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Speak the Word without Fear

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Speak the Word without Fear

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

"And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear." (Philippians 1:14, ESV)

1. When someone goes to jail for a cause such as preaching it produces either faith or fear in those who are left behind. As we will see today, fear may have been the first reaction to this new converts but it eventually turned to boldness. So much so, that this verse literally translates "by means of my bonds the brethren "are more abundantly bold."

2. Years before Paul arrived in Rome, a congregation of Gentiles established a local church there. Paul sent them a letter one day to describe the truth of all Christian Doctrine and we have that letter and call it the Book of Romans. So when Paul arrived in Rome he immediately proclaimed the gospel not only to people of this local church but also to the Jews, with the result that "some believed...some disbelieved." (Acts 28:24)

"And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved." (Acts 28:24, ESV)

3. Paul lived in Rome for two years, during his imprisonment, and welcomed all who came to him, boldly proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ openly and without hindrance.

"He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance." (Acts 28:30-31, ESV)

4. After Paul got arrested what had been the attitude of the brothers? As we look at this verse it appears that at first they might have not had much courage but were "frightened by their opponents." (Phil 1:28) They also were not looking after others best interests (Phil 2:4) but were looking after their own affairs. (Phil 2:21)

"and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God." (Philippians 1:28, ESV)

"Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Philippians 2:4, ESV)

"For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 2:21, ESV)

5. Praise God! Their situation did not stay that way though. Things were changing. Paul was not waiting trial but a verdict (Phil 2:19, 23-24). Everyone had a chance to see the assurance and confidence that Paul showed. They saw his courage "under fire" and it became contagious.

" I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you." (Philippians 2:19, ESV)

"I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me, and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself will come also." (Philippians 2:23-24, ESV)

6. We see that most of the brothers, after seeing what the grace of God is able to accomplish in the heart of His "bound" Apostle, became confident in the Lord and became much more bold to "speak the word without fear."

7. Tonight we see that boldness is a characteristic we need to pray for again. (Acts 4:24-31)

"And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, “ ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’— for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness." (Acts 4:24-31, ESV)

8. Paul's confinement was doing what his circumstances outside of prison didn't do. Cause others to speak more boldly for Christ. Paul can say "My chains" has become a source of courage for others. Sometimes the Lord moves leaders on so the next generation can take ownership in the Gospel. One generation of people who are "more than conquerors through Christ the Lord" moves on to let the next gen grow in grace and truth and the Gospel continues on in complete and total victory until He returns.

9. One of the things we can gleen from this is that the younger believers are learning from the Apostle's example. They are learning that God is present to watch over those who love Him. This is opposed to the people we will see next week who are preaching from envy and not from confidence in or love for God.

10. Paul being arrested would have been discouraging and dishearting if all we could see was the iron shackles on his wrists. But as the people of God we can see the hand of the Lord upon him (and us) which makes His people unconquerable and causes them to triuph in the midst of adversity. It allows us to boldy speak in the midst of danger where we too can "speak the word without fear."

" What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-39, ESV)

"So that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ." (Philippians 1:13, ESV)

1. The Imperial or Praetorian Guard were an elite group of soldiers with an estimated strength of around 10,000 total in all of the Roman empire. Most of them were concentrated in Rome by Tiberius. These were hand picked men who received double pay and had special privileges. They themselves became so powerful that emperors had to court their favor.

2. Praetorian is a Latin word which the meaning is not certain but it appears in other New Testament examples (Matt. 27:27; Mark 15:16; John 18:28, 33; 19:9; Acts 23:35) it means the palace of the provincial governor either in Jerusalem or Caesarea and in our verse tonight it talks about the guard over that palace.

3. God hand picked these men to watch over His servant Paul and used their influence to spread the Gospel, even into the Palace of Caesar. (The Greek, "in the whole praetorium") Paul had contact with these men one after another, day after day. Living out the Gospel with patience and joy in such a way that these men were being changed.

4. This Imperial Guard knew that Paul was being held, simply because he preached Christ and for no other reason. They also knew that he was an innocent man who was different in every way than the people they were used to dealing with.

5. Paul counted his life as nothing except that it would be used to further the Gospel. He is prepared to serve God in life or glorify him in death. The emblem of the Old American Baptist Missionary Union was an ox standing between a plough and an altar, with the motto, “Ready for either,”—Ready to spend and be spent in labor, or to be a sacrifice, whichever the Lord pleases. This is the attitude of the Apostle Paul and should be our attitude.

6. Paul's imprisonment was expected to destroy him and his ministry but instead it just increased and spread throughout the whole Roman empire. This is much like what happened to a young man named Joseph. "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20, ESV)

7. Paul was literally "in chains for Christ" and was using every opportunity he had to spread the Gospel. God's providence does not always look like we think it should. In fact after looking at men like Paul and Joseph we have to ask ourselves - Can I see God's providence in my pain? In my circumstances? In my life?

8. It is clear that God had opened a door of opportunity here for the Apostle Paul and he used it for all it was worth. Tonight we need to ask ourselves - has God opened a door of opportunity for me? If so, am I using it for His glory and others good? "for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." (1 Corinthians 16:9, ESV) "At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—" (Colossians 4:3, ESV)

9. Again, I want us to see Paul's devotion and self-forgetfulness. This unexpected opportunity to witness to the very Imperial Guard and he doesn't waste a moment of it. And as we will see next week it has an affect on the unconfined brethren as well. Where you might have expected discouragement because of the apostle’s bondage, there was great boldness in the spread of the gospel. If Paul could do it inside prison, can’t we do it outside of prison? Or is the Lord going to have to put us in some drastic circumstance to wake us from our slumbering?

10. Tonight, let us examine our motives and excitement for the Gospel. Can we say with Paul "my imprisonment is for Christ?"

We know what the effect and motive and glory of Paul's chains are in its final stages. "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household." (Philippians 4:20-22, ESV)

"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." (Philippians 3:7-21, ESV)

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