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Joy in Gospel Progress (Sermon Recap)


In our March 4, 2018 sermon we reflected on Philippians 1:12-18a and were exhorted to put the progress of gospel mission at the top of our priority list. Here is an overview of the sermon.

1) We all desire progress in various aspects of our life: physical and social, financial and career-related. The problem is that too often secondary concerns become our main concern and they crowd out the priorities of God's Word. But when the gospel gets ahold of our hearts, we become partners in the gospel (Philippians 1:5) and begin to care about the progress of the gospel (Philippians 1:12).

2) Gospel progress doesn't mean that the gospel itself is getting better. The gospel, which is the good news about the grace of our Lord who saves His people through His death and resurrection, this gospel is perfect in its message and powerful in its ability to save. The gospel cannot improve. So, when we speak of advancing the gospel we mean that the gospel is 'on the move' – that it is becoming more widely known and drawing more people, in more places, into God's family. The gospel becomes more widely known through Christians who proclaim the word about Christ (Philippians 1:14-18). Our desire is that many people will hear the gospel and humbly receive the Lord while there is still time; otherwise they will die without faith and face judgment alone.

APPLICATION: Put gospel progress at the top of your priority list – not merely in the sense of mental agreement, but with heartfelt devotion to advancing the message. Don't let secondary concerns dominate your life: "... approve what is excellent" (Philippians 1:10 ESV) and put lesser things in their proper place. Pray for gospel progress (Matthew 6:9-10, Romans 10:1); pray for lost people; pray for missionaries and preachers. Build relationships for the sake of the gospel and testify of the Lord's grace to neighbors, friends, and family members.

3) Gospel mission often makes progress through adversity. Paul makes it clear that his imprisonment (Philippians 1:13) "has really served to advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12 ESV). The immobilization of Paul served to mobilize the gospel. Through Paul himself and perhaps others, the gospel became widely known among the prison guards (Philippians 1:13). Further, the immobilization of Paul also served to mobilize other Christians to boldly proclaim the gospel, and through them the gospel became more widely known in the wider society (Philippians 1:14). The gospel even became more widely known through certain ill-willed preachers who dishonored Paul (Philippians 1:15-18).

APPLICATION: Learn to see your setbacks as opportunities for gospel progress. God will utilize your setbacks to bring you into new relationships – and wherever you go, the gospel message goes there with you. God will also utilize your setbacks to mobilize the body of Christ for action – and when the body of Christ is 'on the move', the gospel will also be 'on the move' directly through evangelism and indirectly through love and good works. Finally, God will utilize your setbacks to weave together a testimony of His faithfulness, which we can then share with others.