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Defense of the Gospel

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Defense of the Gospel

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

“The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel." (Philippians 1:16, ESV)

1. We saw last week that some preach from envy and rivalry. Not preaching in a holy and decent manner but intentionally to bring grief and trials and sorrows.

2. How could someone hold true doctrine and still preach out of envy and rivalry? One reason is that ambition is blind!

3. "Some preach out of love" is just like the phrase "envy and rivalry" these are statements also about motive. Tonights case of love brings the emphasis of a motive that is always desiring what is best for others.

4. Those believers motivated by good will doubtless loved the Lord and each other, but the emphasis here is on their love for the apostle. They deeply cared about him and were concerned for his personal welfare as well as for the impact of his ministry.

5. They knew he was not in prison because of unfaithfulness but because of loyalty to the Lord, not because his work was a failure but because it was a powerful success, not because he was out of God’s will but because he was in the very center of it.

6. Just a few years earlier, in a letter to a bickering and factious church in Corinth, Paul wrote:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV)

7. Apart from the spirit and motive of love, nothing done in the Lord's name - no preaching, teaching, or service, no matter how impressive is truly acceptable to Him. It amounts to nothing. Paul demonstrates this throughout his incarceration.

8. Those believers knew Paul was divinely appointed for the defense of the gospel (cf. Phil. 1:7) and were grateful for his faithful obedience to that call—an obedience that had brought them rich spiritual blessing.

"It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel." (Philippians 1:7, ESV)

9. Keimai (appointed), which has the root meaning of lying down or reclining, came to be used of an official appointment and sometimes of destiny. In the military it was used of a special assignment, such as guard duty or defense of a strategic position.

"And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed" (Luke 2:34, ESV)

"that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this." (1 Thessalonians 3:3, ESV)

10. Paul was divinely appointed for the defense of the gospel. Jesus declared at the apostle’s conversion that Paul was “to bear [His] name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” (Acts 9:15)

"But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel." (Acts 9:15, ESV)

11. His imprisonment in Rome was neither an accident of fate nor primarily the decision of men, not even of Paul’s decision to appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11). Above all else, it was an integral part of his divine assignment to defend the gospel. In this case, he was destined to be in that incarceration by God’s will, so he could preach the gospel in Rome. (Acts 13:2; Gal. 1:15–16; Eph. 3:6–7).

"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”" (Acts 13:2, ESV)

"But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;" (Galatians 1:15-16, ESV)

"This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power." (Ephesians 3:6-7, ESV)

FOR A PURPOSE

Paul could have become depressed, discouraged, or disillusioned. He could have wallowed in self-pity and despair. Instead, he regarded his imprisonment as being appointed or destined. He considered, “I am put here to fulfill God’s greater purpose.” God had used Paul’s imprisonment in Rome to bring the gospel to the Roman emperor.

Do you have difficulty accepting your station in life? Do you resent where God has placed you? Although education and focused effort may enable us to take a new role or get a new job, often God puts us in a place to serve. Whether it is an actual prison or a place that feels like one, God wants you to serve him faithfully and joyfully.

GracePointe Baptist Church

2209 N Post Road

Oklahoma City, OK 73141

Phone: (405) 769-5050

http://www.gracepointeonline.com

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