Wells of Living Water Commentary
The Saints in Christ Jesus
We are entering a most remarkable Book written by the Holy Ghost through Paul. It is a Book that discloses many of those tender and gentle characteristics which mark the spiritually minded in Christ Jesus. By way of introduction we will seek to disclose some of those inner touches which abound in the opening verses.
1. The joy of comradeship in Christ Jesus. "Paul and Timotheus": that is the way the chapter opens. The conjunction "and" seems to us to reveal the union between the two lives. It is not Paul alone, nor is it Timotheus alone nay, it is "Paul and Timotheus."
And who was Paul? He was one of the greatest preachers of any age, or of all ages, a veritable pillar of strength, a tower among molehills.
And who was Timothy? A youth, immatured thus far, and for the most part unknown in the Early Church. To be sure a youth tried and true, and a youth who from a child had known the Scriptures yet only a youth.
How beautiful it is "Paul and Timotheus." Here is an inside view of Paul's humility of spirit on the one hand, and his spirit of self negation, on the other. The elder had comradeship with the younger, the seer with student; the beginner with the well-seasoned Calvary warrior. Even so it ought to be.
2. The rightful naming of all leaders. "The servants of Jesus Christ." Here it is again. They were comrades in servitude. Paul had never outgrown his sense of slave-hood. He had never sought to put on certain marks which might designate his higher place of authority in Christ. He wore no "'stripes" on his shoulder as epaulets of honor; he did bear marks on his body.
Paul never, never lifted himself above the place of a bondslave. Even his last Letters kept the mark of his lowly place a servant. He was one with Timothy, for both were alike servants.
3. The unity of saints. The Epistle is not addressed to any certain and specified group of Christians at Philippi. The address reads: "To all the saints." That is the way it should read. Among the saints at Philippi there were the rich and the poor, the high and the lowly, the leaders and the led, the nobility and the plebian; however, Paul said, "To all the saints."
4. The secret of oneness "in Christ Jesus." When it comes to rewards there is a necessary difference; when it comes to reigning with Christ there is a distinction. Never, however, is there a difference in the realms of grace. In Christ Jesus it is "all saints." In the Kingdom reign it is "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne."
Grace never makes distinctions between saints, for grace is alike to all.
5. The Father is not left out in Paul's salutation. Phlippians 1:2 says, "Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ."
If it is Paul and Timotheus, in Phlippians 1:1 , it is the Father and the Son in Phlippians 1:2 . Some would like it to have read "Paul and Christ." They would let Timotheus drop out, and they would forget that the Father comes in.
Beloved young people, let us not forget that it is God, the Father, who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Let us not forget that it is God who commendeth His love toward us, in that Christ died for sinners.
I. THE SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION (Phlippians 1:3-5 )
1. Remembering one another. Paul said, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." His remembering was spontaneous. He did not need to be reminded he often thought of them, remembering the dear faces, and the beloved people he knew and loved at Philippi. He remembered them and thanked God for them. If they had mistreated him in aught, or had neglected him now and then, he forgot it; if they had now and then done him an injury, he passed it by. All that he remembered was their love and kindnesses, and he thanked God for it all.
2. Praying for one another. It reads so delightfully, "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy." Here are words built up like a great edifice. He could have written, simply, "I pray for you." But he said, "I always pray for you." He could have stopped at that, but he said, "I always pray in every prayer." That, however, did not satisfy the heart of Paul. For he went on and said, that he always prayed with joy.
Here is a great climactic note. We may pray for one another now and again, but we do not in every prayer do so. We may pray for one another, and yet know no real thrill of joy in so praying.
God give us more of the spirit of love and joy in our prayers.
3. The great theme of Paul's prayer. Phlippians 1:5 gives this to us. "For your fellowship in the Gospel from the first day until now."
Here is something very vital to Christian life the comradeship of saints. To be sure, our chief fellowship is with the Father and with His Son our Lord Jesus Christ; and yet, in Him, we have fellowship one with another.
II. THE GREAT ASSURANCE (Phlippians 1:6 )
1. Paul expressed no confidence in the ability of the saints at Philippi to save themselves. Paul loved those in Philippi who knew the Lord, and he said many good things about them; however, he knew that the certainty of their final salvation, just the same as the beginning of their faith, did not depend on themselves. Christ is the Saviour. He is also the Keeper. Christ is the Beginner, and He is also the Finisher of redemption.
It was the Apostle who cried out concerning himself, "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."
Our flesh is not our Saviour. Our good deeds are not our Saviour. Neither do we trust in ourselves, but in the Lord.
2. Paul had all confidence in Christ.
(1) He knew that Christ began the good work in the saints. It was He who had died, and finished the redemptive work of Calvary. It was the Spirit who convicted them of sin, and who, upon their faith, quickened them into new life.
(2) He knew that Christ was the Finisher of our faith. In Hebrews 12:1-29 we read of "Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith." This is the message to the Philippians: "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."
(3) He knew that great climax of redemption was "the day of Jesus Christ." That is the day of the redemption of our bodies. That is the day when we shall be gathered unto Him in the skies, to be forever with the Lord.
III. THE PLACE OF AFFECTION (Phlippians 1:7 )
1. Paul said "I think of you all." There is that in the Christian life which knits life to life. There is a consideration and a thoughtful concern the one for the other in Christ, that surpasses all bounds.
2. Paul said, "I have you in my heart." Even so. Is the heart not the seat of our affection? Is the heart not the proper place to hide away our truest friends? Christian love is a holy love. It is the most beautiful of all things in earth. "Now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three"; but the greatest of these is love.
When we have the love of God in our hearts, we have also love one to another. In fact, if a man say, "I love God," and he loveth not his brother, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
3. Paul said, "Ye all are partakers of my grace." The Apostle was evidently looking back to those days when he made his missionary journeys. It was the saints at Philippi who oft refreshed him. It was they who helped him forward in his task of preaching the Gospel to all saints, and to all men.
The Apostle also referred to their fellowship with him in his sufferings in the Roman jail. He called it, "my bonds." Whether in the hour of his travels and freedom, or in the hour of his incarceration, the Philippians were the same always true in their devoted assistance to the Apostle.
Best of all is this: Paul called both his missionary journeys and his imprisonment, "My grace." He seemed to count it all joy to suffer, and also a grace from God to be imprisoned.
IV. THE YEARNINGS OF A TRUE HEART (Phlippians 1:8-9 )
1. The depth of Paul's inner heart throbs. Paul said: "God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." One would now think of Paul as a devoted lover, absent from the one he loved, but ever longing for her. Indeed, he was a lover. First of all, he loved God; and then he loved all saints. However, Paul had a very special love to the saints at Philippi. He called God to record as to the greatness of his love, and of his longings after the welfare of those whom he had led to Christ.
It is not enough to have a true service in behalf of others. We must have a service which pulls at the heartstrings.
Our Lord Jesus had compassion upon many. He loved the common people. The word "compassion" has a splendid definition in Phlippians 1:8 , when Paul said: "I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ." He seemed to say, My longings for you are of a similar fibre with those of Christ Jesus. In fact, he said, they are in Jesus Christ.
2. The yearning prayer. Phlippians 1:9 gives us these words: "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment." That they loved God there was no doubt; but Paul prayed for them, that they might abound in love. He did not suggest that in one moment they could be made perfect in love, for he said, "Yet more and more."
V. THE THINGS WHICH ARE EXCELLENT (Phlippians 1:10 )
There are two outstanding things in Phlippians 1:10 :
1. "That ye may approve things that are excellent." We wonder if it would be difficult for the young people to make a list of those things which they highly prize, of those things which are excellent in their conceptions.
Would their "Excellent things" be the same as the things which Paul had in mind as, in the Holy Ghost he wrote to the Phillippians?
God has His good things, and His better things; He also has His best. There are things which are even superlative in the sight of God. They are the excellent things. They are excellent because they excel. They are excellent because they are uncontaminated by carnality. They are excellent because they are brilliants as they shine in the realm of Christian graces.
We have no doubt that love love to God and love to all saints, as well as love to a lost world, would head the list. When Paul wrote of love, he called it the more excellent way. It is the more excellent, because love excels in all things.
In the things more excellent, we must place faith and hope and peace and joy, and all of the fruits of the Spirit.
The fact is that our next verse, Phlippians 1:11 , calls these things, "the fruits of righteousness."
2. "That ye may be sincere and without offence." We have two things here, in one:
(1) Sincerity means reality. It is something that knows no compromise, and displays no camouflage. It is the gold tried in the fire. It is the genuine, and not the counterfeit. It rings true under every test.
(2) "Without offense" means first of all what Paul said, "I know nothing by (against) myself." It means, "My conscience is void of offense toward God and toward men."
Offense, then, may be toward God, on the one hand, and it may be toward our brethren, on the other. The ideal Christian life is a life that never eats meat, if meat makes a brother to offend. Instead of dragging down, it lifts up.
VI. THE FRUITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (Phlippians 1:11 )
1. The call of God is a call to fruit bearing. We will never forget the words of our Lord concerning "fruit, more fruit, and much fruit." In the Old Testament days the Lord planted Him a vine out of Egypt. He caused it to take deep root, and it filled the land. His vine sent out its boughs unto the sea, and its branches unto the river.
As we behold that vine today, we find its hedges broken down, and all of those who pass by do pluck her. "The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it."
Why was this vine burned with fire? Why was it trodden down? There is but one answer: The Lord looked for it to bear fruit, even grapes, but it bore wild grapes.
Israel today is smitten before the Almighty because she was a fruitless vine. The Lord also has planted another vine, and He is looking for fruit. It was to this vine that Paul referred when he said "being filled with the fruits of righteousness."
2. The call of God is a call unto the glory and praise of God. We are not to bear fruit that we may glorify ourselves. It is written: "Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit."
Whatsoever we do should be done to the glory of God. Let no man glory in the flesh, and let no man glory in men. He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. If we should not glory in the flesh, then we should not live in order to obtain human glory.
We love the Old Testament statement, "That they might be unto Me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory."
The New Testament puts it this way: "Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people." But why are we these four things? The Scripture is, plain: "That ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
VII. THE FURTHERANCE OF THE GOSPEL (Phlippians 1:12-14 )
1. A new way of judging the events which befall us. The Apostle Paul said: "The things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel." He wanted the Philippians to understand these things.
The Apostle did not parade his sufferings and his sorrows as though he had been mistreated, misjudged, and even forsaken of God. He rather gathered up everything that could happen unto himself: all of the heartaches, all of the stripes, the fastings, the shipwrecks, the imprisonment in Rome all of these, said he, have had one purpose and one accomplishment: the furtherance of the Gospel.
Would we be willing to labor in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft, if we thought that thereby our ministry might be made more effective for Christ?
2. A new way of preaching Christ. Phlippians 1:13 is most marvelous: "So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places."
Think of it: Paul was preaching the Gospel not only with his lips, but also with his bonds. It was not so much what he said that had impressed the king in the palace at Rome, as it was the way he bore his imprisonment. There was something in Paul himself; in his love, and joy, and patience, and faithfulness, which magnified Christ.
3. A new way of encouraging others. The Apostle also said that the brethren in the Lord waxed confident by reason of his bonds, and were made more bold to speak the Word without fear.
We often make a great mistake, thinking that God is not guiding us at all, because we cannot see far ahead. But this is not His method. He only undertakes that the steps of a good man should be ordered by the Lord. Not next year, but tomorrow. Not the next mile, but the next yard. Not the whole pattern, but the next stitch in the canvas. If you expect more than this, you will be disappointed, and get * * into the dark. But this will secure to you leading in the right way, as you will acknowledge when you review it from the hilltops of Glory. We cannot ponder too deeply the lessons of the cloud given in the exquisite picture-lesson on guidance in Numbers 9:15-23 . Let us look high enough for guidance. Let us encourage our souls to wait only upon God, till it is given. Let us cultivate that meekness which He will guide in judgment. Let us seek to be of quick understanding, that we may be apt to see the least sign of His will. Let us stand with girded loins and lighted lamps, that we may be prompt to obey. F. B. Meyer.
1. Some preach Christ of envy and strife. Of one thing we are sure: we are commanded to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered. Of another thing we may be equally sure: we are not to preach Christ with contention.
The word in II Timothy says, "The servant of the Lord must not strive." To the contrary we are told to "be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient." In meekness we are to instruct "those that oppose themselves."
Whenever we permit ourselves to use the pulpit, dedicated to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a place to inflict our indignation and contempt against personalities, we are contrary to the Spirit of the Master.
Even in opposing sin and its ravages, we must do so in a spirit of grief and compassion, and not in the spirit of strife.
2. Some preach Christ to add affliction to others, Paul, in Phlippians 1:16 , said: "The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds."
This is even worse than the other. How was it possible that men who professed to know God and His Gospel, should become so opposed to the Apostle Paul? One would think that Paul's scars and bonds would have sufficed. But their desire to add affliction upon affliction is almost unbelievable.
For our part, we think that we should be very careful in condemning others. It is to their own Lord they stand or they fall.
3. Others preach Christ of good will and of love. Remember both of these parties were preaching Christ, and perhaps preaching Christ in sincerity, even though some were contentious and given over to strife and envy.
These who preached through good will and through love were far more acceptable to God. They realized that Paul was set for the defense of the Gospel, and not for its destruction. Wherever there is love and good will, there the spirit of Christ is being made manifest.
4. Paul's conclusion. Phlippians 1:18 is one of the Scriptures which opens up the very throbbings of Paul's heart. It reads thus: "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
These words should teach each of us a great lesson. Suppose some people do preach Christ in a way which is altogether contrary to our own method. So long as the message is true, the Gospel is preached, and Christ is glorified, let us rejoice.
The disciples wanted to bring down fire against some who walked not with them. The Lord immediately rebuked them. It is still true that the dear saints who are not against Christ are for Him. They may make many mistakes and they may err in their spirit, and even in some of their minor doctrinal positions. Let us, however, rejoice if Christ is preached.
We need, today, in the churches, among those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity and in truth, and who preach Him faithfully, a deeper spirit of comradeship.
I. A CAUSE FOR REJOICING (Phlippians 1:18 )
1. Rejoicing when Christ is preached. We remember the story of how Dr. F. B. Meyer sat on the platform listening to George H. C. MacGreggor preaching one of his (Meyer's) Sermons. He said his friend seemed unaware that he was doing this; and Dr. Meyer would not have cared so much, only that Mr. MacGreggor was preaching it better than he could do it. Thus Dr. Meyer became jealous and even cross about it.
Suddenly Dr. Meyer woke up to the fact that his spirit was affecting his good friend MacGreggor, and that MacGreggor was losing power in his message. Then Meyer prayed, "O God, fill me with Thy love for MacGreggor." As he prayed, his very soul began to well up with even more than the old love, and MacGreggor began to preach better and better.
Paul said something real when he said concerning those who preached Christ, hoping to add affliction to him in his bonds, "Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
2. Rejoicing at the results which follow the preaching of Christ. There is joy over one sinner that repenteth joy in the presence of the angels. There is also joy among saints. How happy are we when we see the Word working to the salvation of the lost.
There is joy also to the sinner who receives the message of truth and crowns Christ as Saviour. At Pentecost they who gladly received His Word were baptized. Have we not heard, "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation"?
There is joy to the saved in the time of Christ's Coming. Paul wrote: "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His Coming?" So there is joy here, and there is joy over there.
Christ Himself shall rejoice. Indeed, the preaching of the Gospel means to Christ the outgathering and upgathering of those for whom He died. "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."
Surely He will joy over us all with great joy and with rejoicing.
II. IN NOTHING ASHAMED (Phlippians 1:20 )
1. Paul's first great expectation "That in nothing I shall be ashamed." Methinks that the Apostle had the judgment seat of Christ in view. So far as this earth was concerned, he was willing to be considered as the offscouring of the earth. That, however, was chiefly among the enemies of the Cross. Among the saved, he wanted to stand acquitted of all blame. His chiefest desire, however, was to be found acceptable before Christ, at the Bema judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:1-21 ).
We wonder if all Christians have this in mind as their chief ambition "in nothing * * ashamed"? Let us remind ourselves, then, that we must sustain down here a conscience void of offense toward God and toward men. We must live in so godly a way, that we know nothing against ourselves. For if our own hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts.
"In nothing * * ashamed" nothing in the doing of evil; nothing in the failing to do the good. "In nothing * * ashamed" nothing that makes us blush, nothing that would cause us to draw back from Him at His Coming. Nothing now; nothing then.
2. Paul's second great expectation: That "Christ shall be magnified in my body." This is the acme of Christian living doing all to the glory of God. It is ours to adorn the Gospel of grace now, and to adorn the brow of our blessed Lord in Heaven; whether in life, or in death, to magnify Christ to magnify Him now, in the body, and then, forevermore.
Let us not make excuses about the weakness of our flesh, and the evils of our hearts God is able to deliver us. Paul once spoke of dragging about a body of "death." Now he speaks of a body magnifying Christ. He had passed out of Romans 7:1-25 , with its groanings, and its despair, into the eighth chapter, where the paeans of the life of victory in the Spirit are sounding out the victory in Christ.
Have you this great desire to magnify Christ in your body? Think of the possibilities which were Paul's, and are yours. "Ye are * * that ye should." Ye are what? A chosen generation born-again ones that, ye may show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
III. TO LIVE IS CHRIST (Phlippians 1:21 )
Years ago at least forty years we heard Dr. G. Campbell Morgan preach on this text. Unto this day we remember his outline. We will use it now. The headings only are his, and these may vary, somewhat, from lapse of memory.
1. Paul meant to say, For to me to BEGIN to live is Christ; that is, Christ is the beginning of my life. Apart from Him, we had never known life. He is the Author as well as the Finisher of our faith.
It was when we met Him at His Cross and believed on Him that the new life began to surge through our being. "At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light," is true of us all.
2. Paul meant to say, For to me to continue to live is Christ ; that is, Christ is the Sustainer of our life. If we began in Him, we also continue through Him. He is the Sustainer of our life, inasmuch as our lives and His are linked together in an indissoluble glory. It is the story of the vine and the branch. The two are linked and interlinked; woven and interwoven. One cannot tell just where the life of the branch begins, and where the life of the vine ends. The very life of the branch is the continual interflow of the life of the vine.
3. Paul meant to say, Christ is the power of my life; all I do, I do because of His enabling. Even now He is saying, "All power is Mine, go, and, lo, I am with you." He is the great power which enables me to serve Him, and to live for Him. I am living out, what He lives into me; I am working out, what He is working in me.
4. Paul meant to say, Christ is the climax of my life. Everything I do is for Him. I seek not my own, but His. I do all things to please Him, and to give Him glory. My great concern is to be found in Him, accepted and approved.
Whether I eat, or drink, I do it all for Him. If I give a cup of cold water, I give it in His Name.
5. Paul meant to say, for to me to live is to produce Christ. Christ was the product of his life. This was true because Christ in him was all he was, and all he did. When he lived, Christ lived again.
6. Paul meant to say that Christ was the great conclusion of his life. He lived that he might be forever with the Lord.
IV. IN A STRAIT BETWIXT TWO THINGS (Phlippians 1:22-24 )
1. "To abide in the flesh is more needful for you." The Apostle Paul had known a very strenuous, self-sacrificing, and suffering life. He had wrought as few men had wrought; He had given up what few others had given up; he had suffered for Christ as few have ever suffered. He was now, therefore, willing to go or willing to stay.
As he faced the two possibilities, that of remaining with the saints, and that of going on to be with the Lord, he said: "I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."
Thus it was that Paul said: "What I shall choose I wot not." If he lived, it was for Christ; or if he died, it was gain, for to die was to be with Christ.
We have time to consider only the statement, "To abide in the flesh is more needful for you. The Apostle still longed to do for others. A friend who was with Billy Sunday when he was in the hospital, near to death, heard Billy Sunday pray, "Lord, if You will give me back my strength, I would like to strike a few more licks for Thee." Why else should we desire life, as Christians, if it is not to make that life count for others? If it were not that we might save some, and lead others to walk the closer with God, we had better go to be with Him.
2. "To be with Christ; which is far better." A little later, Paul wrote to the Philippians and said: "Ye are my joy and crown."
In Phlippians 1:22 Paul said, evidently referring to the saints whom he should meet beyond, "This is the fruit of my labour."
There was no fear with Paul as he looked into the beyond. He went so far as to say it was far better. He knew that to die was gain because to die was to be with Christ. That also was the fruit of his labor.
We, too, should live in the glorious anticipation of being forever with the Lord.
V. PAUL'S IDEAL OF LIFE (Phlippians 1:22-23 )
1. The furtherance of your joy and faith. The words above express Paul's conception of continuing to live among the brethren. He said that he had confidence that he would abide and continue with the saints. He had not thought, however, of taking a rest; and he felt no desire to quit serving. As long as a drop of blood was in his body, he wanted to spend and be spent in behalf of the saints.
A man who had labored so long, knew not how to rest. Mrs. Neighbour and I were escorted in Bethlehem to the dungeon in which Jerome translated the Bible. We marveled that in a place underground, with a mere flickering torch, one could have had the courage of faith, and the energy of the Spirit, to undertake so great a task. There is, however, in all true saints, something within them that will not let them go. Jeremiah said: "I will not * * speak any more in His Name." His persecutions were so severe, and the people were so hardened against him, that he seemed to say, "What's the use?" Then he added: "But His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire * * and I could not stay."
There is something in the true believer's heart that presses him on and on in behalf of others for the furtherance of their joy and of their faith!
2. The life more abundant. Paul was not satisfied to get people saved. He wanted to see Christ formed in them. He wanted them to grow into the measure of the stature of Jesus Christ. He wanted their rejoicing to be more abundant in Jesus Christ.
We need to remember that there are always higher reaches, holier vision, and an enlarged fullness of the Lord for all saints. Let us do our part in bringing this about.
VI. GOSSIPING THE GOSPEL (Phlippians 1:27 )
1. "Let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ." Our Scripture verse is so wonderful. This is the way it reads: "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ."
There is a little verse in Titus where we read of adorning the Gospel or, the doctrine of God. Here we read of our living adorning the Gospel. The word "becometh" to us suggests a similar thought with the word "adorning." A dress becomes its wearer when it adorns her, and makes her the more beautiful.
The Gospel of Christ is so marvelous that it would seem impossible for us by our conversation to make it more beautiful, and yet that is just what we can do. We can put the Gospel into our way of living, and into our way of talking; we can gossip the Gospel with words chosen and selected, and thus glorify and magnify it.
It seems to us that the whole thought of Paul is that saints should continually be speaking of the Lord. It is not a mere negative statement, that we should not allow our conversation to harm the Gospel. That would have to be stated with a "Thou shalt not." The Holy Spirit is rather seeking a positive magnifying and glorifying of the Gospel.
We have seen some men and women who seldom speak without telling the story of God's love. It seems as natural for them to talk about the Lord Jesus as it is for them to breathe. You expect nothing else from them.
Other Christians whom we have met, never appear to have anything to say about Christ in the general run of their conversation. They talk much, every way, about everything; but in no way do they converse concerning the Gospel.
2. "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind." It was not merely for the isolated individual that Paul prayed; it was rather for the whole Church all of the saints. He wanted them to gossip the Gospel with a unity of spirit and of mind. He wanted them to strive together for the faith of the Gospel. This was the power of the Early Church. They were together, with one heart and one mind in Christ. Schisms and divisions had not yet been known. Carnalities had not yet arisen.
God grant that once again we may have a united church, all spiritual, all conversing Christ, and all contending for the faith.
VII. IN BEHALF OF CHRIST (Phlippians 1:28-30 )
1. "In nothing terrified by your adversaries." When saints are persecuted there is an evident double token. First, it is a token that the adversaries are sons of perdition, that they are lost. Secondly, it is an evident token that the saved are sons of salvation, and of God.
Why then should we be terrified? The enemy can do no more than destroy our bodies; and they can only do this in the will of God. All the enemies which Satan can gather cannot touch our eternal joys, nor can they do more than hasten the day when we shall see our Lord.
2. It is given to saints to suffer. Phlippians 1:29 says: "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake."
I wonder if all of us like the word "also," and the words, "not only." " Not only to believe * * but also to suffer."
To believe is to receive. It is to obtain eternal life. Belief is the hand that takes. We all like this very much. We rightly rejoice in eternal life, but God tells us it is not only to believe. Faith must be followed by confession, by separation from the world, by dedication unto Christ. Faith must be followed by a holy affiance to our Lord. Faith, therefore, entails suffering for His sake. If He suffered, shall not they who align themselves with Him also suffer?
If He is outside the camp; and if we are going to Him, we, too, must go outside the camp.
The Lord Jesus never made it easy to get a disciple. He plainly said: "In the world ye shall have tribulation." He also said: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you."
Thus Paul took a like position. How can any of us expect to live a holy life, without suffering the sneers of those who think it strange that we run not with them to the same excess of riot?
The art of photography is now so perfect that the whole side of a great newspaper can be taken in miniature so small as to be carried in a little pin or button, and yet every letter and point be perfect. So the whole life of Christ is photographed in one little phrase "Not to be ministered unto, but to minister." He came not to be served. * * He came to serve. He went about doing good. He altogether forgot Himself. He served all He met who would receive His service. At last He gave His life in uttermost service giving it a ransom for others. He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. You say you want to be like Christ. You pray Him to print His own image on your heart. Here, then, is the image. It is no vague dream of perfection that we are to think of when we ask to be made like Christ. The old monks thought that they were in the way to become like Christ when they went into the wilderness, away from men, to live in cold cells or on tall columns. But that is not the thought which this picture suggests. "To minister" that is the Christlike thing. Instead of fleeing away from the world, we are to live among men, to serve them, to seek to bless them, to do them good, to give our life for them. J. R. Miller.
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
the Fourth Week of Lent
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