The Furtherance of the Gospel
INTRODUCTION: In our morning service we are considering one of the Apostle Paul's prison epistles, his letter to the Philippian Church. Paul is a prisoner in Rome and from Philippians 1:12-18; we would like to consider this man's situation and his reaction to it. He says,
“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (13) So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; (14) And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (15) Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: (16) The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: (17) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. (18) What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
By his own testimony, we know Paul had a great desire, a goal, to preach the gospel in the imperial city of Rome.
He had preached to the heathen in Galatia.
He had preached in Ephesus, the center of pagan worship.
He had preached in Philippi, the entrance to Europe.
He had preached in Corinth, the pagan city located at the cross road of the world.
Now his greatest desire was to preach in the city of Rome, which was the hub of the universe in that day. If Paul could conquer Rome for Christ, it would mean reaching thousands with the message of salvation.
In Acts 19:21; Paul expressed his agenda, his vision, his objective where we read, "After these things…Paul purposed in the spirit…to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome."
From Corinth he wrote in Romans 1:15; "So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel to ye that are in Rome also."
Then, when Paul was under fierce attack for His stand for the gospel in Jerusalem, we read in Acts 23:11; that the Lord stood by him and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome."
Well, the day finally arrived. Following his arrest in Jerusalem, and a perilous journey where his life literally hung in the balance, he finally arrived in Rome. However, he didn't come to Rome as a PREACHER. Rather, he came as a PRISONER. Instead of freely walking the streets of Rome, he was behind the bars of a Roman prison. Circumstances seemed against him. But:
Paul knew God could turn opposition into opportunity.
Paul knew that human opposition only enhances God's glory.
Many would say, “Look at this man. He is a failure. He's in jail.” However, Paul did not find his joy in ideal circumstances, he found his JOY in winning others to Christ. If his circumstances promoted the "furtherance of the gospel" that was all that mattered!
The word "furtherance" in verse 12 means "pioneer advance." It is a Greek military term referring to the army engineers who go before the troops to open the way into new territory. Paul viewed his imprisonment as the removal of barriers to the Gospel in Rome. So in these verses, Paul talks about his CHAINS and his CRITICS. He tells us:
In verses 12-13 how adversity provides opportunities for witness.
In verse 14, how adversity produced courage in fellow believers.
In verses 15-18 how adversity proves the character of his critics.
Someone said, "A real test of the genuineness of a Christian’s profession is witnessed when one finds himself under PRESSURE, PROVOCATION, and PERSECUTION. I venture to say that victory amongst the vicissitudes of life is rare indeed. Our reaction to a sudden unexpected change of condition or circumstance shows up a weakness in many of us. Some Christians are thrown completely off balance if anyone disagrees with them, and under more trying circumstances they go all to pieces. Then he concludes by saying, "The Christian’s attitude toward the restrictions of life determines largely the depth of their spiritual experience."
Now, here was the Apostle Paul in this DISTASTEFUL and DISTRESSFUL situation, and it is herein we have a lesson in GENUINENESS. Whatever the Apostle Paul professed, that's what he was, wherever he happened to be.
Reading carefully through the first chapter of Philippians, you will discover the number of references to the gospel.
Verse 5 we read of the "fellowship in the Gospel."
Verse 7 we read of the "confirmation of the Gospel."
Verse 12 we read of the "furtherance of the Gospel."
Verse 17 we read of the "defense of the gospel."
Verse 27 we read of the “faith of the Gospel."
Paul is saying: I have been put in this DISTASTEFUL and DISTRESSFUL place in order that I might, in my witness, further the gospel. Hold it! Have you ever stopped to think, just maybe that's why God has placed you where you happen to be? Maybe in a work place, or maybe in a community, or maybe even in a family (even though sometimes it might be DISTASTEFUL and sometimes it might be DISTRESSFUL that you might further the gospel where you are.
In Romans 1:16; Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth…”
In I Corinthians 9:16; he also said, "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel."
Paul was in jail because he had been preaching the gospel. Yet even in jail, he was still preaching the gospel.
This man's concern was spreading the gospel message of the "Death, Burial and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ" to everyone he could.
This man's concern was the great commission that Jesus gave in Mark 16:15 to all of us before He went back to glory, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
My friends, our mandate as believers in the Lord Jesus is to preach the gospel. That's why God primarily keeps us on this planet. After we are saved,
We are not here primarily to enjoy one another’s company, we could just as easily do that in heaven.
We are not here to primarily worship God; we could worship God more effectively in heaven.
We are not here to have fellowship with one another; we could be doing that in heaven.
We are here for one purpose. That is to carry out this great commission. We are here for the furtherance of the gospel. This was Paul's great passion. He evaluated every circumstance of life by this one issue. How would it effect the spread of the gospel.
Let me ask you, “Is this your passion, to carry out the mandate from Jesus Christ to "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature?" If it is, then that means every circumstance in your life ought to be evaluated in line with this all consuming passion, the passion of spreading the gospel.
You know, I find it amazing that the Apostle Paul had been walking with the Lord for some 25 years when this epistle was written. Paul was not a new convert and yet he maintained his zeal for the Lord.
Often I find that new converts are full of zeal, trying to get everyone they meet saved. But frequently older Christians sit back, kind of waiting and watching, saying, "That's great, just give them time, they'll outgrow that zeal and get on into deeper things, the profound concepts of the Bible. Just wait until they become more mature."
I want to tell you something. Getting deeper into scripture and missing the zeal and the passion for the gospel to reach souls for Christ, is NOT spiritual maturity. If anything, it’s spiritual CONSTIPATION! There is a problem with many "mature saints;" whenever they lose their enthusiasm to share Jesus Christ with others, they become stale and sour saints.
Now the same God who used Moses’ rod, and Gideon's pitcher, and David's sling also used Paul's chains. Little did the Romans realize that the chains they affixed to his wrists would release Paul instead of binding him. He did not complain about his chains. Instead he consecrated them to God and asked God to use them for the "pioneer advance" of the gospel.
Now what's so important in verse 12 is not what Paul says, but what he does not say. “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;…” Perhaps you noticed in verse 12 that there are two ITALICIZED WORDS. Whenever you find italics in your King James Version of the Bible, they were added by the translators for emphases as they were not written in that manner by the author.
The two words that I am referring to are "which happened." Now happenings are those things which take place by chance. In the life of a child of God, nothing HAPPENS BY CHANCE. We ought never to say to one another, "Well, good luck!" A believer never has luck.
Whatever happens in the life of a child of God is either as the result of the directive or permissive will of God. So verse 12 ought to read, "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things God purposed in my life, have fallen out, resulting in the furtherance of the gospel."
You know sometimes God has to put chains on us.
Maybe the chains are in the form of sickness, or an accident.
Maybe the chains put us into a position totally not of our choosing or of our making.
Maybe the chains require us to face some situation the world looks at as disastrous.
This may be done to get us believers to accomplish a "pioneer advance" that could never happen any other way. It often takes opposition to bring out this truth. I have sometimes thought that believers suffer not WITH persecution but really from the LACK OF persecution.
It has been said, "The blood of the martyrs looked like defeat for the church during the dark ages, but it really became their rallying point, the seed of the church."
We in America know nothing of persecution for the gospel's sake.
We know how to prosecute one another because of our own hurt feelings, from having our spiritual rights trampled upon.
We may feel from time to time a little discomfort because of the weather or from being under the weather or from some inconvenience.
But to really suffer persecution, we rarely if ever have experienced it. Our so called American fundamentalism is just stuck in neutral gear. What ever comes, comes. We compromise for the sake of peace, rather than “standing up for the Faith that was once delivered unto the saints.” Tragically, many believers feel they are doing something extra, or doing God a favor, if they even go to church.
Today there are believers all over the world who cannot go to church except through pain and suffering.
There are those who would be beaten, if they announced they belonged to Christ.
There are young people who would be whipped and abused; some would even be put to death if they said they believed in Jesus Christ.
Yet in their lives and communities, there is often a level of consecration far above what we have amongst us. I realize this illustration goes back to 1978. However, let this testimony of Lisa Vins during her days as a school girl in Communist Russia entitled, "I am not ashamed…" sink into your thinking.
One day the teacher announced to our ninth grade class: "Today you will write a composition entitled 'Lenin's Place in My Heart.' You should write what Lenin did for all people in the world and what he has done for your family. Of course, you will write that Lenin occupies the main place in your heart and that you love him very much!"
Everybody began to write. It was so quiet in the classroom…I prayed silently: "God, help me! What shall I do? Only You, Lord Jesus, are in my heart, not Lenin. If I write candidly about this I will have so many problems! What shall I do, Lord Jesus?" Then I recalled Romans 1:16; where the Apostle Paul had written, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. …"
Most of the students had already finished their composition when I began to write: "Lenin was a leader of the revolution in Russia in 1917. He is a famous man. But he is only a man, not God. I love Jesus; my heart belongs to Him. So there is no room in my heart for Lenin. .." Then I wrote what Jesus did for me, how He gave His life for my sins and made me happy!
The class ended. I gave my composition to the teacher and left the room. The next day the teacher called me to her office. She was enraged: "Lisa, what is this? How could you be so impudent? Do you know that I will have to send this composition to the KGB? Do you know that if you will continue thinking this way you will never study in a university or institute? We are being very kind to you. You could be expelled for this! Take this composition home and rewrite it. Write about Lenin, not about Christ! If you believe in God, be silent about Him. Do not talk to anyone about your faith and never write about it. Believe quietly in your God, but in your composition write that you love Lenin. How can you love some kind of Jesus more than Lenin? You are a fanatic! Rewrite your composition immediately!"
I told her that I could not. I loved Jesus; therefore, I could not do what she asked. For a long time she spoke harshly to me. She criticized my father, George Vins, who was imprisoned in a concentration camp in Siberia for preaching the Gospel.
A few days later she informed me: "I sent your composition to the KGB. From now on I will send all your compositions to the KGB." The other teachers at school also read my composition. Some teachers even read it aloud in class and discussed it with their students.
I was so glad! Because of my composition, many people at school were hearing about Jesus and my love for Him. God protected me in a marvelous way! In some schools children are beaten because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes children are taken away from their Christian parents and put into special state orphanages for re-education. They are forbidden to see their parents.
When my father was exiled to the United States in April 1979, our family was allowed to join him. Now I live in America and can study the Bible freely. But children in my homeland go to atheistic schools. Everyday they are taught that there is no God. What would you have done, had you been Lisa?
Holding your place here in Philippians, please turn to Romans 8:35-39; where we read,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (36) As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, (39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Would you notice those words in verse 37, "…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."
Now, the question I would like to ask is, "ARE WE MORE THAN CONQUERORS?" I sometimes presume the only way we can be VICTORIOUS in the Christian life is to be extracted from the difficulties of life. Isn’t that what we pray about?
"Lord extract me from this difficulty, enable me to get out of it, and once I am out of it, then I will be able to live a victorious life."
That's not what God's Word is telling us, rather "in all THESE THINGS we are more then conquerors." The Apostle Paul, in this disastrous situation and in any other ones he faced, is not complaining nor griping. Rather he’s committed to his Heavenly Father knowing he is on the side of victory. What a lesson in GENUINENESS.
Verse 13 Tells us how adversity provides opportunities for witness, “So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;…” When the apostle spoke of his bonds being manifested in the palace, he was referring to the "Praetorian Guard" a chosen division of crack imperial troops, whose assignments were to guard the prisoners waiting for an audience with Caesar.
For twenty-four hours a day, Paul was chained to a Roman Soldier. Every six hours, the shift changed. So Paul had four prospects for salvation every day of the week. During his two year imprisonment, he would have been able to engage in almost three-thousand witnessing opportunities with Rome's top military personnel.
Remember Philippians, a prison epistle, was written during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment.
In Acts 28:30-31; we read, “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, (31) Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” From this account, you see that Paul had great freedom even though he was a prisoner.
Now compare this with Philippians 1:12-13, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; (13) So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;…” Did you notice the phrase in verse 13 "and in all other places" which simply means he was also making an impact on others as well.
Have you even considered that, just maybe, God has YOU in some difficult place for the purpose of sharing the gospel with someone?
Maybe it is at a job, or
May be it is in a family situation, or
Maybe it is because of poor health that you are placed into a hospital.
Whatever or wherever it maybe, your challenge is to look beyond the adverse situation, so that you recognize a greater design in your life which is to carry out the plan of God.
Verse 14 tells us how adversity produced courage in fellow believers, “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident in my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Someone said, "Bravery is contagious! Persecution can be productive!" Paul's chains actually became a stimulus to other believers. One has to wonder what would have become of the Gospel, had it not been for persecution. It was often the impetus to evangelism.
However, you know as well as I do, that there has always been a reluctance to speak out for Jesus Christ. This has always been one of the problems of the church. It was the same, even in Jesus day. There were those who talked about and those who believed in Jesus, but they would not openly confess Him. One of the reasons was, "lest they should be PUT OUT of the synagogue."
I would stop with those words "PUT OUT." There are many people who don't speak out for Christ, lest they be "put out." They don't want to be put out of their way. They don't want to go out of their way to win a soul to Christ.
But you know, it's a wonderful thing when we are stimulated to speak out for Christ. Paul was saying, "Now that I am restricted in prison, this situation has become a stimulus to others who were somewhat reluctant to speak out for Jesus."
I wonder what will stimulate you to stand up and speak out for Christ. I believe coming to the house of God ought to be a stimulus for you. Each and every message ought to:
Stimulate you to do something for the cause of Christ, either in your life or others.
Stimulate you to pray.
Stimulate you to read God's Word.
Stimulate you to witness when you leave this place.
Stimulate you to get your heart right with God or right with one another.
You should be a stimulus to encourage others to want to live and walk with the Lord. Pastors can't live where you live, or work where you work. God has put you there:
Maybe in some trying circumstance,
Maybe in some distasteful place, or
Maybe under some kind of persecution.
My question to you is, “What are you going to do about it? Are you going to complain about your problem, or are you going to rejoice in the opportunities to further the gospel?” Think about that as we come to the last point.
Verses 15-18 Tell us how adversity proves the character of his critics,
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: (16) The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: (17) But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. (18) What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
Paul brings up the subject of his critics and shows us an example of being charitable.
As Paul looked out upon the church, he saw encouraging things, but he also saw many discouraging things. He saw not only those who were supporting him in his trials, but also those who were taking advantage of his trials and attempting to "afflict" him.
These men were not false teachers, because Paul said they preached Christ. He rejoiced in the MESSAGE they preached, but he was grieved by the MANNER in which they delivered it. THEY PREACHED FROM ENVY AND PARTISANSHIP.
Notice just one word from verse 16, it's the word "contention." It means "to canvass for office, to get people to support you." Paul's aim was to glorify Christ and get people to follow Him. His critics' aim was to promote themselves and win a following of their own. Unfortunately this kind of "religious politics" is still with us today.
Returning to the opening verse of our text, “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;…” May God help you and I to rejoice in whatsoever situation we are placed into. That our lives will exhibit:
A genuine spirit of faithfulness,
A soul winning spirit in getting the gospel out,
A stimulating spirit as an encouragement to others,
A charitable spirit to others.
Why? Because the gospel is getting out. Amen and Amen!
Has God spoken to your heart after reading the sermon on “The furtherance of the gospel?” Then why not right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to email@example.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
Permission to copy: Because the “Weekly SERMON” will be reproduced into other formats, PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE FOLLOWING: The “Weekly SERMON” in its original form, without any changes, may be copied and re-transmitted by electronic mail, and copies may be printed for individual or ministry purposes, provided that such copying, re-transmission, printing, or other use is not for profit or other commercial purpose. Any copying, re-transmission, distribution, printing, or other use of the “Weekly SERMON” must set forth in full the heading that is given before each “Weekly SERMON.” Any other request for use, please contact Bible Baptist Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 570.829.5216.
PS: In order to access the Weekly SERMON, in various FORMATS please SUBSCRIBE to our weekly email list at https://theweeklysermon.com/subscribe-or-unsubscribe/ where SUBSCRIBERS ONLY have access to the link to Weekly Sermon Library, SUBSCRIBERS can choose: Plain Text (TXT), Microsoft Word document (DOC), Rich Text (RTF), Web Page (HTML) or PDF (Portable Document Format), any of the format(s) you desire. After you decide on the appropriate format(s) you may then print a copy of the Weekly SERMON, save it to a file on your computer, or download it and save it to a disk for future use. SUBSCRIBERS use of this material is meant to be flexible: UNSUBSCRIBING is easy, just follow the same link above..