Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Boldness through Chains--Philippians 1:14

“And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear”
One of the most powerful and influential books in the history of mankind is John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. It chronicles the lives and stories of Christians who have been persecuted from the time of Christ up until the reign of Bloody Mary in the late 1500’s. It held such influence that at one time it, along with the Bible, was chained to the pews in many Protestant churches throughout England. (Books were often so rare and valuable that they would chain them to the pews to keep them from being taken). In the introduction to one edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyr’s a man by the name of James Miller Dodds said it well:

"After the Bible itself, no book so profoundly influenced early Protestant sentiment as the Book of Martyrs. Even in our own time it is still a living force. It is more than a record of persecution. It is an arsenal of controversy, a storehouse of romance, as well as a source of edification."[1]

It is evident from the great influence Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (or even the modern Jesus Freaks) that people giving their life for the cause of Christ is a great motivator towards evangelism and a great source of edification. Something stirs deep within me whenever I read these stories of men and women who gave their lives for the cause of Christ. I am always inspired to ask myself two questions whenever I read these accounts; do I love Christ so much that I would suffer for Him and do I love Christ so much that I am willing to live every moment for Him?

Apparently the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment had the same impact upon those Christian’s who had heard of his situation. The way that this sentence is worded helps us to know that it is not as if the Philippians had been not preaching the word at all—it is more that they are no more passionate and bolder than they have ever been and because of this Paul is rejoicing.

So, we see the mighty influence that Paul’s chains are having. Even though Paul is chains the gospel is not. The great truth that Paul is proclaiming to us is that even though Christian’s might be killed or chained their message (the gospel) cannot be fettered (chained). The great gospel of the glory of God cannot and will not be stopped-and for this Paul (and we) will rejoice. As John Eadie eloquently puts it, “though they might grieve at the confinement of the man, they would be comforted that the cause with which he was identified had not been arrested in its progress.”[2]

  • Rejoice in and worship the Lord who will not be thwarted
  • Be emboldened in the cause of Christ and continue to advance the gospel without fear
  • Ask yourself, “Do I love Christ so much that I am willing to suffer for Him?
  • Ask yourself, “Do I love Christ so much that I am willing to live for Him?
For your benefit Foxe’s Book of Martyrs can be checked out of the youth library (as can Jesus Freaks). Also you can read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/foxe/martyrs/files/martyrs.html
[1] Taken from http://www.pinn.net/~sunshine/book-sum/foxe.html but can also be found in the Forbush edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
[2] Eadie, John. The Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians. Taken from http://www.biblecentre.net/

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