Being Poured out for God’s Glory, Part One: The Presence of the Gospel
Before there can be a gospel community, there must first be the presence of the gospel. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he is not writing to a people who has not heard of the gospel of Christ, but to those that have and are living it out. In Acts 16:6-40 we learn that the church at Philippi was the first church founded by Paul in Europe. Paul says that the Philippians were partners with Paul in the gospel from the first day (Philippians 1:5) and they were “partakers…in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Philippians 1:7). In Philippians 4:15-16, Paul commends them by saying, “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and gain.”
In verse 12 we see Paul affectionately call the Philippians his beloved and commends them for being continually obedient. He even notes that they remain obedient whether he is there or not. This means that they were not a double-minded people that wavered in the wind (James 1:6-8), but held fast to their faith.
Philippians is a letter of encouragement and teaching and Paul is not just warning them of double-mindedness, but he is also telling the church at Philippi that they do not need his help for it is God who works in them. Paul played a very crucial role at this church and they were greatly concerned for him, but he was telling them that even though he wasn’t physically present with them that God would watch over them and protect them. This means that our pastors and parents and mentors cannot save us but only God can.
The gospel was very much present in the church at Philippi, which is very important. If the gospel is not present then there can be no gospel community and no furthering of the gospel. Paul addresses this issue in verse 12 when he says “your own salvation.” This is talking about your own personal salvation, not your mother’s or father’s or sister’s or brother’s or friend’s or cousin’s or grandparent’s but yours.
As important as it is to witness to others, your witness will mean nothing if you do not have that which you are telling others of. Charles Spurgeon preached an entire sermon on just these three words because of their monumental importance. One of the issues he addressed was that this might seem like selfish thinking. He gives the analogy that if a man is drowning, you will not be of any help if you do not know how to swim. If, instead, you had invested time and money into learning how to be a proficient swimmer, you would have been able to save that man’s life. If you are not first saved, then you are of no help to the lost.
The presence of the gospel is what makes us shine as lights in the world (2:15). It is what separates us from the crooked generation we live in. Without it we would be no different than the world. The presence of the gospel dispels sin. If there is sin present in our live or in our churches, then this means that we do not shine and that the gospel is not present. Light is the opposite of the darkness and will have nothing to do with darkness. Therefore, if we are to shine as lights in the world then the presence of the gospel will destroy sin in our lives.
The removal of sin is also important as we begin to spread the gospel. If we pour ourselves into someone (Philippians 2:17), then we need to make sure what we pour is pure. If we are pouring out ourselves tainted by sin, then we are corrupting just as pouring poisoned water into someone’s drink will kill him or her. Our teachings and lives must be pure in order that when we pour our lives out for others and into others they profit from it rather than become poisoned.