Advancement of the Gospel
Advancement of the Gospel
Life of Joy in Christ
"I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12, ESV)
Prokopen (Pro-ko-pay) Progress, Advance, Cut or Strike Forward
1. Paul wants the believers at Philippi (and us) to learn an important truth: there are no accidents with God. Instead of Paul's ministry being curtailed because of his bondage, it was being advanced.
This reminds us that it is the same God who used Moses' rod, Gideon's pitchers, and David's slingshot, used Paul's chains. Little did the Romans realize that the chains they put on his wrists would release Paul instead of bind him!
What has happened in your life to "advance the gospel?"
2. Paul wrote during a later imprisonment, "for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!" (2 Timothy 2:9, ESV). He did not complain about his chains; instead he consecrated them to God and asked God to use them for the advance of the Gospel. (Isa 55:10-11)
"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:10-11, ESV)
Do you find yourself complaining about the situation that the Lord has you in?
3. The Philippians were concerned for Paul and sent Epaphroditus to help him. He writes back to comfort them and shows them that God is Sovereign in all things and the chains that bind him have themselves become the instruments of salvation to many. Trials and suffering to further the Gospel is Biblical. In fact, being tried as in fire is a theme that the Bible paints in many ways. (Job 23:10; Ps 66:10-12; Pro 17:3; Isa 1:25; 48:10; 1 Pet 1:7)
"But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold." (Job 23:10, ESV)
"For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance." (Psalm 66:10-12, ESV)
"The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts." (Proverbs 17:3, ESV)
"I will turn my hand against you and will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy." (Isaiah 1:25, ESV)
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10, ESV)
"so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:7, ESV)
How has your life been "tried by fire" lately?
4. So we see, it is not a matter of the chains themselves (or any other trial), but what we do in the chains that counts. People can claim to have faith all day long but when the trial comes what really comes out of their mouths? Do they act on fear or faith? Are they trusting in Christ alone or do they trust in the things of this world to get them by? (2 Cor 4:7-10)
" But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." (2 Corinthians 4:7-10, ESV)
Who or what are you fully trusting in today?
5. The Lord uses suffering and trials to purify our lives and to make us like Christ. There is no other tool used more than these in the entire Bible. The majority of "teaching" on radio and tv does not agree with Scripture and they are selling a bill of goods that is not true Biblical Christianity. (1 Pet 4:12-13; Phil 3:10)
" Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed." (1 Peter 4:12-13, ESV)
"that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death," (Philippians 3:10, ESV)
6. You may ask - Why does the Lord do this? One reason the Lord does this is to further the gospel witness. (2 Cor 2:14).
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." (2 Corinthians 2:14, ESV)
7. When the apostle Paul went to Rome as a prisoner, it was in reality the gospel that went to Rome. Thus it has ever been. (Gen 37:23-24; 50:20; Exod 14 & 15; Job 1 & 2 then 19:25-27; 42:5-6; 2 Chron 20; Jer 38:6; Lam 3:23; Matt 27:5; Acts 4:27-28; Gal 6:14; Acts 8)
Joseph, cast into a pit and sold into slavery, by and by magnifies God and praises his providence (Gen. 37:23, 24; 50:20).
Israel, pursued by Pharaoh's army, a moment later is heard singing a song of triumph (Exod. 14 and 15).
Job, deprived of his children, earthly goods, and health, arrives at a deeper insight into the mysteries of God's wisdom than ever before (Job 1 and 2; then 19:25-27 and 42:5, 6).
Jehoshaphat, threatened by the Ammonites and Moabites, offers a soul-stirring prayer in the midst of his distress. There follow praise, victory, and thanksgiving (II Chron. 20).
Jeremiah, cast into a muddy cistern and suffering other afflictions, coins the famous phrase immortalized in Scripture and song, "Great is thy faithfulness" (Jer. 38:6; Lam. 3:23).
Our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified, by means of his very cross gains the victory over sin, death, Satan, causing every true believer to exclaim, "Far be it from me to glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Matt. 27:5; Acts 4:27, 28; Gal. 6:14; cf. Heb. 12:2).
Peter and John, imprisoned, become bolder than ever in proclaiming Christ to be the only Savior (Acts 4).
The early church, scattered abroad, improves that very opportunity to go about preaching the word (Acts 8).
"So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it." (Genesis 37:23-24, ESV)
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20, ESV)
"For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!" (Job 19:25-27, ESV)
"I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”" (Job 42:5-6, ESV)
"So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud." (Jeremiah 38:6, ESV)
"they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:23, ESV)
"And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself." (Matthew 27:5, ESV)
"for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." (Acts 4:27-28, ESV)
"But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6:14, ESV)
"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)