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Sunday, April 26, 2020

“Because Of This I Rejoice” [Matt's Messages]

“Because Of This I Rejoice”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
April 26, 2020 :: Philippians 1:12-18

And if you never listened to the first message in this series or if you don’t remember it, you might want to go back and watch that one before you listen to this one. It was on March 22, 2020, and it was entitled, “I Always Pray with Joy.”

In that message we began reading this missionary letter from Paul to the church at Philippi, and we could immediately tell how much he loved them. The Philippians were in his heart even if they couldn’t be together in person.

Just like you, Lanse Free Church, are in my heart even though we can’t all be together in person right now.

But because they had the gospel in common, Paul always prayed with joy.

And he also always prayed with joy because of God’s unstoppable work in them. He who had begun a good work in the church will certainly carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. You can count on that!

So Paul always prayed with joy. And prayed for them to have “smart love.”

Love that is wise. Love that always knows what is truly needed, what is truly best for someone else.
Paul was praying that they would have that kind of love to the glory of God.

And so he always prayed with joy.

Now, that word “joy” is a very important word in this book of Philippians.

It pops up again and again and again.

Paul prays with joy, and today we’re going to see that Paul continues to rejoice.

Our passage for today ends with the words, “And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul is full of joy. And Paul chose to rejoice. And so should we.

Now, of course, that is not always easy.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled greatly at times over the last several weeks to rejoice.

There are a lot of things out there that are current threats to our joy.

And I don’t have to list them to you. You know what they are!

But what might surprise you is that Paul didn’t have it easy himself.

When he was writing this letter, Paul was not on easy street.

He was not sitting comfortably typing on his laptop at a beach-side resort after delicious brunch and quick dip in the pool.

Paul was actually in prison.

And he wasn’t a corrections officer. He was a prisoner. Probably in Rome. And Roman prisons were not nice places. And if his case goes badly, he very well might die. Paul is in prison in danger of execution.

But this guy says, “And because of this I rejoice.”

I want to know what Paul is so happy about, don’t you?

What is worth rejoicing in when these are your life circumstances?

I see two main reasons for Paul’s rejoicing that also apply directly to us today.

Paul rejoiced:

#1. BECAUSE GOD WAS USING HIS CHAINS.

God was using Paul’s chains to accomplish God’s good work.

I love verse 12. Paul wants the Philippians to understand that, yes, Paul is in prison which is not good.

But that prison hasn’t stopped the work of the gospel.

In fact, the gospel is advancing not just in spite of Paul’s imprisonment, but because of it! Through it.

God is turning Paul’s chains into a megaphone. Look down at verse 12.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. [It’s not a setback at all!] As a result [of my imprisonment], it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

Now, he doesn’t say how that happened.

But the picture I get is that Paul is in prison, perhaps chained a Roman prison guard or with a Roman guard right outside the door.

And Paul is talking to them.

And he’s talking to them about Jesus.

“So what are you in for?”

“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who came back from the dead.”
“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who came back from the dead.”
“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who came back from the dead.”

And that’s true. That’s why Paul was in that prison! You can read about it in the book of Acts chapters 21 to 28 probably tells the story.

Paul is in this prison because He’s been preaching about Jesus Christ dying on the Cross for our sins and coming back from the dead.

And now that he’s in prison, he’s got a captive audience.

You’ve captive preacher, and he’s got a captive audience.

And the change the guard, and he talks to them.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Want to guess how many men were in the palace guard?

Up to 9,000 men. I don’t know how many Paul talked to personally, but the word has spread: “Paul is in chains for Christ.”

Paul rejoiced because God was using his chains for the progress of the gospel.

Now, let me ask you this:

Is it possible that God is using our current situation to advance the gospel?

Some of you feel like you are in prison right now.

We are currently under a Stay at Home order in Pennsylvania. And there are a lot of restrictions that we are all dealing with these days. And that’s hard!

But what if we had Paul’s perspective on life? Listen to verse 12 again.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

What has recently been happening to you?

Some of you have health trouble.
Some of you have family trouble.
Some of you have financial trouble.
Some of you have recently lost loved ones and you’re grieving hard.

You are in chains.

And it’s right to be sad about that.

But at the same time, what if God is using your chains for the advance of the good news of Jesus?

I believe He can.

And what if God is using your chains for His glory?

I believe He is.

That’s a reason to rejoice!

It wasn’t just Paul who was getting bold about sharing the gospel.

A lot of other Christians were getting in on the act. Look at verse 14.

“Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

Apparently, they were inspired by Paul’s example.

“I mean, look at Paul. He is in chains, but the gospel is not shackled!”

And if Paul can share the gospel while in prison, do you think that we could share the gospel outside of prison? “Courageously and fearlessly.”

I would love for those words to truly describe you and me.

Now, Paul has another problem.

Not only is he in prison, but there are some other Christians who don’t like him very much. They are probably not happy that he’s in prison. They probably think he’s a bad example.

They agree with his gospel, but not all of his methods.

And they probably wish someone else was the chief spokesman for their faith.

We don’t know much more about them, but we do what Paul says in verse 15.

“It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter [the second group] do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. [Good for them.] The former [the first group] preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.”

These guys kind of have it out for Paul.

And they are using this moment to preach the gospel, apparently for the wrong reasons. They are hoping to get Paul into even more trouble while he’s in prison.

That’s not good, and Paul is saying that it’s not good.

Remember: Christianity is not a competitive sport!

Churches are not like franchises that are competing for customers. And when they act like that, everybody suffers.

But notice: this competition. does. not. stop. Paul. from rejoicing. Verse 18.

“But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

Paul was rejoicing:

#2. BECAUSE CHRIST WAS BEING PREACHED.

That’s what’s important.

It’s not important whether we are in chains or not.
Whether we are in pain or not.
Whether we are going to die or not.

We’ll see that next week, Lord-willing.

What is really important in the grand scheme of things is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Is Christ being preached?

Well, okay then! Let’s rejoice.

It’s important to point out that these Christians with the false-motives must have had the true gospel.

Because when someone is preaching a false gospel, Paul does not rejoice.

Paul comes out swinging. Remember the book of Galatians!

We’ll see it, Lord-willing, when we get to Philippians chapter 3.

If someone (even someone who calls themselves a Christians or calls themselves a Christian pastor) preaches a false gospel, then we cannot rejoice.

We are in competition with them.

But that’s a competition of truth vs lies.

Not personalities or preferences or programs or practices.

Or different traditions or secondary matters.

If someone is preaching the true gospel, that’s what’s important.

I think that right now as so many churches have gone online, there is probably a lot of competition, a lot of comparing. “Oh, I like how so-and-so’s church is doing it. I like to watch that!”

Some people are binge-watching church services on Sundays these days. And to that I say, “Praise God!” And if you like someone else’s programming, more power to you.

What’s important is that Christ is preached and because of this I rejoice.

The only things I ask are (1) that we be careful about what they are teaching and listen with biblical discernment and (2) that we not pit these churches against each other as if it were a contest!

Paul says, "The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

The even more important thing is not what are you watching, but what are you saying?

What are you sharing?

If the important thing is that Christ is being preached, we need to ask ourselves if we are doing that.

Are you talking with people about Jesus?

As verse 14 said, “courageously and fearlessly.”

So often we talk about everything else.

We talk about the weather.
We talk about the government.
We talk about virus.
We talk about our families.
We talk about politics.
We talk about work.

Do we talk about Jesus?

Let me ask it this way:

If someone had been chained to you this week, would they have heard you share the gospel with others?

If someone were forced to read all of your texts and emails and messages and social media posts or listened to all of your phone or Zoom calls, would they have gotten the gospel this week?

Paul was in prison and the whole palace guard got an earful:

“I’m in here because of Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for our sins and then came back from the dead.”

I am praying that during this strange and difficult time, we followers of Christ will become bold and dare to share the gospel with those who need it most.

Because in His amazing sovereignty God can even use our chains to advance the gospel.

So we should get busy being courageous and fearless to share the gospel.

So that Christ is preached.

And because of this I rejoice.



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Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "I Always Pray with Joy"

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