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Words from GOD – Words to GOD

Spurgeon, Commenatry on Phillipeans, part II – Uwe Rosenkranz, Archbishop, MA,DD

Philippians 1:12–26
Exposition

12 my circumstances 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.

13 the whole praetorium 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. 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.

14 speak the word without fear Other brothers, who might perhaps have felt compelled to be quiet in Paul’s 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.
The Opportunities Created by a Fallen Tree
Preaching Themes: Church Leadership, Courage, Leadership
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.
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.
15–17 because of envy and strife preach Christ 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.
Truth Will Conquer, Like Fire Burning Leaves
Preaching Themes: Truth, Victory and Defeat
You have, perhaps, sometimes seen a little fire kindled among the dead autumn leaves, which are dank and damp. You have noticed that, despite all the smoke, the fire has continued to live and burn. So it is 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 that is piled upon it.
18 Christ is proclaimed Sweet forgetfulness of self! So long as Christ is glorified, Paul does not mind how he himself fares, nor what unkind motives towards himself may actuate other preachers. This is real Christianity.

in this I rejoice The apostle was in prison, in great jeopardy of his life. He was much troubled by many who had begun to preach Jesus Christ, but did not preach Him in a proper spirit. He was also often depressed by that which came daily upon him, the care of all the churches. Yet while he looked in the face the evils that surrounded him, he was able to see beyond them, and to believe that the consequences of all his trials would be real and lasting good. He felt sure that it was a good thing for him to be in prison; that it would be a good thing even if he had to die there; that it was well that many were preaching Christ, even though some did it of ill will. For Christ was preached, and the result could not be evil. And the troubles and trials of the churches were good, for somehow or other they would be overruled for God’s glory.

19 this will turn out to me for deliverance Observe that the apostle did not expect that good would arise out of everything, apart from prayer. He believed that it would be through the prayer of his beloved friends at Philippi, and the supply of the Spirit, that everything that happened to him would work to promote his salvation, his spiritual advantage, and his success as a minister of Christ. He looked for the transformation of the evil into good by that sacred alchemy of heaven, which can transmute the basest metal into purest gold. But he did not expect this to happen apart from the ordained methods and ordinary institutions of grace; he counted upon the result because he saw two great agents at work, namely, prayer and the supply of the Spirit. Whoever else may be foolish enough to look for effects apart from causes, the apostle was not of their mind.

through your prayer Paul exceedingly valued the prayers of the saints. He was an apostle, but he felt he could not do without the intercessions of the poor converts at Philippi. He valued Lydia’s prayers and the prayers of her household. He valued the jailer’s prayer, and the prayers of his family. He desired the prayers of Euodia and Syntyche, and Clement, and the rest—most of them, probably, persons of no great social standing, as the world has it—yet he valued their supplications beyond all price, and was as grateful for their prayers as for those temporal gifts whereby the Philippians had again and again ministered to his necessities.
The apostle also evidently expected to be prayed for. He had the fullest confidence that his brothers at Philippi were praying for him. He does not ask for their prayers so much as assume that he is already receiving them. And truly I wish that all pastors could always, without doubt, assume that they enjoyed the perpetual prayers of those under their charge.

and the support of the Spirit The Spirit we want is the Spirit that rested upon Jesus Christ, the spirit that gave power to His ministry, for He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:18). That same Spirit we need, even the Spirit who represents Christ on earth. For Jesus is gone, but the Comforter abides with us as His vicegerent. He moves at Jesus Christ’s will, and operates upon human thought and heart and will, subduing all to God.
The Devil May Preach a Sermon without Anointing
Preaching Themes: Calling, Church Leadership, Holy Spirit, Satan
A famous preacher was to preach on a certain occasion, but he missed his way and was too late. The devil, knowing of it, put on the appearance of the minister, took his place, and preached a sermon to the people, who supposed they were listening to the famous preacher whom they had expected. The devil preached upon hell, and was very much at home, so that he delivered a marvelous sermon in which he exhorted persons to escape from the wrath to come. As he was finishing his sermon, in came the preacher himself, and the devil was obliged to resume his own form. The holy man then questioned him, “How dare you preach as you have done, warning men to escape from hell?” “Oh,” said the devil, “it will do no hurt to my kingdom, for I have no anointing.”
The story is grotesque, but the truth is in it. The same sermon may be preached and the same words uttered, but without anointing there is nothing in it. The anointing of the Holy One is true power.
20 through life or through death He hoped that the spread of the gospel would call Nero’s attention to his case, and end his imprisonment one way or another. Little did he care whether he was set free by death or by being allowed to resume his labors. Again I bid you notice 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.
“Ready for Either”
Preaching Themes: Commitment, Humility, Sacrifice
The emblem of the American Baptist Foreign Missionary Society 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.
21 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.

to die is gain This is one of the gospel riddles, which only the Christian can truly understand. To die is not gain if I look upon the merely visible. To die is loss; it is not gain. But death, Paul 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. He would be safe upon the land where 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 brothers 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. Dying, too, would be gain for him, for he would then be free from all fear of death. Having once died, he would die no more forever. 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.
Judging Happiness by the Whole Life
Preaching Themes: Death and Dying, Happiness
If you would get a fair estimate of the happiness of any man, you must judge him in these two closely connected things: his life and his death. The heathen Solon said, “Call no man happy until he is dead, for you do not know what changes may pass upon him in life.” We add to that, “Call no man happy until he is dead, because the life that is to come, if that be miserable, shall far outweigh the highest life of happiness that has been enjoyed on earth.” To estimate a man’s condition we must take it in all its length. We must not measure that one thread that reaches from the cradle to the coffin. We must go further. We must go from the coffin to the resurrection, and from the resurrection on throughout eternity. To know whether acts are profitable, I must not estimate their effects on me for the hour in which I live, but for the eternity in which I am to exist. I must not weigh matters in the scales of time. I must not calculate by the hours, minutes and seconds of the clock, but I must count and value things by the ages of eternity.
22 to live in the flesh That is a very different thing from living to the flesh.

fruitful work for me He lived to work for Christ, and to see souls saved as the fruit of his labor.

23 I am hard pressed between the two options The apostle was confined in the guard room of the Praetorium. It is very probable that he had a soldier chained to his right hand, and another to his left, and it is very possible that this position suggested to him the expression, “I am hard pressed between the two.” He was literally held by two forces, and he was mentally in the same condition, exercised with two strong desires, influenced by two master passions. 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.
Seeing Death as a Departure
Preaching Themes: Death and Dying, Persecution
Picture yourself sitting in a gloomy dungeon, a captive in the hands of the cruel tyrant Nero, and under the supervision of the infamous prefect Tigellinus, the most detestable of all Nero’s satellites. Conceive yourself as expecting soon to be taken out to death—perhaps to such a horrible death as the refined cruelty of the monster had often devised, as, for instance, to be smeared over with bituminous matter and burned in the despot’s garden, to adorn a holiday. What would be your feelings? If you were not a Christian I would expect you to tremble with the fear of death. Even if you were a believer, I would not marvel if the flesh shrunk from the prospect. Paul was an utter stranger to any feeling of the kind. He had not the slightest dread of martyrdom. He calls his expected death a departure, a loosing of the cable that holds his ship to the shore, and a putting forth upon the main ocean. So far from being afraid to die, he stands fully prepared. He waits patiently, and even anticipates joyfully the hour when his change shall come.
desire to depart Paul was convinced that there is a future state for believers. He was quite sure about it, and he believed it to be a future conscious state, which commenced the moment they died and was beyond measure full of blessedness. He did not believe in purgatorial fires through which believers’ souls must pass; much less did he believe the modern and detestable heresy that, like the body, the soul of the saint dies until the resurrection. He spoke of being “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8), and here he speaks about departing not to sleep or to lie in the cold shade of oblivion till the trumpet should arouse him, but to depart and immediately to be with Christ, which is far better.
What made Paul wish to depart? First, the apostle felt a desire to depart because he knew that in departing and being with Christ he should be clean rid of sin. Paul hated sin; every true believer does the same. Second, Paul longed to die because he knew that as soon as he should depart he would meet his brothers in faith who had gone before. Last of all, Paul’s grand reason for desiring to depart was to be with Christ.

be with Christ I have no doubt Paul had as enlarged ideas as to what the state of disembodied spirits would be as the most intelligent and best-read Christian that ever lived. I have no doubt he would have said, “Yes, there is fellowship among the saints; we shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. It will be certainly as true in heaven as it is on earth that we have fellowship one with another.” No doubt he believed that heaven was a place of a far clearer knowledge than any we possess below. He said so once: “Here I know in part, but there shall I know even as I am known” (1 Cor 13:12). Some Christians have entertained the idea that they shall gaze upon the various works of God in distant parts of His universe, and enjoy infinite happiness in beholding the manifold wisdom of God. This is very possible, and if it will conduce to their happiness, very probable.
Perhaps Paul believed all that, but we do not know whether he did or not. Here it is plain that he gives us only one idea. He describes the disembodied state as “to be with Christ.” A very exclusive idea! No, a very inclusive idea—for it takes in all the heaven that the largest mind can conceive. It does seem to omit a great many things, but I dare say Paul felt that they were such trifles that it did not matter about forgetting them.
Looking Forward to Christ’s Presence Above All
Preaching Themes: Presence of God, Heaven
Perhaps there is a wife whose husband has accepted an appointment in India. He has been long away, and the years of his forced absence have been weary to her. She has had loving messages from him and kind letters, but often has she sighed, and her heart has looked out of the windows toward the east, yearning for his return. Now she has received a letter entreating her to go out to her husband, and without hesitation she has resolved to go. Now, if you ask her what she is going to India for, the reply will be, “I am going to my husband.” But she has a brother there. Yes, she will see him, but she does not tell you that; her great thought is that she is going to her husband. She has many old friends and companions there, but she is not drawn to the far-off land by desire for their company. She crosses the sea for the sake of her beloved. But her husband has a handsome estate there, and he is wealthy, and has a well-furnished house and many servants. Yes, but she never says, “I am going out to see my husband’s home,” or anything of that kind. She is going to her husband. That is the all-absorbing object. There may be other inducements to make the voyage, but to be with her beloved is the master object of her journey. She is going to the man she loves with all her soul, and she is longing for the country, whatever that country may be, because he is there.
It is so with the Christian, only enhanced in a tenfold degree. He does not say, “I am going to the songs of angels, and to the everlasting chorales of the sanctified,” but, “I am going to be with Jesus.” It would argue unfaithfulness to Christ if that were not the first and highest thought. If that woman regarded as the first thing in that journey out to the East the sight of some other person, or the mere enjoyment of wealth and possessions, it would indicate that she had little love to her husband, that she was not such a wife as she ought to be. And if it could be so that the Christian should have some higher thought than being with Christ, or some other desire worth mentioning in the same day with it, it would look as if he had not presented himself as a chaste virgin to Christ, to be His and His alone. I see, therefore, why Paul calls the disembodied state a being with Christ, because his love was all with his Lord.
this is very much better The Greek has a triple comparative. We could not say “far more better” in our language, but that would be a fair translation. We will therefore read, “It is far rather preferable,” or it is much better to be with Christ away from the body, than it would be to abide here. Now, you must recollect that Paul does not claim for the disembodied state that it is the highest condition of a believer, or the ultimate crown of his hopes. It is a state of perfection as far as it goes; the spirit is perfect, but the entire person is not perfect while the body is left to molder in the tomb. One half of the saint is left behind in the grave. Corruption, earth, and worms have seized upon it, and the grand concluding day of our manifestation can only come when the redemption of the body is fully achieved. The fullness of our glory is the resurrection, for then the body will be united to our spirit, and perfected with it. At present the saints who are with Jesus are without their bodies, and are pure spirits. Their humanity is in that respect maimed; only half their manhood is with Jesus. Yet even for that half of the manhood to be with Christ is far better than for the whole of their being to be here in the best possible condition.
Now the apostle does not say that to be with Christ is far better than to be here, and to be rich, young, healthy, strong, famous, great, or learned. Paul never thinks of putting those petty things into contrast with being with Christ. He had got above all that. He means that to be with Christ is infinitely superior to all the joys of Christians. Anything that most Christians know about Christ and heavenly joys and heavenly things is very poor compared with being with Christ. But he meant more than that; he meant that the highest joys that the best-taught believer can here possess are inferior to being with Christ. For Paul was no obscure believer; he was a leader among the followers of Christ. Could he not say, “Thanks be God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ” (2 Cor 2:14)? He knew the graces of the Holy Spirit; he had them abundantly. He was head and shoulders above the tallest Christian here. He had the highest experience of any man outside of heaven, and it was that which he contrasted with being with Christ, and he said that the most that we could get here of heavenly things was not to be compared with being with Christ. That was far, far, far better. Thanks be to God for all the mercies of the pilgrimage, for all the dropping manna and the following stream—but the wilderness with all its manna is nothing compared to the land that flows with milk and honey. It is true that in the battle our head is covered, the wings of angels often protect us, and the Spirit of God Himself nerves our arm to use the sword; but who shall say that the victory is not better than the battle? Far better, said the apostle, and he meant it; far better it is.
Longing to Be Safely Moored in the Port
Preaching Themes: Commitment, Death and Dying, Victory and Defeat
There is a ship at sea, fully laden. It has a precious cargo of gold on board. Happy is the kingdom that shall receive the wealth that is contained within its hold. Would you not, if you were a possessor of such a vessel, long to be safe in port? When the ship is full of treasure, well may the captain long to see it safely moored. Now Paul was full of faith and love. He could say, “I have completed the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). What wonder, therefore, that he was longing to be safely anchored at home. The soldier, who in the midst of battle has smitten down foe after foe, knows that a high reward awaits him. He has charged upon the enemy, and driven them back in many a desperate struggle. He has already been victor. Do you wonder he wishes the fight now were over, that his laurels may be safe? If he had played the coward he might long that the campaign should be protracted, that he might redeem his disgrace. But having so far fought with honor, he may well desire that the garment rolled in blood may be rolled up forever.
So was it with the apostle. He had fought a good fight, and knew that the crown was laid up for him in heaven, and he anticipated the triumph that Christ would give him. Do not marvel that, panting and longing, he said, “I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, for this is very much better” (Gal 1:23).
24 more necessary for your sake He had a twitch toward stopping on earth, as well as a pull toward going to heaven, for he said, “To stay on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” 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. How I love Paul for thinking of the churches here when he had got heaven before him.
“Hard Pressed Between the Two Options”
Preaching Themes: Love, Service
Anthony Farindon says Paul’s dilemma in Phil 1:23–24 is like a poor beggar woman outside the door who carries a squalling child. Someone says to her, “You may come in and feast, but you must leave the baby outside.” She is very hungry, and she wants the feast, but she does not like to leave the baby, and so she is hard pressed between two options. Or, Farindon says again, it is like a wife who has children at home, five or six little ones. Her husband is on a journey, and suddenly there comes a letter that says that he wants her, and she must go to him, but she may do as she thinks best. She desires to go to her husband, but who will take care of the last little babe, and who is to see to all the rest? So she is hard pressed between two options. She loves him and she loves them.
So stood the apostle. It is blessed to think of a man having such a love for Christ that for Christ’s sake he loves poor souls well enough to be willing to stop out of heaven awhile.
25–26 I know that I will remain He admits, and joyfully admits it, that to be with Christ is far better. But upon consideration he sees reasons for his remaining here, and therefore he cheerfully submits to whatever may be the Lord’s will. He does not choose; his mind is so wrapped up with God and free from self that he cannot choose. What a blessed state of heart to be in! One might be willing to wear Paul’s chain on the wrist to enjoy Paul’s liberty of mind. He is a free man whom the Lord makes free, and such a man Nero himself cannot enslave. He may confine him in the military prison, but his soul walks at liberty through the earth and climbs among the stars. Paul, instead of being either weary of life or afraid of death, sits down and coolly considers his own case, as calmly indeed as if it had been the case of someone else. Do you observe how he weighs it? He says that to depart and to be with Christ is, considered in itself, far better. He therefore desires it. But looking around at the numerous churches he had formed, which in their feebleness and exposure to many perils needed his care, he says, on the other hand, “To stay on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” He holds the balance with unquivering hand, and the scales quietly vibrate in equilibrium. One rises and then the other, gently swaying his heart by turns. He is in a strait, a blessed strait between the two. He does not say that he did not know which of two things to avoid, or which to deprecate, but his mind was in such a condition that either to live or to die seemed equally desirable, and he says, “Which I will prefer I do not know.” It is a poor choice, to choose to live in a dungeon, and an equally poor business, as men judge it, to choose to die, but the apostle regards both of them as choice things, so choice that he does not know which to select. He deliberates as coolly and calmly as if he were not at all concerned about it. Indeed it is fair to say he was not at all concerned about it. He was moved by a higher concern than any that had to do with himself, for his main object was the glory of God. He desired the glory of God when he wished to be with Christ, he desired the same when he was willing to remain with Christ’s people, and to labor on.
Application
Praying for the Minister

Every Christian should be prayed for; we each have a claim upon the other for loving intercession. The members of the body of Christ should care for one another, but especially should the minister receive the prayers of his flock. I have sometimes heard his duties called arduous, but that word is not expressive enough. The works in which he is occupied lie quite out of the region of human power. The minister is sent to be God’s messenger for the quickening of the dead. How can he do it? He can do nothing at all unless the Spirit of God is with him through the prayer of his brothers. He is sent to bring spiritual food to the multitude; that is to say, he is to take the loaves and fishes, and with them, few as they are, he is to feed thousands. An impossible commission! He cannot perform it. Apart from divine help, the enterprise of a Christian minister is only worthy of ridicule. Apart from the power of the Eternal Spirit, the things that the preacher has to do are as much beyond him as though he had to weld the sun and moon into one, light up new stars, or turn the Sahara into a garden of flowers. We have a work to do concerning which we often cry, “Who is sufficient for these things?” If we are put to this work but do not have the prayers of our people, and in consequence do not have the supply of the Spirit, we are of all men the most miserable.
Who can enlighten the blind eye? Who can bring spiritual hearing into the deaf ear? Indeed, who can quicken the dead soul but the eternal, enlightening, quickening Spirit? There it lies before us, a vast valley full of bones. Our mission is to raise them from the dead. Can we do it? No, by no means, of ourselves. Yet we are to say to those dry bones, “Live.” Our mission is absurd; it is worthy of laughter, unless we have prayer and the supply of the Spirit with us. If we have those, the bones shall come to other bones, the skeleton shall be fashioned, the flesh shall clothe the bony fabric, the Holy Ghost shall blow upon the inanimate body, and life shall be there, and an army shall throng the cemetery. Let us but invoke the Spirit and go forth to minister in His might, and we shall do marvels yet, and the nation, and the world itself, shall feel the power of the gospel of Jesus. But we must have the Spirit.
The Ground of Paul’s Confidence, and Ours

It is a wretched state to be in to be saying, “It would be sweet for me to depart if, indeed, these glories were for me.” Paul had got beyond all doubt as to whether eternal bliss would be his. He was sure of it, and why are we not sure, too? Why do we hesitate where he spoke so confidently? Had Paul something to ground his confidence upon which we have not? Do you suppose that Paul reckoned he should be saved because of his abundant labors, his earnest ministry, and his great successes? Far from it! Don’t you know that he himself said, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ”? (Gal 6:14) As for anything that he had ever done, he declared that he trusted to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, which was of the law, but the righteousness that is of God by faith. Now, where Paul built we build, if we build in the right way.
Our hope is founded upon the righteousness of Christ, upon the grace of God, upon the promise of our heavenly Father. He, the chief of the apostles, had not a solitary grain of advantage over any one of us as to the basis and essence of his hope. Mercy, grace, atoning blood, the precious promise; these alone he built on, for no man can lay another foundation. If Paul was sure of eternal bliss, I would be sure of it too. Are you equally as sure of being with Christ as Paul was? You should be, for you have the same reason for certainty as the apostle had, if indeed you are believing in the Lord Jesus. God is not a God of perhapses, and ifs, and buts. He is a God of shalls and wills, of faithful truth and everlasting verities. “The one who believes in him is not judged” (John 3:18). “Consequently, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). “The one who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). “Who will bring charges against”—what? Paul the apostle? No, but “God’s elect?” (Rom 8:33) Of all of them, of any one of them whom you shall please to select, however humble, however obscure, they are all safe in Jesus. He is made sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him, and we may, each one of us, cry, “I know in whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted until that day” (2 Tim 1:12).
The Christian’s Attitude toward Death

Concerning our beloved friends gone from us, we do not sorrow as those who are without hope. What is more, we do not sorrow at all. If we happen to sorrow, it is for ourselves, that we have lost their present company, but as for them it is far better with them. If the lifting of our little finger could bring them back again, dear as they are to us, we would not be so cruel as to subject them again to the troubles of this stormy sea of life. They are safe landed. We will go to them; we would not have them return to us.
Then, with regard to ourselves, if we have believed in Jesus we are on our journey home, and all fear of death is now annihilated. You notice the apostle does not say anything at all about death; he did not think it worth mentioning. In fact, there is no such thing to a Christian. I have heard of people being afraid of the pains of death. There are no pains of death. The pain is in life. Death is the end of pain. It is all over. Put the saddle on the right horse. Do not blame death for what he does not do. It is life that brings pain; death to the believer ends all evil. Death is the gate of endless joy, and shall we dread to enter there? No, blessed be God, we will not.
This points us to the fountain of bliss while we are here, for if heaven is to be with Christ, then the nearer we get to Christ here, the more we shall participate in that which makes the joy of heaven. If we want to taste heaven’s blessed dainties while here below, let us walk in unbroken fellowship with Him. So we shall get two heavens: a little heaven below, and a boundless heaven above, when our turn shall come to go home. If you do not go to be with Christ, where can you go? Answer that question, and go to Jesus now by humble faith, that afterwards he may say, “Come; you came on earth, now come again, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from before the foundation of the world” (Matt 25:34).
Can You Say, “For Me to Live Is Christ”?

Can you say, as a professing Christian, that you live up to the idea of the apostle Paul? Can you honestly say that for you to live is Christ? I will tell you my opinion of some men who join churches. They are highly respectable. They are accepted among us as true and real Christians, but in all honesty and truth I do not believe that for them to live is Christ. I see many whose whole thoughts are engrossed with the things of earth. The mere getting of money, the amassing of wealth, seems to be their only object. I do not deny that they are generous, and that their checkbook does not often bear the mark of some subscription for holy purposes. But I dare to say, after all, that they cannot in honesty say that they live wholly for Christ. They know that, when they go to their shop or their warehouse, they do not think that they are doing business for Christ. They dare not be such a hypocrite as to say so. They must say that they do it for self-aggrandizement, and for family advantage. But the Christian professes to live for Christ. How is it he dares to profess to live for his Master, and yet does not do so, but lives for mere worldly gain?
Many ladies, likewise, would be shocked if I should deny their Christianity. They move in the highest circles of life, and they would be astonished if I should presume to touch their piety, after their many generous donations to religious objects. But I dare to do so. They—what do they do? They rise late enough in the day; they go to see their friends. They go to a party in the evening, they talk nonsense, and come home and go to bed. And that is their life from the beginning of the year to the end. Now, they don’t live for Christ. I know they go to church regularly; all well and good. I shall not deny their piety, according to the common usage of the term, but I deny that they have gotten to anything like the place where Paul stood when he said, “For me to live is Christ.”
And yet there are, I trust, a noble few, the elite of God’s elect, a few chosen men and women on whose heads there is the crown and diadem of dedication. These are the men who make our missionaries. These are the women to make our nurses for the sick. These are they that would dare death for Christ. These are they who would give of their substance to His cause. These are they who would spend and be spent, who would bear ignominy, and scorn, and shame if they could but advance their Master’s interest. Many there are who do in a measure carry out this principle; but who among us is there that can dare to say he has lived wholly for Christ, as the apostle did? And yet, until there are more Pauls we shall never see God’s kingdom come, nor shall we hope to see His will done on earth, even as it is in heaven.
Sources
Philippians 1:1–26 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible
“For Ever with the Lord” (Phil 1:23) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 19
The Minister’s Plea (Phil 1:19) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 19
Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon: Philippians 1:12–30; 2:1–13 The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 47
Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon: Philippians 1:20–30; 2:1–11 The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 55
The Good Man’s Life and Death (Phil 1:21) The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 3
Paul’s Desire to Depart (Phil 1:23) The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 5
Philippians 1:27–30
Exposition

27 lead your lives in a manner The Greek word signifies the actions and the privileges of citizenship, and we are to let our whole citizenship, our actions as citizens of the new Jerusalem, be such as becomes the gospel of Christ. Observe the difference between the exhortations of the legalists and those of the gospel. He who would have you perfect in the flesh exhorts you to work that you may be saved, that you may accomplish a meritorious righteousness of your own, and so may be accepted before God. But he who is taught in the doctrines of grace urges you to holiness for quite another reason. He believes that you are saved, since you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he speaks to as many as are saved in Jesus, and then he asks them to make their actions conformable to their position; he only seeks what he may reasonably expect to receive: “Lead your lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. You have been saved by it, you profess to glory in it, you desire to extend it; let then your lives be such as reflect it.”

the gospel It is the “good news” of Jesus Christ, and it is “good news” emphatically, because it clears away sin—the worst evil on earth. Better still, it sweeps away death and hell! Christ came into the world to take sin upon His shoulders and to carry it away, hurling it into the red sea of His atoning blood. This is “good news,” for it tells that the cancer at the vitals of humanity has been cured. Besides removing the worst of ills, the gospel is “good news,” because it brings the best of blessings. What does it do but give life to the dead? It opens dumb lips, unstops deaf ears, and unseals blind eyes. It is “good news,” too, because it is a thing that could not have been invented by the human intellect. The “good news,” put simply into a few words, is just this: “that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them” (2 Cor 5:19). “In this way God loved the world, so that he gave his one and only Son, in order that everyone who believes in him will not perish, but will have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “This saying is trustworthy and worthy of all acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15).

of Christ If you understand Christ, you understand the gospel. Christ is the author of it; He, in the council chamber of eternity proposed to become the surety for poor fallen man; He, in the fullness of time, wrought out eternal redemption for as many as His Father had given Him. He is the author of it as its architect and as its builder. We see in Christ Jesus the Alpha and the Omega of the gospel. He has provided in the treasury of grace all that is necessary to make the gospel the gospel of our salvation. And as He is the author of it, so He is the matter of it. It is impossible to preach the gospel without preaching the person, the work, the offices, the character of Christ. If Christ be preached the gospel is promulgated, and if Christ be put in the background, then there is no gospel declared. “God forbid that I should know anything among you,” said the Apostle, “save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” and so saying, he was carrying out his commission to preach the gospel both to Jews and to Gentiles. The sum total, the pith, the marrow—what the old puritans would have called the quintessence of the gospel is, Christ Jesus; so that when we have done preaching the gospel we may say, “Now of the things which we have spoken he is the sum,” and we may point to Him in the manger, to Him on the cross, to Him risen, to Him coming in the second advent, to Him reigning as prince of the kings of the earth, yea, point to Him everywhere, as the sum total of the gospel.

standing firm in one spirit The unity of the church is of the utmost importance. When there is a want 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 against their common adversary, the devil, and earnestly contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints!

28 not letting yourself be intimidated He was most anxious that they should be united in eager zeal for the spread of the gospel, and present a bold front to their persecutors. Men call the courage of the saints obstinacy, and reckon them to be hardened heretics; but such boldness is to believers a token of divine favor.

your opponents 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.

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

29 suffer on behalf of him 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 do not love them 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.” It is a great privilege to do, or to be, or to bear anything for Him. Our suffering can never be worth a thought when compared with His; and any sacrifice that we could offer “for His sake” would be small indeed when contrasted with the infinite sacrifice that He has already made for our sakes.
Silently Serving for Jesus’ Sake
Preaching Themes: Service, Suffering
I have heard of a man who lived in a certain town, and while he lived, was greatly misunderstood. It was known that he had a large income, yet he lived a miserly life, and loud were the murmurs at the scanty help he gave to those around him. He stinted himself in many ways, and hoarded his money. But when he died, the popular verdict was reversed, for then the motive of all his economy was manifested. He left his fortune to build a reservoir and an aqueduct, to bring a constant supply of pure water to the town where he had been despised and misunderstood. This was the chief need of the people, and for a long time they had suffered much from drought and disease because of the scanty supply. All the years that they had misjudged him, he was silently and unselfishly living for their sakes; when they discovered his motive, it was too late to do anything for him further than to hand down to future generations the memory of his noble and generous deed. But we can do much “for His sake” who has brought to us the living water, and who, though He died for us, is now alive again, and will live for evermore. If He thus loved me, and lived for me, nothing that I can do is too much for Him.
30 the same struggle “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, agonizing to be delivered from it, and laboring to bring others out of its power. It would cheer the Philippian saints to remember that they suffered in good company, and were comrades with the apostle himself. Glad enough may we be to be ridiculed for Jesus’ sake, since we are thereby made partakers with the noble army of martyrs.
Application
The Gospel Is a Fearless Gospel

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a very fearless gospel. It is the very reverse of that pretty thing called “modern charity.” The last created devil is “modern charity.” “Modern charity” goes cap in hand round to us all, and it says “You are all right, every one of you. Do not quarrel any longer; Sectarianism is a horrid thing, down with it! down with it!” and so it tries to induce all sorts of persons to withhold a part of what they believe, to silence the testimony of all Christians upon points wherein they differ. I believe that that thing called Sectarianism now-a-days is none other than true honesty. Be a Sectarian, my brother, be profoundly a Sectarian. I mean by that, hold everything which you see to be in God’s Word with a tighter grasp, and do not give up even the little pieces of truth. At the same time, let that Sectarianism which makes you hate another man because he does not see with you—let that be far from you! but never consent to that unholy league and covenant which seems to be rife throughout our country, which would put a padlock on the mouth of every man and send us all about as if we were dumb: which says to me, “You must not speak against the errors of such a Church,” and to another, “You must not reply.” We cannot but speak! If we did not, the stones in the street might cry out against us. That kind of charity is unknown to the gospel. Now hear the Word of God! “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes not”—What? “shall get to heaven some other way?”—“shall be damned;” that is the gospel. You perceive how boldly it launches out its censure. It does not pretend, “you may reject me and go by another road, and at last get safely to your journey’s end!” No, no, no; you “shall be damned” it says. Do you not perceive how Christ puts it? Some teachers come into the world and say to all others, “Yes, gentlemen, by your leave, you are all right. I have a point or two that you have not taught, just make room for me; I will not turn you out; I can stand in the same temple as yourself.” But hear what Christ says:—“All that ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” Hear what his servant Paul says, “Though we or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you,”—what then? “Let him be excused for his mistake?” No; but, “Let him be accursed.” Now, this is strong language, but mark you, this is just how the Christian ought to live. As the gospel is very fearless in what it has to say, so let the Christian always be. It strikes me that a “living” which becomes the gospel of Christ, is always a bold and fearless kind of living. Some people go crawling through the world as if they asked some great man’s leave to live. They do not know their own minds; they take their words out of their mouths and look at them, and ask a friend or two’s opinion. “What do you think of these words?” and when these friends censure them they put them in again and will not say them. Like jelly-fish, they have no backbone. Now God has made men upright, and it is a noble thing for a man to stand erect on his own feet; and it is a nobler thing still for a man to say that in Christ Jesus he has received that freedom which is freedom indeed, and therefore he will not be the slave of any man. I must live as in the sight of God, as I believe I should live, and then let man say his best or say his worst, and it shall be no more than the chirping of the grasshopper, when the sun goes down. “Who are you that you should be afraid of a man that shall die, or the son of man that is but a worm?” Quit yourselves like men! Be strong! Fear not! for only so will your conversation be such as becomes the gospel of Christ.
The Gospel Is a Loving Gospel

The gospel of Christ is very loving. It is the speech of the God of love to a lost and fallen race. It tells us that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that everyone who believes on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It proclaims in every word the grace of Him “who loved us and gave himself for us.” “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” This same mind which was in Christ Jesus should dwell richly in us. His last command to His disciples was, “Love one another.” He that loves is born of God, while without this grace, whatever we may think of ourselves, or others may think of us, we are really, in God’s sight, nothing better than sounding brass and tinkling cymbals. Is not this an age in which we shall do well to direct our attention to the flower of paradise? The atmosphere of the Church should foster this heavenly plant to the highest perfection. The world ought to point to us and say, “See how these Christians love one another. Not in word only, but in deed and in truth.” I care not for that love which calls me a dearly beloved brother, and then if I happen to differ in sentiment and practice, treats me as a schismatic, denies me the rights of the brotherhood, and if I do not choose to subscribe to an arbitrarily imposed contribution to its funds, seizes my goods and sells them in the name of the law, order, and Church of Christ. From all such sham love, good Lord deliver us. But oh! For more real hearty union and love to all the saints—for more of that realization of the fact that we are one in Christ Jesus. At the same time pray for more love to all men. We ought to love all our hearers, and the gospel is to be preached by us to every creature. I hate sin everywhere, but I love and wish to love yet more and more every day, the souls of the worst and vilest of men. Yes, the gospel speaks of love, and I must breathe it forth too, in every act and deed. If our Lord was love incarnate, and we are His disciples, “let all take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus and learned of him.”
The Danger of Not Living Worthy of the Gospel

Unless you lead your lives in a manner worthy of the gospel, you will pull down all the witness that you have ever borne for Christ. How can your Sunday-school children believe what you tell them, when they see your actions contradict your teaching? How can your own children at home believe in your religion, when they see the godlessness of your life? The men at the factory will not believe in your going to prayer-meeting, when they see you walking inconsistently among them. Oh! the great thing the Church wants is more holiness. The worst enemies of the Church are not the infidels—really one does not know who the infidels are, now-a-days; they are so small a fry, and so few of them, that one would have to hunt to find them out; but the worst enemies of the Church are the hypocrites, the formalists, the mere professors, the inconsistent walkers. You, if there be any such here—you pull down the walls of Jerusalem, you open the gates to her foes, and, as much as lies in you, you serve the devil. May God forgive you! May Christ forgive you! May you be washed from this atrocious sin! May you be brought humbly to the foot of the cross, to accept mercy, which, until now, you have rejected!
It is shocking to think how persons dare to remain members of Christian churches, and even to enter the pulpit, when they are conscious that their private life is foul. Oh, how can they do it? How is it that their hearts have grown so hard? What! has the devil bewitched them? Has he turned them away from being men, and made them as devilish as himself, that they should dare to pray in public, and to sit at the sacramental table, and to administer ordinances, while their hands are foul, and their hearts unclean, and their lives are full of sin? I charge you, if there are any of you whose lives are not consistent, give up your profession, or else make your lives what they should be. May the eternal Spirit, who still winnows His Church, blow away the chaff, and leave only the good golden wheat upon the floor! And if you know yourselves to be living in any sin, may God help you to mourn over it, to loathe it, to go to Christ about it tonight; to take hold of Him, to wash His feet with your tears, to repent unfeignedly, and then to begin anew in His strength, a life which shall be such as becomes the gospel.
Sources
Philippians 1:27–30 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible
The Gospel’s Power in a Christian’s Life (Phil 1:27) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 11
Christ’s Motive and Ours (2 Cor 8:9; Phil 1:29) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 37
Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon: Philippians 1:12–30; 2:1–13 The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 47
Exposition by C. H. Spurgeon: Philippians 1:20–30; 2:1–11 The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 55
Spurgeon, C. (2014). Spurgeon Commentary: Philippians. (E. Ritzema, Hrsg.) (S. 20–46). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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