Thursday, October 11, 2007

Philippians 1:12-20


We come to an interesting passage in this first chapter of Philippians. There are three great insights into what happens as we live in the Kingdom of Jesus. First-Our negative circumstances result in spreading the gospel.

12Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, 14and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.

Paul believes that his bad situation of being held in prison is turning out to be a tool in spreading the gospel further in two ways. One is that the whole Roman guard and everyone else have heard the reason for Paul's imprisonment. It's because of his stubborn stand for Jesus as the Messiah. They would never have heard the gospel, unless Paul had been imprisoned and caused all of the gossip and talk. Second, most of the brothers and sisters have been encouraged to speak the word of God more boldly and they have been moved to trust in the Lord because of this imprisonment.

Second-We must learn to rejoice that Jesus is being lifted up, no matter who does it and no matter their motives.

15Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

Even when others preach Christ with bad motives, even from envy and strife, selfish ambition, or even if it is all a show, lifting someone's ego, we ought to rejoice that Jesus, the Messiah, is being proclaimed. Now that is a tough order. All of this is to say that the person is not that important, but only Jesus. Note that this must apply to anyone who lifts Jesus up, whether we agree with them, their culture or their theology or not. How does this feel? Last week I heard a Buddhist lift Jesus up. What does he know about "my" Jesus? Then I spoke with two Muslim Imams who expressed their enthusiasm about the power and teachings of Jesus. Who do they think they are? This has stretched me beyond anything I've ever experienced! Remember that the Lord was willing for the rocks to cry out, if everyone were to have kept quiet. Or even more vivid is the picture of God speaking through a donkey. This is at the core of what we have come to know as JESUS PLUS NOTHING!

Third-We must live with a confidence that everything is going to be OK.

19for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

Note where the confidence comes from. Through the prayers of fellow believers through the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Then note the reason that the confidence hangs on that Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die!