Sermons

Summary: Exposition of Philippians 1:12-14 in light of Acts 28:30 about Paul’s experience in prison in Rome and God’s redemption of the situation

Text: Acts 28:30, Philippians 1:12-14, Title: Perspectives on Prison, Date/Place: NRBC, 11/8/09, AM

A. Opening ill: talk about the movie The Apostle, about the closing moments singing in prison, Dave Ramsey

B. Background to passage: Our text tells us that Paul spent another two years in a Roman prison, and this is after spending two years in Caesarea in prison. For those of you who are Type A people like me, who always have to be doing something, this seems like a waste. Even from a human standpoint, having the church’s greatest missionary, and one of the only ones at the time, locked up preventing church plants, street preaching, new cities and mission trips. And during this time Paul is concerned that the church will think like that. So he writes a little passage in a letter that he writes in prison to a church, and he says just the opposite. And as one commentator wrote, this is part of Paul’s ministry to form Christ in us by showing us that suffering and persecution is part of God’s strategy to take the gospel into the families, cities, and nations of the world.

C. Main thought: My prayer and thought today is that we reevaluate suffering in light of biblical teaching and God’s purposes in the world, as well as reevaluate our reaction to it in our lives; for in this room is a mountain of suffering, heartache, loss, pain, and injustice, but it is not without purpose nor without comfort.

A. Affliction into Advance (v. 12)

1. Paul uses a word here that was used of advancing armies to speak of the progress of the gospel of Christ. It doesn’t make sense to speak of missionaries advancing the kingdom while they are in prison. And by these things that happened, he is probably talking about the riot in Jerusalem, the jail there, the attempt on his life, the two-year prison in Caesarea, the shipwreck, and Roman imprisonment. The Philippians would pray and think like we would—Get him out, Lord. But Paul says this is my ministry. And all this is advancing the cause. Then he proceeds to give two reasons, but I want to quickly add a third that he doesn’t mention. While in Caesarea he commissioned Luke to write Luke and Acts. While in prison in Rome, he wrote the “Prison Epistles.” Here is a smattering of what he wrote in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

2. Philip 1:21, 2:5-11, 3:8-9, 4:13, Col 1:15-18, 2:9, Eph 1:4-6, 2:8-9, 3:20-21, 5:25-27, 6:10

3. Illustration: Read the Hudson Taylor quote from my desk, tell about Heather and Andrew’s marriage

4. How often do you benefit from and cling to promises like these? God used what should have been an immensely painful and frustrating time to bless every literate Christian from the 120s on…millions and billions of believers. How many copies of this letter were printed, will be printed? How many languages has it been translated into. How many churches are founded on these principles in these books? How many missionaries were called into missions through these words? How many people were set free from legalism? How many marriages were transformed? How many spiritual battles fought and won? All of these things because Paul was in prison. You will never know the full impact of your ministry on this side. You will never know the ramifications of how you handle suffering and pain and injustice and loss.

B. Pain into Proclamation (v. 13)

1. Not only did God afflict in faithfulness, redeeming it into advance, but he turned the pain of being chained to another, separated from friends and church, and little aid to the thorn into an opportunity to proclaim the source of true freedom and joy. Paul says that it is clear to the entire palace guard (the elite personal guard of the emperor himself) that he is imprisoned for Christ and serves Him. And as if that wasn’t good enough, he says “to all the rest.” Paul’s imprisonment, thus Christ’s worth and value, were the topic of conversation in the palace of the emperor because of this “hindrance!” Now he didn’t say that any were converted (although probably some were), but there was much joy and glory b/c they heard the gospel.

2. Psalm 119:75, Rom 8:18, 28, 2 Cor 4:17, Gen 50:20, 2 Tim 2:9,

3. Illustration: SCC’s song called “I’m Free,” remind them of our disappointment that schools were closed in Peru b/c of swine flu, but then God providing a way to use all that we had prepared,

4. Think of those that will never hear the gospel because they don’t work in a hospital with all the believers that are sent there. Think of all those who are not waitresses that will never hear and see the gospel because they don’t work at restaurants filled with believers who witness to them. Know that God can and will turn your pain into His glory. Your pain is an opportunity for gain—yours and His! Let the good news of Christ be on your lips, ready in an instance, especially in pain and suffering, as the only explanation for your good attitude, and willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ.

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