Our Gift To Jesus

How Do We Conduct Ourselves In A Manner Worthy Of The Gospel?

Vince Rice
Dec 26, 2021    34m
Jesus gave all who believe the gift of salvation. What is the best gift we can give to Jesus? This message teaches us that the gift that is most important to Him, is the gift of us learning how to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

121 Community - Our Gift To Jesus
Eric Estes: [00:00:05] It seems like we were just here a few days ago, doesn't it? So I love the fact that we can, after coming off of such incredible worship services over the last couple of days, we can gather again and worship our King again. And so I'm glad that each one and every one of you is here. If you're online joining us, I'm so glad you're joining us online. If you are new here, we would love to be able to connect with you, and there is a couple of different ways that we can do that. One is through those connect cards that are in front of you, or you can also text to the number 9400, and then you just text hi, 121. And someone will get back with you, and then we have a way we can connect with you on that.

Eric Estes: [00:00:45] But today I'm really excited, Vince Rice, many of you know, Vince, it's going to be leading us into God's word today as we look at the Scriptures. Many of you know him, he's been part of our church for 17 years, and he has been just instrumental in our life group's ministry, he has coached and trained many of our life group leaders. As a matter of fact, he's done a great job of, within his life groups, raising up new leaders and sending them out. So if you're in a life group, there's a good chance that life group came from a life group that came from a life group that came from Vince's life group. So he's had a tremendous impact, and I just love Vince as a teacher, and he just brings a wisdom, and a clarity, and just a love of God's word. So I know it's going to be a rich time in God's word today.

Eric Estes: [00:01:29] So let's pray, and then we'll dive into God's word. Lord, we love you, and I thank you so much for who you are. Thank you for your goodness and your mercy. Lord, I just pray that right now, as we open your word, that you would open our hearts, that we would be able to be encouraged and challenged, and that you would draw us closer to you, that we might see you more, know you more, and love you all the more. We thank you for this time, and it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Vince Rice: [00:02:00] I can see that some of you all are thinking that they're ice skating where they've never ice skated before. You'll get that during the second service, it's all right. There are three things that you should know before we start. One, I have the official nearly authoritative Sawyer's Bible, so we're all good on the Bible version. Two, unlike Ross, I did not fine-tune the message at the gym this morning, I think I was last in the gym during the Reagan administration. And third, I'm on the seminary no-fly list, and so I've never learned to have four points and a conclusion. So if you like pretty outlines in your notes, I apologize in advance. I apologize to the camera, guys, I have a tendency to wander around a bit and so if I disappear, that's what happened for those of you who are watching online. If I disappear for y'all, we've got a whole different kind of problem.

Vince Rice: [00:03:15] I've titled the message today, Jesus's Christmas Present. What do you get the Man/God who has literally everything? Now, I want to note, just for the record, that is the correct usage of the word, literally. What do you get for the man who has everything? We're going to spend most of our time in Philippians 1 verses 27 through 29, and see what Paul has to say about that question. That's going to be kind of where we spend the bulk of our time, but as I said, I tend to wander, and so we're going to wander around a bit through Scripture.

Vince Rice: [00:03:59] The city of Philippi was named for, and by, Philip the Second of Macedonia. Does everybody remember Philip the Second of Macedonia? Of course you do, no, you don't. But you might know his son, Alexander the Great. It kind of waned after the Romans defeated the Greeks, and then it became a big deal in the Roman Empire when Octavian and Mark Anthony defeated the people who assassinated Julius Caesar there at the Battle of Philippi in 42 B.C. Philippi was on one of the main East-West roads in the Roman Empire, and Octavian granted them the same privileges as all of the people that lived in Rome. So in short, the Philippians were Roman citizens, they were in a strategically important city in the Roman Empire, and they were quite proud of both. Maybe a little too proud.

Vince Rice: [00:04:57] The church at Philippi was started by Paul on his second church planting journey, Acts 16 has all the details. Now, I said church planning journey, if you look in your Bibles, the little header probably says second missionary journey. You just need to know that those little headers are not God's breathed, and in this case, they're wrong. It was a church-planting journey. How do I know it was a church planning journey? Well, do you know what Paul did that all of those stops he made on those journeys? He planted churches, hence church planting journey. Paul clearly loved the church at Philippi, and the church at Philippi loved him. At the first of this letter, he tells them, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all." He loved them, and this letter reflects it.

Vince Rice: [00:05:57] In the verses before the ones that we're going to look at today, Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.", that's the verse that 121 gets its name from. So Paul is sitting in prison when he writes this letter, and as you can tell in that verse, for him, whatever the outcome is, it's a good one. If he lives, it's great. If he dies, it's great. But he goes on to say, a couple of verses later, that although it might be better to be with Jesus, he's going to stay and be with the Philippines so that he can continue his work with them and hopefully get to come see them again.

Vince Rice: [00:06:39] Now, you have a chance to be with Jesus, or you have a chance to be with the Philippians, he chooses the Philippians. And that gives what he says next a little extra weight. In verse 27, he says, "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus." Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus, now this is only a dozen words and Ross is not here, so I get to do things however I want to, so we're going to memorize this. All right, is everybody ready, is everybody ready, is everybody ready? Ok, good. Only conduct yourselves. How are we going to conduct ourselves? In a manner worthy? What are we conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of? the Gospel of Jesus. Now I know it says Christ, up on the screen, we're going to use this first name today. Only, one more time, only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus. See, I should be looking at the screen. Only conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus. What is it say? Good job.

Vince Rice: [00:08:15] All right, I've been leading a life group for the last year and a half on how to study your Bible, and one of the things that I have tried to impress upon them is that 90 percent of Bible study is just paying attention. Notice that Paul does not say, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of Jesus, he says, "Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus." Now we all know gospel means good news, right? So what is this good news of Jesus that we're supposed to be conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of, right? Well, the Philippians already know this, it's a church, right?

Vince Rice: [00:08:59] But Paul tells them anyway, a little later in the letter, in chapter 2 verses 5 through 8, "Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and being found in appearance as a man. And being made in the appearance of a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Now, what was that death for? That death was for our sins. And if we turn from our sins, to him, then we live just as he was resurrected and lived again. Now, does that sound like good news? Does that sound like good news? I told you, Ross is not here, we get to do a little interaction. All right. Here's the thing, Paul doesn't point to Jesus and say, live for him, Paul points to the cross, and says live for that. Do you see what Jesus did for you? Live in a manner worthy of that sacrifice.

Vince Rice: [00:10:29] Now, I want to note he's writing to the church at Philippi, ok, he is not writing to non-followers of Jesus telling them that they're worthy conduct is going to result in salvation. He's writing to followers of Jesus, telling them that their salvation should result in worthy conduct. The word Paul uses there is kind of interesting, conduct, right? Normally when Paul wants us to do something, he says, walk, right? Ephesians 4:1 is kind of a companion passage to this, and there that's exactly what Paul says, he says, "Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called." But here he says, conduct. Now this word only appears three times and the entire New Testament, and two of them are right here in this letter to the Philippines. In this particular verse, conduct means, live like a good citizen, right?

Vince Rice: [00:11:32] Now, you may remember I said a few minutes ago, right, the Philippians were kind of proud of the fact that they were Roman citizens. Paul says in this verse, I don't care about your U.S. citizenship, I'm sorry, did I say U.S.? I meant Roman, Roman, the shoe fits, I'm just saying. I don't care about your Roman citizenship. You need to walk in a manner worthy of citizenship in the Gospel. He says this more explicitly a few verses later in Philippians 3:20 when he says, "Our citizenship is in heaven." The same word, conduct yourselves, be a good citizen, of the Gospel, live like you're a citizen of heaven.

Vince Rice: [00:12:23] All right, what do we know? We know we're supposed to...No, no, no, no, no, no, no. We know we're supposed to...All right, good job. Now, what does that mean? I'm so glad you asked. Good job. Now, one of the main key principles of Bible study is, we don't get to decide what the text means, we have to let the text say what the text means. And like any good expositor, Paul tells them what it means in the very next verse. What does he tell them? "Stand firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the sake of the faith of the Gospel." What does it mean to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel? Stand firm, striving together with one mind, one spirit, for the sake of the faith of the Gospel.

Vince Rice: [00:13:36] What does it mean to be one spirit and one mind? Well, Paul expands on this a little bit in the next chapter, when he says, "Be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit." Same thing as one spirit, "Intent on one purpose." Now, if you just had to guess from what we've read so far, what do you think that one purpose is? the Gospel. Exactly, right? Now, this will come as a shock to some of us, probably starting with me, but being of the same mind does not mean being of your mind. All right? Some of you people think that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I'm sorry, but no. We can argue about that some other time, right? Being of the same mind does not mean that we agree about everything. Here's what it does mean, it means we set aside the things that we don't agree about for the sake of the Gospel.

Vince Rice: [00:14:46] Paul says to the Corinthians, in his first letter in, 8:13, "Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble." Paul will be a vegetarian if meat causes a problem for a fellow Christian. He says this even more explicitly later on in this letter to the Philippians, when he says, "With humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourself." He goes even further in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me." I have been crucified. What does that mean? I'm dead. Whose life am I living? I'm living His life. Now, do you know what dead people don't have? Rights. Do you know what dead people deserve? Nothing, right? If I have been crucified with Christ, I have no rights, I don't deserve anything because I'm living His life, not mine.

Vince Rice: [00:16:14] So, we're standing firm in one spirit with one mind. What are we doing together? We are striving together. What are we striving together for? The sake of the Gospel. Right? Exactly the same thing that we're supposed to be conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of, that's the same thing we're striving for, we're striving for the Gospel. Can you tell that the Gospel is kind of important to Paul?

Vince Rice: [00:16:38] Right now, if Ross were here, he would love this word striving, because it's an athletic term. I don't know if you have noticed, but Ross kind of likes the whole athletic metaphor, right? Well, striving is an athletic term, it's the term that's used when a team is striving together towards a goal, right? So the football team is striving together to win enough games to get in a bowl game unless, of course, they all get COVID, and they have to withdraw. Too soon, too soon? Sorry. The church, the Big C church, and every individual body, including 121, right, what should we be? We should be one spirit, one mind, a team striving together. What are we striving together for? For the sake of the Gospel?

Vince Rice: [00:17:30] Here's the thing, when we, as followers of Jesus, don't conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel, we are not the ones that primarily look bad, we give Jesus, and his gospel, a bad name. This is going to come as kind of a shock, maybe, but God doesn't like that. In Ezekiel 20, when he is detailing all of the reasons why he's about to throw Israel off of his land, he says this in verse 9, "I acted for the sake of My name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived." He says that three more times in that chapter, "I acted for the sake of My name." Now, if God is willing to throw Israel off of his land, he is more than willing to deal with us if we profane his name.

Vince Rice: [00:18:35] So our Christmas present to Jesus needs to be to start, repeat after me, conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus, and to stop giving him a bad name. Now, I don't know if you've noticed, but the last two years have not been great. Is it just me? Anybody? All right. But here's been my biggest disappointment about the COVID era, right? It is how poorly people who claim to follow Jesus have been at being of the same mind, at maintaining the same love, at being crucified with Christ, at considering others more important than themselves. That should be our Christmas present to Jesus, to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of His name.

Vince Rice: [00:19:33] Now, I want to pause here for just a second, there are some of you sitting here and maybe sitting online who are not yet followers of Jesus, and that thrills us for real. Because our goal is to be a place where it's safe and exciting to come and hear who Jesus is, and what does it mean to follow him? Right, so we're glad you're here. But one of the reasons why you may not have followed him yet is because you've observed a lot of bad behavior from those who do follow him. Now, I want to be clear, we have no excuse for not conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus, none. But I need to be equally clear that we're not going to be a good excuse for you either. When the time comes and you stand before God, if your reply is, well, you know, that guy, Vince, he was really obnoxious and I just said, I don't want any part of that, God is going to say two things to you. The first thing he's going to say is you're absolutely right, that guy was obnoxious, but then he's going to say, but the question wasn't, what did you do with Vince? The question was, what did you do with my son? So don't let our bad behavior keep you from following Jesus.

Vince Rice: [00:21:08] All right, let's go on. There's more good news that comes from standing firm and striving together, what is it? Verse 28 goes on to say, "In no way alarmed by your opponents." If we are standing together, if we are striving together in one mind with one spirit, our opponents do not faze us. Now that word alarmed there, is what happens when the bad guy shows up in a horror movie. Right? It's like a jump scare, right? Our opponents should not jump scare us; they should not frighten us. Why should they not frighten us? Because we are striving together in one mind and one spirit for the Gospel.

Vince Rice: [00:21:57] Now, who are the opponents that are not scaring us? Well, here's a hint, what are we striving together for? the Gospel. So who are our opponents? People who are opposed to the Gospel. Listen, it is not people opposed to us, it's not your boss, it's not your in-laws, it's not the guy that cut you off in the parking lot outside before a church, although if I find him. Right? Who are our opponents? They are people that are opposed to the Gospel. Someone that says something you don't agree with, someone that does something you don't like, someone that makes you follow the rules even though you're special, that's not our opponent, our opponent is people that are opposed to the Gospel.

Vince Rice: [00:22:54] Now note the rest of what he says, "In no way alarmed by your opponents-which is a sign of destruction for them, and of salvation for you." Oh, whoa, that sounds cool, what does that mean? Standing firm together means we are not only not alarmed or frightened by our opponents, but they know they're doomed. Now, they may not act like they know they're doomed, but they know they're doomed, and they know we're saved. How do they know we're saved? Because we are striving together in one mind and one spirit for what? For the sake of the Gospel, that's exactly right.

Vince Rice: [00:23:35] Now, Paul goes further in Ephesians, Ok, in 6:12, he says, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. What does that mean? It is way past time that we recognize people are not the problem, the devil behind the people are the problem.

Vince Rice: [00:24:11] Now, if we didn't know this already, Jesus gives us a perfect illustration when he first tells the disciples that he and they are going to Jerusalem and that there he's going to suffer and to be killed. Peter pulls him aside and begins to rebuke him, that's the word the gospels use, rebuke him. I'm just going to say that when someone starts rebuking Jesus, it's not going to end well, and it does not. Ok, Peter pulls him aside and says that's not going to happen, not on my watch. Jesus acts very deliberately; the gospels say that Jesus looks over at the disciples. Now, why did Jesus look over at the disciples? Because the disciples have heard Peter's rebuke, and Jesus wants to make sure they hear his. And Matthew and Mark say, Jesus rebukes Peter. Exact same word, Peter rebukes Jesus, Jesus rebukes Peter. Did I mention this was not going to end well? But what does Jesus say to Peter? “Get behind Me, Satan!". Say it louder, “Get behind Me, Satan!" He didn't take it behind me, Peter, Peter was not the problem. Who is the problem? Satan was the problem. It's the exact same phrase he uses at the end of his 40 days of time in the desert and temptation with the devil. That's the last thing he tells the devil, get behind me. “Get behind Me, Satan!" Jesus knew that Peter wasn't the problem. Peter discovered he was acting neither bravely nor righteously, he was channeling somebody else entirely.

Vince Rice: [00:26:11] In 2022, 121, as you've already heard, 121 is going to focus on prayer, and this is one of the reasons. Because when we're fighting spiritual forces, what do we need? A spiritual weapon? Guess what, prayer is a spiritual weapon. And so we're going to spend a lot of time talking about prayer in 2022.

Vince Rice: [00:26:35] Now, in the next verse, Paul needs to disabuse us of something. We're striving together, we're not afraid of our opponents, our opponents know that they're doomed, right? And so because of that, we have a tendency to think that everything is going to be hunky-dory for us today, right? If something bad happens to us, if we're persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, and I'm just going to go out on a limb here and say within one decimal place, none of us have probably been persecuted for the Gospel. But if something bad happens to us, then God has fallen down on his job, that's kind of the sense that I have all too often, right? But what does Paul say in verse 29? "For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."

Vince Rice: [00:27:37] A man in prison for his faith is writing to a church that is being persecuted for their faith, and he tells them two things. One, don't be afraid of your opponents, they're doomed. And two, you're going to suffer for Jesus's sake. This is very important for us to understand, those two things are not in opposition, they're both true, right? This is where we discover that Jesus's Christmas present has a double meaning. The word granted there means gifted, it's the same word that's used in other places in Scripture to talk about our spiritual gifts. Ok, so our Christmas present to Jesus is to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus. Right? But Jesus is Christmas present to us is to consider us worthy of being gifted to suffer for his sake.

Vince Rice: [00:28:44] When the Sanhedrin ordered Peter and John to be beaten, flogged, in Acts 5, for the temerity of healing a guy that had been lame since birth, I mean, what are some people doing these days? When he ordered them to be beaten, it says in verse 41, that Peter and John and the rest of the disciples went away rejoicing. Why did they go away rejoicing? Because they had been counted worthy, worthy, of suffering shame for Jesus's name. Right? They had been counted worthy. Our suffering is not a failure on God's part. Now, we don't count it as a gift, I do not count it as a gift, because we don't understand its purpose. James 1:3 says this, "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Vince Rice: [00:30:07] Now, like so many of the other things that we've talked about today, Paul has something to say about this as well in Romans 5, he says, we exalt, we boast, we glory, in our tribulations, because tribulations bring about endurance. The same exact word in James. Endurance brings about proven character. And proven character, this is a surprise, brings about hope. Our trials, our tribulations, our prosecutions, are there to produce endurance, and for endurance to produce proven character. A lot of us, starting with me, have a suspect character because we have never endured through trials and tribulations. What do we do instead? Well, I'll just speak for me, nobody else here, I gripe, I complain, I whine, I yell at God and say, hey, make it stop. Endurance. Where do we get hope from? We get hope as a result of coming all the way through to the end.

Vince Rice: [00:31:35] Jesus's Christmas present from us is what? Man, ok, I'm sorry, I know I do the same thing, kind of drifted off there for a minute. Our Christmas present to Jesus is what? Good job. All right, I'm going to ask you that outside. Now, I don't pray that everyone suffers this year, but here's what I do pray, that we all live lives worthy of the gift from Jesus of suffering for his sake.

Vince Rice: [00:32:27] Father, we thank you for the gift of life, we thank you for this season that we celebrate your son. And as we celebrate your son's birth, we also can't help but celebrate his death and resurrection, his life, and we celebrate that life because it has given us life. And, Father, we want to be good stewards of that, we want to walk in a manner worthy of it, we want to live for you. And as we finish up a tough year, and as we start what might be another tough year, that is our prayer. Our prayer is that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel, that we will take joy with us, just as Paul speaks of joy so many times in this letter even though he's sitting in prison. And we have joy because we have life in you, we love you, and we desire to honor you. Let's pray that you would give us more and more opportunities to do that, to share the good news that we have. We ask all of these things in Jesus' name.

Vince Rice: [00:34:15] As we always do, just take a minute or two and reflect and let God's Spirit move in you and speak the words that he has to say for you personally.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051