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May 6, 2013 / Daniel

The Advance of the Gospel (Philippians 1:12)

English: Icon of Jesus Christ

Philippians 1:12 (NIV)  “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.”

 This is a shocking statement, because it’s contrary to our natural expectations.  We would expect Paul to say that his imprisonment actually hindered the gospel.  Prison was a major obstacle to Paul’s mission as an apostle.  Paul was a traveling missionary.   His goal was to travel all across the world to tell others about Jesus.  So, prison severely limited Paul’s mobility.  It hindered his capacity to travel.  Paul wanted to be out on the road telling others about Jesus.  But he couldn’t.  He was in prison.  You would expect him to say that prison has hindered the advancement of the gospel.   But he doesn’t.

He mentions two ways that prison advanced the gospel.  First, it gave him new opportunities to witness. 

 “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

You can imagine a guard on duty.  Comes up to Paul.  Has no idea who he is.

“So what are you in here for?”

“For telling others about King Jesus.   Did you know that God sent His Son to die on the cross for your sins?”

Talk about a captive audience.  Those guards had to listen to him.  Paul says that the “whole palace guard” knew that he was there for Jesus Christ.   Prison gave him new opportunities to share with others the gospel.

Second, it inspired others to share the gospel.

Paul writes, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

In ‘94, the Huskers were national title contenders.  They had Tommie Frazier, one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.  But halfway through the season, Tommie Frazier developed blood clots in his leg and had to sit out the rest of the season.   His back-up was a guy named Brook Berringer.  Berringer actually stepped up and finished the season for Frazier.  He was tremendous that year.  The team won the national title.  However, if Frazier had never been hurt, Berringer would have never had the opportunity to play that season.

A similar thing is happening here.  Paul is put into prison.  So what happens?  Other people step up to the plate.  Paul’s example gave them the courage to share the gospel.  They were like, “Oh, if Paul is willing to suffer for his faith, then I’m willing to suffer for my faith.”  When we face suffering, others are watching, waiting to see how we respond.  If we respond with courage, that might give them the courage to face suffering.

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