November 23, 2008

Philippians #4

Philippians 1:12-14

We have seen that Paul is writing from prison in Rome to these people in Philippi. He told them that he is praying for them and even told them what he was praying for God to accomplish in their lives.

* That your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

* That ye may approve things that are excellent – that is, judge the rightness or wrongness of events according to the word of God.

* That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

* Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

We also have seen the strong bond that existed between this church and the apostle. He expressed his concern for them and they expressed their concern for him. One of the ways they did this was by sending support to him wherever he went.

V. 12 No doubt there were false charges against Paul, saying he deserved imprisonment. He makes it clear here that he was not here for any crime, and that a result was the furtherance of the Gospel.

* They had proved their strong attachment to him by their continual support of him over the years. He knew they were concerned and interested in his well being. This letter would answer that concern.

* And we see from this chapter (v.16) that his enemies might use this imprisonment against him. They could be expected to use this situation to spread lies and rumors of why he was there.

The enemies of the righteous or of the gospel never miss the opportunity to spread lies and rumors that can be used to undermine the gospel.

Paul wanted them to know the truth about the matter, so they would not be misled or unduly worried about his condition.

Have we ever deliberately kept folks in the dark so they will be misled about our situation?

Paul had a habit of telling others to rejoice in all things and that is what he does here. Of all things, he is rejoicing here in jail and he wants these people to rejoice with him. In fact, he will command them to rejoice. (4:4, 11) Here he is giving them something to rejoice about.

There is an interesting note here. Paul uses the word rejoice a total of 20 times in all his writings and 9 of them are here in the book of Philippians. One half of the words are used as he writes from prison. He practiced what he preached. He tells the people of God to rejoice at all times, and he tells them to do this while he is in jail.

V. 12. that the things ....

In Acts chapter 21:28, Paul had gone up to Jerusalem in the temple and preached the finished work of Christ. His message created an uproar, and the zealous Jews threw him out of the temple almost killing, v. 31. The news of the fight reached the Roman band of soldiers and they came to rescue him.

They placed him under arrest for his own safety. However, the Jews did not give up, and made further plans to do away with him. Paul's nephew brought word to him of their wicked plans to kill Paul. The Romans whisked him away at night.

Paul claims his rights as a citizen of Rome, all the time telling them that the charges are untrue. In chapter 25:11, he made his appeal to Caesar in Rome. The rest of the book of Acts is the record of his trip to Rome on that appeal. Acts closes with Paul in prison waiting for his appearance before Caesar, from where he wrote Philippians.

In v. 12, we find him falsely accused and in Rome in prison waiting for his trial. From all appearance, it seemed that he had failed as a preacher – falsely accused and in jail.

But notice what he says, v. 12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

He tells the people who had supported him over the years that there is a purpose behind what had taken place. Even though it all looked like a hopeless mess, it was not.

God makes no mistakes, though it sure seems like it with this election.

Proverbs 16:33, is still true:

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.

If we are trying to do right and serve God, EVERYTHING that comes into our lives is for the furtherance of the gospel.

On the same page in my Thompson Bible is Ephesians 6:16. As I was looking at this passage, my eyes went to that verse. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Of course, the other obvious reference is Romans 8:28,29.

THE SHIELD OF FAITH, WHEREWITH YE SHALL BE ABLE TO QUENCH ALL THE FIERY DARTS OF THE WICKED. This is needed ABOVE ALL, or the most important thing we have. The most important piece of armor is this shield of faith. Without it we cannot quench the fiery darts of the wicked.

Paul is in jail. The wicked one comes to him and says, See, you think God is so great. If He were, you would not be here in jail. If God really loved you like you say He does, you wouldn't be here. Look at how many enemies you have made. What kind of a message are you preaching anyway?

How many times has he come to me with the same fiery darts? And he didn't use them all on me; there are plenty of fiery darts to go around.

In fact, it doesn't take much of a distressing circumstance at all for the darts to be there, fast and furious. We have all experienced them and will till the day we die.

The wicked one is an expert. He plays both ends against the middle, and guess who is in the middle... He will use every means at his disposal to convince us of the way things should be, and then points out how far short circumstances are from how he convinced us they should be.

The list is endless and different planes work on different people. But the basic plan is effective. Convince us of how things should be (contrary to what has been revealed to us), then make a big issue out of how far short they are from what we have been convinced of.

Take the situation with Paul here in jail for example. Convince him of the power of God to change hearts; TRUE. Convince him of the protection of God; TRUE.

Now he is in jail. Cast that fiery dart at him and say, "See Paul, if God's promises were true you would not be here." Paul says, "You're right. Something is wrong." And his faith is shaken. Let us not suppose for a moment that he did not face this kind of dart.

But, see how that fiery dart is immediately extinguished. FAITH.

Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

He was totally confident that what had taken place was for one reason alone and that dart was extinguished.

He also knew what was going to be fired at the Christians at Philippi. The wicked one would say to them, "The great preacher is in jail. If God was all that Paul claimed He is, he wouldn't be there."

It doesn't really have to be a distressing circumstance. If things go too good for too long, he is there also. "Just wait," he says, "it won't last." or "You don't deserve this." Then we sit and worry about that.

It doesn't matter what comes into our life, if the wicked one can cast his fiery darts at us and cause us to doubt God's hand and purpose in it, we will go down in flames.

The only thing that will put the fire out is the shield of faith — faith that all things work for His purpose in our lives. And not only in our lives, but in all of society. If he can get us to doubt that God is on the throne and in complete control, we will lose all hope.

Paul, in order to put out all the fiery darts of doubt in these folks minds, gave v. 12. We need the same message as the doubts are placed in our minds.

When we see that faith is the key, we also can rejoice even in the most difficult circumstances.

I Thessolonians 5:16 Rejoice evermore.

V. 13.

Paul has taught the absolute necessity of the confidence that all things are taking place for the furtherance of the gospel. As we hold on to that confidence, we will have the strength to continue on, no matter what comes our way, and the fiery darts of the wicked one are extinguished.

V. 13. So that my bonds in Christ are manifest...

Paul's imprisonment in Rome was for preaching Christ, not for any crime he had done

Acts 28:16-22 tells us that when Paul arrived on Rome as a prisoner, he was permitted to rent a house to live in, where he was chained to his guard. Peter was also chained to his guard in Acts 12:7. When the angel of the Lord delivered Peter, the chains fell off. Remember, if a prisoner escaped, his guard was put to death in his place.

I certainly would not want to be chained night and day to someone to spy on all my movements?
I certainly would not want to have someone hear my every word; see my every deed?
What would it be like to never have a moment alone for two years?
What if the guard did not like Christians?

As I was putting this together, I wondered how I would be able to concentrate if someone had to always be by my side, yet Paul writes this letter with this man chained to him.

V. 13, Are manifest, or clearly revealed or made known.

He is chained to this man because of an untrue charge against him. As he is here, it becomes clear that the reason he is here is because of his stand for Christ. It becomes evident that the charges against him are religious charges brought by people who hate him.

We might say this about that. When folks, like maybe Paul's guard, think someone is suffering wrongly, they may be more likely to listen to the message.

Notice to where the message went: The palace. Marg., Caesar's court. We see in 4:22 that the gospel made it into Caesar's household. How the message got there, we have no idea. What we do see here is that as a result of Paul's imprisonment, the gospel made its way into Caesar's family.

V. 13. And in all other places.

The whole city of Rome had heard of his unjust imprisonment. They heard how that he was guilty of no crime, yet was chained to the guard. Evidently, this gained sympathy for him and his message of Christ, went city wide, as we see from vs. 14-20.

* He is writing to these Christians so they should not worry. What was taking place as a result of his imprisonment was beyond anything he could have planed.
* There was no way that he would have been able to get into Caesar's household on his own.
* There is no way that he could have gained the sympathy of the city of Rome on his own.
* There is no way that he could have preached in all the places which were now hearing the gospel, on his own.

He goes on to tell of the many great things that are taking place as a result of his chains. What appeared to be a disaster to the natural eyes, was in reality, one of the greatest things that could have happened.

We could build a whole series of messages on this subject alone — how the best laid plans of evil, wicked men are used by the Lord to do His greatest work.

It would be impossible to even identify the times that God's word has proven true when He said in Psalms 76:10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.

The Jews who sought to kill him for his message thought they had him and his gospel message out of circulation. In reality, they had sent the message which they hated so much, to Rome; into Caesar's household itself. Their zeal in their hatred for the gospel resulted in the city of Rome being receptive to the gospel and preachers going everywhere.

Every school child use to know the story of the flight of the Pilgrims from religious persecution. The result was the U. S., which spawned the greatest missionary endeavor in history.

History has been dominated by just such events. The persecution of God's people over and over has resulted in God doing tremendous things.

It causes me to wonder what God will use here in the US to further His cause.

Paul should encourage us to think of what God does through situations such as Paul's. Think of what He can do in the situation in which we find ourselves.

There are some preachers who I know that are the "woe is us" type. I love them all in the Lord, but I get terribly depressed around them, and I used to be like them. As I have done much in depth study of the Scriptures, I can find no justification for such nonsense.

The God I serve is One of victory. He is the One who controls history. He works providence for His glory, and ACCORDING TO HIS WILL. Daniel chapters 4 through 6 clearly tell us that God does what He will in the kingdom of men.

These Jews made their best plans to overthrow the kingdom of God, and God took those plans and did what could not have been done otherwise.

As we see the world-wide plans today to overthrow God, we have the confidence that the time is coming when those plans will be turned to His glory. I am confident that one of the first places He will start is in the state schools. There cannot be that much commitment to remove all vestige of Christianity from society through the Statist education system without God taking notice. The NEA is a Marxists group, committed to pure socialist goals.

Just one final point in closing this verse. God has a way of turning the unjust accusations against the accuser.

V.14.

There are several points which are evident from this statement in v. 14.

1. Evidently, there were already many Christians in Rome when Paul wrote this.

2. These Christians lacked confidence. They did not think that their individual efforts could possibly amount to anything. After all, what can one person do? What kind of an effect can just one have? No one else is doing anything, why should I?

They were typical of most Christians today. They were secret Christians. They did nothing to rock the boat. They just quietly went about their business and disturbed no one.

This would be commendable except for one thing. It is unscriptural. Matthew 28:19,20 identifies this attitude as disobedience. Now, common sense must go with the preaching of the gospel, but the command is clearly to preach the gospel at every chance. What can we do to make a chance to present the gospel?

3. It was fear that prevented their speaking out for Christ.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

There are enough passages on this to do a series, which we won't.

4. When we take vv.13 and 14 together, we can conclude that the message of Christ wasn't very popular in Rome. In fact, it brought persecution to whoever preached it.

5. Vv. 15-18, shows us that there was envy and strife here in Rome among the Christians, which would not have given them the best of reputation.

As an encouragement to the ones he is writing, Paul tells them the results of his bonds.

1. V. 14. many. Not all, but many. Some people, even Christian brothers, are not going to do right, no matter what.

NOTE: We should be concerned about those who are not going to do right, but they must not be emphasized. We are to emphasize the ones who are trying to do right. Paul mentions the ones who are taking their stand, not on the ones who are not.

NOTE: What might stir us to action may have no effect upon others. Maybe they are unwilling to be motivated. It may take something else to move them.

2. The most obvious is that his unjust bonds for Christ gave those who lacked confidence, confidence to speak out for the gospel. In Paul's situation, they saw that one person does count. One person can do something.

3. Others saw that unjust persecution can be and is used by God for His glory, to further His cause. Paul is on the end of a chain, but even on this chain, he is having an influence into Caesar's household.

4. We see that Paul refers to his bonds as the major cause of the brethren gaining their confidence, giving them boldness to speak out.

5. Paul's chains solved their fear problem. They saw that even with all the ranting and raving of the wicked, the wicked could only do what God permitted. And that which they are permitted to do is always for for God's glory.

Once we see someone do something which we are afraid to do, it gives us confidence to at least try it. We may try it out of pride or out of renewed confidence.

a. The Jews had fully meant to kill Paul. God turned that wicked desire into one of the greatest missionary projects ever, right into the household of Caesar.

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