ďRoyal Children, Royal MannersĒ†† Philippians 1:27-30††† September 26, 2010

 

SI:Weíre studying Paulís letter to his favorite churchóthe Philippian church.

Our reading today, marks a new section the letter.

†† Up to this point Paul has basically been catching up with them.

†† Itís been homey and comfortable.

 

Heís told this church he loves about his situation, his imprisonment,

†† and for them not to worry about him, because heís at peace,

†† and the Gospel is being advanced in spite of his chains.

 

But in verse 27 he switches gears and begins to exhort them.

†† He starts to tell them the things he wants them to know and do.

 

And he starts by saying, ďWhatever happens.Ē

Thatís the way the NIV translates a single Greek word.Word is ďmonos.Ē

†† ďMonosĒ has the sense of only, mainly, the main thing, the one thing,

†† no matter what, let me get right to the point.

Itís hard to capture in English.

 

But Paul is signaling with this wordó

The next thing I am going to say is the main point of this letter.††

†† If you donít get anything else from it, get this.

 

What is it?Whatís so important to Paul?Letís see.

 


 

INTRO:A chaplain to the British royal family was leaving Buckingham

†† Palace one afternoon.And as he was walking across the courtyard,

†† a door opened and out came the Queen Mother with her daughtersó

†† the two little princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

They were on their way to a party and a car and driver was waiting to take them.

†† As the chaplain walked closer, he saw the Queen Mother lean forward

†† as if to give her little girls some final instructions.

And just before the car door was closed, he heard the Queen say to them:

†† ďRoyal children, royal manners.Ē

 

You understand, of course, what she meant by those words.

She was saying:Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of your title and position.

†† You girls are royal children.Thatís who you are.Thatís your identity.

†† Now, at this party, you must display royal manners.

You must be the most gracious, the most polite of all of the girls at the party.

You will not be pulled into petty disputes.Answer everyone kindly.

†† Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of your title and position.

†† Royal children, royal manners.

 

Paul says something similar to the Philippian Christians.

†† ďWhatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.Ē

Now that tells us something tremendously important.

 

It tells us that the Gospel is not just for getting saved.

†† Thatís what a lot of Christians think.The Gospel is just a message for salvation.

†† Itís just a message to unbelievers, for them to believe and get into kingdom.

And once you believe the Gospel and get in, then you move on to other things.

†† But Paul says, You never move on from the Gospel.

†† The Gospel is the one great rule of the Christian life.

Itís not just the way you get into the Kingdomó

†† itís the way you live and make progress in the Kingdom.

 

I love the way Jack Miller presented the Gospel.

†† Tim Keller was a student of Jack Millerís at Westminster Seminary.

†† And Iíve gotten this from Tim Keller and shared it with you many times.

ďThe Gospel is that I am more wicked and sinful than I ever dared to admit.And at

†† the same time, I am more loved and accepted in Christ than I ever dared to hope.Ē

 

Thatís the Gospel.It starts with my utter sinfulness.

Lots of people like to say:

†† ďI may have done some bad things, but deep down Iím a good person.Ē

The Gospel says, All your righteousness acts like filthy rags.

†† It says there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.

†† You are by nature dead in sin, an object of wrath.

 

The Gospel starts by knocking out every single prop of self-righteousness and pride.

†† It forces you see you are more sinful and wicked than you ever dared to admit.

†† It makes you honest with yourself for the very first time in your life.

†† It reveals with piercing clarity that God owes you nothing but judgment.

 

And then, it lifts you up to heaven.The Gospel points you to Jesus Christ.

Here is the perfect man.Here is the man who loved God with all his heart.

†† Hereís the man who was obedient unto death, even the death on a cross.

†† The perfect Son of God, given by a loving God, to be your substitute.

 

That means when you trust him, his life becomes your life and his death your death.

†† So when God the Father looks at you he doesnít see your sin and sinfulnessó

†† he sees you clothed in the perfect righteousness of Christ.

You are completely loved and accepted in him.

 

Now, Paul says to the Philippians:

The Gospel must become the defining principle of your life,

††† and the pattern for your daily living.

You must live your life in the daily reality of your forgiven sin

†† and the finished work of Christ on your behalf.

You must live as one who knows he is a great sinner and greatly loved.

 

Do you do that?Letís see how.

†† Three ways you live a life worthy of the Gospel.

†† Iíll give them to you as we go.


 

MP#1You must contend for the faith of the Gospel.

Paul says that he hopes he can come and see them one day,

†† but even if he canít he hopes that he hears that they are

†† ďcontending as one man for the faith of the Gospel.Ē

Thatís a peculiar phrase, ďthe faith of the Gospel.ĒWhat does it mean?

 

Whenever the New Testament uses the phrase ďthe faithĒ it means doctrine.

†† To be true to the faith, contend for the faith, means to hold to and defend

†† the doctrines of New Testament Christianity.

So when Paul says:Contend for the faith of the Gospel, heís affirming

†† that there is doctrinal content to the Gospel.There is a logic to it.

†† And if you are going to live a life worthy of the Gospel,

†† you must know it and hold to it and defend it.

 

So what exactly is the faith of the Gospel?

†† What is the Gospel doctrine that we contend for?

Itís this:We are saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.

†† Itís all Jesus.Itís all Godís grace.

Our standing with God does not rest on our merits, not even a little bit,

†† but on the life and death of Christ alone.And thatís where we contend.

 

There is no way to be a little off when it comes to the Gospel.

†† Itís either all Jesus and all Godís grace, or itís not

If someone says that even a tiny part of our standing with God is determined

†† by our merits, then you donít have salvation by grace.

You know what you have instead?

†† You have a self-help program for getting right and staying right with God.

†† If anything comes between Christ and believeróthen you donít have the Gospel.

 

What does the word ďGospelĒ mean?It means good news.

Any program for getting right with God is not good news.

†† Itís not good news to be told:This is what you have to do.

†† The good news is:This is what God has done for you in Christ.

 

If you love God enough, then he will love you back.Thatís not good news.

God loved you first, and because he loves you, you are enabled to love him.

†† Thatís good news!

If youíre a good person, then God will accept you and bless you.

†† Thatís not good news.It puts you on performance treadmill with God.

The good news is that you are able to be a good person

†† because you are already accepted by God.Strive to be good out of gratitude.

 

You have to repent or God will reject you and youíll fall from grace.

†† Thatís not good news.It motivates by pure fear.

The good news is that you have to repent because God wonít reject you,

†† and you canít fall from grace.You have to repent because how can

†† you grieve the person who at infinite cost saved you from your sins?

 

Jesus Christ alone.His perfect life alone, credited to us by faith.

†† His shameful death alone the payment for our sins, received by faith.

†† No additions.No programs.No merit of our own.

Thatís good news.And thatís what Paul says we are to contend for.

 

A number of years ago a preacher friend of mine was on his way to Birmingham

†† and he swung by our house to say hi.We were standing in the driveway talking

†† when one of my neighbors walked overóa young man with drug problems.

I introduced them and asked:John, how are you doing?

†† He said:I tell you what.I must be living right, because all sorts of good things

†† are happening to me.I must be right with God because he sure is blessing me.

And I said:Well, thatís great, John.And he walked away.

 

Then my preacher friend turned to me and said:I canít believe you just did that.

†† I canít believe you didnít challenge his works righteousness and point to Christ.

†† I said:Well, why didnít you say something?He said:Heís your neighbor!

That stung, because he was right.

†† From that point on I didnít let any of those statements go unchallenged.

†† Took every opportunity to point him to Godís grace.

 

Interesting follow-up story.When David Edwards was a member of our church,

†† before he and Debbie moved away, he found out that I knew this neighbor.

Told me they had taken drugs together in high school, and he hadnít seen him since.

†† David insisted that the three of us have lunch together.

Still remember what David told him.

†† The reason we parted ways, is because I got off drugs after high school and never

†† went back to them.But what I want you to know is that getting off drugs did not

†† make me right with God.If I had died then, I would have gone to hell.

Iím not here to tell you to get off drugs, Iím here to tell you to trust Christ.

†† His Gospel logic was airtight.Grace alone.Christ alone.Faith alone.

Are you contending for the faith of the Gospel?

When you hear the doctrine of grace and the righteousness of Christ contradicted

†† by the everyday, self-righteous, self-salvation programs that people espouseó

†† do you, with all gentleness say:Let me tell you about Jesus and grace?

You must.Thatís a life worthy of the Gospel.The life Christ calls you to lead.

†† Brings us to the second point.

 

MP#2You must work out the implications of the Gospel.

As I said a moment ago, the Gospel is not just for getting savedó

†† itís for living the Christian life every step of the way.

That means you spend a lifetime working out the implications of the Gospel.

†† Figuring out what it means to live completely by the grace of God

†† and the finished work of Christ.Asking yourself what difference Gospel makes.

Tim Keller:ďAll our problems come from a lack of orientation to the Gospel.Put positively, the Gospel transforms our hearts, our thinking, and our approach to absolutely everything.Ē

 

Here Paul applies the Gospel to the most perplexing thing in lifeósuffering.

After calling them to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel he says:

†† ďFor it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ,

†† not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.

How does the Gospel change the way we respond to suffering?

 

Most people respond to suffering with anger or despondency.

Some people get angry when they suffer, and over time, become bitter.

†† They are angry because they think they arenít getting the life they deserve.

†† God, I donít deserve this suffering.I deserve a better life.

Iíve done my best to live according to your standards and now you owe me.

 

Some people donít get angry, they become despondent.

All the negativity is focused on themselves.And why is that?

†† Because they think the reason they are suffering is because theyíve failed.

†† Iím suffering because I havenít lived up to Godís rules.

If only I had, then God would have given me a better life.

 

So some people are mad at God when they suffer,

†† because theyíve lived right and God hasnít given them what they want.

And other people are mad at themselves,

†† because theyíve failed and they are getting what they deserve.

Thereís no grace in either response.Itís all up to me.

The Gospel gives you a totally different way of thinking.

The Gospel humbles you out of being angry at God.

†† Jesus was the best person who ever lived, but he suffered terribly..

†† That demolishes the idea that good people automatically get good lives.

The Gospel also affirms you out of your despondency over your failures.

†† Jesus suffered for you while you were a sinner.

And that punishment was so great that it made the holy Son of God

†† sweat drops of blood in the Garden and cry in agony on the cross.

†† So your suffering cannot be tit for tat punishment for your sins.

 

Paul says that suffering is a sign to some that they will be destroyed,

†† but to you, to you who trust Christ, suffering is a sign you will be saved.

Apart from Godís grace, suffering is just an appetizer for helló

†† the anger and bitterness and despondency will consume you apart from God.

But in Christ, suffering is redemptive.Itís a sign of your salvation.

†† You know itís a sign of your salvation because it drives you to Christ,

†† it makes you long for him and his deliverance.

When you start to realize that, then it humbles and strengthens you.

 

I want to be very gentle here, because I know some of you are suffering.

When suffering goes on for a long time, can be worn down in body and emotions.

†† But the Lord knows that.He knows the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

†† As the Psalmist says, He knows how we are formed, remembers we are dust.

Even when you respond in weakness, that doesnít change his grace.

 

Hold on to the Gospel.Work it out in every area.Weíve mentioned suffering.What about criticism?

†† Does your self-image and sense of personal worth rise and fall based on the words

†† and judgments of the people who matter?Work out the Gospel.

You have the righteousness of Christ.When God looks at you, he sees his Son.

†† That makes you bold and humble, enables you to handle criticism.

 

What about your home?

†† Parents, how do you motivate your children?Do you use fear, guilt or shame?

†† Or do you motivate them by grace and the Gospel?

That might control their behavior, but you are teaching your children

†† to trust in their works to earn approval, forgiveness and reward.

You must guide their feet to walk in line with the Gospel.

 

The Gospel changes everything.A life worthy of the Gospel is a life

†† that thinks through the implications of grace, and seeks to live it out in every area.

But where do you get the strength to do that?Brings us to the last point.

 

MP#3You must be crushed by the glory of the Gospel.

I want to take us back to Paulís first words.

†† ďWhatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.Ē

Paul uses this way of speaking frequently in his letters.

†† Ephesians 4: ďI urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.Ē

†† Colossians 1:ďWe pray that you might live a life worthy of the Lord.Ē

†† 1 Thess 2:ďWe urge you to live lives worthy of the God who calls you into his kingdom.

Worthy of the Gospel, worthy of your calling worthy of the Lord, worthy of God.

 

What does Paul mean by worthy?What is conduct in a manner worthy?

By worthy Paul means befitting the Gospel.Becoming of the Gospel.

†† A manner, a way of life, equal to the glory of the grace of God in Christ.

Think of a scale or a balance.Here on one side is the grace of God in Christ.

†† And eternal love of God and the suffering and death of Jesus Christó

†† Grace freely given through the blood of the perfect Lamb of God.

And here on the other side of that balance is the conduct of your life.

 

And when you think of that, what happens?The weight of glory crushes you.

†† And you cry out, Why me?Why did God save me?

Appreciation is such a wimpy word.

†† Itís a wonder and gratitude that is almost painful.

†† Itís like Isaiah crying out Woe is me, I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips.

†† And then the angel taking a glowing coal from the altar and purifying his lips.

You see Paul often doing this in his letters.

†† I am the chief of sinners, but I am the one for whom Christ died.

†† He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all.

 

Let the weight of that, the awful cost God paid for you and me,

†† let that glory of grace crush you and fill you with gratitude and worshipó

†† and that alone will empower you to live a life worthy.

 

There was a movie that came out about 10 years agoóSaving Private Ryan.

†† Maybe you remember it.There is a family named Ryan with four sons.

The father is dead and all four boys go off to fight in WWII, leaving mother alone.

†† War Department discovers three of four have been killed in action.

So they send a Captain Miller, played by Tom Hanks to find the last

†† surviving son and bring him home, so his mother will have one child left.

So Captain Miller puts together a unit of volunteers and they go off to search

†† for Private Ryan.As they cross the battlefields, going from unit to unit,

†† they engage in several battles with the Germans.Have to fight way to him.

When they find Ryan, he refuses to leave his unit till reinforcements arrive.

†† But before that happens, they are attacked by a huge enemy force.

 

There is a fierce battle, the Americans win, but with terrible casualties.

As the movie ends, Captain Miller is sitting on the ground, propped against a jeep,

†† dying of the wounds he sustained trying to protect Ryan.

And with his dying breath he pulls the young private close and whispers:

†† ďEarn it!Earn it!ĒIn other words.Good men have died for you.

†† Live in life worthy of their sacrifice.

 

At that point, the movie flashes forward 50 years, and Private Ryan, now an elderly

†† man is touring a military cemetery in France with his wife and grown children.He wanders to the graveyard till he finds the grave of Captain Milleró

†† and then he falls on his knees weeping.His wife rushes over, with tears he says:

†† ďTell me Iíve lived a good life.Tell me Iím a good man.Ē

And you see how this knowledge that brave men died so he could live

†† has shaped the whole tenor of his life.

 

Someone has died on your behalf.And this Someone was not just a good manó

†† He was the Perfect Man.Because he was Godís own Son.

And he earned forgiveness and eternal life for you through his obedience.

†† And he died for you when you were an enemy.

You can never do enough to deserve Christís death.

†† You can never earn Godís approval.Itís been earned for you at great cost.

†† You can never, pay him back for his incredible sacrifice of love.

 

But you can try.You can cultivate gratitude and wonder in your heart.

†† You can ponder the greatness of Godís grace and the death of Jesus,

†† and your great sinfulness.You can sing of it on the Lordís day.

†† You can meditate on your favorite Bible verses.

And you can try with all your might to make everything in your lifeó

†† every thought, every motive, every affection, every actionó

†† you money, your marriage, your time, your plansó

†† worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

And the day will come for you when this life draws to a close,

†† and you will stand, not at a grave, but in the presence of your living Savioró

†† and you will fall on your knees weeping with joy and gratitude and unworthiness.

And like Christ once did to the Apostle John.

†† He will touch you with his right hand, and raise you upó

†† and say, Well done, good and faithful servant, welcome to my Fatherís kingdom.

 

Why good and faithful?

Because God takes a little for a lot.

†† And when Christians walk with him in obedienceóimperfect as our obedience is.

†† And when we keep his commandments, and serve him and aspire to do his will.

†† And when we love holiness and hate sin, and try hard to follow Christís steps.

†† And when we mourn our failures and try to do better because we love the Lordó

†† then, we are walking worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

 

Whatever happens, live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ.

†† Contend for the faith of the Gospel.

†††† Make sure the message of grace alone is often on your lips.

†† Work out the implications of the Gospel.

††† Bring Godís grace and Christís righteousness to bear on your suffering,

†††† and on every other part of your life.Watch others do it, and help them.

†† Be crushed by the glory of the Gospel.

††††† Become a worshipper of Jesus Christ.

††††† Be amazed at his graceóand let that alone motivate you in all you do.