Sunday, 25 December 2016
…and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. Philippians 1:28
Paul just spoke of their need to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” He now adds to this by saying, “and not in any way terrified by your adversaries.” The word translated as “terrified” is found only here in the Bible. It means to be terrified as if a horse when frightened. It is then a mind of terror and confusion.
We are not to be startled and terrified in such a way when facing our adversaries. For those in Philippi, they had both the Judaizers and the pagans as their enemies. These people came at them in hopes of terrifying them, probably to undermine their faith so that they would then follow them, as a horse is eventually subdued and led away. But he has already told them to “stand fast” and to be “striving together.” In so doing, they will not be susceptible to being so terrified.
Their ability to not be terrified in this way was to be “to them a proof of perdition.” Their enemies were on the wrong path, and in their inability to shake the resolve of the faithful, it was to demonstrate that fact. This would leave them with two choices: 1) They could repent of their ways and turn to the truth of Christ, or 2) they could continue down the path to perdition, meaning condemnation and an eternal swim in the Lake of Fire.
And not only was this a proof of their perdition, but it was also a proof of the believer’s state concerning salvation. If one stands fast, there must be something that they are standing fast on. If they were “striving together for the sake of the gospel,” it means that they were aware of the gospel, they understood its meaning and ramifications, and they were able to keep it faithfully.
These two things, the fear of perdition for those opposed to the gospel, and the hope of salvation for those who were saved by the gospel, are tokens “from God.” The one will stand as a witness against the lost when they stand before Him, and the other will stand as a witness for the saved when they come before Him. The gospel is the token of condemnation for some and of salvation for others. It is like the pillar of cloud described by Moses –
“Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.” Exodus 14:20
Life application: Don’t be led astray by universalist teachings which say that everyone eventually goes to heaven. That is proven false here, and in numerous other verses of Scripture. It is a heretical lie. Stand fast on the gospel which says that only those who come to Christ will be saved.
Glorious God Almighty, it is a comfort to know the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to understand that it means salvation for mankind, if we will but receive the Gift and accept it. The message itself is a witness against those who reject it, and it is a token of salvation to those who receive it. Thank You for the surety we possess through this marvelous message of peace and reconciliation with You! Thank You for Jesus who has made all things new. Amen.