Series on Philippians, II Paul’s Situation and Attitude, B Opposite Motives for Preaching Christ, Text: 1:15-18a, Title: Christ Above all


In my last message I mentioned Jim Elliott who was martyred in Ecuador in 1956 at the age of 29. He was an athlete and a scholar with enormous potential but he wrote in his college journal “Father, if thou wilt let me go to South America to labor with thee and to die, let me go soon.” One can only ponder the glorious outburst of song at Wheaton College when they learned of his martyrdom. “All for Jesus, all for Jesus, all my beings ransomed powers.” Let me add another name to this honor roll, Eric Liddell, a Scotsman, born in China of missionary parents, and graduate of Edinburgh University qualified for the 1924 Olympics and gained notoriety when he refused to run in three events because they had been scheduled to be run on a Sunday. Harold Abrahams won the 100 meters gold, a race that Eric had refused to run in. Eric won a bronze in the 200 meters, a race in which he was not expected to do well. He was also in the 400 meters where there was even less chance, or so the experts thought! Eric not only won the race but he set a new world record. Within eighteen months Eric Liddell had given up athletics and was on his way to China as a missionary teacher. He was married in 1934 and soon had two children. He died in a Japanese concentration camp at the age of 43 in 1945. I tell you these stories so that you can see the almost unbelievable sacrifice of life and talent and because they had the exact same vision as the apostle Paul when he said, What does it matter?... Christ is preached and because of this I rejoice.

I Envious preaching

In verses 15 and 17 Paul mentions certain people who were personal enemies, It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. Although they preached the Gospel, their personal motivations were suspect. Let me tell you about a situation in Lansdale, PA about 1957. The missionary who started the church I later pastored for 36 years had come to Lansdale to start this Presbyterian church at the encouragement of a local Baptist Pastor who had taken seminary classes with him. Then there appeared in the newspaper an ad from this same Pastor which said all the other preachers in Lansdale were false prophets. So Pastor Ransom visited him and said Bob, “Did it ever occur to you that this includes us?” and the man answered, “Yes it did Jim.”  He did this in spite of the fact that he had invited him and of course it was false propaganda. Some people will stop at nothing to grow their work. Many people have agendas for success that require them to belittle other people. I am encouraged by the fact that that the Apostle Paul had to deal with similar situations. Just because it’s a church does not mean that they are telling you the truth from a sincere heart. One thing we are dedicated to here is that we will be totally sincere. We have absolutely no ulterior motives.

II Encouraging Preaching

The whole point of preaching is to encourage people to believe in and trust in Christ. Some of Paul’s associates were doing this as he says in verses 15 and 16, It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. As they recognized Paul’s stand for the gospel they wanted to help. Preaching is not a way to sway people to your own opinion or options. It is a way to guide people to Christ.  The encouragers shared the same vision. Paul's preaching was pretty simple. He showed how the coming of Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament, and then he said this Jesus is that Christ, or Messiah. He proved it by recounting the life, death and resurrection of our Lord.  Acts 17: 2-4, As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. Encouragement does not come from great oratory or from inspiring music, or from formal or informal services. It comes from the Gospel. This is why Paul said to the Corinthian Christians, I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I Corinthians 2:2

III Exciting Preaching

Preaching demands excitement. Do you get it? Paul says in verse 18,  But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. What does it matter, for if Christ is preached, whatever the motive, I rejoice. I never met an exciting preacher in my life. I have met excellent preachers and preachers who captivate. Preachers who yell and shout, and preachers who quietly and capably instruct. I have met preachers that bore and others who do not, but the only thing that has ever excited me is the preaching of Christ crucified. This is what excited Paul. I dare anybody to take one sermon of Peter or Paul in the New Testament and put it on TV.  The very first sermon ever preached in the Christian Church, after the day of Pentecost, is found in Acts 3:11-21.  Luke writes, While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see. Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,  and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus.  He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’” What are people going to say? They will not say that Paul or Peter was an exciting preacher. They always had the same theme, Jesus, and preached the same message. Unfortunately Christian people often seek excitement in all the wrong places. The right place is the cross.