“… In the… confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me…” (Philippians 1:7)
When the Apostle Paul writes the confirmation of the gospel he is referring to a great experience he had in his preaching ministry. As a great scholar, (and because he could do it), Paul quoted Greek philosophers and poets while preaching in Athens. But as a result of that sermon very few believed; just a few individuals are named. There is no letter of Paul to a church in Athens found in the New Testament.
When he was called to preach the gospel in Corinth immediately after Athens, he was frightened. You would have been frightened too. Jesus Christ had never been preached there. The city of Corinth was exceedingly sinful. It was considered profanity to call someone a Corinthian. Corinth had many temples where temple prostitutes were offered to those who worshiped an erotic god by engaging in all kinds of sexual perversions. A worshiper would be offered little boys or little girls if that was their pleasure.
God appeared to Paul in Corinth and told him not to be afraid because He had many people in that city. God told Paul if he would simply preach that Christ died and was raised again for our sins he would find out who those people were. That is what he meant by the confirmation of the gospel. He preached the gospel in Corinth and many believed. He wrote to the Romans that he was eager to preach the gospel in Rome because everywhere he proclaimed the gospel he found out who God’s people were. He was sure that would happen in Rome also.
Do you have the faith to share the gospel – and find out who God’s people are?
The three years I attended your church in Virginia Beach, during my service in the Navy, were a part of God’s preparation for something I did not plan for or expect. On June 14, 1965 the Lord called me to be a pastor and I have followed that calling ever since. Your teaching and preaching have remained with me as a beacon light for these past 45 years. Thank you for faithfulness to the Word of God and the simplicity of the Gospel. I have found Philippians 1:7 to be absolutely true and relevant to today. Thank you for your continuing example!
Pastor Ralls’ words must be music to you ears and I’ve watched you respond in awe every time you hear a story like his. I remember you sharing about a lunch with a nonbeliever in the early days of your ministry, who asked you how to become a Christian. After about 30 minutes passed, he said, “Pastor, I’m asking for the time and you’re telling me how to make a watch!” Boy, was that used to make you intentional about being understood by your listeners! On another note, you often reminded us that in sharing the gospel, intellectual arguments are often smoke screens for volitional issues of the heart. Keep on preaching it, Dad! 🙂
This is so inspiring.