Here are 4 ways to participate in the Gospel. In Philippians 1, the imprisoned Paul and Timothy felt so connected with the Philippians, as if they were one body. So too should we feel this oneness, with our brothers and sisters, including our sent ones from whom we are often separated.
Paul says that he always offers prayers with joy for them in view of their participation in the Gospel. How does one participate in the Gospel?
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Paul says that he is thankful for “their participation from the first day until now.” When he proclaimed Christ to them they believed.
We may find it rare to respond with faith in Christ upon our first hearing but this seems to be the case for this local church.
At the moment they began to believe, they became heirs and brothers with both Paul, their spiritual father and Jesus, the Heavenly Father incarnate.
The next reference to time is tied to this thought. Not only have they believed and immediately became cohorts in the Gospel but they also will continue to be fathered by God. Their faith is working in them.
God is calling them closer until He calls them home. He is faithful to perfect this good work in them until the day of His return. Salvation is from our past, our present, and our future.
Salvation, faith, and belief is not just about the afterlife. He’s about all of life!
He’s never done working in, on, and through us and He never will be. Thank God.
Paul explains that the closeness that he feels for them is only natural because he had them in his heart.
Isn’t it amazing how prayer imprints our Father’s character into our hearts!
Somehow the Philippians are partaking of the grace with Paul that he receives. By the faithful prayer of a saint, the Father imparts every good and perfect gift on his children.
It is more than their sending Epaphroditus or his eventual sending of Timothy. It’s even more than Epaphtoditus risking his life for the Gospel. The binds that break through the walls and chains of imprisonment are tightly secured in Jesus’ ability to mediate as one who has been there.
The same Spirit is ministering to both the imprisoned and the free.
There is a stirring of the affections for God that connects them and us unlike any other human bond. These relationships could endure lifelong imprisonments because the eternal sentence is much longer – forever.
The defense and confirmation of the Gospel are actually conjoined in the verse. Let’s dissect them separately so that we can see even more clearly how inseparable they really are.
Paul defends the Gospel at every turn, whether in oversight of other churches like the Philippians or in their prison ministry.
Defending the Gospel means knowing the Good News of Jesus well enough to speak on behalf of Christ.
Paul days we are ambassadors of Christ. When we believed, we became spokesmen with authority to speak what the Holy Spirit would lead us to speak in order to exalt Jesus.
Defense is more about a secure position and deep seated, holistic, unwavering belief than it is about a position or volume or a style of rhetoric.
“I believe, help my unbelief,” can be a brilliant, honest defense of the Gospel.
The confirmation of the Gospel is the assurance of faith. The confirmation of the Gospel is the fruit the Holy Spirit produces. And yet brothers and sisters are participators; so work is to be done in the soil of individual hearts and in the greater vineyard.
Jesus is calling others through us. Is the call answered? Are we redirecting His calls? Or are we reconciling others to Him as He designed?
We too, after having been confirmed in the faith, should seek to join Paul and the Philippians in confirming the Good News. We give accounts here and in eternity.
Does your account and recount align? Will others say, “I heard his message and it was the message of Christ?” Few things in life matter apart from getting the Good News right in our hearts which always leads to getting it right out into the world.