For those of you who haven’t met me my name is Wes Grim, I’m a pastoral assistant here at Red Village Church
If you have a Bible, go ahead and open up to Philippians 1: 12
When the elders decided that we were going to work through Philippians this summer, Rob asked those of us who are preaching if we had any preferred passage.
I read through Philippians and immediately asked to preach on this text because it’s centered around sharing the Gospel, which I greatly enjoy talking about!
Also Rob did an awesome Job preaching through Philippians last week and laying out the ground work for the context of the book as a whole.
So, I’m going to read the passage and then ask for the Lord’s help and we’ll work through this passage verse by verse.
12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
There are many constants that exist in the world, and by constants, I mean things in the world that are continually in action for a period of time.
Like the rotation of the earth. This morning, the sun rose, and by 8:30pm tonight, the sun will set. The moon will rise and work it’s way around the night sky and then it will again pass beyond the horizon.
Gravity is a constant. Gravity remains a force pulling upon us at all places and at all times on earth. Your able to sit in your chair this morning and enjoy your Kwik trip glazer and coffee because gravity remains.
Or construction in the summer in Wisconsin, every year summer comes and then what follows? Construction. Construction is a constant.
Your heart beating in your chest is a constant. From the day you’re born till the day you die; your heart continues to beat in your chest. A constant that allows you to live and breathe and be alive.
Today our text focuses on the advancement of the Gospel. One of the reasons that Paul writes the letter of Philippians is to assure the Church at Philippi that the Gospel is advancing and will continue to advance.
As we work through the text this morning keep this in mind. The advancement of the Gospel is a constant.
The Gospel is spreading across the Globe, moving from place to place by the power of the Holy Spirit, and it will not and cannot be stopped.
Jesus said, “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:14)
Right now, God is convicting the world of sin by the Holy Spirit and sending His people forward to proclaim the Gospel to nations and tribes all around the world.
This is a constant, and God says He will be exalted among the Nations and throughout all the earth.
The question is whether you will choose to be a part of that constant and how you will do it. (PAUSE)
Keep this in mind as we work through the text.
Now, look with me at verse 12.
Paul tells the Philippian Church, “I want you to know that what has happened to me has actually advanced the Gospel!!”
Now, this more than likely would have been a pretty big surprise to the Church at Philippi as the elders read this letter.
The Philippian Church, and many other believers in association with Paul knew that he had been imprisoned in Rome.
We don’t know how long Paul had been imprisoned in Rome at this point, but we know it was long enough for word to spread about his imprisonment.
Similar to today’s culture, Paul’s imprisonment would not be seen as an honorable act.
We must remember that the culture in much of the Roman world during this time was an honor and shame-based culture.
This meant that Paul’s imprisonment would have brought much shame to not only his name, but also to all his family and to all he is associated with, especially those who were Christians in association with Paul.
Paul would be viewed as a lawbreaker and a rebel in the eyes of society, bringing a possible negative tone to the rising religion of Christianity in the eyes of some.
So, it was natural for Christians like the church of Philippi to assume that Paul’s imprisonment was now a roadblock to the Gospel continuing.
But Paul; makes it clear that this is not hindering the Gospel, but rather it’s advancing the Gospel.
Paul goes into detail on how the Gospel is advancing in verse 13.
“It has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is because I am in Christ.”
Paul informs the Philippian Church that the spreading of the Gospel didn’t stop once Paul was imprisoned.
When Paul says the Gospel has become known to the “whole imperial guard”, he is referencing the elite Roman military force charged with protecting the Roman emperor and most likely with watching over Paul during his imprisonment.
This likely meant that Paul had continued to share the Gospel with each guard that rotated through to watch Paul.
Paul makes sure that the guards and everyone else know that he was imprisoned because of His faith in Christ, because He is “in Christ.”
Paul did not view his imprisonment as a negative, shameful thing. Rather Paul remained optimistic, recognizing that those who hear about his imprisonment will understand it is because Paul is in Christ.
If you’re taking notes, write this down: When opposition came, Paul didn’t stop Identifying with Christ and sharing the Gospel.
Paul understood that the advancement of the Gospel is a constant, and his imprisonment is only another opportunity to further proclaim Christ.
Paul also understood that because He is in Christ, He too will suffer for Christ’s sake.
Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20)
When opposition to the Gospel or to your faith in Christ comes your way, how do you handle it?
Do you become discouraged? Do you remain silent? Do you identify with Christ? Do you continue to share the Gospel?
Paul is an example to us, just as much as he was to the Philippian Church.
Paul embraced opposition and persecution as an opportunity to proclaim Christ to those who opposed him.
This is how we are called to respond to opposition as well.
The City of Madison in general is not affirming of the Gospel and of Christianity.
Rather, in recent years, not only Madison, but all of America has continued to move more and more opposed to Christianity.
We don’t live in a society where Christians in America are imprisoned for their faith in Christ, but we may not be too far off from it either.
So, when your co-workers, or neighbors, or even family oppose Christ, do you Identify with Him and share the Gospel knowing the Gospel will advance?
Or do you shy back in discouragement or even deny Christ?
As I said before, we choose if we will be part of the advancement of the Gospel or not and as Paul demonstrates for us, we must identify with Christ and keep sharing Christ.
Verse 14 says “Most of the brothers have gained confidence (not lost confidence, but gained confidence) in the Lord from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the word, fearlessly.
This is totally opposite of how one would think other Christians would respond to Paul’s “shameful” imprisonment.
So why is it that they gain confidence!?
Well let me put this into perspective.
As most of you know, me and Aaron Jozwiak visited our missionaries in the Middle East last Fall in an area where there is very little presence of Christianity and a much greater risk of persecution.
One of our missionaries told us a story about sharing the Gospel with one of their more extreme Muslim neighbors that in response told them with a very serious face, “a Muslim that converts to Christianity should immediately be killed for doing so and that he himself would kill them.”
Yet, the missionary has continued to share Christ with not only him, but with all his neighbors, despite the dangers that this may place him and his family in.
Now, upon hearing that story, was I then discouraged to stop sharing the Gospel myself? Absolutely not!!
Rather, knowing that this missionary is today risking his life and his family’s life for the sake of the Gospel, it encourages me all the more to share the Gospel where I’m at!
In the same way, Christians who heard of Paul’s imprisonment also gained confidence in the Lord and dared even more to speak the Word fearlessly.
Paul’s example in scripture should do the same for our confidence in the Lord, leading us to Identify with Christ and speak the Gospel fearlessly in Madison.
For the Gospel is advancing.
Looking at Verses 15 through 17 in the text, Paul identifies two different groups of Christians with two different motivations for sharing the Gospel.
Paul says the first group preaches the Gospel out of envy and rivalry, which go hand in hand.
This means that this first group of Christians were envious of Paul’s ministry and reputation and most likely desired to have the qualities and attention that Paul had within the early Church.
This group proclaimed the Gospel out of rivalry, as if they were in competition with Paul and desired to be better than him in ministry and in popularity with other Christians.
Paul then shares the motivation of this first group in verse 17 saying that they proclaimed Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely… Thinking that by sharing the Gospel, Paul might get into further trouble in his imprisonment.
Clearly, Paul’s imprisonment had caused a division between Christians those who supported him, and those who opposed him.
Now Paul doesn’t say anything more about this first group, but clearly this is a terrible motivation for sharing the Gospel!!
Not only are they proclaiming Christ out of selfishness and self-gain, but they are also doing it with the hopes that the very one who brought the Gospel to them would further get into more trouble…
Which most likely would-be death since Paul was already in enough trouble being in Prison!
This alone makes me wonder if this first group are even Christians!
Just think about this for a minute…
These people believe in a God who loves His creation with an unfailing love, who poured out His entire life for others through Christ, and not only that, but then died the most pain staking death imaginable on a cross so that those He loves can be reconnected to God and be with Him for Eternity.
The people that believe in this God and claim to be changed by Him, then in return share this message with others in hopes that the one who brought this message might die in prison and that they might rise in popularity and become better…
If you’re not confused, you should be!
This makes absolutely no sense.
Yet, Christians still share Christ out of selfish ambition today.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “Be prepared to give an answer to anyone who ask you for the hope that you have, but do this with gentleness and respect.
It does not make sense for a Christian to understand and receive the love of God through Christ and then share that message without love.
The second group of Christians that Paul identifies is those who preach the Gospel out of good will.
Good will in this passage is the Greek word Eudokia that means “Choice out of delight or pleasure”.
Now delight in what? If one is sharing the Gospel out of “delight”, there is only one thing a person can be delighting in with regards to the Gospel, and that is Christ!
So, the second group preaches the gospel out of delight for Christ, and Paul says in verse 16 that in doing so their motivation is love.
If you want to get a good understanding of Biblical love, then you can listen to Aaron’s sermon he preached two weeks ago on love from 1 Corinthians 13.
Essentially, preaching out of love means it’s not for selfish gain, but rather out of a genuine care for the person you are proclaiming the gospel to.
It is the opposite of a focus on self, rather it is a focus on God and His love that now moves a person towards loving others, for God is the one who first loved us.
Paul says that this second group also proclaims the Gospel knowing that Paul has been appointed for the defense of the Gospel.
Therefore, this group of Christians is in support of Paul, knowing that God chose Paul for the proclamation of the Gospel to the gentiles.
These Christians recognize Paul is imprisoned because He is in Christ, and those who are in Christ can also expect persecution for the sake of Christ.
These Christians also aren’t afraid to identify with Paul in his imprisonment, because they’re not worried about their own reputation in identifying with Christ.
Rather, they are sharing out of a delight for Christ and love for those around them, and love for Paul who has been appointed by God for the defense of the gospel.
For those here who are Christians, what group do you fall under?
Do you share the Gospel out of goodwill towards Christ and love for Him and those around you?
Or do you share the Gospel out of envy, or rivalry? Or out of obligation? Or any motivation that isn’t love?
Are you focused on loving the lost sinners around you with the Gospel message?
Or are you more focused on yourself and what others might think of you if share the Gospel with them?
There are true motives, and there are false motives for proclaiming Christ. One reflects the image of Christ, and one does not.
In a city and country that is constantly looking for false motives within Christians, let us be a church who proclaims Christ out of a heart of love for Christ and for those lost around us.
After Paul distinguishes these two different groups, he then makes an interesting statement in verse 18.
He says, “What does it matter? Only that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed”
Now, I want to point out two things that Paul is not saying here.
First, Paul is not saying that it doesn’t matter what motives we have in sharing the Gospel, otherwise Paul wouldn’t have differentiated between true and false motives!
What Paul is saying is that even though there are those proclaiming Christ from false motives, what matters most, is that Christ is proclaimed.
Paul understands that the advancement of the Gospel is a constant, and although there are those sharing from false motives, God is sovereign.
God will use even those proclaiming Christ out of selfish ambition to make Himself known, for He is the author and perfector of Salvation, not the person who shares.
Second thing that Paul is not saying is that it doesn’t matter what kind of Christ is proclaimed, just as long as Christ is proclaimed.
Although the two groups of Christians that Paul pointed out had different motives, both were proclaiming the same Christ that they had received.
The theology of Christ, or Christology, matters deeply.
Paul is saying all that matters is that the Christ of the scriptures is proclaimed.
This the one who is fully God, fully man, triune with the Father and Holy Spirit, died and rose again and is now seated at the right hand of the Father, who will return to rule and reign and judge all of creation.
This is the Christ that Paul says regardless of the motive one might have, as long as Christ is proclaimed, God will use it to advance the Gospel.
Above any motive or fault that we as sinful witness may have, what matters most is that Christ is proclaimed.
Looking back at verse 18, Paul, knowing that the Gospel will advance whether from true or false motives, says “In this I rejoice”
This is the first time that the word “Rejoice” shows up in the book of Philippians, but keep in mind this is a central theme that Paul will return to throughout this letter.
In the book of Philippians, Paul says the word “rejoice” 8 times and the word “Joy” 6 times, using words related to joy a total of 18 times.
That’s a lot of times for as small as this letter is.
So, the first time Paul mentions the word Rejoice, he does so in relation to himself.
Keep in mind, Paul is currently in prison, isolated from any other believers, his future is uncertain, his circumstances are undesirable and uncomfortable.
Paul did absolutely nothing wrong, he doesn’t deserve to be in prison, he doesn’t deserve to be treated like this as a Roman citizen
His ministry has been taken away from him and now he faces death all day long.
Yet Paul says, “In this, I rejoice”
How could Paul rejoice!?!
What on earth is there for him to rejoice about!?
Is Paul just lying to himself and pretending everything is okay? Absolutely not.
When Paul says “In this” he is referring to Christ being proclaimed.
Paul understands his circumstances do not change the fact that God remains on the throne and the Gospel is advancing.
God is still with him and will not forsake him, He is still the God of salvation who will rescue all who call upon His name, God will remain faithful to Paul till the very end.
Not even imprisonment can stop the Lord Almighty!
In this, Paul says, “I will rejoice”
In doing so, Paul gives the Philippian church and all who read this letter, including us today, an incredible example of what it means to rejoice in the Lord regardless of their circumstances.
Looking at Verse 19 Paul goes on to say, “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. “
Paul doubles down on the fact that he will continue to rejoice, and further explains why.
He will continue to rejoice because he knows that the proclamation of Christ will lead to his “salvation”.
Salvation here could mean either his salvation in Christ or salvation from being imprisoned in Rome or both.
It makes most sense that Paul is referring to his deliverance from being imprisoned since he says this “salvation” will come through the prayers of the Philippians church and from the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, that is the Holy Spirit.
Either way, Paul was certain that God would bring about salvation.
He trusted God would deliver him and did not lose hope in the God who saves.
Which, Paul was in fact released from prison after writing this letter to the Philippians.
Paul quoted Job 13 when he said, “this will lead to my salvation”.
It is likely that Paul had Job in mind while being imprisoned, that his circumstances weren’t the result of God’s punishment, but was a means to further glorify God.
Only now Paul knew this deliverance would come about through the power of prayer by the Saints and from the help of the Holy Spirit.
Paul recognized that even while in prison, he was not alone.
He had the prayers of the saints imploring to God for his release and the Spirit of the living God inside him to help him, comfort him, and guide him.
Notice that Paul does not instruct the Philippian church to pray for him, rather he just knows that upon reading this letter the church would pray for him or perhaps was already praying for him.
What a comfort and joy it must have been for Paul to know that his brothers and sisters in Christ were praying for him on a regular basis.
As the body of Christ here at Red Village, we too should reflect this model of prayer for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.
For those that are in need of deliverance, whether it be from sickness, or hardship, or from sin, we must be praying!
For the missionaries you see on the wall on my left, we must be praying for them, imploring on their behalf that the Gospel would advance through their ministry and that God would continue to sustain them every day.
If you didn’t know this already, every Sunday before service at 9:30am there is a prayer meeting that happens in the mothers room where all who come take 15 min to pray together about any needs we may have in and out of the church.
I encourage you to come to these! There are also some prayer cards for our missionaries on the back table that you can take home with you to help you remember to pray.
The 2nd means of Paul’s deliverance would come from the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit.
Paul knew that no matter what lie ahead, the Holy Spirit would guide him and give him the words to speak, whether on trial, or with simply sharing the Gospel to the imperial guards or anyone else.
To all who place their faith in Christ, God will fill them with His Holy Spirit to renew their hearts and bring them into fellowship with God as a guarantee of the salvation that is to come for eternity.
Jesus said this in John 14 saying, “ I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
To those who are in Christ, whatever distress or trial you may find yourself, know that the Holy Spirit lives within you to help you, comfort you, and embolden you for proclaiming the Gospel.
He is a sufficient and all-powerful source for our deliverance.
The last verse of our text today is verse 20, Paul says “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
You can see that from the start of verse 12 to where we are ending in verse 20 Paul has been building the implications of the advancement of the Gospel.
Not only is the Gospel advancing in prison, but it’s also causing others to dare even more to speak the Gospel fearlessly.
And not only that but whether by false motives or true motives Christ is being proclaimed and the Gospel continues to advance, in which Paul will rejoice!
And not only that, but the advancement of the Gospel will lead to Paul’s salvation through prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit.
And not only that, but because the Gospel is advancing, this will not end in shame, rather Christ will be highly honored in Paul’s body whether by life or by death!
Paul is zooming out for us to see the big picture with the implications of the advancement of the Gospel.
When Paul says, “my eager expectation and hope”, he is not saying “I’m crossing my fingers, hoping this doesn’t end up in utter shame for me” No!
Paul is not wishfully hoping, rather Paul’s eager expectation and hope is anchored in the promise of God through Jesus Christ.
Just as Paul said earlier in verse 6 that “He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.
Paul knows that God will glorify His name through his circumstances and the Gospel will advance.
The unbelieving Jews may see Paul’s faith as shameful; society may see Paul’s faith as shameful, even some believer’s may see Paul’s faith and imprisonment as shameful.
But when Christ returns to judge both the living and the dead, and Paul stands before Christ, there will only be glory to Christ for Paul’s imprisonment for the advancement of the Gospel.
As we’ll see and study next week, Paul’s citizenship is not on this earth, rather his citizenship is in heaven.
So “now as always, with all courage” Paul says, “Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death”.
This is the heart of Paul’s mission, his motivation, his purpose in everything he does and says…
That Christ would be highly honored, worshipped, glorified in his body here on earth, whether by life or by death.
Paul knows this is why the Gospel will continue to advance, Christ will be glorified both now and for eternity.
And with all courage he will boldly proclaim Christ until his last breath.
For death is not the end, but rather it is the beginning of honoring and worshipping Christ for Eternity.
My question to you as we finish with this passage is how does the certainty of the advancement of the Gospel effect you life?
For Paul it was everything, and he knew he would not be ashamed in the end.
If you are here and are not a Christian, I’m grateful you are here!
But if you go through this life without repenting of your sin and believing in the Lord Jesus, there will be deep shame and remorse when you stand before God.
If Christ is not glorified in your body here on this earth, then he will not be glorified in your life at all.
And when I say “glorified”, I mean you are pointing everyone around you to Jesus, you are identifying with Jesus every chance you get.
It is not enough to just be kind to people but reject Jesus as your savior.
None of us are good enough, all have sinned and fall short, but to all who repent and believe in Christ, there is forgiveness of sin.
For those here who are Christians, the advancement of the Gospel must be at the forefront of our minds.
We must leverage our lives for the proclamation of Christ.
With all courage we must seek to have Christ be highly honored in our lives in all that we do with those God has providentially placed around us.
Whether by life or death, we will not be ashamed about anything we do for the proclamation of Christ, no matter what our neighbors, friends, or even family think of us.
The Gospel will advance, we must keep this at the center of our lives, even through difficulty and suffering.
So, let’s encourage one another to proclaim Christ!
Pray that God would provide opportunities to share the Gospel for our Church, and that we would share out of a heart of love for the lost.
And let us also rejoice together that we serve a God who saves, and who will continue to save through the proclamation of the Gospel until Christ’s return.