International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 6, 2013
Purpose: To wrestle with ways we can proclaim the gospel, especially in times of adversity
Scripture Text: Philippians 1:15-26
Philippians 1:15-26 (CEB)
(15) Some certainly preach Christ with jealous and competitive motives, but others preach with good motives. (16) They are motivated by love, because they know that I’m put here to give a defense of the gospel; (17) the others preach Christ because of their selfish ambition. They are insincere, hoping to cause me more pain while I’m in prison.
(18) What do I think about this? Just this: since Christ is proclaimed in every possible way, whether from dishonest or true motives, I’m glad and I’ll continue to be glad. (19) I’m glad because I know that this will result in my release through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (20) It is my expectation and hope that I won’t be put to shame in anything. Rather, I hope with daring courage that Christ’s greatness will be seen in my body, now as always, whether I live or die. (21) Because for me, living serves Christ and dying is even better. (22) If I continue to live in this world, I get results from my work. (23) But I don’t know what I prefer. I’m torn between the two because I want to leave this life and be with Christ, which is far better. (24) However, it’s more important for me to stay in this world for your sake. (25) I’m sure of this: I will stay alive and remain with all of you to help your progress and the joy of your faith, (26) and to increase your pride in Christ Jesus through my presence when I visit you again.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
For the next four weeks we will shift our focus, to the “Exalting Christ.” All the lessons will come from Paul's letter to the Philippians.
There is some disagreement as to where Paul was imprisoned at the time of this letter. For me, that is answered in verses 12 and 13 of chapter 1 of this letter. (12) Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. (13) The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. The only place where the “Praetorian Guard” was stationed was in Rome guarding the Roman emperor. In addition the other places where Paul was imprisoned did not hold the threat of execution, only Rome would hold that threat for Roman citizen.
This letter to the church at Philippi was a very personal letter. Paul went there to preach the gospel to the Philippians on his second missionary journey, it was after Paul had received the Macedonian cry, found in Acts 16 :9 A vision of a man from Macedonia came to Paul during the night. He stood urging Paul, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” It was the first time the gospel was preached in Europe. Philippi was a Roman colony and a Roman fortress, named after Aleander the Greats father, Philip of Macedonia. It was near the sight of a famous battle, two years after the assassination of Julius Caesar, between the two Roman forces of Brutus and Cassius, and the forces of Anthony and Octavian (later to become Caesar Augustus.)
This week’s lesson covers Paul's thoughts on the preaching of the gospel. Paul reasoned that there were many that preached the gospel for the wrong reasons, but regardless God would be able to overcome the negative reasons and God's message would go out to many people and God's Word would find its place in many hearts regardless of the motives of those that preached it.
According to Paul's letter many of the local preachers were jealous of Paul's fame and desired to see him discredited. Paul had received at least two special offerings from the Philippians church maybe that was the source for the jealousy. Paul was only concerned about the message, not the messengers, as far as God's word was concerned.
As for himself, Paul wanted to assure the congregation at Philippi that he would be alright whether he lived or died. If he lived he would be available to minister to them, and if he died he would be “with the Christ.”
This is a great example for us, with the many different ministers and congregations preaching the gospel, and for various motives, we should remember that the message is far more important than the motives of those that are proclaiming it. The preaching of the gospel is not a win-lose situation. Isaiah 55:11 makes it very clear when it says,
“so is my word that comes from my mouth;
it does not return to me empty.
Instead, it does what I want,
and accomplishes what I intend.”
Keep proclaiming and God will use His word to accomplish His purpose