“Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 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.” (Philippians 1:15-18)
You might be thinking, how could Paul rejoice in the preaching of a false gospel. Read that again; Paul did not rejoice in the false preaching, but in the true gospel of Jesus Christ being preaching by men with impure motives. So was Paul happy about these preachers, of course not.
We all should preach Christ out of love and be ready to give a defense for the gospel. Peter reminds of us that:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear…” (1 Peter 3:15)
So then what was Paul rejoicing about? People were being saved even through those preaching out of selfish ambition and trying to grieve Paul while he was in prison. Paul rejoiced in this; he concentrated on the saved souls. When you see or hear of someone getting saved you should rejoice, as should those getting saved!
“Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” (Acts 8:39)
There are so many preachers preaching out of selfish ambition we could spend the rest of our lives running them down and in the end they would be bringing more souls to Christ than we are because they are preaching the gospel and we are not. That would be a shame and somehow I doubt we’d hear the Lord say “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
On the contrary, Paul warned the Roman church to avoid such divisive people:
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.” (Romans 16:17-20)
You might be thinking, dang Bro Dave here you are telling us to not go after these deceitful ministers and all the while you’ve gone after all kinds of false preachers. Yes, I go after false preachers who preach a false gospel. And more importantly remember that you are eavesdropping on what God teaches me, not me writing this to you. Of course, if the shoe fits then by all means lace it up.
So what has the Lord taught me about Philippians 1:12-18? That through our own personal persecution or tribulations the gospel can be spread even further. I know when my son was killed and I sent out an email announcing his death, many who read it wondered out loud to my friends how I could write such an email filled with joy. That gave my friends the opportunity to share Christ and the reality of the gospel even in our darkest moments. We rejoice in death of a saved loved one because we know they are in a better place. And as my youngest daughter Becky said about her brother, “I know he wouldn’t come back if he could but this really hurts.” When she said that I knew she was going to be okay because the aletheia truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ can be known, and our Lord promises that truth will set us free.
That is what this dark world needs; it needs the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This corrupt and decaying world needs the salt of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what are Lord meant when He said:
“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)
Beloved if we are going to preach like Paul then we must do so in all circumstance and see every challenge as an opportunity. We must rejoice in the gospel being preached regardless the motives of the preacher. If people are truly being saved then hallelujah. The problem is far too few pulpits are preaching the true gospel today because they preach only that which people want to hear.
That is fearful preaching and it does not further the gospel; it hinders it. We should be able to look at Paul’s life, especially the hard times and “become confident by” Paul’s “chains” and much more boldly “speak the word without fear.” When we begin doing that then we will not only begin preaching like Paul, but also we will begin living like Paul.
More on that tomorrow…
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers