Recap Notes: July 16, 2017
Teacher: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "How to Stand When They Want You to Fall"
Text: Philippians 1:27-30Path
The truth is, we're surrounded and outnumbered! The vast majority of people we encounter in life don't share our values nor worship our God. The difficulty of the Christian life is that we're called to stand up for Christ when the rest of the world wants us to sit down or fall flat. They would much rather we keep our mouths shut and conform to their
standards. Pastor Skip considered four spiritual qualities that will help us in the fight to stand strong in our faith:
- Consistency (v. 27a)
- Unity (v. 27b)
- Bravery (v. 28)
- Agony (vv. 29-30)
- In the first part of Philippians, the apostle Paul addressed the church as saints, then as servants. In this section, he addressed them as soldiers. Paul understood that the Christian life is not a playground, but a battleground.
- "Only let your conduct be worthy" (v. 27a). Conduct is Paul's main topic. The Greek word for conduct (politeuomai) is where we get the words politic, police, etc. It is a verb that carries the idea of being a good citizen.
- Worthy (in Greek, axiós) means to balance the scales. A person is worthy of honor because their beliefs are balanced out by their actions.
- Christians must be consistent in our conduct; we must not live beneath our theology.
- The greatest weapon against the Devil is a godly, consistent life. Our lives should be filled with evidence of the gospel: love, forgiveness, hope, and all the qualities of godly living.
- Probe: Discuss areas in your life where you need more consistency. What steps will you take to live a more consistent life?
- Paul urged the Philippians to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together" (v. 27b). Stand fast is soldier talk: it carries the meaning of staying at your post while under attack. Striving together is an athletic term: it highlights the church working together as a team, a unified approach.
- Unity does not mean unanimity (everyone thinks alike) or uniformity (everyone acts alike). Unity means harmony, people working together and cooperating over essentials.
- As a saying in the medieval church went, "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity."
- Probe: In Ephesians 4:3, Paul said, "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit" (NIV). How are we to keep unity in the body of Christ? What does it mean to "make every effort"?
- Verse 28 can be translated as "don't be intimidated by your enemies." We must not let unbelievers scare us into silence or inaction because fearful people can be controlled, manipulated, overwhelmed, and shut down.
- Christians are called to be brave nonconformists, to stand out like a diamond against a dark backdrop.
- Don't shrink from the world. Stand and make a difference. Jesus said, "Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves" (Matthew 10:16). Too often, we flip it around. If you bow before God, you will be able to stand before men.
- Probe: Read Joshua 1:7, 23:6, and 2 Chronicles 32:7-8. What characterizes a life of Christian courage? Share stories about individuals that you feel were brave.
PracticeConnect Up: How does Christ's work on the cross bring together the four qualities discussed in the teaching: consistency, unity, bravery, and agony? Discuss each characteristic as it relates to Jesus.
- "It has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me" (vv. 29-30). The first part of these verses (believe) guarantees the second part (suffer). If we believe in Christ, we will suffer for Christ. Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation" (John 16:33).
- Conflict is a strong word, meaning agony. It's the same word used to describe what Jesus felt in Gethsemane.
- Suffering is granted; it is a gift from God. Suffering will make us strong (see Romans 5:3-5).
- Suffering makes us long for heaven, increases patience, and helps us relate to others who are suffering.
- Probe: Helen Keller said, "We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world." How do agony, suffering, and persecution bring joy to the Christian? How does Jesus' triumph over death and the world (see John 16:33), giving you courage to stand fast in the face of agony?
Connect In: Paul wrote to the Galatian church, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2). How should the body of Christ bear one another's burdens in times of trial and tribulation? How can we be brave and consistent in the midst of persecution, especially since the worst of it happens elsewhere in the world?
Connect Out: Throughout history, the persecution of Christians has led many nonbelievers to Christ. One is the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs, Richard Wurmbrand. Recalling his time in a communist prison, Wurmbrand said, "It was strictly forbidden to preach to other prisoners. It was understood that whoever was caught doing this received a severe beating. A number of us decided to pay the price for the privilege of preaching, so we accepted [the communists'] terms. It was a deal; we preached and they beat us. We were happy preaching. They were happy beating us, so everyone was happy." How can enduring persecution be a witness to an unbelieving world?