As I prepare to teach on Philippians chapter 1 tonight, I want to share some of my thoughts in this article to help me think through the lesson. During the previous lesson, we covered the overview Paul’s epistle to the Philippians church. To give some background, during the first lesson we learned the following about this epistle:
Theme: Rejoice in the Lord always (4:4) How?
Chapter 1 – Preach the Gospel in every circumstance (1:18)
Chapter 2 – Have the attitude of Christ (2:5)
Chapter 3 – Seek to know Christ intimately (3:8)
Chapter 4 – Do all things through Christ (4:13)
In our second lesson, we covered the way that Paul preached the Gospel in every circumstance during his ministry. We covered Acts 16 through Acts 28. Paul preached in the houses of worship, at riversides, in public, and even in jail. Because he preached the Gospel in every circumstance of life, he was able to make awesome disciples who formed great churches that positively impacted the entire world.
Today, we are going to focus on how the Philippians participated in the Gospel after they received It from the apostle Paul.
I. Philippians’ participation
The first way that they began to participate in the Gospel is seen through the fact that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of the Gospel, the Philippians who are mostly Gentile pagans and enemies with God, are now set apart from the rest of the world because of the relationship they now have with God through Christ. Christ began to work in the lives of the Philippians, setting them apart as His people. The work started and still continues. Verse 5 tells us that the Philippians began to take part in the Gospel the very first day and have continued to take part in the Gospel daily. If you want to know how they participated, check out verse 7. They defend the Gospel. The Gospel has been confirmed in their lives because of the transformation that has taken place. They have taken part and are taking part in spreading the Gospel daily. They are maturing in their walk with the Lord and that is seen by their love for each other as well as in the Lord’s righteousness being manifested in them. Not only do they have a genuine relationship with the Lord, they also have a real relationship with others. In this case, it is with their mentor, Paul. Their relationship brings great joy to Paul and he is grateful for them and their participation in the Gospel. Paul loves them and prays for them that they will continue to mature in their walk with the Lord. How do we know that the Philippians are moving to maturity? It is seen in the fact that their discernment between fleshly things and godly things begins to manifest itself. As they mature, they are more and more sincere in their walk with the Lord and relationships with others. This process will continue all the days of their lives. So, the first step in preaching the Gospel everywhere is to take part in the Gospel by accepting It and living It out daily. The next step is seen by actually spreading the Gospel as the Lord opens the doors.
II. The joy of spreading the Gospel
What are the things in this life that bring you joy? What gets you out of bed in the mornings? What are the things that you will wake up early to do? Taking part in spreading the Gospel each and every day should be something that brings great joy in your life. In fact, once you actually share the Gospel with someone, experiencing the thrill of being used by God, you will want to do it more and more. There is no greater high on this earth than being used by God to share the Gospel with another person. Paul is an example for the Philippians in sharing the Gospel in every circumstance. When the Lord led him to plant the church in Philippi, first Paul spoke to some people gathered by the riverside. One family came to Christ. Then Paul began to preach the Gospel in the public market. As a result, he was put in prison. While in prison, he preached the Gospel and the head jailer came to Christ. This is how the church in Philippi was formed. Paul preached the Gospel when he was free and there were people around who wanted to hear. Paul preached the Gospel in the market place when no one was really interested in listening. Paul continued to preach the Gospel in prison, the place he was put to stop him from preaching. He had great joy in preaching the Gospel in every one of life’s situations. Now, as Paul writes to the Philippian church, he is in prison for preaching the Gospel. While in prison, he continues to preach the Gospel, to the point where the entire praetorian guard has heard the message of salvation. When preaching the Gospel, God not only looks at your message but also examines your motives. Not everyone who preaches the Gospel does so from pure motives with pure intentions. Some preach out of selfish ambition instead of the joy of being used by the Lord. Paul rejoices because the Gospel is being preached. In fact, this gives us some insight into Paul’s life goal.
III. Life goal, living for the Gospel
Paul is an example of preaching the Gospel in every circumstance because this is the purpose of his life. Ever single day, Paul knows that he is alive to know Christ and to make Him known to the world around him. If Paul is alive, he will preach Christ. If Paul dies, he gains Christ. Either way, it is all about Christ. This is what the phrase “to live is Christ and to die is gain” literally means. Paul wants to communicate this to the Philippian church. This needs to be the goal of their lives. If they live, they live to preach Christ. If they live, they live to serve Christ by investing Christ in the people around them. If they die, their death is also a testimony of and for Christ. In order for them to live as a testimony for Christ, the Philippians must conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel. How are they to do that? They obey the Lord moment by moment. They stand firm with one spirit in the face of persecution. They are not alarmed by their opponents. They consider it a privilege to suffer for the Lord’s sake, experiencing the same conflict that Paul experienced. They don’t stop preaching the Gospel, especially when the Gospel brings enemies into their lives. This is what is looks like when people have a purpose in life of living for the Gospel. Are you like this?
May the Lord help us live for Christ by being ready to preach the Gospel everywhere.