Progress of the Gospel

by J. Randal Matheny, editor
The Brazil national flag sports the phrase, “Order and Progress.” Though the underlying philosophy behind the phrase is long dead, the words remind us of a Biblical principle. When God’s order or structure is followed, progress results.
Philippians is not only the letter of joy which Paul writes from prison, but the letter of the gospel’s progress as well.
Twice in the first chapter (1:12, 25), Paul uses the word “progress” (Gr., prokope). These uses are instructive for thinking of progress in the things of God.
First, Paul recognizes that his imprisonment worked in favor of preaching the gospel.
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12 NASB).
What men may consider disastrous to the work of the kingdom, God uses to produce greater fruits. Because of his imprisonment, Paul noted that (1) the whole imperial guard and everyone else there had heard the word of God (1:13) and (2) most of the saints were emboldened to intensify their evangelism (1:14ff), rather than be cowed by Paul’s experience.
Man thinks of progress without roadblocks or opposition. God knows that the Good News flourishes best when the road is bumpy.
Second, Paul works for the Philippian Christians’ “progress and joy in the faith” (1:25 NET).
The apostle would prefer to go on and be with Christ, “which is better by far” (1:23), but recognized it was “more vital” for their sake to remain and encourage them in their growth. Spiritual growth needs the presence and solidarity of Christian brothers and sisters. Paul even counts on the Philippians’ prayers for his release from prison (1:19).
Worldly people do what they think is best for them. Paul didn’t. Rather than seek what was best for himself, he sought to serve his family in Christ, that they might progress in the faith. He probably wouldn’t agree with the title of the book, Looking Out for Number 1.
When we take advantage of problems for the sake of Christ and devote ourselves and our efforts to helping God’s people to grow, there will be great progress in the gospel.

One Reply to “Progress of the Gospel”

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. Just think of the USA, if politicians and other leaders wouldn’t be in that position except for taking care of number 1.
    We would find ourselves with a better outlook on our leaders, if they looked to God for answers instead of getting together and doing the better good for the system.
    I find myself doing what is good for me, then looking back I see my wrong.

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