You are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel—Phil 1:7.
We are saved by grace through faith. We are born again. But we can’t remain as kids forever. You need to grow in your faith and become spiritually mature. God wants your faith to get stronger. Remember, God will finish what he has started (Phil 1:6).
God calls us to something bigger and better
Paul reminds the church in Philippi that they are partners in suffering and defending the Gospel together. We are called upon to defend the Gospel. We need to make compelling arguments for all the things we say about Christian hope.
Defending the Gospel is no easy task! To begin with, we need to know “what we believe”. But it is just as important to understand “why” we believe what we believe.
Apologetics is not giving out smart answers. Apologetics is giving reasons for “Why” we live what we believe.
The defence of the Gospel
We must understand that the defence of the Gospel cannot be singularly focused on “Why do we believe what we believe?” Apologetics is not giving out smart answers. Apologetics is giving reasons for “Why” we live what we believe.
The Bible talks about the use of reason and logic for the verbal defence of the Gospel. But it also talks about three stronger proofs that the Gospel is true and powerful:
- koinonia (intimate friendships) despite diversity (Jn 17:21),
- a sanctified life worthy of the calling (Mt 5:16; Eph. 4:1),
- and resilience despite hardship (Phil 1:7).
I intend to focus on resilience amid suffering in keeping with the spirit of the letter to the Philippians.
Resilience in the midst of Suffering
Paul was no stranger to pain and persecution. The Apostle suffered great hardships because he shared the Good News of Jesus with a world that was hostile to the Gospel message. He was
- whipped (2 Cor. 11:24)
- beaten (v25), stoned (v25)
- suffered shipwrecks (v25)
- faced many dangers (v26)
- in hunger and thirst (v27).
However, the Apostle Paul was resolute in his commitment to the cause of Christ. He writes (to the church in Corinth) that he was
- “afflicted in every manner, yet not crushed,”
- “persecuted, yet not abandoned”
- “struck down, yet not destroyed.” (2 Cor 4: 8–10).
Paul was no stranger to persecution. The Apostle saw these circumstances as opportunities to defend the Gospel.
An opportunity to defend the Gospel
The Apostle Paul saw these circumstances as opportunities to defend the gospel. The church had first-hand knowledge of Paul’s suffering at Philippi. Paul was
- seized by the irate mob (Acts 16:19),
- mercilessly dragged into the marketplace (Acts 16:19),
- falsely accused (Acts 16:20), beaten publicly (Acts 16:20),
- imprisoned and treated like a hardcore criminal (Acts 16:24).
He suffered deep wounds as he was severely beaten with iron rods (Acts 16:20, 33). The Church in Philippi grew because of the passionate defence of the Gospel.
Paul penned this letter from the prison. Paul’s imprisonment in Rome (AD 61 or 62) was due to his Gospel preaching. But this imprisonment became an opportunity for the defense and confirmation of the Gospel.
Paul’s detention also had a positive impact on the church in Philippi. The Church sent gifts to Paul through Epaphroditus, who was sent to assist him. Thus, the church became partakers in his imprisonment (suffering) and the defence of the Gospel.
Paul’s life and faith provided a winsome defence of the Gospel.
The winsome defence of the Gospel
To defend the Gospel is to accept it, live by it, and live for it. We are called to ‘give a reason for the living hope’. One’s willingness to suffer for his beliefs demonstrates how strong the beliefs are. Our defence of the Gospel can be winsome only if we are willing to live the Gospel and suffer for its sake.
Paul’s life and faith provided a winsome defence of the Gospel. In our contemporary world, your strong faith is the best Gospel defence.
Ready to experience your Aha Moment? 1. What is my experience of defending the Gospel? What do I like/dislike about it? 2. Apologetics is giving reasons for 'why' you live what you believe! Do I love what I believe? Do I know why I live what I believe? 3. How do I live what I believe?