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Three lessons on sharing the gospel from Paul

Author: Jack Morris, 23 May 2024

How do I evangelise? Christians have a lot to learn from Paul when it comes to spreading the gospel. Paul didn't let his limitations stop him from sharing the good news about Jesus because he knew his circumstances couldn't limit the gospel’s power.

Paul wrote about the advancement of the gospel in Philippians 1. Despite what people expected, his imprisonment gave him new opportunities to share Jesus and to encourage others to do the same. Paul found joy despite his circumstances because:

  • he knew that God could work despite his limitations
  • he was single-minded in preaching the gospel
  • he knew that ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’

1. God uses our limitations to advance the kingdom

The power of the gospel is far stronger than our limitations and Paul gave us the perfect example in making the most of what we have.

Do you wish you had more people to talk to about Jesus? Perhaps you find yourself wishing your church had more resources? Paul could have complained about the physical chains holding him in prison, but he decided to focus on who he was able to witness to. The gospel spread despite his situation.

Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 12.9 that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. When we are at our weakest, when we have limitations that we can’t see past, God is at his most powerful. When we shift our focus to the limitless power of God and his word, rather than to our circumstances, and when we embrace our limitations as an opportunity for God’s power to be displayed, we can be confident that his word will spread. As Paul said, ‘What has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel, not hinder it.’(Philippians 1.12 NIV)

Mark Woods recently spoke on The Rooted Podcast about how the things we can think of as hindrances to sharing the gospel can turn out to be strengths. God can use anything to advance his kingdom. Check out the latest episode of the podcast

We shouldn’t think that every dreadful situation in our life is ordained by God for his glory. However, we can be confident that God can use our limitations to advance his kingdom.

2. Paul was single-minded – what does that mean for us? 

Despite his suffering, Paul’s primary aim is that Christ is preached. Paul wanted to be preaching in Rome but he found himself there as a prisoner. However, because he was single-minded in his mission, he was still able to witness to Christ. He was able to see his situation as a chance to show Christ to those around him. And as a result, the gospel advanced, the prison guards knew of his faith and others gained boldness in speaking about Jesus too.

Perhaps you’re not exactly where you want to be right now. How can you use the situation you find yourself in to show Christ to those around you? In what ways can you act or speak differently so that people see Christ in you?

Despite his imprisonment and there being mixed motives in people’s preaching, Paul rejoices because he knows that the gospel advances. Again, Paul is single-minded on Christ being preached. Although some preach out of selfish ambition, if Christ is being preached, Paul trusts that God is at work in those listening and that the gospel is reaching people’s hearts.

Of course, this isn’t to say that it’s fine to preach Christ just to be in the spotlight, but Paul shifts the focus from the preacher to Jesus. If Jesus is being preached, we can rejoice and trust that ‘he who starts a good work will bring it to completion’.

What would this single-minded focus on Christ being preached look like for us? One aspect might be our unity as a wider Church body, not stressing the differences between our churches but knowing that the greater goal is the preaching of Christ. No matter where or how the gospel is preached, it can advance and has power beyond our comprehension.

3. Adopting Paul’s mindset: to live is Christ and to die is gain

In the Western world martyrdom is rare, so how can we read this today? We may not be able to die for Christ, but we can certainly live for him. Paul ‘chose’ to stay alive and to keep witnessing to Christ because of his love for the Philippians, his desire that they grow in Christ and that Christ would be glorified through him. When we truly adopt the mindset of ‘to live is Christ and to die is gain’ we are adopting a selfless mindset where we are either glorifying God or leading others to glorify God. And in this, we too can rejoice with Paul knowing that the gospel advances.

Paul saw his decision as a win-win situation. What an inspirational attitude for us to emulate today!

Paul knew that if he were to keep living, it must be wholeheartedly for Christ and his people and to show Christ to others. He challenges us to do the same.

If you want to dig deeper into Philippians, why not check out The Rooted Podcast? Subscribe wherever you listen and also check out our last series on the Sermon on the Mount.

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