lesson
6

Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

STANDING FIRM TOGETHER
Philippians 1:27-30

warm up
  T or F Faith is personal and we don't need other Christians to help us in our struggle with Satan.

T or F Even a strong faith can be fortified when we are with other faithful Christians.
Discuss: What ideas come to mind when you hear the expression "stand fast (or firm)?"
[  ] Holding your ground  [  ] Strong Conviction [  ] Commitment [  ] Other
Discuss: What are some benefits of standing together with others against a common foe?
wise up
   1. Paul closed this chapter stating that the Philippians may not to be able to depend upon his presence when it comes to standing up for their convictions.  (Compare a similar thought in Phil 2:12.) Of course, he is not suggesting that each Christian must stand alone. Each one is a part of a larger group... indeed, an army of Christians! Paul knew that there is great benefit to being a part of a congregation where each can profit from the mutual faith and courage of others. There is probably no greater joy for a preacher than to hear of the steadfastness of his students. (Cf., 3 John 4.) While Paul probably had confidence that these brethren will live up to his every expectation of them, he still reminds them to "let your conversation (manner of life) be as it becometh (or adorns) the gospel of Christ."

   2. The expression, "the faith," as used in the context of verse 27, refers to the Christian religion rather than personal conviction. (Compare a similar text in Jude 3.) Wherever Christians reside, they not only must standfast (or firm) "in the faith" (I Cor. 16:13),  and "in the Lord" (Phil 4:1) but they must also stand firm "for the faith of the gospel" (Vs. 27). Obviously, "WHAT" we stand "for" is important. But in this text, Paul also indicates that "HOW" one stands is equally important. As God's people we must stand firm with a unity of spirit, a sense of togetherness, and with collective courage. Are we doing that?

I. Are we standing firm... in one spirit with one mind? Vs. 27

   1.
Is there such a thing as "kindred spirits?"  What does that expression mean? What did Paul mean by the expression: "one spirit and one mind?" 
   2. Can a congregation of people really be kindred spirits? Can they really be so united in love and purpose and resolve that they are of one heart, one mind, one spirit? Discuss how such could be possible. What are some things that might hinder such unity? 

II. Are we standing firm... shoulder to shoulder? Vs. 27

   1.
Paul encouraged the brethren at Philippi to "strive together" for the faith of the gospel. The expression "strive together" implies a mutual effort of standing shoulder to shoulder and side by side in some endeavor.
   2. Paul is using military terms to discuss the stand that Christians are to take together against their adversaries and in defense of the faith. In essence he is saying that every Christian is on the front line! What are some of the things Christians do for one another as they stand by each other's side? (Cf., Phil 2:3, Col. 2:2, Gal 6:2, Rom 14:19, Jude 1:23, etc.)

III. Are we standing firm... without fear? Vs. 28

   1.
"No fear" is a popular slogan but Paul suggests that it should be a Christian's way of life when it comes to our mutual adversaries. Who are the adversaries of a Christian? (Cf., I Pet. 5:8, Eph 6:12.) Christians hold the high ground but Satan and his allies want it! 
   2.
What happens in a battle when some break rank and flee in fear? (Discuss what happened to Barnabas when Peter broke rank in Gal. 2:11-13. Do similar things happen today among God's people? Why?) Paul mentioned that the courage seen in faithful Christians can be a clear "token" (or sign) of perdition (judgment) to our adversaries. On the other hand, what might cowardliness indicate? What happens in a congregation when brethren become fearful and cowardly and fail to stand fast? If fear encourages fear, discuss how standing side by side with courageous Christians in this adversarial battle brings mutual courage to brethren and dismay to our enemies. 

IV. Are we standing firm... in our mutual conflict? Vs. 29-30

   1.
In every city and township, Christians are engaged in spiritual skirmishes and battles but there is really only one war (conflict.) 
   2.
Paul used the word "conflict" (singular and not plural) in verse 30. It is a conflict between good and evil, between God and Satan and each faithful Christian, like Paul himself, will suffer for the sake of Christ. (Cf., 2 Tim. 3:12, I Pet. 4:16.)  Discuss why this happens as time permits.

wrap up
   1. It is important what a person stands "for." Are we standing firmly united, striving together "for the faith of the gospel?"

   2.  When we stand firm as outlined in this text, our lives will adorn (make attractive) the gospel of Christ.  
Assignment

  Please read Philippians 2:1-4 for next week   copyright 2001