THE CHURCH AT PHILIPPI : "IT'S NOT ABOUT ME" - PHILIPPIANS 1:12-18
This letter although written inside the Roman prison.
There were two reasons Paul wrote this letter:
1. Philippians is a thank you note from a missionary to a supporting church.
2. The second reason was due to a conflict between two women. He mentions and names them in 4:1–2. Unlike other epistles there was no extended doctrine to discuss, no error to refute, no wrong to correct.
In verse 6, Paul expressed his confidence in God over their lives.
Philippians 1:6 ESV And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
In verse 7, Paul gave the reasons why
Philippians 1:7 ESV It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.
This is the same person who wrote
Romans 8:28 ESV And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
No matter what happened in the past, happening in the present and will happen in the future, we can be assured of God’s blessings if we are living our God’s purpose for our life. What is God’s purpose for you, me and the church?
1 Peter 2:9 ESV But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
The only reason the church is still on earth is for this reason. If I’m not living according to this purpose, do you think that God will do what Romans 8:28 promised? NO! I hope that you got the sense of what Paul said on the first 11 verses of chapter 1.
Let’s open our bible to:
I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 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,
Our focus on: The Gospel, The difficulties that result in sharing it.
Big Idea of the Message: God will use every opportunity—good or bad—to spread the message of Jesus.
TIME MAGAZINE: American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially confirmed what many people thought all along: taking ‘selfies’ is a mental disorder. The disorder is called selfitis, and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.
APA said there are three levels of the disorder:
Borderline selfitis : taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting them on social media
Acute selfitis: taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each of the photos on social media
Chronic selfitis: Uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day
Title of the message: It’s not about me
When it comes to God, it’s not about me. When it comes to the gospel, it’s not about me. Focusing on the work of God in the life and ministry of Apostle Paul. What did Paul learned that gives him joy?
Let me share 5 lessons, 5 truths about from out text this morning:
1. God will accomplish his plans even without me. v.12
Philippians 1:12 ESV I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,
Paul credentials before and after his conversion, his missionary work, church planting
Philippians 3:4–7 ESV though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Paul talks about the he is “chief of sinners”. God will do even without Abraham, Moses, David,.... The “ME’ generation is not only this generation but every generation. Man is not the center of universe. The world does not revolve around. Everything revolve around the SON. God created the world from nothing. Don’t you think that he need you to accomplish his will?
God don’t even need me to make Living Hope a reality. He don’t need my sacrifices so someone will plant this church. He will do even without me. The same for all of us. We need to guard our heart from becoming prideful. It is by his grace and nothing else when I’m here standing today before you. God said to King David, “you were nothing when I called you”. If God will do what he needs to do even without our participation. We need to be grateful to the opportunity He gave. We need to serve him with and attitude of humility and reverence. God is not on the losing end but we will if we don’t submit our life to him. It is my privilege and so is yours.
John 1:12–13 ESV But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
We will experience joy in the midst of trying time if we live as privileged people.
2. God’s priority is to advance the Gospel. v.12
Philippians 1:12 ESV I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel,
God only advance his agenda. Not mine, not yours.What’s makes the gospel so special? What is the gospel? The other word for gospel is good news. From Paul’s perspective, God is more concerned in the advancement of the gospel rather than his comfort.
John 3:16 ESV “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
The gospel is God’s invitation to a relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. Can any other good news be better than the GOSPEL?
Quote: Charles Spurgeon: On his deathbed, (Dr. Archibald Alexander) was heard to say...”All my theology is reduced to his narrow compass-Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.”
God’s priority is the fulfillment of his plans rather than ours. If you know the only way out of a burning building, a way out of danger, will you not make it your priority to collect your material possessions or to get there or tell others about it. Right after Adam rebelled against God command in genesis 3, God’s priority was to fulfill his plan of restoring the broken relationship with man.
Adam and eve tried to cover their sin with leaves but God in his love provided a better and permanent solution, Jesus Christ. If you don’t make Jesus your priority, you will not get to the Father
John 14:6 ESV Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
God’s priority in the OT is the Gospel
Galatians 3:8 ESV And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”
God knows best how to advance the Gospel even allowing believers to suffer or be martyred. Isaiah declared, “God’s thought and ways are higher than ours”. If the gospel is God’s priority so should we. We must make it our priority too. We need to align our life (time. talent, treasures) to advance the gospel. As a church, we need to invest in the advancement of the Gospel not my own agenda, not our agenda.
“A great many learned men are defending the gospel… a vert proper and right thing to do. Yet … the best “apology” for the gospel is to let the gospel out.” Charles Spurgeon
Did you receive the Gospel? Do you proclaim the Gospel?
3. God can get the message effectively than any means. v.13
13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
God’s delay is not denial. With all of our ideas on how bring the message out, God’s way is still the best way. How can the gospel go out if Paul is in prison? With no internet, email, facebook or instagram what will happen now? Paul was a high profile person. Enemy no. 1 of the Jews, metal workers & enemies of the Way. God used Paul’s imprisonment to get the message out that he is Christ follower to no less than 1000 men.
… so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.
The Imperial Guard
The imperial guard consisted of the cohortes praetoriae, which together with the cohortes urbanae and vigiles made up the garrison of Rome. In the military system as established by Augustus there were nine cohorts of the praetorian guard, three of the urban troops, and seven of the vigiles. Each cohort numbered 1,000 men, and was commanded by a tribune of equestrian rank. The praetorian prefects (praefecti praetorii), of whom there were usually two, were commanders of the entire garrison of the capital, and stood at the highest point of distinction and authority in the equestrian career. The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 257).
If you were tally all of them Imperial guard plus the prison guards and prisoners, it will be more than a 1,000
Part of the Imperial guards were guarding Paul. They also know that he is a Roman citizen and can easily free himself if he renounced his faith in Christ. In the past God used evil rulers to fulfill his will. The likes of Egypt’s Pharos, the Persians Kings to name a few were used by God to punish his people and his enemies, to protect his people, to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. We see here the power of living testimony.
John 13:34–35 ESV A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our love for one another is a powerful testimony. As people see the love of God real and alive in us, they themselves will tell it to others. God will even use the enemies of the cross to proclaim its saving power.
4. God can embolden believers from coward to courageous. v.14
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.
Paul was imprisoned in a roman jail in Rome when he wrote this letter. Instead of going in to hiding and being silent, the believers found renewed courage through the imprisonment of Paul.They become confident in the Lord led them to become bolder to speak the word of God without fear. In the absent of Paul in the public scene, believers came out of hiding a boldly preach the gospel.
Take note: they were preaching in Rome the seat of world power that day. Talk about being bold. From being coward to courageous! We are gravely mistaken that the preaching of the gospel are only for the pastors or trained leaders. It’s every believers mandate to “preach the word in season and out of season”
2 Timothy 1:7–8 ESV for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,
Paul remind young Timothy that it will not be by his own power and ability he will be able to fulfill God’s calling to preach the gospel but through the power of the Holy Spirit. Timothy was not to be ashamed of the gospel and and Paul but share in the suffering for the gospel.
Acts 1:8 ESV But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
We will suffer for the gospel if we preach it even unto death.
Illustration: Communicating the Gospel
There is a dramatic story concerning the life and influence of King George V. (King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 until his death in 1936.) In the latter years of his reign, it was his custom to broadcast a Christmas message to the empire. During one of these broadcasts, when the ears of the world were waiting to hear the voice of the king, an engineer observed that an important wire had snapped. America was cut off! Time was of the essence. Suddenly, as though nudged by an angel, a mechanic seized the broken wires. Holding one in each hand, he was thus able to complete the circuit which permitted the royal message to be transmitted to the United States. The voice of the king passed through the body of the engineer. In the broken connections of our world, how can the Word of the Lord be heard unless it passes through the preacher?
Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 301). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Take a greater RISK to share the gospel
5. God can turn deception to the advantage of the gospel. v.17, 18
Philippians 1:15–18 ESV Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 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,
Can a person do the right thing for the wrong reason? I think we can all agree with the YES answer. There are times that I justify the means by the ends. I justify the way I did things because of the ends. Even religious practice can be done with the wrong motive. Praying, reading the bible...This is what happened with the believers (if they truly are) in Rome. Not all agree and even recognize Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. In one of his letter, he even had to defend his Apostleship, he had to defend his calling.
These so called preacher of the Gospel did it out of envy and wanted to complete with Paul and show others that they to can do it even better. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians addressed these attitudes.
1 Corinthians 1:11–13 ESV For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
This is a sad picture that is even happening in the body of Christ today. Instead of working together to advance the Gospel, there is envy and competition. There is competition between believers, between pastors, between congregation.
I must confess that there were many times that I fell into the temptation. Wishing that I was better that the other Pastor. Envy and self ambition is a deadly combination. It will destroy a person, a congregation, a community and even a nation.
When Judas betrayed Christ, the devil thought that he had won. But he did not know that victory will always belong to God in the end.
Philippians 1:18 ESV 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,
God will use every opportunity—good or bad—to spread the message of Jesus. Rather than bemoaning our circumstances, we should rejoice that God can use them to share the light of Christ.