Friday, July 29, 2011

The Furtherance of the Gospel

The Search for Joy
The Furtherance of the Gospel

Philippians 1:12-26

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;  So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;  And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:  The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:  But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.  What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I there in do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.  For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,  According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:  Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;  That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Through Paul’s letters to the Philippians, his imprisonment in Rome appears to be very evident, it was for the furtherance of the gospel. In spite of the obstacles, dangers, and many disadvantages Paul experienced in prison, there was no hinderance to the spreading of the message of salvation. Those around Paul realized that he was not a criminal but that his imprisonment was due to his zealous preaching of the gospel. Paul found true joy in preaching the gospel and winning souls to Christ. Being shackled to a prison guard was not a negative situation to Paul but an opportunity to minister to those in need of Christ.
Paul certainly experienced much sorrow and tears in his journeys with Christ but proved to be unwavering in his devotion to the Lord in writing; “that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” The chains he wore were meant to cause discomfort, pain and suffering but Paul perceived those bonds of iron as a tighter grip of salvation’s joy. Paul’s reason for being was summed up in this one verse, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” 

Paul spoke of being in a strait betwixt two, which pictures a traveler on a narrow road with walls on either side leaving him no other choice than to walk the straight path before him. He understood that if he died he would gain heaven having complete and joyous fellowship with Christ but, the greatest need was to stay and continue in the furtherance of the church and their joy of faith. Paul lived a fruitful life encouraging the Philippian people to live joyfully, overflowing in the confidence that Jesus Christ was working in their lives, not in Paul’s personal abilities, but in Christ alone.
Thought: Where did Paul find such joy that would sustain him through the burden of being chained and imprisoned? How could the furtherance of the gospel be his sustaining joy? The real question might be in asking, “In what or in whom do you obtain your joy?” If your joy is not found in the person of Jesus Christ and what He has done for you on the cross, then you are men and women most miserable. My dear friend, you cannot be unhappy knowing God has revealed Himself to you personally through salvation and has caused you to see Him as a Faithful Friend, a Helper of the helpless, the Lover of you soul and not have a continual source of abundant Joy.

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