How suffering Makes Christ Known. (Phil. 1:13)
As you know we have been working our way through Philippians. This previouse Sunday we asked: how does God advance the gospel & what is my role? The answer to the first question, how does God advance the gospel, is: He uses your suffering. Which was based on Philippians 1:12.
Now the second question: what is my role? It is important for you to understand where you fall into what God is doing in the world and especially in your life. I have three answer's to this question. Answer number one will be given today. So let us attack this question from this angle: how did God use Paul's suffering to advance the gospel? In understanding how God worked in Paul's life, we can get a better handle on how God works in our lives.
To do this we need to begin in Philippians 1:13. It states, "so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ". Paul is expressing to the church of Philippi that his imprisonment is not only serving to advance the gospel, but is making Christ known. Paul's prison conditions were not pleasant by any stretch. He had a fifteen pound chain attached to his ankles, he was intentionally starved and dehydrated, seeing little to no light of day and poor hygiene. If you were to ask him why all this was happening to him he would answer you: my suffering, my chains, is making known the name of Jesus Christ. Because of his imprisonment, people of the Roman guard were getting to know Jesus.
Knowing that, we can have our first answer to our question: what role do we play? The answer to us today is this: your suffering serves to make "known" the name of Christ. If you, as a Christian, are suffering from a terminal illness or loss of a home, it is not meaningless, through it, others may come to know Jesus. Your pain, your agony, your aching, your grief, your wounds, your hurt, all of it is to make Jesus, the Son of God, known.
John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist, stood before his congregation after having received the diagnosis of prostate cancer and said, "This will be for God's glory". Jack Philips, the cake baker, was sued for refusing to back a cake for a homosexual couple and suffered financially. But through it national headlines were created and conversations about Christ sparked. This twenty-six year old, John Chau, who lost his life attempting to get the gospel to this isolated village, made national headline news. When people thought of John, they could not help but think of Christianity. When people are beheaded by ISIS on television, and are so because of their Christian faith, one cannot help but think of Jesus. When the pastor from India, along with his congregation, were beaten for their belief in Jesus made news, again, one could not help but think of Christianity.
These are just a few examples of how some have suffered today and brought publicity to the name of Jesus. John Piper likes to say: "God is most glorified, when we are most satisfied in Him". I like to take that a step further here: God is most glorified, when we are so satisfied in Him, that we are willing to suffer for the sake of His name. Know that your suffering is not a meaningless suffering; through your affliction, other's around you can come to know Jesus. So, allow your suffering to shine a light in a dark world.