What’s So Great about God?

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What’s So Great about God?

Philippians 1:12-26

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - August 5, 2012

*We say it in one of the first prayers we ever learn: “God is great.”

-And He really is great!

-We could talk about His greatness all night long.

-And in these verses, Paul shows us some of God’s great ways.

1. What’s so great about God? -- First, He gives us delight from disaster.

*God can give us delight from disaster. He can bring blessings out of our burdens. Tonight we will see God work this way in the life of Paul. And this is Paul’s message to us starting in vs. 12:

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;

*The bad news in these verses was that Paul was in chains. He wasn’t in a dungeon at this point, though he had been before, and he would be again. At this point as a prisoner of Rome, Paul was allowed to live in a house, but he was kept chained to a soldier 24/7. That was the bad news.

*But there is also great news in vs. 12-14, for Paul said:

12. . . 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.

*The great news is that the gospel was being spread to many new places, to many new people, and by many new people. The gospel was being spread!

*The most important news the world will ever hear was being spread far and wide:

-The great news that God loves us in spite of our sins.

-The great news that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead.

-The great news that God will forgive our sins and give us eternal life, if we will turn to Him and trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

*And God was using the bad news about Paul to help spread the good news about Jesus.

*That’s the way God operates.

-He loves to bring good things out of the bad things in our lives.

-He loves to bring blessings out of our burdens.

*We see more evidence of this truth in vs. 15-18, where Paul said:

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.

*Even when the gospel was being preached with a bad motive, God brought good things out of bad.

-As Christians, we have seen God bring good things out of bad many times.

-He gives delight from disaster.

*And if you are a Christian, then Romans 8:28 is at work in your life. There Paul famously tells believers: “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

-And we may not be able to see it yet, but God is going to bring some kind of good out of every bad thing that happens to us.

*I think about my parents a lot this time of year. My mom’s birthday was yesterday, and my dad was born on Aug. 10th. Our Katie was born on the same day. Mom died on Aug. 1st. My dad had died 18 years earlier on Aug. 2nd. He was buried on my mother’s birthday, but there is very little sadness in my heart today, because I know they are both in Heaven!

*I had the privilege of helping my own mother come to know Jesus. It happened in the church office building at McClendon Baptist Church 28 years ago. Back in those days, that building was the parsonage and we lived there for 5 years.

*Every time the youth director walks back to sit at her desk, she passes the place where my mother got saved. Talk about holy ground!

*Before my mother met my dad, she had a sad life. Both of her parents were alcoholics. And she went through a terrible marriage at 17. It was so bad that she never talked about it, even once. Mom’s life brightened after World War II, when she met and married my dad. But he passed away at only age 55, so, she was mad at God. But 8 years later Mom saw God’s Hand at work through those tragic circumstances. And she was ready to trust in Jesus. Mom was 68-years-old, and she had been through many detours in her life. But she put her trust in Jesus, and 10 years later He took her home.

*All of that time, through the worst kind of pain, mostly when she couldn’t see it, God was at work in my mother’s life. And Christians we should know, we must believe that he is at work in our lives today. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

*What’s so great about God? -- He gives delight from disaster.

2. And He gives triumph from the tomb.

[1] Of course, our biggest triumph is from Christ’s tomb.

*This is Paul’s message to us in the first part of vs. 21, where he said: “For to me, to live is Christ. . .” Paul is speaking here about the new life we receive when we receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Paul is speaking about the new life in which:

-I am a child of God (John 1:12)

-I am born again (John 3:3)

-I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)

-I am justified (Romans 5:1)

-I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)

-I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:1-2)

-I am a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)

-I am chosen by God, adopted by God, and accepted by God (Eph 1:4-6)

-I am saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8)

-I am getting all my needs met by Jesus (Phil 4:19)

-I am forgiven (Col 1:13, 14)

-I am redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18-19)

-And much, much more! (1)

*“For to me, to live is Christ. . .” William Barclay explained Paul’s words by saying: “For Paul, Christ had been the beginning of life, for on that day on the Damascus road it was as if he had begun life all over again. Christ had been the continuing of life; there had never been a day when Paul had not lived in his presence. And in the frightening moments Christ had been there to bid him be of good cheer. . .” (2)

*Hey -- The very same things are true for us! For us, to live is Christ!

*And of course our new life is only possible because of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

-Our new life comes from Jesus and through Jesus.

-So that all Christians can say. “For me to live is Christ!”

*We know that our triumph is from HIS tomb. And it gives us great value, because now we belong to Jesus.

*Chuck Swindoll once explained that common, ordinary possessions can become extremely valuable, even priceless, if they have been owned by someone powerful, wealthy or famous.

*For example, he pointed out that some years back, Napoleon’s toothbrush sold for $21,000. -- I couldn’t get 21 cents for mine!

*Hitler’s car sold for over $150,000. -- And extraordinary prices have been paid for Winton’s Churchill’s desk, a pipe owned by C.S. Lewis, sheet music handwritten by Beethoven, and a house once owned by Ernest Hemmingway.

*Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s fake pearls sold for $211,500. And JFK’s wood golf clubs went for $772,500, not because they themselves were worthy, but because they once belonged to someone who was important.

*And Chuck Swindoll said: “Are you ready for a surprise? -- We fit that bill too. Think of the value of something owned by God. What incredible worth that bestows on us.” -- Because we belong to Him. (3)

*“For me to live is Christ!” (i.e. for me to live in this world is Christ.) That’s part of our triumph from HIS tomb.

[2] But Jesus also gives me triumph from MY tomb.

*In vs. 20, Paul expressed his “earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

*In vs. 21, Paul tells us that either result was fine with him. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Then in verses 22-24, Paul explained that it was a tough choice whether to stay here or to go home and be with Jesus. Here Paul said:

22. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.

23. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.

24. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

*In other words, Paul was saying, “I want to stay here and help you. But going to be with Jesus is far better!” This is the same point Paul made in 2 Cor 5:1&8, where he said:

1. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

8. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

*Christians: For us, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

*John Gill stressed how hard it is to describe all we gain in death, but he tried to explain it this way:

-First: We are released from all the troubles and distresses of this life that arise from diseases of body, losses and disappointments in worldly things.

-We are also delivered from the oppressions and persecutions of wicked men; from indwelling sin, unbelief, doubts, and fears, and the temptations of Satan.

*On top of this, as soon as we die, we enter into the presence of God and Christ, where we have fullness of joy, beholding his glory and enjoying communion with him

*We are also at once in the company of angels and glorified saints.

-We possess perfect holiness and knowledge. . .

-And we are received into everlasting habitations, into mansions of light, life, love, joy, peace, and comfort;

-We are also at perfect rest, surrounded with endless pleasures. . .” (4)

*Sounds pretty good to me!

-Christians: For us, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

*For many years, the Louisiana Baptist Convention had a retirement center over in Arcadia. Leamon Best was the Director when I heard him speak at one of our state conventions. And that day, he told us about one of the newest residents. She was a dear, Christian lady 104 years old. Her mind was still as clear as a bell. And on the day she arrived, she told Leamon that she would like to come and spend a while with them on her way home.

*She got that exactly right. Christians: For us, to live is Christ, and to die is gain, because Heaven is our perfect and permanent home.

*What’s so great about God? -- He gives triumph from the tomb.

3. And He gives us a heart for helping.

*Paul gives us a glimpse of his heart in vs. 24-26, where he said:

24. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.

25. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,

26. that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

*God gave Paul a heart for helping the Philippians, and the Lord wants to do the same thing in us. But how can we help? I am sure the Nominating Committee has some good suggestions!

*We can help:

-By inviting people to church.

-By sharing our testimonies.

-By spreading the gospel.

-By taking new Christians under our wings to help them grow.

*We can help by meeting all kinds of physical, emotional and spiritual needs.

-We can help by prayer.

*We can help right here in Caldwell Parish.

-And by the grace of God, we can help to the ends of the world.

*God has given us the privilege of being able to help people all around us.


*You see, our God really is great! -- And we could talk about His greatness all night long.

*But here in Phil 1, we see that God is great, because He gives us:

-Delight from disaster.

-Triumph from the tomb.

-And a heart to help others.

*As we go to God in prayer, let’s trust Him, thank Him.

-Praise Him, worship Him.

-Love Him, obey Him, and serve Him with all our hearts.

1. Adapted from and “From Victory Over the Darkness” by Neil T. Anderson; Harvest House Publishers

2. William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: IN LIFE AND IN DEATH - Php.1:21-26 - Westminster Press, 1975

3. SermonCentral sermon “Royalty” by Jeff Strite - Revelation 1:4-7

4. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible - Phil 1:21b - “and to die is gain”

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