Summary: Working through the book of Philippians using consecutive expository preaching. Philippians 1:12-18
Sermon: “The Church in Chains”
Pastor John Bright
Philippians 1 “12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
Today is going to be one of those sermons without jokes and bad puns – you know how much I love that! I will be teaching on the persecuted church. If you have been with me in Bible Study, you know that I don’t enjoy looking up that information. It really makes me sad in my spirit, despite the call of Paul to rejoice in his being in chains.
We were all shocked by the tragic death of George Floyd on May 25th. Did we miss anything else going on since then?
• 07/02/2020 India (International Christian Concern) – According to Asia News, two Christians died after being beaten and tortured by police in India. The incident occurred in India’s Tamil Nadu state. Jayarad and his son, J. Fenix, were arrested on June 19 after keeping their phone business open beyond the hours of the COVID-19 restrictions. The two Christians were part of the “nadar” caste, considered among the disadvantaged castes by law in India. The murder of the two Christians has created a public outcry in India.
• 07/01/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to local reports, Nadeem Joseph, a Christian from the TV Colony of Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s Khybar Pakhtunkhawa province, died yesterday as a result of gunshot wounds he received on June 4. Twenty-six days ago, Joseph and his family were attacked by Muslim neighbors because they purchased a home in what their neighbors determined to be a ‘Muslim-only’ neighborhood. On June 4, 2020, Nadeem Joseph, his mother-in-law, Elizabeth, and his brother-in-law, Babar Masih were attacked by Muslim neighbors wielding guns in front of their home in TV Colony. The attackers were Salman Khan and his sons. According to Joseph and his family, Khan attacked because they purchased a home in what Khan claimed to be a ‘Muslim neighborhood’.
• 07/01/2020 Iran (International Christian Concern) – On June 21, seven Iranian Christians converts from the southern city of Bushehr were sentenced for “propaganda against the state.” All seven were arrested in July 2019 after Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) raids discovered Bibles and other Christian literature and iconography in their homes. Despite Iran’s assurance that it never imprisons citizens based on their beliefs, these seven Christians were sentenced solely because of their faith. Iran is an officially Islamic government and routinely rated one of the top abusers of religious freedom in the world.
Is it hard to hear about this in a day when we have lost our joy over the church building being shut down by the Virginia Conference? Is it hard to hear Paul explaining that his imprisonment has had a desirable outcome? That question leads us to the first take-away from this scripture:
A BAD SITUATION CAN BE GOOD FOR GOD
“12 But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Let’s get straight to some good news – where the church is persecuted it grows. I mentioned those arrested in Iran. Here is some news about Iran back in 2017 from Voice of the Martyrs.
24 May 2017. One of the worst countries in the world for Christians to be living in is also the country where the church is growing the fastest. That country is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is listed as the eighth worst Christian-persecuting country in the world on the 2017 Open Doors USA World Watch list. But now, Iran has gained the distinction of being the leading country in the world where the church is growing and influencing the region for Christ, according to the Christian persecution watchdog.