Christ Is Preached

Philippians 1:12-18

by
Chris Herd

INTRODUCTION

It is always an encouragement in life to see that Christians of old lived in a real world, they faced many disadvantages.  Not that we would wish this upon anyone, but it does help us to see that when we face hardships and suffering, we are not alone nor are we unique in it.  Reflect on this fact as we consider the faithful worker in the apostle Paul.  At this given point in time AD 61-62, he is imprisoned in Rome.  He was there because he appealed to the decisions made in Caesarea and Jerusalem. As a Roman citizen, mistreated by the Roman government Paul appealed “to Caesar” and having appealed to the emperor in Rome, and won that appeal, he is in custody awaiting trial.  It appears that his trial before Caesar was delayed and as a result of this delay Paul had to remain on in Rome.  Paul, while in Rome, was allowed to live in his own hired house, guarded by a soldier for two years.  This shows us that like Joseph of old, Paul was a respectable character who gained the trust of those who were his captors or even enemies.  From this epistle it appears that the trial has taken place and Paul awaits the verdict but he is uncertain of the outcome. We may read this passage lightly but consider how one of us would view two years in Roman prison conditions of the first century.  We might look upon it as a tragedy, a hindrance or perhaps even a very anxious time.  Not the case for the apostle Paul, as all he sees it as an avenue to preach Christ.  In a world of distress and grief to a normal man, or what would apparently appear as a great loss he saw as great gain.  Godly men and women have the advantage of seeing comfort in pain, growth in trials, character in contending in truth, and salvation in death.  How else could a man see the benefits of being imprisoned except for the fact that good would come of it.  In this time of troubles, Paul resorts to…

TROUBLED TIME PREACHING

He makes the statement in verse 12, “Things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel”.  I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t like it when things go wrong.  I think you know the times I mean?  When it’s just too difficult to see sunshine through the rain.  Truth be known that even rain has benefits, we cannot survive without it.  An illustration I heard once goes like this, two men in prison were asked to look out a window in their cellblock.  Then they were asked what do you see? The first prisoner stated, I see bars, bars that keep me from getting outside.  The second prisoner stated I see beautiful shining stars.  In essence, we can look at the same picture and see different things.  We should strive always to “see the stars not the bars”.  With God on our side we should seek to see the positive in a seemingly negative situation.  I guess we could even say that for a Christian every cloud “silver lining”.  Jesus said to His apostles while He was with them, that they would suffer and be delivered up before those who oppose the gospel, (Luke 12:11-12) magistrates, authorities (Matthew 10:17-20) councils, governors and kings.  All these times and trials that the apostles were to face would be hard, but they were predicted by Jesus and to be expected by those who “preach” the gospel.  Another good example of this actually happening would be the account of Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, as we read in Acts 3-4.  Jesus told His apostles to have this quality to preach always (Matthew 10:27-28).  What Jesus told them in secret, they were to proclaim publicly, they were not allowed to allow persecution to suppress the word.  If we are not encountering some form of persecution, perhaps its because we are not doing as our Lord asked us to. Timothy was encouraged by the apostle Paul in II Timothy 4:2 to preach the gospel “in season and out of season”.  As we learn from Philippians, the apostle Paul lived those words. We must also live those words so that we can encourage others to be the same. 

How it tears at our heart when we read the apostle’s words “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16).  The words were given to the apostle Paul through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration.  Those words were uttered and we see no contradiction to the statement made and the man making it.  Paul expressed in Philippians 1:13: “So that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ”.  As Christians we must be aware that people will look on our lives, the things we go through, and how we handle them.  For this reason we must live exemplary lives, that Christ’s gospel may shine (Matthew 5:16). Then Paul informs his brethren that his imprisonment had furthered the message. What a blessing, seeing God in the headlights instead of in the rear view mirror.  We should be awake to seeing the Lord at work in our lives.  The palace guard knew that Paul is suffering for Christ, after all, Paul had committed no crime, he was not imprisoned for a political matter. Quite simply his imprisonment was wholly due to his union with Christ’s gospel.  The apostle Paul was a mighty vessel for the cause of Christ, as the pivotal point of his life was Christ. When Christ is the main focus of our life we become a living influence to others. The guards who kept watch over Paul were aware of this. There is a definite “POWER OF INFLUENCE” in living for Christ.  Paul passed this on to his younger partner in the gospel “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love” (I Timothy 4:12).  We need good men like Paul today, MEN WHO LIVE THE GOSPEL.  After all, people will read you, they will see if you are “Christian” (Matthew 5:16).  The Praetorian Guard knew, the servants, officers of Caesar’s household “and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14). Here we read of how brethren were encouraged by Paul’s strength, but the apostle was not an island, nor an isthmus, “when Paul saw them he thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15).  Courage as well as fear is contagious.  The brethren encouraged Paul, now he encourages them, we must seek to do the same.  Despite the attacks from the world, many brethren like Paul, suffer from attacks from fellow Christians.  Some of Paul’s brethren definitely did not make things easier for him.

TROUBLESOME PREACHERS

In verse 15 of Philippians chapter 1, Paul records for us that…“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from good will”.  We have for our benefit two types of people identified.  One good and the other not so good.  Notice though that they both preach “the gospel”. Have you ever heard the saying, “you can’t please everybody”?  This is true as much as the fact that, you cannot be sure that everybody will have a sincere heart.  It’s difficult to see how anyone could preach out of envy or strife, or seek to add affliction to the trials of Paul, but they did!  Some will oppose us for various reasons.  Verse 16, “The one preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains”.  It’s hard to imagine any preaching Christ with impure motives, with the intent of trying to add to Paul’s suffering.  What we learn is that, these men were not simply men who did not love the Lord.  If they were simply not lovers of God, Paul would have refuted the message they spoke.  Paul did not condemn their message, only the men.  The word “Selfish ambition” can also be looked at as “faction” or “self seeking”, indicating strongly that they were jealous of his influence and became personal enemies.  This is a symptom that most faithful gospel preachers have experienced or will experience at some time in their life of service to Christ.  To add to the emphasis, this selfish ambition or “FACTION” means not only devising a method but also to be engaged in the very act of gaining followers.  Egotism leading men to not only devise the methods, but to put those methods to draw away numbers and effectively serving their own ends.  These men are calling themselves “ministers of Christ” but are guilty of harbouring impure motives.  This is one of those facts which is, unfortunately “SAD BUT TRUE”.  They do not “LIVE FOR CHRIST”…by their motives they “LIVE FOR THEMSELVES”…Philippians 3:19, “whose god is their belly, whose glory is their shame”.  Let us give thanks for the next verse “But the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defence of the gospel”.

TRUE HEARTED PREACHERS

Let us continue to thank God for faithful preachers of the word.  Verse 15b states “good will” and verse 17b “the latter out of love”.  To endure a struggle is one thing, but to go through a problem and know that you have faithful Christians on your side is a blessing from God.  Loving our brethren and sharing in their suffering is a Christ-like trait. We read in the book of Hebrews 13:3 “Remember the prisoners, as if chained with them, and those who are mistreated, since you yourselves are in the body also”. The pleas are to consider our suffering brethren as we ourselves are suffering with them.  As parts of the same body, we feel the pain when another body part hurts.  Who should understand what we go through as Christians?  Surely it would be a joint servant of Christ Jesus. In essence, the Christian has died with Christ and therefore should live for Him, as we read in Colossians 3:1-3: “DIED” through baptism.  If we have died through baptism, then the living for ourselves has ceased and we now live for Christ: we are “CHRISTIANS”. As a servant of Christ we are encouraged to seek things above: “Set your affections upon heaven”. What an encouragement to know that we are all living for Christ, we are all seeking the same goal.  The confidence that we are all set for the same defense. It is a blessing to see faithful preachers of Christ’s gospel.

TRUTH PREACHED

In verse 18 we read, “Then?  Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached, and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice”. Something that Paul did, we must seek to do also.  Paul took the focus off of himself. When we suffer it is easy to drown in self pity and sorrow, to get to the point where we are so stressed about what others are doing that we lose sight of the cause for Christ. “Oh poor me”. Although he was suffering, Paul did not focus on his treatment, he did not get bogged down in pity over these, mean, ungenerous, painful attacks by those who were jealous. We must remember that in the all seeing eye of God, nobody can escape or fool Him. Those who are insincere will give account to God and this treatment Paul received was unacceptable. Yet with full knowledge of this, Paul inspires us to greater heights, showing us that only thing was important to the apostle, is that Christ was preached. Do we rejoice at our freedom to preach Christ? Do we seek every opportunity in every situation to preach Christ? The furtherance of the gospel should give us such rejoicing that we are able to endure the trials of this life, setting our sights on heaven, Matthew 6:33. As far as preaching the gospel is concerned, it is our individual responsibility, a part of the requirement of the meaning “LIVE FOR CHRIST”, Matthew 28:18-19. The simple fact that people could hear the gospel and be saved this was something for the apostle Paul to rejoice over. If a man hears the gospel, believes, repents, and is baptized he is a Christian. He is not personally effected by the motive behind the one who preached to him. The message preached if faithful would produce salvation of the one that heard and obeyed the message. However, for the one who did preach and preaches with the wrong motives, there is a warning! We must be sincere in our “living for Christ”, examining our motives, I Corinthians 11:27-29.  Partaking in the Lord’s supper is one area of examination, but we need to apply this to our whole Christian life.  Let us rejoice when Christ is preached and let us “LIVE FOR CHRIST” so that our lives will sound out the message to salvation.  If we do suffer, let it be for good!  (I Peter 2:20-21, 3:13-17)

CHRIST IS PREACHED
Chris Herd

When I suffer I pray oh Lord, that it may be for You,
As You alone oh God do know, that my heart is ever true.
Your word is like a mountain air, it refreshes my very soul,
Your ways beyond any man’s, as You are in control.
Some come to You in gratitude, reverence and fear,
Others come in self-seeking and do not hold you dear.
If some do not have sincere hearts, I pray for them my God
That they may seek the mind of Christ, to walk the road Jesus trod.
I want to serve You in honesty, examining my every thought
Applying the changes I must make, as from Your word I’m taught.
I want to be a shining light, that bright beacon in the night,
That others who are in danger, drowning, can also make it right.
I want to be a servant, so that when the end of my life is reached,
I can rest in peace with you, and rejoice that Christ was preached.

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