Scripture: Philippians 1:12-26
I. Jesus is in control of my past.
A. In Phil. 1:12, Paul talks about his past: “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” How Paul made his way to a Roman jail is described in the Bible book of Acts. What is the word Paul uses in vs. 18 to describe what he is feeling while he waits in prison in Rome? He rejoices. He rejoices in the spread of the Gospel. We found out how the Gospel spread in vs. 13 and 14.
B. In vs. 13 Paul writes that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. The gospel spread among these Roman guards because Paul was chained to them. And the persecution of the church puts some backbone in otherwise timid Christians (vs. 14). They become fearless when they saw the example of Paul. Everything that had led to Paul being in prison was now being used to spread the Good News.
II. Jesus is in control of my present.
A. And what was going on in Paul’s present? Paul could have been really annoyed by something that was happening in his present. There were a group of Christians spreading the Good News about Jesus who were jealous of Paul (vs. 15). These annoying people were not spreading a false gospel. They were speaking the truth. But they were speaking the truth about Jesus with bad motives. They wanted to hurt Paul in preaching the Gospel.
B. Notice Paul’s response to these jealous preachers in verse 18. Does Paul whine and complain about their attacks on him? No. Paul doesn’t care. He doesn’t care why these jealous preachers are preaching Jesus. All he cares about is that Jesus is being preached. All Paul cares about is that the Gospel is advancing. Jesus is still at the wheel today, Paul says. Jesus is directing all events so that the Gospel is going out.
III. Jesus is in control of my future.
A. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, his future was completely uncertain. He had no idea if the outcome of his case meant that he would live or die. How would Paul live while he waited to see if he would live or die? The guiding principle of his life is found in verse 20: Whatever happens in my life, whatever the future holds, Christ is going to be honored in my life. His whole life on earth is about Jesus. Jesus is the meaning of life. Jesus is His passion and His treasure and His joy (vs. 21). And to die and be with Jesus is nothing but gain.
Make it your ambition to have the Gospel about Jesus advance around the world.
The letter to the Philippians
Commentaries on Philippians by J.A. Motyer, Moises Silva, D.A. Carson and Steven Lawson
Sermon Discussion Questions
1) How might difficulties in your life be used by Jesus to advance the Gospel? Is it only your strengths that give you the opportunity to talk about Jesus or do your weaknesses also give you an opportunity?
2) How does Jesus’ control over all things bring you joy? What is the purpose of Jesus’ control? What does He want us to do with unbelievers that He has placed in our paths?
3) Why can Paul say that to die is gain? Do you look at your own death that way?