Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In the foregoing message we considered four important terms: grace, salvation, the Spirit, and Christ. In this message we shall go on to consider the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ for magnifying Christ.
As we have pointed out, many Christians have the habit, perhaps unconsciously, of taking things for granted in reading the Bible. Because they are familiar with the words they read, they take them for granted and assume that they understand them. Not many have developed the habit of inquiring concerning the meaning of different words, terms, and phrases. For example, when we come across the expression my grace, we should inquire of the Lord concerning its meaning. In like manner, in reading 1:19 we should ask why Paul speaks of the Spirit of Jesus Christ and not of the Holy Spirit nor of the Spirit of God. Why does Paul here speak of the bountiful supply of the Spirit? His use of the definite article here is emphatic. Christians often speak of the Holy Spirit or of the Spirit of God, but rarely of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We should not take 1:19 for granted, but ask why Paul uses a particular term for the Spirit.
Furthermore, in reading verse 20 we should ask why Paul uses the word magnify. Why does he not say here, “Christ shall be expressed”? Why does he say magnified instead of manifested? We all need to build up the habit of asking such questions when we read the Word.
If we develop this habit, in our reading of 1:21 we shall ask why Paul says “to live is Christ.” Why does he not say to behave is Christ, or to walk is Christ? Why does he use the word live? Instead of taking things for granted, we need to ask questions such as these.
Philippians 1:18-21 is one long sentence. In this sentence the crucial points are in verses 19 and 20, where Paul says that in nothing he would be put to shame, but that Christ would be magnified in his body. Paul knew that his situation would turn out to be for him a particular kind of salvation, a daily, personal, and instant salvation. Like Paul, we have received eternal salvation. But in addition to this salvation, we still need a daily salvation, a salvation we can experience moment by moment. For example, perhaps a minute ago a brother was very kind to his wife. But now he is just the opposite in the way he deals with her; we may even say that his behavior is devilish. From our experience we know that one moment we may be living the life of a true saint, and the next moment our behavior is like that of a devil. The reason for this is that we lose for a time this personal, daily salvation. However, we may quickly turn to the Lord and continue to experience His salvation moment by moment.
The salvation of which Paul speaks in 1:19 is not eternal salvation; it is not salvation from God’s judgment or from hell. On the contrary, it is a daily, continual salvation, a salvation that can be applied at every instant. Experiencing such a salvation, Paul expected that no matter what the circumstances, environment, or suffering may be, he would not be put to shame. Instead, Christ would be magnified in him.
Suppose in the meeting a brother prays in a very released way about living Christ and magnifying Him. However, if this brother, in the presence of guests invited for dinner, expresses unhappiness or anger toward his wife, he will be put to shame. Others will not see on his face the magnification of Christ. But suppose no matter what the situation is at home, the brother’s face is glowing with the Lord. That would be glorious, a true instance of Christ being magnified in the brother.
Whenever we fail to live Christ and magnify Him, we are put to shame. Paul’s expectation in Philippians 1 was that his circumstances would turn out for his salvation so that in nothing he would be put to shame, but that Christ would be magnified in him. This was Paul’s salvation.
Paul, a typical Jew, was imprisoned by the Roman imperialists. At least part of the time each day, he was chained to a guard. Furthermore, due to imprisonment, he was kept from his work for the Lord. No doubt, in that kind of environment it would be very difficult for anyone to have a shining face. It would be very easy to show sadness or discouragement through his facial expression. If Paul had shown such signs of sadness, he would have been put to shame. But he expected that he would not be put to shame in anything. Instead, the more he was mistreated, the more his face would shine with the Lord. Far from being put to shame, Paul would magnify Christ in his body. This was the salvation he expected to experience in prison.
A few times I have felt ashamed as a dinner guest in a brother’s home. Even at the table, the brother lost his temper toward his wife. When that happened, I felt ashamed. The brother was lacking in God’s instant salvation. Instead of salvation, there was shame.
In such a case there is definitely a shortage of Christ. However, the shortage is actually the lack of the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. If we have the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, we shall experience instant and constant salvation. Then we shall not be put to shame in anything, but we shall magnify Christ in all things.
To be put to shame is to be defeated. If Paul’s face expressed discouragement or sadness, that would have been a sign that he was defeated by the guards, persecution, mockery, and suffering. If that had been his condition, Paul would have been put to shame. But once again I wish to point out that Paul declared that his situation would turn out for him to salvation. In nothing he would be put to shame, but Christ would be magnified in him.
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