Oak Grove Baptist Church

Striving to become the church of choice for this generation.

Philippians 3:1

The Fellowship of Servants

This section is a great description of the fellowship of servants. Paul talks specifically about sending Timothy to the Philippians. He knows that Timothy "will sincerely care for your state" (Php_2:20). He mentioned, at length, Epaphroditus, "my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need" (Php_2:25). For the work of Christ, Epaphroditus "came close to death, not regarding his life" (Php_2:30).

Some years ago Alexander Irvine wrote a novel entitled My Lady of the Chimney Corner. In it there was the incident in which "the lady" went to comfort a neighbor whose boy lay dead. As gently as falls an autumn leaf, she laid her hand on Eliza's head:

"Ah, woman, God isn't a printed book to be carried around' by a man in fine clothes, nor a cross dangling' at the watch chain of a priest. God takes a hand wherever he can find it, and just does what he likes with it. Sometimes he takes a Bishop's hand and lays it on a child's head in benediction, and then he takes the hand of a doctor to relieve pain, the hand of a mother to guide a child, and sometimes he takes the hand of a poor old craither like me to give comfort to a neighbor. But they're all hands touched by His Spirit, and His Spirit is everywhere lukin' for hands to use."

That is the fellowship of servants—those who have in them the mind of Christ who emptied Himself, and became a servant. This is what the Christian faith does for us: it leads us out of ourselves, freeing us from ourselves, binding us to Christ and to our brothers and sisters.


Philippians 3:2-11

What Really Matters

Scripture Outline

  1. Knowing Christ (Php_3:2-11)
  2. The Prize of the High Calling (Php_3:12-14)
  3. Conduct Consistent with Commitment (Php_3:15-16)
  4. Judgment (Php_3:17-19)

There are some who believe that a part of three letters Paul wrote to his friends in Philippi are combined in this one epistle. One of the arguments for this theory is that Php_3:2-19 is an abrupt change in tone. Two chapters of love, expressions of affectionate intimacy, are followed by a passage of scathing denunciation.

It is true that if you take these verses out and in your reading follow Php_3:2 with Php_3:20, you have a harmonious expression. However, who can doubt that Paul was capable of writing in both veins—of warm affection and challenging exhortation? There are abrupt breaks in other Pauline letters (e.g., 1Co_15:58 and Gal_6:10). It is important to note that the change of tone is not sustained in these nineteen verses, and there is no sustained reason for believing that Paul's attitude toward the Philippians changes in the course of the letter. He sounds a scathing denunciation against "dogs" who distort and pervert the gospel, those who pride themselves in being "the circumcision" ("beware of the mutilation!") "For we are the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Php_3:3).

This entire chapter is Paul's presentation of What Really Matters, and we will treat it under that theme. Written under the shadow of a low-lying and ominous cloud, from a dark, dismal cell, out of dreary and encumbering circumstances, the epistle resounds with a note of joy. If there is an interruption in that note, it serves only to make real Paul's ardent and unfaltering commitment to what really matters.

Knowing Christ

What really matters is knowing Christ, Paul says. "Beware of dogs"; beware of anything or anyone that would divert you from this center.

Not My Own Righteousness

It is not the external things that count, but what has happened and is happening inside. Salvation is to be found in Him, "not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Php_3:9). Paul chose not to boast except about what Christ had done for him. Had he been prone to boast otherwise, he had enough external privileges to put him out front in any comparison. He listed four special items for his external pedigree.

One, he was born of orthodox parents, circumcised, as the law required, on the eighth day. Two, he was "of the stock of Israel," more precisely "an Israelite by race." He was not just "of the people of Israel" as the RSV has it. Proselytes could be called "people" of Israel. The word Paul uses is genos, meaning "race, family, or kind," so he was speaking of blood descent. Three, he was "of the tribe of Benjamin." This was a matter of special pride. Priests had to prove their lineage, and the father of any girl who was to marry a priest had to prove his Israelite descent for three generations. Tribal identities had blurred, and many had become no more than ideal entities. But the tribe of Benjamin was one of the two southern tribes existing in actuality and remaining true to the house of David and to Jerusalem as the center of the faith of Israel. Possibly Paul's parents named him Saul after the first king of Israel, who was also of the tribe of Benjamin.

Paul crowned all his enumeration of privileges of which to boast by claiming to be "a Hebrew of the Hebrews." This had very special meaning. Jews were dispersed all over the world. Tens of thousands were in Rome. Alexandria had more than a million. Most of these Jews stubbornly refused to be assimilated into the nations of their residence, tenaciously retaining their own religion, culture, customs, and laws. Many of them, however, forgot their language, and spoke the language of the dominant people around them. A Hebrew was not merely a Jew, he was a Jew who with great effort and arduous discipline retained the Hebrew language and taught it to his children. So Paul claimed not only to be a full-blooded Jew, he was a Hebrew who had learned and never forgotten his mother tongue, though he was born and reared in the Gentile city of Tarsus.

What reasons for which to boast. But there was more. He was ardent in his religious practice, a trained Pharisee, blameless in keeping the law, and zealous in persecuting the Christians. What he was by birth and what he had become by conviction and achievement were enough to tally a high level of superiority compared to any who might be preaching circumcision and righteousness by the law.

Privileges of birth and human achievement, however noble, count nothing.

In the Greek text of these verses, the word for "gain" is plural and for "loss" singular, so a good translation of verse Php_3:7 would be "For Christ's sake I have learned to count my former gains a loss." In this dramatic abruptness there is a notable contrast. Each of the outward privileges in Paul's catalog had at one time been a distinct and separate gain, individual items of profit. Now—they are all one big bundle of loss; loss because they are useless. Everything is rubbish compared to gaining Christ. Righteousness which is from the law is illusory, short-lived; now we have it, now we don't. It is dependent upon our efforts at meeting obligations, keeping laws, doing right. But the righteousness of God is conferred upon us by God in response to our faith in Jesus Christ.

Too many of us Christians have yet to appropriate this freedom-bringing, wing-giving truth. We keep one foot in the law domain where "doing" prevails, hoping that our doing will lead to our being righteous. We forget that we do not strive to live by the Spirit in order to be in the Spirit. It is the reverse. Because we are in the Spirit we live by the Spirit. And because we have been conferred the righteousness of God, we do deeds of righteousness. We do righteous works not to get in right relationship with God, but because He has already justified us. We are in right relationship with Him by faith. Our righteousness is that which is through faith in Christ.

That I May Know Him

Phrase is piled upon phrase to underscore knowing Christ as the core of what really matters: "… these I have counted loss for Christ" (Php_3:7); "… the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Php_3:8); "be found in Him" (v. Php_3:9); "that I may know Him" (Php_3:10).

What does this mean, this most crucial of all matters—knowing Christ? Verse Php_3:10 answers the question.

1. The power of His Resurrection. Paul is talking about now. To know Christ is to have His Resurrection power now. At conversion, when we repent and make a faith commitment to Christ, we are united with Christ. God does something which we accept by faith. Once accepted, this becomes a fact of experience. We must now come to know Him in whom we now live.

Suffering, death, and Resurrection tell the story of Jesus' life. But knowing Christ, as we are privileged to do, is not knowing His suffering, death, and Resurrection as episodes in the gospel. Rather, it is knowing these dimensions of Christ's life as present and active forces in our lives. So, it is not by chance Paul began with "the power of His Resurrection." We must be convinced of Christ's Resurrection and rise to the new life of God's new creation (2Co_5:17; Col_3:1) before we can learn the secret of Christ's suffering, and be conformed to His death.

The power of His Resurrection—wow! We can know it. Here is a hint of it: Artur Rubinstein, even at eighty, reached greater heights than he had known in his long career as a peerless artist. In an interview he was asked how, after all the long years of perfection, he still kept his interpretations fresh and inspiring. Rubinstein answered, "Every day I am a new man and every occasion is a new moment for me. When I play, it is no longer I but a secret power takes over."

If that is true of a great artist, as certainly it is, it should be even more so for a Christian who knows the power of Christ's Resurrection.

2. The fellowship of His suffering. It is a harsh, hard, difficult, demanding, but essential truth. We do not know Christ completely until we know Him in the fellowship of His suffering.

Go Out in Joy is the moving story of Nina Hermann, a chaplain at a children's hospital. She wrestled, as any sensitive person exposed to the daily suffering of children would, with intellectual problems, questioning how this suffering could be balanced out with a good God. She could keep that question in a quiet corner of her mind as she did her daily work in the hospital, expressing concern and compassion for those who were suffering. But when the day was over and she was at home at night, the question would stir again and clamor for attention: "Where is God in all this?"

One cold night, alone in her apartment reading a book by a cozy fire, with one part of her mind she was struggling with the problem when the phone rang. A mother of a former patient, who had just readmitted her daughter to the hospital in an emergency, was calling, insisting that Nina Hermann come to the hospital at once. Nina had gone through this with the family before and there had been many false alarms. She didn't want to go. It was cold, the fire and comfort of the apartment were enticing.

But she said yes, headed out through the snow walking to the hospital, feeling very ambivalent about it all, yet dimly sensing some responsibility and still plagued by the problem of suffering and the goodness of God.

It was a false alarm. When she arrived at the hospital the child was all right. Instead of returning home immediately, she sat down for a talk with the mother. In that conversation it happened—the Cross and Christ's suffering finally hit home, meaning clicked, and it all made sense. It made sense to the mother also, and as a result of that conversation the mother received new hope and new courage for her own ordeal.

Nina Hermann wrote of that discovery: "I had read about God and Jesus Christ participating in the human experience, participating in suffering, knowing rejection, knowing aloneness and pain and fear, knowing anger, even anger at God. I had read it, but it had never been a revelation. Until now."

And that's the significant point of her story. She had received this revelation, by following her conscience, in doing what she determined to be her duty. "Reading about these problems is vital, but alone it is not enough," she said. "Meditation on written words is good, but alone it is not enough. Do when you don't want to do. Go when you don't want to go. Plod through the snow. Wrestle with the cold and wind. Go when you don't want to go. And when you least expect, you may glimpse through an open door a revelation."

The fellowship of suffering has special meaning for our life of prayer. Accepting the fact that we are raised to newness of life with Christ, we celebrate this liberating power of the Resurrection through praise and thanksgiving. To our prayers of rejoicing gratitude, we also link intercession for all those who suffer, who have not experienced wholeness through forgiveness and healing. Intercession is a difficult work. Somehow—and who can tell us how?—our task is to cultivate awareness and become so sensitive to the suffering of others that in prayer, and to the degree possible in our action, we take upon ourselves their suffering.

Prayer, especially intercession, is an expression of our greatest love. Instead of keeping pain away from us, loving prayer leads us into the suffering of God and of others. The deeper our love of God, the deeper our love of others. The deeper our love, the more we will suffer. The more we suffer, the more we will pray.

Our suffering and the suffering of others is embraced by the compassionate Christ. In a way that we may never fully understand, our intercession, through identity with suffering, becomes a channel of Christ's liberating power.

3. Being conformed to His death. This was another recurring theme for Paul: "I have been crucified with Christ" (Gal_2:20). "You have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col_3:3).

Paul means more than knowing Christ through the fellowship of His suffering. The Christian is to die to the old order (Rom_6:5; Gal_6:14), must pass through death to life, must yield his life to a process of letting the old die that the new man be born. (See commentary on Gal_5:16-26 and Col_3:5-17).

There is a sense in which knowing Christ in the power of His Resurrection and being conformed to His death are one dynamic process. In His death and Resurrection the old humanity (the old Adam) came to an end and a new humanity began (2Co_5:14-17). In the representative dying and rising of Christ, I pass through the death and Resurrection of the old Adam (Rom_6:4-8; Eph_2:4-6; Col_3:1-4). However, the implication of this must be lived out. I must consider myself dead to sin and alive to God (Rom_6:11). I must allow the Spirit to renew my inner nature and transform me from stage to stage into the likeness of Christ (2Co_3:18; 2Co_4:16; Eph_3:14-21).

4. Resurrection from the dead. Paul doesn't stop with what really matters in this life. Knowing Christ means that life goes on beyond death. An actual experience which becomes a powerful parable is our best commentary on this mountain-peak truth. Harry Pritchett, Jr. tells the story:

Once upon a time I had a young friend named Philip. Philip lived in a nearby city, and Philip was born a mongoloid. He was a pleasant child—happy, it seemed—but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children.

Philip went to Sunday School. And his teacher, also, was a friend of mine. My Sunday School teacher friend taught the third grade at a Methodist Church. Philip was in his class, as well as nine other eight-year-old boys and girls.

My Sunday School teacher friend is a very creative teacher. Most of you know eight-year-olds. And Philip, with his differences, was not readily accepted as a member of this third grade Sunday School class. But my friend was a good teacher, and he had helped facilitate a good group of eight-year-old children. They learned and they laughed and they played together. And they really cared about each other—even though, as you know, eight-year-olds don't say that they care about each other out loud very often. But my teacher friend could see it. He knew it. He also knew that Philip was not really a part of that group of children. Philip, of course, did not choose nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was just the way things were.
My Sunday School teacher friend had a marvelous design for his class on the Sunday after Easter last year. You know those things panty hose come in—the containers look like great big eggs. My friend had collected ten of these to use on that Sunday. The children loved it when he brought them into the room. Each child was to get a great big egg. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assigned task was for each child to go outside on the church grounds and to find a symbol for new life, put it in the egg (the old panty hose containers), and bring it back to the classroom. They would then mix them all up, and then all open and share their new life symbols and surprises together one by one.

Well, they did this, and it was glorious. And it was confusing. And it was wild. They ran all around, gathered their symbols, and returned to the classroom. They put all the big eggs on a table, and then my teacher friend began to open them. All the children were standing around the table.

He opened one, and there was a flower, and they oohed and aahed.
He opened another, and there was a little butterfly. "Beautiful," the girls all said, since it is very hard for 8-year-old boys to say "beautiful."

He opened another, and there was a rock. And as third graders will, some laughed, and some said, "That's crazy! How's a rock supposed to be like new life?" But the smart little boy whose egg they were speaking of spoke up. He said, "That's mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers, and buds, and leaves, and butterflies, and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that's new life."

The teacher opened the next one, and there was nothing there. The other children, as 8-year-olds will, said, "That's not fair—that's stupid!—somebody didn't do right."
About that time my teacher friend felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down and Philip was standing beside him.

"It's mine," Philip said. "It's mine." and the children said, "You don't ever do things right, Philip. There's nothing there!"

"I did so do it," Philip said, "I did do it. It's empty—the tomb is empty!"
The class was silent, a very full silence. And for you people who don't believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day last spring. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year-old children. They took him in. He entered. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

Philip died last summer. His family had known since the time that he was born that he wouldn't live out a full life span. Many other things had been wrong with his tiny little body. And so, late last July, with an infection that most normal children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died. The mystery simply enveloped him completely.

He was buried from that church. And on that day at that funeral nine eight-year-old children marched right up to that altar—not with flowers to cover the stark reality of death. Nine eight-year-olds, with their Sunday School teacher, marched right up to that altar, and lay on it an empty egg—an empty, old discarded holder of panty hose.

"If, by any means, I may attain to the Resurrection from the dead" (Php_3:11). Paul is not harboring or expressing doubt about his eternal destiny. He uses this hypothetical form to put his passionate longing into brilliant light. From start to finish, Paul could never forget that salvation, which includes Resurrection from the dead, is a gift of God and we dare not presume on divine mercy. "Attain" does not mean self-achievement, but gift, gift from God. Only those for whose earthly lives Resurrection would be an appropriate crowning climax would attain. And such ones are those who know Christ, the power of His Resurrection, the fellowship of His suffering, and conformity to His death.



Philippians 3:12-14

The Prize of the High Calling

What really matters, says Paul, is the prize of the high calling of God. The price of a vital faith is a continuous struggle. The quest is perennial. We were created by God to grow; we were recreated by Christ to grow. Not only to grow, but to become our whole selves—the new creation we are in Christ Jesus. So Paul sets it out in this word about pressing toward the goal for the prize of the high calling. The pattern is clear.

Recognize Who and Where You are

Verse Php_3:12 is one of those hinge verses in Paul's thought to which we need to return and ponder often. It comes in the text with striking abruptness. The apostle has passionately set before us what really matters, the guiding purpose of his life and that of all Christians. The commanding motive of knowing Christ and all that means has led to his scathing renunciation of everything less worthy. His word now is an explosive disclaimer: "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected."

It is obvious that Paul does not want his readers to misunderstand what he has just said, for of all people, Paul was aware of how far below the possible glory God had in store for all Christians he was. There was perhaps another equally important reason for this disclaimer. There were among his readers those who maintained that they themselves had arrived at perfection. Some scholars contend that in this verse, and in Php_4:12, Paul used technical terms drawn from the vocabulary of the Greek mystery cults. He makes this disclaimer because a group in the church regarded their baptism as initiation into a state of perfection to which nothing needed to be added.

Whatever the situation, whether Paul was being careful to state his own case, or was addressing a specific problem in Philippi, the message for us is clear. The Christian life is a journey, a process of growth in which we seek to "lay hold" of the fullness of that which has been given us, "that for which I was also laid hold of by Christ." We are Christians; we must now become what we are. We have been saved; now we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

We are caught in tension. The demand is that we live in the now as those who have "died with Christ" to sin, yet are still sinners. We have been reckoned by God as righteous and He has accepted us by our faith in Christ. Yet we are in fact unrighteous and any claim we make to righteousness is "as filthy rags." That is the tension. But it is creative tension. We are not caught in impersonal forces to which we are victims. We are drawn by the powerful impulsion of a personal relationship with Christ. He has already made us His own. The impulsion of this love makes it necessary for us to be—and to become—what we are: new persons in Christ.

Every day, then, we begin where we are—claiming boldly and confidently that Christ has made us new creatures, but confessing humbly that we have not become in fullness what Christ wants us to be.

There are two frames of reference out of which we tend to operate, either of which is debilitating to our Christian growth and service. One is a false humility that refuses to name and claim our gifts. The second is a confidence that claims too much for ourselves and is not dependent enough on the power of Christ. In verse Php_3:12 Paul calls for a balance between these two. We make no claim to perfection, but we have an unshakable confidence that Christ Jesus has made us His own.

We walk the tightrope of naming and claiming our gifts and struggling against the deep hold pride has on our hearts, and the tendency to fall into self-justification.

Leave the Past Behind

Acknowledging who and where we are is necessary at every step along the way to the prize of the high calling. Likewise, every day we must leave the past behind. In the last chapter I quoted Dag Hammarskjøld. From the time of saying yes to the call, he was certain that existence had meaning, and this life, in self-surrender, had a goal. He concluded that witness by saying, "From that moment I have known what it means 'not to look back,' and 'to have no thought for the morrow.'"

The Christian, drawn by the powerful impulsion of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, is uniquely equipped to leave the past behind. Yet, how many of us do not. The dimension of our past that continues to drag us back, weigh us down, and make our movement stumbly at best, is our sense of failure, our guilt over past sin, our pain from past hurts. Does not this inability to leave the past behind contradict everything we confess about the healing, forgiving, redeeming power of God?

Film producer Ingmar Bergman is one person in the movie world who uses that media to express his understanding of the world, of God, and of persons. Whether we agree with him or not, he provokes us to think. In his 1978 film, The Serpent's Egg, set in Berlin in 1923, he speaks of our need for and relationship to God because of our need for forgiveness. In the film, Manuela, a displaced circus performer, goes to a church to seek some relief from a priest for the guilt she feels over her husband's suicide.

At first, the overworked priest puts her off but then, sensing the depth of her despair, he suggests they kneel and pray together. He says: "We live far away from God, so far away that no doubt he doesn't hear us when we pray to him for help. So we must help each other. We must give each other the forgiveness that a remote God denies us. I say to you that you are forgiven for your husband's death. You are no longer to blame. I beg your forgiveness for my apathy and indifference. Do you forgive me?" Manuela says softly, "Yes."

A poignant commentary, not alone on the state of the church in Germany in the 1920s, or the vitality of the priest's faith, or a descriptive word about human need for forgiveness. More is there. We cringe at the word of the priest limiting forgiveness to being operative only between humans because "a remote God denies us" that forgiveness. But how true to the reality of our practice is the priest's piercing candor? If God is not remote, and if He does not deny us the forgiveness we desperately need, why do we refuse it? "Refuse it" may be too harsh, but we certainly do not appropriate it. Thus the past is always with us, robbing us of freedom, making us heavy-hearted, preventing us from being able to use all our spiritual energy and gifts for coping with the new and moving with joy into the future.

Have a Goal

To take no thought of tomorrow does not mean that we have no aims in life, no goals toward which we are moving. It means that the focus of life is in the here and now, and our energy is expended in living to the fullest the life Christ gives us today. A part of that energy for present investment comes from the divine purpose of our life. So Paul says "I reach forward… I press toward the goal."

A minister friend, Don Shelby, recalled an incident out of the illustrious life of Winston Churchill which underscores the need for a goal. It was in the critical days of World War II, and England faced the need for increased coal production.

The Prime Minister called a meeting of labor leaders to give them the facts and enlist their support in his inimitable way of using imagination and power oratory. He closed his presentation by picturing in their minds a parade which would surely be held in Picadilly Circus after the war was over. There would come the men of the Royal Navy whom everyone would know had kept the vital sea lanes open. There would pass the Army who had come home from Dunkirk and then gone on to defeat Rommel in Africa and fight under Montgomery in Berlin. There would come the Air Force who had driven the Luftwaffe out of the sky and beat it at its own game. Then, he said, last of all, there would come a great host of sweat-stained, soot-streaked miners. Someone would cry out from the crowd, "Where were you?" And from ten thousand throats would come the answer: "We were deep in the earth with our faces against the coal." Winston Churchill sat down to a wildly cheering throng, many with tears running down their cheeks.

The man at the top had shown the power of a purpose, the need for a goal, how everyone working together would mean victory.

Concentrate on the Path

There is no question about the power of an ideal, the energy that is produced by a driving passion, and the likelihood of our achieving what we set our hearts on. How important it is that we choose our goals wisely. That suggests another piece in the pattern of what really matters as we seek the prize of the high calling of God: concentrate on the path, run the race with your eyes on the course and your attention to your present steps.

Earlier we discussed forgetting the past. Another facet to that theme deserves noting here. There is debate about whether Paul is talking about his pre-Christian days, or specifically about his life since the Damascus Road, or his whole life. It is clear, since his metaphor is that of a foot race, that he is not talking about his pre-Christian life. Nor is he referring alone to past failures. In this entire passage one thing he is combatting is self-satisfaction. Therefore included in what must be left behind are our achievements as well as our failures.

In the race of life we concentrate on the path and we forget as we run. We may store our achievements in our memory, but we do not allow them to slow us in our present running. We may take them from our memory storehouse on occasion, but we do so not to rest on our laurels, but to be energized for the race ahead.

I had the exhilarating joy of seeing Eric Heiden win two of his five gold medals in ice skating at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980. I have never witnessed anything quite like it. Through his skin-tight gold suit, one could see the rippling movement of the muscles, especially in his legs, as he made his laps before me, straining and stretching toward the final mark. His posture was that of perfect balance, gliding swiftly over the ice, and it was as though he was so eager to reach his final goal that he was trying to touch it from his present position. Past laps did not matter. The laps that remained and the goal ahead was everything.

And don't forget the goal of the Christian's race: "the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." This does not mean the calls that come to us all along the way, the summons to duty here, and unselfish service there. It is the ultimate bliss to which God summons us. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews refers to it as a "heavenly" call (Heb_3:1), and Paul writes to the Thessalonians of "the God who called you to His own realm and glory." It was the call that came to Paul on the Damascus Road and that call never ceased to summon him onward.



Philippians 3:15-16

Conduct Consistent with Commitment

Paul calls now for conduct consistent with commitment, for a congruence between the level of spirituality we have attained and the practical way we daily live: "To the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind."

The essential discipline of Christian growth is learning to say yes to Christ in every area of our lives every day. This is the way we become the new creations we are in Christ. The Bible makes the point over and over again—that our consent is necessary for Christ to act transformingly in our lives. Christ does not force Himself upon us. He comes to us and abides in us as we say yes to Him. He doesn't take command against our will. He works in us according to our obedient response to Him. And that response must be new and fresh every day. New occasions demand new duties. New situations call for new responses.

John Wesley was turned around by Christ in the experience at Aldersgate, and he could say, "I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust Christ, trust Him for my salvation. Eight months later this is what he wrote in his Journal:

My friends affirm I am mad, because I said I was not a Christian a year ago. I affirm that I am not a Christian now… . For a Christian is one who has … love, peace, joy. But these I do not have. Though I have given, and do give, all my goods to feed the poor, I am not a Christian. Though I have endured hardship, though I have in all things denied myself and taken up the cross, I am not a Christian. My works are nothing; I have not the fruits of Christ. Though I have constantly used all the means of grace for 20 years, I am not a Christian.

We may have difficulty with the extreme way Mr. Wesley makes the case, and the way he uses the word "Christian," but we must not miss the point of his turmoil. He is wrestling with himself, and agonizing as Paul did in Romans. "I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it" (Rom_7:18, RSV).

No question about it—Wesley was a Christian. He had been laid hold of by Christ. But, like Paul, he would make no claim to have "attained" the fullness of what he knew was his by gift and promise. That must be the Christian's stance—to be aware of what is yet lacking in our being perfected, and to press on to "lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me."

We may state this truth in another way, which applies to each of us, no matter where we are on our journey. Fidelity to truth already attained is a condition of receiving further and fuller truth. None of us are without some measure of revelation and understanding, none of us are bereft of truth, all are at some level of maturity—let us be true to that.

This leads to Paul's closing word in this section, which is a word of judgment.



Philippians 3:17-19


In this passage Paul does that which is always dangerous to do—designating oneself as an example. Those who would do this become vulnerable, setting themselves up for failure. One has to be either extremely arrogant, or transparently humble to project oneself as a model. The world is full of the arrogant who send the message, "I have arrived; you would do well to follow me." Modern advertising uses that scheme. Superstars and the supersuccessful are presented as models, the glamorous and luring lie being that if we use the commodity these persons use we will be like them.

Rarely does a call to imitate come from the humble. Thus this is a rare passage. Paul has confessed his limitation: "I have not attained—I am not perfect." And here his deep feelings are captured in his words, "I tell you even weeping" (Php_3:18, NEB). He is pleading for folks to follow him not in his failures and limitations, not in his achievements, but in that which really matters—being laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Not to be responsive to that, not to press on to attain the prize of the high calling of God has serious consequences. So, Paul makes an unequivocal statement about judgment, and provides a frightful description of those persons whose manner of life makes them "enemies of the Cross of Christ."

Who are they? They are those "whose god is their belly and whose glory is in their shame." "Belly" is a metaphor that suggests far more than mere gluttony. It covers all that belongs to the bodily, fleshly life of humans; also for the satisfaction of the carnal nature. But it covers even more than that. Paul uses this word as he uses the word flesh (sarx) to denote the old, earthbound humanity from which Christians have been rescued into the new humanity of Christ. It is equivalent to "the natural man" (1Co_2:14), "the old manhood" (Rom_6:6), "the first Adam" (1Co_15:47).

That this is Paul's meaning is understandable when we remember that he is talking about people who are within the church of Christ. That makes the pronouncement of judgment even more searing. Within the church there are those whose fate is destruction because they turn their freedom into a perverted liberty; their primary interest is selfish—self-serving, self-seeking, and self-justifying. Their minds are still "set on earthly things."

Do not mistake the meaning of this. Paul is not advocating an otherworldly religion. He is stressing the fact that some Christians have simply missed it. They are still circumscribed by an earthbound life, refusing to be open to the gracious and transforming influences of heaven. By failing to accept the once and for all death of the old life, they disqualify themselves for the new. Their fate is destruction.

But such does not have to be the case. Paul's compelling passion to know Christ and the power of His Resurrection in this life, has added to it the invincible confidence of the coming of our Lord who will complete His saving work by transforming "our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body" (Php_3:21). In that confidence we can stand fast as "alien residents," and "rejoice in the Lord always" (Php_4:4).

That is the theme of the next chapter.


Philippians 3:20-21

Citizens of Heaven

Scripture Outline

  1. In the Kingdom Now (Php. 3:20-4:3)
  2. Living While You Wait (Php_4:4-7)
  3. You are What You Think (Php_4:8-9)

The Sufficiency of Christ and the Support of His People (Php_4:10-23)

We are citizens of heaven. That is our uniqueness as Christians. Those who set their minds on earthly things are enemies of the Cross of Christ.

We really live in the tension of a dual citizenship. In citizenship language, in the United States we refer to some people living within our bounds as "resident aliens," persons who belong by birth to another country, but are currently choosing to live here. That is a descriptive designation for Christians. We are citizens of heaven, "resident aliens" of earth.

Two hours ago, as I worked on this particular passage, I had a telephone conversation with a young musician. Three years ago she had a dramatic conversion, a Damascus Road type. Rarely have I seen the power of Christ demonstrated in the life of a person in such a radical, transforming way. She was brought out of a debauched life of drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, perverted values. The change was incredible. Her sense of being pardoned and cleansed was exhilarating and overflowing. She was a clear picture of the twice born.

She was a songwriter and was on the way to the top. Her closest circle of friends were already "at the top." So overwhelmed was she by this experience, so deeply grateful for what God had done for her, she committed all her talents and energy to writing gospel music. Life has been tough. She was in deep depression this morning when she called, and her confession had a note of despair in it: "It's hell—this music world—cocaine, alcohol, madness for money and success. I don't know how I can make it. I want another world, Maxie. I don't want to live like the people in this world, but I'm being pulled into it. It's almost impossible to resist. I need your support and prayers."

As her conversion was dramatic, her present situation is a vivid witness to the Christian being a resident alien. We may not feel the tension as unendurably strong as she, but the tension is real and it cannot be allayed. We are forever pulled by the "high calling of God in Christ Jesus," we have been "laid hold of by Christ," and what really matters is to know Him. The only way we can live as citizens of two kingdoms without being torn apart and going to pieces is to claim the power of His Resurrection.

In the Kingdom Now

Philippi, as already stated, was a Roman colony, a miniature Rome in distant Macedonia. Many of the inhabitants of Philippi were Roman citizens, probably the aristocracy of the city. There was an intense pride in being a citizen of Rome (see Act_16:20-). We have no way of knowing how many, but certainly some of these proud Roman citizens had become Christians. Were they being accused by their compatriots of belonging to a fellowship disloyal to Rome and the Emperor?

What buckling courage and heartening comfort Paul's words provided for citizens of Rome who had become Christians. There was an emphasis on the word "our"—our citizenship is in heaven—which has meaning if Paul had some other citizenship in mind.

Though a citizen of Rome, you are in Christ's kingdom now. Because we are in that kingdom now,

We Can Live in Great Expectation

We eagerly wait for the Savior (Php_3:20). The Greek word apekdechomai, translated "wait for," denotes a waiting that is eager and intense; it means "expect anxiously." It was the favorite word to use of the expectation of the Parousia, the return of Christ. (See Rom_8:19, Rom_8:23, Rom_8:25; 1Co_1:7; Gal_5:5; Heb_9:28; 1Pe_3:20). Their expectation was a cardinal element in the life of the early church and it gave them great moral power.

In Paul, and all early Christian preaching, there was this telescopic view of history—hope centering in the return of Christ. While centered in this, Christian expectation and hope overflows into the whole of life. We hope because we believe that God is in control, and His intention is to make the kingdoms of this world the kingdom of our Lord and Christ. Reinhold Niebuhr, the great theologian, was talking to Harry Emerson Fosdick, the great preacher. Niebuhr was a pessimist; Fosdick, an optimist. They were talking about the future of civilization and agreed that there was not much light; things looked dismal and bleak. They concluded with Niebuhr saying to Fosdick, "If you will be a pessimist with me, decade by decade, I will be an optimist with you, century by century."

A good Christian philosophy of history! Because human beings exercise their freedom and use their power for evil, we are sometimes made pessimists about the present. But because God has done it time and again, and will continue to do it—take human deeds meant for evil and turn them into blessings—and because God controls the by-products of the movements of men, and always has the last word, we can be optimists about the future. The most destructive snare into which we can fall is to believe that the problems of the world are insoluble.

As those who live in the kingdom now we can live in great expectation. Also despite what the current situation is, we can Stand Fast in the Lord With the hope of the coming of the Savior, and the fact that He is able to subdue all things to Himself, we can live resolutely, with courage, in the moment. All that Paul has written in chapter 3 is a commentary on what it means to stand fast. The most conspicuous characteristic and result of standing fast is joy (Php_3:4). Here is a contemporary witness shared by Will Campbell in Brother to a Dragon Fly.

I tell you about Mrs. Tilly, a little Methodist woman from Atlanta who never weighed more than a hundred pounds in her life, who looked about eight years younger than God, who joined forces with a group of forty thousand women in the thirties and forties in what they called the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching. Later she was active in advocating the desegregation of public schools and got a lot of obscene phone calls, calling her everything but the gentle woman she was. She did not let the calls deter her. No one could intimidate her. She knew racism was evil and she knew that as a white woman she was through with it and wanted her town, her state, her country, the world to be rid of it, too. But she would not stoop to the tactics of the intimidators. She had an engineer hook a recording machine to the telephone and when persons called her late at night to spew out their venom, the answer they heard was a baritone soloist singing the Lord's Prayer. The calls soon stopped.

Of the Same Mind in the Lord

Euodia and Syntyche were obviously important and influential members of the church. Paul has concentrated on the theme of unity throughout his letter, and here he focuses on two persons who must have represented centers around which the fellowship and power of the church revolved. Paul learned about their quarreling, and pleaded for their reconciliation.

Life in the church is the expression of our life in the kingdom now. In that fellowship we must be of the same mind in the Lord.


Philippians 2:12-18

Working Out Our Salvation

Would this have been a shocking word to the Philippians?

It Is To Us:

"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Those Paul was writing


Already Christian.


What can this mean—

work out your salvation?


The Word


comes from the same Latin root word

as "SALVE,"

 An Ointment For Healing.


To Be Saved Is To

be Made Whole.


In Greek the word

is sōtēria,

meaning not only

Salvation, But Preservation.


While there is a beginning point

in our salvation experience,

  1. The Point Of repentance and justification—
  2. The Time Of our faith commitment to Jesus Christ—
  3. This Is only the beginning.


We Are To "Work Out"

our salvation, to grow into maturity, into the full stature of Christ.


Paul does not mean for

this section to be a complete dissertation of

how we work out our salvation.


In truth almost everything

Paul wrote was to that end.


In this passage,

however, these are some signal clues for us.




Sōtēria, Salvation,

involves faith

(Eph_2:8; 2Ti_3:15; 1Pe_1:9).

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 

2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 

2Ti 3:15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 


Paul's great message of

salvation was that we are

Justified By Grace Through Faith.


We Do Not Properly

understand Paul's meaning of faith

unless we know that the primary ingredients of it are

 Trust And Obedience.

(See commentary on Gal_2:15-16.)


When Paul Talked About

the Thessalonians' coming to faith (1Th_1:8), he wrote of their obedience.

1Th 1:8  For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak anything. 


In Rom_1:8 he wrote of "Your Faith" and in Rom_16:19 of "Your Obedience,"

 clearly meaning the same thing.

1Th 1:8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place Your Faith to God-ward Is Spread Abroad; so that we need not to speak anything.


Rom 16:19 For Your Obedience is come Abroad Unto All Men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. 


In Rom_1:5, He Used The

actual phrase "Obedience Of Faith,"

probably meaning "obedience which is faith."

"Do all things without complaining and disputing,"


Rom 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for Obedience To The Faith among all nations, for his name: 


Paul says in verse Php_2:14.

He is talking about the Philippians'

style of getting along with each other, to be sure.

Php 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 


But since this follows

the admonition to work out salvation with

Fear And Trembling,

it also suggests the content of what they are to do without murmuring and disputing.


They Are To Obey

to take God at His word,

to act with the conviction that

the promises of God in Christ are true.


Dag Hammarskjøld, a rare example of a modern mystic who was also a man of the world, while living his busy, productive life, bore an eloquent and challenging witness to the meaning of obedience: "I don't know who—or what—put the question, I don't know when it was put. I don't even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer yes to Someone—or Something—and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal."


This statement not only

witnesses to obedience, but to servanthood.

And The Who

who puts the question is God.


 If You Want A Biblical Example,

none is clearer than that of Mary, the mother of our Lord.

Behold, I am the

handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word (Luke_1:38, RSV).

Luke 1:38  And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.



Obedience Is The One essential to

 Working Out Our Salvation.

For Paul there was A Degree Of Obedience That

Deserves Special Note: Abandonment.


The Extravagance of His Obedience Is Almost Shocking:

"I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith" (Php_2:17).

Php 2:14 Do all things without Murmurings and Disputings


My biggest problem,

not only as it relates to how I express my obedience to Christ

But In My Basic Approach To Life,

Is An Unwillingness To Give Up Control,

To Abandon Myself

in faith to the Christ-life process.+


 When I press myself,

I have to confess that I can't believe my life is

going to be good

Unless I Can Control It,

Unless I Can Make The Plans And Dream The Dreams

and then

Work For Their Fulfillment.


I Am Not Alone In This,  and I believe

it is the source of a great deal of

Our Human Misery.


Our trust in Christ must bring us to

The Point Of Abandonment,


A Willingness To "pour out our lives,"

believing that we don't need to, nor can we,

Control The Future.


The Future Belongs To God.


It Is Easy To Miss Another Important Point

Paul is making as he talks about



We pour out our lives

"as a drink offering,"

As A Sacrifice, For The Sake Of Others.


Jewish as well as pagan sacrifices

were normally accompanied by [i]A Libation Of Wine

Num 15:5  And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb. 

Num 15:6  Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil. 

Num 15:7  And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

Num 15:8  And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD: 

Num 15:9  Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil. 

Num 15:10  And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

Num 15:11  Thus shall it be done for one bullock, or for one ram, or for a lamb, or a kid. 


Priests Not Only Poured Libations Of Wine,

But Of Blood,

thus the connection between the two in Christian liturgy.


Though Such Literal Priesthood And Sacrifice

were replaced by the once-for-all

offering of Christ,


Paul Found The Metaphor Meaningful.


As an apostle of the Gentiles,

 Paul saw himself as

The Priest Presenting to God

The Gentiles

as an acceptable offering.


He also saw himself as an offering,

A Sacrifice on Behalf of Others.


We need to recover that dimension of

The Priesthood Of All Believers


The Willingness To Offer Ourselves,

to ABANDON ourselves in

Sacrificial Ministry For Others.


Rejoicing in All Circumstances

Even Though I Am In Prison,

Paul says, being poured out as a sacrifice,

"I am glad and rejoice with you allyou also be glad and rejoice with me" (Php_2:17-18).

Php 2:17  Yea, and if I am offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all:

Php 2:18  and in the same manner do ye also joy, and rejoice with me.


This Recurring Theme Of Paul's Is

An Essential Ingredient

In Working Out Our Salvation.



Then Does Not  Mean


with which some would say;

We are to Face the Last Judgment.


The word translated fear (phobos)

does not here denote



The Face Of Danger Or Loss.


As Often In The New Testament,

It Denotes The Awe

 That Persons EXPERIENCE




With Trembling Wonder,

they are to recognize

God's Presence.


 In All Circumstances, Even In

Pain, Suffering, Loss, Death, Prison, Uncertainty, Perplexity,

the salvation process is going on for

Those Who Love And Trust The Lord.


So, Rejoicing Is The Order Of

Every Day.


A few years ago I did a film conversation with Archbishop Anthony Bloom, the Russian Orthodox who has written so helpfully about a life of prayer. When I questioned him about ordinary persons living the contemplative life in the everyday world, he used an image he said he had gotten from Evelyn Underhill. This is a marvelous picture of happy obedience, of rejoicing in all circumstances: "A Christian should be like a sheep dog. When the shepherd wants him to do something, he lies down at his feet, looks intently into the shepherd's eyes, and listens without budging until he has understood the mind of his master. Then he jumps to his feet and runs to do it. And the third characteristic, which is not less important: at no moment does the dog stop wagging its tail."


Philippians 2:19-30

The Fellowship of Servants


    1. Rom_12:13  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
    2. 1Ti_3:2  A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
    3. Tit_1:8  But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
    4. 1Pe_4:9  Use hospitality one to another without grudging.


    1. Act_5:34  Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
    2. Gal_2:2  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
    3. Php_2:7  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
    4. Php_2:29  Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation:


  1. 2Co_1:12  For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
  2. 2Th_1:10  When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
  3. 2Ti_1:8  Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
  4. Heb_3:5  And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
  5. Heb_11:5  By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.


This section is A Great Description Of

The Fellowship of Servants.


Paul talks specifically about sending

Timothy To The Philippians.


 He knows that Timothy

"will sincerely care for your state" (Php_2:20).

Php 2:20 For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state. 


He Mentioned, At Length,


 "my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need" (Php_2:25).

Php 2:25 But I counted it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need; 


 For the work of Christ,

Epaphroditus "came close to death, not regarding his life" (Php_2:30).


Php 2:30 Because For The Work Of Christ he came nigh unto death, hazarding his life to supply that which was lacking in your service toward me. 

Philippians 2:19

But I trust in the Lord Jesus –

He is governor and disposer of all events,

being above all principality and power;

and I humbly confide in his power and goodness that

I shall be a little longer spared to visit you again,

Php_2:24, and to be able to send Timothy shortly to you.

When I know your state

By the correct information which I shall receive from Timothy.


Philippians 2:20

For I have no man like-minded –

None of all my fellow helpers in the Gospel have the same zeal and affectionate concern for your prosperity in every respect as he has. He is ισοψυχος· of the same soul; a man after my own heart.


Philippians 2:21

For all seek their own –

This must relate to the persons who

preached Christ even of envy and strife, Php_1:15;

these must be very careless whether souls were

saved or not by such preaching;

and even those who preached the Gospel out of good will

 might not be fit for such an embassy as this,

which required many sacrifices,

and consequently much love and zeal to be able to make them.


Philippians 2:22

Ye know the proof of him, that, as a son with the father,  he hath served with me –

The Philippians had full proof of the affectionate attachment of Timothy to Paul,

for he had labored with him there,

as we learn from Act_16:1-3; Act_17:14;

and we find from what is said here that

Timothy was not a servant to the apostle,

but that he had served with him.

They both labored together in

the word and doctrine;

for apostles and Christian bishops, in those times,

labored as hard as their deacons.

There were no sinecures; everyone was a laborer, every laborer had his work, and every workman had his wages.

Philippians 2:23

How it will go with me

The apostle was now in captivity; his trial appears to have been approaching, and of its issue he was doubtful;

though he seems to have had a general persuasion that he should be spared, see Php_2:19, Php_2:24.


Philippians 2:25

Epaphroditus, my brother, etc - Here is a very high character of this minister of Christ; he was,

1. A brother - one of the Christian family; a thorough convert to God, without which he could not have been a preacher of the Gospel.

2. He was a companion in labor; he labored, and labored in union with the apostle in this great work.

3. He was a fellow soldier; the work was a work of difficulty and danger, they were obliged to maintain a continual warfare, fighting against the world, the devil, and the flesh.

4. He was their apostle - a man whom God had honored with apostolical gifts, apostolical graces, and apostolical fruits; and,

5. He was an affectionate friend to the apostle; knew his soul in adversity, acknowledged him in prison, and contributed to his comfort and support.


Philippians 2:26

Ye had heard that he had been sick - “In this passage,” says Dr. Paley, “no intimation is given that the recovery of Epaphroditus was miraculous, it is plainly spoken of as a natural event.

This instance, together with that in the Second Epistle to Timothy, Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick, affords a proof that the power of performing cures, and, by parity of reason, of working other miracles, was a power which only visited the apostles occasionally, and did not at all depend upon their own will.

Paul undoubtedly would have healed Epaphroditus if he could; nor would he have left Trophimus at Miletum sick, had the power of working cures awaited his disposal.

Had this epistle been a forgery, forgery on this occasion would not have spared a miracle; much less would it have introduced St. Paul professing the utmost anxiety for the safety of his friend, yet acknowledging himself unable to help him, which he does almost expressly in the case of Trophimus,

Him have I left sick; and virtually in the passage before us, in which he felicitates himself on the recovery of Epaphroditus in terms which almost exclude the supposition of any supernatural means being used to effect it.

 This is a reverse which nothing but truth would have imposed.” Horae Paulinae, page 234.

Philippians 2:27

Lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow - The sorrows of his death, added to the sorrow he endured on account of his sickness; or he may refer to his own state of affliction, being imprisoned and maltreated.

Philippians 2:28

The more carefully - Σπουδαιοτερως· With the more haste or dispatch; because, having suffered so much on account of his apprehended death, they could not be too soon comforted by seeing him alive and restored.

Philippians 2:29

Receive him therefore in the Lord - For the Lord’s sake receive him, and as the Lord’s servant; and hold such zealous, disinterested, and holy preachers in reputation - honor those whom ye perceive God hath honored.

Philippians 2:30

For the work of Christ - Preaching the Gospel, and ministering to the distressed.

He was nigh unto death - Having labored far beyond his strength.

Not regarding his life - Instead of παραβουλευσαμενος τῃ ψυχῃ, not regarding his life, παραβολευσαμενος, risking his life, is the reading of ABDEFG, and is received by Griesbach into the text. His frequent and intense preaching, and labouring to supply the apostle’s wants, appear to have brought him nigh to the gates of death.

The humiliation and exaltation of Christ are subjects which we cannot contemplate too frequently, and in which we cannot be too deeply instructed.

1. God destroys opposites by opposites: through pride and self-confidence man fell, and it required the humiliation of Christ to destroy that pride and self-confidence, and to raise him from his fall. There must be an indescribable malignity in sin, when it required the deepest abasement of the highest Being to remove and destroy it. The humiliation and passion of Christ were not accidental, they were absolutely necessary; and had they not been necessary, they had not taken place. Sinner, behold what it cost the Son of God to save thee! And wilt thou, after considering this, imagine that sin is a small thing? Without the humiliation and sacrifice of Christ, even thy soul could not be saved. Slight not, therefore, the mercies of thy God, by underrating the guilt of thy transgressions and the malignity of thy sin!

2. As we cannot contemplate the humiliation and death of Christ without considering it a sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and atonement for sin, and for the sin of the whole world; so we cannot contemplate his unlimited power and glory, in his state of exaltation, without being convinced that he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God through him. What can withstand the merit of his blood? What can resist the energy of his omnipotence? Can the power of sin? - its infection? -its malignity? No! He can as easily say to an impure heart, Be thou clean, and it shall be clean; as he could to the leper, Be thou clean, and immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Reader, have faith in Him; for all things are possible to him that believeth.

3. There are many ungodly men in the world who deny the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit, and affect to ridicule those who profess to have received what they know Christ has purchased and God has promised, and which, in virtue of this, they have claimed by faith; because, say these mockers, “If you had the Spirit of God, you could work miracles: show us a miracle, and we will believe you to be inspired.” Will these persons assert that St. Paul had not God’s Spirit when he could neither heal himself, nor restore his friends and fellow helpers from apparent death? What then doth their arguing prove? Silly men, of shallow minds!



Some years ago Alexander Irvine

wrote a novel entitled My Lady of the Chimney Corner.

In it there was the

incident in which "the lady" went to comfort a neighbor whose boy lay dead.

As gently as falls an

 autumn leaf, she laid her hand on Eliza's head:

"Ah, woman, God isn't a printed book to be carried aroun' by a man in fine clothes, nor a cross danglin' at the watch chain of a priest. God takes a hand wherever he can find it, and just does what he likes with it. Sometimes he takes a Bishop's hand and lays it on a child's head in benediction, and then he takes the hand of a doctor to relieve pain, the hand of a mother to guide a child, and sometimes he takes the hand of a poor old craither like me to give comfort to a neighbor. But they're all hands touched by His Spirit, and His Spirit is everywhere lukin' for hands to use."


That Is The Fellowship Of Servants—

those who have in them the mind of Christ

who emptied Himself, and became a servant.


This Is What The Christian

faith does for us:

  1. It Leads Us out of ourselves,
  2. Freeing Us from ourselves,
  3. Binding Us to Christ and to our brothers and sisters.


Elaborate instructions for the drink offering are found in Numbers 15. There, the Israelites were commanded to offer a libation of wine with all burnt offerings and “sacrifices,” the latter being a common term for the peace offering (15:8; cf. 1 Sam. 9:12-13; 1 Ki. 8:62-63).


First, A Libation was required for all burnt offerings and peace offerings, whether they were offered to “fulfill a vow, or as a freewill offering, or in your appointed times” (v. 3).

Second, It Might Seem From these verses that libations were not offered with sin or trespass offerings. Numbers 28:15, however, states that the sin offering included a libation. Every bloody sacrifice was to be accompanied by grain and wine offerings.

Num 15:5  And The Fourth Part Of An Hin Of Wine For A Drink Offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb. 

Num 15:6  Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil. 

Num 15:7  And For A Drink Offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

Num 15:8  And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD: 

Num 15:9  Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil. 

Num 15:10  And Thou Shalt Bring For A Drink Offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. 

Num 15:11  Thus shall it be done for one bullock, or for one ram, or for a lamb, or a kid. 

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