Written by Thomas Kilian, Chaplain
Many, especially those still young in the faith, believe they can never know if they are worthy of the Christian life until in Heaven when we are told or not, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”They believe that receiving heaven is having proof of sainthood and will seal the deal — lock in — the benefits and title of the SAINT. However, our proof is our reception of the Holy Spirit as Baptism, our seal and the promise of an eternal union with Christ (Ephesians 1). The Holy Spirit is the one who testifies (Ephesians 4:30; 1 John 5:6). It is true that once you are made worthy of heaven, we can choose to be unworthy... falling away from the faith. And it is this very truth that shows us there is a life we ought to live to be worthy of the KINGDOM of HEAVEN.
Remember. Christ makes us worthy from the START. And it is so liberating to know that we are told to live or persevere as worthy. That, in fact, the way we live today, makes us CONTINUALLY worthy of our call to be citizens of heaven. You have assurance in your ETERNAL seat with Christ. If you share in Christ’s life, you are favored and gifted with eternal promises. But to live in the worth of Christ’s life — His benefits — we must continue in — LIVE — by FAITH. AND faith is more than a belief. FAITH as a Christian means we have trust in God’s promises as citizens of God’s Country. Right now, right here, you live by and stand in His spiritual promises.THIS IS WHAT Apostle Paul discusses with the church of those in Philippians. Paul is going to tell them — and us too — how we are worthy and how we must live worthy.
Philippians 1:27-30 (NIV) —
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.
We may outline several points that guide us through this passage about one’s worthiness of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth and in heaven.
V. 27a — We are worthy when we live as citizens. Paul says, “Whatever happens, ensure that your everyday life is worthy of the Gospel of Christ. Translations of the Greek write: “Live as a citizen.”As citizens, we do the things citizens do, following the rule of the land. I see many take pride in being good citizens of their nation. Many of us say I vote, pay taxes, celebrate Independence Day, I help my neighbor, and obey the traffic laws. So, I’m a good citizen because I follow the values and rules of the land.
In our text, Paul informs us to be a citizen of heaven. There is no dual citizenship in the spiritual realms. In fact, you can lose citizenship in the world if you commit treason; it is the same of the kingdom of Heaven (e.i., to crucify Christ again and to blaspheme the Holy Spirit [Hebrews 6:6; Matthew 22:32]).
So, the question Paul creates for us at the beginning is: How are we to act as citizens since we are one? For the rest of the passage, he works to answer our question.
V. 27b — We live worthy whether seen or unseen. Paul says, “So, whether I come and see you or merely hear about you from a distance, I may know that you are standing fast in the faith.”
The first temptation of the Christian life is to live a Christ-like life in public and secular life in private. Now, we have heard this truth before. Nothing new to us. But do we know we are acceptable to this sin? Even if we think we are fully living the Christian life, do you believe there is still the danger of not violating that way of life? We must be diligent in using God’s Word as a mirror.
V. 27b — We live worthy when we struggle together in truth.
Reading Paul, this means: “We are to battle with a single mind for the faith of the Gospel, and not caring two straws for your enemies hatred.”
We have heard how a divided house cannot stand. This is true. It is also true of the battlefield. An army divided cannot overthrow the enemy. Having two sides, each siding with one battle tactic over another, you have a split army, which is no army at all. But why are we talking about war at all?
Struggling is the basic reality of human life. It is so common and impossible to rid ourselves of pain or explain it away. Pain is life. So the question is if pain is all we have and struggle is all we got, what do we get to hold onto as Christians? Answer: LOVE and TRUTH. As Christians, that is all we have and must have. Or there is no hope. Without it, we struggle against our Christian brother and commit treason against the Body of Christ.
The idea is to struggle for love and truth. Paul informs us of the need for one mind for how we fight and how we live as Christians: By the Faith. We must not be divided on Bible things; where there is liberty, we must not make a law out of our opinion but have grace towards all.If we do not surrender to ONE FAITH, ONE BIBLE, ONE GOD, ONE BAPTISM, and ONE BODY, we will fight alone and be fighting against our brothers. The remedy of fighting against one another is speaking truth to one another; we make God’s truth our truth—the reality of us and one another—recognizing the truth of the spiritual identity of the brother that stands before you—a citizen of God’s Kingdom. It is hard to be against one who is on your team!
Paul explains in the passage: “Focus on what you are doing in the household of faith, not caring two straws for your enemy's hatred."
V. 28a — We live worthy when we remember our destination.
There are two distinctions in factual reality. Both are accessible only at death. As Christians, our distinction is Heaven. But the wicked — and satan himself with his minions — arrive in Hell.
Often a tactic of satan is to remind you of your past. Shame is something Christ died to rid you of.
Without guilt, and where innocence is, there ought to be no shame. To feel otherwise is to fall into the temptation of depending on ourselves to render a worthy identity.
To defend ourselves against such temptation, we remember where we are going and remind satan of his destination.
V. 30 — We live in a continual struggle if made worthy.
I appreciate the NIV’s translation of this Philippians passage... “For it has been GRANTED to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him but also to suffer for him...”
GOD HAS GIFTED YOU IN CHRIST'S FAITH BUT ALSO PAIN. God has wrapped His gift to you and me with a big bow and presented it to you—the gift of faith AND pain!
Paul says to us, “Join me in pain!” (See 2 Corinthians 11:16-33).
It is not only the Christian life that has pain, but the Christian life requires pain, and specifically, an intense struggle against the fleshly way of responding to pain.
God’s people have always struggled in faith. Jacob wrestles with God in Genesis (Genesis 32:22-32).
Pain is only a blessing when we suffer in truth and love—suffer in Christ. To suffer and feel pain for the Christian is but an invitation to join Him in the kinds of ways Christ suffered while on earth.
PAIN IS A COMPASS TO POINT US TOWARD CHRIST JESUS.
MAIN THOUGHT: To live worthy of the Faith is to struggle in truth and love, regardless of situation or place.
You are given in this struggle called the Christian life the privilege of believing in Christ and suffering for His sake. Each moment should be approached as a way for us to be more attentive to Christ’s experience as a human and what He desires to speak to us through it. Without sharing the mundane experiences with Christ, too, I fear that we will slip into a kind of double life, where our sacred Christ is only met on Sundays or in Bible Study