Joyful Assurance In Adversity
“….Yes, and I will rejoice, “19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:19-20 NASB)
There seems to be no greater proof of faith and love for God than when one can rejoice and have confidence in Christ and seek His glory during times of adversity. Paul demonstrated such joy, faith, love and confidence in the midst of an unjust imprisonment and potential execution. But what was the source of Paul’s joyful confidence? The answers lie in the text.
First, Paul knew he would be delivered. Not that he might be delivered, but he knows he will. In verse 19, Paul used the Greek word soteria, which means salvation. There have been many debates as to whether Paul’s use of the word soteria meant deliverance from this earthly realm or deliverance from imprisonment under Caesar’s reign. I believe there is truth in both lines of thought. Either way was to Paul’s advantage. Paul understood John 6:37-40 and gave further doctrinal detail of this assurance in Romans 8:28-39.
Secondly, Paul had the intercessory prayers of the saints in Philippi. Throughout Scripture, God commands and privileges His people to commune with Him. One of the foundational purposes of prayer is to have God’s will fulfilled in His people. In Matthew 6:9-10, Jesus establishes this truth. Prayer is the chief mark of humility as it puts us in a place of dependence and seeks God’s perfect sufficiency and purposes. Having consigned themselves to praying for God’s will in Paul’s life brought Paul joy. What a demonstration of love!
Thirdly, in addition to the prayers of the Philippians, he had a provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, which is another name for the Holy Spirit. The word Paul used for provision was epichoregia. This doesn’t just mean a provision, but a generous provision or a lavish provision. It is important to understand the necessary work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. Not only does the Spirit’s indwelling seal us in Christ and secures our redemption as Ephesians 1:13-14 says, but He also richly supplies us with strength or power to live the Christian life, which always includes trials. There is no other way to live the Christian life. We need a continual empowering from the Spirit, which comes through abiding in Christ for obedient, fruitful and joyful living.
Ultimately, the source of Paul’s joy was the exaltation of Christ, even if it meant suffering or losing his own life. Paul’s eagerness to see Christ exalted in his life also was the source of his boldness and the confidence that he would not be ashamed in anything. This boldness that Paul speaks of refers to a forthrightness in his speech. Paul never cowered or felt ashamed in his proclamation of the gospel amidst the uncertainty of his future. Considering his present circumstances and all that he had suffered prior to this imprisonment, one would think that those would call for shame. However, Paul wasn’t ashamed because he knew for Whom he was suffering and the effect of the suffering, namely the exaltation of Christ. Paul uses the Greek word megaluno for exalted. It means to magnify or to get glory and praise for. The chief aim of Paul’s life was that Christ would be exalted in his life by the working of the Holy Spirit whether by life or death.
From the onset of his call to ministry, Paul was called to suffer as Acts 9:16 tells us. In his farewell speech at Ephesus, Acts 20:24 tells us Paul didn’t count his life dear to himself. His sole passion was to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. However, Paul understood what it meant to live or die confidently for a greater cause than himself, Christ, because He understood the effects of the atonement.
Prayer : Lord, may we be a people who live to joyfully exalt You and exult in You with assurance when adversity comes our way. Amen!