Sermon: Kingdom Citizens (Philippians 1:27-30)

Kingdom Citizens

Philip. 1:27-30 (ESV)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,  [28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  [29] For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  [30] engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

In foreign relations terms, an embassy can refer both to a permanent diplomatic mission and the building in which that mission is housed. Embassies are an important part of foreign relations, since they serve as a contact point between the visiting and host nation.  Each embassy will typically have an ambassador who acts as the home country’s representative on foreign soil.

I bring this up because the idea of an embassy and an ambassador is a good picture of the church highlighted in the text today.  The church should be thought of as a Christian embassy on foreign soil and every member should be thought of as ambassadors for Christ.

2 Cor. 5:20 (ESV)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

What is the Apostle getting at in this verse?

Paul was sent as God’s foreign minister to announce the peace treaty between God and all who trust Christ alone to be saved.  God’s foreign policy is, as Paul writes, be reconciled to God.

We are also ambassadors for Christ.  As members of the church, we live on foreign soil.  Our real home is heaven where Christ is seated on the throne.  We represent Jesus Christ to the world.

Just as a foreign ambassador must live a very careful life while in a foreign country being careful to observe their traditions and yet still living according to his home countries laws, we too as ambassadors must be careful how we live as foreign guests and as representatives of Christ.  Have you ever thought of yourself as a foreigner on earth or in America?

This way of thinking is strange to many.  In a resent poll 820 evangelical Christians were asked the question, are you an American first or a Christian first, 42% said Christian first, 48% said American first, and the rest said I don’t know.

Where should our loyalty lie?  The Bible clearly teaches that our allegiance should lie with Christ over and above all other things.  We are Americans but we are Christians first.

Truth Taught- As Christians we are members of God’s Kingdom and we must live as Kingdom citizens.

1. The Kingdom Charge (1:27a)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,

Immediately upon conversion one is translated from the kingdom of darkness and placed in the kingdom of light.

This phrase has vital meaning for the Christian.  It really is the theme of this message.  99.9% of the time I’ve found that the English translation of the original Greek language captures the meaning quite nicely.  However, here is one place that it does ok but it could do better.  There are interpretive issues that those involved were trying to avoid and I understand their reasoning.  However, if we’re going to get the true meaning of what Paul is saying we have to go to a deeper more colorful interpretation.

Let your manner of life comes from the Greek word (politeuesthe).  This word means literally to live or conduct oneself as a citizen of a country or kingdom.  This is the only place where this word appears in the Bible.  Paul’s normal way of saying this type of thing “walk in a manner”.  Why does he use a different word here?

Live your lives as worthy citizens of the Gospel of Christ.

From the context this is clearly what he’s getting at.  Two reasons I believe this is an accurate translation.

A. Internal Evidence-

Philip. 3:17-21 (ESV)

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  [18] For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  [19] Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  [20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

B. External Evidence-

Philippi was a very proud Roman Providence.  They were Romans and wanted everyone to know it.  In fact, Philippi was, at this time, known as “Little Rome”.  These new believers were proud Roman citizens.  They enjoyed all the benefits of being a Roman citizen.  They paid no tax, that was left for those living within the province who were not Romans.  They enjoyed freedom and security as Romans.  For a city who was extremely proud of their Romaness, the Apostle believed he needed to remind them of their real citizenship.  Those Christians in Philippi were citizens of the Kingdom of God not the Kingdom of Rome.  Their allegiance had to also switch.

The Apostle’s command is that they are to live as citizens of heaven and obey all heaven’s laws and customs.  For them, there were huge implications.  This would mean that they would go from being beloved Roman citizens to hated Christians.  Persecution would now replace security.  Their world would be turned upside down as they followed this command to live as worthy citizens of the Gospel of Christ.

When someone is saved there is a change brought about by the Holy Spirit.  This change on some levels is immediate.  A new convert will have a strong desire to begin learning about the Lord and what He desires from them.  This immediate change is then coupled with the tools for change such as the Scriptures, prayer, and other believers in the Church.  One will begin to slowly but surely learn Kingdom laws of conduct.  A Christian will begin to live differently because he/she is a citizen of a new Kingdom.

If there is no change then that indicates there is no new life in a new kingdom.  The Bible never teaches that a person can be saved and not be changed.  The idea of a carnal Christian is a lie.

This is the same charge Paul gives to Christians who are citizens of the United States of America.  We must live lives as worthy citizens of God’s Kingdom first and foremost.  Our security as Americans if necessary must be let go as we hold fast to Christ.  Living a life as a citizen of heaven will be costly in this world.  Currently, there is no national persecution but there will come times of smaller sacrifices.

2. Kingdom Responsibilities (1:27b-28a)

so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,  [28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents.

A) Stand Firm in Unity

I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

The Apostle’s concern is for his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.  Regardless what may happen to him, here is what they are to be doing.  Living as a united army of Kingdom citizens is their marching orders.

I’d like to point out that one cannot stand in unity alone.  Standing firm striving side by side is a team effort.  This team is the local church.  If you desire to stand firm under various types of pressure whether it be persecution or something else that may cause you to cave in spiritually, you must seek to be committed to the local church.  A half-hearted approach to the local church will result in a weak and immature faith.  When faced with trials, you’ll be all alone.  The local church will lift you up when you can’t get up.  The church will help when you need help.  It will be there when everyone else leaves.

Here’s the picture… we are walking hand in hand toward the goal of glorification.  Along the way there are pot holes and stumbling blocks.  We lift each other over the holes and when one stumbles we keep them from falling.  The reality is that the same thing will be needed by me sooner or later.  So together we reach the goal.

B) Don’t be Afraid

[28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents.

Here, it’s clear that Paul has in mind the fear of man.  I think this type of fear is the greatest challenge we face in living boldly as a citizen of God’s Kingdom.  We are more afraid of people than we are of God.

Is there something that keeps you from living a consistent Christian life in the world?  Is it fear of man?  Is it fear of loosing your job?  Is it fear of not being included?

John 12:42 (ESV)

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;

Luke 12:4-6 (ESV)

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.  [5] But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  [6] Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

It’s important that we look seriously at these words from Paul and determine here and now that by grace we will stand firm as citizens of heaven and repent of those times when we caved in under a small bit of pressure.

Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)

The fear of man lays a snare,

but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

How does fearing man place a snare before us?  It takes the healthy fear of the Lord which motivates our obedience to Him and turns it around so that the fear we should have for God is placed in the area of people.  When we’re afraid of people we let them control us.  In other words we become obedient to their demands and not God’s.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if the fear of man rules over you rather than the fear of God ruling over you.

-Do I struggle with peer-pressure?  Do I behave differently based on my current company?

-Are you a people-pleaser?  Do you find yourself refusing to tell someone no even when you know that’s the right thing?

-Do you struggle in making decisions because of what other people might think?

-Are you jealous of other people?

These are just some basic indicators that you are controlled by people rather than being controlled by God.

Paul’s desire for the Christians in Philippi is that they fear God not people.

3. Kingdom Implications (1:28b-30)

This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  [29] For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  [30] engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

As the church is unified and striving together for the Gospel its members will be strengthened and her opponents weakened and even destroyed.

Togetherness in a church is a mark of the people’s salvation.

Togetherness in a church is a mark that the opponents will be destroyed.

Both of these marks are signs of the Gospel’s victory in the lives of Christ’s people.

Our lives must run parallel with the Gospel of Christ.

Here, as in other places Paul declares that salvation is from God.  This verse is a verse similar to…

Ephes. 2:8 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

In verse 29 he writes that faith has been granted to us.  God is so loving that He even gives His people the faith they need for salvation.

There is another thing God grants his children…can you see it in verse 29?  It says plainly we are granted as a free gift belief and suffering for Christ.  Just as believe is required by God for salvation, so is suffering.

For it has been granted- literally, we have been graced with suffering.  In God’s grace and for His glory the believer will receive from God’s hand suffering.

This is an extremely biblical way of looking at pain and suffering for Christ…it is a gift from God to His children.  God is active in our suffering not passive.  It’s not something we bring on ourselves, He brings it on us.

How does suffering for Christ’s sake result in our salvation?

-We are following Jesus when we suffer for His name

Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  [17] and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

-We are longing for Christ when we suffer for His name

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  [13] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

The more the suffering for a true Christian the deeper the love is for Jesus.

Paul wanted these believers to realize that when Christ is preached and when they stood up for Christ they would encounter trials and suffering.  This is exactly what Paul himself was experiencing.

As believers, we must live as citizens of God’s Kingdom no matter who or what opposes us.  We must overcome the fear of man and replace it with a fear of God.  We must care more about what He thinks than what those around us think.  Who cares what people think?  If you live your life worried about them you will never consistently live out your heavenly citizenship.

By God’s grace may we truly live a life pleasing to Him no matter who or what works against us.

May the Lord grant us the ability to stand in unity and strive together as the Church, God’s Christian Embassy.  May we truly behave in a manner worthy of Kingdom Citizens.

To God be the glory…

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Kingdom Citizens

Philip. 1:27-30 (ESV)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,  [28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  [29] For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  [30] engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

In foreign relations terms, an embassy can refer both to a permanent diplomatic mission and the building in which that mission is housed. Embassies are an important part of foreign relations, since they serve as a contact point between the visiting and host nation.  Each embassy will typically have an ambassador who acts as the home country’s representative on foreign soil.

I bring this up because the idea of an embassy and an ambassador is a good picture of the church highlighted in the text today.  The church should be thought of as a Christian embassy on foreign soil and every member should be thought of as ambassadors for Christ.

2 Cor. 5:20 (ESV)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

What is the Apostle getting at in this verse?

Paul was sent as God’s foreign minister to announce the peace treaty between God and all who trust Christ alone to be saved.  God’s foreign policy is, as Paul writes, be reconciled to God.

We are also ambassadors for Christ.  As members of the church, we live on foreign soil.  Our real home is heaven where Christ is seated on the throne.  We represent Jesus Christ to the world.

Just as a foreign ambassador must live a very careful life while in a foreign country being careful to observe their traditions and yet still living according to his home countries laws, we too as ambassadors must be careful how we live as foreign guests and as representatives of Christ.  Have you ever thought of yourself as a foreigner on earth or in America?

This way of thinking is strange to many.  In a resent poll 820 evangelical Christians were asked the question, are you an American first or a Christian first, 42% said Christian first, 48% said American first, and the rest said I don’t know.

Where should our loyalty lie?  The Bible clearly teaches that our allegiance should lie with Christ over and above all other things.  We are Americans but we are Christians first.

Truth Taught- As Christians we are members of God’s Kingdom and we must live as Kingdom citizens.

1. The Kingdom Charge (1:27a)

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ,

Immediately upon conversion one is translated from the kingdom of darkness and placed in the kingdom of light.

This phrase has vital meaning for the Christian.  It really is the theme of this message.  99.9% of the time I’ve found that the English translation of the original Greek language captures the meaning quite nicely.  However, here is one place that it does ok but it could do better.  There are interpretive issues that those involved were trying to avoid and I understand their reasoning.  However, if we’re going to get the true meaning of what Paul is saying we have to go to a deeper more colorful interpretation.

Let your manner of life comes from the Greek word (politeuesthe).  This word means literally to live or conduct oneself as a citizen of a country or kingdom.  This is the only place where this word appears in the Bible.  Paul’s normal way of saying this type of thing “walk in a manner”.  Why does he use a different word here?

Live your lives as worthy citizens of the Gospel of Christ.

From the context this is clearly what he’s getting at.  Two reasons I believe this is an accurate translation.

A. Internal Evidence-

Philip. 3:17-21 (ESV)

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  [18] For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  [19] Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  [20] But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  [21] who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

B. External Evidence-

Philippi was a very proud Roman Providence.  They were Romans and wanted everyone to know it.  In fact, Philippi was, at this time, known as “Little Rome”.  These new believers were proud Roman citizens.  They enjoyed all the benefits of being a Roman citizen.  They paid no tax, that was left for those living within the province who were not Romans.  They enjoyed freedom and security as Romans.  For a city who was extremely proud of their Romaness, the Apostle believed he needed to remind them of their real citizenship.  Those Christians in Philippi were citizens of the Kingdom of God not the Kingdom of Rome.  Their allegiance had to also switch.

The Apostle’s command is that they are to live as citizens of heaven and obey all heaven’s laws and customs.  For them, there were huge implications.  This would mean that they would go from being beloved Roman citizens to hated Christians.  Persecution would now replace security.  Their world would be turned upside down as they followed this command to live as worthy citizens of the Gospel of Christ.

When someone is saved there is a change brought about by the Holy Spirit.  This change on some levels is immediate.  A new convert will have a strong desire to begin learning about the Lord and what He desires from them.  This immediate change is then coupled with the tools for change such as the Scriptures, prayer, and other believers in the Church.  One will begin to slowly but surely learn Kingdom laws of conduct.  A Christian will begin to live differently because he/she is a citizen of a new Kingdom.

If there is no change then that indicates there is no new life in a new kingdom.  The Bible never teaches that a person can be saved and not be changed.  The idea of a carnal Christian is a lie.

This is the same charge Paul gives to Christians who are citizens of the United States of America.  We must live lives as worthy citizens of God’s Kingdom first and foremost.  Our security as Americans if necessary must be let go as we hold fast to Christ.  Living a life as a citizen of heaven will be costly in this world.  Currently, there is no national persecution but there will come times of smaller sacrifices.

2. Kingdom Responsibilities (1:27b-28a)

so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,  [28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents.

A) Stand Firm in Unity

I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

The Apostle’s concern is for his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.  Regardless what may happen to him, here is what they are to be doing.  Living as a united army of Kingdom citizens is their marching orders.

I’d like to point out that one cannot stand in unity alone.  Standing firm striving side by side is a team effort.  This team is the local church.  If you desire to stand firm under various types of pressure whether it be persecution or something else that may cause you to cave in spiritually, you must seek to be committed to the local church.  A half-hearted approach to the local church will result in a weak and immature faith.  When faced with trials, you’ll be all alone.  The local church will lift you up when you can’t get up.  The church will help when you need help.  It will be there when everyone else leaves.

Here’s the picture… we are walking hand in hand toward the goal of glorification.  Along the way there are pot holes and stumbling blocks.  We lift each other over the holes and when one stumbles we keep them from falling.  The reality is that the same thing will be needed by me sooner or later.  So together we reach the goal.

B) Don’t be Afraid

[28] and not frightened in anything by your opponents.

Here, it’s clear that Paul has in mind the fear of man.  I think this type of fear is the greatest challenge we face in living boldly as a citizen of God’s Kingdom.  We are more afraid of people than we are of God.

Is there something that keeps you from living a consistent Christian life in the world?  Is it fear of man?  Is it fear of loosing your job?  Is it fear of not being included?

John 12:42 (ESV)

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;

Luke 12:4-6 (ESV)

“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.  [5] But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  [6] Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.

It’s important that we look seriously at these words from Paul and determine here and now that by grace we will stand firm as citizens of heaven and repent of those times when we caved in under a small bit of pressure.

Proverbs 29:25 (ESV)

The fear of man lays a snare,

but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.

How does fearing man place a snare before us?  It takes the healthy fear of the Lord which motivates our obedience to Him and turns it around so that the fear we should have for God is placed in the area of people.  When we’re afraid of people we let them control us.  In other words we become obedient to their demands and not God’s.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine if the fear of man rules over you rather than the fear of God ruling over you.

-Do I struggle with peer-pressure?  Do I behave differently based on my current company?

-Are you a people-pleaser?  Do you find yourself refusing to tell someone no even when you know that’s the right thing?

-Do you struggle in making decisions because of what other people might think?

-Are you jealous of other people?

These are just some basic indicators that you are controlled by people rather than being controlled by God.

Paul’s desire for the Christians in Philippi is that they fear God not people.

3. Kingdom Implications (1:28b-30)

This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.  [29] For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  [30] engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

As the church is unified and striving together for the Gospel its members will be strengthened and her opponents weakened and even destroyed.

Togetherness in a church is a mark of the people’s salvation.

Togetherness in a church is a mark that the opponents will be destroyed.

Both of these marks are signs of the Gospel’s victory in the lives of Christ’s people.

Our lives must run parallel with the Gospel of Christ.

Here, as in other places Paul declares that salvation is from God.  This verse is a verse similar to…

Ephes. 2:8 (ESV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

In verse 29 he writes that faith has been granted to us.  God is so loving that He even gives His people the faith they need for salvation.

There is another thing God grants his children…can you see it in verse 29?  It says plainly we are granted as a free gift belief and suffering for Christ.  Just as believe is required by God for salvation, so is suffering.

For it has been granted- literally, we have been graced with suffering.  In God’s grace and for His glory the believer will receive from God’s hand suffering.

This is an extremely biblical way of looking at pain and suffering for Christ…it is a gift from God to His children.  God is active in our suffering not passive.  It’s not something we bring on ourselves, He brings it on us.

How does suffering for Christ’s sake result in our salvation?

-We are following Jesus when we suffer for His name

Romans 8:16-17 (ESV)

The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  [17] and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

-We are longing for Christ when we suffer for His name

1 Peter 4:12-13 (ESV)

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  [13] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

The more the suffering for a true Christian the deeper the love is for Jesus.

Paul wanted these believers to realize that when Christ is preached and when they stood up for Christ they would encounter trials and suffering.  This is exactly what Paul himself was experiencing.

As believers, we must live as citizens of God’s Kingdom no matter who or what opposes us.  We must overcome the fear of man and replace it with a fear of God.  We must care more about what He thinks than what those around us think.  Who cares what people think?  If you live your life worried about them you will never consistently live out your heavenly citizenship.

By God’s grace may we truly live a life pleasing to Him no matter who or what works against us.

May the Lord grant us the ability to stand in unity and strive together as the Church, God’s Christian Embassy.  May we truly behave in a manner worthy of Kingdom Citizens.

To God be the glory…

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