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Volume 11 - Page 91 of 161 Index | Zoom | |
The Hope and the Prize.
#1. A consideration of the circumstances of the times of
"Philippians" with those of to-day.
pp. 21 - 24
Many exercised believers have felt how exceedingly slender is their likelihood of
attaining to the standard set before them in the epistle to the Philippians. This is well, for
in direct connection with the theme of race and crown the apostle concludes: "Let him
that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall". There is, however, a great difference
between a due recognition of our frailty and a spirit of despondency. God has also
appended to the theme of the race and the crown a second conclusion:--
"There hath no trial taken you except what is common to man, but God is faithful,
who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the
temptation also make the end, that you may be able to bear up under it" (I Cor. 10: 13).
As we read the epistle to the Philippians, we become conscious that the atmosphere
and the conditions under which the church at Philippi were exhorted to seek the prize
differ in many essential features from those obtaining to-day. While the epistle is not
addressed to the church as such but to the saints in Christ Jesus, we must not dismiss as
of no account the remaining words of the address, "with the bishops and deacons".
The church of the One Body holds the Head and each single member of that body as a
joint or band should minister the one to the other; there is no such thing within that body
as the distinction between clergy and laity. Those who were bishops and deacons were
men specially qualified to help the church, particularly in the matter of "teaching" and
"taking care of" the church of God (I Tim. 3:). No church could be anything but better
for having such men as described in that chapter, and the Philippians, being blessed with
such, possessed great advantages over the individual believer of to-day.
There is also a strong emphasis upon the collective effort of the saints in the epistle to
the Philippians. The apostle himself thanks God for their fellowship in the gospel, and
tells them that in his bonds and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel they all
were partakers of his grace (Phil. 1: 6, 7). Even though the personal desire of the apostle
was "to depart and be with Christ", yet he chose the alternative of remaining with the
believers "for their furtherance and joy of faith". What this must have meant in the way
of example and encouragement we can only dimly surmise. These Philippians were
exhorted to "stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the
gospel" (1: 27). They were exhorted to have the same love and to be of one accord (2: 2,
4: 1, 2). Prisoner though the apostle was, and isolated as he always must have been, yet
he can rejoice in Epaphroditus not only as a "brother". But also as a fellow-worker, and