Life-Study of Philippiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider the exaltation of Christ (2:9-12). The exaltation of Christ in 2:9 is actually the manifestation of resurrection power. Resurrection power always follows the living of a crucified life. According to 3:10, Paul aspired to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. In the foregoing message we pointed out that in 2:5-8 we have Christ as our pattern and that this pattern is the crucified life within us. Following the crucified life, there is the power of resurrection by which Christ is exalted to the uttermost. In the Bible the power to exalt Christ is called the power of resurrection. When we live a crucified life, we know the power of resurrection and the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings.
There is a correspondence between chapters two and three of Philippians. In chapter two we see that we should live a crucified life so that we may enjoy the power of resurrection. In chapter three we see Paul’s aspiration to know the power of Christ’s resurrection. We should take the crucified life in 2:5-8 as our pattern so that we can experience the power of resurrection which exalted Christ to the highest peak in the universe. The experience of Christ as the pattern of a crucified life and the experience of the resurrection power which exalts Him is endless. Day by day, we need to live a crucified life. This is to live Christ as our pattern. Instead of having a life of rivalry and vainglory, we should live a life of self-emptying and self-humbling. This is to live a crucified life. By means of this life we are ushered into the power of resurrection by which Christ is exalted. According to his word in chapter three, Paul did not regard himself as having experienced this in full. He still aspired to know, to experience, the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.
There is an urgent need among us in the Lord’s recovery today to experience Christ as our pattern. We desperately need to experience Him as our crucified life. Such a life stands altogether in contrast to a life of rivalry and vainglory. In the church life we either take the crucified life as our pattern or automatically live a life of rivalry and vainglory. There is no third way. If we do not take the crucified life as our pattern, we shall automatically live in the way of rivalry for vainglory. The issue here is extremely serious. We need to be honest with ourselves and consider the kind of life we have been living in the church. If you review the time you have been in the church life, you will see that whenever you did not take the crucified life as your pattern, you were living a life of rivalry for vainglory.
Nothing was more troubling to the apostle Paul than to learn that the saints in Philippi were living in the way of vainglory. He was very concerned that they live a crucified life. As we have seen, this life is Christ Himself as the One who emptied Himself and humbled Himself. Taking this crucified life as our pattern opens the gate of resurrection and brings us into the power of resurrection. The exaltation which is of God will never come by way of rivalry or vainglory. The more we seek vainglory, the more shameful our situation will be. To pursue vainglory is not a glory at all; it is a shame. Likewise, when we are in rivalry with others, the result is never exaltation. Inevitably the result is that we are brought low. The highest life on earth is the crucified life. Whenever we live a crucified life, God will bring us into the power of resurrection, and in this power we shall be exalted.
During the years I have been in the church life, I have known many cases of those who were in rivalry for vainglory. Without exception, all those who engaged in such rivalry went downhill. It is utterly foolish to have rivalry in the church life. We should fear this more than we fear a serpent. Whenever you are in rivalry with others, you are without question living in the self. We must condemn this rivalry and repudiate it.
Furthermore, none of us in the church life should hold to any personal standing. Of course, we must stand firm for the Lord’s testimony. However, we should not claim any standing, title, or position for ourselves. Making such claims will never bring us into the power of resurrection.
In the church life I have seen not only those who were in rivalry for vainglory, but also a good number of saints who took the crucified life as their pattern. Eventually, these saints entered into the power of resurrection where they experienced God’s exaltation.
I earnestly hope that none of the saints in the church life today will seek glory for themselves. Instead of seeking glory, we should seek Christ and Him alone. Then we shall experience the crucified life.
I believe that in the church in Philippi, two sisters, Euodias and Syntyche, were in rivalry for position or vainglory. Otherwise, there would have been no need for Paul to beg them to “think the same thing in the Lord” (4:2). If there had not been the problem of rivalry in the church there, there would have been no need for Paul to say in 2:3, “Doing nothing by way of rivalry nor by way of vainglory.” Because among the saints in Philippi there was rivalry for vainglory, it was necessary for Paul to present Christ as the pattern of a crucified life. Paul presents this pattern in Philippians, not in other books, because in Philippi rivalry for vainglory was a definite problem. As long as certain of the saints there were seeking glory for themselves, there was rivalry. Therefore, Paul showed them that Christ, the Son of God, had a very high position. He possessed the very form of God and had the right to be equal with God. Nevertheless, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men. Then, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient even unto the death of the cross. Those Philippian saints who were seeking position and title for themselves surely needed to live according to Christ as the pattern of a crucified life.
We must admit that the rivalry for vainglory found among the saints in Philippi can also be found in many local churches today. No doubt, among the Christians outside the Lord’s recovery there is much rivalry for vainglory. But what about us in the churches? To some extent at least, such rivalry still exists among us. Thus, we need Paul’s word concerning Christ as our pattern. We need to be enlightened and take this crucified life as our pattern so that we may experience the power of resurrection. When we live the crucified life, we shall be ushered into resurrection power, and this power will exalt us.
We should be warned, however, not to take this word about the crucified life, the power of resurrection, and God’s exaltation as a ground for seeking glory. We should not even seek true glory as something apart from Christ. Do not seek any glory that is other than Christ Himself. We need to say, “Lord, I want only You. I am not seeking any exaltation or glory.” If we take the crucified life as our pattern, we shall experience the power of resurrection. This resurrection power is Christ Himself. Christ is not only the crucified life, but He is also the power of resurrection.
Often the saints complain of weaknesses. We are weak whenever we do not take the crucified life as our pattern. If you are weak in your family life, daily life, or church life, it is an indication that you are not taking the crucified life and therefore are not in the power of resurrection. I repeat, the gate through which we enter into the power of resurrection is the crucified life. Paul’s expectation concerning the saints in Philippi was that they would live this crucified life and then experience the power of resurrection.
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