Study 2 WHAT TO DO WITH THE GOSPEL
(Scripture Portion: Philippians 1: 1-11)
It is significant that the word ‘gospel’ occurs in this letter nine times: (1) It is a glorious word. It means “good news”, and in John 3:16 we have “the gospel in miniature”, and in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 we have the gospel defined. (2) It is a precious word. All who are truly saved love this grand old word. (3) It is also a much hated word. The Devil hates it like poison, and so do all who oppose the gospel. (4) It is a greatly misunderstood word. How many there are who are ignorant of the gospel and who confuse “religion” with the gospel! (5) It is a saving word. It is God’s dynamite to open the human heart (Acts 16:14); to overcome the powers of darkness (Acts 16:18), and to awaken, save and transform (Acts 16:26-34). (6) It is an identifying word. Anyone who is truly born again will speak of “the gospel” not of religion, or even of Christianity. (7) It is a biblical word. Look up the following titles and references to the gospel: (1) “The gospel of God” (Romans 1:1); (2) “the powerful gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16); (3) “my gospel” (Romans 2:16); (4) “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13); (5) “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15); (6) “the gospel of His glory” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and (7) “the eternal gospel..” (Revelation 14:6).
Think what the gospel has done for and with those of us who are saved. Yes, and because the gospel has done so much for us and with us, we are to do something with it. What are we to do with the gospel?
1. WE ARE TO SHARE THE GOSPEL
In verse 5 we read of “partnership in the gospel”, or as the KJV has it, “fellowship in the gospel”. This word “fellowship” means, literally, “a joint participation in a common interest and activity” – in other words, it speaks of those things which we share in the gospel. Of course, we are to share the gospel with the lost (1 Corinthians 9:16), but the thought here is of “fellowship in the gospel”, as, for example, in 2:22 and 4:3, where we get two beautiful illustrations of fellowship in service. Consider the following ways in which we are to share the gospel:
- We are to be thankful for one another. Look at verse 3. Every time Paul thought of the Philippian Christians, Mr. A., Mrs B., Miss C., (and they surely had plenty of faults and failings!), he thanked God for them. This is true Christian fellowship, or partnership. Are we sharing it?
- We are to be prayerful for one another. Look at verse 4. What a pray-er Paul was! In verses 9-11 we are told what he prayed for his friends: that they might be (1) more loving; (2) more discerning; (3) more spiritual; (4) more sincere; (5) more fruitful. Am I praying for you, are you praying for me – like this?
- We are to be loving towards each other. Look at verse 7, and note the word “heart”, and then read verse 8. Now look up John 13:34-35.
2. WE ARE TO SAFEGUARD THE GOSPEL
See what Paul says in verse 7 “defending and confirming the gospel” and in verse 16: “the defence of the gospel”; and in verse 27: “contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” When Paul wrote this epistle the gospel had many enemies, and the gospel has many enemies today, and therefore we must obey the warning in 2 Timothy 4:3 (and 3:1-8), and the exhortation in Jude 3. Let us ever remember that we are living in days of apostasy. Many are preaching “a different gospel” (Galatians 1:6), but we are put in trust with the true gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:4), and we must at all costs be faithful to our trust – look up 1 Timothy 1:11 and 6:20. Today, all the great truths relating to the Person and Work of our Lord Jesus Christ are questioned, and indeed denied. For instance: (1) His virgin birth (Matthew 1:18-25); (2) His virtuous life (John 8:46); (3) His vicarious death (2 Corinthians 5:21); (4) His victorious resurrection (Romans 1:4); and (5) His visible return (Revelation 1:7).
The inspiration and the authority of the Bible are questioned, and the destructive forces of liberal theology and of a thousand heresies have invaded our beloved land. When we are threatened with attack, defence becomes an urgent necessity. Let us rise up and defend the Faith, and let us do it fearlessly.
3. WE ARE TO SPREAD THE GOSPEL
Verse 12 tells us this, and the surest way of counteracting error is to spread the Truth! How? By preaching it – as we are commanded in Matthew 28:19, and as we see it illustrated in Acts 8:4. But look at Philippians 1:12: the gospel is spread by our favourable reaction to the things which “happen” to us, especially the testing things. The best illustration of this is in Acts 16:22-25. Paul and Silas prayed, worshipped, sang – “and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Suppose they had groaned, grumbled and growled? The prisoners would still have heard them – but what a poor testimony it would have been! What has “happened” to you lately? Has your reaction advanced or retarded the gospel? We have all the sufficiency of His grace to enable us to “spread” the gospel in every situation and circumstance (2 Corinthians 12:9).
4. WE ARE TO SHOW THE GOSPEL
Verse 27 makes this clear. We are to conduct ourselves, that is behave ourselves, in a manner which is worthy of the gospel – compare Philippians 2:15. Does our behaviour correspond with the gospel? Is our faith working (James 2:17)? look up Titus 2:10.
The secret of being able to Share, Safeguard, Spread and Show the gospel is in Philippians 2:13.