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Philippians 3



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Verse 3

Philippians 3:3

The Inheritors of the Promises.

I. They who worship God in the spirit are the sons and daughters of the Lord God Almighty.

II. They behold the brightness of the Father's glory.

III. They inherit great and precious promises.

IV. They are favoured with special Divine revelations.

V. They are a royal priesthood.

VI. They are connected with an ancient and sacred lineage.

VII. While of the Israelites as concerning the flesh Christ came, of those whom Paul here describes Christ comes as a gospel and as a revelation to the world.

S. Martin, Rain upon the Mown Grass, p. 321.

References: Philippians 3:3.—Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 126. Philippians 3:4-7Homilist, vol. i., p. 40.

Verse 7

Philippians 3:7

The Christian Estimate of Gain and Loss.

The Christian man keeps an accurate account-book; he reckons up with an intelligent and enlightened judgment his gains and his losses. And most important is it that those who would be Christian men should be rightly informed and rightly minded upon this great question, this question which takes precedence of other questions, inasmuch as it is preliminary and introductory to all.

I. I need not say what answer the world would return to this inquiry, and I need not say what answer the natural heart would return to this inquiry, and I need not say what answer the religion of many persons would return to this inquiry. You will find health entered as a clear gain, and money as a clear gain; comfort, ease, tranquillity of mind and life, prosperity in business, a sufficient and growing income, all these things will be found at once carried to the side of profit, and no hesitation, and no further question asked concerning them. And you will as surely find sickness, disappointment, contraction of the means of pleasure, sorrow, pain, bereavement, entered in the same reckoning as an undoubted and unmixed loss.

II. St. Paul says that for Christ's sake he now accounts as loss all that he had once accounted gain. The reason why he calls his apparent gains a loss is that they had too great a tendency to make him trust in them; to make him look to outward things as his passport to heaven; to make him build on a foundation of his own, and not upon the rock of another's righteousness. What do we know of the thought, Things which were gain to me, these I have accounted for Christ's sake loss? I say it sorrowfully, but with deep truth, that many of us live and die on the strength of a gospel which has no Christ in it, no demolition of self, whether in the form of self-confidence or self-seeking, and no exaltation of Christ upon the ruins of self either as our Saviour or as our Lord.

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 183.

Verse 7-8

Philippians 3:7-8

The Apostle's Ground of Trust.

I. When such general homage is paid to earnestness as in our own time, what wonder if some people should mistake it for religion; and if a man should imagine that because he is zealous in the activities of benevolence, warmly attached to certain Church organisations, and in some measure sympathetic with the spiritual forces which they embody, he is really a partaker of the undefiled religion of the Bible! It is no marvel if a man accustomed to earthly standards of arbitration should imagine that the goodness which has been so cheerfully acknowledged on earth will be as cheerfully acknowledged in heaven, and that he who has passed muster with the world will not be sent abashed and crestfallen from the judgment-seat of God. You may be early initiated into the ordinances of the Christian Church; you may have come of a long line of spiritually illustrious ancestry; you may give an intellectual assent to the grand harmony of Christian truth; you may be zealous in certain activities of benevolence, and in certain matters connected even with the Church of God itself; and yet you may gain all this world of honour and lose your own soul.

II. Notice the compensating power of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. This compensation runs through creation; it seems to be a radical law both in the physical and spiritual government of God. Trust that Cross for yourselves; take hold of it; it is consecrated. In all circumstances of your history, in all exigencies of your mortal lot, take firm hold of the Cross.

W. M. Punshon, Sermons, p. 384.

I. Is that man's normal state—loss in order to gain? Certainly not. In God's own case it is not so. Has not God perfect and complete happiness? Was there any amount of loss sustained by Adam in order to gain? Was there any progress dependent upon loss? The idea is an absurdity. It was not so. Then how did it come to pass that loss ever came to be sustained in order to gain? I need scarcely say that all loss in the universe is involved in sin, it is sin that has brought loss, and nothing else, and we all feel it and realise it. We have lost paradise, we have lost the image of God, we have lost our inheritance, we have lost everything, by sin. Then comes the question, Is it the law in regard to a sinful being that there is loss in order to gain? Does the suffering of loss bring gain? I say distinctly not, not as a necessary rule. There may be always loss and no gain. Yet, though loss does not bring gain with it, there never can be gain to a sinner but through loss. A man may suffer loss and have no gain, but no sinner can ever get gain but by suffering loss.

II. Look at the first principle in this matter; look at the Saviour and then at the saved. How was it with Jesus? Did not He suffer loss in order to gain? He must needs suffer, if He is to be a Saviour; He must needs sustain loss; He must lay aside the robe of His glory, He must take our nature upon Him, He must die in that nature, He must suffer the curse of that nature, or He cannot be a Saviour. But He did do it. Then the gain of salvation was the gain of Christ. And as regards ourselves, whatever stands between the soul and Christ must go, whether it is what the world calls good or bad; whether it is gross immorality or integrity, honesty, and uprightness; whether it is the love of pleasure or of wealth; whether it is the love of wife, husband, or child. The creature must give way to God; if the heart is to be filled with all the precious things of God's salvation in Christ, the creature must give way.

A. Molyneux, Christian World Pulpit, vol. iii., p. 120.

References: Philippians 3:7, Philippians 3:8.—J. Jackson, Sermons before the University of Oxford, p. 1; Philippians 3:7-9.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiii., No. 1357.

Verse 8

Philippians 3:8

I. "The knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord"; that is, the knowledge of our wants and of the means by which those wants may be most fully satisfied; the knowledge of sin and of salvation. Men's eyes in general are equally closed against both, for as none but Christians have anything like a true notion of their own evil, so also none but Christians look forward with any lively hope to the glory that shall be revealed hereafter. When our Lord was foretelling the state of the world in after-times, He more than once declared to His disciples that His Gospel would only in a small degree overcome the wickedness of the world; He says that "as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man," that as before the Flood men ate and drank, bought and sold, planted and builded, and thought nothing of God till His judgments burst upon them and destroyed them all, so it should be at the time when the Son of man should be revealed. Now how is it that so many of us are living exactly in the manner which Christ described?

II. Very often after baptism children are suffered to remain in complete ignorance of everything that concerns their salvation. The boy grows into manhood with a confirmed unchristian practice and scarcely any relics of Christian knowledge. And what is the issue? In the ordinary course of things, it is a sinful life and a hopeless death, unless God touches the heart with a sense of its danger, and in His power and mercy brings it to true and effectual conversion. Those who have grown up to youth or manhood without having yet fully embraced the offer of salvation through Christ are called upon to turn to Him and to believe on Him; and the threatenings addressed to the unconverted sinner are at present all in their full force addressed to them. Remember that he that doeth righteousness is righteous; that he that committeth sin—that is, who is in the habit of carelessly committing it—hath not seen Christ, neither knoweth Him, but is of the devil, who has been a sinner from the beginning.

T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. i., p. 28.

References: Philippians 3:8.—J. H. Jellett, Church of England Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 25; Homilist, 4th series, vol. i., p. 68; Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 288.

Verse 8-9

Philippians 3:8-9

Christ the Only Gain.


I. What it is to win Christ. (1) To win Christ is to count Him gain. What is gain to me is what puts me on a right footing with God. This I once thought that my personal qualifications of birth, profession, privilege, attainment, might do; now I see that for such purpose they are useless, and worse than useless. In the view of the end for which I once prized them, I now perceive that Christ is gain. (2) Christ is coveted and sought as gain. Are you so thoroughly in earnest in this matter as not merely to perceive that Christ is gain, but to be honestly anxious to possess this gain? (3) Christ is appropriated as gain. "He that seeketh findeth"; he who seeks Christ, willing just as he is to have Christ just as He is, finds Him, and in finding Christ appropriates Him, and in appropriating Christ feels Him to be gain. It is for this, and nothing short of this, that you are asked to count all things but loss that you may win Christ. (4) You win Christ so as to enjoy Him as gain; you win Him, not as the miser hoards his wealth, to keep it, not as the spendthrift gets his property, to waste it. He is yours for profitable use: for peace, contentment, honour, happiness, and whatever else is comprehended in your standing right with God.

II. To be found in Christ is the fitting sequel of winning Christ; it is the double fruit, the twofold good, of winning Christ. (1) For defence I am to be found in Christ, that I may meet every adversary, that I may silence every answer. I have always to present on every side an impregnable front; I have a righteousness, not my own, but wholly Divine, to plead in every emergency; against every adversary who would assail or question my standing, I have the Apostle's challenge, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (2) But I am to win Christ, so as to be found in Him, not merely to meet and answer every assault of the accusing adversary, but to meet also and obey the high calling of God in Christ. If I am found in Christ, it is that I may die with Him unto sin, and live with Him unto righteousness and unto God; it is that I may grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; it is that in Him I may go on to perfection.

R. S. Candlish, Sermons, p. 203.

I. St. Paul has consented to the loss of all things; nay, he has transferred to the side of loss in his accounts all that once stood on the side of gain; and if the matter stopped there, we might have pronounced him a bankrupt as much in hope as in possession. But he now says that he is purposed to replace all his cancelled gains by one single item, just one word, just one name, a monosyllable, the name, as some would tell us, of a dead man, the name of One whom rulers and philosophers have agreed in despising and rejecting: "That I may gain Christ." When St. Paul hoped to be able to write the word Christ on the side of his receipts, he hoped to enter there the brief summary of inexhaustible treasures, enough to counterbalance the loss of all things and to replace it by an inestimable and incalculable gain.

II. St. Paul's second aim is directed to the great day of judgment: "That I may win Christ and be found in Him." St. Paul had submitted to the loss of all things now, in the hope that he might be safe then. While others shall be found in that day standing, as it were, exposed and defenceless while God's judgments are abroad upon the earth, even like those Egyptians of old who believed not the prediction of the plague of hail and dared its perils in the open field, St. Paul and those who, like him and with him, have believed, will then not be exposed, not be unsheltered; they will be found in Christ. Could any words express more forcibly the safety of the Christian? He will be found enclosed, incorporated, and thus hidden, in Christ Himself, in the Lord, in the Judge of man.

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 199.

References: Philippians 3:8, Philippians 3:9.—L. Campbell, Some Aspects of the Christian Ideal, p. 203; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iii., p. 83.

Verses 8-11

Philippians 3:8-11

The Cross Borne for us and in us.

I. The whole of the Gospel is the doctrine of the Cross, but that twofold: the cross borne for us and the virtue and power of the Cross by the sacraments communicated to us and henceforth to be borne by us. By baptism we are made members of Him who for us was crucified; and our life from baptism to our death should be a practice of the Cross, a learning to be crucified, a crucifixion of our passions, appetites, desires, wills, until one by one they be all nailed, and we have no will but the will of our Father who is in heaven; and in the prospect of each lesser cross, such as are allotted to us, not merely when laid upon us, and we cannot escape them, we, too, should take up our Master's words, "Not My will, but Thine."

II. The ancient Christians followed this example: they shared each other's sufferings; they suffered one for another, the rich the poverty of the poor; they saw Christ in the poor, the prisoners, the captives, the sick, as He bade them and as He had told them, and underwent sufferings for them; they laid down their lives for the brethren. So then they well understood the two parts of the doctrine of the Cross, the cross which was borne for us by Christ and the cross which was to be borne by us, in Christ's strength and for Christ's sake, and this not for a brighter crown merely, but that they might finally be saved.

III. Every shade of self-denial, from the pettiest denial of our appetites to the martyr's mangled and scored human form, is all included in bearing the cross, the least because He has commanded it, and He, for His own love's sake, accepts it. All crosses are preparations for heaven; for though we know not its unspeakable joys or wherein they consist, this we know: that we must learn to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven, to be like the blessed spirits who do His pleasure, swift and instant as the lightning, to count nothing labour, toil, or cross, which is to do His will. This portion of the cross has a blessed privilege, in that it is taken willingly in obedience, not simply borne willingly, as the chastisement of disobedience; it is taken in order, in what little way regenerate man is capable of, to be like his Maker; it is taken out of love to Him and to do His commandments.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times" vol. iii., p. 1.

References: Philippians 3:9.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 277; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ill., p. 90; J. C. Finlayson, Ibid., vol. xi., p. 342; T. Jones, Ibid., vol. xii., p. 118; T. T. Lynch, Three Months' Ministry, p. 97.

Verse 10

Philippians 3:10

I. The great object of the Christian, the great end and aim of the Christian life, is to know Jesus Christ. There is a great difference between "knowing" a person and "knowing about" a person. Many can give an outline of His history, can repeat some of His sayings, and describe His miracles, but not every one knows Him with a personal knowledge and acquaintance, knows what it is to have spiritual communication with Him, knows what it is to understand Him and to sympathise with Him, even as a man understands and sympathises with a personal and human friend. And it was this knowledge that the Apostle asked for, and it is this that every Christian heart desires: to know the personal Jesus Christ with some degree of intimacy, and to advance and grow in that knowledge day by day under the promised teaching and direction of God the Holy Ghost.

II. This personal acquaintance with Jesus Christ becomes an impossibility so long as our dependence for salvation is upon external observance. St. Paul found it to be so. Whilst he was trusting to ceremonies and to what he considered to be good works for salvation, there was a barrier erected between his soul and God; he had no fellowship with God: and it was not until the barrier was thrown down, it was not until the last obstacle of self-trust and self-dependence was removed, that he came to know "the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom He had sent." There is a broad difference between religiousness and religion. There are people who think that all is right with their souls because they are interested in Christian worship, because they feel profoundly moved by an eloquent sermon. This is "religiousness"; this St. Paul had before his conversion. Religion, as Paul found it afterwards, is something very different from this: it is the surrender of the will to God's will in Christ; it is the suffering Christ so to enter into the soul that every act, every thought and feeling, shall be pervaded by His presence; it is the living for Christ and by Christ.

G. Calthrop, Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 1010.

I think many must have felt a kind of disappointment in the language of the collect for Easter Day. It begins grandly, as we suppose an Easter prayer should begin: "Almighty God, who through Thine only-begotten Son hast overcome death and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life." But what is there answering to this invocation in the words which form the substance of the petition? They simply ask the almighty God that "as by His special grace preventing us He does put into our minds good desires, so by His continual grace we may bring the same to good effect." Is not this a sudden and painful fall? In moments of strong, highly braced feeling, when we have regarded Easter as offering at once the greatest gift to the universe and the deepest consolation for individual sorrow, have we not been indignant that we are required to utter words which appear to forget both?

I. We dwell upon the fact of Christ's resurrection; upon the evidences which establish it; upon the inferences which may be drawn from it. St. Paul also dwelt upon the fact; it was the very ground of his Gospel to mankind; but fact, evidences, inferences, were all inseparably bound up with the idea which is expressed in the words of the text: "The power of His resurrection." The power or energy which quickened the soul and the body of Jesus Christ, which made it impossible that He should be holden of death, is declared to be the selfsame power which works in us who believe, which opens the eyes of our understanding, which reveals to us the hope of our calling. Those who receive the New Testament as a Divine authority cannot shrink from these words; cannot explain them away.

II. Assuredly those who wrote the prayers of which our liturgy is composed did accept it. They connected Easter Eve and Easter Day with Christian baptism; they believed that we are baptised into the death of Christ, that we are buried with Him in baptism, and that we rise to a new life by faith and the operation of God, who raised Him from death; in other words, they looked upon the resurrection-day as the new birthday of the world. And is it then a low and grovelling prayer, unworthy of the Easter season, degrading our thoughts of the victory that has been won for us and for mankind, that He who, by His special grace preventing us, has put into our minds good desires, by His continual help will bring the same to good effect? Could you have a more wonderful, a more practical, test than that which this prayer offers you, and enables you to apply, of the triumph over death, of the opening of the new gate into life? Could any ecstatic language about the state of departed spirits, about the things which eye has not seen nor ear heard, enable us equally to realise our communion with the one, actually to participate in the other? To be governed by Christ in all the movements of his being, in all his purposes, in all the issues of these movements and purposes—is not this the freedom of the most glorified spirit? To be able to do what one longs to do, our longings being first in accordance with the Divinest mind, prompted by the Divinest inspiration—is not this a good thing beyond the grasp of eye or ear, answering to the desires of the heart, but surpassing them all? And this petition, because His risen life is ours, we are to believe that He will begin to answer at once, will answer completely hereafter.

F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. vi., p. 1.

The Power of Christ's Resurrection.

I. The power of the Lord's resurrection is manifested as furnishing the strongest confirmation of the truth of the Gospel.

II. The power of Christ's resurrection is exhibited in the effectual comfort which it affords under sorrow and suffering.

III. The power of Christ's resurrection makes itself felt as an incentive to holiness.

IV. A fourth evidence of the power of Christ's resurrection is found in the comfort which it gives to us when kindred and friends are carried to the world of spirits.

V. Once more, the power of Christ's resurrection furnishes an effectual remedy against the fear of death.

J. N. Norton, Golden Truths, p. 226.

I. That is to say, participate in them. Christ, then, did not suffer what He suffered that we might be discharged from suffering it, did not endure certain pains in our stead, that we might escape them; otherwise St. Paul could not have yearned as he did to be admitted to drink of His cup. He sacrificed Himself to put away sin, and it is only as sin is put away that suffering can diminish and cease. Our emancipation from it depends upon our emancipation from sin. Pain is symptomatic—symptomatic of the want of conformity to law. Nothing can extirpate it from the world but a reduction of the world's dislocations, which latter is the end and aim of Christ crucified, and not for the sake of our deliverance from the misery of the pain, but because such dislocations are themselves degradation and shame, and their cure grace, and beauty, and eternal life. Let us be thankful that so long as sin remains untaken away more or less of suffering remains. In our as yet unrightened realm, its pricks are serviceable, and cannot be spared.

II. But then, further, according to the Apostle's view and impression, Christ suffered what He suffered, not that we might be delivered from it, but, on the contrary, that we might be brought into it, that we might come to suffer with Him. His advent and presence did indeed stir up pains, new pains, that had not shaken the sphere of humanity before. The Apostle had no idea that there was virtue or praise in suffering; that to be scourged was a thing to be aimed at or gloried in. He never courted it, or threw himself in the way of it, that it might come upon him, but he rather took measures to escape it when he could; yet here he is yearning to know the fellowship of his Lord's sufferings. What, then, does he mean? He wanted to enter yet more deeply into that spirit of Christ, that spirit of holy love which in an evil world necessarily involves suffering, to have more of His unselfish devotion to the cause of God and man, to feel more with Him the leprosy and disharmony of sin, and to follow Him more closely in His righteous concern with regard to it and His earnest activity against it. It was not the mere anguish he craved, but the grand moral heart, the grand moral sympathies and affections, which the anguish expressed and implied, and which could not be had without it.

III. It will always be but the few who will be found entering abundantly into the fellowship of His sufferings, giving themselves grandly to the cause of God and man; yet, to know the Lord Jesus at all, we must to some extent feel with Him the pang and burden of His cross. There is no other way of knowing Him, and heaven will not stoop and bend for those who cannot climb, will not lower its price or reduce the terms of admission to let in those who have not wherewith to pay.

S. A. Tipple, Echoes of Spoken Words, p. 57.

The word "fellowship" might startle us in this connection. The sufferings are Christ's sufferings, and St. Paul speaks of sharing them—"the sufferings." They did not begin on Calvary; the death was but the consummation of the life; His sufferings were of the soul; the Passion was the Atonement; the suffering of sufferings was the sin-bearing, the taking upon Himself by a conscious act, possible because He was God, of the whole loathsome, putrefying mass of a world's sins, so that henceforth they should lose their condemning voice and also their constraining pang against all who, in deep penitence and unswerving faith, draw nigh to God Himself through the blood of Jesus.

I. At first sight we might regard the sufferings of Christ, and especially those last spoken of, as lying beyond the reach of human fellowship or human communion. There is a great comfort, no doubt, for Christian people in being able to regard the trials and discomforts of this life as a real and integral portion' of that suffering which Christ Himself undertook and endured below. If it were only of these things, St. Paul might speak of it as a high and holy object to know the fellowship of Christ's sufferings.

II. This was certainly not the whole of that fellowship of Christ's sufferings which was St. Paul's aim and object. The clause which follows the text suggests a further meaning: "Being made conformable unto His death." This introduces us into St. Paul's characteristic view of the spiritual life. It is the life of one who died when Christ died, rose when Christ rose, ascended when Christ ascended, and lives now a life, not seen and temporal, but hidden with Christ in God. In this way the fellowship of Christ's sufferings becomes a true sympathy with Christ in His abhorrence and repudiation of sin.

III. The fellowship of Christ's sufferings is not only sympathy with Christ's warfare in destroying our sins, but also a true participation with Christ in the anguish, though not in the virtue, of His sin-bearing for the world. St. Paul shared Christ's yearning over the sin-stained, self-ruined souls of fallen men. There is a vicarious sacrifice still in all who know the fellowship of the sufferings, not to purchase again the purchased possession, but yet to bring the one Ransom and the one Redeemer home to the erring, straying, lost ones, who know not their need or His sufficiency.

C. J. Vaughan, Penny Pulpit, New Series, No. 818.

St. Paul, a better man than any of us, had found the hollowness of self-trust. He had willingly consented to part with all that he had once thought most valuable in a religious sense for the sake of knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection.

I. For the sake of knowing Christ. In that knowledge, he was aware, lay his eternal life. The words do not refer to a merely intellectual knowledge of Christ; such knowledge as this Paul might have acquired without parting with his all to gain it. (1) Though the intellectual knowledge of Christ is not the whole or chief part of man's great need, yet it must not be undervalued. We may have it and yet be nothing profited; but, on the other hand, without it the other cannot be. A man must know of Christ by the hearing of the ear, if he would ever know Him for himself by faith. (2) But the knowledge of which St. Paul speaks is a personal knowledge; his acquaintance with Christ (a) reconciled him to the painful vicissitudes of outward circumstances (Philippians 4:11-13); (b) brought him help under the emergencies of special danger (2 Timothy 4:16-18); (c) brought him support and comfort amid the special inward trials of his personal life.

II. And the power of His resurrection. The meaning is not so much the power shown in His resurrection, the manifestation of God's almighty strength in raising Christ from the dead, but rather the power with which resurrection invested Christ; the power upon which He entered as the result and consequence of His resurrection; that power which He still exercises throughout heaven and earth as the risen and exalted Saviour. The power of His resurrection might be expressed perhaps more intelligibly in the form, His resurrection power. Because He lives, His servants live; the risen life of Jesus is daily manifested in their body.

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 213.

I. There is a fellowship of Christ's sufferings in relation to pain. The pains of life, inward and outward, are as varied as the bodies and souls on which they fasten. Our sensibilities to pain are very various: one thing hurts one person, and another another; that which is agony to me my neighbour scarcely feels. This is true of the roughnesses of life, and it is true of the calumnies of life, and it is true of the disappointments of life; it is true of those trials which come to us through the affections, and it is true of those trials which come to us through the ambitions of our nature. Thus much we may say with certainty: that no man, and therefore no Christian, passes through life untouched by distress. The cause may vary, and the kind may vary, and the degree may vary, all but infinitely; still the fact is there, the thing is there; the experience must be gained, as alone it can be gained, through suffering; and oftentimes the even tenor of an untroubled life, in its brightest and serenest day, is but the torrent's smoothness ere it dash below. But in all this there is lacking as yet the essential feature of a fellowship in Christ's sufferings. For this faith is needed, and devotion is needed, and submission is needed, and the support of a heavenly arm, and the expectation of a heavenly home.

II. There is a fellowship of Christ's sufferings in relation to sin. As He resisted unto blood, striving against sin, so must we. It is a life-and-death battle for each one of us. We shall never have done with it for long together while life lasts. Sometimes by craft and sometimes by assault, sometimes by ambush, sometimes by feigned flight, sometimes with parade of arms and trumpets, as though secure of intimidation and of triumph, the old enemy attacks again, the old sin rises from its fall, and there is nothing before us yet once more save hard-earned victory or shameful defeat. In the midst of all, let this be our stay: "Greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world."

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 229.

References: Philippians 3:10.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 552; Ibid., Evening by Evening, p. 329; R. Lorimer, Bible Studies in Life and Truth, p. 377; Church of England Pulpit, vol. v., p. 226; Homilist, 1st series, vol. vii., p. 341; Ibid., 3rd series, vol. iii., p. 159; H. P. Liddon, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxvii., p. 282; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 87; G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 384; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 240; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 32; Parker, Hidden Springs, p. 339; W. J. Knox-Little, The Mystery of Suffering, p. 29; S. Martin, Sermons, No. 15.

Verse 10-11

Philippians 3:10-11

The Fellowship with Christ's Sufferings.

I. It is manifest that there are senses in which we can have no community with our Lord in His sufferings, in which they were peculiar and His own. For they were meritorious sufferings, whereas we have not, and can never have, merit in God's sight; they were voluntary sufferings, whereas all our sufferings are deserved, being entailed upon us by sin. They were also distinct from ours in degree, as well as in kind. Jesus knew all things which should come upon Him; He saw the whole cup brimming over with woe, and every ingredient of every bitter drop to come was known to Him. This we are spared. That cup is dealt out to us in drops only; we never know whether we are not close approaching its end. In capacity also for suffering He surpassed us equally. It is a token of God's mercy, as well as of our infirmity, that we are ever benumbed by pain. Beyond a certain point, the anguished eye puts on darkness, the fevered frame subsides into lethargy. But so was it not with Him whom we love. In that long procession of human sorrow of which the world's history, disguise it as we will, is but the record, His mourning has ever been first, and chief, and unapproachable. Look and see whether there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.

II. The first point of fellowship with Christ's sufferings is grief for sin, deep, earnest personal affliction for our own guilt and unworthiness. Enter into fellowship with Christ's sufferings, learn to know what sin is, and this very knowledge shall relieve you from the bondage of sin. Begin to grapple with the strong man armed that keepeth thine house within by the aid of that stronger one, who shall help thee at last to bind him and spoil his goods. It may, and it will, cost thee suffering; but is it not worth any present loss if we may live freely, and purely, and blessedly, and die without terror, and fulfil in a higher and perfect state all the best ends of our being in the sinless and everlasting service of Him from whom that being came?

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. Hi., p. 160.

Conformity to Christ's Death.

This shaping in the form of Christ's death is one of the Christian's earnest endeavours and most cherished objects in life. No advantage of birth, no distinction of rank, no triumph of intellect, no extending and pervading empire of the will, nothing, in short, that tempts ordinary men of the world, can attract him in comparison with this.

I. Christ's death was a death unto sin; and all conformity to His death must be conformity begun, continued, and completed by death unto sin. Suffering on account of sin is a very different thing from death unto sin. Fellowship with Christ's sufferings—this is the restless, endless conflict of the believer's course, ever raging, ever distracting, ever wearing and wearying him; conformity to Christ's death—this is the deep calm of indifference to sin, and to the solicitations of Satan, and to the allurements of the world, which is ever setting in together with and over against the conflict. This deadness to sin is the first and most essential element of conformity to the death of Christ.

II. Let us follow out this conformity to His death into some of its attendant circumstances. (1) Sin and the devil will not let us alone in its various stages. The nearer we approach in likeness to Him, the more will His enemies treat us as they treated Him. (2) Again, that death of His was a death to all mere human ambition. In conformity to His death we also must read the death-blow to all other ambition. (3) And, once more, all self-righteousness is sacrificed and nailed to His cross in those who are made in the likeness of His death. (4) Nor should we entirely dismiss such a theme without one look onwards. "If we be dead with Christ, we shall also live with Him." The Christian should never end with Calvary, nor with the mortification of the body, nor with deadness to sin, but ever carry his thoughts onward to that blessed consummation to which these are the entrance and necessary condition.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii., p. 173.

A Sermon for Easter Day.

I. First of all, what is the event itself, the resurrection of Jesus, of which this day is the joyful commemoration? Of whom is the resurrection? Lazarus was raised from the dead by Christ; wherein did Christ's own resurrection differ from that of him whom He loved? In two most important particulars. Lazarus underwent no change from suffering, death-doomed flesh and blood to a body of the resurrection. As he entered the tomb, so he came forth from it. Then, which is closely dependent on this, Lazarus died again. His was in some sense a resurrection; but it was no part of the resurrection, of which the Lord is the example and firstfruits. For "Christ, being raised from the dead, dieth no more"; He brought up His body out of the grave changed and glorious, with no more infirmity, no more blight of sin upon it.

II. Need we ask how the resurrection of Christ can extend beyond Himself? If these faithful and careful ones bore into the tomb the dead form of the Son of man, of our collected and concentrated humanity; if there we lay with and in Him, watched by ministering angels during that solemn and mysterious pause in the Life of our life, who can tell what happened when that same form was lit up again with the returned spirit, when the Godhead again entered into its fleshly tabernacle, or rather, having taken down its frail and temporary tent, entered into its new-built and eternal temple, when those lacerated feet began their glorious and onward march of triumph, and those pierced hands unfurled God's banner of everlasting victory? He rose not alone; we, our humanity, in its whole reach and extent, rose with Him. Thus mankind, and the myriads on myriads of whom you and I are units, burst but from that tomb in and with Him, and stood complete in His resurrection. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But this power of His resurrection does not begin to be exerted in the next life; does not then first act when the mute clay bursts out into songs of praise. It is acting all through the Christian's course below, and its action is shown here by the springing up and waxing onward of that new life in His spirit which, expanded and glorified, shall continue its action through eternity.

H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iii., p. 187.

References: Philippians 3:11.—G. Brooks, Five Hundred Outlines, p. 114; E. L. Hull, Sermons, 1st series, p. 28.

Verse 12

Philippians 3:12

Our Christian Aim.

I. Progress is not identical with growth. In speaking of progress, we take account of human endeavour, and not only of Divine law. It is not only that the minute germ appropriates by some mysterious power the elements which it needs, and clothes itself with beauty. The idea of progress suggests thoughts of conscious effort, resolute will, and obstacles vanquished; of the striving after an ideal; of the presence of an animating desire. Progress is not only a movement guided successfully towards a worthy end; it is movement inspired by a worthy motive. Progress must be guided by reflection. According to a memorable Greek saying, "the God of revelation neither hides the truth nor tells it plainly, but shows it by a sign." God does not dispense with the fullest exercise of our faculties; it is by these, and these only, that we can know Him and serve Him.

II. The Christian aim is, briefly, attainment of the likeness of God, for which man was made. There can be no repose or stationariness in the Christian course while life lasts. We cannot continue the feelings, or habits, or methods of one period into another, because, while our aim remains unchanged, we shall approach it in new ways from each new position. Fresh difficulties and opportunities will be disclosed as we go onwards; we shall gain by the discipline of effort a keener vision and a prompter judgment. The voice of Greek philosophy gave utterance to the last thought of the soul when it proclaimed that the end of man was to be made like to God as far as possible. The end, then, towards which the soul strove, has been brought by Christ within our reach. No life which is directed to self-seeking is easy, and no labour which is spent on transitory objects can bring peace. For us, being of the world, the effort of self-denying service is the one aim to that rest for which we were made, rest on the bosom of God.

Bishop Westcott, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxiv., p. 104.

References: Philippians 3:12.—T. T. Lynch, Sermons for My Curates, p. 281; Homilist, vol. i., p. 45; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 96. Philippians 3:12-15.—H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 317; Ibid., vol. xi., p. 394.

Verse 13

Philippians 3:13

I. The past has its uses. Not for nothing did God bestow upon us memory; not for nothing do His servants recollect themselves, look back, call to mind, remember. (1) We want the past for purposes of humiliation. We might almost content ourselves, if we desired to humble the pride of any one, with saying to him, Let memory work; think of that shameful fall which you had yesterday or the day before: that broken resolution, that outbreak of temper, that irreverent worship, that omitted duty, and that secret sin thought of, not done. I can scarcely see how he can be proud whose memory is not dormant. We must not entirely forget the things that are behind, so far as our past sins are concerned, if we would be humble as we ought to be. (2) Again, we want the past for purposes of admonition and warning. It is thence that we draw experience. A man cannot live out half his days without becoming wise as to his failings and infirmities. If we were in such a sense new men every morning as that the past were a blank and the future a conjecture, we should be far worse equipped than we are for the work and the conflict of the present.

II. But there are two senses in which we ought all to forget the things that are behind. (1) It is possible that upon some the memory of the past may have an elating influence. There are those who trust too much to a past conversion and look too little to a present consistency. Hear St. Paul utterly disclaiming any such trust; telling how he forgets the things behind, and reaches forth only to the things before; nay, declaring his conviction that he might even preach to others, and yet himself be a castaway. (2) But far commoner is the opposite risk; far more in number are they whom the thought of the past deeply depresses. May it not be said to such persons, Forget the things behind? When the question is of courage or cowardice, of resistance or of flight, then forget the things behind: let past falls be forgotten; let past proofs of weakness be disregarded and dismissed; put your trust in God, and in His name and strength go forward.

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 247.

References: Philippians 3:13.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Waterside Mission Sermons, p. 4; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xx., p. 141; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. iii., p. 237; F. W. Farrar, In the Days of thy Youth, pp. 51, 275; T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 290; J. H. Jellett, The Elder Son, pp. 278, 291.

Verse 13-14

Philippians 3:13-14

Living in the Future.

I. First, we may take this as the advice commended to us in the example here taught us: Live in the future. Our highest condition in this world is not the attainment of perfection, but the recognition of heights above us which are as yet unreached. From generation to generation, for the individual and the species, the condition of our progress is a distance beckoning us, and a feeling that we have not already attained, neither are already perfect.

II. Let the bright, certain, infinite future dwarf for us the narrow and stained past: "forgetting the things that are behind." (1) Forget past failures; they are apt to weaken you. (2) Be sure to forget past attainments; they are apt to become food for complacency, for every vain confidence. (3) Forget your past circumstances, whether they be sorrows or joys; the one are not without remedy, the other not perfect. "Forget the things that are behind."

III. Let hopes for the future and lessons from the past alike lead to strenuous work in the present. "This one thing I do." Be the past what it may, be the future what it may, I know that I cannot reach the one nor forget the other, except by setting myself with all my might and main to present duties, and by reducing all duties to various forms of one great life-purpose. Concentration of all our strength on a single aim, and that aim pursued through all our days, with their varying occupations—what a grand ideal of life that is! We shall work hard and heartily at various tasks, and yet the good part shall not be taken away from us by outward activity, any more than our possession of it will sequester us from vigorous service of God and man.

A. Maclaren, Sermons in Manchester, 3rd series, p. 39

The text shows—

I. The greatness of Christian hope. Two things are suggested by the context as having been actually attained by Paul: a satisfying religious faith and a sufficient religious purpose. (1) He had attained a satisfying religious faith. This is the portion of all believers in the Gospel. In some it appears almost independently of experience; the reason of it is vouchsafed them in their conversion; they will speak, with no consciousness of exaggeration, of being brought out of darkness into marvellous light: in their joyousness they are new creatures. In others it grows and strengthens along the whole course of Christian fidelity; they have a peace which passeth all understanding. But out of this satisfaction there arises a special danger. Satisfaction with an ideal often so contents us that we make no effort to realise it. We have not attained when we have begun to trust. Faith is the means of Christian living, not the end, not the sum, of Christian life. (2) Paul had also attained a sufficient religious purpose. It was characteristic of him, as of all noble natures, that he valued his faith according to the energy with which it filled him, and that he estimated spiritual energy by the sacrifices it enabled him to make. The power of the Gospel is seen in that it not only inspires a Christlike passion of love and righteousness, but also transforms the passion into purpose. This is the true test of spiritual vigour: the energy of purpose with which we are inspired.

II. The method of Christian endeavour. "Forgetting those things that are behind."—this is one of the conditions of manful Christian endeavour. The habit of brooding over the sins of the past must be laid aside, and also the habit of dwelling on our spiritual attainments. Our only contentment is in aspiration, for our true life and its issues are before us. The bliss of the imperfect is in their efforts after perfection. From the knowledge that we have not attained comes the hope of attain ing; nay, rather, it is the hope of larger blessedness which makes alt we have yet reached appear incomplete. We have not yet fathomed the Divine purpose, nor known the fulness of the grace of Christ.

A. Mackennal, The Life of Christian Consecration, p. 164.

Reference: Philippians 3:13, Philippians 3:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix., No. 1114; G. E. L. Cotton, Sermons and Addresses in Mar thorough College, p. 341; C. H. Grundy, Church of England Pulpit, vol. iv., p. 87; H. W. Beecher, Christian World Pulpit, vol; xvi., p. 210; Ibid., vol. xvii., p. 92; H. P. Liddon, Ibid., vol. xxvii., p. 257; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 20; J. J. S. Perowne, Sermons, p. 104; W. M. Punshon, Sermons, p. 26; F. Temple, Rugby Sermons, 1st series, p. 224; F. Case, Short Practical Sermons, p. 43. Philippians 3:13-15.—W. Hay Aitken, Mission Sermons, vol. iii., p. 236. Philippians 3:14.—Church of England Pulpit, vol. vii., p. 46; Christian World Pulpit, vol. v., p. 263; H. S. Hird, Ibid., vol. xv., p. 278.

Verse 15-16

Philippians 3:15-16


I. In proportion as we really love the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall love those who love Him, be it in never so clumsy or mistaken a fashion, and love those too whom He loved enough to die for them, and whom He lives now to teach and strengthen. We can surely do good together. Together, let our denomination be what it may, we can feed the hungry, clothe the naked, reform the prisoner, humanise the degraded, save yearly the lives of thousands by labouring for the public health, and educate the minds and morals of the masses, though our religious differences force us to part when we begin to talk to them about the world to come.

II. True, there are errors against which we are bound to protest to the uttermost, but how few! The one real enemy we have all to fight is sin, evil-doing. If any man or doctrine makes men worse, makes men do worse deeds, protest then, if you will, and spare not, and shrink not; for sin must be of the devil, whatever else is not. And therefore we are bound to protest against any doctrine which parts man from God, and under whatsoever pretence of reverence or purity, draws again the veil between him and his heavenly Father, and denies him free access to the throne of grace, that he may speak with God face to face and yet live. For this right of access we must protest; for this we must die, if needs be; for if we lose this, we lose all that our reforming forefathers won for us at the stake. Ay, we lose our own souls, for we lose righteousness and strength and the power to do the will of God.

III. Just in proportion as we delight in and live by the great doctrines of Christianity, all controversies will become less and less important in our eyes. The more we value the living body of Christianity, the less we shall think of its temporary garments; the more we feel the power of God's Spirit, the less scrupulous shall we be about the peculiar form in which He may manifest Himself. Personal trust in Jesus Christ, personal love to Jesus Christ, will keep our minds clear, and sober, and charitable.

C. Kingsley, Sermons for the Times, p. 278.

Reference: Philippians 3:16.—F. Ferguson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 193.

Verse 18

Philippians 3:18

The Cross the Measure of Sin.

How is it that every sin, even the very least, makes men enemies of the Cross of Christ?

I. First, because it was sin that, so to speak, created the Cross: sin made a Redeemer necessary. It opened some deep breach in the order of life and in the unity of God's kingdom which could be no way healed but by the Atonement. If there had been no sin in the world until now, the sin we have committed, each one of us, this day, would have demanded the sacrifice and reconciliation. Such is the intensity of one offence, such its infinity of guilt.

II. And, again, not only does sin both create and multiply this necessity, but, so to speak, it continues to frustrate the work of the Cross and Passion of the Son of God. It demands His death, and it defeats its virtues; it invokes it from the mercies of God, and it wars against it by direct hostility; it first makes it necessary, and then would make it fruitless.

III. And, once more, sin makes men enemies of the Cross, because it is in virtue and spirit a renewal of the Crucifixion; it acts the Crucifixion over again. And therefore our Lord, though He was already in the bliss and glory of the Father, cried saying, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" It is no mere figure of speech, but a very deep and appalling reality, that sin makes every soul that willingly offends an enemy of the Cross of Christ by converting it into a direct spiritual antagonist of the will and intent of our merciful Lord in the mystery of His Passion. Hence we may see (1) the exceeding sinfulness of every act of wilful sin; (2) the sinfulness of every habitual state or temper of mind contrary to the spirit of our Saviour.

H. E. Manning, Sermons, vol. iii., p. 201.

Reference: Philippians 3:18.—R. D. B. Rawnsley, Village Sermons, 1st series, p. 290; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 93; H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 3245. Philippians 3:18, Philippians 3:19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ii., No. 102; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vii., p. 219; Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. vi., p. 253. Philippians 3:19.—Wilkinson, Church of England Pulpit, vol. v., p. 9; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 250.

Verse 19-20

Philippians 3:19-20

I. Others, says St. Paul, have their mind set upon things below; appetite is their god; they make the Gospel itself a means of worldly gain; what they pride themselves upon is just what a Christian should be ashamed of; and the end of these things is death. When the world perishes, its children and its subjects must perish too. But we are not of the world. Already, even in this life, our citizenship is in heaven; and thither is our eye ever turned, in expectation of His coming who is even now our King, and shall one day be our Deliverer and our Saviour too.

II. If anything for a moment shows us to ourselves as we are, stripping off the disguise by which we commonly impose not upon others only, but also upon ourselves, does anything strike us so painfully as this one conviction?—that we are predominantly earthly-minded; that, whatever else we may be or may not be, we have things on the earth for our thought and for our feeling. There is a quietude and a self-complacency in worldly success which puts us, as it were, in good humour with both worlds: with God above and man below. But take one world away, and what has become of the other? It is a mistake to suppose that affliction, in any form, drives men to God. It may in time, with pain and prayer and many struggles, make the heavenly-minded man more heavenly-minded; but it might almost be said to have an opposite effect upon the godless and the earthly-minded, at once showing him his state and fixing that state upon him. Depend upon it, he, and he only, who has a country above will ever sit loose to interests below; and if he would ever escape the terrible condemnation of having minded earthly things, it must be because God, in His infinite mercy, has given us the comfort and joy of being able to say from the heart, My home is not here; my citizenship is in heaven.

C. J. Vaughan, Lectures on Philippians, p. 263.

Verse 20

Philippians 3:20

Heaven the Christian's Home.

I. "Our conversation is in heaven." Many are the meanings of this word, and every way the Apostle says we are in heaven. For the word, in the language in which God wrote it, means the city or state to which we belong, or citizenship, or the rules and order of a state by which it is governed, or the way of life of the citizens; and in all these ways he places us in heaven. Our home is in heaven. Yet so it might be, so in one sense it is, though we were away from home. For, as the Apostle says, "while we are present in the body, we are absent from the Lord." Yet it is not altogether an absent home of which the Apostle speaks. He speaks not of our home as something separate from us, not as something in space in which we might be and are not, but as something belonging to us, and to which we belong, to which of right and in fact we belong. For the temple of God, the Church, is not made with hands, not a material building. One Church we know it is of all who are, or have been, or shall be in Christ Jesus, all, wherever they are, in heaven or in earth, all, men and angels, knit in one in Him. In soul and spirit we are in heaven already. There our life centres; there we live: to it we belong.

II. But how then if on earth, as we know we are, as the corruptible body presseth down the spirit, is our citizenship, our dwelling-place, yea we ourselves, in heaven? Because our Lord is there. This is the great blessedness of our citizenship, as of every other gift of grace or glory: that we have it not of ourselves, but of and in Christ.

E. B. Pusey, Sermons from Advent to Whitsuntide, vol. i., p. 328.

Our Heavenly Citizenship.

I. There are only three ways on record by which any man ever became a citizen of any state; but not by one only, but by all the three, are we citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. (1) For, first, we were made citizens by purchase. He who was the King of that beautiful city did actually give up for a season His kingdom, and He was content to become a stranger here, and to forfeit all His dignities, and to be human enough to die and to be buried, that He might by that absence and death buy an admission for you and me to that heavenly city. (2) And, in addition to this purchase by the blood of Christ, it was free for us to take as a gift. (3) And because birth is better than purchase or gift, therefore by the same grace we are born again, that we should change the place of our nativity and have our settlement no longer in a slavish world, but be born free; and this admission by birth is that which lies in the text: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

II. Look, next, at the privileges of citizenship. (1) It is the first privilege of every citizen that he is represented. Accordingly it is the plan of God's great government that every one who belongs to His Church is represented. Christ is gone into heaven for this purpose, and there at God's right hand He stands. (2). And the right of a citizen is that he is under the laws of his own state, and no other; he may appeal up to this. The Christian is continually appealing to a grander award than that of this world. (3) The citizen can go in and out. Is he not free of his own state? But it is a holy liberty. There is the same God to all there in the city; He is very near. (4) It is the right or privilege of all citizens to go to the presence of the King. Whatever be their petitions, the access is open. We carry in our hands a white stone, with a new name written; we command entrance by that stone, the proof of our union with Christ. We are His people, and His whole empire is pledged to us; and we may be in that royal presence night and day, and enjoy such elevation and such converse and partake of such favours as it passeth the natural eye to see: "but God has revealed them to us by His Spirit."

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 233.

References: Philippians 3:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 476; H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Waterside Mission Sermons, p. 27; Ibid., The Life of Duty, vol. ii., p. 197.; Church of England Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 25; vol. xxii., p. 109; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 218; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 31; Preacher's Monthly, vol. vi., p. 215.

Verse 20-21

Philippians 3:20-21

The Reunion of the Saints.

I. "The body of our humiliation." What a word is that! It was not always thus. When God, in the solemn conclave of the Eternal Trinity, said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," He could not have been speaking only of man's soul. The record of the Creation which follows is almost entirely corporeal. He must have been speaking of the entire man. In the likeness of Christ's body, God formed the body of Adam, not in the likeness of Christ's body as He wore it down upon this earth, but the likeness of that body as it is now, as He ascended into the heavens, the body glorified, so that in all probability the body of our first parents in paradise was the very same body as we shall receive after the resurrection, both being in the likeness of Christ and both glorious. And this is, therefore, one of the points in the fulness of the restitution of all things, and shows how we regain in Christ all, even to the exact bodily form—all that we lost in the Fall.

II. The resurrection body will be a body which we shall glory in, just as in this body we now are humiliated. So the one becomes in some sense a measure of the other; and such as is the degradation of the body now, so will be the exaltation of the body then. For it will be the memorial through all eternity, not of a fall, but of the grace which has raised us to an elevation higher than that from which we fell. Christ will be both admired and reflected in it before the universe. Continually, without cessation, it will be capable of worship and service; and, like Him it mirrors, it will express transparently the whole of the intellect and the love breathed in it, and, like Him, it will never change. A beauty which we see each in the other will never fade away from before our eyes; the satisfaction which we never found in a creature we shall find absolutely and for ever in that new creation: and from the moment of our waking up in that blessed morning, on and on, for ever and ever, the gushing sense of light, and life, and power, and service, and purity, and humility, and love will flow, ever full and ever fresh, out of the freeness of the fountain of the indwelling of God.

J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 4th series, p. 225.

The Heavenly Citizenship.

St. Paul had just been speaking of some members of the Church whose god was their belly, who minded earthly things. It is a plausible opinion that in the text he intended to contrast with their state of mind his own and that of the persons who strove to imitate him as he imitated Christ. Our translators probably adopted that notion, or they would scarcely have rendered πολίτευμα by conversation. That word had undoubtedly a more extensive signification in the seventeenth century than it has in ours: it included the whole course and habit of life, and had no special reference to intercourse through the tongue. But it can never have denoted what a word derived from "city" and "citizen" does most naturally denote: a condition and privilege which belonged to certain men, whether they made use of it or forgot it.

I. That natural sense, I apprehend, St. Paul gives to the expression here. He does not contrast his heavenly temper with the earthly temper of those concerning whom he speaks with so much sorrow; but he blames them for that temper because he and they had both alike a Divine πολίτευμα, because a state had been claimed for them and was implied in their acts with which such a temper was wholly at variance. The opposition is not between them and him; it is between them and themselves. It is not, again (as we sometimes state it), between them and their professions, as if they boasted of a high citizenship when, in fact, they were only aliens. They had too low, not too high, an appreciation of their status and of their rights; they would be raised above their grovelling tendencies, yea and above the conceit which no doubt accompanied these tendencies, if they could once really understand what they were: what honours and estates were legally theirs, only waiting to be claimed; under what title these honours and estates were to be held.

II. To say, "Our conversation is in the heavens," would be a bold thing for most of us; but when we say, "Our citizenship is in the heavens," then need we no faltering of the tongue, no timidity in the spirit within. That is declaring God to be true, and us to be liars; that is affirming He has not made our lives to be insincere in solitude or in society, our friendships to be poor in quality and to be shorter than the existence which they glorify. All that is fragile and transitory belongs to us; we have failed to recognise the stamp of His eternity which He has assuredly put upon us and upon all our human attachments. We sever by our sin and unbelief links which He has fastened; our noise has disturbed the great deep of memory which His Spirit broods over; but His blessed order stands firm, however little we abide in it. The affinities in the world of human beings, like the affinities in the natural world, have all been constituted by Him, are all maintained by Him. The unity between the different parts of the frame of man is not so mysterious as the unity between the different members of the body politic. The latter is certainly indestructible, whatever may happen to the former, and this because our polity is in the heavens. We are made one in Christ.

F. D. Maurice, Sermons, vol. i., p. 235.

There are here two practical motives by which the Apostle urges the Philippians to walk so as they have true Christian teachers for an ensample: the energy and loyalty and the inspiration of hope.

I. The energy and loyalty. Loyalty is reverence for law, not mere submission to it, but the glad, free submission which comes from respect for the law and homage for the authority on which it rests. A man may be obedient to his country's laws from fear of punishment. Not out of any regard for right, but because of the constable and the gaol, he may keep within the bounds of law. The loyal man will not think much of a penalty to be escaped; he honours the principle of law; because it is just and good, he will submit himself to it. You see how loyalty to heaven affected Paul. It was pain to him that there were Christians who were unmindful of their heavenly character. To him the Christian name was something to be regarded with reverence and preserved spotless. The honour of the heavenly citizen is the strong motive by which he appeals to his loved disciples at Philippi. Loyalty to a higher order is an energy to resist degrading circumstances or strong temptation. It is so when the influence is historic only or ideal. St. Paul is putting the Christians on their honour. You are citizens of heaven, and your citizenship abides there. It is a real thing, this heavenly law. You are called by the Christian name; you have felt the Christian consolation; you claim the Christian privilege; you are also under Christian allegiance; the Christian life is the life to which you are bidden, which you are trusted to live.

II. The inspiration and hope. Our body is indeed a body of humiliation; we must have it changed before we can be set free: but we shall be free. He who can subdue all things to Him has energy for our deliverance, and we await His delivering advent; we struggle on, faithful, loyal to Him; and He by the energy with which He is able even to subdue all things unto Him will change the body of our humiliation, that it may be fashioned like unto the body of His glory.

A. Mackennal, Christ's Healing Touch, p. 250.

The Redemption of the Body.

I. St. Paul valued his privilege of being a citizen of the greatest city upon earth. The Philippians had reason to know that he valued it. He had made them understand by his conduct that citizenship is a great and honourable thing. Men are bound together as citizens of a city, as members of a nation, by God Himself. But St. Paul tells the Philippians that he was the citizen of another country too: "Our citizenship is in heaven." We have friends and fellow-sufferers upon earth; our work is upon earth; we live to do good to the earth; but our home is with God. He has bought us at a great price that we might be freemen of His kingdom, and might always fly to Him and plead our cause before Him; He has made for us a new and living way into His presence through the flesh and blood of His Son; and we have a right to walk in that way, and not to be taking the downward way, the way of death.

II. St. Paul had the greatest reverence for his own body and for the bodies of his fellow-creatures that any man could have. For he believed that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour, had taken a body such as ours, and had eaten earthly food, and had drunk of earthly water and wine, and had given that body to die upon the cross, and had raised it out of the grave, and had ascended with it to the right hand of His Father. Therefore when St. Paul recollected his citizenship in heaven, when he claimed to be a member of Christ's body and prayed in His name to His Father and our Father, he could not but think how this body, which is so curiously and wonderfully made, has a hidden glory in it, which, when Christ appears in His glory, shall be fully made manifest. Everything seems to be threatening it with death, but Christ, in whom is the fulness of life, has overcome death and is stronger than death. He has raised up my spirit, that was sinking lower and lower, to trust in Him and hope in Him; He will raise up this body too. Nothing shall be lost of all that God has given us, for Christ has redeemed it. Only death and corruption shall perish, for they have assaulted God's glorious handiwork. What God has created God will preserve.

F. D. Maurice, Sermons in Country Churches, p. 72.

Christian Citizenship.

I. Consider, first, the source of Christian citizenship. At the time these words were written, the Roman empire had attained the culmination of its power. The long clamour of battle was hushed in the reign of Augustus. The Emperor seemed to reign over a consolidated and prosperous empire; and through each subject province or far-off archipelago of isles the man who could say, "I am a Roman citizen," found in the words the surest talisman of safety or the speediest redress for wrong. The source of our heavenly citizenship is not, as in the Roman, by birth or by servitude; it can only be by redemption, purchased for us by One who loves us, who can pay the satisfying price, and can exert the needed power; and this is the marvel of love which has really been wrought on our behalf.

II. That the citizenship thus conferred upon us by the free love of Jesus entails duties upon all its possessors is a consequence which each Christian heart will be prepared very cheerfully to recognise, as indeed it follows from every principle of right. Those whom a state protects and advances owe to it loyalty and patriotism, and if they fail in the discharge of duty, they forfeit all claim upon privilege; those who have received the heavenly citizenship and carefully obey the laws and steadily watch over the interests of the kingdom to which they belong—theirs will be neither stinted obedience nor intermittent devotion.

III. For true-hearted citizens there is abundant consolation in the immunities to which their citizenship entitles them. (1) They have a claim to the protection of the state in all circumstances of difficulty or need; (2) they have a claim also upon the privileges of the city to which they belong: theirs are its security and its freedom, its wealth, its treasure, and its renown. All the treasures of heaven are yours, "for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's."

W. M. Punshon, Sermons, 2nd series, p. 333.

References: Philippians 3:20, Philippians 3:21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvii., No. 973; E. Blencowe, Plain Sermons to a Country Congregation, p. 105; Church of England Pulpit, vol. viii., p. 293; Homilist, vol. vi., p. 59; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ix., p. 228. Philippians 3:21.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ii., p. 213; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 289.


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Philippians 3:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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