Good out of the Bad
Phil. 1: 12-14
Is it possible to get good things from the bad things? Others may say “yes”, others may say “no”, but some would say “it depends “. In our texts we see here Paul rejoicing even if he is locked up in jail. Why does he rejoice? Prison did not stop him from preaching the gospel. This is also the one I’m telling about Paul, that everything he touch, he turns it to the gospel. Here is a concrete example. Paul’s imprisonment gave two positive result, here they are:
I. Advancement of the gospel. Phil. 1:12
A. Paul was telling the Philippians that his imprisonment resulted in furtherance or progress of the gospel. Just like a victorious army it keeps on advancing, moving forward. No delays, distraction, or hindrance can prevent it. His chains gave more opportunities for the spread of the good news.
God overruled the disastrous events of Paul’s life and turned it into advantage and profit. More souls were saved as a result of his incarceration. Satan thought he can hinder Paul’s evangelistic effort in jail but God reversed the outcome. Jesus Christ can turn your troubles into triumph. Prison became Joseph’s stepping stone to become the second most powerful man in Egypt. Moses lived in obscurity in the desert of Midian for 40 years before he was called by God to go back to Egypt. (Acts 7:29-30). The Lord can turn the tides of every situation. You may be suffering now but tomorrow, it would be the opposite. God does not make a mistake. He sees everything and He controls everything that happens in our lives and makes bad things work together for “good” (Rom. 8:28).
B. The elite body guards heard the gospel of salvation. Phil. 1:13
1. People know that Paul was no criminal. He was in prison because he is preaching about Christ. The word “palace” is “praitorion” where we get the word “praetorian”. They were the emperor’s private bodyguards, an elite troop. Paul was a famous prisoner; he has not committed a crime. He is no political prisoner also. Chained with them, he has the opportunity to witness to these people who takes turn guarding him. Paul was able to reach a group of men normally out of reach for Christians during that time. No wonder God had a plan to put him into prison. He was not a prisoner of Caesar but of Jesus Christ.
2. It is evident also from Phil. 4:22 that some of these royal body guards came to Christ, and they went throughout the empire sharing their faith. Believers multiplied in the empire because of them.
3. We can use the term “who are Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22), not only to the elite royal body guards but also to other “palace servants” who have heard the good news of salvation and got converted.
I can just imagine the talks in the barracks between those soldiers telling one another, “Have you
been chained with Paul? The man who talks nothing but about Jesus Christ who died for our sins and
resurrected after 3 days? He says He is coming again to judge the living and the dead.” Who can
describe the joy in the heart of Paul as he led one guard after another to the Saviour’s feet? And
who can think that a prison cell can be a soul winning center where souls are won for Christ? Are
you sharing your faith to others? We can share the gospel anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
II. Boldness in Witnessing. Phil 1:14
A. The first result of Paul’s imprisonment was the spread of the good news throughout
the Roman Empire. Praetorian guards came to Christ.
B. The second result is the impact it created to the Christians in Rome. Because of
Paul’s testimony, they become confident and bolder in preaching the gospel.
C. Christians in Rome were very cautious in sharing their faith. They risk imprisonment
even death if they ran in trouble with the Roman authorities. They have lots of fear
and insecurities. But because of Paul’s testimony impacted them, they become
confident and bolder. God’s faithfulness to His persecuted children was proven.
Prison now doesn’t scare them and prison will never halt the spread of the gospel.
Illustration: Will You Be a Conduit for the King’s Message
On January 21, 1930, the name of Harold Vidian became synonymous with heroism. On that day,
England’s King George V was scheduled to give the opening address at the London Arms Conference.
The king’s message was to be sent by radio all around the world.
Donald McCullough, in his book The Trivialization of God (NavPress, 1995), tells us that a few
minutes before the king was to speak, a member of the CBS staff tripped over an electrical wire and
broke it, cutting off the whole American audience. With no hesitation, chief control operator Harold
Vidian grasped one end of the broken wire in his right hand and the other in his left, thus restoring
the circuit. Electricity surged through his body. Ignoring the pain, Vidian held on until the king had
finished his address.
I see in this a challenge for Christians. The message of the King of kings must go to the whole world.
But only as we allow God’s power to pass through us can the Lord’s saving gospel be transmitted.
Paul wrote, “How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?” (Rom. 10:14). If we are
willing to serve as conduits, regardless of the cost to us, the good news will be proclaimed around
Will you be a conduit for the King’s message? –VCG (Our Daily Bread, November 21, 1997)
Advancement of the gospel is through the providential plan of God in our life. Paul himself never
thought that his imprisonment will result in further spread of the gospel. In our lives good things and
bad things happens. But there is a purpose for everything. Christ allows us to suffer so He can purify
us. Gold is put in the furnace to remove its impurities. Hard times are not always “bad times” if we
just trust out Lord who knows and controls everything. So it’s possible to get good out of the bad