The Logic of Fearlessness

John Piper writes:

Paul told the Philippians that living worthy of the gospel of Christ meant fearlessness before enemies.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . . not frightened in anything by your opponents (Philippians 1:27-28).

Then he gave the logic of fearlessness.

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake (Philipians 1:29).

The logic is this:

God has given you two gifts, not just one: Faith and suffering. That’s what verse 29 says.

In this context that means: Both your faith in the face of suffering, and your suffering are gifts of God. When Paul says, don’t be frightened by your opponents he had two reasons in his mind why they don’t need to be frightened:

  1. One reason is that the opponents are in the hand of God. Their opposition is a gift from God. He governs it. That’s the first point of verse 29.
  2. And the other reason not to be afraid is that your fearlessness, that is, your faith, is also in the hand of God. It too is a gift. That is the other point of verse 29.

So the logic of fearlessness in the face of adversity is this double truth: Both your adversity and your faith in the face of adversity are gifts of God.

Why is this called “living worthy of the gospel of Christ” (v. 27)? Because the gospel is the good news that Christ’s blood of the covenant infallibly obtained for all his people the sovereign working of God to give us faith and to govern our enemies — always for our eternal good.

Therefore, fear not. Your adversaries can do no more than God grants. And he will grant you the faith you need. These promises are blood bought and sealed. Gospel promises.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

3 thoughts on “The Logic of Fearlessness

  1. In the case of the picture presented here, God has allowed the Christians to be mauled, killed and eaten by the lions.Scripture tells us that we will be persecuted for our faith and there are certainly many examples of this in the Bible. Christian martyrdom, however, when considered as being allowed by God , is sometimes difficult to grasp.

    • Thanks for your comment Richard.. The ultimate example of faithfulness in the face of opposition is Jesus of course. His way is the disciples way. Western (Christian) culture has not only diminished a biblical understanding of God, it has also exaggerated the rights of the Christian, removing any theology of suffering.

      • Peter that is so very true,now more and more Christians are even trying to get around suffering and the Bible is filled with promises dealing with suffering. Suffering is just as important as having money,a big house,name brand clothes and shoes and all of the other stuff we try to own. We will suffer because we’re no better than our Saviour and He suffered dearly for our total freedom.

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