Live as Citizens of Heaven (Philippians 1:27-30)
Topic: Philippians Scripture: Philippians 1:27–1:30
First Scripture Reading: Exodus 20:1-17; Romans 13:8-10
Second Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:1-25
Sermon Text: Philippians 1:27-30
In Philippians 1:19-26, the Apostle Paul demonstrated a biblical view of life and death. He wrote in v. 21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul’s persecutors believed that by taking his life, they would be taking away what was most precious to him. For Paul, however, Christ was most precious to him, and he knew that he had Christ in his life and would have him even more fully in his death. For Paul, death was “gain” and “far better.” Now in verses 27-30, Paul calls the Philippians to live with this same level of trust in Christ. Paul, in a sense, is modeling the kind of trust in Christ that he wants the Philippians to demonstrate in their own faith and conduct. He wants them to understand that even their suffering is a gift from God. Sinclair Ferguson explains:
Of course you suffer. But your suffering is part of God’s providence in your life; he is working out his purpose through it. For in his plan, suffering leads to glory and helps to create it (Romans 8:17). Suffering is the friction which polishes our graces. Without it we would be poorer as reflectors of the image of his Son.
1. For review, read Philippians 1:19-26. What two things does Paul point to in v. 19 as sources of strength in times of difficulty? What is Paul’s view of life and death? Can you say the same?
2. Read Philippians 1:27. What does it mean to live as citizens of heaven, conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? How does our heavenly citizenship relate to our earthly allegiance to our country?
3. How can we as a church stand firm in one spirit, and with one mind strive side by side for the faith of the gospel? What causes such unity? Read Ephesians 4:1-16. According to this passage, how does doctrine affect our unity? How is our unity affected by our conduct?
4. According to Philippians 1:29, both faith and suffering are gifts or privileges from the Lord. How can suffering be a benefit to us as Christians? Read and consider Romans 5:1-5 as you formulate your answer.
5. Read Philippians 1:30. What comfort do you find in knowing that you are not alone in your suffering and that there are others in our church who are experiencing the same things as you? Is this simply the idea that “misery loves company” or is there something more to it? (Hint: There is something more to it!)
6. In preparation for next week, read Philippians 2:1-11. What do you think is the connection between verses 1-4 and 5-11? What do you think is the connection between Christ’s humiliation and his exaltation?