INTRO: There were some very positive things taking place in and through Paul's imprisonment. The gospel was spreading in the Praetorial Guard, Rome was hearing about the unusual reason for this man's being a prisoner of Caesar and many brethren were encouraged to speak of the gospel in their daily contacts. But there were some "negative" things too. At least, they appeared to be negative and hurtful. And, strange as it may seem, the one negative thing mentioned here came from among Paul's own brethren ... not from his Roman jailers!
I. TWO MOTIVATIONS WERE AT WORK IN THE PREACHING IN ROME
A. The negative one: "of envy and strife (rivalry)" - 1:15a
1. now, these were brethren in Christ
2. perhaps they were the preachers, teachers who - before Paul arrived in Rome - had "things" much to themselves
3. perhaps felt he was getting more attention than they
4. humanity overcame their Christianity! envy, rivalry!
B. What were these doing? 1:16
1. "contention" -- to canvass for office, to seek support - they were "politicking"
2. apparently, they were stirred up to preach more actively in order to bring attention to selves (Phil 2:21)
3. were not sincere in efforts --"pretense" in 1:18
4. rather than coworkers, they were rivals ... there is no place for such rivalry (which leads to strife) in the work of the Lord - such rivalry always dilutes possible "harvest" and dissipates the strength of the cause
C. The positive one: "of good will" - 1:15b
1. the "good will" in this case is toward Paul
2. they were sympathetic to/of Paul and his chains
3. these were certainly supportive of Paul -- do you suppose Paul had wondered what kind of reception he'd receive in Rom coming as a prisoner?
4. to the Philippian friends he is saying that all are not hostile toward me in Rome
D. What were these doing? 1:17
1. "of love" -- selflessly preaching Christ
2. 2 Cor 5:11a,14 motivated by love for Christ
3. they were also recognizing that Paul was where he was for a very special purpose ... "set for ..."
4. thus, they served him, with him in order that God's purpose should be accomplished ... no rivalry; a common cause demanded unified efforts
II. YET, CHRIST IS PREACHED IN EITHER CASE
A. This was the important thing to him
1. these were not false teachers (Gal 1:6 and 2 Cor 11:4)
2. were not the Judaizing teachers within the church
3. we know this because he does not censure their teaching -- only their motive
4. sO, truth was being taught ... souls were being saved
B. "Christ is preached" 1:18a
1. most certainly this meant the cross - Gal 6:14
2. it meant the resurrection - 1 Cor 15:19,20
3. it meant the new life in Christ - 2 Cor 5:17
4. it meant the Lordship of Jesus - Col 3:9-11
III. THE LOVELY DISPOSITION OF PAUL (1:18)
A. An absence of anger and resentment
1. these people were obviously not friendly
2. they made it known they had little use for Paul - and wanted to hurt his influence, effectiveness if they could
3. but the "expected" reaction just wasn't there! Eph 4:31,32
B. A presence of joy
1. you see, Paul didn't consider self important - he is just a messenger - the message was the important thing
2. what was the truly important thing was that the gospel be advanced (1:12) -- and if truth was being preached, good was going to be accomplished (Rom 1:16)
3. Paul had no time for bitter feelings ... life was too short and time too valuable for such personally harmful things
CLOSE:Whether or not something is "good or bad" is often just a matter of our disposition. With the disposition of Christ's filling his heart Paul was turning each adversity into an advantage! The great concern he had ... that Christ should be preached.
Cecil A. Hutson
26 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)