Philippians 1:12-18 - The Furtherance of the Gospel

Dr. Steve Viars June 3, 1995 Philippians 2:12-18

- let's take a minute this morning and walk our way through the argument
    of the book thus far:

1) verse 1-3 - Paul said that he was thankful for their fellowship in the
       - which included their friendship, and their financial gifts
       - he knew he wasn't out there ministering alone
       - there were local churches with which he enjoyed fellowship in
           the gospel.
       - he was also encouraged because in verse 6 he could confidently
           state his belief that God who had begun a good work in them
           would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

2) verse 7 - Your fellowship helps me as I think about my upcoming
      defense and confirmation of the gospel.
        - I know I won't be alone
        - I have you in "my heart" (vs. 7)
        - that really meant something to Paul
            - cf. vs. 8 - "For God is my witness, how greatly I long
               after you all in the tender mercies of Jesus Christ."

3) verse 9 - Then he moves on to his prayer for them
    - that your love would abound
    - specifically in knowledge and judgement
    - that you would approve what is excellent (that you'll choose the
        things that are most important)


4) verses 12-18 - Here's the test of that  (here's why that’s so
    - because you have to figure out how you're going to respond to what
        has happened to me.  (because the conditions of my imprisonment
        have worsened)

    - apparently, they believed this was terrible.
        - the greatest church planter ever is on the shelf
        - maybe God has goofed!

        - Paul says -- wait a minute!
            - your love needs to abound.
            - you need to be more discerning
            - you need to be able to choose the things that are most
            - you need to have a "BUT...RATHER" experience as you
                 contemplate what has happened to me.

            - "But I would you should understand, brethren, that the
               things which have happened unto me have fallen out rather
               for the furtherance of the gospel."
- Quote Jay (unpublished commentary on Philippians) - p. 63

- with that in mind...let's read verse 12-18 - READ

- this morning, we want to talk about "The Furtherance of the Gospel."

- Paul was able to not just handle the difficulty he was facing, but
   actually to rejoice in -- because of how this trial was causing the
   good news of Jesus Christ to be furthered, or advanced.

- the word "further/advance" literally means "to cut a way before one's
      - the picture is of someone hacking his way through thick
         underbrush and blazing a new trail. (Jay, How To Handle Trouble,
          p. 11)

      - Paul's point is – that’s what's happening to the gospel
         - the good news of Jesus Christ is being taken to a place where
           it was previously unknown, and that brings my heart great joy.

- see, one of the most important things to the apostle Paul was that the
   gospel be furthered.
     - He placed a high premium on that.
     - he had the ability to get his agenda in sync with God's agenda.

- Jay Adams, in his book "How To Handle Trouble" says of these verses:
     "So, throughout these verses, we encounter not a Paul who is
      passively languishing in prison, but an active, alert, working
      missionary who has carved out a new and exciting ministry in the
      midst of great trouble. Here is not a person who has given up, but
      one who is hard at the Lord's work and eagerly laying plans for
      new, ongoing ministries in the future. Paul was on top of his

- these truths lead to some key questions for you and me this morning:

    1) What would you be willing to "give up" if it resulted in the
       furtherance of the gospel?

    2) What would you be willing to endure if it resulted in the good
       news of Jesus Christ being advanced?

- see, how high of a premium do you place on furthering the gospel?

- I was thinking about this while I was traveling this week -- and it's
   amazing to see the many ways these ideas can be applied in a given

- (Airplane travel)

    1) Airport jammed in Indy on Memorial Day

         - shuttle couldn't even get through to where it was supposed to
            let me off
         - tempted to get frustrated, anxious

         - (of course, I could have left home earlier)

         - but I thought - your response to this could lead to the
            advancement of the gospel
               - what's more important - the advancement of the gospel or
                    your time schedule?
2) I got on the plane -- had a lot of work to do -- had a thought that
    many of us have as the others are boarding the plane
      "I hope no one is going to be sitting in the middle seat!"

     - then I thought - how does that fit into the message of Philippians
          - what if the Lord wanted someone to sit in the middle seat so
              the gospel could be advanced?

3) 1st flight got re-routed because of weather problems
     - I think we flew from Indy to Philadelphia by way of Antarctica
     - so the flight was late
     - It was going to be incredibly tight to make my connecting flight
        to Albany
     - I was also sitting at the back of the plane.

     - If you're not careful, your mind starts racing
         - Who can I yell at?
         - Who can I blame this on?
         - I'm sure I'm the only person on this plane who has to reach a
            connecting flight.
         - I'm going to jump up before the "captain turns off the fasten
            your seat belt sign" and run up to the front of the plane.

         - and on and on...

         - but wait a minute - what if the Lord wants the gospel advanced
            in this situation?
              - How high a priority are you going to place on your
                 testimony and witness?

- those kinds of situations come up all the time.
- we need to remember that carefree, problem-free, easy living doesn't
   always result in the furtherance of the gospel.

(After getting to WOL)

   1) thought, What if Bethany wanted to come to school here?
        (gone a year, etc)

        - could get sentimental//unbiblical -- it's a long way from home
            - but what if that were the Lord's will, and He was going to
               use that to advance the gospel?

   2) WOL is very missions minded -- what if Bethany came here and then
       believed the Lord wanted her to be a missionary?

       - same flow of thought

- see, we're posing some key questions here:

  1) What would you be willing to "give up" if it resulted in the
       furtherance of the gospel?

    2) What would you be willing to endure if it resulted in the good
       news of Jesus Christ being advanced?

- let's work on that together for a little bit:

    INPUT - (Hypothetically) What kinds of answers might a person need to
             put in the following blanks?

             1) I would be willing to give up _________.....

             2) I would be willing to endure __________.... if it
                  resulted in the furtherance of the gospel.

- now let's move ahead and look at some examples Paul gives of how the
   gospel has been furthered:

I. The Gospel Has Been Furthered in the Palace

    - one of the place the "gospel trail" had been blazed was in the
    - that was true of:

    A. With all the guards

       - Nero had a "crack security force" known as the Praetorian Guard.
       - these were 1600 of his best soldiers.

       - Paul was able to say with joy that "his bonds in Christ were
           manifest IN ALL THE PALACE."

       - all the guards had heard why Paul was there, and who Jesus
          Christ was.
       - you can imagine how the conversations would go...

            - a new guard comes on duty and is chained up to Paul.

               - Guard - "So what are you in here for?"

               - Paul - "For telling others about Jesus Christ"

               - Guard - "Who's Jesus Christ?"

               - Paul - "I'm glad you asked.  How long is your shift?..."

        - you can also imagine how that, after a number of these men were
           saved, that Paul used their time together to disciple them, on
            "Nero's nickel!"

        - Paul knew that God could work in that way.
        - that’s why Paul never viewed himself as a prisoner of Nero.
            - in verse 13, he reminded these dear folks that his bonds
                 were "the bonds of Christ."

- that’s why he didn't fuss about the chains.
    - instead of griping about heavy they were, or about how much they
        hurt his wrists...he just looked down toward the other end of the
        chain and found an opportunity to minister.

- that’s a good lesson for you and me --- look down the chain!
    - when that tire goes flat, and you feel chained to that trial, look
        down the chain for the opportunity to minister!

    - etc....

    B. With everyone else

        - he also said in verse 13---his bonds had been made known in all
           the other places around the palace.
             - the huge servant and administrative staff that would have
                 made up the palace also all knew about Paul.

        - the gospel of Jesus Christ had become the talk of the whole
            - God was in this trial.
            - He was up to something.
                - Trouble is never meaningless.

        - the fact that God was doing a great work is evident at the end
            of the book.
        - writing verse 22 of chapter 4 must have given Paul great joy.

            - READ

II. The Gospel Has Been Furthered By My Friends

    - read 14, 17

    A. Many of them are more confident to speak the Word.

        - verse 14

        - you can imagine that many of the folks in the early church
          might have been tempted to say "let Paul do it."
        - he was surely effective, he had loads of experience
            - it would be tempting to sit back and watch Paul witness

            - apparently, up until this time there were a number of folks
              who would not speak for Christ because they were afraid.

        - but after Paul's imprisonment--where they saw him witness in
           that place----their response was--"if Paul can witness in
           prison, surely I can witness where God has placed me."

        - that was just another reason for Paul to be thankful for his
             - its also another example of how much value he placed on
                 the furtherance of the gospel.

             - the very thing we're talking about could have been
               something he really griped and fussed about.

             - he could have said things like:

                  1) I'm jealous because they get to preach "on the
                      outside" and I don't.

                  2) or, "they're taking over my territory"

- but Paul's heart was -- the more the merrier -- and if me being
   imprisoned is what is necessary for others to be motivated to join the
   fight, then bring on the chains!

    B. They do it out of love.

        - Paul also was sensitive to the reason these folks were
            preaching Christ.

        - he had no reason to question motives, so he gave them the
            benefit of the doubt.

        - But...

III.  The Gospel has Been Furthered By My Enemies

    - verse 15, 16, 18

    - there were also some people that were preaching Christ, and in some
      way Paul had learned that their motive was insincere.

    - they were contentious people, and hoped to make things worse by
        preaching Christ.

    - you would have think that that would have infuriated Paul.

        - But he saw the Lord's hand even working in that!

        - as long as the gospel was being preached, he was happy,
          regardless of what their insincere motivation might cost him.

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video