Text: Philippians 1:12-18
Look at 1:18 first. Paul is experiencing joy in prison. Not because he’s in prison, but because of how God has been able to use his arrest and imprisonment. It’s interesting that this letter is so filled with joy considering it is written from a prison cell.
Furthering the gospel is God’s good work (vs 12)
- These verses describe how Romans 8:28 is accomplished. All things work together for good if the conditions are met. Notice all things work together for good
- Love God – God defines love in his children as keeping his commands and loving his brother. Those are the ways you love God.
- And called according to his purpose – God’s agenda.
- So if you’ve been called according to His purpose and you love the Lord then God will work all things together for good
- Notice it doesn’t say work all things together for YOUR good. Paul is in prison and none of us would define that as good. But good things are happening as a result and Paul’s rejoicing is in the good things that are happening.
- Paul’s circumstances can generate depression and self pity or the Christian perspective looks at what God is able to do with the trouble.
- The specific good work is that the gospel is being furthered.
- Revelation 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
- This is God’s UHaul and it does follow.
- This is why judgment has to wait until the end. All the works haven’t played out yet.
Here’s how the gospel is being furthered (vss 13-17)
- People in the palace were receiving the gospel. Look at Philippians 4:22.
- Also, other Christians were being encouraged by Paul’s courage
- Some just need to see someone else’s courage to get their own courage worked up.
- Fear is contagious, but courage is also contagious.
- Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
- Now, even people with wrong motives are preaching the gospel. Paul didn’t care if they were trying to be competitive or if they were trying to point the finger at Paul for his careless preaching, so long as Jesus Christ’s gospel was spreading.
- Bulgaria? Communists printing verses as propaganda and Christians rejoicing.
Joy is found in the furtherance of the gospel (vs 18)
- Certain fruit is found in certain places at certain times. You may be able to find watermelons in the valley. But you won’t find them in Montana. You may find coconuts on the coast, but you won’t find them in Kansas. The fruit of the spirit is similar. The reason Paul is sitting in prison rejoicing in the spirit of God is because he knows where God’s spiritual orchard is.
- Paul sits in a miserable prison, but isn’t miserable, he is comforting other people with the joy he’s found in the furtherance of the gospel. Contrast that with Christians who are free, able to do anything they want, have everything they want, but can’t find any joy. Instead they may chemically turn off the turmoil in their mind as they sit comfortably in their home.
- Paul’s gospel perspective found joy in the fact that the gospel was spreading and it didn’t matter why it was spreading.
- God’s perspective is not just a positive spin on bad circumstances. God’s perspective deals with the work God is doing.
- Most people who claim Christianity don’t find joy in the furtherance of the gospel, they find fear in it. If Christians never get to the joy, or the fruit bearing part of Christianity found in God’s service, they will get bored with Christianity.
- Sitting under Bible preaching and teaching will not produce fruit in your life.
- Service and application of that truth in your life will produce fruit.
- Here’s what we say, I’ll wait until I feel like doing this. Feelings follow obedience. Obedience doesn’t follow feelings.