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Spurgeon: Commentary on Phillipeans,part I – by Uwe Rosenkranz, Archbishop, MA,D.D

Spurgeon Commentary Series

Philippians
Charles Spurgeon
Elliot Ritzema
Editor

Lexham Press, 2014

Spurgeon Commentary: Philippians

Copyright 2014 Lexham Press

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All Scripture quotations are from the Lexham English Bible (LEB) unless otherwise indicated. Copyright 2013 Logos Bible Software.

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

—Charles Spurgeon, “Exposition of Philippians 4”
Foreword

When 19-year-old Charles Spurgeon was called to the New Park Street Pulpit in 1854, London newspapers derided him as a brash upstart. Critics complained that his plainspoken, direct speaking style was too edgy—and dangerously innovative. A secular magazine referred to his colloquial speech as “slang.” A newspaper editorial categorized his preaching as “ginger-pop sermonizing.” One particularly harsh critic wrote:

He is nothing unless he is an actor—unless exhibiting that matchless impudence which is his great characteristic, indulging in coarse familiarity with holy things, declaiming in a ranting and colloquial style, strutting up and down the platform as though he were at the Surrey Theatre, and boasting of his own intimacy with Heaven with nauseating frequency. His fluency, self-possession, oratorical tricks, and daring utterances, seem to fascinate his less-thoughtful hearers, who love excitement more than devotion.

During that first year, pundits regularly predicted an early end to Spurgeon’s ministry in London: “He is a nine days’ wonder—a comet that has suddenly shot across the religious atmosphere. He has gone up like a rocket, and ere long will come down like a stick.”
Secular newspapers were not the only ones to voice their disapproval of the young preacher. One distinguished older minister published a vitriolic critique of Spurgeon in an evangelical periodical. Among other things, he wrote, “I have—most solemnly have—my doubts as to the Divine reality of his conversion.”
Of course Spurgeon was in no way callow or reckless. On the contrary, for someone so young he was uncommonly well-read, discerning, sober-minded, articulate, and profound. (The record of his published sermons easily substantiates that assessment.) Years later, Spurgeon himself would reflect on his earliest years of ministry, saying, “I might have been a young man at twelve, but at sixteen I was a sober, respectable Baptist parson, sitting in the chair and ruling and governing the church.… I spent my time at my books, studying and working hard, sticking to it.” He was no brash upstart.
Soon Spurgeon outgrew his youthful looks, and the initial wave of criticism eventually subsided. Indeed, he enjoyed several years of unprecedented popularity. His ministry—and his reputation—reached around the world through his published sermons. For a couple of decades he was without rival as the most beloved and most influential preacher in the world.
But by the end of Spurgeon’s third decade in London, hordes of critics were again fulminating against him. This time they complained that he was hopelessly behind the times, outmoded—a theological and ecclesiastical fossil. Modernism was in vogue at the time, and Spurgeon was emphatically and outspokenly opposed to the trend, saying, among other things, that “the inventions of ‘modern thought’ shall be burned up with fire unquenchable.”
This time Spurgeon’s theological opponents ridiculed him as obsolete, irrelevant, and cluelessly attached to an archaic belief system. The harshest critics openly questioned his mental health. Kinder critics gave him dismissive verbal pats on the head while commenting condescendingly about his age and physical infirmity. Ultimately, for his refusal to compromise with modernism, the greatest Baptist preacher in British history was unceremoniously ushered out of the Baptist Union.
Although the critics’ complaints about Spurgeon over the years had veered from one extreme to the other, anyone reading Spurgeon’s published works can easily see that he did not change substantially from the start of his ministry until the day he died. His theological position, his ministry philosophy, and his style of preaching remained essentially the same throughout the years. Meanwhile, the prevailing climate in English evangelicalism shifted gradually from early Victorian religiosity to full-on modernist rationalism. But Spurgeon never altered his stance. He just kept preaching the truth of Scripture as clearly and as persuasively as possible—with settled conviction and unwavering devotion.
History has vindicated Spurgeon. Modernism was a disaster, as he predicted. Churches that stayed true to the Word of God flourished while whole denominations that imbibed modernism soon died. Today, millions still read Spurgeon’s sermons with great profit, and almost no one remembers those who wrote him off as hopelessly out of step with the times. Much less does anyone remember those supposedly venerable voices who raised a chorus of complaint at the start of Spurgeon’s London ministry—the ones who warned that he was a dangerous novelty.
Both waves of criticism have been decisively proved wrong. Spurgeon was neither too edgy nor too old-fashioned. What made Spurgeon’s preaching exceptional (and what made him a target for such fierce opposition) was the firmness with which he held biblical convictions and the clarity with which he heralded the truth of Scripture. Spurgeon was unashamed and unapologetic about proclaiming and explaining God’s Word in the plainest possible language.
The strategy itself is soundly biblical. It is precisely the ministry philosophy the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy to follow: “Preach the word … in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim 4:2, ESV).
Spurgeon’s description of John Bunyan could just as easily describe Spurgeon himself: “Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.” Spurgeon frequently used that word, “Bibline,” not as an adjective but as a proper noun. He told his students, “Saturate your sermons with Bibline, the essence of Bible truth.”7 As gasoline fuels an internal-combustion engine, Spurgeon described “Bibline” as the necessary fuel for godly living. “A man fed on Bibline is a man indeed,” he said. “In the history of heroes, there are none who show so much moral muscle and spiritual sinew as those who make the word of God their necessary food.”
In his advice to others, Spurgeon was revealing the secret behind the power of his own preaching. He had saturated his soul and mind with the Word of God. Prick him anywhere, and he bled Bibline.
Spurgeon would not be classified by most seminarians today as an “expository preacher.” He didn’t necessarily draw his sermon outline and main points directly from the biblical text. In fact, sometimes he treated the text as a jumping-off point for a topical sermon that had little to do with the context of the passage he began with. Nevertheless, his sermons are filled with biblical content—Bibline. He could hardly say three sentences without including a phrase, a reference, or an allusion to Scripture. Whenever he spoke, no matter the topic or the venue (even when he was delivering a “lecture” to an academic audience), there was an abundance of Scripture in the message. His daily conversation was saturated with Bibline. Nearly any talk he ever gave would likely exceed some of today’s “expository” sermons for sheer biblical content.
Spurgeon also devoted a portion of each Sunday service to formal biblical exposition. He would read and comment on a passage of Scripture, handling the text a phrase at a time. This was distinct from the sermon, usually separated from the sermon by the singing of a psalm or hymn. But hundreds of Spurgeon’s formal expositions were recorded by stenographers and published alongside the sermons.
Elliot Ritzema has created a remarkable and eminently useful resource by culling Spurgeon’s expository comments, combining them with key explanatory sections drawn from Spurgeon’s sermons, cataloguing and organizing them by chapter and verse, and giving us this wonderful commentary from the Prince of Preachers.
Why didn’t someone do this long ago? This is an invaluable reference work, made all the more useful by its compatibility with Logos Bible Software. I can’t imagine preparing a sermon without checking to see what Spurgeon might have said about my passage. The Spurgeon Commentary Series has simplified that step. When the series is complete, it will surely be the Logos resource I turn to most often.

Phil Johnson

Curator of The Spurgeon Archive (www.spurgeon.org)
Series Introduction

The great 19th-century Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon amassed a remarkable amount of writing and speaking in his 57 years. His words fill more than 100 volumes. Although his sermons and writings touch on every book of the Bible at one time or another, he wrote commentaries only on Psalms (the six-volume Treasury of David) and Matthew (The Gospel of the Kingdom). His content spans all other biblical books, though it isn’t always easy to find or use.
That’s why I created the Spurgeon Commentary Series. The idea behind the series is a simple one: Take material from Spurgeon’s sermons and writings and organize it into commentary format. This format includes several features I believe will be particularly helpful to both the devotional reader and the preacher preparing for a sermon.
Each section of the commentary includes three kinds of comments from Spurgeon: Exposition, Illustration, and Application. The exposition sections do not simply deal with a block of biblical text as a whole; they are organized by verse as well as the words within that verse. This allows you to see what Spurgeon has to say about a particular verse. The individual phrases Spurgeon comments on within that verse are set in bold text.
When preachers are studying a text in preparation for a sermon, they often have their eye out for good illustrations that can drive their point into the hearts of their hearers. To aid in this task, we have emphasized Spurgeon’s illustrations. Whenever Spurgeon used a story or a comparison to illustrate a truth found in a verse, we set that illustration apart for easy reference. We have also tagged illustrations with themes to make them easier to search for in the Logos software platform. Some sections of the commentary will have more illustrations than others, but we have attempted to include at least one illustration per passage.
Application content comes at the end of each section of the commentary. These contain Spurgeon’s exhortations to his hearers to act on the truths he was drawing out from the text. This application content is often taken from a few different sermons on a passage. Each section of the commentary includes between one and four applications, depending on how much Spurgeon wrote and preached on a passage.
We have updated Spurgeon’s language for greater readability: “Thee” and “thou” have been changed to “you,” and we have tried to find modern equivalents to archaic words that today’s reader might not know. We have also left out discussions that were applicable only to the issues and controversies Spurgeon was speaking to in his own day and focused instead on the content that a present-day audience can relate to. Thankfully, much of what Spurgeon said and wrote is truly timeless. Bible quotations are taken from a recent translation, the Lexham English Bible, rather than the King James that Spurgeon used. Occasionally Spurgeon calls attention to a particular word in the KJV; in these cases we have retained the original phrasing.
How much of this commentary is truly Spurgeon, and how much is the editor? We hope there is as much Spurgeon as possible, with the editors remaining in the background. Section titles, including those for illustrations and applications, come from the editor; all other words (aside from the updated language mentioned above) are Spurgeon’s. We have not generally used ellipses, because we have often gathered content from multiple sources in the same paragraph. I believed using ellipses in that situation would be more of a distraction than a help. Instead, we have included a list of all the sources used at the end of that section, after the Application.
Finally, I would like to thank Jessi Strong and Carrie Sinclair Wolcott for doing much of the editing work on the Hebrews and 1–2 Peter volumes. This series is better for their hard work and input.
It is my hope that this commentary series will serve to make Spurgeon’s writings more accessible to present-day readers, and perhaps even to introduce him to people who have not had the pleasure of reading him before now. Through this series may it be, as it is written on the last page of his Autobiography, that Spurgeon “continues to preach the gospel he loved to proclaim while here—the gospel of salvation by grace, through faith in the precious blood of Jesus.”

Elliot Ritzema
Philippians 1
Philippians 1:1–11
Exposition

1–3 give thanks to my God All Paul’s memory of Philippi excited gratitude in his mind. He could not have said of the Galatians, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” Oh, no! He said, “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” There were persons of whom he said, “I thank God that I baptized none of you.” He was pleased that believers should be baptized, but he was glad that he had not baptized certain persons who would have made capital out of it, and boasted that they were baptized by the hands of Paul. It was not so with the Philippians. Paul thought of them with devout gratitude to his God that there were such people, and that he had come into personal contact with them. He knew the ins and outs of them, and yet he could thank his God whenever he thought of them.

my every remembrance of you In the church at Philippi we see a people whom the apostle remembered with joy. Taking the long run of his acquaintance with them, remembering them from the time when he preached by the riverside, and Lydia was converted (Acts 16:12–15), even until the moment of his writing to them as a prisoner in Rome, he knew nothing of them but that which gave him joy. He considered how they had of their own free will ministered again and again to his necessities, when no other church was mindful of him. He says, “Now you also know, Philippians, that at the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone” (Phil 4:15). Their grateful benevolence caused him to thank God. He had no dash of bitter in the cup of his happy memory of them. All along, as he remembered their prayers, their courage, their faith, their labor, their unity, their constancy, their zeal, their thoughtfulness, and their liberality, he felt unmingled gratitude to the Author of all these excellent things.

4 in my every prayer For some we have had to pray with tears and sighs, and for others with trembling. But the Lord so heard Paul in the past with regard to these Philippians that every time he began to pray he felt liberty in prayer, a joy in bearing their names before the Lord, and a sweet assurance that he was not praying in vain. His was not the cry of anguish, but the request of delight. When we pray for those who are our joy, and for that which will be their joy, we may well mingle joy with earnestness. For these beloved ones Paul approached the mercy seat with boldness and confidence. He felt sure of being heard on their account.

making the prayer with joy Paul rejoiced. He was habitually a happy man. This epistle to the Philippians is peculiarly joyous; the apostle is joyful throughout. He sweetens prayer with joy (1:4); he rejoices that Christ is preached (1:18); he wished to live to gladden the church (1:25); to see the members likeminded was his joy (2:2); it was his joy that he should not run in vain (2:16); his farewell to them was, “Rejoice in the Lord” (3:1); he speaks of those who rejoice in Christ Jesus (3:3); he calls his converts his joy and crown (4:1); he expresses his joy in their kindness (4:4, 10, 18).

5 your participation in the gospel The apostle longed to spread the gospel; so did they. He was earnest to carry it to the regions beyond; so were they. If he preached, they would be there to encourage him. If he held special meetings, they were ready to help. If money was required, every man was ready according to his means, without pressing. Each one felt as earnest about the work as did his minister. They were enthusiastic for the furtherance of the gospel. They were heartily with him where he most valued their sympathy.
When Pastors Are Leaders in Name Only
Preaching Themes: Church Leadership
There are churches wherein the minister is nominally the leading officer, but he cannot lead, for the church does not follow. A young officer, sword in hand, leaps the rampart. He looks back, but his troop is yards behind him. He cries, “Come on! Come on!” But there is no answer; he might as well call to stones. This is poor work. But see another: wherever he advances, his soldiers are at his side. They are as eager as he is; the victory is as much for them as for him, and they feel it is so. There may well be an outcry against “the one-man ministry” when the one man is not backed up by all who are in church fellowship, but it need not be so.
from the first day I think we could prophesy what converts will be from what they are at first. Some begin warmly and gradually cool down, but we seldom know them to develop much heat of zeal if they begin in lukewarmness. When we join a church, it is well that from the first day we inquire of the Lord, “What would you have me to do?” The kind of recruits that we desire in Christ’s army are those who are in fellowship with us for the furtherance of the gospel from the very first.
Finding It Easy to Bury Themselves
Preaching Themes: Church Fellowship and Unity
I have heard of an advertisement of a burial service that began, “Seeing that many persons find it extremely difficult to bury themselves …” That is not my experience; I would have to say, “Seeing that many church members find it exceedingly easy to bury themselves.” We receive them into our number with pleasure, but we hear no more of them. We have the distinguished privilege of enrolling their names in our book, and that is all. We give them our right hand of fellowship, but they do not give us their right hand of labor. But the Philippians had fellowship in furthering the gospel from the first day.
until now It was practical fellowship. Some of them preached, all of them prayed; some of them contributed money, and all gave love. Nobody shirked his work, which was not looked upon as a labor, but as a privilege. You will not wonder that Paul rejoiced, for it gives joy to every earnest man to see others earnest.

6 convinced of this same thing This delightful confidence is the crowning joy of the Christian life. If He who began the good work did not also carry it on we should be in a wretched plight. But, blessed be God, the work of grace is in the hands of one who never leaves His work unfinished. Paul had been himself very graciously sustained, and he had been favored personally with such clear views of the character of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, that he felt quite confident that God would not leave His work unfinished. When a man commences a work, and leaves it half complete, it is often from want of power. Men say of the unfinished tower, “This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” But God did not begin the work in any man’s soul without due deliberation and counsel. From all eternity He knew the circumstances in which that man would be placed, though He foresaw the hardness of the human heart and the fickleness of human love. If then He deemed it wise to begin, how can it be supposed that He shall change and amend His resolve? Yet some would persuade us that this great work of the salvation of souls is begun by God, and then deserted and left incomplete, and that there will be spirits lost forever upon whom the Holy Ghost once exerted His sanctifying power, for whom the Redeemer shed His precious blood, and whom the eternal Father once looked upon with eyes of complacent love. I believe no such thing. No, where the Lord begins He will complete. If He puts His hand to any work, He will not stay until the work is done. There is a world of argument in the quiet words that the apostle uses. He is confident, knowing what he does of the character of God, that He who has begun a good work in His saints will perform it until the day of Christ.

the one who began The Lord Himself had begun a good work in them. This is a vital matter. Everything turns upon the question, “Is this conversion a divine work or not?” The apostle had found the Philippians true in their partnership in the Lord’s work. They suffered for their Lord patiently, they defended the faith bravely, they spread it zealously, and their lives confirmed it. So Paul said to himself, “This is the finger of God; the Lord himself has begun this work.” Did not Paul begin it? No, for if he had begun it he would have to carry it on; that could not be. Did not they begin it themselves? Certainly not. Does the sinner take the first step? How can he? He is dead in sin. If he takes the first step apart from the Spirit of God, he can take all the rest without God.
The Perseverance of the Saints and the Perseverance of God
Preaching Themes: Assurance, Faithfulness of God, Perseverance
A good old minister was once asked whether he believed in the final perseverance of the saints. “Well,” said he, “I do not know much about that matter, but I firmly believe in the final perseverance of God, that where He has begun a good work He will carry it on until it is complete.” To my mind, that truth includes the final perseverance of the saints. They persevere in the way of salvation because God keeps them in it.
a good work in you By this he intended the work of grace in the soul, which is of the operation of the Holy Ghost. This is eminently a good work, since it works nothing but good in the heart that is the subject of it. To make a man healthy in body and wealthy in estate, to educate his mind, and train his faculties, all these are good, but in comparison with the salvation of the soul, they sink into insignificance. The work of sanctification is a good work in the highest possible sense, since it influences a man by good motives, sets him on good works, introduces him among good men, gives him fellowship with good angels, and in the end makes him like unto the good God Himself. Moreover, the inner life is a good work, because it springs and originates from the pure goodness of God. As it is always good to show mercy, so it is preeminently good on God’s part to work upon sinful and fallen men, so as to renew them again after the image of Him who created them. The work of grace has its root in the divine goodness of the Father, it is planted by the self-denying goodness of the Son, and it is daily watered by the goodness of the Holy Spirit. It springs from good and leads to good, and so is altogether good. The apostle calls it a “work” and, in the deepest sense, it is indeed a work to convert a soul.
The Magnitude of God’s Power in Salvation
Preaching Themes: Conversion, Renewal of Creation, Power of God, Salvation
If Niagara could suddenly be made to leap upward instead of forever dashing downward from its rocky height, it would not be such a miracle as to change the perverse will and the raging passions of men. To wash the Ethiopian white, or remove the leopard’s spots, is proverbially a difficulty, yet these are but surface works. To renew the very core of manhood, and tear sin from its hold upon a man’s heart, this is not alone the finger of God, but the baring of His arm. Conversion is a work comparable to the making of a world. He only who fashioned the heavens and the earth could create a new nature. It is a work that is not to be paralleled. It is unique and unrivaled, seeing that Father, Son, and Spirit must all cooperate in it. To implant the new nature in the Christian, there must be the decree of the Eternal Father, the death of the ever-blessed Son, and the fullness of the operation of the adorable Spirit. It is a work indeed. The labors of Hercules were trifles compared with this; to slay lions and hydras, and cleanse Aegean stables—all this is child’s play compared with renewing a right spirit in the fallen nature of man.
will finish it His confidence about the future of his converts was all in God. It was not confidence in them apart from the work of God in them. He says, “God began it, and God will carry it on.” He does not depend on the strength of their principles, nor the force of their resolutions, nor the excellence of their habits. He relies upon God, who will perform what He has begun. Granted an immutable God, we may be sure that grace will complete what grace begins. Nor can God forsake the work of His own hands from want of patience. A man might begin to bless another, and that other might be so ungrateful that the benefactor grows impatient, and gives him up. Will God fail in grace? Assuredly not. “His mercy endures forever.” The top and bottom of it is that our confidence in one another must only be confidence in God, and our confidence for ourselves must rest in God, or it will be sheer delusion.
Assurance Leads to Diligence
Preaching Themes: Assurance, Good Works, Perseverance, Promises
If any of you should be well assured that, in a certain line of business, you would make a vast sum of money, would that confidence lead you to refuse that business? Would it lead you to lie in bed all day, or to desert your post altogether? No, the assurance that you would be diligent and would prosper would make you diligent. If any rider at the races should be confident that he was destined to win, would that make him slacken speed? Napoleon believed himself to be the child of destiny; did that freeze his energies? Even so, the belief that we shall one day be perfect never hinders any true believer from diligence, but is the highest possible incentive to make a man struggle with the corruptions of the flesh, and seek to persevere according to God’s promise.
until the day of Christ Jesus The good work is to be perfected in the day of Christ, by which we suppose is intended the second coming of our Lord. Shall we be absolutely perfect until then? I think not. Perfection in a modified sense is possible through divine grace, but not absolute perfection. One says, “We shall be perfect at death, shall we not?” It is not so written here; but “He will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We may be perfect in death, doubtless, as to the moral and spiritual nature. But a man has a body as well as a soul, and it needs both parts to make the perfect man. While the worms are devouring the body the man is not yet perfect. He will be perfect as to his whole manhood when the Lord shall come, and the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. The second advent ought to be much more on our minds than the hour of our death. The Lord will perform the sacrifice that He has begun, until He perfects it in the day when the Lord Jesus Christ shall receive His church unto Himself. Our Lord Jesus will be covered with the infinite splendor of God in that day, and then we shall be like Him; His glory will be reflected upon all believers. You have no idea what a perfect man will be like. “What you sow is not the body which it will become” (1 Cor 15:37). God will give us such a body as pleases Him, and to each one a body of his own. He who has begun a good work in us will not only give us perseverance until death, but He will give us perfection in the day of Christ. It is altogether a more comprehensive thought than the great truth of final perseverance; it includes that blessed truth within its sweep, but it also secures eternal glory both to soul and body.
Two Kinds of Perfection
Preaching Themes: Holiness
Perfection in the scriptural use of it is not at all what those make of it who boast of perfection in the flesh. A child is perfect when it is newly born: there is every toe on the tiny foot, and its eyes, and ears, and nose, and other organs are all there. But if you tell me that a child is a perfect man, I smile at you. So the Christian may be perfect as to all his parts, “lacking in nothing” (Jas 1:4), and yet he may not be perfect as to development by a very long way.
7 I have you in my heart His love to them was not the mere glow of nature, but the flame of grace. He saw so much of Christ in them that he could not help admiring and loving them. He felt sure that they were of the sort that never draw back unto perdition, but believe to the salvation of their souls. He perceived that the grace that was in him was in them also. Therefore, as he hoped to be kept to the end, he felt that they would be kept also. As he felt sure that the work of grace in them was of God, and of God alone, so he was confident that they would never fail. A good foundation is a grand security that the house will be substantial. Those we love in the Lord, because of what the Lord has done for them, we feel sure about as to their future.

in my imprisonment When he was bound, they were not ashamed of his chain. When Paul was taken away to Rome, the Philippians took care that he should not be left penniless, but they sent out of their poverty to his assistance. He felt confidence in a people who could do this. Shame turns many of the weaker sort aside, but the faithful despise it. Those who love holiness when others despise and ridicule it are the people to stand fast.

defense They were partners with Paul in the defense of the gospel. If any Galatian teachers came their way, they gave them the cold shoulder. They would not give up the grand old gospel to please the wise men of the period.

confirmation of the gospel They were also with the apostle as to the confirmation of the gospel. Their lives proved the truth of the Word of grace. When Paul was preaching, if he wanted to show that the gospel is the power of God, he pointed to what had been accomplished in Philippi, and none could gainsay the argument. A living argument is invincible. Reasoning is very well, but fact is overwhelming. Oh, that every Christian would so live as to prove the power of the gospel!

sharers of grace with me He adds another reason why he was so sure of them, namely, that they were partakers of his grace. The same grace that had saved him saved them. They ascribed their salvation to sovereign grace, even as he did. They were with him in all things; not in a forced union, but in hearty love to the same truth. Besides, he loved the souls of men, and was always laboring to lead men to Jesus, and they did the same. He delighted best to preach where Christ had never been made known, and not to build upon another man’s foundation, and in this they supported him. They were with him in every loving endeavor to spread the gospel. Now, it is a grand thing when a minister has great confidence in his people, based upon the fact that he sees the grace of God in them bringing forth fruit unto the glory of God. Foolish fondness is to be avoided, but a confidence that is justified by evidence is a great solace to the heart.
A Crystal Lake Should Give Forth Crystal Water
Preaching Themes: Character, Holiness
What strength holy living in his people gives to the preacher of the word of God! Imagine a man comes before you and says, “There is, somewhere about here, an invisible lake, containing the purest, coolest, and most refreshing water that you ever drank. You never saw water so pure and delicious.” We ask the gentleman to let us see this lake. No, he cannot show the lake, but he will allow us to examine the streams that flow out of it. That is a fair test, and we agree to abide by it. Here is one of the outflows. We fill a glass from it, and hold it up to the light. Why, here are little whales and elephants swimming in it, and no end of tiny sea monsters disporting themselves. That lake is hardly the place to drink from, unless one would have meat as well as drink at every swallow. Our informant assures us that there must be a mistake somewhere. So we hope. This stream has evidently gone wrong; he will take us to another outflow. Again we dip our cup, and look! It is filled with water of a strange color, as if the filth of some great city had run into it. We loathe to drink. Again we are told that there is some failure here also, and we are begged to try again. After three or four such experiments, we feel quite unable to believe in this crystal lake. Such streams as these have not come out of an expanse of purity; we will keep to our old-fashioned waterworks till we have more reliable information.
8–11 this I pray The one point in which the Philippians failed was love and unity among themselves. For this Paul prayed, for it is of the first importance.
Application
Too Many in Ambulances in the Church

When shall we get churches alive throughout? When false doctrine taints a church it usually sours the whole of it, for “a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough” (1 Cor 5:6; Gal 5:9). But if they are good churches, I am sorry to say the perfume of consecration does not sweeten every part. In most churches there are a few who, to a large extent, do everything and give everything. Another portion assists occasionally, so far as they are urged on by the consecrated ones. After these, you find a large number who are practically the baggage of the church, the lumber that has to be carried by the efficient members. Alas that we have so many in ambulances, when every hand is wanted in the fight! A church is in a poor condition when it is largely so, but it is in fine health when all are hearty in the service of the Lord, as at Philippi.
What We Must Do In Order to Have Paul’s Joy

At Philippi Paul has not only begun with God, but he goes on with God. He has much more to do, but he does not attempt to do it without his Lord. Oh, that all workers were of this mind! We deal with God too little. A person might exclaim, “Let us get up a revival.” The revivals that men can get up had better be left alone; we need to get revivals down. If we get a revival up, it must come from beneath. But if we get a revival down, it comes from above. Lord, revive us! We pray for it, and when it comes we will praise you for it. We must mix up our constant service with more prayer and praise if we desire it to be largely effectual. If the work is worth anything, it is God’s work in us and by us. He begins it, carries it on, and completes it. What then can we do, if we do not draw near to Him? Our labor must have a constantly distinct reference to God. Sunday school teachers, your work requires you to begin with God: do not dare to go to the class even once without fervent prayer in the Spirit. When you have given the lesson, go straightway and ask God’s blessing on it. Do not omit this even once. Paul’s way is to thank God and to pray to God, and it must be yours if you would have Paul’s joy.
God’s Work Does Not Make Prayer Unnecessary

Although where God has begun a good work He will carry it on, this does not put prayer aside. Paul prays for these very people. Neither does this lessen the necessity of a holy life, for Paul is only confident about saints who were hearty “in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” and partakers of divine grace. He felt confident of the ultimate perfection of those only who had a divine work within them, and proved it by their fellowship in the furtherance of the gospel. How can we profess that grace is in our hearts by divine implanting if we live in secret sin? How can we hope to persevere if we have not begun? If we do not join in the prayers and efforts of the church of God, how can we hope to partake in the reward at the coming of the Lord? The question as to whether God has begun saving work in us must be answered by our faith and our life. If it be satisfactorily proved that He has begun it, we can depend upon Him to finish it. If, on the contrary, we have reason to fear that He has not begun it at all, we should not deceive ourselves, but take up our true position. We may still cry to Him as sinners, and look to Jesus as the author of faith. This will be wise, and this will be successful, for Jesus says He will cast out none that come to Him: “This man receives sinners.” I hope every unconverted person who sees that salvation is God’s work will say to himself, “I will even look out of myself to Him who is able to begin the work in me. If He begins, carries on, and completes salvation, then my want of strength need not make me despair, for He is able, though I am not. He will work all my works in me, and I shall praise His name.”
Sources
Philippians 1:1–26 The Interpreter: Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible
The Perseverance of the Saints (Phil 1:6) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 15
The Pastor’s Joy and Confidence (Phil 1:3–7) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 36
A Visit from the Lord (Psa 106:4) The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 44
Chapter 227: Phil 4:4 My Sermon Notes, Volumes 3 & 4: Matthew to Revelation
Johnson, P. (2014). Foreword. In E. Ritzema (Hrsg.), Spurgeon Commentary: Philippians (S. iii–19). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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