Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Gospel With No Limits

Intro.: Back in the 1930's the coach of the US decatholon team was a man by the name of Brutus Hamilton.

  1. Hamilton was not only an athelete, he was also a scientist.

  2. He spent considerable time gathering statistics about the ability of the human body.

  3. The results of his research show that no human could run the 100 yard dash in less than 9.2 seconds. The mile could be run no faster than 3 minutes and 57.8 seconds. The maximum distance for the shot put was 62 feet and the discus 200 feet. The high jump was limited to 7 feet 1 inch. 27 feet in the long jump, and 16 feet for the pole vault.

  4. But in the years since Brutus Hamilton was coach, everyone of his limits was broken.

  5. There are some limits that cannot be broken – for example, physics has shown that it is impossible to travel faster than the speed of light.

  6. Too often we put limits on our spiritual life – limits that do not come from God, but from our own fears and concerns.

Read: Philippians 1:12-18


Trans: One way to determine the important ideas and concepts in a passage of scripture is to count the number of times that a key word occurs in the passage.

  1. If we exclude all the small words (and, a, an, the, etc.) the word that occurs more than any other in Philippians 1 is “Christ” - a word that tis used 18 times in 30 verses.

  2. As Paul writes the healthiest church to whom he writes, he begins by focusing their attention on Christ.

  3. Too often the church spends its time on minors – yet when Paul writes the Philippian church, he focuses on Christ.


  1. Not limited by circumstances

    1. I am glad that four years ago I was not in New York City. This past week, I am glad that I am not living in New Orleans

    2. Paul's life as a Christian has not been easy – He had been jailed numerous times, his life had been threated, he had to escape from one city by being lowered the city wall in a basket. He had been shipwrecked.

    3. But Paul did not want people to remember the circumstances of his life, as much as its results.

    4. We've mentioned before the fact that Paul is chained to a guard day and night. Those guards watched Paul – they knew that what he wrote matched his life.

    5. But the impact of Paul's life did not stop there – it was not just Paul's personal guards that were influenced by his life, but the whole praetorian guard.

(Ill.) The praetorian guard were elite group of soldiers – they were originally commissioned to guard the emperor and to serve his special military needs. They had salaries, privileges, and terms of service that put them a step above the regular soldiers in the Roman army. These were the best of the best – and they came to see Paul as a man who was jailed, not for some crime, but for some his faith in Christ.

    1. But it was not just the guard, but the church, too, that was strengthened by Paul's response to his circumstances. Look at verse 14 - “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

(Appl.) As Christians, we fall into a trap – we let our circumstances limit our spread of the gospel. But Paul's life illustrates that our circumstances - GOOD and BAD – do not need to hinder the spread of the gospel. Our is not just a personal thing - it will influence both the believers and the non-believers around us. Family, co-workers, friends will see the consequences of our faith.

  1. Not limited by our motivation

    1. The gospel will be spread – and Paul's circumstances contributed to that goal.

    2. But those that reacted to Paul's circumstances fell into two groups.

    3. First there was a group who preached the gospel gospel from envy. They wanted Paul's reputation for their own. He was in prison, now they could prove how good they were.

(Ill.) Many years ago F. B. Meyer was the pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London. At the same time G. Campbell Morgan was pastor of nearby Christ Church and Charles Hadden Spurgeon was pastor of the Metropolitan Chapel. Both Morgan and Spurgeon often had much larger audiences than Meyer. Consequently Meyer was often troubled by jealousy and envy. But this wise pastor said he received no peace in his heart until he ignored the world's way of thinking and began praying for his colleagues. Meyer said, "When I prayed for their success, the result was that God filled their churches so full that the overflow filled mine, and it has been full every since."i

    1. F. B. Meyer was able to overcome his jealousy. There were people in Paul's church that did not.

    2. But not everyone was preaching Christ out of envy. There were those who preached it out of goodwill.

    3. Amazingly, Paul was grateful for both kinds of men. Christ was being preached. I remember Jesus telling the Pharisees that his disciples did not spread the gospel, even the stones themselves would cry out. (Luke 19:40).

    4. As we, whether as individuals or as a church, take on the job of spreading the gospel there is not room for envy or jealousy. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

    5. We too can rejoice that Christ is being preached.

  1. Only limited by Jesus Christ

(Ill.) I remember that one of the things that first impressed me as a young Christian in a United Methodist Sunday school class – the word gospel means “Good News”. When we speak about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”, we are really speaking about the “good news of Jesus Christ.”

    1. We cannot let our circumstances stop the spread of the gospel

    2. We cannot let envy and jealousy stop the spread of the gospel

    3. The task of the church is to spread the gospel, The task of the church is to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.

(Ill.) All news is not beautiful. Or had you noticed? But bad news is good news for Christians, in a sense, because we see in it opportunities to turn things around. Or, as Jesus said, to be lights in a dark world. Christians can do more than curse the darkness. We can light a candle. We can change the world.ii

    1. Take time this week to spread the good news 

iredlandbaptist and Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

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