Sermon Follow Up - Week 5, 2022
Take joy in the proclamation of Jesus Christ.
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,” (Philippians 1:12–18, ESV)
SUBPOINTS AND REFLECTION QUESTIONS
1. Draw courage from the unstoppable advance of the gospel.
Paul wanted the Philippians to specifically see examples of how his imprisonment was far from a hindrance to the gospel. As a result of his chains, countless guards had heard the gospel message, and the Christians there in Rome had been strengthened and emboldened by Paul's example of being buoyed by joy even as he suffered for the gospel. In turn, we can also draw courage from Paul's certainty that the advance of the gospel happened through his imprisonment, not apart from it.
The gospel which is the power of God to save is not hindered by governments that put people in chains, or by individuals who ostracize you, or employers who treat you differently because you represent and proclaim Jesus Christ, or peers who think your beliefs are outdated, or family members who hate your Sunday commitments, or friends who roll their eyes when you ask them questions about God. Friends, the gospel is not hindered by that opposition, the gospel is PROPELLED into that darkness. The more we ground ourselves in finding joy in Christ proclaimed, the less we will be enticed to self-preserve and save face. Just like the early church in Acts 4 and 5, we will be able to come away from persecution (however "small") rejoicing that we have had the privilege to suffer for the name of Jesus.
- How does the certain advance of the gospel meant to bring you courage in your own representation of and telling about Jesus?
- "Can what worked for Paul work for me?" (Dennis E. Johnson, Philippians, Pillar NTC). Is it possible for you to have such joy in knowing Jesus and seeing him proclaimed that you would radically reinterpret your suffering as that which advances the gospel?
- What are some ways that what you've been through has really served to proclaim Christ to other people? (By causing you to cling to Christ or trust in his promises or being motivated to speak about him, etc.)
2. Value the proclamation of Christ above self-interest
Paul didn't just suffer imprisonment. He suffered from some sort of attacks to his reputation or name from people who were proclaiming the gospel. Surprisingly, he is unconcerned with this. His life has one aim: that Christ would be proclaimed. And so long as Christ is proclaimed, you will find Paul rejoicing.
An entire life can be wasted seeking joy in marketing our self-importance. An entire life can be wasted trying to find joy in making a name for ourselves. Whether teens or adults- some of you know how exhausting it is trying to seem utterly unique and the most interesting person in the world. You might get somewhere with it… but I’ve tried it. Don’t buy it. It won’t lead to joy. Paul proves to us that his approval ratings could rise or fall but his joy was rooted in a gospel that will continue to go forth, a Christ who will continue to reign, and a God who will make his glory known in all the earth. Such that he has died to his self-interest and will celebrate the proclamation of Christ however it may come about. And we are invited to do the same. To live for something other than an 80-year American dream for example. To live for something other the small goal of day in and day out self-care. To dedicate your dreams and your days and weekends and our free time and our work time and our family time to seeing and rejoicing in Christ being proclaimed.
"Christ proclaimed" does not just include personally sharing the gospel with others. It includes sharing in the work of missionaries as you prayerfully and financially support them. Celebrating when a baptism takes place. Praying for someone who has a burden to share the gospel with so-and-so but needs courage provided by the Spirit. There are countless ways in which we take joy in the proclamation of Christ, but we will miss out on all of them if we are consumed with our own self-interests as the eye-opening Spirit of God is at work making Jesus known.
- What would it look like for you to increasingly value the proclamation of Christ?
- What would need to change for you to be able to say with Paul, "I just want Christ to be proclaimed, and so long as he is— I rejoice," ?
- Where do you see yourself in the larger picture of our church's mission statement: We exist to glorify God by enjoying, declaring, and displaying the good news of Jesus Christ for the joy of all peoples. And I pray that by the Holy Spirit we would be filled with a sense of joy as Jesus is proclaimed to others from this body.
- Background, Overview, Outline and Major Themes in Philippians - Dan Wallace
- Joy in the book of Philippians - John Piper
- Acts 4-5
- Matthew 5:11-12
SONGS TO ENCOURAGE
Listen to the album on the book of Philippians by the musical group Psallos as they provide a journey through Paul’s letter with lyrics that are rich in biblical theology. Here is a review of this album by The Gospel Coalition. I pray that listening to this album over the next serval months around the house or while you are driving would serve to cement some of the significant themes of this letter. You can listen to the album on Spotify, YouTube, or on their website.