Philippians 1:12-18 How Suffering Serves To Advance the Gospel

Paul is going to challenge you to view your adversity in light of its kingdom contribution. In doing so, he insists that adversity does not stymie the gospel; rather, it advances the gospel. Paul puts it like this: “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” (1:12–13).

Paul’s imprisonment led to “the greater progress of the gospel” (1:12). Even though Paul’s imprisonment may have seemed like a setback, it actually served to advance the gospel among those in Rome. In God’s sovereignty, the Lord ordained Paul’s imprisonment in Rome so many people would hear the gospel who would not otherwise have heard it. Furthermore, many of these people are significant and influential people, who in the future, have a great impact for God. Although God closes a prison door behind Paul, He opens a new door for the gospel. Always remember, Jesus is Lord even in prison! He has His people behind bars so they can spread the gospel! This is why Paul cares more about the progress of the gospel than his own problems. He is confident that God is always at work. And he believes that you can have your best witness in your worst circumstances.

Similarly, God uses your painful circumstances to advance His gospel. You may not like your job, your school, your neighborhood, or your marriage, but God has you “chained up” to some people who need Christ. Have you ever stopped to ponder the fact that God placed you in your school so that you might share Christ? Have you realized that God gave you a particular job in order for you to share Christ with your boss and coworkers? Are you cognizant of the fact that God directed you to buy a house in a particular neighborhood with neighbors who need to hear about His Son? There are no mistakes or coincidences. God has a plan and He is advancing His kingdom through YOU.

Adversity will come to you sooner or later. Unfortunately, you’re not given a choice about most of the things that happen to you. I hate to break this to you, but you’re in one of three situations: Either you’re in a trial right now, or you’re just coming out of a trial, or you’re about to enter a trial and just don’t know it yet. But opportunity knocks whenever you experience a tragedy or trial. Thus, you must train yourself to see every tragedy as a divine opportunity to advance the gospel. You may one day lose a child, yet God can use that tragedy to open doors for the good news of Christ. Your spouse may leave you one day for someone else, and God may use your loss for His gain. On a smaller scale, you may get cut from a team or fail to get into the college you wanted to attend. Yet, God may open new doors to reach more students with His gospel. The question is not, “Is what’s happening to me fair?” but instead, “Is what’s happening to me accomplishing something for God? Is what’s happening to me being useful to God in some way? Is it furthering His purposes in the world?”

Keith Krell

Heart Preparation
Read Philippians 1:12-18. How beautiful do you see the glory of Christ and his gospel in comparison to your suffering? What hindrances to seeing your suffering rightly need to be removed by God’s grace? And how can you use your trials and suffering to make much of Christ to those around you?

Posted on: February 19, 2015 - 10:00PM

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