Philippians 1:12-14 ESV
“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.”
Paul was undergoing persecution for his walk of faith in Jesus Christ and for his testimony for Christ and for the gospel. And he was in prison. Yet, instead of letting that dishearten or discourage him, he looked at the positive side of it all. His imprisonment for preaching the gospel was actually serving to advance the gospel. For the word was spreading that Paul was in prison because of his belief in Jesus Christ.
Let me give you an example of this from my life. Most all of my life I have been a believer in and a follower of Jesus Christ, although there was a short period of time where I gave up and I gave in to the enemy and I was not walking with the Lord in obedience to his ways. But most of my life I was following Jesus with my life, and when I was, I kept facing persecution, most of it coming from the church and from pastors and elders of churches.
Now some people will assume that if you have a history of being rejected by the church and by pastors that the problem must be you, and not them. But Jesus was persecuted everywhere he went, and so was Paul and the other apostles, and the prophets before them were also persecuted on a regular basis, well in particular Jeremiah definitely was because he talked about it. And Paul talked about his persecution that he faced, too.
For, if we are following Jesus in his ways, and we are doing what he says to do, and we are following the teachings of the Scriptures, and we take God and his word seriously, particularly in our day and age where so much of the church has gone the way of the world and they are diluting the gospel message, those who are still holding on to the message Jesus gave and that Paul and the other apostles gave will be persecuted by the worldly church.
So, the institutional church rejected me and pushed me away, which actually turned out to be a good thing. And the Lord encouraged me to leave “Babylon,” so that I did not share in her sins and in her punishment, for her sins are piled high to heaven (Rev 18). And then the Lord sent me to the internet to share what he was teaching me from my times with him each day in his word. And these teachings are going to people all over the world.
So, truly the institutional church’s rejection of me, as a servant of the Lord, served to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I do believe very much that people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ and that they are being encouraged in their walks of obedience to the Lord as a result of my obedience to the Lord in leaving the worldly institutional church and going to the internet with the Scriptures and in sharing what the Lord is teaching me.
Philippians 1:21-26 ESV
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.”
When we face persecution because of our walks of faith in Jesus Christ and because we are holding fast to the truth of the gospel, it is because we are making a conscious choice to choose Jesus over the acceptance of other humans. We are choosing Jesus, too, knowing full well that we will be hated and persecuted as Jesus was hated and persecuted. And for many people in other countries (not the USA) they know that it could also mean their deaths.
Right now in America, as a general rule, we are not being put to death for our professions of faith in Jesus Christ, and we still have the freedom, at least on the internet, so far, to teach the truth of the gospel, but not on all sites, not even on all “Christian” sites where they are teaching the cheap grace gospel and thus they don’t want anyone on there teaching the true gospel that Jesus and Paul and the other apostles taught.
But we are being opposed, sometimes strongly, by those who have embraced the cheap grace gospel, and by professing Christians who are still living in sinful addiction and who are thus offended by us teaching that we must still repent of our sins and walk in obedience to our Lord, and that we must surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and submit to his Lordship over our lives. And so we risk, perhaps not our physical lives, but we risk being hated and rejected by most people, and thus we are laying our lives down.
But we choose to do that, even if it means having no friends, and having many people opposing us, because we know it means the salvation of many lives. And it means that we are able to encourage (includes urging) other Christians in their walks of faith to be obedient to the Lord and to walk in his ways and to trust him with their lives fully. And we are committed to that, and we are committed to the Lord to serving him the rest of our days.
Philippians 1:27-30 ESV
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, we do what we do, not for the glory of self, but for the glory of God, for the salvation of human lives, and for the spiritual growth and maturity of our fellow followers of Jesus Christ. So we truly desire to see our brothers and sisters in Christ walking in a manner worthy (fitting to) the gospel of Christ which teaches that we must put to death our former self and that we must walk in obedience to our Lord, in his strength and power, by his grace.
So, I leave you with this encouragement today to please not get your gospel message just from the teachings of other humans nor from Scriptures removed from their context and twisted to say something they do not say. Read the Bible for yourselves in context, one book at a time, and let the Holy Spirit lead you to all truth. Then obey the truth that you are shown. For, if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh, and not according to the Spirit, we will not have eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10, 19-20; 2 Co 5:10, 15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]
I Will Wait for You (Psalm 130)
By Jordan Kauflin, Keith Getty, Matt Merker, & Stuart Townend
Out of the depths I cry to You
In darkest places I will call
Incline Your ear to me anew
And hear my cry for mercy, Lord
Were You to count my sinful ways
How could I come before Your throne
Yet full forgiveness meets my gaze
I stand redeemed by grace alone
I will wait for You
I will wait for You
On Your word, I will rely
I will wait for You
Surely wait for You
Till my soul is satisfied
Caution: This link may contain ads