Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."


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Suffering for the sake of Christ

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians while he was in prison. He suffered greatly for the cause of the gospel yet we find him in good spirits. He comforted the brethren by assuring them that God has turned his imprisonment into something positive. Here we see Romans 8:28 in action.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28).”

Instead of hiding in fear and discouragement, many Christians were emboldened to preach the gospel because of Paul’s imprisonment.

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear (Php 1:12-14).”

Paul was well aware that not everyone harboured a pure motive. Some had ulterior motives for preaching. Nonetheless he rejoiced that many were doing so out of good will and love.

“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel (Php 1:15-17).”

Suffering for the sake of Christ and His gospel can turn us in two opposite directions. One is to display greater fervency and courage as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to His protégé, Timothy:

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully (2Ti 2:3-5).”

After the murder of Stephen, Christians found themselves the targets of persecution by Jews zealous for the traditions of their fathers.

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles…As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison (Act 8:1, 3).”

The early church demonstrated this spirit of resilience and courage under persecution. They did the prudent thing and left Jerusalem yet without renouncing the faith. Instead, they carried the gospel elsewhere.

“Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word (Act 8:4).”

The other direction suffering for Christ could turn us is discouragement, indifference and, eventually, giving up on the faith. We cannot possibly count or even guess how many have lost heart and denied Christ. What we do know is we do not want to be among that number.

How did Paul and the early Christians do it? Why did they maintain their faith in the face of severe persecution? The key is revealed by the apostle in his first inspired epistle to Timothy.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2Ti 1:12).”

“I know whom I have believed.” Paul knew the Lord; he was in a right relationship with the Saviour. This relationship can be maintained only by obedience. As we are aware, in order to obey we must know what to obey.

The only way to know what to obey is to pay careful attention to the word through disciplined study and rightly handling the word of God. Many students of the Bible, though they gain in knowledge yet they do not take the step of obedience.

“…persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Paul placed his complete trust and confidence in the Lord, with whom he was in a right relationship. Come what may, the trusting, obedient Christian will endure hardship for the Lord’s sake.

On the great day when the church is gathered unto the Lord, we shall rejoice with an everlasting joy. But first, we must endure.

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That in Nothing I Shall be Ashamed

Paul’s Expectation and Hope

Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians while he was in prison awaiting trial before the Roman emperor. He suffered greatly for the cause of the gospel yet he was not demoralised.

The apostle revealed his earnest expectation and hope. “…that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death (Php 1:20).”

In whatever circumstance he might find himself in, Paul was determined that his primary concern was not his welfare but the glory of His Lord, Jesus Christ. He was determined that he would do nothing that would cause him to be ashamed before Christ.

The heavy trials and sufferings he was going through, the threat of impending death hanging thickly over his head—Paul had decided that all these would not break his faith.

Whether we are aware of it consciously, we sometimes worry about the cost of obedience. Will it cost me a career opportunity? Will it cost me a relationship that means so much to me? Will it hurt the feelings of my loved ones? Will I lose face?

Regard for Men’s Opinions

We read in the book of John of certain believers in Jesus who were worried about what their belief would cost them.

“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:42-43).”

Many leaders of the Jewish people heard the words of Jesus, saw the signs He performed and believed. While they were intellectually honest, they were nonetheless morally dishonest.

They were fearful of what open acknowledgement of Jesus as the Messiah would cost them. They could lose their social and religious status as leaders and members of the Sanhedrin and be driven out of the synagogue. This would mean great shame.

They feared losing the esteem of the people as a result of being put to public shame. “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

We will be very much ashamed indeed if we are more concerned about the opinions of men than obedience to Christ.

The Lord Jesus was not ashamed to call us His brethren. “…he is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb 2:11).” Can there be any reason at all that we can be ashamed of Him?

Fear of Suffering for Christ’s Sake

The apostles suffered for the cause of Christ. They were arrested and beaten for preaching Christ but they rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name (Acts 5:50-41).”

The early church suffered for the cause of Christ. Saul was throwing them into prison but “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:3-4).”

No one enjoys suffering. Suffering is widely perceived to be a shameful thing. People suffering in poverty are sometimes despised for no other reason than that they are poor. Others convicted of crimes and serving prison sentences are regarded as shameful; many of these convicts and ex-convicts carry with them a heavy sense of shame.

But it is not so for the saints suffering for the cause of Christ. The inspired apostles—men who suffered greatly for the Lord—assure us that there is no shame in suffering for Christ.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified…Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (1Pe 4:14, 16).”

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2Ti 1:12).”

What a glorious statement! “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

The Lord has blessed us with a new year to serve Him. As we launch forth into 2018, may we resolve as the apostle Paul did, “…that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Php 1:20-21).”