Living to Advance the Gospel (Philippians 1:12-18)
Topic: Philippians Scripture: Philippians 1:12–1:18
First Scripture Reading: Psalm 2:1-12
Second Scripture Reading: Acts 4:1-37
Sermon Text: Philippians 1:12-18
Before he ascended to the right hand of the Father, Jesus gave his disciples what has come to be known as the Great Commission. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). This commission is “sandwiched” between two important assurances from Jesus: first, he has been given authority over all creation; and second, he will be with his disciples (no longer in physical form, but by his Spirit).
We see the fulfillment of these assurances in the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Though he is in prison for preaching the gospel, the gospel continues to advance. The great irony is that sinful men imprisoned Paul in order to block the advancement of the gospel, but by doing so they were actually assisting its progress. We see how Jesus’ assurances were coming to pass in Paul’s ministry, and how these assurances remain in place for the Church today. He continues to extend his kingdom by his sovereign power and perfect wisdom.
1. For review, read Philippians 1:9-11. Is there something surprising to you about Paul’s prayer for the Philippians? What do you learn about how to pray from these verses?
2. Read Philippians 1:12. Why might the Christians in Philippi have been surprised by this news? In what ways do you advance the gospel in your life?
3. Why do you think other believers became “much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14) when they heard of Paul’s imprisonment?
4. Compare and contrast the characteristics of those who preach “from envy and rivalry” and those who preach “from good will” in Philippians 1:15-18. Do you agree with Paul’s conclusion in Philippians 1:18? How might you apply what you learn to your view of other churches and ministries?
5. Read Belgic Confession (Article 27) and discuss what it teaches. Why does the world “rage” against Christ’s Church?
6. In preparation for next week, read Philippians 1:19-26. What do you think Paul means in Philippians 1:21? How might these verses connect with some of the themes of the Reformation?