PHILIPPIANS 1: PART 2
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Looking at Paul’s ministry in Philippi reveals a great deal about the changed heart of the new creation that was in Paul and shows us just how serious he was about the things he said in this letter.
His actual ministry in Philippi is found in Acts 16:11-40.
None of his ministry was taken upon himself by himself; his work in Philippi and the other Macedonian cities began by a vision from God directing Him to the people there.
Once he got into the region and came to the city of Philippi he began by seeking out “a place of prayer” where people were gathered. He went to where there would be other people seeking God, and this pursuit led them outside the city gates by a river.
There he preached to a gathering of women and the first recorded convert in Europe is recorded: Lydia. She and her household became believers and gave aid and support to Paul and Timothy.
As he continued his ministry, a demonically possessed woman began following him around and hindering their work. Therefore, he cast out the demon, which angered the girls owners who were profiting from her possession and powers.
Paul and Timothy were severely beaten and thrown into prison. It was there, while bleeding and wounded, that they began worshipping God around midnight.
God performed a great miracle and set them free with a great earthquake. But they did not run scared from the prison. Paul and Timothy stayed to prevent the jailer from taking his own life and the jailer was converted, he along with his household. He cleaned their wounds and was baptized immediately.
FOR THE GREATER PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and 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.
With all the distractions of the world around us it is very easy to look at your life, both the blessings and trials, as all about you. But the living heart of the new creation in the gospel of Christ Jesus our God and Savior is one such heart that does not look at the blessings or the trials of our lives as all about us, but, rather, as an opportunity for the greater progress of the gospel.
In every such way, we will be tried and attacked by Satan. His war on your soul is many-layered; but for those who live in Christ Jesus, and only for those who live in Him, salvation and victory is assured!
Trust God. Live in faith to the fullest measure of God’s will according to the gospel and the greater progress of the gospel will be made known in you, to the glory of God forever and ever, amen!
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstance have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” –v12
Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But not a hair of your head shall be lost. By your patience possess your souls.
Are we surprised when we’re hated for the sake of Christ Jesus?
No, and neither are we faint of heart because of the trials that are before us! For I am confident, as is the witness of the Holy Spirit in the scriptures, that whatever trial befalls us will turn out for the greater progress of the scriptures and an occasion for witness!
If hands are laid on me unjustly, my occasion of testimony has merely grasped me tightly! And if hateful words exalt themselves around me, the power of good over evil will exalt itself through the witness of the Spirit to the greater progress of the gospel of love in Christ Jesus my Savior!
Today we have some difficult questions to ask ourselves:
Are we speaking the Word of God… without fear?
What does your faith stand on?
What are your sights set on?
Who is the source of your faith?
Do we trust in the Lord?
SOME PROCLAIM CHRIST FROM…
“Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will…”
It did not escape Paul’s notice that there were many false teachers and selfish preachers who were teaching and preaching Christ from envy and strife; in many cities he had been driven out when such men became envious of the victory of the gospel and stirred up the crowds against Paul.
But Paul did not despair. Though some sought the way of envy and strife, still others sought the way of love through Christ, and Paul rejoiced at the victory that is in Christ and is demonstrated in him by Christ either way.
Christ is proclaimed and all are without excuse! “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according 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.” ~vv18-20
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What then, in your life, will you allow to hinder the greater progress and occasion for testimony of the gospel in your life?
TO LIVE IS CHRIST AND TO DIE IS GAIN
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
What will it mean for you to live on in your flesh? Will it mean fruitful labor for Christ, or for your worldly-flesh?
Listen to this testimony:
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
For those who have been born again, Christ is the life that wells up within them and quickens their mortal bodies- their spirits are alive and well even as they have crucified their flesh! But in those whose hearts remain cold and dead in this world by the sin which they still live in, there can be no hope or reassurance of life to come. To die is great loss for such people. But to the former, to die is great gain, even as to live is Christ!
STRIVING TOGETHER FOR THE FAITH OF THE GOSPEL
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Peace and grace of Christ Jesus our God and Savior be with every one of you.