“Why is Paul Joyful in Jail?”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Philippians 1.3-6
Philippians 1. In 1972, NASA launched the exploratory space probe Pioneer 10. According to Leon Jaroff in Time magazine, the satellite’s primary mission was to reach Jupiter, photograph the planet and its moons, and beam data to earth about Jupiter’s magnetic field, radiation belts, and atmosphere. Scientists regarded this as a bold plan, for at that time … 1972 … no earth satellite had ever gone beyond Mars, and they feared the asteroid belt would destroy the satellite before it could reach its target.
But Pioneer 10 accomplished its mission … and much, much more. Swinging past the giant planet in November 1973, Jupiter’s immense gravity hurled Pioneer 10 at a higher rate of speed toward the edge of the solar system. At one billion miles from the sun, Pioneer 10 passed Saturn. At some two billion miles, it hurtled past Uranus; Neptune at nearly three billion miles; Pluto at almost four billion miles. By 1997, twenty-five years after its launch, Pioneer 10 was more than six billion miles from the sun.
And despite that immense distance, Pioneer 10 continued to beam back radio signals to scientists on Earth. “Perhaps most remarkable,” writes Jaroff, “those signals emanate from an 8-watt transmitter, which radiates about as much power as a bedroom night light, and takes more than nine hours to reach Earth.”
This little satellite was not qualified to do what it did. Engineers designed Pioneer 10 with a useful life of just three years. But it kept going and going; it didn’t quit. It didn’t let it’s designers down; it designers didn’t give up on it. By simple longevity, its tiny 8-watt transmitter radio accomplished more than anyone thought possible.
The energizer bunny of satellites: it kept going and going. It didn’t give up. Can I say this, this morning …
If you are in Christ, God doesn’t give up on you. He will preserve you.
If you are in Christ, you won’t give up on God. You will persevere in the faith.
You might feel like you have just an 8 watt connection with God sometimes, but with Christ as the one who connects you to God, nothing in the will of God will be impossible for you.
You remember, Paul is in prison and for some odd reason he’s joyful. Joyful in jail. Now, how on earth can Paul be so joyful? He’s like someone you want to come up to and say, “Wipe that smile off your face, Paul. Don’t you know you’re in jail?”
I want you to get something this morning: When the messenger of misery visits you, what’s going to turn you around? What’s going to give you that joy you long for? You will only find it in your participation gospel, your fellowship in the gospel.
In our passage, Paul finds joy in misery because of whatever this is: the fellowship of the gospel.
When the church of Philippi began, it had everything against it. Paul and company went to Philippi to preach the gospel … Philippi is just a small town. It was no Rome, by any stretch. It was just a “wannabe.” And when they got there, Paul lead a women’s Bible study … not exactly the huge crowd they were looking for …. but thankfully, the Lord opened Lydia’s heart, but then there was this demon possessed girl that kept impeding their progress … and after Paul exorcised that demon, he and Silas were beaten and thrown in jail.
They had everything going against them. But God caused the earthquake in the jail and jailer and his whole family trusted Christ …
And Paul and company leave … and now, Philippians 1:1, there are all these saints even overseers and deacons! Wow! A slow start, trial after trial, but the Philippians kept going, they didn’t quit, and God blessed, and many people received eternal life.
They didn’t let their smallness get them down; they didn’t let their circumstances conquer them … they … kept…going.
And Paul, in jail, has joy over them because of their participation in the gospel. Let’s read. … Philippians 1:3–6 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, 5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
So why is Paul so joyful, so thankful even though he’s in jail? Because of their continued participation in the gospel and because of God’s continued work in them. Paul is joyful because verse 5 … they continue to participate in the gospel and Paul is joyful because v.6 … God keeps on working in them.
Paul is joyful, simply because they haven’t quit on God and because he knows God won’t quit on them. And therein lies your joy as well: God hasn’t quit on you and if you’re in Christ, you won’t quit on Him either.
TRANS: So verses 3-5, Paul is joyful because they haven’t quit on God. They haven’t quit on God.
Paul is joyful because of their perseverance (1:3-5)
EXP: The theological word is: perseverance. The perseverance of the saints. This thrills Paul’s soul, to know they are persevering. Verse 3 again … look at it now …
Philippians 1:3–6 3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, [for what Paul? Why so thankful? … keep going … ] 4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, [ok Paul, we get it, you’re joyful and every time you pray for the Philippians, you’re joyful … why though, Paul, why? Here it is … verse 5 … ] 5 in view of [or because of] your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
Paul is joyful, he’s thankful because they haven’t quit; they are participating in the gospel from the first day until now; they have persevered, they’ve kept going, they haven’t stopped…from the first day until now.
They participated in the gospel, they have fellowship in the Gospel, they have communion in the gospel …
They are tight with the gospel; it is their life, their joy, their daily pursuit, their goal in life, their everything…everything for the Philippians is centred on the gospel.
It brought Paul much joy when he knew they continued in gospel. And he knew they continued in the gospel you remember because the Philippians have sent Paul a financial gift. That showed their fellowship with Paul and their commitment to his work of spreading the gospel and this brought Paul much joy.
But what is the gospel? What are the participating in that brought Paul so much joy? The word gospel means good news.
The good news, is the person and work of Christ. Just ask yourself … Who is Jesus and what did he do? All of human history leads up to the life of Christ and all of human history flows out of it…and all your personal history flows from your answer to this question: Who is Jesus and what did he really do?
Jesus is God and man, that’s who he is. The God-man. What did he do? He died for our sins and was raised from the dead. This is the gospel in a nutshell. Jesus is God and man. He died … and by His death He took the penalty of our sins, cancelling our sin debt against God. And He was raised from the dead. By His resurrection, I have a righteous, victorious, overwhelming conqueror-standing before God. And no one can take that from me! I have eternal life, death does not defeat me.
And no one can because I have trusted into Him and now I’m in Christ and I have eternal life…I wonder, do you? Do you have all the victory? Do you know you have a victorious standing in Christ? Do you?
The Philippians believers do. But the Philippians don’t merely have that knowledge, they live it. They persevere in it; they keep going in the gospel and have great fellowship in it and they bring Paul much joy by it. They persevere in their participation of the glorious gospel message.
ILL: We just finished a summer of Olympic games. Stories from the Olympics have always reminded me of perseverance.
This one from the summer Olympics of 1992. It was the quarter finals of the 400 metre sprint. British athlete Derek Redmond was one of the favourites for the gold medal. A lifetime of training had brought him to this moment. The starters gun fired and the athletes burst out of the blocks.
Halfway through the race Derek Redmond was leading. Then disaster struck. His hamstring tore and he collapsed on the track. The agony on his face … no doubt was both physical and emotional. It was a crushing blow.
Medical attendants ran to assist him. Derek waved them away. He came to race and he was going to finish. He got back up and started hobbling down the track.
The crowd was astounded. Officials didn’t know what to do. And then an older man ran onto the track. He brushed off officials who tried to stop him. He ran up beside Derek and placed his arms around him.
The man was Derek father, Jim.
“You don’t have to do this son,” Jim said.
“Yes I do,” Derek replied.
“Then we’ll finish this race together” came the response from Derek’s father. Derek’s father had been with him all through the years, cheering him on supporting him.
Arm in arm, with agony on Derek’s face, tears down his face, Derek and his father Jim continued down the track. Derek buried his face in his father’s shoulder who carried in more ways than one. Jim waved away officials who tried to stop them.
Finally, accompanied by a now roaring crowd, a standing ovation, Derek Redmond crossed the line. It would become a defining moment of the Barcelona Olympics.
In those moments, his dad would have delighted greatly in his son. Though he had fallen down, he persevered. He kept going, he didn’t quit.
How much more does our heavenly Father delight in us as we persevere, trusting Him? We’re tempted, tried, and weary, we’ve fallen and failed, but our gracious God rushes alongside and if you trust in Him by His strength and grace, you can keep going, too.
There is joy in serving the Lord even in the most difficult times. Paul had it. Do you have it? Do you want it? The Philippians as we saw were going through a lot of difficulty as they served the Lord; Paul was jail when he wrote this; but he had so much joy because his joy was found in the gospel of Christ.
EXP: If you want joy, it must come from this good news: Christ has already won the race for you, He’s defeated your greatest enemy, death.
So, how exactly have the Philippians participated in this gospel? First, they received the gospel. They trusted in Christ themselves.
Second, they preached the gospel themselves. Starting with Lydia and her family and the Philippian jailer and his family, they preached the gospel. Many people got saved and we know that again because the church when Paul wrote to them had elders and deacons.
And third, they participated in the gospel in that they gave financially to Paul. That’s one of the reasons Paul is writing this book in the first place, to thank them for their kind gift to them.
APP: Do you want joy in your life? Do you want to cause true joy in others? Participate in the gospel: receive it, praise God for it, work on delighting in it, preach it, and give toward it, and delight in others who are doing the same…that’s what Paul’s doing right here …truly, participation in the gospel is your only source of true joy.
APP: Because if you find your joy in the things of this life you’ll always be disappointed. Relationships fail, money comes and money goes, the possessions of this life are fleeting, everything breaks down, but the gospel is everlasting … Christ’s work in your heart is everlasting. So persevere in the gospel at all costs. Christ is life!
Paul is joyful in jail because, like Paul, believers continued to participate in the gospel. They didn’t quit. And when you do the same, like Paul, you’ll have joy in jail. Second, why is Paul joyful in jail? Because God didn’t quit on them. Paul is joyful in jail because he knows God won’t quit on them.
Paul is joyously thankful because of God’s preservation of them (1:6)
EXP: The theological word is: preservation. Usually applied to God’s preserving of creation, it also applies to our salvation. The theological word before was perseverance. That’s our responsibility. Not to turn from the faith, not to forsake Christ and his Gospel, but to persevere in it, to keep going, to keep on trusting Christ. Don’t quit. True saints of God do persevere; they keep the faith until the end. We are a part of Christ’s family, Hebrews 3:6 says … “if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” If we keep trusting Christ until the end, we are truly saved. We’re saved if we hold fast our faith until the end. Don’t quit.
But the theological word for verse 6 is preservation. This is God’s work. I persevere by His grace, but God preserves me.
Philippians 1:6 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
God preserves me. He begins a good work; he completes it. God began the work. God began the work of salvation; He initiated our salvation…
Eph. 1:4, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world.” He chose us before we even existed. He initiates the work of salvation. He began the work.
But He also will perfect it, and bring it to its completion.
Romans 8 … “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also …what? … glorified.”
You say, “I’m not glorified yet?” No, but Paul can say you are…glorified…it’s as good as done….He foreknows…He knows you and has a plan for you and did all the way in eternity past, a plan to save you and call you. He began the good work. And since He began the work, He will complete it. He will glorify you some day. Salvation is a work of God in the heart of man. He doesn’t leave His salvation projects undone. God preserves; He doesn’t quit on you.
ILL: If you have ever had the opportunity to walk along a beach under the warm summer sun, I’m sure you’ve seen the remains of partially built sand castles. Perhaps the sculptors got distracted or bored and left their castles unfinished. You know, there is something sad about those ruins. Like an unfinished painting, a half-built house, or the incomplete book, they are a haunting reminder of man’s natural tendency to leave things undone.
But Paul wrote, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
What a difference between man and God! The Savior always finishes what He has started. All of His masterpieces, His trophies, are planned in eternity past and begun in time, will be brought to their completion in eternity future .. when each believer will be completely conformed to His image.
As we struggle now to be more Christlike, we can be confident that one day we will reach that goal. God is molding us into the trophies of grace we already are, fashioned like His Son. He leaves nothing undone. God preserves you. He doesn’t quit.
And this is Paul’s delight. Paul is telling the Philippian believers about his joyful thankful prayers for them … He is joyful and thankful because God preserves his people. God preserves us. Paul delights in this. He is joyful because of the Philippians and there perseverance in the faith. Paul is joyful because of God’s preservation of the Philippians in the faith.
Peter also is joyful about God’s preservation when he writes…
1 Peter 1:3–5 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
You who are born again to a living hope … you have an inheritance waiting for you … and you are protected by God’s power through faith. God, in all His power, uses faith to protect you. Faith doesn’t protect you however, but God’s power does.
God preserves you. He doesn’t quit on you.
Philippians 1:6 6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
There are no unfinished races and no unfinished sand castles in God’s world. When He begins working in a soul, He will stick to it until the day Christ comes back and you’re perfected. As you persevere under His grace, He will preserve you until you are perfected.
ILL: Richard Baxter, a 17th century Puritan preacher, said, “This life was not intended to be the place of our perfection, but the preparation for it. As the fruit is far from ripeness [when it first appears], or as the flower while it is still in the bud; or as the oak when it is but an acorn; or any plant when it is but in the seed; [just like that is] the very nature of man on earth. Just like the infant is not perfect in the womb, nor the chicken in the shell, [neither are we] perfect in this world.”
But God is at work, for you who’ve been born again. You must know that! You understand this, and you must trust God for it. He will bring it to pass; God doesn’t quit.
APP: Paul is joyful because he knows if God is at work in you, nothing can stop you in the will of God! Paul knows that there can be no charge brought against you, that there is no condemnation, that you will by no means be separated from the love of Christ … No matter if there is tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword … And that even in all of those things you overwhelmingly conqueror through him who loved us.
Do you know that, do you believe it this morning?
In Christ, you’re a victor not a victim. Why are you only giving 50% in your walk with Christ when Christ gave it all? Expect Christ’s promises, be bold, pursue His strength and power in your life.
With grace, I will be a Christian success, no sin can stop me … I will persevere and God will preserve me, He promised. You need to get rid of all of the excuses and stop pointing fingers at other people or things and start pointing your finger at yourself. You grow, you take the next spiritual step.
Don’t whine and complain about your circumstances: God is at work in you, His inheritance for you is everlasting, His gospel is going forth. Paul didn’t complain about being in jail and neither should you complain.
And don’t you give up on me, your pastor; and don’t give up on the Lord! You keep going! God hasn’t given up on you. He hasn’t quit on you!
Let me ask you: How much can you get hit with and keep moving forward? A righteous man falls 7 times and gets back up again. What trial or temptation would it take to keep you down and out? If you are in Christ, nothing can hold you down. I suppose you could go off and get in the fetal position and go cry in a corner somewhere, or you could get your big boy pants on and cry out to Christ and watch Him give you strength!
You know something, they saying is that, “He who says he can and he who says he can’t are both usually right.” And in Christ, if you say you can’t you’re lying against God and His word.
In Christ, you can overcome your battles against sin, in Christ you can experience the growth in your character you long for, in Christ you can have joy in trial, because God is at work in your life to make you like Himself.
Get up and don’t ever give up… “Behold, the very kingdom of God is in your midst!” Jesus said.
And so don’t obey your feelings. If you don’t discipline yourself to obey Christ and His word and persevere in the gospel, your feelings will abuse you. Don’t commune with your feelings, commune with the glorious gospel!
In Christ we have the victory; we are conquerors, overwhelming conquerors. That’s not a quitter; God didn’t create in you a losing, quitting spirit.
You know, they say we stand on the shoulders of giants. Well, we actually stand on the shoulders of the king of kings!
And so we can say … “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.”
When you work hard during your trial… when you work hard to be the conqueror you already are …when you work hard to submit to God and trust him through it and allow that endurance to perfect you … You are becoming the person He’s called you to be. He’s building in you character… he’s building in you courage … he’s building in you faith.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Philippians 1.3-6
Let me conclude with some points of application…
1. Get motivated about the gospel. If you are depressed, you need a refresh on the glories of God’s work in Christ. Praise God for His work in Christ!
2. Get excited about those who are participating in the gospel. As you grow in the gospel, you’ll get excited about those who are participating in the gospel along with you. This is how you can have joy.
3. Pray for other believers who are participating in the gospel. Come on Thursday nights; we pray here!
4. Remember, call to mind, those who are participating in the gospel; there are some who are following Christ. Paul remembered the Philippians with great joy; you can do the same with Christians here and around the world.
5. Get excited about the day of Christ when you’re sanctification will be complete, you’ll get a glorified body and will have perfect joy. He will bring it to pass.
Paul, why are you so joyful in jail? “Because people haven’t quit the gospel and God hasn’t quit either.”
Our daily bread, modified from here: http://www.preceptaustin.org/philippians_17-8 ↑