The Experience and Growth in Lifeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In Philippians 3:9-10 Paul desired to “be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith, to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” To be found in Christ, having the righteousness which is out of God based on faith, is to have God Himself embodied in Christ as righteousness. The Christ we live out in chapter 1 is our righteousness in chapter 3. The righteousness out of God and based on faith in chapter 3 is the Christ we must live and magnify in chapter 1. When we live and magnify Christ according to chapter 1, people will find us in Christ, not having our own natural goodness or natural virtues, but having Christ as our righteousness.
When we see this vision of the experience of life and look at our present situation, we have to admit that we are far off from this experience. We may study the Bible and pray much, but we are still very much in ourselves and not very much in Christ. We are usually in ourselves, having only our good behavior. One brother’s characteristic may be his slowness, and another brother’s characteristic may be his quickness. When I contact such brothers, I may find them only partially in Christ and mainly in their peculiar characteristics. But the apostle Paul’s particular characteristic was the righteousness of God, the Christ he lived and magnified. In Philippians 1 Paul expected and earnestly hoped to live and magnify Christ. Then in chapter 3 he desired to be found in the very Christ he lived and magnified. Being found in Christ, he would have no goodness of himself, but the righteousness of God, who is Christ as the embodiment of God.
Each chapter of Philippians presents a particular aspect of this salvation. We experience Christ as our salvation in aspect after aspect. Salvation has a long-term aspect and a short-term aspect. Chapter 1 deals with salvation in its lifelong, or long-term, aspect, and chapter 2 deals with salvation in its daily, or short-term, aspect. These are two aspects of the same salvation. Eventually, this salvation also has the aspect of being the righteousness of God as seen in chapter 3.
In the book of Philippians Paul speaks in a very practical way concerning God’s salvation, covering its lifelong aspect, its daily aspect, and its aspect of being the righteousness of God. This last aspect includes Christ as God’s embodiment lived out and magnified by us. The righteousness of God in chapter 3 equals the salvation mentioned in the two preceding chapters. In its daily aspect small things such as murmurings and reasonings are mentioned because daily life among people on this earth is mainly a matter of murmurings and reasonings.
In Philippians 4:2 Paul says that he exhorted Euodias and Syntyche to think the same thing in the Lord. In living Christ, the hardest thing to do is to think the same thing. To enjoy Christ may seem to be easy, but without the real enjoyment of Christ we all would be dissenting, not thinking the same thing. We would be dissenting not only toward the elders but also toward everyone else. We would be agreeable only with ourselves. When we come to serve by arranging the chairs, we may arrange the chairs and murmur at the same time because the way the chairs are arranged and cleaned may not suit us. Because our fallen nature is full of dissension, it is difficult to see real harmony not only in our family life but also in the church life. Harmony in the church life is a real treasure.
In the experience of enjoying Christ, living Christ, and magnifying Christ, there are many obstacles. The first obstacle is murmurings and reasonings. The second obstacle is dissension. Paul was a very skillful writer. When he writes about these two good sisters, he says, “I exhort Euodias, and I exhort Syntyche, to think the same thing in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, genuine yokefellow, assist them, since they contended with me in the gospel, as well as with both Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life” (vv. 2-3). Paul first touches the negative problem of dissension between two of his fellow workers, exhorting them to think the same thing. He then highly appraises them for the positive point of their service in the gospel. Then as a conclusion he leads them to rejoice (v. 4).
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