“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace (Php 1:6-7).”
Advancing the Gospel is Everyone’s Work
As partakers of God’s grace, the church is also partakers of God’s work. The Philippians had all been participating with Paul in the work of spreading the gospel. Even though Paul was arrested and imprisoned, the church was not frightened into hiding. Instead they were motivated to preach without fear. “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear (Php 1:14).”
Paul pointed out that “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel (Php 1:15-17).”
Nonetheless he rejoiced that the gospel was preached. “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice (Php 1:18).”
It is always about the faith of the gospel. Paul took it for granted that it is the work of every Christian to spread the word; not only verbally but also by our manner of life. “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Php 1:27)…”
The Church in the Midst of Errors
The church exists in a world that in many ways can be harmful. The early Christians were attacked for preaching the faith. Judaizers tried to undo Paul’s work by telling the Gentile Christians they must keep the Law of Moses. Many inside the church accepted false teachings. The faith was attacked not only from the outside but the inside as well. The church from the beginning has to contend earnestly for the faith.
Two Important Tasks in Advancing the Gospel
The church must advance the gospel of Christ in a world full of falsehoods and errors. Paul said that Christians are called upon to do two main things: the defence and the confirmation of the gospel. Paul appealed to the church in verse 27 to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
The world is not usually kind to the church. There have always been attacks on the Lord, His gospel and His church. Living in a world like this, no wonder Peter tells us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you (1Pe 3:15).”
Defence and Confirmation
As the world attacks the gospel, we should be able to meet their objections and give our reply. We do so reasonably and with good sense, even though some of the attacks thrown at us may be unkind and unreasonable.
In Acts 17 we have two examples of Paul doing just that. In verse 2 we read, “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures (Act 17:2).”
Paul would go to the synagogues first wherever he traveled to seek out the Jews and discuss the Scriptures with them. The Jews believed the Scriptures although they did not understand about the promised Christ. He preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God, and proving that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ.
In the second example in Acts 17, we see Paul speaking with another group of people – Greek philosophers. This time he used a different approach. He did not open the Scriptures to show them passages; they didn’t believe the Scriptures. He reasoned with them using their belief in the unknown God and His general revelation in creation.
In both instances we see Paul using good sense, engaging the naysayers in reasonable discussion instead of trying to shout over their heads.
Defending and confirming the gospel means studying and familiarising ourselves with the Scriptures and with Christian evidences.This obviously requires diligence in study on our part, but the Lord expects no less from us. And we will do no less if we are to be approved unto Him.
Manner of Life Worthy of the Gospel
Another way of confirming the power of the gospel is by our lives and daily living. Our manner of life is an indispensable part of taking the gospel to the lost. Let the world see the power of the gospel to save and change lives. Again, Paul said in v.27: “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ…”
It is so important that our manner of life is worthy of the gospel of Christ. Actions often speak louder than words. And when our words and actions harmonise, we can be better workers for the Lord.