Today’s Scripture:

  • 27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;” (Philippians 1:27-29)

Introduction:

How appropriate is it that we finish this series talking about what we’re going to get into next…Fearlessness.  I can tell you that I honestly had no idea that we were going to end this message this way, and that our next series was going to be “Fearless:  A Six-Week Journey” when we started this series.

See…this is how you some times know that you’re on the same page as the Holy Ghost.  It was about a week ago when I began searching for our next series, and the one that caught my attention was this “Fearless: A Six-Week Journey”.  It’s to take us from being fearful to fearless…and then we come to find the last message in this series is on “The Logic of Fearlessness”.

I couldn’t have made this up if I tried.  So…again…maybe if there are some of you wondering if I am really doing this by inspiration of the Holy Ghost…here’s yet more evidence that this really is a ministry that’s totally dependent upon the Holy Ghost for it’s direction…and as I always say…I hope that’s okay with you.

Today’s Message:

Paul told the Philippians that living worthy of the gospel of Christ meant fearlessness before enemies.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . not frightened in anything by your opponents (Philippians 1:27-28).

Have I said to you enough that not everyone is going to be excited about you either becoming a Christian or serving God?  We just talked in our last message about serving God, and I hope it’s a catalyst for helping some of you to know and understand how you are to serve God, and in what capacity…but I’m also going to be honest and let you know that the enemy is not going to be happy with your decision to serve the Lord.

I can tell you that I’ve had people I don’t even know try to discourage me from doing this because I’ve not been to a four-year seminary school, or because of my past.  I’ve had people I know try to discourage me from doing this, and I’ve had things go wrong.  I’ve had technical difficulties with my computer and ability to check on my sites with my BlackBerry.

The devil is not going to be excited about you becoming a Christian or deciding to serve God…that much I can promise you…and Jesus does too.  He said that persecution and difficult times will come…and believe you me…when it comes to taking that step into embracing the call of God on your life…there’s a whole new level of enemy that you have to deal with.

The devil is constantly trying to get me to give up, and  quit writing these messages.  There’s always someone who will comment or message me about how I’m preaching false doctrine or have no clue what I’m doing.  I’ve had to block people from my Facebook page and other sites because they put hateful stuff on them for people to see.

However…I can also tell you that NONE of this discourages me.  In fact, it does the exact opposite.  It excites me.  The more the enemy attacks me the more I know that I’m having an impact upon his kingdom, and that’s the reason I get so excited.  I used to get mad at things like technical difficulties or people coming against me, but the Lord has helped me to realize the reason this stuff happens is because the devil knows my name…and he’s trying to stop me because what I teach is truth, it’s solid, sound doctrine, and he doesn’t like it.

So…along with the encouragement I’m offering to those of you who are wanting to serve God…I’m also going to let you know that there’s a cost, and that the devil isn’t going to clap his hands in excitement.  No, friends, he’s going to work to shut you up, and discourage you from walking in the vocation in which Christ has called and ordained you to walk in…but we are MORE than conquerors through Christ Jesus.  Greater is HE that is in us than he that’s in the world…and through Christ the victory has already been won.  The devil is a defeated foe…and whenever he comes against you…we have the power, authority, and ability to tell him to shut his mouth in the name of Jesus…and he has to obey us.

Then he gave the logic of fearlessness.

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 (Philippians 1:29).

Do you see that?  Paul writes just as Jesus said.  We are going to suffer for His name’s sake.  We’re going to experience persecution, hardship, and enemies coming against us because we’re doing what we’re doing for the glory of the Lord…and so that the name of Jesus will be glorified in our lives.

The logic is this:

God has given you two gifts, not just one: Faith and suffering. That’s what verse 29 says.

In this context that means: Both your faith in the face of suffering, and your suffering are gifts of God. When Paul says, don’t be frightened by your opponents he had two reasons in his mind why they don’t need to be frightened:

1. One reason is that the opponents are in the hand of God. Their opposition is a gift from God. He governs it. That’s the first point of verse 29.

2. And the other reason not to be afraid is that your fearlessness, that is, your faith, is also in the hand of God. It too is a gift. That is the other point of verse 29.

So…there’s a lot that was said here.  Let’s break this down to see what we can uncover, and then get into these two reasons separately.

The logic is this:

God has given you two gifts, not just one: Faith and suffering. That’s what verse 29 says.

In this context that means: Both your faith in the face of suffering, and your suffering are gifts of God.

Remember that we talked about ALL of the promises of God having the answer of “YES”.  Remember that we talked about persecution being one of the promises of God?  We know that our faith is a gift from God, but how many of you know that suffering is also a gift from God?  I can tell you that I never really thought of the suffering that I’ve had to endure as a gift from God, but in all reality I understand that it is…and I understand why.  It’s because the trials that come our way are meant to build our faith…not in us…but in Him.  When we endure suffering if we take it by faith, and understand that God is doing something in our lives through it…when we’re on the other side of what we’re going through…we will see the reason we’ve had to endure that suffering.

Remember.  God causes ALL things to work together FOR good to those who love God and are called according to HIS purposes.  We all know that God never said all things would BE good, but that they would work together FOR good.  That includes the persecution and suffering that we endure for His name’s sake.

When Paul says, don’t be frightened by your opponents he had two reasons in his mind why they don’t need to be frightened:

Aren’t you glad for Paul?  I know I am.  I’m also glad for someone like John Piper who can dig out these reasons.  Let me say that I know that some of John Piper’s beliefs are extremely Calvinistic…but let me say that I believe that he teaches a lot of good stuff…and that the Holy Spirit can help me use what John writes…and turn it into a good message full of sound doctrine.  I’m not a Calvinist or anything else…I am a Holy Ghostist…and that’s where and how I get my direction and unction…that was a criticism I recently got for doing this 15 Days in the Word with John Piper series…another example of someone trying to discourage me from doing what the Lord has called me to.

Anyways…lets’ get into these two reasons:

1. One reason is that the opponents are in the hand of God. Their opposition is a gift from God. He governs it. That’s the first point of verse 29.

Remember how in the book of Job that satan had to get God’s permission to test Job?  Remember how God gave the devil permission, but told him that he could not take Job’s life?  Can I tell you that the persecution and suffering that we go through has to get God’s approval?  He governs the opposition that comes into our lives.  Any time the devil wants to do anything in our lives…he has to seek God’s permission…and if God feels that we can handle it (1 Corinthians 10:13) He’ll allow it.

Friends…we are in God’s hands.  Nothing that comes against us can pluck us from His hand.  We’re protected by God, and He’s not going to allow anything into our lives that we cannot handle…without His help.  He may allow things to happen in our lives that are too big for us to handle on our own because He wants us to always lean upon Him.  Everything we go through in our lives whether we know it or not…God is with us through it all.  It’s up to us to choose to allow Him to walk us through it…or try to handle it on our own…but He’s always there by our side waiting for us to reach out to Him.

2. And the other reason not to be afraid is that your fearlessness, that is, your faith, is also in the hand of God. It too is a gift. That is the other point of verse 29.

Friends…whether it’s our faith or our struggles to strengthen our faith…it’s all in God’s hands.  We are in God’s hands.  I don’t know about you, but that’s of great comfort to me to know that I am in God’s hands, and my life is in His hands…and all things that come in my life are in His hands.  He is in complete control of my life…and the best thing I can do is recognize that…and allow Him to lead, direct, and guide me…and that’s the best thing that you can do too.

So the logic of fearlessness in the face of adversity is this double truth: Both your adversity and your faith in the face of adversity are gifts of God.

Both our adversity and our faith in the face of the adversity we face are gifts of God.  In other words…the adversity we face and the faith we have to stand up to the adversity we face are both gifts from God.  The adversity that comes is coming to build up the faith that we need to face the adversity…it’s a cycle.  We face adversity…we use our faith in God to overcome the adversity…our faith grows…and then we get to face…yep…more adversity.  It’s all designed to help us grow up and mature in our walk with God…and along with that comes the knowledge that what we face is allowed by God…and He’s the One that’s in control…I don’t know about you…but that just makes me happy.

Even the adversity I face is a gift from God so that the other gift from God (my faith) can be stronger and more deeper.  Friends…it really is all about God…and His desire for us to grow up in ALL things…as Paul writes in Ephesians 4…and the awesome thing of it is…He’s the One who helps us to grow up…by allowing us to go through things…to…well…grow us up in our faith.  Like I said…it’s a cycle that leads us to having more faith…but not faith in us or our abilities…faith in God.

Why is this called “living worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v. 27)? Because the gospel is the good news that Christ’s blood of the covenant infallibly obtained for all his people the sovereign working of God to give us faith and to govern our enemies — always for our eternal good.

Therefore, fear not. Your adversaries can do no more than God grants. And he will grant you the faith you need. These promises are blood bought and sealed. Gospel promises.

Fear not…our adversaries can do no more than God grants.  Just like the adversary had to get God’s permission to test Job…since God is no respecter of person…and He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever…that means that our adversaries have to get permission from Him too.

The awesome thing is the God will grant us the faith we need to defeat the adversity He allows us to face.  It’s like He allows us to face the adversity just to prove to the adversary that he has no more power  than he is allowed.  Let me balance this out by saying we have the power to give our adversary more power or less power depending upon how we respond.

We give the devil the power of our lives…because Jesus has already defeated him.  So any power the devil has…we give him.  We allow him to work in our lives to the degree that we let him…because if he’s working in our lives God’s already granted him the permission to work, but He’s also given us the faith and the ability to use the faith we have in Him to overcome…but it’s up to us to choose whether to use our faith or give in to the adversity.  We can either use it to grow or we can use it to fall…but we must never point the finger at God…because while it’s true He allows us to face adversity…He returns the ability to overcome it to us…and how we do that is by faith.

He has already secured the victory…it’s up to us to believe Him for it.  I don’t know about you…but I’m fully persuaded that there isn’t anything that comes into my life that I cannot overcome by faith in what Jesus has already done.  I may sound weird to some that I am glad when persecution or adversity comes, but I am…because that let’s me know that God believes in me…and believes that I will use my faith in Him to overcome…how about you?

Conclusion:

Well…this wraps up our series 15 Days in the Word with John Piper.  I’ve really enjoyed this series.  I’ve gotten a lot of good stuff out of this series to put into practice in my life.

I understand that some of John’s beliefs are very Calvinistic, but I believe that even though that’s the case…the Holy Spirit can take what’s wrong with what he believes or teaches…and give us the ability to rightly divide things for good, sound messages.

Please know that I don’t subscribe to all of Mr. Piper’s beliefs because I know there are some things he teaches that aren’t quite right, but there are also some really good things he teaches…and it’s a good thing for us that most of what we went through in this series was good, solid teaching.

I hope that you’ll join us as we get into the next series starting Wednesday, September 5, 2012…”Fearless:  A Six-Week Journey”.  It’s going to take us the entire month of September, and part of October to get through it…but I believe it’s going to really help us go from living in fear…to being able to live in the fearlessness we talked about today.

Thank you so much for following along, and I’m so happy to know this series has helped and touched many of you.  I appreciate all of you who follow along with this ministry, and I’m extremely thankful for the ones who are following along in the shadows.

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24)

Blessing & Grace to you
Bryan J. Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA