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.
More than anything, Paul’s desire was to preach the gospel in Rome. Rome was the key city of its day and the hub of the great Roman Empire. Millions could be reached with the message of salvation and Paul wanted to go to Rome as a preacher, but went instead as a prisoner!
God sometimes uses strange tools to help spread the gospel of Christ or bring someone to the saving knowledge of Christ. In the case of the Apostle Paul, there were tools that helped him take the gospel even into the palace, the Praetorian, and unto Caesar’s special troops. Paul did not find his joy in ideal circumstances; he found his joy in winning others to Christ. One tool God used in the furtherance of the gospel was Paul being chained to a Roman solider (Philippians 1:12-14). Paul wanted his brethren to know that what happened to him was really to advance the gospel. The people around him recognized that he was no criminal but a prisoner for preaching and teaching Jesus Christ.
Paul had critics that opposed him in the gospel (Philippians 1:15-19). He preached the gospel with love and compassion but there were men that were jealous of his apostolic power, his authority, his success and immense giftedness. They began to discredit him causing strife and contention among the people of Philippi. They were interested only in self-advancement and not winning others to the saving knowledge of Christ. God used this opposition in the furtherance of the gospel and that is evident in Paul’s statement: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Paul’s life is summarized by his love for Christ and his reason for living. Death would relieve Paul of all earthly burdens but, his passion was to preach the gospel and build up other believers to be fruitful laborers for Christ.
Paul learned as a Christian that whatsoever state he was in, he could be content. Is it possible that Paul found joy in prison? If people were to search for joy, they probably wouldn’t think to look in prison. How could God use prison as a tool to spread the wonderful story of love? Fortunately, no one can imprison the Word of God; it has its free course to do a work in the hearts of men no matter where they may be. God can use any circumstance, any place, any time, any person for the purpose of spreading the gospel. God uses the most unlikely tools to give the most incredible story man has ever heard. It is inconceivable to think, the King of glory would come to earth in such a lowly fashion, die for sinners, raise from the dead and then go back to heaven waiting to return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
I Love to Tell the Story
Text: Katherine Hankey, 1834-1911
Music: William G. Fischer, 1835-1912
I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true;
it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.
I love to tell the story,'twill be my theme in glory,
to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story; 'tis pleasant to repeat
what seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
the message of salvation from God's own holy Word.
Thought: Some difficult circumstances in my life contributed to bringing me to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This most unlikely tool God used to plant the seed of the Word of God in my heart resulting in salvation. God used a young teenage girl to disciple me and share with me the love she possessed in giving the gospel to others. I will be eternally thankful to her for her undying love for Christ and will say with the Apostle Paul, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you (Philippians 1:3).