Spurgeon on Philippians


Philippians Commentaries


Philippians 3:8 The Priceless Prize

NO. 3209

“That I may win Christ.” — Philippians 3:8 (note)

The very high value that the apostle Paul set upon the Savior, is most palpable, when he speaks of winning Him. This shows that the Savior held the same place in Paul’s esteem as the crown did in the esteem of the runner at the Olympic games. To gain that crown, the competitor strained every nerve and sinew, feeling as though he were content to drop down dead at the goal if he might but win it. Paul felt that were he to run with all his might, if that, were the way of winning Christ, were he to strain soul and body to win Him, he would be well worth the effort. He shows his value of Christ by speaking of Him as the prize he panted to win. He uses the very same word which the soldier would use concerning the victory, when, with garments rolled in blood, amidst confused noise and clouds of smoke, he counts all things but little if he may but hear the shout of triumph. So, Paul, regarding Christ as more glorious and excellent than mountains of prey, considered such a prize to be worth all the fighting, even though he should agonize and sweat with blood. He would be well worth dying to win. I take it that he speaks of Christ here as though he felt that he was the very climax of his desire, the summit of his ambition. If he might but get Christ, he would be perfectly satisfied; but if he could not get Him, whatever else he might have, he would still remain unblessed.

I would to God that you all felt the same. I wish that the ambition of every one of my fellow-creatures here assembled — and, indeed, the wide world over, — were this, that they might win Christ. Oh, if they did but know His preciousness, if they did but understand how happy and how blessed He makes those to be who gain Him, they, too, would give up everything else for this one desire, — that they may win Christ. I hope that, perhaps, a few words of mine may be blessed of God the Spirit to stir up such a desire in the hearts of the congregation now assembled below then shall I begin?


I. While You Have Not Christ, You Are In A Very Ill Condition, — Should Not This Make You Long For Him?

Consider, my dear hearer, thou who art Christless to-night, what thou art, and where thou art. Thou art a sinner, — that thou knowest. Without Christ, thou art an unpardoned sinner, a condemned sinner, and ere long thou wilt he a sinner judged, sentenced, and cast into hell! Dost thou not know that? Thou art a diseased sinner. Sin is the leprosy which is in thee; and without Christ, thou art sick without a physician. For thee there is no balm in Gilead, no physician there. Thy sickness is mortal. It will certainly be thy ruin, for thou hast no Savior. Thou art a mortal man; thou canst not doubt it. Thou wilt soon die, and canst thou tell what it will be to die without Christ? Hast thou ever formed an idea of what it will be to pass into the realm of separate spirits with no rod to lean on, and no staff to comfort thee in the dark valley? Man, thou art an immortal being; thou knowest that, too. Thou wilt not cease, to be when thou diest. Thou wilt live again; and what will it be to live again without Christ? It will be to live the life of a condemned spirit, withered by the wrath of God, scathed by the lightning of divine justice! Canst thou think of that without dismay?

“Sinner, is thy heart at rest?
Is thy bosom void of fear?
Art thou not by guilt oppress’d?
Speaks not conscience in thy ear?

“Can this world afford thee bliss?
Can it chase away thy gloom?
Flattering, false, and vain it is;
Tremble at the worldling’s doom.”

Why, even now, man, I think I can see thee. Thou art like the ship upon the lake of Gennesareth, tempest-tossed. The winds howl about her, every timber creaks, the sail is rent to ribands, and the mast is going by the board; and for thee there is no Savior to come and walk the billows, and to say, “It is I; be not afraid!” At the helm of thy ship there sleeps no Savior who can arise, and say to the waves, “Peace, be still!” Thou art a ship in a storm, with none to rescue thee, seeing that thou hast no Savior. The devil has scuttled thee. There are holes bored through and through thy spirit’s hope and confidence, and it will go down before long in depths of unutterable woe.

I think I see thee again. Thou art like Lazarus in the grave, and by this time thou art foul and noxious, for thou hast been dead these thirty or forty years, and that death has festered into putrid corruption. Yes, there thou art, and thou hast no Christ to say, “Roll away the stone.” Thou hast no Christ to say, “Lazarus, come forth!” no Savior to bid thy friends loose thee, and let thee go! I think I see thee yet again. Thou hast been singing of the dying thief. We often sing of him; and thou wilt die as the thief died, only — only there will be no Christ hanging on the cross, from whom thou shalt hear the words, “This day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

Unto what shall I liken thee, and wherewith shall I compare thee? A soul without Christ! Why, it were better for thee, man, that thou hadst never been born if thou shalt continue so! Thou wouldst be better off with the mill-stone about thy neck, and cast into the sea, if that would make an end of thee; thou wert happier far than thou art now without Christ, for without Christ thou art without God, and without hope in the world. Thou art a sheep lost on the mountains, and no Shepherd to find thee; a soul wandering in the blackness of darkness, and no lamp to guide thy wandering footsteps; and soon thou wilt be a desolate spirit, without a ray of comfort, without a home, shut out in the blackness of darkness for ever! Does not that make thee long for Christ? It would, if I could make thee feel what I can only say. I can only deal with your outward ears, my Master must deal with your hearts; and I do pray him, by his almighty Spirit, to make you feel so wretched without Christ that you will not dare to sleep to-night until you have sought him, and laid hold upon him, and said to him, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

O ye souls out of Christ, I could, with half a moment’s thought, stop and burst into tears, and say no more; but I must command myself, for I must speak to you; and I do pray you, by the living God, unless you are beside yourselves, if you have any love to your own souls, fly to Christ; seek the Lord; try to lay hold upon him, for as you now are, your position is perilous in the extreme!

“Come, guilty souls, and flee away
Like doves to Jesu’s wounds
This is the welcome gospel-day,
Wherein free grace abounds.

“God loved the church, and gave his Son
To drink the cup of wrath;
And Jesus says he’ll cast out none
That come to him by faith.”


II. We will now change the strain, but not the object. Remember, that All The Things In The World Are Vain Without Christ.

The world’s goods, its substance, its riches, its pleasures, its pomp, its fame, what are all these without Christ? They are a painted pageantry to go to hell in! They are a mockery to an immortal spirit. They are a mirage of the wilderness, deluding the traveler, but not yielding to his desires one substantial drop of joy. There have been those in this world who have tried it, and they say, “It sounds, it sounds, it sounds, because it is empty and hollow as a drum.” It is

“False as the smooth, deceitful sea,
And empty as the whistling wind.”

There is nothing in it all.

“Honour’s a puff of noisy breath,
And gain a heap of yellow clay.”

And what is even power itself but anxiety and care? Solomon knew the world at its best, and his verdict upon her was, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” Without Christ, sinner, you will find the world to be unsatisfactory. When you have tried it at its best, you will turn from it, and say, “I have been deceived! I have eaten the wind, and I am not satisfied. I am like one that feasteth in a dream, and waketh, and, lo! he is hungry.” Without Christ, you will not even find this world to be comfortable. Perhaps there are none so unhappy as those who are surrounded with what we think to be the means of happiness. I know this, if I had to find the extreme of wretchedness, I should not go to the dens of poverty, but I should go amongst men surrounded with the trappings of wealth, and find you hearts broken with anguish, and spirits wrung with griefs which they could not tell. Oh, yes! the world is a heap of chaff; the only solid treasure is to be found in Christ; and if you neglect him, you neglect all that is worth the having.

Besides, all this world must soon pass away. See how it melts! Or, if it melts not from you, you must melt from it. There down goes the ship; she floated gaily but an hour before, but she foundered, and she is gone; and now, merchant, what wilt thou do? Thy vessel has gone down with all thy treasure on board, and thou art left penniless! Oh, happy are they who lay up their treasure in Christ, for no shipwreck need they fear! But, oh! —

“This world’s a dream, an empty show,” —
which cannot satisfy an immortal soul.

Further than this, let me remind you, my dear healer, that if you have not Christ, nothing else will avail for you. A profession of religion will only be a sort of respectable pall to throw over the corpse of your dead soul. Nay, a profession of religion, if you have not Christ in it will be a swift witness against you to condemn you. What right have you to profess to be a follower of Christ, unless Christ be in you the hope of glory? And to have listened to the ministry of the Word will be of no use to you if you do not get Christ. Alas, alas! what can our poor sermons do? Our prayers, our hymns,-what are they all? Ah! and what will your baptism be, and what will the Lord’s supper be, unless by faith you grasp a Savior? These ordinances, though ordained of God himself, are wells without water, and clouds without rain, unless they get us Christ, who is the sum and substance of them all. It will be of no use to you that you were regular in your private prayers, that you were good to the poor, that you were generous to the church, that you were constantly in your attendance upon the outward means of grace. I say, as I said before, that all these are but a painted pageantry for your soul to go to hell in, except you have Christ. You may as surely go down to the pit by the religious road as by the irreligious. If you have not Christ, you have not salvation, whatever else you may have.

“Give me Christ, or else I die,” — should be your daily and nightly prayer; for all else must destroy you if you have not a Savior.

And let me tell thee, dear healer, that thy repentance, if it does not lead thee to Christ, will need to be repented of; and thy faith, if it be not based upon his atoning sacrifice, is a faith that is not the faith of God’s elect; and all thy convictions of sin — all the visions that have scared thee, all the fears that have haunted thee, — will only be a prelude to something worse, unless thou gettest Christ. There is one door, and if thou goest not through that, climbing up some other way, though it be never so tedious, will not answer thy turn. Thou must even go down to hell after all thine efforts, all thy repentings, all thy believings, unless thy soul can say-

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesu’s blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesu’s name:
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”

Oh, how this ought to make you long for Christ, when you think that everything else is but a bauble when compared with him: and bethink you what a state you are in as long as you are destitute of him!


III. I must not tarry, so let me remind you, my dear hearer, though you cannot possibly know how anxious I am to speak so that you may feel what I say, that Nothing Can Make Ammends To You For Losing Christ.

I know how it is with some of you. You say you cannot afford to follow Christ. Your trade — your wicked trade, you would have to give that up; for it happens to be an ungodly calling. Well now, friend, let me take thee by the button-hole a minute. Which hadst thou better be, a beggar and go to heaven, or a duke, and go to hell? Come, now, which hadst thou better do, go to heaven with an empty pocket or go down to the pit with a full one? All ye who worship Mammon, I know how you will answer, but you who have souls above earth, I hope you will reply, “Nothing in the form of wealth will compensate us for losing our souls.” Men have been known, on their dying beds to have their money-bags brought to them, and they have put them to their hearts, and have said, “This won’t do,” and they have taken up another, and put it to their palpitating hearts, and said again, “This won’t do.” Ah, no, it cannot cure a heart-ache; what can it do for a soul in eternity? Is it not a painful thing to attend upon some men who die rich in ill-gotten gain? What are they the better for their wealth? They only have it said of them, “He died worth so much;” that is all, but they sleep, in the same earth, and the same worms devour them. There is more fighting over their graves, and more joy because they are gone, among the heirs who divide the plunder, while, oftentimes, the poor man has the honest tears of his children shed upon a coffin which they have had to contribute to purchase out of their little savings, and the grave itself has been prepared by the charity of some who found in their father’s character the only patrimony which he had to bequeath. Oh, may God grant you grace to perceive that all the riches you can ever get would never make up for losing Christ!

Some lose Christ for the sake of fame. It is not a fashionable thing to be a Christian. To be a Christian after the world’s sort, I grant you, is; but after the sort of the New Testament, it is not; and many say, “Well, it is not fashionable,” and they bend to the fashion; and many do the same in another way, for young men are laughed out of going to the house of God, and young women are decoyed from attending the means of grace by the laughter, and jeers, and jokes of their companions. Remember that they can laugh you into hell, but they can never laugh you out again; and that, though their jokes may shut the door, their jokes can never open that door again. Oh, is this all? Will you sell your souls to escape from a fool’s laughter? Then, what a fool you must be yourself! What, are you so thin-skinned that you cannot bear to be questioned, or to be asked whether you are a follower of the Lord Jesus? Ah, sir, you shall have that thin skin of yours tormented more than enough in the world to come, when shame, which you dread so much, shall be your everlasting portion! O soul, how canst thou sell Christ for the applause of men? How canst thou give him up for the laughter of fools?

Some give Jesus Christ up for the pleasures of the world, but can the giddy dance for a few minutes of this life be worth the torments of the world to come? Oh, weigh, like wise men, — as merchants weigh their goods against the gold, — I pray you, weigh your souls against the pleasures of this world. Oh, where is the pleasure? Even Tiberius, in his desert island, when he had ransacked the world to find a new joy, could not, if he could give us all the mirth he knew, tell us of anything that would be worth the casting away of the soul. This pearl is too priceless for the world to attempt to purchase it. I pray you, be wise enough to feel that nothing can compensate you for this loss, and do seek Jesus and may you find him to-night!


IV. A fourth observation, upon which I shall not enlarge, is this, — Depend Upon It, That Whatever You Lose For Christ’s Sake Will Be A Blessed Loss For You.

Gregory Nazianzen, a foremost father of the Christian Church, rejoiced that he was well versed in the Athenian philosophy; and why do you think be rejoiced in that? Because he had to give it all up when he became a Christian; and said he, “I thank God that I had a philosophy to throw away.” He counted it no loss, but a gain, to be a loser of such learned lumber when he found a Savior. Says an old divine, who would refuse to give up a whole sky full of stars if he could buy a sun therewith, and who would refuse to give up all the comforts of this life if he could have Christ at so goodly a price?” That grand old Ignatius, one of the earliest of the Church fathers, said, “Give me burning, give me hanging, give me all the torments of hell; if I may but act my Savior, I would fain be content to bear them all as a price.” And so might we. Did I not tell you of the martyrs Sitting and singing in old Bonner’s damp coal-hole, and one of them writing, “There are six brave companions with me in this paradise, and we do sit and sing in the dark all day”? Ah, yes, they were no losers. Did not Rutherford say, when he declared that he had but one eye, and his enemies had put that out, — for that one eye was the preaching of the gospel, an eye to the glory of God, and his enemies had made him silent in Aberdeen, so that he used to weep over his dumb and silent Sabbaths, yet did be not say, “But how mistaken they are! They thought they sent me to a dungeon, but Christ has been so precious to me, that I thought it to be the king’s parlour, and the very paradise of God”? And did not Renwick say that, oftentimes, when he had been out among the bogs on the Scotch mountains, hunted over the mosses, with the stars of God looking down upon the little congregation, that they had far more of God’s fellowship than bishops had ever had in cathedrals, or than they themselves had ever had in their circles, when, in brighter days, they had worshipped God in peace? The dragoons of Claverhouse, and the uniformity of Charles II. were incapable of quenching the joy of our Puritanic and Covenanting forefathers. Their piety drew its mirth from deeper springs shall kings could stop, or persecution could dry up. The saints of Christ have given Christ their all, and when they have given all, they have felt that they were the richer for their poverty, the happier for their sorrows; and when they have been in solitude for Christ, they have felt that they have had good company, for he has been with them to be their strength and their joy. You may have Christ at what price you will, but you will make a good bargain of it. I charge thee, my dear hearer, if it should come to this, that thou shouldst have to sell thy house and thy home, if the wife of thy bosom should become thine enemy, if thy children should refuse to know their own father or to look him in the face, if thou shouldst be banished from thy country, if there should be a halter for thy neck, and nor grave for thy body, thou wouldst make a good bargain in taking up my Lord and Master; for, oh he will own you in the day when men disown you; and in the day when he cometh, there shall be none so bright as those who have suffered for him.

“And they who, with their Leader,
Have conquer’d in the fight,
For ever and for ever
Are clad in robes of white.”

Yes, if you suffer with him, you shall also be glorified together. God grant you grace to feel this to be true, and to make any sacrifice so long as you can but “win Christ, and be found in him.”


V. If Ever You Do Get Christ, You Will Find Him All Gain, And No Loss.

The apostle says, “That I may win Christ.” It is all winning, and no losing. Why, if you get Christ, you will get life. Does He not give life and immortality to those that have him? Yea, saith he, “he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” If you get Christ, you will get light. He said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness.” The Sun of righteousness shall arise upon you. Get Christ, and you shall get health, your soul shall leave her sicknesses with him who bore her sickness in the days of his flesh. Get Christ, and you shall get riches, “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” You may be poor, perhaps, outwardly; but you shall be rich yourselves, and be able to make many others rich, — rich in faith, giving glory to God. Get Christ, and prosperity shall not hurt you, your feet shall be like hinds’ feet, to stand upon your high places. Get Christ, and he will turn your bitter Marahs into sweet Elims. He is the tree which, when put into the brackish water, makes it sweet to the taste. Affliction is no longer affliction when Christ is with us. Then the furnace glows, not with heat alone, but with a golden radiance, a present glory, when Christ treads the burning coals.

Get Christ, beloved, and you have got all your soul can wish for. Now may you stretch your capacious powers to the utmost, and, with a holy covetousness, and a sacred greediness, desire all you can. You may open your mouth wide, for Christ will fill it. You may enlarge your desires, but the infinite riches of Christ will satisfy them at their largest, and widest stretch. Get Christ, and you have heaven on earth, and shall have heaven for ever. Get Christ, and angels shall be your servitors; the wheels of providence shall grind for your good, the chariot of God, which brings on the events prophesied in apocalyptic vision, shall bring only joy and peace to you; and you shall hear it said, both in time and in eternity,

“’Tis with the righteous well.”

Get Christ, and you have nothing to fear, and everything to hope for. Get Christ, and sin is buried in the Red Sea of Jesu’s blood, while, you are arrayed in the spotless righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, — Jehovah Tsidkenu himself. Get Christ, and — what more shall I say? Then may you swim in seas of bliss, then may you walk Elysian fields of holy joy even here on earth. Get Christ, and you need not envy the angels. Get Christ, and you may count yourselves to be raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places with him.

Surely all this ought to make the sinner’s mouth water to get Christ! It ought to make his heart ache till he gets Christ. It ought to set his soul a-hungering and a-thirsting till he gets Jesus. It ought to make him resolve that he will not be kept back till at last he gets a firm hold upon the Crucified.


VI. My last remark shall be this, We Shall Understand All This A Great Deal Better Very Soon.

There is a curtain, but it is lifting, it is lifting, it is lifting; and when it is lifted, what do I see? The spirit world! ’Tis death that lifts the curtain; and when it is lifted, these present things will vanish, for they are but shadows. The world of eternity and reality will then be seen. I would summon a jury of the spirits that have passed that curtain, and they would not be long debating about the question whether Christ is worth the winning. I care not where you select them from, — whether from among the condemned in hell, or from among the beatified in heaven. Let them sit, let, even those who are in hell sit, and judge upon the matter and if they could for once speak honestly, they would tell you that it is a dreadful thing to despise Christ, now that they have come to see things in a true light, — now that they are, lost for ever, for ever, for ever, — now that they are crushed with knowledge and feeling which have come too late to be profitable, — now they wish that they had listened to the ministrations of truth, to the proclamations of the gospel. If they could have a sane mind back again, they would shriek, “Oh, for one more Sabbath! Oh, to listen once more to an honest preacher, though his words might be clumsy and uncouth! Oh, to hear a voice once more say, ’Come to Jesus while the day of mercy lasts!’ Oh, to be once more pressed to come to the marriage-feast, — once more bidden to look to Jesus and to live!” I tell you sirs, some of you who make so light of Sundays, and think preaching is but a pastime, so that you come here to hear us as you would go to hear some fiddler on a weeknight, — I tell you, sirs, the lost in hell reckon these things at a very different rate, and so will you ere long, when another preacher, with skeleton fingers, shall talk to you upon your death-bed. Ah! then you will see that we were in earnest, and you were the players, and you will comprehend that what we said to you demanded earnest, immediate attention, though, alas! you would not give, it, and so played false to your own soul, and committed spiritual suicide, and went your way like a bullock to the slaughter, to be the murderers of your own spirits!

But suppose I summoned a jury of bright spirits from heaven?

Ah! they would not need to consider, but I am sure they would unanimously say to you, if they might, “Seek ye, the Lord while he may be found, seek the Lord and his strength; seek the Lord and his face evermore; put your trust in Jesus, for he is sweet beyond all sweetness.” May you do this, and may you sing, —

“Oh! spread thy savor on my frame,
No sweetness is so sweet;
Till I get up to sing thy name
Where all thy singers meet.”

Pray that prayer.

Ask him to save you, and may the Lord bless you,
for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

Philippians 4:19 A New Year's Wish

NO. 3231

“But my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”- Philippians 4:19 (note)

THE Philippians had several times sent presents to Paul, to supply his necessities. Though they were not themselves rich, yet they made a contribution, and sent Epaphroditus with it, “an odour of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” Paul felt very grateful: he thanked God, but he did not forget also to thank the donors; he wished them, every blessing, and he did as good as say, “You have supplied my need, and my God shall supply yours. You have supplied my need of temporal food and raiment out of your poverty; my God shall supply all your need out of his riches in glory.” “As,” he says, in the eighteenth verse, “I have all and abound: I am full,” “so,” he adds, “’my God shall supply all your need.’ You have sent what you gave me by the hand of a beloved brother, but God will send a better messenger to you, for he will supply all your need ’by Christ Jesus.’“ Every single word sounds as if he had thought it over, and the Spirit of God had guided him in his meditation, so that he should to the fullest extent wish them back a blessing similar to that which they had sent to him, only of a richer and more enduring kind.

Now, on this New Year’s Day I would desire, somewhat in the spirit of Paul, to bless those of you who have supplied, according to your abilities, the wants of God’s work in my hands, and have given, even out of your poverty, to the cause of God, according as there has been need. I count myself to be personally your debtor though your gifts have been for the students, and the orphans, and the colporteurs, and not for myself. In return for your kindness, after the manner of his gracious love, “my God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

This verse is particularly sweet to me, for, when we were building the Orphanage, I foresaw that, if we had no voting, and no collecting of annual subscriptions, but depended upon the goodness of God, and the voluntary offerings of his people, we should have times of trial, and therefore I ordered the masons to place upon the first columns of the Orphanage entrance, these words, “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The text therefore is out in stone upon the right hand and upon the left of the great archway. There stands this declaration of our confidence in God; and as long as God lives, we shall never need be remove it, for he will certainly supply the needs of his own work. While we serve him, he will furnish our tables for us.


I. The text might suggest to us a field of gloomy thought, if we wished to indulge the melancholy vein, for it speaks of “all your need.” So, first, behold A Great Necessity: “all your need.”

What a gulf! What an abyss! “All your need.” I do not know how many believers made up the church at Philippi, but the need of one saint is great enough; what must many need? It would not be possible to tell the number of God’s children on earth, but the text comprehends the need of the whole chosen family, “all your need.” We will not ask you to reckon up the wonderful draught upon the divine exchequer which must be made by all the needs of all the saints who are yet on earth: but please think of your own need; that will be more within the compass of your experience and the range of your meditation. May the Lord supply your need and all your need!

There is our temporal need, and that is no little matter. If we have food and raiment, we should be therewith content; but there are many of God’s people to when the mere getting of food and raiment is a wearisome toil; and what with household cares, family trials, sickness of body, losses in business, and sometimes the impossibility of obtaining suitable labor, many of God’s saints are as hard put to it as Elijah was when he sat by the brook Cherith. If God did not send them their bread and meat in a remarkable manner, they would surely starve; but their bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure. “My God shall supply all your need.” You have, perhaps, a large family, and your needs are therefore greatly increased, but the declaration of the text includes the whole of your needs personal and relative.

After all, our temporal needs are very small compared with our spiritual needs. A man may, with the blessing of God, pretty readily provide for the wants of the body, but who shall provide for the requirements of the soul? There is need of perpetual pardon, for we are always sinning; and Jesus Christ’s blood is always pleading for us, and cleansing us from sin. Every day there is need of fresh strength battle against inward sin; and, blessed be God, it is daily supplied, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s. As good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we need armor from head to foot, and even then we do not know how to wear the armor, or how to wield the sword, unless he who gave us these sacred implements shall be always with us. Warring saint, God will supply all your need by his presence and Spirit. But we are not merely warriors, we are also workers. We are called, many of us, to important spheres of labor, (and, indeed, let no man think his sphere unimportant,) but here also our hands shall be sufficient for us, and we shall accomplish our life-work. You have need to be helped to do the right thing, at the right time, in the right spirit, and in the right manner; your need, as a Sunday-school teacher, as an open-air preacher, and especially as a minister of the gospel, will be very great; but the text meets all your requirements, “My God shall supply all your need.” Then comes our need in suffering, for many of us are called to take our turn in the Lord’s prison-house. Here we need patience under pain, and hope under depression of spirit. Who is sufficient for furnace-work? Our God will supply us with those choice graces and consolations which shall strengthen us to glorify his name even in the fires. He will either make the burden lighter, or the burden stronger; he will diminish the need, or increase the supply.

Beloved, it is impossible for me to mention all the forms of our spiritual need. We need to be daily converted from some sin or other, which, perhaps, we have scarcely known to be sin. We need to be instructed in the things of God, we need to be illuminated as to the mind of Christ, we need to be comforted by the promises, we need to be quickened by the precepts, we need to be strengthened by the doctrines. We need, oh, what do we not need? We are just a bag of wants, and a heap of infirmities. If any one of us were to keep a want-book, as I have seen tradesmen do, what a huge folio it would need to be; and it might be written within and without, and crossed and re-crossed, for we are full of wants from the first of January to the end of December; but here is the mercy, “My God shall supply all your need.” Are you put in high places? Have you many comforts? Do you enjoy wealth? What need you have to be kept from loving the world, to be preserved from wantonness and pride, and the follies and fashions of this present evil world. My God will supply your need in that respect. Are you very poor? Then the temptation is to envy, to bitterness of spirit, to rebellion against God. “My God shall supply all your need.” Are you alone in the world? Then you need the Lord Jesus to be your Companion; and, your Companion he will be. Have you many around you? Then you have need of grace to set them a good example, to bring up your children, and manage your household in the fear of God.” My God shall supply all your need.” You have need, in times of joy, to be kept sober and steady; you have need, in times of sorrow, to be strong and quit yourselves like men; you have needs in living, and you will have needs in dying, but your last need shall be supplied as surely as your first. “My God shall supply all your need.”

Come, then, brethren, and look down into this great gulf of need, and exultingly say, “O Lord, we thank thee that our needs are great, for there is the more room for thy love, thy tenderness, thy power, thy faithfulness, to fill the chasm.”

That first thought, which I said might be a gloomy one, has all the dreariness taken out of it by four others equally true, but each of them full of good cheer. The text not only mentions a great necessity, but it mentions also a great Helper: “My God;” next, a great supply: “My God shall supply all your need;” thirdly, an abundant store out of which to draw the gift: “according to his riches in glory;” and lastly, a glorious channel through which the supply shall come: “by Christ Jesus.”


II. So, for our enormous wants here is A Great Helper: My God shall supply all your need.”

Whose God is that? Why, Paul’s God. That is one of the matters in which the greatest saints are no better off than the very least, for though Paul called the Lord “My God,” he is my God too. My dear old friend who sits yonder, and has nothing but a few pence in all the world, can also say, “and he is my God too. He is my God, and he is as much my God if I am the meanest, most obscure, and weakest of his people, as he would be my God if I were able, like Paul, to evangelize the nations.” It is, to me, delightful to think that my God is Paul’s God, because, you see, Paul intended this; he meant to say, “You see, dear brethren, my God has supplied all my wants; and as he is your God, he will supply yours.” I have been in the Roman dungeon in which Paul is said to have been confined, and a comfortless prison indeed it is. First of all you descend into a vaulted chamber, into which no light ever comes except through a little round hole in the roof; and then, in the middle of the floor of that den, there is another opening, through which the prisoner was let down into a second and lower dungeon, in which no fresh air or light could possibly come to him. Paul was probably confined there. The dungeon of the Praetorium in which he was certainly immured is not much better. Paul would have been left well nigh to starve there, but for those good people at Philippi. I should not wonder but what Lydia was at the bottom of this kind movement, or else the jailor. They said, “We must not let the good apostle starve;” and so they made up a contribution, and send him what he wanted; and when Paul received it he said, “My God has taken care of me. I cannot make tents here in this dark place so as to earn my own living, but my Master still supplies my need; and even so, when you are in straits, will he supply you.”

“My God.” It has often been sweet to me, when I have thought of my orphan children, and money has not come in, to remember Mr. Müller’s God, and how he always supplied the children at Bristol. His God is my God, and I rest upon him. When you turn over the pages of Scripture, and read of men who were in sore trouble, and were helped, you may say, “Here is Abraham, he was blessed in all this, and Abraham’s God will supply all my need, for he is my God. I read of Elijah, that the ravens fed him; I have Elijah’s God, and he can command the ravens to feed me if he pleases.” The God of the prophets, the God of the apostle, the God of all the saints that have gone before us, “this God is our God for ever and ever.” It seems to be thought by some that God will not work now as he used to die. “Oh, if we had lived in miraculous times,” they say, “then we could have trusted him! Then there was manifest evidence of God’s existence, for he pushed aside the laws of nature, and wrought for the fulfillment of his promises to his people.” Yet that was a rather coarser mode of working than the present one, for now the Lord produces the same results without the violation of the laws of nature. It is a great fact that, without the disturbance of a single law of nature, prayer becomes effectual with God; and God being enquired of by his people to do it for them, does fulfill his promise, and supply their needs. Using means of various kinds, he still gives his people all things necessary for this life and godliness. Without a miracle, he works great wonders of loving care, and he will continue so to do.

Beloved, is the God of Paul your God? Do you regard him as such? It is not every man who worships Paul’s God. It is not every professing Christian who really knows the Lord at all, for some invent a deity such as they fancy God ought to be. The God of Paul is the God of the Old and New Testament,-such a God as we find there. Do you trust such a God? Can you rest upon him?”

There are such severe judgments mentioned in Scripture.” Yes, do you quarrel with them? Then you cast him off; but if, instead thereof, you feel, “I cannot understand thee, O my God, nor do I think I ever shall, but it is not for me, a child, to measure the infinite God, or to arraign thee at my bar, and say to thee, ’Thus shouldst thou have done, and thus oughtest thou not to have done.’ Thou sayest, ’ Such am I,’ and I answer, ’ Such as thou art, I love thee, and I cast myself upon thee, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of thy servant Paul. Thou art my God, and I will rest upon thee.’“ Very well, then, he will “supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Just think of that for a minute.

If he will supply you, you will be supplied indeed, for God is infinite in capacity. He is indefinitely wise as to the manner of his actions; and infinitely powerful as to the acts themselves. He never sleeps nor tires; he is never absent from any place, but is always ready to help. Your needs come, perhaps, at very unexpected times; they may occur in the midnight of despondency or in the noonday of delight, but God is ever near to supply the surprising need. He is everywhere present and everywhere omnipotent, and he can supply all your need, in every place, at every time, to the fullest degree.

“Remember that Omnipotence has servants everywhere;”- and that, whenever God wishes to send you aid, he can do it without pausing to ask, “How shall it be done?” He has but to will it, and all the powers of heaven and earth are subservient to your necessity. With such a Helper, what cause have you to doubt?


III. The next point in the text is, A Great Supply. “My God shall supply all your need.”

Sometimes, we lose a good deal of the meaning of Scripture through the translation; in fact, nothing ever does gain by translation except a bishop. The present passage might be rendered thus “My God will fill to the full all your need.” The illustration which will best explain the meaning is that of the woman whose children were to be sold by her creditor to pay the debts of her late husband. She had nothing to call her own except some empty oil-jars, and the prophet bade her set these in order, and bring the little oil which still remained in the cruse. She did so, and he then said to her, “Go among your neighbors, and borrow empty vessels, not a few.” She went from one to another till she had filled her room full of these empty vessels, and then the prophet said, “Pour out.” She began to pour out from her almost empty cruse; and, to her surprise, it filled her largest oil-jar. She went to another, and filled that, and then another and another. She kept on filling all the oil-jars, till at last she said to the prophet, “there is not a vessel more.” Then the oil stayed, but not till then. So will it be with your needs. You were frightened at having so many needs just now, were you not? But now be pleased to think you have them, for they are just so many empty vessels to be filled. If the woman had borrowed only a few jars, she could not have received much oil; but the more empty vessels she had, the more oil she obtained. So, the more wants and the more needs you have if you bring them to God, so much the better, for he will fill them all to the brim, and you may be thankful that there are so many to be filled. When you have no more wants, (but oh, when will that be?) then the supply will be stayed, but not till then.

How gloriously God gives to his people! We wanted pardon once: he washed us, and he made us whiter than snow. We wanted clothing, for we were naked. What did he do? Give us some rough dress or other? Oh, no! but he said, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him.” It was a fortunate thing for the prodigal that, his clothes were all in rags, for then he needed raiment, and the best robe was brought forth. It is a grand thing to be sensible of spiritual needs, for they will all be supplied. A conscious want in the sight of God,-what is it but a prevalent request for a new mercy? We have sometimes asked him to comfort us, for we were very low; but when the Lord has comforted us, he has so filled us with delight that we have been inclined to cry with the old Scotch divine, “Hold, Lord, hold! It is enough. I cannot bear more joy. Remember I am only an earthen vessel.” We, in relieving the poor, generally give no more than we can help, but our God does not stop to count his favors, he gives like a king. He pours water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.


IV. We must pass on to the next thought, and consider for a minute or two The Great Resources out of which this supply is to come: “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory.”

The preacher may sit down now, for he cannot compass this part of the text. God’s riches in glory are beyond all thought.

Consider the riches of God in nature; who shall count his treasures? Get away into the forests; travel on league after league among the trees which cast their ample shade for no man’s pleasure, but only for the Lord. Mark on lone mountain-side and far-reaching plain the myriads of flowers whose perfume is for God alone. What wealth each spring and summer is created in the boundless estates of the great King! Observe the vast amount of animal and insect life which crowds the land with the riches of divine wisdom, for “the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.” Look towards the sea; think of those shoals of fish, so countless that, when only the fringe of them is touched by our fishermen, they find enough food to supply a nation. Mark, too, the sunken treasures of the ocean, which no hand gathereth but that of the Eternal. If you would see the wealth of the Creator, cast your eye to the stars; tell ye their numbers if ye can. Astronomy has enlarged our vision, and made us look upon this world as a mere speck compared with innumerable other worlds that God has made; and it has told us that, probably, all the myriads of worlds that we can see with the telescope are a mere fraction of the countless orbs which tenant infinite space. Vast are God’s riches in nature. It needs a Milton to sing, as he sang in Paradise Lost, the riches of the creating God.

The riches of God in providence are equally without bound. He saith to this creature, “Go,” and he goeth, and to another, “Do this,” and he doeth it, for all things do his bidding. Think of the wealth of God in grace. There nature and providence stand eclipsed, for we have the fountain of eternal love, the gift of an infinite sacrifice, the pouring out of the blood of his own dear Son, and the covenant of grace in which the smallest blessing is infinite in value. The riches of his grace! “God is rich in mercy,”-rich in patience, love, power, kindness, rich beyond all conception.

Now your needs shall be supplied according to the riches of nature, and the riches of providence, and the riches of grace; but this is not all; the apostle chooses a higher style, and writes “according to his riches in glory.” Ah, we have never seen God in glory! That were a sight our eyes could none at present behold. Christ in his glory, when transfigured upon earth, was too resplendent a spectacle even for the tutored eyes of Peter, and James, and John.

“At the too-transporting light,”- darkness rushed upon them, and they were as men that slept What God is in his glory do ye know, ye angels? Does he not veil his face even from you lest, in the excessive brightness of his essence, even you should be consumed? Who amongst all his creatures can tell the riches of his glory, when even the heavens are not pure in his sight, and he charges his angels with folly?

“His riches in glory.” It means not only the riches of what he has done, but the riches of what he could do; for if he has made hosts of worlds, he could make as many myriads more, and then have but begun. The possibilities of God omnipotent, who shall reckon? But the Lord shall supply all your need according to such glorious possibilities. When a great king gives according to his, riches, then he does not measure out stinted alms to beggars, but he gives like a king, as we say; and if it be some grand festival day, and the king is in his state array, his largesse is on a noble scale. Now, when God is in his glory, bethink you, if you can, what must be the largesse that he distributes,-what the treasures that he brings forth for his own beloved! Now, “according to his riches in glory,” he will supply all your needs. After that, dare you despond? O soul, what insanity is unbelief? What flagrant blasphemy is doubt of the love of God! He must bless us; and, blessed by him, we must be blest indeed. If he is to supply our needs “according to his riches in glory,” they will be supplied to the full.


V. Now let us close our meditation by considering The Glorious Channel by which these needs are to be supplied: “According to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

You shall have all your soul’s wants satisfied, but you must go to Christ for everything. “By Christ Jesus.” That is the fountainhead where the living waters well up. You are not to keep your wants supplied by your own care and fretfulness. “Consider the lilies, how they grow.” You are to be enriched “by Christ Jesus.” You are not to have your spiritual wants supplied by going to Moses, and working and toiling as if you were your own saviour, but by faith in Christ Jesus. Those who will not go to Christ Jesus must go without grace, for God will give them nothing in the way of grace except through his Son. Those who go to Jesus the most shall oftenest taste of his abundance, for through him all blessings come. My advice to myself and to you is that we abide in him; for, since that is the way by which the blessing comes, we had better abide in it. We read of Ishmael that he was sent into the wilderness with a bottle, but Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi, and it is wise for us to dwell by the well Christ Jesus, and never trust to the bottles of our own strength. If you wander from Christ Jesus, brother, you depart from the center of bliss.

All this year I pray that you may abide by the well of this text. Draw from it. Are you very thirsty? Draw from it, for it is full; and when you plead this promise, the Lord will supply all your need. Do not cease receiving from God for a minute. Let not your unbelief hinder the Lord’s bounty, but cling to this promise, “My God shall supply all your need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” I know not how to wish “you a greater blessing. If you are enabled by the Holy Spirit to realize it, you will enjoy what I earnestly wish for you, namely,- A Happy New Year.

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Sermon Notes on
Rejoice in the Lord alway:
and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:4 (note)

JOY drives out discord. See how our text follows as a remedy upon a case of disagreement in the church (verses 1-2).

Joy helps against the trials of life. Hence, it is mentioned as a preparation for the rest of faith, which is prescribed in verse 6.


1. It is delightful. Our soul's jubilee has come when joy enters.

2. It is demonstrative. It is more than peace; it sparkles, shines, sings. Why should it not? Joy is a bird. Let it fly in the open heavens, and let its music be heard of all men.

3. It is stimulating and urges its possessor to brave deeds.

4. It is influential for good. Sinners are attracted to Jesus by the joy of saints. More flies are caught with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.

5. It is contagious. Others are gladdened by our rejoicing.

6. It is commanded. It is not left optional, but made imperative.

We are as much commanded to rejoice as to keep the Sabbath.

It is commanded because joy makes us like God.

It is commanded because it is for our profit.

It is commanded because it is good for others.


1. As to sphere: "in the Lord." This is that sacred circle wherein a Christian's life should be always spent.

2. As to object: "in the Lord."

We should rejoice in the Lord God, Father, Son, and Spirit. We should rejoice in the Lord Jesus, dead, risen, etc.

Not in temporals, personal, political, or pecuniary.

Nor in special privileges, which involve greater responsibility.

Nor even in religious successes. "In this rejoice not, that the devils are subject unto you through my word, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).

Nor in self and its doings (Philippians 3:3 - note).


1. When you cannot rejoice in any other, rejoice in God.

2. When you can rejoice in other things, sanctify all with joy in God.

3. When you have not before rejoiced, begin at once.

4. When you have long rejoiced, do not cease for a moment.

5. When others are with you, lead them in this direction.

6. When you are alone, enjoy to the full this rejoicing.


Paul repeats his exhortation—

1. To show his love to them. He is intensely anxious that they should share his joy.

2. To suggest the difficulty of continual joy. He twice commands, because we are slow to obey.

3. To assert the possibility of it. After second thoughts, he feels that he may fitly repeat the exhortation.

4. To impress the importance of the duty. Whatever else you forget, remember this: Be sure to rejoice.

5. To allow of special personal testimony. "Again I say, Rejoice." Paul rejoiced. He was habitually a happy man. This epistle to the Philippians is peculiarly joyous.

Let us look it through. The apostle is joyful throughout—

He sweetens prayer with joy (Philippians 1:4 - note).

He rejoices that Christ is preached (Philippians 1:18 - note).

He wished to live to gladden the church (Philippians 1:25 -note).

To see the members like-minded was his joy (Philippians 2:2 - note).

It was his joy that he should not run in vain (Philippians 2:16 - note).

His farewell to them was, "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 3:1 - note).

He speaks of those who rejoice in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:3 - note).

He calls his converts his joy and crown (Philippians 4:1 - note).

He expresses his joy in their kindness (see notes Philippians 4:4

, 4:10, 4:18).

To all our friends, let us use this as a blessing: "Rejoice in the Lord."

This is only a choicer way of saying, Be happy; fare-you-well.

Fare ye well, and if for ever,
Still forever fare ye well.


It is not an indifferent thing to rejoice, or not to rejoice; but we are commanded to rejoice, to show that we break a commandment if we rejoice not. Oh, what a comfort is this, when the Comforter himself shall command us to rejoice! God was wont to say, Repent, and not rejoice, because men rejoice too much; but God here commandeth to rejoice, as though some men did not rejoice enough: therefore you must understand to whom he speaketh. In Psalm 149:5, it is said, "Let the saints be glad? not, let the wicked be glad. And, in Isa. 40:1, he saith, "Comfort my people," not, comfort mine enemies, showing to whom this commandment of Paul is sent, "Rejoice evermore." — Henry Smith

The thing whereunto he exhorteth, as ye see, is to rejoice; a thing which the sensual man can quickly lay hold on, who loves to rejoice, and to cheer himself in the days of his flesh; which yet might now seem unreasonable to the Philippians, who lived in the midst of a naughty and crooked nation, by whom they were even hated for the truth's sake which they professed. Mark, therefore, wherein the apostle would they should rejoice, namely, in the Lord; and here the sensual man, that haply would catch hold when it is said, Rejoice, by-and-by when it is added, in the Lord, will let go his hold. But they that, by reason of the billows and waves of the troublesome sea of this world, cannot brook the speech when it is said, Rejoice, are to lay sure holdfast upon it when it is added, Rejoice in the Lord; which holdfast once taken, that they might for ever keep it sure, in the third place it is added, Rejoice in the Lord alway, to note the constancy that should be in Christian joy. — Henry Airay

Another note to distinguish this joy in the Lord from all other joys is the fullness and exuberancy of it, for it is more joy than if corn and wine and oil increased. Else what needed the apostle, having said, "Rejoice in the Lord always," to add, "and again I say, Rejoice"? What can be more than always, but still adding to the fullness of our joy, till our cup do overflow?

Upon working days, rejoice in the Lord who giveth thee strength to labor and feedeth thee with the labor of thy hands. On holidays, rejoice in the Lord who feasteth thee with the marrow and fatness of his house. In plenty, rejoice again and again, because the Lord giveth. In want, rejoice because the Lord taketh away, and as it pleaseth the Lord, so come things to pass. — Edward Marbury

The calendar of the sinner has only a few days in the year marked as festival days; but every day of the Christian's calendar is marked by the hand of God as a day of rejoicing. — Anonymous

'Tis impious in a good man to be sad.— Edward Young

Napoleon, when sent to Elba, adopted, in proud defiance of his fate, the motto, "Ubicunque felix." It was not true in his case, but the Christian may be truly "happy everywhere" and always.

By C H Spurgeon


Philippians 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Philippians 1:2 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,

Philippians 1:4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,

Philippians 1:5 For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Philippians 1:7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

This Epistle was written by Paul when he was in prison, with iron fetters about his wrists; yet there is no iron in the Epistle. It is full of light, life, love, and joy, blended with traces of sorrow, yet with a holy delight that rises above his grief.

Philippians 1:8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;

Philippians 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;

Philippians 1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:12 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;

Philippians 1:13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Philippians 1:14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Verses 12-14: Notice the beautiful self-forgetfulness of the apostle Paul. So long as the, gospel could be more widely published, he did not mind where he was, or what he suffered. He was able to witness for Christ among the Praetorian guards, who had the charge of the prison where he was confined, and who also, in their turn, were on duty in Caesar’s palace; so Paul says that, through his being in bonds there, the particulars concerning his imprisonment were talked about even in the imperial palace, and by that means the gospel was made known to many in Caesar’s household. Then, in addition, other brethren, who might perhaps have felt compelled to be quiet in his presence, finding that their leader was removed from them, waxed confident to come out and” speak the word without fear.” The same sort of thing has often happened since. You have sometimes seen a widely-spreading oak tree cut down, and you have missed its grateful shadow; yet, afterwards, you have discovered that many little trees, which would have, been dwarfed beneath its shade, have grown more rapidly in its absence; and, in like manner, the removal of some eminent servant of the Lord Jesus Christ has frequently made room for others to spring up, and more than fill his place.

Philippians 1:15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:

Philippians 1:16 The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:

Philippians 1:17 But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.

Philippians 1:18 What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

Philippians 1:19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Verses 15-19 It is much to be desired that all who preach Christ should preach in a right spirit; but even if they do not, let us be glad that Christ is preached anyhow, Even though it is only a portion of the gospel that is proclaimed, and there is much mixed with it from which we greatly differ, yet, if Christ is preached, his gospel will win its own way, and work out his great purposes of love and mercy, You have, perhaps, sometimes seen a little fire kindled among the dead autumn leaves which are dank and lamp; and you have noticed that, despite, all the smoke, the fire has continued to live and burn. So is it with the eternal truth of God. Notwithstanding all the error with which it is often damped, and almost smothered, it will live, and the truth will conquer the error which is piled upon it. So Paul says, “I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,”—

Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Again I bid you remark Paul’s devotion and self-forgetfulness. It seems to be a matter of no choice with him whether he serves God in life or glorifies him in death. The emblem of the American Baptist Missionary Union is an ox standing between a plough and an altar, with the motto, “Ready for either,”—Ready to spend and be spent in labor, or to be a sacrifice, whichever the Lord pleases.

“To me to live is Christ.” If he lived, he lived to know more of Christ studying his person, and learning by his happy experience so that he increased in his knowledge of his Lord and Savior. If he lived, he lived to imitate Christ more closely, becoming more and more conformed to his image. If he lived, he lived to make Christ more and more known to others, and to enjoy Christ more himself. In these four senses, he might well say, “For to me to live is Christ,” — to know Christ more, to imitate Christ more, to preach Christ more, and to enjoy Christ more.

“And to die is gain,” because death, he felt, would free him from all sin and from all doubts as to his state in the present and the future. It would be gain to him, for then he would no longer be tossed upon the stormy sea, but he would be safe upon the land whither he was bound. It would be gain to him, for then he would be free from all temptations both from within and from without. It would be gain to him, for then he would be delivered from all his enemies; there would be no cruel Nero, no blaspheming Jews, no false brethren then. It would be gain to him, for then he would be delivered from all suffering, there would be no more shipwrecks, no more being beaten with rods, or being stoned, for him then. Dying, too, would be gain for him, for he would then be free from all fear of death; and having once died, he would die no more for ever. It would be gain to him, for he would find in heaven better and more perfect friends than he would leave behind on earth; and he would find, above all, his Savior, and be a partaker of his glory. This is a wide subject, and the more we think over it, the more sweetness shall we get out of it.

Philippians 1:22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.

That is a very different thing from living to the flesh. He lived to work for Christ, and to see souls saved as the fruit of his labor.

Philippians 1:23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

There were the two currents flowing in opposite directions. The apostle seemed to hear two voices speaking to him; one of them said, “Live, and you will gather the fruit of your labor, you will see sinners saved, churches established, and the kingdom of Christ extended in the earth.” The other said, “Die, and you will be with Christ;” so he knew not which to choose.

Philippians 1:24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Philippians 1:25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;

The apostle desired to die, yet he was willing to live. Death would have been gain to him, yet he would endure the loss of living if he might thereby benefit others. Let us also always prefer the welfare of others before our own, and care rather to serve others than to make ourselves never so happy.

Philippians 1:26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Philippians 1:27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Now the apostle gives these saints at Philippi a loving exhortation: — The unity of the church is of the utmost importance. When there is a walls of brotherly love, the perfect bond is lost; and as a bundle of rods, when once the binding cord is cut, becomes merely a number of weak and single twigs, so is it with a divided church. May we always be kept in one holy bond of perfect union with each other!

What a happy church is that where the members all “stand fast in one spirit,” and where they are all “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;—not striving with each other, but all fighting for the faith once for all delivered to the saints!

Philippians 1:28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

They give you up as lost because they cannot frighten you; they take it as a token of your perdition that you are not terrified by them, and it is so to them; yet, to you, the peacefulness with which you can endure slander and persecution should be a token of your salvation.

“Away with them! Away with them!” cried the heathen; “those who are not ashamed to acknowledge the crucified Christ are only worthy of perdition.” But of what was their courage a token to themselves?

For when saints can bear fierce persecution without flinching it is an evident sign that they are saved by the grace of God.

Philippians 1:29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;

Which is a great gift. to suffer for his sake; Which is a still greater gift.

What an honor this is to be conferred upon any follower of Christ,—”not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake”! It is not every Christian who receives this mark of honor. There are some believers who have peculiarly tender places in their hearts, and who are wounded and gashed by the unkind remarks of those who love them not because they love the Lord Jesus Christ. To you, my brother, my sister, it is given—and you may well rejoice in such a gift,—”not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”

Philippians 1:30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

“The same agony” it is in the Greek, as if every Christian must, in his measure, go through the same agony through which the apostle went, striving and wrestling against sin, groaning under its burden, agonising to be delivered from it and laboring to bring others out of its power.


Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

Paul did not mean to doubt that there is “any consolation in Christ, any comfort of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any bowels and mercies,” for no one knew better than he did how those blessings abound to them that are in Christ Jesus. He put it by way of argument. If there be consolation in Christ, since there is consolation in Christ, since there is comfort of love, since there is fellowship of the Spirit, be one in Christ; be not divided; love one another: “be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.”

Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

He knew that these saints at Philippi loved him. They had sent once and again to relieve his necessities, so he pleaded with them, by their love to him, to love each other. He does as much as say, “If you really do love me, if it is not a sham, if you have any sympathy with me, and with my labors and sufferings, if you really have the same spirit that burns in my breast, make my heart full of joy by clinging to one another, by being like-minded, ’having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.’”

Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

This would be a good motto for those who are intending to build new places of worship. Let them not be built through strife, because of a squabble among the people of God, but make sure that all concerned are actuated by right motives, and seeking only the glory of God. Then, sometimes, if one gives a guinea, another feels that he must give two so as to excel him; this is giving out of vainglory. Let nothing be done in this way, but as unto the Lord, and as in his sight, let us do all our works, and give all our gifts.

“Nothing”: never give to exceed other givers. Never preach that you may be a better preacher than anybody else; never work in the Sunday-school with the idea of being thought a very successful teacher. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.”

But in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

There is some point in which your friend excels you. Notice that rather than the point in which you excel him. Try to give him the higher seat; seek yourself to take the lowest room.

Philippians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Have a large heart, so that, though you care for yourself in spiritual things, and desire your own sod-prosperity, you may have the same desire for every other Christian man or woman.

Consider how you can help others, and in what way you can prosper them both in temporal things and in spiritual. You are members of a body, so one member is not to think for itself alone, the unity of the whole body requires that every separate and distinct part of it should be in harmony with the whole.

Philippians 2:1–4. If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, be one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things,— Do not obey the world’s maxim “Take care of Number One.” “Look not every man on his own things,”—

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

What an example we have set before us in the Lord Jesus Christ! We are to have the mind of Christ; and that in the most Christly way, for here we have Christ set out to the life.

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

For he was equal with God.

Philippians 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:

and of all the reverence paid to him by the holy spirits around the throne.

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

He had not descended low enough yet, though he had come down all the way from the Godhead to our manhood: “he humbled himself.”

What a cruel and ignominious death for the Son of God to suffer! Did he lose anything by all this wondrous condescension? Will you lose anything by any dishonor that may come upon you for Christ’s sake, for the truth’s sake? No; listen to what followed our Savior’s humiliation:—

He humbled himself, so be you not unwilling to humble yourself. Lower than the cross Christ could not go, his death was one of such extreme ignominy that he could not have been more disgraced and degraded. Be you willing to take the lowest place in the Church of God, and to render the humblest service, count it an honor to be allowed to wash the saints feet. Be humble in mind; nothing is lost by cherishing this spirit, for see how Jesus Christ was honored in the end.

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

He stooped, who can tell how low? He was raised, who shall tell how high? “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him.”

He threw away his name; he emptied himself of his reputation. How high is his reputation now! How glorious is the name that God hath given him as the reward of his redemptive work!

Philippians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

Philippians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Now is he higher than the highest. Now every one must confess his divinity. With shame and terror, his adversaries shall bow before him; with delight and humble adoration, his friends shall own him Lord of all: “that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” See how the greatest glory of Christ is the glory of the Father. He never desired any other glory but that. The highest honor you can ever have, O child of God, is to bring honor to your Father who is in heaven. Do you not think so? I know you do.

Some foolish and superstitious persons make this passage a pretext for bowing their heads at the name of Jesus whenever it is mentioned. Nothing can be more senseless, because the passage means no such thing.

What we are taught here is the great truth that Jesus Christ, though once he stooped to the lowest shame, is now exalted to the very highest glory, and even the devils in hell are compelled to own the might of his power. We are also to learn from this passage that the way to ascend is to descend. He who would be chief must be willing to be the servant of all. The King of kings was the Servant of servants; and if you would be crowned with honor by-and-by, you must be willing to be despised and rejected of men now. The Lord give us this gracious humbleness of mind, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

Get out of self. Work out your salvation from pride, from vainglory, from disputations and strife.

Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

You may very well work out what God works in. If he does not work it in, you will never work it out; but while he works within your spirit both to will and to do, you may safely go on to will and to do; for your willing and your doing will produce lowliness of spirit, and unity of heart with your brethren.

In a certain sense, the salvation of every person who believes in Christ is complete, and complete without any working out on his part, seeing that “it is finished,” and we are complete in Jesus. Observe that there are two parts of our salvation, the one complete, the other as yet incomplete, though guaranteed to be brought to perfection. The first part of our salvation consists of a work for us; the second, of a work in us. The work for us is perfect-none can add thereunto. Jesus Christ our Lord has offered a complete atonement for all the offenses of his people. He took his people into union with himself, and by that union they became entitled to all the merit of his righteousness; they became partakers of his everlasting life, and inheritors of his glory. Saints are therefore saved completely so far as substitutionary work is concerned. Such was the meaning of those majestic death-words of our Lord, “It is finished.” He had finished transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and thus perfected for ever them that are set apart. Now with the work of Christ we cannot intermeddle; we are never told to work that out, but to receive it by faith. The blessing comes “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly.” Justification is not at all by human effort, but by the free gift of God. The second part of salvation consists of a work in us-this is the operation of God the Holy Ghost. As many as were redeemed by the blood of Jesus, are also in due time renewed in the spirit of their minds. The Holy Ghost in regeneration descends into a man, and creates in him a new nature; he does not destroy the old that remains still to be battled with, and to be overcome. Though the nature which the Spirit implants is perfect in its kind and in its degree, yet it is not perfect in its development. It is a seed which needs to work itself out into a tree, it is an infant which requires to grow into the stature of a perfect man; the new nature has in it all the elements of entire perfection, but it needs to be expanded, brought out, to use the words of the text, wrought out with fear and trembling. God having first worked it in, it becomes the business of the Christian life to work out the secret inner principle till it permeates the entire system, till it overcomes the old nature, till it, in fact, utterly destroys inbred corruption, and reigns supreme in the man’s every part; as it shall do when the Lord takes us to dwell with himself for ever. Understand then, it is not at all to the mediatorial work of Christ, it is not at all with regard to the pardon of our sins, or the justification of our persons that Paul speaks, but only with regard to our inner spiritual life. He says of that, “Work it out with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you.”

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

Do not say, “You give me too much to do; you always give me the hard work; you put me in the obscure corner.” No, no; “do all things without murmurings.” And do not begin fighting over a holy work; for, if you do, you spoil it in the very beginning, and how can you then hope for a blessing upon it? “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.”

Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

None finding fault with you, and you not finding fault with others; neither harming nor harmed: “blameless and harmless.”

The sons of God, without rebuke,

So that men cannot rebuke you, and will have to invent a lie before they can do it; and even then the falsehood is too palpable to have any force in it: “without rebuke.”

In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

You cannot straighten them; but you can shine. They would destroy you if they could; but all you have to do is to shine. If Christian men would give more attention to their shining, and pay less attention to the crooked and perverse generation, much more would come of it. But now we are advised to “keep abreast of the times,” and to “catch the spirit of the age.” If I could ever catch that spirit, I would hurl it into the bottomless abyss; for it is a spirit that is antagonistic to Christ in all respects. We are just to keep clear of all that, and “shine as lights in the world.”

Philippians 2:16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

You are to hold forth the Word of life as men hold forth a torch. Your shining is largely to consist in holding forth the Word of life.

God’s ministers cannot bear the thought of having labored in vain; and yet if some of us were to die, what would remain of all we have done? I charge you, brethren, to think of what your life-work has been hitherto. Will it remain? Will it abide? Will it stand the test of your own departure? Ah, if you have any fear about it, you may well go to God in prayer, and cry, “Establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands, establish thou it.” Paul cared much about God’s work; but he did not trouble about himself.

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

If he might be poured forth as a drink-offering on their behalf, or offered up as a whole burnt-offering in the service of the Savior, he would be glad. He could not bear to have lived in vain; but to spend his life for the glory of his Lord, would be ever a joy to him.

Philippians 2:18 For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me.

To live and to die for Jesus Christ, with the blessing of the Father resting upon us, is a matter for us to joy in unitedly and continually. God help us so to do!


Philippians 3:1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Let this be the end of everything; before you get to the end of it, and when you do get to the end of it, “rejoice in the Lord.” It is incumbent upon us, as Christians, to rise out of our despondencies. Joy should be the normal state of the Christian. What a happy religion is ours in which it is a duty to be happy! “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.”

When you get to “finally,” when you are very near the end of your journey, still “rejoice in the Lord.” “Finally,” says Paul, as if this was the end of his epistle, the conclusion of all his teaching: “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” But never do it finally, never come to an end of it. Rejoice in the Lord, and yet again rejoice, and yet again rejoice; and as long as you live, rejoice in the Lord.

As much as to say, “If this were the last sentence that I should write to you, I would say, Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.’ It is your privilege, it is your duty, to rejoice in God; — not in your health, your wealth, your children, your prosperity, but in the Lord.” There is the unchanging and unbounded source of joy. It will do you no harm to rejoice in the Lord; the more you rejoice in him, the more spiritually-minded will you become. “Finally, my brethren.” That is, even to the end, not with you the bitter end; but even to the end of life, rejoice in the Lord. Make this the finis of everything, the end of every day, the end of every year, the end of life. “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” Blessed is that religion in which it is a duty to be happy.

Some hearers are like the Athenian academicians; they want continually to hear something new. The apostle says, “To have the same things written to you, is safe.” So is it for you, dear friends; to have the same gospel, the same Jesus, the same Holy Spirit, made known to you, is safe. New doctrine is dangerous doctrine.

Saying the same thing over and over again is Safe, for your minds do not catch the truth at the first hearing, and your memories are slippery.

To go over the same old truths again and again, to proclaim the same precepts, and teach the same doctrines, is not grievous to us, and it is safe for you to hear these things again and again. If they have not made their due impression upon you already, perhaps they will do so when they are repeated in your hearing. At any rate it is safe for you to hear or read over and over again the old, old story with which you are already familiar.

Philippians 3:2. Beware of dogs, —

Contentious persons, — persons of coarse and corrupt habits: “Beware of dogs,” — They are like to dogs. If they fawn upon you, they will bemire you, if they do not bite you.

Men of a doggish, captious, selfish spirit. In Paul’s day, there were some who were called Cynics, that is to say, dogs: “Beware of dogs,” —

Beware of evil workers,

However prettily they may talk, if they are workers of evil, beware of them.” By their fruits ye shall know them.” Their speech may be clever, but if their lips be unclean, beware of them.

Beware of the concision.

By which Paul meant those Jews who made a great point of circumcision; he calls them here “the cutters”, for they mangled and cut the Church of God in pieces: “Beware of the concision.”

Beware of the cutters off, those who excommunicate and cut off others because they do not happen quite to agree with them in certain rites and ceremonies.

There were some who bad confidence in circumcision, who greatly troubled Paul. The apostle says that they were “the concision”, the cutters-off, of whom he would have the Philippians beware.

Philippians 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

These are three marks of the true Israel of God; have you all of them,-worshipping God in the spirit, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh?

This is the real circumcision, which is of the spirit, and not of the flesh. The men who have abandoned all confidence in themselves, the men who have come to rely upon Christ alone, the men who “rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” those who care not for outward rites and ceremonies, but who worship God in the spirit, — these are the true circumcision.

Philippians 3:4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh.

“If any man might trust in outward religion, I might,” said Paul; yet he was the very man who would not do so, and who warned others against doing it.

If any man might have had confidence in the flesh, truly Paul might.

If anybody might, Paul might. If birth, if education, or if external religiousness could have saved anybody in the world, it would have saved Saul of Tarsus.

Philippians 3:5 If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eight day,

So that, if anybody could have boasted of what he was by birth, what he was by profession, what he was by the display of religious zeal, Paul could have boasted as boldly as anyone could, for in all those respects he was second to nobody. You know that it is a very easy thing, or it ought to be a very easy thing, for some people to be humble, for they have nothing to be proud of, but here is a man who had much of which he might have been proud. According to the letter of the law, he was a diamond of the first water; yet see what a different verdict he gives after grace has opened his eyes.

So that I do not know what more he could have had. If a Jew had tried to select a man who had something to glory in, he could not have picked any man to stand in the front of Paul. He was truly a Jew, he had received the initiatory rite, and on the right day. He was born of the innermost tribe, the tribe of Benjamin, in whose country stood the temple itself. He was O, Pharisee, who pushed the law to the extreme; he tithed his mint and his cummin. Nobody could have anything to glory in which Paul had not.

circumcised the eighth day

The ritual was observed even to the hour in his case.

Of the stock of Israel

Not an Edomite or a Samaritan, but “of the stock of Israel,” and of the very center of that stock.

Of the tribe of Benjamin

Which remained with Judah, faithful, long after the ten tribes had gone aside.

An Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee

That is, one who observed all the minutiae and details of the ceremonial law,, and a good deal more, — the traditions of the elders which hung like moss about the old stone of Jewish ceremonialism. Paul had observed all that.

Philippians 3:6. Concerning zeal, persecuting the church!

Be was most zealous in the cause that he thought right. Bitterly, cruelly, even to the death, did he persecute the believers in Jesus.

Touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Paul had been kept from the vices into which many fell. In his young days, he had been pure; and all his days, he had been upright and sincere. As far as he knew, to the best of his light, he had observed the law of God.

In another place, he calls himself the chief of sinners; and so he was, because he persecuted the Church of God; but, in another sense, I may say of him that there is no man who stood so good a chance of being justified by works as Paul did, if there could have been any justification in that way.

Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain, to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

So that, when we come to Christ, whatever we have to trust to, we must put away. We must write it on the other side of the ledger. We bad entered it as a gain; now we must set it down as a loss; it is of no value whatsoever, it is a loss if it shall tempt us to trust any less in Christ.

His faith in Jesus reversed all his former estimates, ’so that his gains he counted to be losses. He thought it so much the worse, concerning zeal, to have persecuted the church, and so much to his injury to have imagined that he was blameless in the presence of God.

Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Those are sweet words, “my Lord.” Remember how Thomas cried, in ecstasy, “My Lord and my God.” Paul, by faith putting his finger into the prints of the nails, says, “My Lord.”

Oh, what a precious place to be found in, “in him,” trusting in him, hidden away in him, a member of his body, as it were, losing myself in him!

Everything else must go in order to secure that. Paul thinks that to be righteous by faith is infinitely better than all the righteousness that can come by works and ceremonies. He therefore utterly despises that which he once thought to be more precious that gold; and he takes possession of, as his greatest treasure, that which he once trampled in the mire. Now his great desire is —

He had every opportunity of advancement. He was a fine scholar, and might have reached the highest degree in connection with the Sanhedrim and the synagogue; but he thought nothing of all that, he threw it all away as worthless, and declared that this was his ambition: “That I may win Christ,”

The very high value that the apostle Paul set upon the Savior, is most palpable, when he speaks of winning him. This shows that the Savior held the same place in Paul’s esteem as the crown did in the esteem of the runner at the Olympic games. To gain that crown, the competitor strained every nerve and sinew, feeling as though he were content to drop down dead at the goal if he might but win it. Paul felt that were he to run with all his might, if that, were the way of winning Christ, were he to strain soul and body to win him, he would be well worth the effort. He shows his value of Christ by speaking of him as the prize he panted to win. He uses the very same word which the soldier would use concerning the victory, when, with garments rolled in blood, amidst confused noise and clouds of smoke, he counts all things but little if he may but hear the shout of triumph. So, Paul, regarding Christ as more glorious and excellent than mountains of prey, considered such a prize to be worth all the fighting, even though he should agonize and sweat with blood. He would be well worth dying to win. I take it that he speaks of Christ here as though he felt that he was the very climax of his desire, the summit of his ambition. If he might but get Christ, he would be perfectly satisfied; but if he could not get him, whatever else he might have, he would still remain unblessed.

I would to God that you all felt the same. I wish that the ambition of every one of my fellow-creatures here assembled — and, indeed, the wide world over, — were this, that they might win Christ. Oh, if they did but know his preciousness, if they did but understand how happy and how blessed he makes those to be who gain him, they, too, would give up everything else for this one desire, — that they may win Christ. I hope that, perhaps, a few words of mine may be blessed of God the Spirit to stir up such a desire in the hearts of the congregation now assembled below then shall I begin?

Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.

He does not say, not trusting it, but not even having it, not counting it, not thinking it worth while to put down among his possessions that which he once prized so much.

It must be more glorious to be justified by God than by ourselves. It must be more safe to wear the righteousness of Christ than to wear our own. Nothing can so dignify our manhood as to have Christ himself to be “the Lord our Righteousness.” This Paul chose in preference to everything else.

Philippians 3:10. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made comfortable unto his death

Paul means, “That I may know him more than I now do;” for be knew him, and delighted in him; but he felt as if he bad not begun really to know Christ. He was like a child at school, who has learnt to read and to write, and knows so much that he begins to want to know more.

See to what Paul is looking forward, — resurrection, — and therefore he lets this life go as of secondary importance. He is willing to suffer as Christ suffered, and to die as Christ died. You and I may never be called to make that great sacrifice; but if we are true followers of Christ, we shall be prepared for it. If ever it should happen that Christ and our life shall be put in competition, we must not deliberate for a moment, for Christ is all, and we must be ready to give up all for Christ.

Philippians 3:11 if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

He knew that all the dead would rise again; but he aspired to the first resurrection: “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.”

You perhaps suppose that Paul’s present satisfaction arises out of a consciousness of personal perfection, but it is not so. He has not won the race yet, his joy arises from the feet that he is in the right course and that he is running in the right direction: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already I perfect:

Philippians 3:12. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. But I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

“I want to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. He has grasped me in order to make me perfect, and I want to grasp that perfection. He has laid hold of me to rid me of my sin, and I want to lay hold of a glean riddance of sin, apprehending that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”

He did count himself as saved, he knew that he was Christ’s; but he did not count himself as having realized all that Christ meant to do for him and by him. He did not reckon that he bad reached as far as he could reach, or learnt all that he could learn, or done all that he could do.

He does not say that anybody has been perfect, but he does say that he was not so himself; and I should think that any man who believed himself to be better than Paul would thereby prove at once that he was not perfect, for he must be sadly lacking in humility.

“All that Christ meant me to be, I want to be. All that Christ meant to give me, I want to have. All that he meant me to do, I want to do; to apprehend, to lay hold of that for which I am laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

That is Paul’s judgment concerning himself; he has not yet attained to the full all that the religion of Christ can give him.

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Always making progress, — throwing himself into it, having the reward before him, the prize of perfection in Christ, and running towards it with all his might.

The condition in which a believer should always be found is that of progress: his motto must be, “Onward and upward! “Nearly every figure by which Christians are described in the Bible implies this. We are plants of the Lord’s field, but we are sown that we may grow — “First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear.” We are born into the family of God; but there are babes, little children, young men, and fathers in Christ Jesus; yea, and there are a few who are perfect or fully developed men in Christ Jesus. It is a growth evermore. Is the Christian described as a pilgrim? He is no pilgrim who sits down as if rooted to the place. “They go from strength to strength.” The Christian is compared to a warrior, a wrestler, a competitor in the games: these figures are the very opposite of a condition in which nothing more is to be done. They imply energy, the gathering up of strength, and the concentration of forces, in order to the overthrowing of adversaries. The Christian is also likened to a runner in a race, and that is the figure now before us in the text. It is clear that a man cannot be a runner who merely holds his ground, contented with his position: he only runs aright who each moment nears the mark. Progress is the healthy condition of every Christian man; and he only realizes his best estate while he is growing in grace, “adding to his faith virtue,” “following on to know the Lord,” and daily receiving grace for grace out of the fullness which is treasured up in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

I admire that sentence. If any brother has not reached a full knowledge of the truth, let us not condemn him, or cast him out of our company, but say to him, “God shall reveal even this unto you.”

If you are a true believer in Jesus, be of this mind, always to be pressing forward to something higher and better. If God has given you one form of perfection, press onward to a much higher form of perfection. Seek continually to rise. The eagle’s motto is, “Higher, Higher!” Let it be your motto too. Many of God’s people do not believe that he can make them what he means to make them, or, at least, they act as if they did not believe that he can. They are not, apparently, conscious of what their privileges really are, and are living far below where they might live in the happy enjoyment of peace and power and usefulness. May God help us, by his gracious Spirit, to know all of Christ that we can know, and to be as much like Christ as we can be.

You have seen a man running very fast. How he leans forward, as though he would send his heart before him, and go quicker than his legs can carry him! So did the apostle “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:16. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.

Let us keep all the good that we have received; let us not give up the truth that we have learnt; let us not leave the way along which we have traveled so far; and let us keep together, let perfect unanimity prove that the work of grace is going on in one as well as in another.

There are some points upon which we are all agreed. There is some standing-ground where the babe in grace may meet with the man in Christ Jesus. Well, as far as we do see eye to eye, let us co-operate with one another, let us have our hearts knit together in a holy unanimity. “Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.” There are some people who are always looking out for points of difference; their motto seems to be, “Whereinsoever we differ, let us split away from one another.” Their great idea is that by dividing we shall conquer. The fact is that, by separating ourselves from one another, we shall miss all hope of strength, and play into the hands of the adversaries.

Philippians 3:17. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

For the true servant of Christ teaches by his life as much as by his words.

In these days, certain people find fault with Paul, and speak of him as if he were not inspired, and not to be followed as Christ was; but here he expressly says what no man like Paul would ever say unless moved of the Holy Spirit, for he was modest, and by no means anxious to push himself forward: “Brethren, be followers together of me.”

Mark them, but do not follow them. See how they walk, but do not imitate them: “Have us for an ensample.”

Philippians 3:18. Of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.

The worst enemies that the cross of Christ has are the enemies inside the professing church of Christ.

I lay a stress upon the article: “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Professors of religion, who get into the church, and yet lead ungodly lives, are the worst enemies that the cross of Christ has. These are the sort of men who bring tears into the minister’s eyes; these are they who break his heart; they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.

Philippians 3:19. Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

They call themselves spiritual, yet they live for earthly things; indulging their appetites, living for self, yet pretending to be Christians, whereas selfishness is the very reverse of Christianity.

“Who mind earthly things,” — even when they profess to be minding spiritual things; pretending to be followers of Christ up to heaven, and yet really making again of the things of God here below.

Philippians 3:20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Can you say that, dear friend? Is your citizenship in heaven? Is your conversation there? Do you often commune with your Lord upon the throne? Judge yourselves whether it be so or not. It is a very poor thing to have a name to be in heaven, and yet never to have any converse with heaven. I wish that we could all say that we talk more to God than we do to men, and have more business upward than we have here below.

He is coming! He is coming! Are we looking for him? This is the true position of the Christian, looking for the appearing of his Lord.

Philippians 3:21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

As his first advent has been our salvation from sin, so his second advent shall be our salvation from the grave.

Vile so far that it has been defiled by sin, vile in comparison with that body which shall be, — “Who shall change our vile body,” the body of our humiliation, —

“The body of our humiliation.” We have only part of the redemption while we are here. The soul is regenerated, newly-born; but the body is not. “The body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” The redemption of the purchased possession will be perfect at the resurrection. The resurrection will be, to the body, what regeneration is to the soul. We sometimes wonder why we are sick, when Christ could make us well in a moment; but the reason is that, as yet, he has not fully brought his divine power to bear upon the body. That is to be by-and-by; we are waiting for the Savior, “who shall change our vile body.”

May he show some part of that blessed power in us to-night! Amen.


Philippians 4:1. Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the lord, my dearly beloved.

Paul had a very warm affection for the church at Philippi. You remember how that church was established,-first with the baptized household of Lydia, and afterwards with the baptized household of the jailor. These saints at Philippi were in a special sense Paul’s spiritual children, they were very generous and kind to him and his heart was very warm with love to them, so he called them, “my brethren dearly beloved,” and then again, “my dearly beloved.”

It is a great joy to a minister, as it was to the apostle Paul, to have converts; but that joy is greatly diminished when they do not stand fast: then, indeed, every supposed joy becomes a sorrow, and instead of the roses which yield a sweet perfume to the Lord’s servant, thorns begin to prick and wound his heart.

See how the heart of the apostle is at work; his emotions are not dried up by his personal griefs. He takes a delight in his friends at Philippi; he has a lively recollection of the time when he and Silas were shut up in prison there, and that same night baptized the jailor and his household, and formed the church at Philippi.

Philippians 4:2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.

These two women had fallen out with one another, they evidently differed upon some question or other so that they were not “of the same mind in the Lord,” and Paul thought it so important that there should be perfect unity and love in the church at Philippi, as well as everywhere else, that he besought these two women, of whom we know nothing else, that they would be “of the same mind in the Lord.” Notice that he beseeches each of them in exactly the same way: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche.” He has a “beseech” for each of them. Perhaps, if he had written, “I beseech Euodias and Syntyche,” the latter lady might have fancied that he was not quite so earnest about her as he was about Euodias so he puts it, “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” Have any of you fallen out, my dear friends? I do not know of any of you who have done so, but if you have, I say to all you, men or women, “I beseech you, that you be of the same mind in the Lord.” There is nothing like perfect unity in a Christian church; if there is even a little division, it will grow to something much worse by-and-by; so I beseech you “be of the same mind in the Lord.

Only two women, and we do not know who they were; yet Paul gives them a “beseech” each: “I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.” If there are only two of the most obscure sisters in the church who are quarrelling, their differences ought to be brought to an end at once. There should be no disagreements amongst Christians, love should reign, peace should predominate. If there is anything contrary to such a state as that, God grant that it may soon be brought to an end!

These two good women had fallen out with one another. Paul loves them so much that he would not have any strife in the church to mar its harmony; and he therefore beseeches both of these good women to end their quarrel, and to “be of the same mind in the Lord.” You cannot tell what hurt may come to a church through two members being at enmity against each other. They may be unknown persons, they may be Christian women, but they can work no end of mischief; and therefore it is a most desirable thing that they should speedily come together again in peace and unity.

Philippians 4:3 And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

They helped me, and they have helped you, so help them with encouraging words and in every other way that you can.

He tenderly thinks of all those who had helped the work of the Lord, and, in return, he would have all of them helped, and kindly remembered, and affectionately cherished. May we always have this tender feeling towards one another, especially towards those who work for the Lord with us! May we ever delight in cheering those who serve our Lord!

Brother, do all the good you can to help everybody else to do good. Help those whose names are in the book of life, even if they are not known anywhere else. Also help the “Clement” whose name is known; be sure to help him; indeed, help everybody. There is an office, in the Church of Christ, which we do not sufficiently recognize; but which ought to be abundantly filled. Paul mentions it in writing to the Corinthians. He says, “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” It is the office of certain Christians to be “helps.” May we always have many such “helps” amongst us! Did you ever notice that, almost every time that Bartholomew is mentioned in Scripture, we read, “and Bartholomew”? He is never spoken of alone; but it is written, “Philip, and Bartholomew,” or “Bartholomew, and Matthew.” It is good to have some Bartholomews who are always helping somebody else, so that, when there is any good work to be done, Bartholomew is always ready to share in it; for he shall also have a part in the reward at the last.

Philippians 4:4. Rejoice in the Lord alway:

Not only now and then, on high days and holiday, have a time of joy, but “rejoice in the Lord alway.”

And again I say, Rejoice.

He had said this before, as you will see in the first verse of the third chapter, which begins, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord;” now he writes it again, and repeats it in the same verse: “Rejoice. Rejoice.” It is so important that believers should be full of joy that Paul writes three times over in a short space, “Rejoice in the Lord;” “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.”

The very word “rejoice,” seems to imply a reduplication; it is joy, and re-joy, joy over again; but here, you see, it is a fourfold rejoicing; joy, and re-joy; and again I say, joy, and re-joy; and this is to be the Christian’s continual experience, for the apostle says, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”

Philippians 4:5. Let your moderation be known unto all men.

Be men who are God-governed, because God governs those who run to excess in nothing. Some go to excess in one way, and some in another; but all excess is to be avoided: “Let your moderation be known unto all men.”

We have come to understand this word “moderation” in a sense not at all intended here. The best translation would probably be “forbearance.” Do not get angry with anybody; do not begin to get fiery and impetuous: be forbearing, for the Lord is at hand. You cannot tell how soon he may appear; there is no time to spare for the indulgence of anger; be quiet; be patient; and if there be anything very wrong, well, leave it. Our Lord Jesus will come very soon; therefore be not impatient.

Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing; But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests to made known unto God.

This is not a good translation of the original, it does not convey the sense of the Greek, it should to, “Be anxious for nothing.” Of course you ought to be careful about everything. You cannot be too careful, but you never ought to be care-full, you must care to be right with God, yet you must not be filled with care about anything. “Be anxious for nothing.” Do not fret, do not worry, do not make other people miserable by your fretting and fuming and fueling.

Ah! this is the way to find the cure for all your anxieties; take all your trouble to God with a prayer and with a song. Do not go without either the thanksgiving or the prayer; but bear your burden at once to God, and ask him to bear it for you.

Have no care, but much prayer. Prayer is the cure for care. If you are in trouble, “Let your requests be made known,” not to your neighbors, but “unto God.”

See how the apostle would bid us throw anxiety to the winds; let us try to do so. You cannot turn one hair white or black, fret as you may. You cannot add a cubit to your stature, be you as anxious as you please. It will be for your own advantage, and it will be for God’s glory, for you to shake off the anxieties which else might overshadow your spirit. Be anxious about nothing, but prayerful about everything, and be thankful about everything as well. Is not that a beautiful trait in Paul’s character? He is a prisoner at Rome, and likely soon to die; yet he mingles thanksgiving with his supplication, and asks others to do the same. We have always something for which to thank God, therefore let us also obey the apostolic injunction.

Pray about everything; I make no exception to this. Pray about waking in the morning, and pray about falling asleep at night. Pray about any great event in your life, but pray equally about what you call the minor events. Pray as Jacob did when he crossed the brook Jabbok; but do not forget to pray when there is no angry Esau near, and no special danger to fear. The simplest thing, that is not prayed over, may have more evil in it than what appears to be the direst evil when once it has been brought to God in prayer. I pray that all of you, who love the Lord, may commit yourselves afresh to Christ this very hour. I wish to do so myself, saying, “My Master, here am I; take me, and do as thou wilt with me. Use me for thy glory in any way that thou pleasest. Deprive me of every comfort, if so I shall the more be able to honor thee. Let my choicest treasures be surrendered if thy sovereign will shall so ordain.” Let every child of God make a complete surrender here and now, and ask for grace to stand to it. Your greatest sorrow will come when you begin to be untrue to your full surrender to the Lord; so may you never prove untrue to it!

Philippians 4:7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:8. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Be on the side of everything that is good and right, everything that helps on true human progress, everything that increases virtue and purity. As a Christian man, take an interest in everything that helps to make men true, honest, just, pure, and lovely.

If anything is true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, be you on that side. A Christian is on the side of everything that makes for purity, chastity, and honesty, that is for the good of men and the glory of God. Whenever anyone is making out a list of those who will fight for everything that is right and good, every Christian should say to the man with the ink-horn, “Set down my name, sir.”

If there is any really good movement in the world, help it, you Christian people. If it is not purely and absolutely religious, yet if it tends to the benefit of your fellow-men, if it promotes honesty, justice, purity, take care that you are on that side, and do all you can to help it forward.

Philippians 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall to with you,

May the Lord fulfill that gracious word to all of us, “The God of peace shall be with you”! Amen.

Paul was a grand preacher to be able to say that; to hold up his own example, as well as his own teaching, as a thing which the people might safely follow.

Philippians 4:10. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

“I rejoiced.” So Paul was himself in a happy mood; these saints in Philippi had sent to him in prison a gift by the hand of one of their pastors, and Paul, in his deep poverty, had been much comforted by their kind thoughtfulness about him.

You see that Paul did not really mean, “Be careful for nothing,” for he says here that there Philippians had cared for him, and he praises them for being careful of him. They had lovingly thought of him who was their spiritual father, and when they knew that he was shut up as a prisoner in Rome, and suffering want, they took care to send something to relieve and cheer him.

In the seventh verse, we had the expression, “the peace of God.” In this ninth verse, we have the mention of “the God of peace.” May we first enjoy the peace of God, and then be helped by the Spirit of God to get into a still higher region, where we shall be more fully acquainted with the God of peace!

Philippians 4:11. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

“I have been initiated”-for that is the word,-”among those who are content with such things as they have.”

That was not an easy lesson to learn, especially when one of those states meant being in prison at Rome. If he was ever in the Mamertine, those of us who have been in that dungeon would confess that it would take a deal of grace to make us content to be there; and if he was shut up in the prison of the Palatine hill, in the barracks near the morass, it was, to say the least, not a desirable place to be in. A soldier chained to your hand clay and night, however good a fellow he may be, does not always make the most delightful company for you, nor you for him; and it takes some time to learn to be content with such a companion; but, says Paul, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Philippians 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

“I can be poor, or I can have abundance, if you send it to me, but these things make no real difference to me. I have been made invulnerable either to suffering or to abundance.” Blessed is the man who has got as far as that; it is a wonderful work of grace when a man can truly say this.

These are both hard lessons to learn; I do not know which is the more difficult of the two. Probably it is easier to know how to go down than to know how to go up. How many Christians have I seen grandly glorifying God in sickness and poverty when they have come down in the world; and ah! how often have I seen other Christians dishonoring God when they have grown rich, or when they have risen to a position of influence among their fellow-men! These two lessons grace alone can fully teach us.

Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

What a gracious attainment! There is no boasting in this declaration; Paul only spoke what was literally the truth.

Philippians 4:14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.

Philippians 4:15. Now ye Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.

I should not wonder if it was Lydia who was at the bottom of that giving and receiving, and perhaps the jailor also; they were evidently thoughtful and grateful people. They remembered the apostle’s sufferings and wants and did all they could to help and cheer him.

Philippians 4:16. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.

The Philippians were the only Christians who had sent any help to this great sufferer for Christ’s sake in the time of his need.

Philippians 4:17.Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.

He did not look at it as merely something that would ease him, but he looked at it as a token of gratitude for the spiritual blessings they had received through him. It showed that they loved the gospel which he preached, and that they also loved him for having been blessed by God to their souls; and this cheered and delighted him. But, to show that he was not asking for more, he says:

Philippians 4:18. But I have all, and abound: I am full,-

I do not suppose that it amounted to much, but it was all that the apostle needed, and so he says to them, “I have all, and abound: I am full,”-

I am sure that, when they read this verse, they all felt glad that they had had a share in the subscription to relieve the apostle’s wants.

I do not suppose that they sent him very much; but he knew the love that prompted the gift, he understood what they meant by it. I always had a fancy that Lydia was the first to suggest that kind deed. She, the first convert of the Philippian church, thought of Paul, I doubt not, and said to the other believers, “Let us take care of him as far as we can. See how he spends his whole life in the Master’s service, and now he may at last die in prison for want of even common necessaries; let us send him a present to Rome.” How grateful is the apostle for that gift of love! What gladness they had put into his heart! Now he says: —

Philippians 4:19. Having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

“You have supplied my need out of your poverty; my God shall supply all your need out of his riches. Your greatest need shall not exceed the liberality of his supplies.”

Philippians 4:20 Now unto God and our Father to glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus.

“Give them all my love; and tell them how grateful I am to them.”

The religion of Christ is full of courtesy, and it is full of generous thoughtfulness. I do not think that he can be a Christian who has no knowledge nor care about his fellow church-members.

Philippians 4:21 The brethren which are with me greet you.

They saw that he was writing a letter, and they therefore said, “Send our love to the Philippians.”

Philippians 4:22 The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saint salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.

Exposed to the greatest perils, and yet brave to confess Christ. They may have been nothing but poor kitchen-maids, or they may have been among the Praetorian guards who watched and guarded the palace and the prisoners, but they must have their title set down in the letter, “chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.”

Only think of saints in the household of Nero, saints in the service of such a demon as he was, and saints who were first in every good thing: “Chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.”

Philippians 4:23. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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