Paul’s Passion

SCRIPTURE

Philippians 1:12-19

And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ. 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. 15 It’s true that some are preaching out of jealousy and rivalry. But others preach about Christ with pure motives. 16 They preach because they love me, for they know I have been appointed to defend the Good News. 17 Those others do not have pure motives as they preach about Christ. They preach with selfish ambition, not sincerely, intending to make my chains more painful to me. 18 But that doesn’t matter. Whether their motives are false or genuine, the message about Christ is being preached either way, so I rejoice. And I will continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

INTRODUCTION

As you can see from the highlights in the text, the subject is the Gospel, the good news, God’s message about Christ and it being preached. There is no doubt, Paul’s ultimate passion was to preach and praise Jesus Christ. I don’t think he thought about anything else. I think this is what separates Paul from most preachers: we have other interest, we think about other things but Paul was totally obsessed with spreading the gospel and it is phenomenal what God did through this tiny Jew who at one time was a Christ hater. We are going to divide the text under four headings.

I. PAUL CIRCUMSTANCES

Many refer to Philippians as the joyful letter, yet Paul wrote it from prison. Twice in the text above Paul mentions his chains. We believe he was placed under house arrest which gave him freedom to see his friends and adequate accommodations but he was not free and he had a Roman Guard chained to his wrist night and day. My point is this: his circumstances were not ideal. Most of you do not dream of being in prison; it would be more like a nightmare. If you retrace Paul’s steps, a series of negative things have happened.

  1. He was falsely arrested in Jerusalem. He was guilty of no charge. Actually, he was sent to Rome without an official charge.
  2. He is detained in Caesarea for two years without a formal charge.
  3. He experiences a ship wreck and a snake bit on the way to Rome.
  4. He is placed under house arrest which is both good and bad. Decent living quarters but no privacy.

Paul knows that the Philippians are concerned about his welfare, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically so he says to them, “I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. Paul really believe what he said in Romans 8:28, “We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” When he said, Everything that has happened has helped to spread the gospel, the Greek word for spread is prokopē which means to progress or advance. William Barclay says it is a military word used to describe the forward movement of an army.

In other words Paul is saying, “Don’t be discouraged by my circumstances, God has worked through them for the advancement of the gospel.” The imprisonment as that bound the gospel message. Paul assured them that the gospel was being preached more than ever and a lot of this was due to his circumstances. When other preachers saw what Paul had done, they grew bold and began to preach without fear. Fearless preaching can change the world. I wanted a video in 1980-81, somewhere in the early 80’s about abortion. I have to be honest, I did not know what abortion was or what it involved. I’m going to confess a sin: I voted for the idiot Jimmy Carter knowing in the back of my mind that he was for abortion. That little video stirred me up. I repented of my sin and began to do everything I could do to set things right. I began denouncing the democratic party from the pulpit for their role in promoting abortion. Trust me, I didn’t cut Jimmy any slack. I denounced abortion as murder, even constructed a billboard in our front yard next to highway {10X14} that read, ABORTION IS MURDER. The man who painted the sign for me did not agree with what I was doing. The man who gave me the materials to build the sign did not agree with me. No one agree with me. The sign stayed there for over 10 years and finally the State of Alabama forced me to take it down. I’m not going to tell you that I had no fear but I was compelled by conviction to preach the truth. Then I attended a Southern Baptist Convention and heard Dr. Adrian Rogers denounce abortion. A group around me heckled him for making the statement and I got very angry with them. Hearing this man make this bold statement among the unbelieving critics gave me even more courage. I think Paul’s arrest and his unceasing passion to preach the gospel even in prison inspired other preachers. Bottom line, Paul was saying, “This thing as backfired on the devil and it is working to our advantage. God is using my incarceration for the spread of the gospel and for His glory. So, there we have Paul’s circumstance and none of them appear good but God worked through them.

II. PAUL’S CHAINS

Literally, Paul was handcuffed to a Roman guard 24-7, even when he slept at night. I had rather be in a cell. Paul had no privacy whatsoever which would drive me insane in no time. But Paul thought it was great because he was getting to share the gospel with all the guards, plus they had to hear everything he taught when he did bible studies and shared with his friends. These guys worked in shifts and I have no idea how long the shifts were…could have been 4,6, or maybe 8 hours. He was with from 3-6 guards per day and rotation was constantly changing which meant Paul got to know practically every guard in the building. So Paul took a negative circumstance and made something positive out of it. He had the chains working to his advantage.

III. PAUL’S CRITICS

No man of God worth his weight in salt is going to work without opposition. Dr. R.G. Lee once said, “At my funeral, if a preacher stands over me and says, ‘Here lies Dr. Lee who never had an enemy in this world,’ I will raise up out of the casket and say, ‘You sir are a liar.'” I think preacher can err on either side, some seem proud to be offensive and they gage their success by the number they offend and on the other extreme, we have our diplomats, who think twice before saying nothing. Their sermons are appealing and entertaining but there is no real substance to what they say. People walk away bragging about their sermons but they there in no conviction and no one is offended which of course is their goal. Some people call them seeker preachers, I call them compromisers but the truth is: they are popular and I am not. They are giving people what they want; they target their message to meet the desires of the congregation. They preach with fear, the fear of offending someone, especially, the big contributors. It is this kind of preaching that has America in a pit of sins and despair.

Paul’s critics interpreted his bad circumstances has an advantage to them. Moffatt calls them rivals. They were actually in competition with Paul. Paul’s attitude was, “I don’t care whether they like me or not, this is not about me. I rejoice in the fact that Jesus is being preached.” Paul said, “I don’t know their motive, whether good or bad and I don’t care so long as Christ is being preached.” I am with Paul: God can hit a hard lick with a crooked stick.

Years ago I overheard two evangelist having a conversation and they were taking about this very subject. If the message is presented, can God use it even if the messenger is terribly flawed. Both agreed that there is power in the gospel no matter who presents it. This conviction has become so strong in my life that I will correct people when they make a statement that God cannot use certain people or kinds of people. Jack Taylor says that God even uses the devil. There have always been preachers with the wrong motivation. I believe there are some today who preach for the wrong reason but they are preaching Jesus and like Paul, I rejoice. The main thing is that Jesus be preached.

Could our preaching be impacted by a closer walk? Of course, there are preachers and there are preachers. There are preachers that I have heard many times and I always enjoy their sermons. There are those who every time I heard them, I became deeply convicted. Preachers need to be real, we need to be holy men set a part for God’s special use but we can never limit God and we should never say that God can not use this preacher or that preacher because of flaws or even their insincerity. God can use any one He choses.

IV. PAULS CRAVING {Longing, desire}

Notice verse 19, For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

  1. The first think Paul craved was prayer. I have never known a Missionary that did not crave prayer. Prayer is their life line. I read the story just today of an elderly woman who lost her husband. Her heart was filled with grief and friends wondered if she would survive the loss. She was a frail woman to begin with so most thought the grief would crush her but it didn’t. One day a friend was honest with her, she said, “We didn’t think you would make it but you have.” The dear lady said, “I would not have made it had it not been for two things…the word of God and prayer.” Paul knew the Philippian believers prayed for him and he was full of gratitude. He connected their prayers to his success and deliverance.
  2. Paul also craved the Spirit of Christ anointing his life…He craved the LORD’s help. I generally pray on Sunday morning before I get out of bed and I ask the LORD Jesus for His help. I would dread the thought of approaching this pulpit without His help. I think basically the same thought every Sunday night when I get home, “LORD, you are good to me. You helped me today. No one may realize it but I do, thank You for helping me today.”
  3. Paul craves his freedom. He wanted to be delivered from his chains. He did make the best of his confinement but he longed to be free and he knew that prayer was the key. Paul said, “Pray for me, this will lead to my deliverance.”

 

 

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