A Call for Christian Unity

Theology of Christian Living  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  45:24
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A Call for Christian Unity

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Text: Philippians 1:28-2:2
Philippians 1:28–2:2 KJV 1900
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. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me. If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Proposition: God wants us to have unity.

But, how can we have unity in a Church? With a change or our attitude.
The Big Idea: God wants us to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by being consistent in our Christian Living in spite of our circumstances, by coming together in unity with humility and unselfishness.
In the previous message, we learned about living as citizens of heaven by living worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The text also gives us a call to live in one spirit and in one accord, striving together for the faith of the Gospel.
The point of verses 21 and following in Philippians is basically a call for us to live our lives in oneness for the advancement of the gospel. But this advancement of the gospel would not take place in the way it should if there is no unity in the church.
Paul said in verses 3-5 of chapter 1, that he was always praying for them with “joy” because of their partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
However, we learned that the Philippian believers might be facing persecution (1:28). This may have caused some discouragement, and disunity within the Church. Therefore, this call for unity.
He begins this section on unity, really from verse 27 and following. The text in verse 27 calls them to live worthy of the gospel of Christ because they are citizens of heaven.
Therefore, there is an obligation. However, the purpose of this call is that Paul would hear that they would stand firm in one spirit, in one accord, “striving together” for the faith of the gospel.
And so, we see the “reason for the calling” in verse 27 clearly.
Paul then continues to call on the unity of the Church. We, as a Church, should understand that we share a commonality in Christ and must contribute to one another’s well-being, and spiritual growth!
If one another is not supposed to take care of another in the Church, how can a Church be strong? If there is no unity in a Church, how can that Church stand in times of trials and persecution?
The text clearly tells us about persecution as well (v. 28). In a situation like this, we must all unite and continue to live a life worthy of our calling – we must continue to live for Christ and for His glory no matter the circumstances in our lives!
In order for the advancement of the gospel, Paul also calls on the Philippi believers to stand in one spirit and in one mind. This is a distinguishing mark of a believer.
We must understand that we do not have an “earthly calling,” but a “heavenly calling.” Therefore, we must live heaven-focused, God-focused, and God-glorying lives!
We must understand that our lives on this earth are so temporal. We are like Abraham, the sojourner. This is not our place, our land, our world. Why? Because, the calling of God is heavenly, and therefore, we are to live as citizens of heaven.
Our city is not built with human hands but built by God!
Look at Heb. 11:9-10
Hebrews 11:9–10 KJV 1900
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
With this in mind, Paul encourages them and us to live in one spirit and in one mind –unity.
We cannot face persecution without unity.
However, the Word of God tells us not to be concerned about persecution as much.

The Purpose of the Calling

Look with me at Phil. 1:28-30
Philippians 1:28–30 KJV 1900
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. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
The purpose of this calling is to “suffer for Christ’s sake” (v. 29).
Suffering is part of the Christian calling. Not that God rejoices in our suffering, but because the world hates God and therefore we are hated. Because we are hated by the world, we face persecution.
However, the text tells us not to be terrified about our adversaries.
These adversaries are anyone that hates God and us; anyone that persecutes us.
In the Philippians’ time, the persecution might have come from the Judaizers or the Roman world. It doesn’t matter. The point is, that this persecution is an “evident token” of destruction for the persecutors, but salvation to the people of God.
As one writer says, it may be that “the meaning seems to be this: the conflict the Philippians are experiencing should be understood as a reminder that they are but a part in the greater conflict between God and the prince of darkness—and if God is with them, who can be against them.”
Verse 29 gives an interesting explanation for the suffering.
The word “for” is important.
The text says, don’t think there is no point in this suffering. What you are going through might be discouraging, but you should not let the persecution threaten you; the persecution is God’s way of saving you – the suffering is God’s gift for his people.
The eyes of the world might be closed to the purpose of our suffering, and the world might mock and continue to suffer us, but the purpose of all this will be realized one day because these afflictions will not be purposeless – they are manifesting God’s glory in and through us.
So, what is this to you and me?
God wants us to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by being consistent in our Christian Living in spite of our circumstances. Why? Because this is the sign of His salvation.
What we can learn from this passage is about Christian living. We must leave our old life and live on with our new life, standing firm in God, striving together as Christians in one accord and one mind, in unity, for the glory of God.
With unity, it will be easier to avoid difficulties and afflictions. But the Church must come together as one so the Church can encourage one another and uplift one another in suffering for the Glory of God.
As strange as it may sound, the suffering is inevitable. Christians will suffer; the true believers will suffer because Christ, our wonderful example, Lord and Savior had suffered for our sake.
He not only suffered but taught His disciples that they would suffer for His Name’s sake. Jesus Christ also taught us to take up His cross and follow.
These are not simple statements or simple tasks.
However, Paul encourages them to be strong and to take suffering in the right way. He clearly says in verse 28 that they ought not to be frightened by their opponents – those suffering. This suffering of yours for them is a sign of destruction, but for you, this is from God. Suffering is from God.
One writer says, “Paul’s attitude toward Christian suffering is altogether theological and Christocentric at its core.”
Christ suffered for us, and so we should suffer for Him. Christ died on our behalf, and so we must live for Christ in this fallen world through suffering for the advancement of the Gospel.
But Paul did not stop there. He continues by explaining that they both are going through the same struggle.
Now, by saying this, Paul moves into chapter 2:1-4.
This is basically a continual thought of the call for unity that began in 1:27.
Philippians 2:1–4 KJV 1900
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

A Call for Unity

Paul finished talking about the suffering of the saints at Philippi and gave them a reason why they were going through the suffering – the Christocentric reason. They are called to stand firm in one mind and one accord (unity), contending to advance the Gospel.
With this call for unity, we see the basis for the call (2:1)

The Basis for the Call (2:1)

Look with me at Phil. 2:1
Philippians 2:1 KJV 1900
If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
The first thing we must notice is the term “therefore.” This conjunction is used for the first time in the letter. This tells us that Paul is linking the following statements he is making with the previous ones.
So here, it is used in a “resumptive” manner, meaning that he is picking up where he left off previously. Now, we must also notice that this is a theological appeal.
Paul talked about what God has done for them; their suffering is not without purpose or reason.
In the first verse, Paul uses conditional clauses to make his point. These conditional clauses are not causing us or them any doubt – as if there is “no” comfort or encouragement in Christ.
It is assumed that they have the experience already. He is not causing any confusion by these statements but only affirming them.
These are affirming statements because these Philippians experienced them.
Why is Paul making these statements? Despite your suffering, in the midst of your struggle, there is also encouragement in Christ; there is comfort of love. Paul and the believers of Philippi are the recipients of God’s love and encouragement in Christ in the midst of their sufferings.
If there is any fellowship of the Spirit.” – With this statement, Paul now ties 1:27 to 2:1. He returns to the “one spirit” phrase, in whom they were to stand as one and contend for the furtherance of the Gospel.
Spirit unites us all. Spirit brings us all together. Spirit places us all in Christ and as ONE body (Do you sense the call for unity?). The Spirit not only puts us in Christ and the body of Christ but also causes us to unite as one.
He also appeals to the last part of verse 1 – “if any bowels and mercies.” This refers to sympathy. If all these are true, then “fulfill my joy” (v. 2).
Philippians 4:2 KJV 1900
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
Why is this imperative? This is, in fact, the only verb in this whole passage of 1-4 verses. What does he mean by “fulfill my joy?” This, in fact, sounds self-centered. Why would anyone want to make Paul joyful?
If we think that Paul sounds self-serving, then we are thinking in the wrong way. The whole point of Paul uttering these words is not for selfish reasons. What we must see here is Paul’s heart toward the believers that he ministered to and led to the Lord.
We should also see a pastoral heart in these words. If the Church is growing in God’s Word and maturity, if Church is standing firm in the Lord no matter what the circumstances are, what else would a pastor need? That ought to bring him joy in the Lord.
In Chapter 1 verse 4, Paul said, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” He now urges them to complete that joy by adjusting their behavior, attitudes, and lifestyle, and understanding why they (including Paul) suffer for the advancement of the Gospel.
How are they and us to fulfill this joy? By being likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. What is he saying here? One writer says:
Paul is concerned about what they think because he assumes that their right thinking will affect their living. He also assumes that their thinking is done in the community.
One cannot “think the same thing” in isolation from others. He does not impose on them an obligation to agree on everything but wants them to be intent on one purpose, to have the same priorities.
Unity depends on a distinct mindset. When we have the right mind (one mind) then we will all work towards unity. This is important for a Church to survive this temporal world.
Will you and I commit towards unity for the furtherance of the Gospel?
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