Philippians 1 - The Biblical Illustrator

Bible Comments
  • Philippians 1:25 open_in_new

    Having this confidence--This “I know” of the apostle has something like its parallel in that of Luther, when his friend and true yoke fellow, Melancthon, lay at the point of death.

    The reformer, it is said, after earnest prayer approached the sick bed, and uttered these prophetic words, “Cheer up, Philip; you are not going to die.” Luther was in no sense prophesying, but he had been praying; and in answer to his prayer the conviction was irresistibly borne in upon his mind and heart, that his colleague, for whom so much work was waiting, would yet live to do it. What, then, of personal conviction Luther asserted about another, Paul here asserts about himself. We thus see that blended humility and trustfulness, more especially in strongly emotional natures, can dare sometimes to use the bold language of assured conviction even in regard to issues which are to us uncertain, for they are with God alone. But it is to be noticed that this language never can be used when merely personal or private ends are in view. When Paul said “I know” in this case, he was indeed alluding to his own future, but he was contemplating it in relation not to his own individual interests, but solely to his friends’ “progress and joy in the faith,”--their advancement in the inner life through strengthening faith, and their joy, as overflowing out of that faith, in their outward life of Christian service. All this would be theirs by his presence restored to them for a time, more than by any letter, however tender, he could write to them. (J. Hutchison, D. D.)

  • Philippians 1:27-30 open_in_new

    Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ

    A call to a four-fold manifestation of spiritual life

    I. To holiness (Philippians 1:27). As if he had said, I have one dominating wish in reference to you.

    1. It is well to know what God’s princes wish for us. The noblest desire one man can cherish for another is that he may be like Jesus.

    2. There is but one ideal life in the Church. But here is a difficulty: how can the lowest copy the highest? Would it not have been wiser to have set forth a man who excelled in one moral feature, and to have said, “Transcribe that,” and so on until all the graces had been gradually acquired? Is not the setting forth of absolute perfection exorbitant and demanding too much from the helpless sinner? Let us see. What does moral perfection begin in? It begins in the disposition, the will, the heart. If you are urged to escape from polar winter to tropical summer, it is not meant that the journey is to be accomplished at a stride, but step by step. When a child is required to be perfect as a musician it is not intended that in one day his uncrafty fingers should liberate the angel strains. So with the growth of the acorn into the oak. And so when our Saviour tells us to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect He means that we are to grow in grace. In all our growing and striving Christ Himself is with us, and His grace is all-sufficient.

    II. To unanimity (Philippians 1:27). This is not monotony. The root of true unity is oneness in the love and service of Christ. Christendom is in reality one, though apparently many. The coat is of many colours, the heart is one. This is particularly seen in the time of threatened danger. The armies of defence have never come from any particular section of the Church. How illogical the decision to have nothing to do with religion because the Church is divided. There are so many styles of building, and so many modifications of those styles, some Doric, others classic--are people so perplexed with these varieties as to renounce architecture altogether and resolved to reside in the open air? Try the same with clothing, patriotism, business. Do men give up commerce because some tradesmen are insolvent? Do you give up housekeeping because some chimneys smoke?

    III. To courage (Philippians 1:28). Timidity is a symptom of moral feebleness, an impediment in the path of moral progress. Timidity on the part of one may dishearten the courage of a multitude. It arises from distrust in God. How many a man of noble powers and enlarged culture, for want of strength in a crisis, the courage to utter the decisive word, fails and trembles, and becomes the prey of the mean.

    IV. Fearlessness in the strife is to be associated with magnanimity in endurance (Philippians 1:29-30). The strong in heart are called to suffer. Suffering is an education, a means of grace. Think of the hidden and silent heroism that is going on day by day. How many a man otherwise mighty fails in suffering! (J. Parker, D. D.)

    Christian citizenship

    There was one drawback to the apostle’s delight in thinking of the Philippians. It was not doctrinal unsoundness, or denial of his authority, but the spirit of social rivalry and partizanship. This he hints at by the recurrence of the word “all” in the former part of this chapter, and he now deals with it in a most delicate but effective way. He shows, in a manner which they as Roman citizens were quick to understand, the leading duties of gospel citizenship and their enforcing motives.

    I. The duties of this Christian citizenship.

    1. Stand firmly by the charter of your citizenship--the gospel--all of you, all together. Be a compact body. The apostle puts stress upon the Christian spirit as the outcome of the Christian faith, and does not dream, like some recent men, that the one can exist apart from the other.

    2. Be unitedly zealous for the common faith. Zeal for the truth is not only to impel them to stand by the truth, but to make it known. There is a zeal which begins and ends with self, or which will show itself in its own way only, and a zeal which spends itself not so much against the common foe as against those of their own party who differ in minor things. What the apostle commends is a right kind of zeal rightly directed.

    3. Be bold in facing your foe. The opposition was formidable--Jews and Gentiles singly and combined; the attack was likely to be sudden.

    II. The motives by which they are enforced.

    1. An attention to these duties attests their true apprehension and enjoyment of Christianity itself (Philippians 2:1).

    2. The power of Divine love.

    3. Obedience to those duties will bear witness to the reality of their communion with God.

    4. It is also thus a true testimony to the compassion and tenderness which Christ alone puts into men’s hearts.

    5. Doing thus you will make my cup of gladness run over. (J. J. Goadby.)

    Citizens of heaven

    The meaning is, Play the citizen in a manner worthy of the gospel. Paul does not mean, of course, Discharge your civic duties as Christian men, though some Christian Englishmen need that reminder; but their city was the heavenly Jerusalem.

    I. Keep fresh the sense of belonging to the mother city. Paul was writing from Rome, where he might see how the consciousness of being a Roman gave dignity to a man. He would kindle a similar feeling in Christians.

    1. We belong to another polity than that with which we are connected by the bonds of sense.

    2. Therefore it is a great part of Christian discipline to keep a vivid consciousness that there is an unseen order of things. The future life is present to an innumerable company.

    3. There is a present connection between all Christians and the heavenly city. The life of Christian men on earth and in heaven is fundamentally the same; in principle, motive, taste, aim, etc. As Philippi was to Rome, so is earth to heaven, a colony on the outskirts of the empire, ringed round by barbarians, and separated by seas, but keeping open its communications, and one in citizenship.

    4. Our true habitat is elsewhere; so let us set our affections on things above. The descendants of the original settlers in our colonies talk still of coming to England as going “home,” though they were born in Australia and have lived there all their lives.

    5. How need that feeling of detachment from the present sadden our spirits or weaken our interest in things around us? To recognize our separation from the order of things in which we “move” because we “have our being” in that majestic unseen order makes life great, not small.

    II. Live by the laws of the city.

    1. The Philippian colonists were governed by the code of Rome. They owed no obedience to the law of the province of Macedonia. So Christian men are not to be governed by maxims and rules of conduct which prevail in the province, but from the capital.

    2. The gospel is not merely to be believed, but to be obeyed. Like some of the ancient municipal charters, the grant of privileges and proclamation of freedom is also the sovereign code which imposes duties and shapes life. A gospel of laziness and mere exemption from hell is not Paul’s gospel.

    3. That law is all-sufficient. In Christ we have the realized ideal, the flawless example, and instead of a thousand precepts, all duty is resolved into one--be like Christ.

    4. Live worthy of the gospel, then. How grand the unity and simplicity thus breathed into our duties.

    5. Such an all-comprehensive precept is not a mere toothless generality. Let a man try honestly to shape his life by it, and he will find soon enough how close it grips him. The tiny round of the dewdrop is shaped by the same laws which mould the giant planet.

    6. It is an exclusive commandment, shutting out obedience to other codes, however common or fashionable. We are governed from home, and give no submission to provincial authorities. Never mind what people say about you, or what may be their maxims or ways. The censures or praises of men need not move us. We report to headquarters, and subordinate estimates need be nothing to us. We appeal unto Caesar.

    III. Fight for the advance of the dominions of the city.

    1. Like the armed colonies which Rome had on her frontier, who received their bits of land on condition of holding the border against the enemy, and pushing it forward a league or two, so Christian soldiers are set down to be “wardens of the marches,” and to

    (1) stand fast--maintaining our ground and repelling all assaults.

    (2) This successful resistance is to be in one spirit, inasmuch as all resistance depends on our spirits being rooted in God’s Spirit, in vital union with whom we may be knit together in a unity which shall oppose a granite breakwater to the inrushing tide of opposition.

    (3) We are to carry the war onwards, striving together for the faith of the gospel.

    (4) There is to be discipline and compact organization like that of the Praetorian guards.

    (5) The cause for which we are to fight is the faith of the gospel--either its sum and substance or the subjective act of trust in it--to unitedly contend for its growing power in our own heart and the hearts of others.

    2. Such work is ever needed, and never more than now, when a wave of unbelief seems passing over us, and when material comfort is so attractive. Close your ranks for the fight.

    IV. Be sure of victory.

    1. “Terrified” refers to a horse shying or plunging at some object. It is generally things half-seen, and mistaken for something dreadful, that makes horses shy; it is usually a half-look at adversaries and a mistaken estimate of their strength that makes Christians afraid. Go up to your fears and speak to them, and, as ghosts are said to do, they will generally fade away.

    2. Such courage is based on a sure hope. “Our citizenship is in heaven.” The outlying colony knows that the Emperor is marching to its relief. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

    Ministerial solicitude

    I. The appropriate metaphor. The Church is a city, set on a hill. The Divine mind has expended infinite treasures on it. It is a masterpiece of perfection. Its foundation is Christ.

    1. We expect to see order in a city: so there must be laws and government in the Church.

    2. There is to be beauty in a city: so all excellence should be in the Church.

    3. In a city we expect commerce; so the Church is to send her merchandise to all parts.

    4. In an imperial city we look for the residence of the sovereign, and this is the comfort of the Church--“The Lord of hosts is with us.”

    5. As it is a city, it is a place of chartered privileges--the free gifts of the reigning monarch.

    II. The general direction. What does this venerable citizen say to his fellow citizens? It is not the profession of citizenship that will avail.

    1. With regard to your principles: God gave His Son to die for you rebels; therefore you owe your lives to Him.

    2. Let your conversation be as becometh the privileges of the gospel--how varied and rich they are.

    3. Let it be as becometh the holy practice required by the gospel. “Let your light so shine,” etc.

    III. The particular enumeration.

    1. Steadfastness. I never knew a man who was always changing whose piety was deep and sincere. Be steadfast in your attachment to

    (1) your own Church;

    (2) its doctrines;

    (3) its discipline.

    2. Unity

    (1) of judgment;

    (2) of affection.

    3. Energy and activity. (T. Mortimer, M. A.)

    A minister’s desire on behalf of his people

    I. We have a duty. We are citizens of no mean city (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 12:23). What an unspeakable privilege; our duty is to act up to it (Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).

    (1) Let it be seen in your life that you are men of other principles than those of the world.

    (2) By acting on other principles than those of ambition, ease, selfishness.

    (3) By being men of other habits (Philippians 3:18-19)--unworldly, spiritual: in the home, in business, etc.

    2. Remember that the glory of the gospel is connected with the conversation of its professors. A treasure is entrusted to you; do not tarnish it, lose it, barter it.

    II. Some particulars of our duty specified. “That ye stand fast.” It is easy for a man to be obstinate and head strong in maintaining his own opinions; but the difficulty is for a man to stand fast in the gospel, viz.

    1. In one spirit--a steady union of affection (Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46), without jarring or discord.

    2. In one spirit for the common faith. When a man’s opinion about the things of the world is attacked, how ready he is to defend it, but what a cold indifference there is about Christian principles.

    III. The desire expressed for this gospel conversation. “Only.” Paul seems to have lost sight of other themes--only let me see this, and I shall be happy. This was comprehensive of everything else. (T. Woodroffe.)


    (Text in conjunction with Philippians 3:20.) Paul was a Roman citizen. By virtue of this, be possessed rights, privileges, and immunities denied to strangers. He now turns it to spiritual account.

    I. True believers are citizens of heaven. Here they are strangers and pilgrims. Their thoughts and affections point to the heavenly Jerusalem. But they cannot say with Paul, “I was free born.” Like the captain, “With a great sum they obtained this freedom” (1 Peter 1:18-19). It is the believer’s interest in Christ, the purchaser of his freedom, which constitutes him a citizen of heaven.

    II. Citizens of heaven should reflect in their lives the dignity and holiness of their city. As royal children they must behave royally. We do not expect princely bearing in the pauper, and we look only for earthly mindedness in the citizens of earth. When Alexander was asked to run in the Olympic games, he replied, “I will if kings are to be my antagonists.”

    III. Heaven’s laws for the life of its citizens upon earth are contained in the gospel of their king. The one great law of which all the rest are only particular applications is “Christ our life.” “He left us an example.”

    IV. Lives which harmonize and illustrate these laws are worthy of the heaven to which they belong. Lessons:

    1. Prize the privilege.

    2. Study the laws.

    3. Live the life. (J. B. Norton.)

    Conversation becoming the gospel


    I. The gospel in--

    1. The dignity which it confers.

    (1) What we are by nature--children of wrath, aliens, slaves of sin.

    (2) What we are by grace--children of God, citizens of heaven, kings and priests unto God.

    2. The knowledge it communicates.

    (1) The mystery of godliness--God manifest in the flesh.

    (2) The “mystery of the gospel”--the union between Christ and His people.

    (3) The mystery connected with the resurrection.

    (4) The “mystery of iniquity.”

    (5) The mystery of providence--“All things work together for good,” etc.

    (6) The “mysteries of the kingdom.”

    3. The spirit it enjoins. Peace with God, joy, God’s love, the manifestation of the mercy we enjoy, walking in love, blamelessly.

    II. The attendant advantages.

    1. Stedfastness. Changing circumstances, heresies, worldliness, try this stability.

    2. Unity.

    (1) Every individual soldier must remember that he belongs to the army.

    (2) In order to this unity there must be personal consistency and individual value of the truth. “One mind,” viz., that which was in Christ Jesus.

    (3) Mutual effort.

    3. Zeal for the success of the truth.

    (1) Defending its purity.

    (2) Extending its blessings. (W. Cadman, M. A.)

    Conversation becoming the gospel

    I. What in the gospel must our conversation become?

    1. The doctrine of the gospel. Living as those who believe--

    (1) That Christ is the Son of God and man (John 1:14).

    (2) That He died for sin, even for ours; that He rose again, ascended, and will come again to judge the world.

    2. The discipline of the gospel. That all things be done--

    (1) Decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).

    (2) In faith (Romans 14:23).

    (3) In love (Ephesians 5:2).

    (4) In humility (Philippians 4:1-2; Luke 17:10).

    (5) To the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; Matthew 5:16).

    3. Our expectations from the gospel. Live as those who expect (1 John 3:4)--

    (1) Pardon (Ephesians 1:7).

    (2) Acceptance (Galatians 2:16).

    (3) Peace with God (Romans 5:1).

    (4) Joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 14:16-17; 1 Peter 1:8).

    (5) All the graces of the Spirit (1 Peter 2:9).

    (6) A joyful resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:52-53).

    (7) Eternal happiness.

    4. Our profession of the gospel, for which we have these rules.

    (1) In departing from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19).

    (2) In being new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17).

    (3) In loving Christ above all things (Luke 14:26).

    (4) In denying our selves, taking up our cross and following Christ (Matthew 14:24).

    (5) In bearing much fruit (John 15:8).

    (6) In being holy in all manner of conversation (1 Peter 1:15); in thought (Proverbs 12:5; Philippians 4:8); in affections (Colossians 3:2); in words (James 1:26; Ephesians 4:29); in actions (Titus 2:11-12).

    (7) In loving one another (Joh 42:35).

    (8) In continuing to the end (John 8:31).

    II. Why walk as becometh the gospel?

    1. Otherwise we are a shame to the gospel (Hebrews 6:6).

    2. Enemies to Christ (Philippians 3:18-19).

    3. You will receive no benefit from the gospel (Hebrews 4:1-2).

    4. The gospel will rise in judgment against you (John 3:19).

    5. But if you walk as becometh the gospel, all its promises shall be made good unto you (John 1:29; John 14:2; Matthew 25:34).

    III. What conversation is that which becometh the gospel?

    1. Towards God.

    (1) A humble conversation (Ephesians 4:1-2; Matthew 11:29).

    (2) Trustful.

    (3) Cheerful (Philippians 4:4).

    (4) Obedient.

    (5) Heavenly (Philippians 3:20).

    2. Towards man.

    (1) Meek and lowly (Matthew 11:29).

    (2) Loving (John 13:34-35).

    (3) Just (Matthew 7:12).

    (4) Charitable (1 Timothy 6:17-18).

    IV. Use. Walk thus according to the gospel.

    1. Motives.

    (1) This is most safe (Proverbs 10:9).

    (2) Most profitable (1 Timothy 6:18; James 2:5).

    (3) Most honourable (1 Samuel 2:30).

    (4) Most pleasant (Proverbs 3:17).

    (5) Most necessary (Luke 10:42) to happiness (Hebrews 12:14).

    2. Means.

    (1) Search the Scriptures.

    (2) Frequent ordinances (Romans 10:17).

    (3) Be much in prayer (James 1:5).

    (4) Meditate often (chap. 4:8).

    (5) Live above your bodies (1 Corinthians 9:27). (Bishop Beveridge.)

    Conversation becoming the gospel

    I. A conversation becoming the gospel must be wise, for the gospel is a system of knowledge. Hence it is called light. There are three states with regard to gospel knowledge.

    1. The heathen are children of night.

    2. The Jews had some light.

    3. Christians are children of the light and of the day. Christians ought to excel in this light.

    II. A conversation becoming the gospel should be cheerful, for the gospel is a system of joy.

    1. As such it was predicted.

    2. Joyful results universally followed its establishment.

    3. It has lost none of its power to bless.

    (1) In duty.

    (2) In trials.

    (3) Death.

    III. A conversation becoming the gospel must be holy, for the gospel is a system of sanctity.

    1. There is no holiness in theory or practice outside. But--

    2. The gospel

    (1) teaches it;

    (2) requires it;

    (3) produces it.

    IV. A conversation worthy the gospel should be charitable, for the gospel is a system of benevolence. Nothing is more unbecoming to it than a selfish, grasping temper. (W. Jay.)

    Christian consistency

    I. Paul “pleaded for a consistent Christian Church. The Christian’s life is to harmonize with his creed. His life must be characterized by--

    1. Truthfulness. God is the author of truth; the Holy Spirit the spirit of truth; the gospel the word of truth; and the Christian must be a man of truth.

    2. Love. This is the first and great commandment in the evidence of discipleship, the inspiration of duty, and is due to foes as well as friends.

    3. Holiness in thought, desire, and action.

    II. For a united Church. The early Christians were frequently exhorted to be one in faith, feeling, spirit, and action; the bond was to be love, and the end the establishment of the gospel. This union was necessary--

    1. To resist their common adversaries, who were and are combined, persistent, powerful.

    2. To develop their Christian graces. Our minds and hearts are enlarged by the intercourse of good men. The bold encourage the timid, the wise instruct the ignorant, the strong shelter the weak. The manifold diversities of our nature and condition constitute the perfection of the Church, as the members of the body.

    3. To establish the true faith. The success of the whole depends on the agreement of the parts.

    III. For a zealous Church. Christians are to stand by, struggle for, suffer, and even die with one another.

    1. This zeal is demanded for a noble object.

    (1) We are to strive, not for place, power, or popularity, but--

    (2) For the faith: to maintain its purity in our own hearts, and to diffuse its gracious influence through the world.

    (3) The tradesman is zealous in business, the statesman in politics, the Christian for the faith.

    (4) This was never needed more than now.

    2. The object inspires the zeal. It calls into exercise our highest faculties; it informs the judgment, subdues the will, sanctifies the affections, and ennobles the soul. It has done more for the race than all the moralists or philanthropists who have ever lived.

    3. This zeal is to be exercised in a commendable spirit, “together.” Christians are not to strive against one another. The earnest Christian has no time for useless debate. Cultivate the spirit of brotherly sympathy. (G. J. Procter.)

    Christian consistency

    I. What is that deportment which becometh a professor of the gospel of Christ?

    1. With respect to the world.

    (1) He must not worship its god--mammon (Mat 6:24; 1 John 2:15; 1 Timothy 6:9-11).

    (2) He must shun its company (Psalms 1:1; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

    (3) He must avoid its pleasures and fashions (Romans 12:2). True, Christ attended the wedding at Cana, etc., but good people were there, and it was to manifest His glory; but whoever heard of God’s glory being promoted at card parties, etc.

    2. With respect to his prevailing sentiments.

    (1) Peace.

    (2) Faith.

    (3) Joyful hope.

    (4) Patience and cheerful acquiescence.

    (5) Courage.

    3. With respect to sin.

    (1) He must not commit it.

    (2) He must hate it.

    (3) He must struggle against it in every form and everywhere.

    4. With respect to the aim and business of his life. To promote the glory of God (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Corinthians 10:31-32).

    II. Why such a deportment should be maintained.

    1. Because it would bring joy to those who watch for your souls (Philippians 2:1; Philippians 4:1).

    2. Because of the advantage--“the witness in yourself” of your conversion.

    3. Because it prepares the mind for the season of affliction and the solemnities of death.

    4. Because it is the will and commandment of Christ.


    1. The world vigilantly watches and judges the character and conduct of professors. The want of consistency in Christians has done more harm to Christianity than all the ravings of infidels.

    2. God’s eye is constantly upon us.

    3. The plea of not being a professor will be no plea in the hour of death for a sinful life. (I. Spencer, D. D.)

    Christian consistency

    I. The general character of Christian consistency.

    II. Its special requirements.

    III. Paramount importance.

    IV. Gratifying results. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    I. What the conduct is which becomes the gospel.

    1. It must be the genuine result of gospel dispositions. Conduct is the birth of principle; what is seen in the life is the development of what exists in the heart. The tree must be good before the fruit can be good. But we must not judge altogether by outward appearance. All is not gold that glitters. A fair show in the flesh is naught unless the heart be right with God. The gospel makes the heart right.

    2. Must be maintained under the influence of gospel principles and in the use of gospel ordinances. Everything is liable to deterioration; institutions, buildings, metals of the finest polish, Christians of the most exalted piety. We must live by faith, by the love of God in the keeping of His commandments, by an attention to the means of grace.

    3. Must resemble gospel patterns. The gospel is not a collection of maxims and doctrines so much as an exhibition of examples. “Follow me as I follow Christ.”

    4. Must be conformable to gospel precepts. The gospel is not merely an offer of mercy and a promise of blessing. The law is not made void through faith. Where much is given, much is required. The epitome of these precepts is “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.”

    II. What obligations are we under to maintain this conduct?

    1. God requires it. For this end He has given His revelation. “Not every one that saith, Lord, Lord,” etc. The will of God is righteous, and no creature can resist it with impunity.

    2. Consistency requires it. Profession without practice is hypocrisy. Actions speak louder than words. “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

    3. Our personal comfort requires it. “Our rejoicing is the testimony of our conscience.” Without this peace is a delusion.

    4. Our connection with society requires it. We owe to society what we cannot adequately repay but by the blessings of the life of the gospel.

    5. Our final salvation requires it. We shall be judged according to our works.


    1. How excellent is the Christian religion.

    2. How illiberal and unreasonable to censure it on account of its inconsistent professors. (R. Treffry.)

    The gospel

    ’s power in a Christian’s life:--

    I. What the gospel is.

    1. It is the gospel of Christ because--

    (1) He is the author of it.

    (2) The pith and marrow of it.

    (3) The finisher of it. It is His property, it glorifies His person, it is sweet with the savour of His name.

    2. It is the gospel of Christ. Good news.

    (1) It removes the worst ills--sin, death, hell.

    (2) It brings the best blessings--reconciliation with God, goodwill on earth, eternal happiness in heaven.

    II. Our conversation must be such as becometh the gospel. The gospel is--

    1. Simple. So should we be in our dress, our speech, our behaviour. Wherever you find the Christian you ought not to want a key to him. He should be a transparent man like Nathaniel and “as little children.”

    2. True. Gold without dross. So should the Christian be in his talk. There should be no scandal, oath taking, equivocation, still less lying.

    3. Fearless. It calls things by their right names, and is the very reverse of what is now called charity. Be honest and brave in your profession and action,

    4. Gentle. Bad temper is quite contrary to the gospel. Have a lion’s heart, but a lady’s hand.

    5. Loving. Without love the Christian is as sounding brass.

    6. Merciful. Harsh or miserly people do not become the gospel.

    7. Holy. The Christian must be holy as Christ is holy.

    III. The stern necessity of a conversation that becometh the gospel.

    1. If you do not live like this you will make your innocent fellow members suffer. You tempt others, and bring discredit on the whole Church.

    2. You make your Lord suffer. The world lays your sin at the door of your religion.

    3. You will pull down all the witness you have ever borne for Christ. How can your children, neighbours, etc., believe you if you act inconsistently. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

    Christian conduct is made up of little things

    See to it that each hour’s feelings, and thoughts, and actions are pure and true; then will your life be such. The mightiest maze of magnificent harmonies that ever a Beethoven gave to the world, is but single notes, and all its complicated and interlacing strains are resolvable into individualities. The wide pasture is but separate spears of grass; the sheeted bloom of the prairies but isolated flowers.

    Striving together for the faith of the gospel--

    1. The phrase, “faith of the gospel,” has a distinct significance in the New Testament. It refers to the Divine revelation of mercy and love in the Son of God, and its acceptance by earnest and penitent trust. It is connected with long lives of antecedent prophecy, symbolical services, the constant yearning of the world for a Redeemer, and the Messianic hope of the Jews.

    2. This message of redemption meets with endless forms of acceptance and rejection.

    (1) At first its promulgation came in contact with heathenism as a religion, and naturally accused the opposition of the proud systems of error.

    (2) Next it came in contact with Heathenism as a philosophy, and the proud reason of the classic world sought to analyze its mysteries.

    (3) To every form of religious thought and every phase of intellectual life it has come for eighteen centuries to be rejected by the proud, but to be accepted by the meek.

    3. It is one of the vital questions of the day how to meet and overcome this opposition.

    I. The pulpit is naturally called into requisition.

    1. But is it to be the teacher of philosophy? Then its function is to wrestle with the doubts, to antagonize the unbelief of the day. But this attitude is only a negative one, and to take up in detail the varied assaults would only be to advertize and disseminate them.

    2. The real business of the pulpit, as de fined by Scripture, is to preach Christ and Him crucified, and by the proclamation of positive truth there the unbelief of the day will best be met.

    II. The press competes with the pulpit in the education of the multitude. Here unbelief finds full and systematized expression, but so may and so does Christianity. The bane and the antidote exist side by side, and sceptical assaults along the whole line of the faith have been repelled in current literature. Here scientific objections can be and are met by scientific men.

    III. But the individual Christian life is the best defender of the faith. The union of Christians in the conversation which becometh the gospel will render the faith invincible. (W. A. Snively, D. D.)

    Means in aid of the propagation of the gospel

    I. The faith of the gospel. “The faith which was once delivered to the saints,” “the truth as it is in Jesus”: viz.--

    1. The truth about God. His unity and three-fold Personality.

    2. About man--his fall and ruin.

    3. About redemption--the Incarnation and Atonement of Christ; the acceptance of salvation by faith; regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Ghost.

    4. About immortality.

    II. The import of the apostle’s language concerning it. The Philippians are to strive together for it. The gospel was a precious deposit; they were to hold it fast in opposition to all who would rob them of it; they were to preserve it in its original purity, in opposition to those who sought to adulterate it. But it was not to be a concealed treasure, or appropriated exclusively by themselves, but was to be communicated to their fellow men.

    1. All Christians may and must aid in disseminating the faith of the gospel. Some think this the business of ministers. Paul told the “saints” as well as the bishops and deacons to do it. Christians may do this.

    (1) By cultivating purity of heart and life and maintaining an exemplary deportment. This method is sanctioned by Christ Himself--“Let your light so shine.” Its efficacy may be illustrated by numerous facts. This was the main method of gospel propagation in Apostolic and early Christian times. Gibbon puts the virtues of Christians among his “secondary causes.” So today. The greatest enemies of the Cross are inconsistent Christians.

    (2) By pecuniary contributions. Many overvalue money; some undervalue it: the truth is, it is a talent to be employed for God. God has given you the power and opportunity to get it. Consecrate it therefore to Him. The proportion must be left to conscience. The poorest should not be discouraged, for God values the widow’s mite, when the offering of a willing mind. Let modern Churches take example by the Church at Philippi.

    (3) By union and cooperation. The advantages of this are obvious. We see this in business and politics, and in philanthropic and religious societies. Why then should minor differences separate Christians? Divisions are a source of weakness; union is strength.

    (4) By humble, importunate, and believing prayer. Old Testament and New alike enjoin this as a means of advancing the faith. Let this be remembered in public, private, and family prayer. It is a means which God delights to honour.

    2. In this good work Christians should be zealous. “Striving” as the competitors in the games. Nothing is more offensive to Christ than lukewarmness.

    (1) The work needs the most strenuous effort. It has to struggle with the most inveterate and formidable opposition, from the evil heart and from evil systems.

    (2) It is worthy of them. It brings glory to God, the highest good to man, and honour to the Redeemer. (J. Thomson, D. D.)

    Unity and action

    I. The object for whose perpetuity you are to cooperate. The whole gospel, not its promises, or precepts, or doctrines alone, still less any particular views relating to them, such as Calvinism or Arminianism. We have to contend for the faith, not a fragment of it. Why are Christians to strive together for this?

    1. Because they alone understand and prize it. By the grace of the Spirit they see its value. To them Christ is all. His gospel is the book of their hearts. They cannot but love what is precious. To others it may be dull.

    2. Because to them its honourable privileges are granted. Their religious privileges become duties in consequence of their obligations to Him who had saved them. Their duties become privileges in consequence of their low: to Him who first loved them.

    3. Because the enemies of the Master are watchful and active.

    II. The position you are to maintain. It was net required of them to assume the position of an united phalanx. God had assigned that as He has to us. We are simply to “stand fast in one spirit” in it. You have the gospel verities--unitedly maintain them. Divide and conquer is the policy of the adversary; close your ranks and win is ours. “Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand.”

    III. The unity of purpose you are to cherish.

    1. Be of one mind on the subject of unity itself.

    2. On the subject of social prayer: “If two of you shall agree, etc.”

    3. With respect to the mutual ministry: Support your pastors and love them.

    4. In doing good to all men. (W. Leask, D. D.)

    Stand fast

    The word στήκετε in the original signifies to hold on, and to remain firm at one’s post, and is derived from the combats, in which each endeavour to keep his place, and to maintain himself in his seat, without going back, or being shaken by all the attacks of the enemy. The apostle, employing this image to represent to us the life of the faithful, means, that in this spiritual warfare we should never allow ourselves to be drawn from that position in which God has placed us, and that all together, like his faithful and valiant soldiers, courageously repulsing the enemy, we should always stand firm, without quitting either the faith or the profession which by His grace we have made. (J. Daille.)

    Striving together

    As a wrestler grapples his antagonist, and strains himself for the mastery, so the Christian must struggle against every enemy of the truth. (G. J. Procter.)

    Concord in the Church

    As there is no body or society more noble than the Church, so there is none in which union and concord are more necessary. You are begotten of the same seed, i.e., of the gospel, brought up in the same family, nourished with the same food, animated by the same spirit, destined to the same inheritance. If so many close ties cannot unite you, at any rate let this common warfare in which you are engaged, this common danger that you run, and these common enemies with whom you contend, extinguish your differences, and make you rally together for your common preservation and defence. Often among the kingdoms of the earth, the fear of an enemy without stays the misunderstandings and quarrels within. Let us imitate in this respect the prudence of the children of this world. Whatever you may have of wisdom or courage, turn it against the enemy. May he alone feel the vigour of your arm, and the point of your weapons. It is not against your brother that they should be employed. They are made, and they have been given you, to defend, and not to wound him; to preserve, and not to shed his blood. I say it with regret, it is nothing but our division, my brethren, which has prevented the defeat of the enemy, and the triumph of the Church. If we had all fought together, we should long ago have been conquerors. (J. Daille.)

  • Philippians 1:28 open_in_new

    In nothing terrified by your adversaries


    I. The need Of it.

    II. The proofs of it.

    III. The advantage of it; it is a sign of perdition to your foes--of salvation to you. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    I. Your adversaries are numerous, mighty, terrible, yet they will certainly perish.

    II. Your salvation is near, sure, glorious, and that of God. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    An evident token of perdition.

    Tokens of perdition

    Perdition means hopeless ruin. A token is a premonition. The natural world is full of warnings. A change in the atmosphere or in the order of things, a coming disaster or great event, is heralded by certain phenomena, which long experience and observation know how to interpret. So also in the political, social, moral, and religious spheres. So evident are these tokens to the discerning that it is not difficult to forecast the future. On this principle Paul interprets the conduct of adversaries. And every preacher of the gospel is warranted in accepting certain traits of character and developments of depravity as “evident tokens of perdition” in those in whom they are found, and hold them forth as warnings, “beacon lights” in the world. Let me specify a few such tokens, not from the infidel, or openly immoral classes, but from the respectable and Church-going class of sinners.

    I. A state of habitual moral insensibility on the momentous and infinitely interesting matter of salvation.

    II. A quiet, sleeping conscience, under the sunlight of the Bible, and the faithful and searching appeals of God’s ambassadors.

    III. Convictions of sin lost, and relapse into greater carelessness and insensibility than ever before, after a period of religious interest.

    IV. Passed by and left undisturbed in their sins--left, it may be, to scoff and oppose--when God’s Holy Spirit has been sent down in mighty power to awaken and convert souls and gather in the harvest.

    V. Where providential chastisements fail of their end, and, instead of humble, penitent submission and tearful recognition of God’s hand in them, there is a proud, unyielding spirit of bitterness. Now where such things appear, “perdition” is nigh; the final wrath is imminent; the last sands of hope are falling; the knell of despair is ready to sound! (Homiletic Monthly.)

    Tokens of perdition

    I. A false hope of piety. There are many who deceive themselves with a spurious religion, and while they have a name to live, are dead.

    II. Premature depravity. Though the principle of sin is inherent in every human bosom, it attains a more early and rank luxuriance in some cases than in others.

    III. Inveteracy in transgression. The almost invincible force of habit is a subject of universal remark.

    IV. Confirmed belief of destructive error. The confidence which the votaries of error repose in its delusions is widely different in different persons. With some it is little more than a cherished wish that their system were true.

    V. Unsanctified worldly prosperity.

    VI. Apathy of mind under divine chastisement.

    VII. Return to insensibility after serious impressions.

    VIII. An impenitent old age. (Christian Age.)

    Men not terrified

    John Noyes, kissing the stake, said, “Blessed be the time that ever I was born for this day.” To his fellow martyrs he said, “We shall not lose our lives in this fire, but change them for a better, and for coals have pearls.” Hugh Laverocke, comforting John-a-Price, his fellow martyr, said unto him, “Be of good comfort, my brother, for my Lord of London is our good physician. He will cure thee of all thy blindness, and me of my lameness this day.” Joyce Lewis--“When I behold the uglisome face of death, I am afraid; but when I consider Christ’s amiable countenance, I take heart again.” John Huss said to a countryman who threw a faggot at his head, “Oh, holy simplicity, God send thee better light! You roast the goose now, but a swan shall come after me, and he shall escape your fire.” Huss, a goose in the Bohemian language; and Luther, a swan. Castilia Rupea--“Though you throw my body down off this steep hill, yet will my soul mount upwards again. Your blasphemies more offend my mind than your torments do my body.” Doctor Taylor, as he was going to martyrdom: “I shall this day deceive the worms in Hadley churchyard,” and fetching a leap or two when he came within two miles of Hadley, “Now,” saith he, “lack I but two stiles, and I am even at my Father’s house.”

    In nothing affrighted

    The rendering of the Revised Version is very happily chosen. The word is used of horses shying in view of any unusual or unexpected object. Believers are apt to be so scared; but then it is implied in the word used that a sudden fright or panic may after all arise from trifling cause. It is that which need not disturb. Whatever it is that causes the alarm it is seen to be powerless, even to vanish whenever it is boldly approached. All such trials to God’s people are like the lions in the narrow path leading to the Palace Beautiful of Bunyan’s allegory. They were chained as the Pilgrim espied them, but he knew it not. They have therefore only to be courageously approached, and then the voice of Watchful is heard, “Fear not the lions, for they are chained, and are placed there for trial of faith where it is, and for discovery of those that have none. Keep in the midst of the path, and no hurt shall come unto thee.” (J. Hutchison, D. D.)

  • Philippians 1:29,30 open_in_new

    Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ

    Fellowship with the martyrs and confessors

    I. Like faith.

    II. Like conflicts.

    III. Like honour. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    The Christian’s life is

    I. A life of faith. This faith is--

    1. The gift of God--“is given you.”

    2. A particular gift bestowed on a particular people, distinguishing them from all others. The Christian knows and enjoys what no one else does.

    II. A life of suffering.

    1. Christ’s life was full of it, and so, therefore, is the believer’s.

    2. Some sufferings he shares with the humanity to which he belongs,

    3. Some trials are peculiar to the Christian arising from

    (1) sin;

    (2) the inherent difficulty of the Christian life;

    (3) profession before the world;

    (4) self-denial;

    (5) consistency in business, etc.;

    (6) the opposition of the enemies of the gospel.

    III. The life of suffering proves the life of faith. Others are rebellious, or stoically resigned; the Christian bows out of love to Christ, and is supported by Christ in response to faith. (J. W. Reeve, M. A.)

    The gifts of God

    I. What they are. The power to believe--to suffer.

    II. Their inestimable value.

    1. Faith brings peace, joy, righteousness.

    2. Patient suffering brings deliverance, conquest, glory. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    Unto you it is given to believe

    I. Faith is the gift of God. He supplies the ground, the means, the power.

    II. It is given to you. You can accept the ground, use the means, exercise the power.

    III. How far have you improved it? You cannot reach the higher standpoint before the lower; every one has a measure of ability; therefore repent, believe. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    Unto you it is given to suffer

    God gives you--

    I. The opportunity.

    II. The power.

    III. The honour.

    IV. The reward of suffering for Christ. (J. Lyth, D. D.)

    Suffering for Christ

    It is said that men learned to despise pain before Christ. This is true. But where, save in Christian literature and history, do you find suffering converted into joy, esteemed as an honour, and borne as a badge of royalty. As a king grants charters and honours, so Christ as our Sovereign gives His disciples the privilege of faith and alliance to Him. And he still further honours them by permitting them to suffer on His behalf. Let us see what kind of sufferings are included in this charter.

    I. All inflicted directly for our adhesion to the name and worship of Christ. Physical persecution, social, domestic.

    II. All arising from the effectual preaching of truth, whether by ministers or private disciples. We are not to count the suffering which comes from our own headstrong rashness in speech or administration, but that which comes from a calm inflexible advocacy of the truth as it is in Jesus. For this it is an honour to suffer.

    III. All which arises from the application of Christian truth to human disposition and conduct, to the manners of society, to the selfishness and injustice of men. Labourers in this harvest field will have their bosom full of sheaves, and their head crowned with thorns. Let a man have a conscience, and he will perforce find himself a warrior. What affinity is there between generosity and greed.

    IV. All suffering not of the nature of obloquy. All self-denials, watchings, labours, cares, weariness, incident to a life devoted to the cause of God. Those whose parish is the dungeon, the hospital, the purlieus of vice.

    V. All consequent upon a strife with self and circumstances for the purpose of augmenting Christian dispositions. Our internal conflicts are often greater than our external. What suffering is involved in our strife with the world, the flesh, and the devil; in our endeavour to be patient under sickness and misfortune, resigned in the midst of sorrows and bereavement.

    VI. All arising from the service we perform on behalf of others. Mothers with their children in hearing and up-bringing, friends, philanthropists. Conclusion: I remark in view of this exposition--

    1. We are not to seek suffering on purpose. Suffering without moral impulse is of no account.

    2. It is a shame for a man to entertain an ideal of Christian life which is ease and freedom from inconvenience.

    3. All true education consists in preparation for and endurance of suffering Let parents see to this.

    4. We may form a proper judgment of those who are called to labour for God Those prepared to regard suffering as an honour, and to count the victory as worth any price. (H. W. Beecher.)

    The value of suffering

    To this refiner’s fire may doubtless be ascribed in part the lustre and purity of their faith as compared with other Churches. (Bishop Lightfoot.)

    Persecutions only raked away the ashes, so that the spiritual flame was steady and brilliant. (Professor Eadie.)

    The grace and honour of suffering

    The men whom a general, at the critical moment of a great battle, specially appoints to hold the key of his position, or whom, in the assault of a besieged city, he sends on a “forlorn hope,” are, by his choice of them for peril and probable suffering, marked out as in his judgment “the bravest of the brave.” Their comrades, even while rejoicing in their hearts, it may be, that the selection has left themselves out, feel that those on whom the choice has fallen are honoured. Similarly, is there not “grace” shown in the choice made by the “Captain of salvation,” when in His providence He calls this soldier of the cross, and that, to suffer or die under the standard? In the old persecuting times in our country, men who “bore in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus,” in limbs crushed by the iron boot or torn by the rack--looking back in after days upon the patience which the Saviour had given them amid their anguish, and the increase of spiritual wisdom and energy which had come through the trial to themselves, and to some extent also to others, could not but esteem the suffering for Christ as a “gift of grace.” When under sentence of death, good Bishop Ridley wrote thus to his relatives: “I warn you all, my beloved kinsfolk, that ye be not amazed or astonished at the kind of my departure or dissolution; for I assure you I think it the most honour that ever I was called unto in all my life. And therefore I thank God heartily for it, that it hath pleased Him to call me, of His great mercy, unto this high honour, to suffer death willingly for His sake and in His cause; unto the which honour He called the holy prophets, and His dearly beloved apostles, and His blessed chosen martyrs.” And when the end came, and Latimer and he were burned at the same stake--whilst the persecutors could see only the flame which consumed the flesh, the faith of the martyrs could discern for themselves a chariot of fire waiting to bear them home to their Lord, and for their country a fire of pious zeal lighted up, which all the arts of the wicked one should never be able to put out. There was great “grace” there. (R. Johnstone, LL. B.)

    The service of suffering

    Dr. Tronchin, talking one day with the son of Caesar Malan about his father, who was lying on his deathbed, said, “How often have I not heard even his friends say, when I spoke with admiration of the work of your father, ‘Malan serves God with fire, courage, and perseverance, because the service which God requires of him is an active service, and consists in an activity which responds to his tastes and talents.’ But wait before judging him definitely until God calls him to a passive service of suffering.” God is doing this under our eyes at this hour, and under our eyes also His servant is found faithful. (J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)

    The honor of suffering for Christ

    One of the witnesses for the truth when imprisoned for conscience’ sake in the days of Queen Mary, is said to have thus written to a friend: “A prisoner for Christ! What is this for a poor worm! Such honour have not all the saints. Both the degrees which I took at the University have not set me so high as the honour of becoming a prisoner of the Lord.”

    The mystery of suffering

    “Unaccountable this!” said the Wax, as from the flame it dropped melting upon the Paper beneath. “Do not grieve,” said the Paper; “I am sure it is all right.” “I was never in such agony!” exclaimed the Wax, still dropping. “It is not without a good design, and will end well,” replied the Paper. The Wax was unable to reply at once, owing to a strong pressure; and when it again looked up it bore a beautiful impression, the counterpart of the seal which had been applied to it. “Ah! I comprehend now,” said the Wax, no longer in suffering. “I was softened in order to receive this lovely durable impress. Yes; I see now it was all right, because it has given to me the beautiful likeness which I could not otherwise have obtained.” (Mrs. Prosser.).