Striving Together

Philippians 1:27 “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”

Much can be drawn from the contents of this verse.  The key phrase to this text is the words “striving together”.  This reminds me today of the value of unity.  The Lord values unity and harmony between his people.  It is essential that Christians quit battling one another and start working together.  I have come to the conclusion that much of American Christianity is lost in its own selfishness.  We find Christians calling out other Christians over Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets of social media.  They are gossiping, complaining, and belittling fellow believers rather than loving, understanding, and building them up. Someone the other day asked what I thought about the methodology of another Church and my first question was – “Are folks getting Saved?”  Really, is that not the general objective?  My heart breaks this morning over the fact that more congregations are battling and bickering over the minors, when we should be worried about the majors.  Just for a reminder, I would like to discuss some essential steps that would help all of us strive together.

  • Assess Your Conversation – When you assess your conversation, is it one that would promote the gospel or harm the gospel.  Listen closely…when we talk poorly of other Christian Leaders, we could be directly effecting the salvation of others.  Regardless of whether we like them, agree with them, or even believe if they are truly Christian we must guard our conversation because it could have a direct influence on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Avoid Badgering, Battling, and Bickering with other Christians – I feel as though the reason most of our battles are being lost is because we are so focused on the methods and actions of other Christians instead of concentrating on reaching the lost.  I encourage you to ask yourself some questions – Is the Gospel Being Preached?  Are People Getting Saved? If so, shout about it rather than scoff about it.
  • Act Like A Christian – Lost people have a standard that they actually expect from the Christian world and they know when we are not acting like we should.  You guessed it….it is called hypocrisy!  Don’t be “that” in front of a lost world.

Today’s Challenge – Look at the actions, attitude, and conversation and decide whether you are the causing harmony or discord.  Remember that we are to be battle together and not against each other.  Don’t be the one that destroys the unity of God’s people or hinders the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Another Gospel

Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”

I, like Paul, find it amazing how Christians have been swayed by the message of other gospels.  It is important that we realize that if we can get a lot of things wrong and still be okay.  However; if we get the Gospel of Jesus Christ wrong it ruins everything.  The Gospel is the most important message in the entire Bible.  If we preach the wrong gospel then, according to verse nine we are preaching a curse upon ourselves.  We must be very mindful of how we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I want to look for a moment at some of the gospels that we normally encounter.  That way when we hear them we can mark them and then avoid them.

  • There is the Wrong Gospel:  Any message that avoids the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the wrong message.  Anyone that teaches that there is another way to Heaven outside of Jesus Christ is teaching the wrong gospel.  An example would be if you hear someone that says “It does not matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.”  Danger!  Sincere people will end up in the Lake of Fire.
  • There is the Water Downed Gospel:  It is the message that accepts Jesus Christ, but does not stress it.  The watered down gospel is the idea of easy believism that is being preached from many American pulpits.  It is a message that avoids teaching on changed lives, repentance, and other controversial events that are suppose to take place at the moment a person is saved.  It avoids the controversial issues involved in salvation and never reveals a person’s sinful condition.
  • There is the Works-based Gospel:  This gospel emphasizes works over faith.  It believes that as long as you are performing your religious duties such as attending church, tithing, and serving then you are automatically destined for Heaven.  Nothing could farther from the truth.  Works never produce faith, but faith will always produce a work.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches a person places their faith and trust into the Lord Jesus Christ by Repenting of their Sins, and turning their lives over to the Lord.  Salvation involves repentance, and faith.  Without either of these, we are living by the wrong message.

Today’s Challenge:  Examine the message that you are preaching and the message that you have received.  Have you been removed from the real Gospel message?

If Our Gospel Be Hid

2 Corinthians 4:3 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:”

God did not design the His Gospel to be hid.  He created us in order to expose the Gospel.  When we fail to present the Gospel we are hindering the spreading of the Gospel.  We allow fear, pride, and rejection to prevent our Gospel message from being presented.  There is a great need for Christians to share their faith.  Sharing our faith seems to be the most difficult thing Christians try do.  As Christians, we possess the cure.  We did to look at what we hid when we hid the Gospel.

  • We are Hiding Hope:  When we fail to share our faith we are failing to share the message of hope.
  • We are Hiding Heaven:  Can you imagine knowing the directions to Heaven and never giving a lost person the map.
  • We are Hiding Help:  We possess a one size fits all solution to people’s problems.  It is not that Christ is a solution, He is the only solution.

Today’s Challenge:  Don’t hide the Gospel!

Whatever It Takes

1 Corinthians 9:22 “To the weak became I as weak, that might gain the weak:  I am made all things to all men that I might by all means save some.”

This is one of those verses that if you are not careful can be taken way out of context.  This verse does not mean that we give up holiness and the character of Christ in order to win people to Him.

If you were to study the Gospels you would find that the Lord Jesus never changed His character or lowered His standards.  I also want to point to the fact that He never required them to come to Him.  He went to them.  He accepted them where they were.

While the Lord does not want us to change our convictions, I do believe He would desire we embrace our culture.  The personification of Christianity today is that of snobbery.  Rather than embrace people at their level, we expect them to rise to ours.  The problem is that we need to realize we are the same level to anyway.

Paul was willing to change His methods while keeping the same message.  He had the attitude that He would do whatever He could in order to see souls saved.  Somewhere along the line we have created this specific religious mold that expects people to look like us, act like us, and talk like us.  We have made our religious standards and convictions the plum line when the reality is that Jesus should be the plum line.  Paul was willing and able to present to everyone in such a way that He could get to them on their level.

Let’s put this on the bottom shelf.  If you are talking or reaching out to an unchurched person then guess what…they are have no idea what church is all about.  They are not going to understand church talk.  They probably are not going to know what words like “saved” means.  The key is to get the Bread of Life on a level to which they can read it, and reach it.  That is what Paul did.  He brought the Gospel to the level of those He wanted to reach.  He utilized their culture and customs to His advantage.

Prayerfully we will learn to embrace this Bible verse!

Today’s Challenge:  Get the Gospel on the level of those you want to reach.  Ask God to help you embrace them in such a way that your actions, attitude, and language will win them to Christ

Remember:  Our Goal is not trying to get people to be religious; our goal is to get them into a relationship with Christ.  

Going Where Nobody Goes

Romans 15:20 “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:”

The desire of Paul was to preach the gospel to a group of people that have not heard the gospel.  America is full of ministries that are built on the fruit of another person’s labor.  While this is not entirely a bad thing, we must make sure our drive is to reach a section of people that have not heard it yet.  It should be our desire to reach the people that do not have a church experience. A ministry that has missionary mentality is going to reach all kinds of people.  A ministry that is driven to reaching the “unchurched” is going to appeal to other Christians.  However; we must remember that we are not going to successfully fulfill the Great Commission if we are reaching people that are already Christian.

Ministries today are full of “church hoppers”.  We need ministries that are filled with people that have only known one church, one ministry, and one method.  Paul wanted to reach those that have not been reached.  Please consider the desire of Paul in this verse.  To preach in a place and to a people that are in desperate need of the Gospel.

Today’s Challenge:  Remember that we have been commissioned by God to reach the lost.