Q. I have a question based on something my former youth pastor posted on Facebook. He used Philippians 1:27-29 to deny salvation through faith alone. That doesn’t seem right to me. What are your thoughts on that?
A. Here’s what Philippians 1:27-28 says:
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.”
If Paul had intended for these verses to be taken the way your youth pastor said, then he would have been contradicting what he wrote in several other places.
For instance he said everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved in Romans 10:13.
He said our inheritance was guaranteed from the moment we heard the gospel and believed it in Ephesians 1:13-14.
He said we’re saved by grace through faith and not by works in Ephesians 2:8-9.
He said it’s God who makes us stand firm in Christ, that He set His mark of ownership on us and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come in 2 Cor. 1:21-22.
When someone is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he cannot contradict himself.
In Philippians 1:27-28 Paul was exhorting the believers in Philippi to live in a manner worthy of Christ as a sign to the unbelievers around them that they were saved while the others would be destroyed.
The way we live is always the most powerful witness of our faith that we can present to the world around us. Remaining true to what we believe even in the face of persecution will draw more unbelievers to us than any amount of preaching and evangelism could do. They want to know what we have that gives us such peace in times of trouble because they know they don’t have it.