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Sun, Mar 26, 2017

Courage in the work

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36 mins 40 secs

Philippians 1:19-30

19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.[a] 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

27 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,[b] striving together as one for the faith of the gospel 28 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. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, 30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

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  • God has set it out. That His people should be courageous. In the work of the gospel. No matter the circumstances.
  • Their courage would. Serve as a means of continuing the work.
  • That would help them to stand for truth.
  • Move the work forward.
  • While not fearing their enemies.
  • Their courage will also be a sign. Of God’s salvation work in them.
  • And what He is continuously doing through them.

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Old Testament: This is so with all the OT believers. For example: Joshua

It begins with Joshua 1:9. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

  • Moses dies.
  • Joshua needs to lead the people into the promise land.
  • He must conquer Israel’s enemies. Who is occupying the land.
  • In doing all this. The one thing he needs to be. Is courageous.
  • And this courage. Was supposed to run through all of Israel.

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  • So then with Jesus.
  • God’s Son comes. And makes sense. Of the kind of courage. God expects.
  • And goes to the cross. And die for sinners.

This is why some. Theologians still think that. Jesus might have been a Zealot.

  • Because the Zealots. Were a radical religious group. Who was opposed to the Roman oppression. On the Jewish people.
  • And so, the Zealots were always looking for an opportunity. To violently overthrow Rome.
  • In fact, one of Jesus Disciples-Simon the Zealot. Was an ex-zealot. Hence, his name.

But Jesus’ courage did not originate with the Zealots.

  • His courage was part of. The fulfilment. Of what Joshua and the others in the OT.
  • Were showing God would come do. Through his Son and Messiah.
  • And for that reason. Courage was always part of God’s saving act. In and through Jesus Christ.

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But this is not so with how. Some people think Christianity works.

  • Many people don’t think of Christians. As those who are saved BY and INTO. A Saviour who is valiant, heroic, and courageous.

Some say, Christianity is a crutch. For the weak.

As in, it’s the frail and puny. That goes for Christianity.

  • They say that. People who become Christians. Or followers of Jesus. Only do so because. Christianity helps them in being weak.

 So it is not strange. To hear people who despise Christianity. Use words such as.

  • Christianity is pathetic.
  • They are losers.
  • They are weak and push-overs.
  • They have no back-bone.

And in some cases, this is true.

Some Christians are weak and pathetic.

But this is because. The theology they hold and believe is so. Not because the Lord they serve is.

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And you will sometimes. See this on the most basic level. Like counselling.

  • Mature Christians would counsel people for years. And still see no progress.
  • The reason is. Their counselling. Fails to be cross-sensitive. Because it is more crutch-centred.
  • That people never become cross-focused. Because they have become so counselling-depended.
  • In other words, people never. Learn to become courageous. Because they have been crushed with care.
  • And so the human counsellor. Becomes their Saviour.

What these people fail to understand. Is that, it is Jesus who. Asks the opposite of his followers.

He says, I’m sending you as sheep among wolves. But do not be afraid. Of what they can do to the body. Be worried about your soul.

It is Jesus who says. You will be hated and even killed. Because of me. So be courageous.

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And that’s why. It’s a fundamental. Theological and biblical error.  For the church.

  • To steer away from a theology of the cross.
  • And therefore, away from a theology of suffering.

Because it is. Jesus’ death on the cross. That shows you. What kind of disciple people need to be.

And that is. The kind of disciple who knows. That they are called to share. In Jesus’ courage. As it was displayed in his death and resurrection.

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And so when. We get to Paul. And he says. In Philippians 1:19-20

For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

The point is that. The work of the Lord. Must continue. But with Courage.

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So today I want to speak to you about: COURAGE IN THE WORK

Remember: To continue gospel work is based on what Jesus Christ has done for you, through courage, not based on your circumstances.

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Book of Acts

And this is what I find interesting. Just after Jesus ascends. The apostles in the book of Acts.

  • Starts praying for courage.
  • And they continue this prayer. All through their ministries.

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  • Last week we ended with Paul saying. That what he is aiming for. Is to continue the work of the gospel.
  • And to continue it. Despite his circumstances.
  • Now he tells us how he wants to do it.

Read verse 20

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

  • Paul wants to continue the work in courage.

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Courage in Comparison to Shame

Pay attention. In comparison to what this is. Paul says in verse 20. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage.

The courage Paul is wanted. Is in comparison to. The shame he didn’t want.

  • So if what we said last week is true. That continuing the work. Is the way to avoid shame.
  • Then it is also true that. Continuing the work. Is the way to have courage.

In other words. It is in the doing. Of the work of the gospel. That a person gains courage.

Not, in first having courage. To do the work.

  • This is a common problem.
  • Many Christians first wants to sort themselves out. Before they do the work of the gospel.
  • But what they will find is. That there is never a right time.
  • There will always fear something.

Let’s Read Philippians 1:14

And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare [became bold, courageous] all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

They first became confident in the Lord. Then only. Did they become courageous, bold, or daring. To proclaim the gospel.

Meaning, courage followed. Their trust in Jesus Christ. Not precede it.

People don’t get this.

They think they must first have courage. Before they can:

  • Evangelize, do missions, lead a bible study, pray, get involved in a ministry at church.
  • But meanwhile. The Bible teaches. That courage lies. In the act of doing gospel work itself.

 Church! Courage happens in the presence of fear, not in the absence of it.

  • This is why. The work of the gospel. Often times can’t continue. In the church. Because many of you. Are still waiting for the courage to do it.
  • There’s only one way. To see whether someone is courageous. They do gospel work. No matter their circumstances.

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Paul’s Certainty

Let’s read verse 20 again

For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage.

When Paul says. I eagerly expect and hope...that I will have sufficient courage.

  • It can easily sound. As if, Paul was saying. He is not sure. Whether he will have courage or not.
  • But this is not what Paul is saying.

Look to what Paul connects. His eager expectation and hope to. Apart from his courage.

In verse 20.

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage, so that, now as always Christ will be exalted in my body.

  • In other words. Paul’s eager expectation and hope. Is connected to. How things have always worked out. This is why he says. Now as always.
  • So this is a statement of certainty. Not one of uncertainty.

Meaning, the continuity of the work of God. Goes hand-in-hand. With the courage for the work.

So wherever. The work of the gospel needs to continue. Courage will be available.

  • Some of you struggle with us.
  • You live on the by-gone days. Especially people who feel they are too old.

Paul says. Now, as always.

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Definition of Courage

But what does it mean to have courage?

Read Verses 27-28.

Paul ask of them to be two things:

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 28 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.

Look at why Paul asks these things from them:

Read verse 30

Since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

And what is Paul’s struggle?

Hardship, imprisonment, opposition, enemies, and criticism.

He says. That the Philippians faced these same struggles.

  • And one can only. Therefore think that. The instructions. He gave them. Would be the same as the ones. He applies to his own life.
  • Since it’s the same struggles.

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So when we read verses 27-28. We actually see is Paul. Explaining what it means to be courageous. Because these verses correspond with verse 20.

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 28 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.

  • conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel-unashamed (27).
  • stand firm-courage (27)
  • Strive… for the faith-courage (27)
  • Do not be frightened-courage (28)

So when Paul says in the second part of verse 20. That he will have sufficient courage.

He is saying that. He will

  • stand firm (27)
  • Strive… for the faith (27)
  • Not be frightened (28)

So courage runs far deeper. Than just voicing your opinion. On something. At school, work, family, or country.

  • Courage is there to continue the work of the gospel.
  • You stand, you strive. And you do so fearlessly.

The world tries to overthrow. This idea of Christian courage.

  • Stand firm – to them – intolerant, arrogant, close-minded.
  • Strive for your faith – to them – bigot, extremist, dogmatic.
  • Unafraid – to them – delusional, crazy, fool.

But Paul says in verse 20. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

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Courage is Measurable

Read verse 27 again

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.

Courage is measurable. Meaning, other people can see it.

How can they see it? You doing the work of the gospel.

Paul says. I will know

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  • People are no longer courageous.
  • Because people don’t know Jesus Christ. And how their lives must fit in with his.
  • Therefore, they find it easy to stop. The work of the gospel.
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