Summary: The question before us is, can your difficulties advance the gospel? They threw the Apostle Paul in prison thinking they could stop the advancement of the gospel. According to Paul this only blazed a trail for the preaching of the Gospel.
The question before us is, can your difficulties advance the gospel? Can you Imagine if you came to church this morning and rather than being greeted at the door and coming in. Instead, you found the doors of the church were barred shut. You came and found military police outside this church and you were told that the authority of the government closed down this church. Their explanation, we no longer want the Baptist church in this city. We do not like the evangelical witness this church is bringing. We do not like you doing visitation and sharing the gospel. We are not happy with the doctrines preached in the church. We do not want Jesus Christ preached.
Could you imagine if you experienced that? What would happen? Probably what would happen is we would return to our homes and begin to call each other by telephone. We would even call those who were not normally involved in this church. By the time the evening service time came there would be throngs of people turning out crying, you cannot stop me from my freedom to worship. I am going on ahead so don’t try to stop me. The difficulties would advance the gospel.
People who thought they could shut our doors would have only stirred our boldness. They would have fueled more testimony for Jesus Christ. That kind of situation happened in the first century church with the Apostle Paul. They threw the Apostle Paul in prison thinking they could stop the advancement of the gospel. According to Paul this only blazed a trail for the preaching of the Gospel. Difficulties can advance the gospel!
Isn’t it exciting to consider that our personal difficulties are advancing the cause of Christ! There are two kinds of difficulties that can be experienced. One we can call internal difficulties and the other external difficulties. Take the example of a family. An internal difficulty is when a husband and wife are having difficulties or a father and son not getting along. These kinds of internal difficulties will break a family apart. But an external difficulty, loss of a job or a tragedy, will bring the family together. They pull the family together and cause closeness. These external difficulties can strengthen the family.
This same dynamic can take place in a church family as well. When there are internal difficulties, with turmoil and struggling amongst themselves it can ruin a church. When the difficulties come from outside and someone is trying to bear down on the church it can bring us together and unite us. These external difficulties actually advance the cause of the gospel.
I) God used Paul’s circumstances to advance the Gospel. Vs 12
In verse 12 Paul tells us that his difficulties advanced the Gospel. He says, “I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.” Paul uses that phrase, “I want you to know.” In other words Paul is referring to something that would not normally be self-evident. What you think would happen, exactly the opposite has happened. You would think when the great leader, the Apostle Paul is thrown into prison and can’t go out and preach the gospel that it would hinder the cause of Christ.