✠ One Message: Christ crucified and risen for you ✠
The Word of the Lord Endures Forever
Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum
Philippians 1,15-21 1618
Eulogius, Priest in Cordova, Spain. Martyr 859
11. März 2018
1. О Christ Jesus, The Lamb without spot, may we always draw comfort knowing that our sins, have been placed upon You, so that we may rejoice that Your righteousness has been placed upon us. Amen. (Starck 77-78)
2. »Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.«
3. The city of Philippi was a unique city. The city was founded in Greek Macedonia by King Philip II in 536 bc. The Romans conquered the city in 42 bc and Emperor Octavian (27 bc - ad 14) established it as a Roman colony with equal status to cities in Italy and free from direct taxation. Philippi soon became a popular haven where retired Roman soldiers chose to live. Paul visited the city during his 2. missionary journey (49-51), and a church was soon established. Paul returned to Philippi during his 3. missionary journey (52-53).
4. The apostle Paul wrote his Epistle to the Philippians and three other epistles (Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon) while in Roman as a prisoner. In ad 55, Jewish authorities had arrested Paul in the temple in Jerusalem. The judicial process lagged on for 3 years, and finally Paul expressed his right as a Roman citizen to have his case heard by the emperor himself. Once in Rome, Emperor Nero (54-68) waited another 2 years before he heard Paul’s case. While in Rome, Paul was under house arrest and chained to a Roman guard. He could thus travel about the city, receive guests and continue his ministry, all under the watchful eyes of his military guard.
5. The main issue of the charge against Paul by some Jewish authorities concerned the hope of the resurrection of the dead. A few verses earlier in this epistle, Paul states: »It has become known throughout the entire Roman imperial guard that my imprisonment is for Christ« (1,13). It his Epistle to the Romans, Paul said: »for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose« (Romans 8,28). We see this unfold in his Epistle to the Philippines: Paul wanted to get to Rome and preach the gospel, his Jewish adversaries continue to thwart that goal, so Paul appealed to an audience with the emperor and as that process played out Paul was able to preach to Roman legionnaires and others in Rome. god used his imprisonment to advance the proclamation of the gospel.
6. It is not easy being a Christian: sometimes it is relatively easy without fear of ridicule or punishment, but other times it is rife with persecution and martyrdom. From 2015 to 2017, the persecution of Christians rose around the world; the areas most difficult to be a Christian are South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Sub-Sahara Africa. According to a website that tracks such statistics, Open Doors, 215,000,000 Christians experience high or very high persecution, Islamic extremism remains the global dominant driver of persecution and Asia is becoming a new center of concern, particularly Bangladesh, Laos, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. The most dangerous and difficult nations to be a Christian are: North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan. The action of many rulers throughout history is: persecute and kill your opposition so as to force them into irrelevance.
7. The Church is tempted to acquiesce and yield to her foes with the hope that by doing so she may be granted a reprieve and survive. The Church in the 21. century is pressed upon on many sides. We are asked to water down the gospel and our doctrine for the sake of not offending others who believe differently. We are implored to loosen our morals and virtues so we can be more relevant to the popular culture. Yet the Church often grows where she is persecuted. A 2. century theologian, Tertullian [the Father of Latin Christianity], famously wrote: The more you mow us down, the thicker we rise: the seed is the blood of Christians (Apologeticus 50,13) [Plures efficimur, quoties metimur a volois; semen est sanguis christianorum.]. The Church, however, does not give into fear and despair. The Apostle Paul encourages us with these words: »God has not given us a spirit of fear, for He gives us a spirit of power, love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling on account of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel« (2. Timothy 1,7-10).
8. Jesus makes all the difference. Christians throughout the ages have endured persecution by the providence of Jesus. His death and resurrection makes all the difference. This world can do what it will to us, for the the end is already settled. We are justified. We are forgiven. We are saved. Christ has done all this for us. The world cannot change this. Suffering and martyrdom cannot remove it from us. Jesus has secured our everlasting life with Him in heaven, therefore we can endure everything the world and her tyrants throw at us in this earthly life. We will be vindicated on the last day by Jesus Himself.
9. When her brother had died, Jesus promised Martha: »I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet he will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die« (John 11,25-26). Jesus is our Resurrection, and He is our Life. Jesus is the very Word of God made flesh. Though we suffer, though we are persecuted, though we may be martyred, yet we will live! Jesus has said it, and His word is certain and true. Amen.
10. Let us pray. O Christ Jesus, who died and then bore much fruit; strengthen us to endure ridicule and persecution, so that we remain committed to proclaiming the gospel for the salvation of all who hear it and believe on You. Amen.
To God alone be the Glory
Soli Deo Gloria
All Scriptural quotations are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 4th Edition © 1990 by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart, and the Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27th Edition © 1993 by Deutsch Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.
All quotations from the Book of Concord are translations done by The Rev. Peter A. Bauernfeind using Die Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche, 12. Edition © 1998 by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.
Nagel, Norman. Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel: From Valparaiso to St. Louis. Frederick W. Baue, Ed. Copyright © 2004 Concordia Publishing House.
Starck, Johann Friedrich. Starck’s Prayer Book. Copyright © 2009 Concordia Publishing House.
Tertullian. Apologeticus pro Christianis.