Difficult Circumstances Advance The Gospel – Philippians 1:12

Published March 16, 2014 by

Difficult Circumstances Advance The Gospel

Philippians 1:12-15

“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel,”

On Sunday, Chris preached powerfully from Philippians regarding the place of adversity in God’s plan to advance the Gospel of Christ. Chris reminded us that Paul is in jail in Rome, writing to his friends in Philippi. However, he is able to maintain an attitude that inevitably makes the world sit up and take notice. Paul accepted and understood that his adverse circumstance would ultimately mean progress (Chan-1). The manifestation of this kind of attitude is a test of Christian maturity. The Christian who knows the God of the impossible, whom he serves, knows that even through apparent defeat, God is more than able to work. This believer has begun to grow up in the Lord. He recognizes that in God, obstacles are really nothing more than opportunities to propel the gospel. That is an amazing declaration when you think about it. Nothing that is intended to defeat God ever brings defeat (Piper). God works His way despite the obstacles, and all obstacles only serve ultimately to spread Christian faith.

In preparing to write this devotion, I ran across the story of a Swiss French pastor who was imprisoned by the Nazis during World War II. He said this: “I was not able to stand firm except by remembering every day that the Gestapo was the hand of God — the left hand. The worst of tyrants will only end by accomplishing Christ’s will.”

That is the glorious mark of Christianity that has made it an indomitable force through all the centuries (Spurgeon). Here is Paul, under arrest, chained day and night to a Roman soldier, unable to leave the house or the city of Rome. Imagine what this must have meant to the restless, determined spirit of this man. God had sent him out under His commission that was to take him to the very ends of the earth.

It must have been easy for Paul to be dejected. There is no doubt he was tempted many times to feel sorry for himself and to wonder why God would ever let this kind of thing happen to him when all he was trying to do was fulfill God’s will. Do you ever feel that way? It must have been easy for him to be irritated under these circumstances as month by month goes grinding on and there seems to be no change. But as we read the letters that come from him out of those days there is not one word of complaint. Instead there is a marvelously triumphant spirit, and an expression of confidence. Why? When he was tempted he undoubtedly fell back on what he knew about his God. In other words, in the face of temptation to complain, he believed God.

Paul had previously written to these very Roman Christians: “All things work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.” Paul believed that with every fiber of his being! Even though relief did not come immediately, he believed Him, and out of that confidence he could see that even those things that seem to be against him are working out the purposes of God (Chan2).

Life Application: Paul’s friends anxiously awaited news of him, but the focus of the Apostle’s letter was not on his imprisonment but on the undefeated purpose of God who works to accomplish His will in every circumstance. Are we learning to trust God’s ways and means so that others are encouraged by our confidence in Him?


Lord, we ask You to give us the grace to see how, in our circumstance of suffering, you might advance the mission of the Gospel of Christ.

Tom Renew

Deeper In God’s Word


  • Francis Chan – The Joy of Suffering
  • Francis Chan – Crazy Love
  • John Piper – Why does God Allow Satan To Live?
  • Charles Spurgeon – sermon, The Standard Uplifted In The Face Of The Foe

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