develop these patterns…these practices in our lives and in our church…that’s the second point Paul makes here. It’s how we stand firm…when we’re united in our attitude and in our practices…we can stand firm.

3.) The Peace We Receive (v. 9)

And listen, when we have the right attitude and when we come together in those practices…there’s something God gives us…It’s a promise that’s attached to obedience…it’s the peace that God gives…the peace that God promises to His people. And we see that in two places here…once in verse 7 and once in verse 9.
First Paul says in verse 7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Its attached to the command to not be anxious, right?
And look how this peace is described. Paul says, “the peace which surpasses all understanding.” Its not a peace that we’re capable of understanding. It’s not merely rational. This isn’t something you can make sense of. It’s an experience of peace that transcends our circumstances. There’s no explanation for this peace except that God provides it.
J. A. Motyer, he says in his commentary, “Our lives will be touched with a mark of the supernatural, something that passes all understanding (v 7). The meaning here is not of something mysterious and incomprehensible in its own right, but of something which man cannot explain or explain away; something which runs beyond the range of human comprehension.”
It’s a supernatural peace that’s unnatural, it floods the heart, it drowns out worry. When we pray…God may not change our circumstances, but he certainly changes our heart. It’s a peace that guards the heart and mind as Paul says. That word “guard,” its a military term that describes a soldier who watches over a prisoner. When Paul was writing this, he was being guarded by roman soldiers, right? But he was at peace regardless of his circumstances because God was guarding his heart so that anxiety and fear wouldn’t enter it.
Listen, I’m sure if we just shared some of the things God’s pulled us through…I’m sure there’s several of us that’s experienced this…that when you’re going through difficult times…when you’re stressed…or gotten bad news…when you’ve been uncertain about the future…there’s been seasons where you sought Jesus and He gave you this supernatural peace, right? This sense of serenity that sustains you…It makes no sense…you should’ve been a wreck…but God gave you this peace. And it’s grace. It’s grace we receive when we stand firm.
What Paul’s saying here is that if you look to the Lord in prayer, his peace will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. It’s a result of standing firm.
And then look at verse 9. Paul says, “9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” That’s a bonus…an advance…that’s something even more. In verse 7, he says, “The peace of God will guard you,” and now he’s saying, “The God of peace, God Himself, will be with you.” This is more than just the peace of God....its’ the presence of God…the God who brings peace…who Himself comes and who’s with us and grants peace in our lives. The only way that we get peace, its through Jesus Himself. It’s God’s peace that comes to us through Jesus Christ. You understand what Paul’s saying here?
I love the way Charles Spurgeon says it. He says, “Without Christ Jesus, this peace would not exist. Without Christ Jesus, this peace, even where it has existed, cannot be maintained.”
And so, what’s it take? Listen to what he says. “Daily visits from the Savior, continual lookings by the eye of faith to him that bled upon the cross, continual drawings from his ever flowing fountain, make this peace broad and long and enduring. But take Christ Jesus, the channel of our peace, away, and it fades and dies and droops.”


Guys, as we close this morning…let me bring it back to the initial question…what brings you stability in your life? What’s stabilizing you today? What are you fixated on when things get difficult…when your life’s a mess? What gets you back on track in the storm? What’s your North Star? Listen, without Jesus…it’s impossible for peace to exist. It’s impossible for joy to be maintained in your life. It’s like living pay check to pay check…you’re just waiting on the next catastrophic event to happen…where it’ll rob that little bit of happiness you set up for yourself.
Guys, if you know Jesus…if you know the power of the cross…the grace of the gospel…stand firm! Let your attitudes and your practices unify you with your brothers and sisters…let it allow you to stand firm with those of us at FBC. Let us agree in the Lord…let us rejoice in the Lord…let us be gentle with each other, gracious because of the Lord…Let our practice demonstrate to others who we are. Listen to me, how are you standing firm this morning? What does those two things, your attitude and your practice, say about your stance? Are you able to stand firm because Jesus is the stabilizing force in your life?
Listen, as you think about those things…would you bow your head and close your eyes with me this morning?
Going back to last week…because Jesus is your stabilizing force…your stability…does it cause you to constantly think about the end? Do you look forward to the end…when you’ll be made complete entirely in Him? Or guys, is this world robbing you of that joy? Is it causing you to lose your way in these rough waters? Church…my challenge today…its to make sure your heart’s right before you leave this morning. It’s to make sure you’re truly standing firm with us. Guys, examine your attitude…are you choosing to agree in the Lord? Are you truly rejoicing in the Lord? Do you have joy regardless the circumstance? Are you teaching your kids to find joy in Christ? Are you handling every issue inside and outside the church in gentleness and with grace?
What about your practice? What’s your prayer life look like? How are you controlling your thoughts? What measures have you set up in your life to protect your mind? And guys, are you actually practicing the truths you learn from God’s Word? Are you experiencing the peace of God…do you have a real intimate relationship with the God of peace?
And listen, you might be sitting there thinking, “I’m struggling…I’m not walking right…I’m not who Jesus wants me to be…I don’t know how to fix it.” Guys, listen to me…give it to Jesus. Submit to Him. Fixate on Him. Set up measures in your life that’ll protect your mind and your actions. Meet with other brothers or sisters for accountability…get into your Bible…but listen, if that’s you, you need to do something now…because Jesus has so much more for your life…He has so much more for you to accomplish.
Listen, if that’s you…you’re struggling in your walk right now…you’re not growing…your prayer life isn’t good…your Bible intake isn’t good…you’re not as focused on the the things of God as you’d like to be…would you just look up at me? Listen, when our eyes meet…you can put your head back down…no one’s looking around…You say, “That’s me, Pastor! I need prayer.” (Thank you…Thank you!)
What about those that have never turned their life over to Jesus…maybe even now you’re feeling that tug in your heart. Listen to me…when you were still a sinner, Christ died for you…He desired you…He took on your punishment…He bridged the gap between you and God long before you were ever thought of because He loved you even then…Guys, if you’d just repent and believe, you can experience this peace we’re talking about this morning…If you’d just turn from yourself and recognize that Jesus is the Son of God…that Jesus did live a perfect life…that Jesus did die on your behalf…that He did raise from the dead through the power of the Spirit…and that He’s sitting at the right hand of the Father even now…you can experience this salvation…this peace. Is that you?
Listen, in just a moment…here’s what I want you to do…if that’s you…or if you’re one of those people that looked up at me and said, “That’s me, I’m struggling to walk right.” I want you to come and I want you to bow at this altar…I want you seek Christ…I want you to humble yourself and I want you to commit to Him today that you’re gonna stand firm with His church…with His people.
And listen, if you need me…I’m gonna be down front…I’m here to pray…maybe you’re hurting…maybe you’re grieving…maybe you wanna get baptized or you want me to help you seek Jesus in salvation…listen, whatever it is, I’ll be down front for you. And so, you come…you take all the time you need this morning and I’ll close us in just a moment.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more