REAL JOY #2 – Study of Philippians 1[b] — This lesson includes 2 of the 3 secrets to a Overcoming Unhappiness. View Part 1 here.
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The Furtherance of the Gospel (1:12–26)
Notice how Paul describes all the suffering he had been through; he calls these trying events “the things that have happened unto me” (1:12). Most of us would have gone into great detail about shipwreck and chains, but not Paul. His desire was to honor Christ and promote the Gospel.
A. He put Christ first (vv. 12–21).
Were there chains on his wrists? These were his “bonds in Christ.” Were his enemies causing trouble by their selfish preaching? “So what? They are preaching Christ!” Were his friends worried about him and praying for him? “Fine! This will exalt Christ!” Was there a possibility that he might die? “Then Christ will be magnified by life or by death!” This is the single mind—putting Christ and the Gospel ahead of everything else.
When we take Christ into every circumstance, we will have joy. Paul was not the prisoner of Rome; he was the “prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Eph. 3:1; 4:1). The soldiers chained to his wrist were not guards; they were souls for whom Christ died. Paul had a “captive audience,” and from 1:13 and 4:22, we conclude that he won some of them to Christ. The single-minded Christian does not allow circumstances to overcome him; he or she turns those circumstances into opportunities to magnify Christ and win souls.
B. He put others second (vv. 22–26).
Selfishness always breeds unhappiness. Paul had joy because he loved others. He prayed for others, encouraged others, and sought to bring joy to others. Paul’s “heaven on earth” was helping others! While he longed to be with Christ, he eagerly yearned to remain and help these believers grow in Christ.
C. He put self last.
His body was not his own; his future was not his own; his reputation was not his own. In contrast, when we put ourselves first, it always brings misery. Whenever difficulties affect our lives, we should always be sure that we have the single mind that says, “Lord, whatever comes, I want Christ to be glorified.” This is the secret of Christian joy.
The Faith of the Gospel (1:27–30)
There are battles to fight in the Christian life, and Paul warns here about the enemies that would attack us. New Christians go through these three stages: (1) they become sons or daughters in the family (the fellowship of the Gospel); (2) they become servants (the furtherance of the Gospel); and then (3) they become soldiers (the faith of the Gospel). Satan is out to defeat the church, and Christians need to have the single mind to face him and “fight the good fight of faith.” Paul gives several encouragements here to help the Christian defend the faith of the Gospel.
A. “You are not standing alone” (v. 27).
How wonderful it is to know that others are standing right with us as we fight the battles of life. There is no substitute for the unity and harmony of the Christian church. Satan is the great divider and destroyer; Christ is the uniter and builder.
B. “You are on the winning side” (v. 28).
“Don’t let the enemy frighten you!” Paul counsels. “He knows he’s losing and you’re winning!” The unity and faith of the believers is an “evident token” (clear omen or sign) to the enemy that he is going to lose.
C. “It is a privilege to suffer for Christ” (vv. 29–30).
It is wonderful to believe on Christ and receive the free gift of salvation, but there is another gift: the gift of suffering for Jesus’ sake. Philippians 3:10 points out that our suffering is in fellowship with Him; see also Acts 5:41. What a privilege to follow in the train of such saints as Paul as we suffer for Jesus’ sake!
But, whatever happens, a Christian should always act like a Christian. “Let your behavior be such that it can be identified with the Gospel,” Paul warns in 1:27. Someone once asked Gandhi, “What is the greatest hindrance to Christian missions in India?” Gandhi replied, “Christians.” Such criticism may also apply to Christians in other lands besides India. Even in the midst of battle, we must behave like Christians.
In the midst of trouble, Paul showed quiet confidence. He was confident that the Philippians would continue in their Christian walk (v. 6); he was rejoicing that his trials had given the believers in Rome new confidence (v. 14); and he was confident that he would come through these trials and be restored to his friends again (v. 25). This is the blessing of the single mind—that joyful confidence in God, knowing that He is in control of circumstances.
1) What was the effect of Paul’s imprisonment? (12)
– It actually turned out for the _________________ of the gospel
2) What was Paul’s attitude about those preaching Christ out of envy and strife, trying to do him harm? (15-18)
– Paul _____________ that Christ was still being preached
How about being attacked by others who claim to be on your team?
3) Can you put yourself in Paul’s place?
How would you respond to being punished for doing the right thing?
__ Angry __ Afraid __ Fearful __ Prayer __ Resolved __ Joyful __ Witness
4) What was Paul’s earnest desire and expectation that he could do with all boldness? (20)
– To ___________ Christ in his body, whether by life or by death
5) What was Paul’s attitude toward life and death? (21)
– To live is Christ, and to die is ___________
In your own words, what does Paul mean?
6) Between what two things was Paul hard pressed? (23-24)
– A desire to be with Christ and a realization that he was __________ here
7) What sort of conduct did Paul consider worthy of the gospel? (27)
– Standing fast in _________, creating _______________ for the gospel
8) What partnerships would lead to more faith in the gospel?
9) What honor had been granted on this church in behalf of Christ? (29)
– Not only to believe in Him, but also to ____________ for His sake
Should Christians fear death? Why / why not?
10) What is the main take-away for you out of this lesson?