INTRO: What would you think if you heard that one of your dearest friends was in prison? Aside from your concern about what had caused the imprisonment, there would be some concern for that persons well-being in those harsh and foreign surroundings. Is he bing badly treated? Is he safe in the midst of hardened criminals? Does he get enough to eat? Well the good people of the church in Philippi had that great concern for Paul who was a prisoner of Rome, and they sent one of their own to inquire about him. But Paul writes them, in effect, to say, Dont weep for me. Everything is just working out wonderfully!
I. GOALS CAN BE REACHED IN OFTENTIMES STRANGE UNEXPECTED WAYS
A. Paul had a goal to go to Rome to preach
1. Acts 19:21 a purpose I must also see Rome
2. Rom 1:9-11,15 he had prayed that he could go to Rome
3. little did he know hed get there as a prisoner
B. Well, seemingly defeating things happened to him
1. Acts 21:30-33 from this point on Paul is a prisoner
2. it would have seemed his goal was now impossible from our human viewpoint, at least maybe even Paul wondered
3. Acts 23:11 but we must never reckon without God! Paul was on the way to Rome! his prayer was being answered
C. So, now he writes to reassure his friends (1:12)
1. in effect, he says we can - with Gods help - turn defeat into victory (a wonderful lesson for the Christian life)
2. the gospel is being advanced not retarded!
3. all of these apparently negative things of which the friends had heard had served Gods purpose and had helped Paul reach one of his works goals
D. Chains, bars do not a prison make!
1. people can be prisoners and not be in jail
2. but the real thing here to see is that prison is often a state of mind thus, one may be free while chained
3. such was Pauls case ... turned his imprisonment into a whole new ministry (remember Joseph in Egypt?)
E. Paul did not find his joy in ideal circumstances, rather:
1. in winning souls to Chrsit
2. in his assurances in Christ
3. so, Phil 2:17
II. NOW, WHAT WAS HAPPENING IN ROME? WHAT ADVANCES?
A. Famed praetorian guard was hearing of Christ (1:13a)
1. Acts 28:16,20 actually chained to his guard
2. imagine how much these guards must have heard of the Lord as people came and went then, imagine, too, the time Paul would spend speaking to that guard
3. Phil 4:22 some must have obeyed the gospel
4. point: Paul used adversity as an opportunity Point: he shared the gospel with those in daily contact with him
B. The city of Rome was hearing much of Christ (1:13b)
1. was no ordinary prisoner, no ordinary circumstance
2. he was there with people coming and going freely to learn, to study -- Acts 28:30,31
3.though he is in chains, the word of God was not to be bound (2 Tim 2:9)
4. those chains gave him contact with the lost!
C. Brethren were more boldly speaking the word (1:14)
1. they saw that Paul was optimistic, keeping on, no quitter
2. his courage in chains gave them courage
3. people are indeed more willing to follow and risk when leaders are unafraid of the experience of leading
4. speak one author notes this is a word for ordinary conversation thus, just plain folks are using daily opportunities to talk about Christ ... people whom theyd meet in the ordinary course of daily affairs great things were happening in Rome
CLOSE: Can tragedy be a blessing? Indeed, it can be. We often have little control over things which happen to us. But how we use those things is within our control. Paul was using an adverse, unpleasant circumstance to mightily reach Christ!
Cecil A. Hutson
19 December 1999
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)