This week, we look at Philippians 2:19-30 and examine what gospel fellowship does. Gospel fellowship is created by gospel obedience, and it seeks others' interests first, submits to them in service, is sent out for others in ministry, and sacrifices for others.
By using the word "gospel" more times in Philippians than in any other letter, Paul signaled the importance of the word for his statement in Philippians. Paul wants believers to be formed and shaped by the gospel and to work to spread the message of the gospel to others. In Phil. 2:12-18, Paul urges obedience and reveals that obedience does something. Far from being something that is between us and God, gospel obedience is evangelistic, enabling believers to shine like stars in the darkness around them.
In Philippians 2:1-11, to teach the church about proper humility, Paul provides Jesus himself as the example of humility. To people who wanted exaltation, Paul taught that such exaltation comes only after one has walked the way of Christ, a way of humility and obedience that led to a humiliating death on a cross. Selfish ambition and vain conceit have nothing to do with leadership; rather, humility in obedient love will help us all to be like-minded and share in the same Spirit.
In a stunning statement, Paul writes, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27). This statement is so stunning because of what Paul has endured. He's in jail, betrayed by fellow believers, and not sure what his future holds. Yet, he holds out hope in the spiritual development of the Philippian believers. He teaches them (and us) that what happens to us in life--either good or bad--is irrelevant. What matters is how we respond. So he urges a particular way of life--standing firm in the Spirit and striving together with one purpose. This is how we live the gospel.
Paul begins his letter to the Philippians by reminding them that work that was begun in them by God will be finished by God, that they continue to be partners in the gospel with Paul, and that Paul will continue to pray for their spiritual growth. We are gospel-centered when we take these same priorities--continuing in the work that God began in us, partnering together in gospel ministry, and praying for the spiritual growth of others.
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