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LESSON 3: THE NEED FOR CONFIDENCE IN PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL
by Dr. Fred Wittman
A close relationship between missionary and supporting church had developed between Paul and the church at Philippi. Paul was imprisoned at Rome for the sake of the gospel. The church at Philippi had sent their pastor as messenger with a sizeable gift to assist Paul with his expenses of sustenance while in prison plus court costs for defense. Although Paul had the privilege of freedom initially, a change in the political scene affected his status. The Philippians had learned through reports that Paul was having a difficult time. They were concerned about Paul and the effect the renewed attacks had upon him and others who preached the gospel. Was the gospel curtailed by the political pressure applied by Nero’s change in attitude? What effect did this have on the preaching of the Gospel? How much did Paul’s bonds limit him in preaching the Gospel?
Paul answered these questions in the first chapter of his Epistle to the Philippians. His answers demonstrated confidence in proclaiming the Gospel and encouraged such confidence on the part of his readers. Whether there is persecution or apathy in response to the Gospel, confidence in proclaiming the Gospel is needed just as much today as in Paul’s day. Without such confidence Satan can get the better of us. He can discourage us from attempting to proclaim the Gospel. Thus he wins on two counts. The Gospel is not preached and we are disobedient. In addition without such confidence the Gospel is preached with less enthusiasm and curtailed results. There is a definite need to have confidence in proclaiming the Gospel. How did Paul instill confidence in proclamation in the hearts of his readers? How can we build confidence in our fellow-saints?
I. RELATE THE PROGRESS OF THE GOSPEL (vs.12-14).
“Now I desirously will for you& to know[from experience], O brothers, that the~ things against me have come rather for furtherance of the Gospel so that my /bonds in Christ became conspicuous among the whole Praitorion[mperial palace] and to all the remaining ones. And with reference to the majority of the brothers in 0Lord, standing persuaded+ by means of my /bonds, it is daring more exceedingly boldly to speak The Word fearlessly” (1:12-14 APT).
Paul expressed his confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel. He related how confident he was that the Gospel which was being proclaimed would be effective and advance.
A. Paul’s Bonds Furthered The Gospel (vs.12,13).
First when Paul wrote of his confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel he related the progress of the Gospel at Rome vividly and with great confidence. The adverse things concerning him resulted not in hindering the Gospel but rather in the advancement or progress of the Gospel. Though there were adverse circumstances which he was facing, the bonds, the animosity of his adversaries, and attacks of the enemies of the Gospel, yet the Gospel went forth. All that transpired in the palace in his imprisonment in Rome resulted in the progress of the Gospel. The bonds of Paul were made known throughout the whole palace guard. The Gospel was communicated by the guards as they conversed about this unusual prisoner and the reason for his imprisonment. Not only in the whole palace was the Gospel the topic of conversation but among all others in Rome it was made known.
B. Paul’s Bonds Encouraged Boldness (v. 14).
Even most of the brethren in the Lord were aware of the progress and had become more confident in preaching the Gospel. Boldness as well as confidence was instilled in others at Rome. They boldly spoke or witnessed of the Word of God abundantly to others without fear. Rather than discourage others, Paul’s bonds encouraged others to be ‘more abundantly bold.’ How can we build confidence in fellow saints? First, relate the progress of the Gospel and also
II. REJOICE IN THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL (1:15-18).
“On the one hand, some even because of envy and contention, but on the other hand, some also because of delight as an herald proclaim The Christ. On the one hand, the ones proclaim Christ everywhere out of strife, not purely, because |they| imagine to bring affliction to bear upon my /bonds. But on the other hand, the ones out of love because |they| perceive that I am destined for an answer in 0defense of the Gospel. For what |does it matter|? Save that by every means whether in pretence, whether in truth, Christ is proclaimed everywhere. And in this I am rejoicing, but undoubtedly I shall also continue rejoicing in myself” (1:15-18 APT).
Paul rejoiced that because of his testimony in bonds, there is an increase of the Gospel being proclaimed in Rome even though he is confined and limited in his own outreach.
A. Two Factions Preached Christ (vs.15-17).
On the one hand there were those who wanted to increase Paul’s adversity because of their animosity. They wanted to make it harder for Paul and so they preached the gospel, but not a sincere gospel. It was a gospel of contention. It came from their contentious disposition out of jealousy and strife. They purposely preached the gospel, not in sincerity and not purely, but sarcastically. They wanted to add affliction to his bonds, so they mixed their preaching of the Gospel of Truth and purity with their insincerity, jealousy, and selfish ambition. They thought that this would dishearten Paul. On the other hand, some preached Christ out of love for The Lord Jesus Christ and for Paul and this made up for his limitation.
B. Paul Rejoiced That Christ Was Preached (v. l8).
Even though they preached the gospel of contention, they proclaimed Christ and in that Paul rejoiced. The proclaiming of Christ is that in which Paul rejoiced. Paul recognized the power of the Gospel (Rom.1:16). He knew that God used the preaching of the Gospel to save souls (1 Cor. 1:18,21). Preaching Christ is The God’s miraculous power (1 Cor.1:24).
The writer recalls an occasion when an effort was put forth to reach a certain locality in the rapidly building northern affluent suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware. There was only one place where one could hold the Gospel meetings and church services. We attempted to hire the Guild Hall in Arden where all the artisans demonstrated their works from time to time. We met with the board of directors to discuss the possibility of rental. In the midst of the deliberation one middle-aged lady who objected was very antagonistic to the Gospel and to the writer. She said, “Why! you're going to preach the Gospel! You're going to preach about Christ and how He died and rose again.” And she went on elaborating. She knew the Gospel and had resisted and resented it. There was no need to witness to these people. She presented the Gospel adequately. There was rejoicing that Christ was proclaimed even though it was the gospel of contention that they heard by her contentious, antagonistic attack. Christ was preached in pretense.
But Christ was also preached in truth. The other faction preached Christ out of good intentions. Because of their love for Christ and Paul they proclaimed the Gospel to the Romans. Thus Christ was preached by two factions: one out of good intentions, sincerity, and love; the other out of animosity, insincerity, and sarcasm. But even though there were two factions, Paul rejoiced that Christ was preached by both factions. This to Paul was cause for continual rejoicing.
III. REFLECT PERSUASION TO GLORIFY CHRIST (vs.19-26).
“For I perceive that this will eventuate for salvation to me through your& /supplication and abundant supply of The Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my /strained[with the head stretched out], earnest expectancy and hope that in not one~ thing shall I be ashamed, but on the contrary with all boldness, as always, also now, whether through absolute life, whether through death, Christ shall be magnified in my /body. For to me to absolutely live, Christ! and the act of dying, gain! But if (and it is true) the process of absolutely living in 0flesh, this for me |is| work’s fruit. And what I shall choose for myself I am not making known. For I am restricted on the two |sides|, having the earnest desire in order to take departure and to be together with Christ which is very[rather more] much better. In fact the process of remaining on in the flesh |is| more essential for the sake of you&. And since standing persuaded with reference to this, I perceive that I shall remain and I shall abide alongside together with you& all for the progress and joy of yours& with reference to the faith in order that your& /basis for jubilating in Christ Jesus be in abundance in me through my own /coming presence to[the face of] you& again” (vs. 19-26 APT).
Paul reflected his persuasion to glorify Christ no matter what. He expressed confidence that he would glorify Christ whether he was alive or whether he was going to die. Through living or through means of death he would glorify Christ. His confidence spanned three areas: anticipation of freedom, aspiration to glorify Christ, and affirmation of renewed ministry.
A. Confident Anticipation of Freedom (vs. 19,20a).
With confidence Paul anticipated freedom that would glorify Christ. He said, I know that this will turn out for my salvation (my being set free) through your supplication and supply of the Spirit. Christ will be glorified by my being set free. The word ‘supply’ in the Greek is a word which means “to furnish at great cost.” It was used to describe wealthy patrons who financed the elaborate religious plays or operas by spending great amounts of money and sparing no cost to train a great chorus which would be singing, dancing, and acting in a production to entertain the crowds. The patrons would stage this grand chorus by hiring the singers, training and hiring the leader, and putting great scenery in the background. The term was used to designate all of the paraphernalia that was necessary. Paul expected the Holy Spirit to provide all that was necessary to keep preaching the Gospel as well as set him free from prison because of their praying. Through their supplication and prayer Paul anticipated he would be set free and would glorify Christ.
B. Confident Aspiration to Glorify Christ (vs.20b-24).
As Paul reflected on this matter of whether he was going to be set free or be executed, he intended to glorify Christ. He wrote “. . . according to my intense expectation and hope that in not one thing shall I be ashamed, but in (with) all boldness, as always, also now Christ shall be magnified (made great) in my body, whether through life or by means of death.” The emphasis is on the phrase ‘in my body.’ Whether he lives or dies, Christ is to be magnified in his body. He said, “For to me to absolutely live, Christ! and the act of dying, gain!” (v. 21). The whole enjoyment of living in the body is Christ. Then the act of dying in this body was an even greater enjoyment, for it meant greater gain. ‘Gain’ is an accumulation of interest on money invested, a greater profit. This use is found in Philippians 3:7, “But whatever things were gains to me, I have deemed these loss for the sake of The Christ.” The same word is also used in Titus 1:11 in which Paul speaks to Titus concerning those who are opposing the Gospel, “with reference to whom it is absolutely necessary to keep gagging their mouths, whoever over throw whole houses by teaching what things it is absolutely necessary not to, for the sake of shamefully indecent gain.” It was a greater profit to Paul to die, but to live in the flesh for him meant a fruit of work (v. 22). It means that “I will enjoy the fruit of my labor.” “Yet what I shall choose for myself I am not making known” (v. 22 APT). The Greek word translated in the authorized version as ‘I wot not’ is the Greek word for ‘make known’ and is translated such in Luke 2:15, “. . . which the Lord hath made known unto us.” And in Romans 9:22 Paul used it in the expression, “to make His power known.” “And what I shall choose I do not make known, because I am pressed in on both sides between the two. Having a deep desire to depart and be with Christ which is very much better” (vs. 22c,23 APT). So whether living or dying Paul desired to glorify Christ and in summing it up he says, “In fact the process of remaining in the flesh is more essential for the sake of you&” (v. 24 APT). Paul reflected his confident aspiration to glorify Christ and expressed additional confidence.
C. Confident Affirmation of Renewed Ministry (vs.25,26)
Paul wrote that since he was persuaded of this, he perceived that he shall stay alive and abide alongside with them all for their progress and joy in the faith in order that the basis for their jubilating in Christ Jesus be in abundance in him through his own /coming presence to them again. By this he indicated that he was going to live and he was going to have a renewed ministry at Philippi that would result in furthering their progress and joy with reference to the faith. He had confidence that this would occur for the glory of The God in order that their jubilating in Christ would increase.
IV. REITERATE PARTNERSHIP IN THE GOSPEL (1:27-30).
There are three things in these verses that indicate Paul had a relationship with the Philippians as partners in the Gospel. Paul exhorted them to strive together and stand firm.
“Only continually conduct life as citizens of the Gospel of The Christ worthily! so that whether coming and beholding you&, whether being absent, I hear the~ things concerning you&, that you& continue standing fast in one spirit with one soul struggling together for the faith of the Gospel and not being terrorized ones in any[not one] one~ thing by the ones diametrically opposing, whichever is: on the one hand to them exemplification of utter destruction, but on the other hand to you& of salvation and this~ by God. Because to you& it has been graciously granted this in behalf of The Christ, not only the process of committing trust unto Him, but on the contrary also the process of suffering in behalf of Him, having the same conflict of what sort you& beheld in me and now you& hear |to be| in me” (2:27-30 APT).
A. Partners In The Fight (v. 27).
Paul encouraged them to live in a way worthily of loyal citizens of Heaven whose lives exemplified the Gospel of Christ. He desired that whether he came to be with them or was absent from them he would learn of the things pertaining to them and find they were continually standing firm in unity of spirit with one soul striving together for the faith of the Gospel. The phrase ‘striving together’ comes from a Greek word that is used to describe teamwork in an athletic contest, with every effort expended to win. Every effort is to be put forth to spread the faith of Christ. The powers of darkness motivate men to oppose the Gospel. Paul called it the fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7). Paul’s readers are partners in the fight in presenting the Gospel and in making inroads into Satan’s territory with the Gospel of Christ.
B. Partners In Fearlessness (v.28).
Paul expected them to be fearless and in not even one thing frightened as a scared horse running down the path when a ground hog comes up out of the earth and causes the frightened horse to rear and neigh. We are not to be the least bit terrified by those who are lined-up against us. Such animosity on the one hand is an evident proof of their perdition. But on the other hand fearlessness in the face of such attacks is an evident proof of our salvation which we have from The God. Paul’s readers were partners in fearlessness.
C. Partners In Affliction (vs.29,30).
This same conflict that the Philippians experienced Paul also experienced. The word ‘conflict’ comes from the Greek word for gladiatorial contest and from which we get our word ‘agony.’ It is as if we are involved in an athletic contest in the arena. God has made the Philippians partners with Paul in the conflict and in affliction. To be thrown into the arena with the lions is the analogy Paul uses to describe the affliction the Philippians suffered in partnership with him. We can have confidence in the progress of the Gospel as we are given to believe and also to suffer for the sake of Christ. Paul’s readers are partners in the fight, in fearlessness, and in affliction.
Paul instilled confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel in the hearts of his readers. His bonds furthered the Gospel as those soldiers who guarded him heard the Gospel and spoke to one another. Paul’s bonds encouraged others to boldly proclaim Christ without fear. Even Paul’s enemies also proclaimed the Gospel contentiously out of envy and strife. Thus two factions preached Christ and Paul rejoiced that Christ was preached by both factions because he recognized the power of the Gospel. Paul reflected his persuasion to glorify Christ no matter whether his trial ended in his death or he was granted freedom. He had confidence that he would be free and glorify Christ. He confidently anticipated a renewed ministry with them at Philippi. Paul explained how they were partners in the Gospel of Christ: partners in the fight against enemies and adversaries; partners in fearlessness as they continued regardless of how much conflict and how much animosity and antagonism there was; and partners in affliction suffering on behalf of Christ. What steps can you take to build confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel? How can you have confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel? By five pertinent steps:
(1) Remember that The God’s Word will not return to Him void (Isa. 55:11) and the advancement of the Gospel is the power of God (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:24).
(2) Proclaim the Gospel expecting The God to work.
(3) Relate the progress of the Gospel.
(4) Rejoice in the preaching of the Gospel.
(5) Reiterate partnership in the Gospel.
Who will take steps to develop an attitude of confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel? Will you?
What will you do to build confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel in the hearts of your fellow saints?
What steps will you take to develop an attitude of confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel?
Now consider the practical meaning of our lesson by answering the discussion questions below.
1. How did Paul's bonds contribute to the progress and advancement of the Gospel?
2. Why did Paul rejoice in the preaching of the Gospel of contention?
3. How can confidence in proclamation of the Gospel be built in fellow-saints?
4. How did Paul's anticipation of freedom attribute to confidence of the proclamation of the Gospel?
5. Why did Paul regard it more needful for him to remain alive when he preferred death?
6. What did the partnership, that Paul established with the Philippians, involve?
7. Why should you develop an attitude of confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel?
8. What steps can you take to develop an attitude of confidence in the proclamation of the Gospel?
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