A sermon by Dr. Daniel L. Wong
Martin Grove Baptist Church, Toronto
November 20, 2016
You are a representative of your company when you work for a company. When someone asks where you work and you tell them the name. They often connect their experience with the company and tell you about it.
I have been a professor at Tyndale University College & Seminary for the past 16 years. During that time we have Ontario university status (2013) and moved locations. I proudly represent our school. Invite others to come to events at our school. A number of you will attend Christmas in the Chapel on Dec. 3. I encourage others to explore studying with us. Just yesterday, we were shopping and I bumped into a pastor. I asked him about further study at Tyndale. He said he would come if he didn’t have to go through the application process. We both laughed.
As a person who comes to Martin Grove Baptist Church, you represent the church. Last week, after church I ate lunch with my former student Jae. You recall that last week that the follow through is to help another progress in their faith. During lunch we had a nice conversation. We ate at McNies, Fish and Chips, south at Burnanthorpe and Martin Grove. Based on Jae’s Scottish background we had haggis and at a snowball, a Scottish dessert. Also had their famous fish and chips too. We also got to encourage the waitress, Joey, so if you see her, say hello for us and give her a big tip!
1. Represent Christ
Here in Philippians the Apostle Paul encourages us to be excellent representatives of Jesus Christ. He says in Philippians 1:27, “Conduct yourselves in a matter worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
Often the apostle Paul talks about the “walk” or “manner of life” as Ephesians and Colossians. That is more a Jewish background of walk as a way of life.
Here he connects with the Philippians and uses an image for “live as a citizen.” ‘Politeusthe’ sounds like the word “politics.” That is the literal meaning. The only other time with word is used is in Acts 23:1: “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.”
Philippi was a Roman colony. It named after King Philip II or Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. It was a prosperous Roman colony. The people dressed like Romans and often spoke Latin (from NIV Application Commentary: Philippians). They knew the privileges and responsibilities of citizenship. Paul point out that he was born a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) and that came with it rights.
Many of us are newer citizens of Canada. We have some from other countries and found Canada as our new home. We know the privileges of citizenship when we use our passport.
After my wife Flora and I became citizen is 2007. I was shortly called for jury duty, one of the responsibilities of citizenship. We learned about the justice system and many names were called to serve. I learned about people and citizenship that day.
As good citizens we want to represent our country well. Our neighbors to the south are often called “ugly Americans” due to their conduct abroad. We want to be known as good representatives of Jesus Christ and not “ugly Christians.”
2. Display Unity
Here the apostle Paul tells us how we are to represent Christ. We are first to stand firm
In one spirit. This is a defensive stance. Just like the Canadian football team defense digs in to not give up any yards. Lock arms. Join together. Stand firm. It doesn’t mean we all have the same opinion or we blindly follow our leaders. One person said where there are two Baptists, there are three different opinions. In Baptist polity, Christ is the head of the church, then the people, then the leaders. Of course there is an intermingling of people and leaders.
Don’t disturb the unity. That unity has been established by Christ.
We are to contend as one person for the faith of the gospel. We are to be on the offense. We are to promote the gospel. At the end of October we have Reformation Sunday where we recognized the Protestant Reformation as well as Martin Luther, who nailed his 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517, the eve of All Saints’ Day. It is the 500th year in 2017. The tradition of Reformation Sunday offers an opportunity to celebrate our heritage and history, to affirm our central theological convictions and to consider God’s ongoing reformation of the church: salvation by grace through faith, centrality of the Word (both preached and visible in the Lord’s Supper), and participation of all people in worship through congregational singing and vernacular reading of scripture and preaching.
This gospel explained in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 – Christ died for our sins and was resurrected.
We are not frightened by the opposition. We don’t have fear for the Lord is with us. Study the “fear nots” in Scripture. One boy is a play who said, “It’s me and I’m scared.”
People disagree with our Christian viewpoints. People may make fun of us. Family members laugh.
Outcome is our salvation, their destruction.
3. Suffer for your faith
Suffering goes right along with representing Christ and trying to be a unified Christian
Body. It has been granted or appointed. 2 Timothy 3:12 Paul notes that everyone who want to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. This is opposition from the outside. North America is one of the few areas that has not gone through persecution as Christians.
Some of you are from areas where you have experienced persecution for your faith. Here is information on Myanmar.
Struggles to stand up for Christ in the workplace, your school, your neighborhood, the society. We need wisdom, courage and boldness.
Next Sunday is Advent when our attention turns to the incarnation and movement toward Christmas. I saw some Advent calendars in the store. Guess what was on them? Santa Claus. No Christian advent. Same chocolate treats!
The season is a great time to represent Christ. You have an event next Saturday to invite friends. What they say, let’s keep Christ in Christmas as we represent Christ individually and as a unified church.
Getz, Gene A. Pressing On When You’d Rather Turn Back: Studies in Philippians. Ventura: Regal, 1983
Thielman, Frank. The NIV Application Commentary: Philippians. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995.