August 8, 2022

How to Live a Life Worthy of the Gospel


This is an exerpt from the full podcast episode “Living a Worthy Life, In-Church Controversy, and the Spotlight Effect”.

Let’s talk about living a worthy life. You may ask, “Worthy of what?” Well, in Philippians 1:27-28, Paul writes,

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.

Philippians 1:27-28

The Context of Philippians 1:27-28

So, to understand the context of this verse a little bit, Paul is in prison when he’s writing this letter to the church in Philippi. He’s probably sitting on the floor of his prison cell penning this letter to the Philippians, and he’s in prison for preaching the Gospel in the first place. He’s writing this letter to them to encourage them and tell them, listen, keep living for the gospel, keep preaching the gospel, keep doing the things that you’re doing, even though I’m in prison for these things. These are the things that God has called us to do. So, keep doing it.

He’s encouraging them according to the Scriptures. In fact, you can actually tell he’s quite personal with this church because he goes through this whole, you know, to live is Christ, to die is gain thing. He’s kind of struggling with himself in the passage. If you read Philippians 1, it’s quite interesting, because it’s almost like he’s having this internal battle because he’s saying, to live is Christ-like to live is to live for Christ. It’s living in a way that is worthy of what Christ has done, but also to die is gain because I go to be with the Lord. He actually has this whole, like internal conflict, because he’s saying, for me, it would be better to die because I could go be with Jesus. However, I would rather live for the sake of you guys, meaning the Philippians, because I can encourage you; I can preach to you the gospel.

What Was Paul’s View of a Life Worthy of the Gospel?

This is kind of the encouragement that he’s like giving them. He’s saying, live a life worthy of the gospel. Now, we’ve got to imagine what is Paul’s definition of a life worthy of the gospel. I mean, this man has been through it, like he’s been through shipwrecks, he’s been beaten I don’t know how many times. One of my favorite stories from the Bible, especially from the New Testament, is when Paul is in one of the cities and he’s preaching the gospel. The people literally come and beat him for preaching the gospel and they beat him so close to the point of death that they think he’s dead. So they take his body and they go dump him in a dumpster outside of the city. Literally, Paul gets back out of the dumpster and walks back into the city to continue preaching. That is crazy!

So if you think about that, that’s the guy that’s writing this; that’s the guy that is saying, “I’m imploring you to live a life worthy of the gospel.” We’ve got to imagine that his definition of a life worthy of the gospel has to be some heavy stuff. He isn’t saying go get imprisoned. He isn’t saying go get beaten. However, we have to understand those were the by-products. They weren’t the things that he was aiming for. He was aiming for living a life worthy of the gospel. He was aiming for preaching the gospel – living what Christ said – and those are the things that got him in prison. Those are the things that got him beaten.

Our Struggle with Living a Worthy Life in the 21st Century

I think this is where we struggle a little bit in our culture today. The reason Paul was in prison, the reason he was beaten, and all of these things, is because the gospel at the time was so counter-cultural that the people of the city would come and beat him and imprison him because he was preaching things that were so against what the norm was. I think we struggle with that today.

I think this is why we struggle in living a life worthy of the gospel, living in a way that takes advantage of the gift of life that Christ has given us. I think this is why we struggle because to do that, you have to live so counter-cultural. I mean, let’s be honest, the culture of today is so anti-Jesus. It’s so against everything that God has to say. It’s so against the Bible. It’s so against all the things that Jesus is calling us to, that to live a life worthy of the gospel is extremely difficult because it’s so counter-cultural that we’re going to get made fun of, we’re going to get persecuted, we’re going to get mocked.

I mean, we see this in our society, people who are following and living a life worthy of the gospel, especially those who are in the online community and really pushing the gospel out there through these online platforms. They’re getting flack for it because this is what it looks like to live a life worthy of the gospel. It’s to preach the gospel. It’s to live the way Jesus has called you to live. It’s so countercultural that we’re going to get crap for it. It’s just part of the deal.

So this is kind of where we struggle because we’re called to stand out, but we’d actually rather kind of fit in with the world. We’d rather fit in with our friends that are unbelievers and the people that we’re around because it’s easier. Let’s just be honest; it’s a lot easier to fit in with people who you’re around all the time than to live a life worthy of the gospel. I just think it’s kind of interesting or even ironic in a sense because we live in a world that’s so obsessed with being unique and standing out being apart from the crowd. Yet we as Christians are scared to stand out for the gospel, even though the gospel is literally the only thing in this world that is worth standing out for.

What Does it Look Like to Live a Life Worthy of the Gospel?

So, I suppose the question we have to ask ourselves in light of what Philippians 1 is saying, in light of what Paul is imploring us to do, is what does it look like in the 21st century to live a life that’s worthy of the gospel? I think in order to answer that question, we have to ask another question, which is, what is the gospel?

What Even is the Gospel?

Really, at its core, the gospel is that God designed humanity to live a certain way. He designed humanity to function in a certain way and to live according to what God says because God was our Creator, God was our designer. So obviously, he knows best. Yet as we know, Adam and Eve kind of screwed that up for us. Sin entered the world and brokenness entered the world. We no longer live according to that initial design that God set out for us.

I think something important we have to establish here is that God’s commands, the things that He tells us to do; He tells us to do those things because that’s what’s best for us. It’s not just because he wants to limit our lives or limit our fun or anything like that. No, it’s because God created us, he designed us, and he designed us to live in a certain way, so his design for us is going to be what’s best for us. That’s why the Word is so important. In the Word we can see, what is God’s design for my life? How can I live according to the way that my Creator has said that I should live?

Yet we know that that’s not the case, right? We know that we’re broken people, we know that we sin, we know that we do this on a daily basis. So God, because of our infinite debt to him, and because of his love for us, he needed a way to pay that debt because he’s loving, but he’s also just. There has to be a repayment of the punishment that we have incurred upon ourselves because of our sin. So instead of making us take it upon ourselves, He sent Jesus Christ, his only son, to come and live the life that we cannot live. He lived a perfect life, he lived a sinless life, but then he died the death that we actually deserve because of our sin. He paid the price for us. It’s like someone coming and paying your penalty, putting you on bail, and getting you out of prison for the crime, the crime that you committed because instead, they paid the price on your behalf.

Since Christ did that, and then he rose again after he was killed, we can then identify with him, believe in what he did, and partake in the life that he bought when he rose from the dead and defeated the grave. So living a life that is worthy of that gospel, worthy of that good news, is living a life that takes advantage of the gift that Christ has given you.

For example, if God gives you life and he set you free from sin, to go back to living in sin and death is not taking advantage of the gift that God has given you. That is not a life worthy of the gospel. We have to evaluate ourselves and say, how can I personally live a life worthy of the gospel? How can I change my life to reflect the gift that God has given me? How can I reflect the life that Jesus Christ came and died for me to have? How can I live a life that takes that and uses it for the kingdom, builds up God’s kingdom, and glorifies Him above all else, because that is our purpose on this earth? How can we do that?

According to 2 Corinthians 5:17,

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

We are called to put off the old life, put on the new life, and live lives that are worthy of the gospel.

How to Start Living for Eternity

Before I got married, when I lived in my old room at my parents’ house, I used to have this wall of sticky notes that I would put up quotes, scriptures, or things that would kind of encourage me and remind me of what is good or what are the things that I should be setting my mind upon. I had this sticky note; it was my favorite one. All it said was, “Does what you’re doing right now have any eternal significance?” That hit me when I first read that from someone else. Does what I’m doing right now have any eternal significance?

I think if we talk about living a life worthy of the gospel, we have to live life in light of eternity, right? If the gospel is what gives us life, and gives us eternal life with God, then we have to ask ourselves, what can we be doing now that reflects upon eternity? Really, when you break it down, there are only three things that we actually take with us from now into eternity – three things that we can do, or work on in this life, that actually affect our eternity. Those three things are 1) our relationship with God, 2) our relationships with other people, and 3) spreading the gospel and taking the good news to people who haven’t heard it, because that is going to give those people the same life that we have experienced. That’s going to bring those people into eternity. Those are the only three things that actually have an effect on our eternity. Isn’t that crazy?

Everything else that we do throughout the day; if it doesn’t affect our relationship with God, if it doesn’t affect our relationships with other people, if it’s not spreading the Gospel across the world to bring more people into God’s kingdom, it has no effect on eternity. So when we talk about living a life worthy of the gospel, what are you doing? What am I doing?

This is something I’ve struggled with. What am I spending my time on? What am I spending my money on? What am I spending my energy on? If these are the only things that we take with us into eternity, and we are called to live a life that is worthy of the gospel which is the good news about Jesus bringing us this eternal life, then we have to figure out what can we be doing to actually affect those things. What can we be doing to actually build our relationships with God, build our relationships with other people and bring other people into God’s kingdom? Obviously, we don’t do the saving, but God has chosen to partner with us, so we can choose to take up that call or not.

Here's the Key to All of This

Just for further reference, the key to doing all of this is being plugged into Jesus. Go look at John chapter 15. I just preached a sermon on this a couple weeks ago. I mean, Jesus literally says, you can do nothing apart from me, nothing of eternal significance you can do apart from me. So, as you work on living a life worthy of the gospel, as you work on doing and developing these three things in your life, make sure you’re plugged into Jesus; but that’s a whole different episode on its own.