Joy of the Gospel

August 28, 2004 Philippians 1:12-26

- I want to start where we left off last week . . .

III.  The Request for Growth in the Body

- Remember, we need to think about what Paul didn’t pray for (physical needs/church growth)

- instead, he focused on the spiritual welfare of others – and how God was at work in their lives and how that fit into the KINGDOM work of Jesus Christ!

- If you really want to know how you’re doing spiritually – evaluate your prayer life! [humbling for most of us!]

“The measure of a person’s spiritual maturity is not how well he or she conforms externally to the command to pray. The issue is how internally constrained that person is to pray by a strong love for God and others.  The truest longings of the heart will come out in prayer.  A selfish and superficial heart, focused primarily on persona problems, struggles, and interests, will produce selfish and superficial prayers.  A heart focused on the glory of the Lord and His people will produce prayers focused on God’s glory and other’s needs.”-  p. 39

- The things that Paul prayed for in the life of the church at Philippi– we need to pray for FBC and our ABF [let’s do it now – assign people to the various subjects]

1.  Growth in Love – v. 9 – God’s kind of self-sacrificial love

2.  Growth in Discernment – v. 10 (study, investigate, and determine the best ways possible to obey and please the Lord, and then to live that way!)

3.  Growth in Integrity – v. 10b (genuineness in a sincere life/it all fits together & works together)

  • Blameless= without stumbling or offense has both the idea of not falling into sinful conduct and not causing others to fall into sin either

4.  Growth in Good Works

5.  Growth in Glorifying God!

* Prayer Time

8.  Now, let’s move into the next section of our study:  [READ 1:12-16]

9.  Our subject this morning is: The Joy in the Ministry

“One of the surest measures of a Christian’s spiritual maturity is what it takes to rob him of his Spirit-bestowed joy. Paul’s maturity is evident in the present text as he makes it clear that difficult, unpleasant, painful, even life-threatening circumstances did not rob him of joy but rather caused it to increase.” – p. 55

* Let’s look at four situations in which We can still find joy in the Ministry . . .:

I.  In Spite of Trials – as long as the cause of Christ is promoted! – v. 12-14

- there’s nothing that reveals the genuiness of our faith than trials –

- as Peter stated in 1 Peter 1:6-9

  • 1 Peter 1:7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

- While God never says, ‘all things are good’ – He did say that ‘all things work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.’

Q: What good can possibly come out of a trial like being in prison and facing death?

A.  Adversity promotes the progress of the Gospel – v. 12

- Paul’s focus was not on his discomforts or situation – but rather how that fit into God’s overall plan promoted the message of the Gospel

ILL: Dave Dravecky – teachers see the scanned copy of the story taken from David Jeremiah’s book, Turning Toward Joy]

- remember, Paul wanted to go to Rome as a ‘preacher’ of the gospel, instead, God sent him there as a prisoner

- when he uses the word ‘progress’ = military term used by engineers who would prepare a road for an advancing army by removing obstructions such as rocks and trees

- Paul viewed his imprisonment as the ‘removal of barriers to the Gospel in Rome.’

Q: Is that the way you view your trials?

B.  Adversity provides opportunities for witness – v. 13

- Paul had an opportunity to run shoulders with the Praetorian Guard – a group of carefully selected men who were the best of the best as soldiers

>  these guys were the Army Rangers, the Navy Seals, the Marians – the few good men of their day!

>  had this not occurred (Paul’s trial) who know who would have shared the gospel with these men

- 24-7 for 2 years Paul was ‘chained’ to a Roman soldier.  Every six hours there was a shift change – so Paul had 4 prospects for salvation every day of the week for 2 years

> do the math – 4 per day x 7 days x 52 weeks x 2 years – 2,912 witnessing opportunities!

Q: What trial or situation are you in where you can bring glory to God by sharing the Gospel with someone?

Note the phrase, “and everyone else” – the guards were telling other people in the palace!

C.  Adversity produces courage in our fellow-believers - v. 14

- Paul’s imprisonment had an effect on the body of Christ

- This goes back to the example that Christ set for us – willing to die – to be an example to us

-  The death, burial, and resurrection was a cause worth living for – and dieing for

“Bravery is contagious! Persecution can be productive!  One has to wonder what would have become of the Gospel, had it not been persecution.  It was often the impetus to evangelism.” D. Jeremiah

  • Acts 8:1 Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. . . . 4. Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.

- The joy that a person can have in a trial can be known because he/she God at work in the lives of our brothers/sisters in Christ

- That’s part of the body life of the church – and it’s impact on each other!

- we can also find Joy in the Ministry:

II.  In Spite of Distractions – as long as the name of Christ is proclaimed – v. 15-18

- while there were many good things happening, and the cause of Christ was being advanced

- the reality of the Christian faith is this:  If you stand for Christ, expect to take some hits!

Input: How was this true in the life of Christ?  How is it true today (in USA, around the world)?

Persecution – lies/false accusations

“One of the most discouraging experiences for a servant of God is that of being falsely accused by fellow believers, especially coworkers in the church. To be maligned by an unbeliever is expected; to be maligned by another believer is unexpected.  The pain runs very deep when one’s ministry is slandered, misrepresented, and unjustly criticized by fellow preachers and teachers of the gospel.  That is precisely the situation Paul faced in Rome. . . “ – p. 64

  • envy = desire to deprive others of what is rightfully theirs, to wish that did not have it or had it to a lesser degree
  • strife = refers to contention, especially with a spirit of enmity (often associated with envy)

Point: Envy leads to competition, hostility, and conflict – those can rob a person of joy!

Note: Paul wasn’t pointing this out to gain sympathy for himself or to get even with those who were doing this to him

> His point was this:  Faithfulness in ministry includes right motives as well as right doctrine!

- we can also find Joy in the Ministry:

III.  In Spite of Death – as long as the Lord is glorified! – v. 19-21

- what was Paul basis for confidence he said in v. 18 “Yes, and I will rejoice”

1.  Confidence in the precepts of the Lord – v. 19a

‘ turn out for deliverance’ (quote from the LXX [i.e. Septuagint – the Greek trans. of the OT] is found in Job 13:16

> as Job, Paul knew that his suffering were not God’s punishment for sin

  • deliverance (from soteria, or salvation) = deliverance from sin/death through faith in Jesus Christ – confident of his eternal security, that God was in control of the events of his life

2.  Confidence in the prayers of the saints – v. 19b

Input: How does praying for one another bring joy to a person’s heart?

Cf. 2 Cor. 1:5, 8-11 – READ if time! – also Romans 15:30

3.  Confidence in the provisions of the Spirit – v. 19c [cf. John 14:15-17 READ – Comforter – 2 Greek words combined to mean ‘one called alongside’ – joy is in the presence of God!]

4.  Confidence in the plan of God – v. 20b-21

- God’s plan is that Christ be magnified – the glory of His Son – whether by life or by death

v. 21 has no verb, lit. “to live Christ, to die gain” – many profess it, but don’t live it very well

IV.  In Spite of the Flesh – as long as the church was benefited

- who wouldn’t want to go to heaven – but this issue was the benefit of the church

Input: What should that look like in our love for FBC?