Lesson 19: "Rejoice in the Lord Always. . .Think on These Things." (Philippians 4:4, 8)
Paul's Prison Epistles. This is lesson #19. And, back to the grind! In our last lesson we read all of Phil. ch. three. In our discussion, we were some place in the latter part of that chapter when our time ran out. The whole chapter, we said, was Paul's precautionary warning. In v.2, he said: "beware...beware.. .be ware." Paul realized how easy it is to fall from grace. Paul recognized, contrary to the creeds of today, that some were claiming to be Christians, claiming to follow God, claiming they were saved when he knew they were simply headed for destruction. The tragic thing Paul feared was not only these Phariseeic Judiazing teacher’s would be lost; Paul knew they were working and working hard to take others with them. These mockers were like dogs, they bark and howl and reproach the people of God. Their work is evil! Jesus said directly to this same Phariseeic element in Matt. 23:15, "ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell." Now that is pretty strong talk! But, please observe it comes from Jesus, our King and our Master...and might I add, the Judge on the day of judgement (that's John 5:22). Please observe, Jesus did not say one church is as good as another. Jesus said, "he that is not with me is against me." (Matt. 12:30). Paul knew the dangers that lurked against his Philippian brethren. Near the end of ch. 3, Paul warned (v.18-19), "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." Please re-read those verses. Paul said he had repeated this over and over; he had told the Philippians "often," he said. On one side of the coin, Paul was saying: "rejoice in the Lord." (v.1). On the other side of the coin, it made Paul so sad to realize some of his own Jewish brethren were simply enemies of Christ. Because of these Phariseeic false teachers, Paul said in Rom. 9:2, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart." Paul said he prayed for these and his heart's desire was that they might be saved (that's Rom. 10:1). Paul said, "I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." (Rom. 10:2). When we project these things down to our day, we find there is so much of that same zeal without knowledge as Paul expressed it. Zealous for God; but, teaching error and false doctrines, writing their own creeds; worshipping as they choose. How sad! How sad! Their end is destruction. WAIT NOW! Don't get judgmental, Bro. Horsley. Look! Paul said: "whose end is destruction" (v.19). This is a warning. We need that warning just as bad as the Christians at Philippi needed it. What can we do about it? Paul said: "mark them" (in v.17). What do you do when you mark someone? You cannot mark someone (however you do it) without knowing who they are. How do you know who they are? Well Paul answered that question, too. It's in v.17, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." If they are not teaching what Paul and his coworkers taught, you can mark them. If they are teaching something else, it won't save. They are the enemies of the cross of Christ. That's what Paul said. Please don't go away and say, this is Horsley's belief or Horsley's ideas. If this is not what Paul is teaching, then don't you believe it. Follow Paul! Paul said (v.17), you-can follow him and be safe. What does it mean to say: "whose God is their belly?" What does it mean to "mind earthly things?" (end of v.19)? I don't think I have to answer that. You know the answer.
Let's move on to v.20. Paul speaks of "our conversation." What is our conversation? We've run across this one before. Do you remember? It does not mean just talk. "Conversation" as used in KJV means our conduct, our manner of life. It's more than just talk. Now, get an eyeball on v.20, Paul said, "our conversation is in heaven..." IN HEAVEN? That's what the verse says! How can that be? The ASV says here, "our citizenship is in heaven." Now, I don't want to drag this out; but, don't miss this analogy or metaphor or however you want to classify it. This thought is used many times in the Bible. Our citizenship is in heaven. What does that say to you? The Hebrew writer said in talking about Abraham and others, they "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they...declare plainly that they seek a country." Do you get the idea? (That's Heb. 11: 13-14). We are strangers and pilgrims on this earth. This is our temporary abode. We are on a journey. Our homeland is heaven. Do you get it? Jesus answered Pilate: "my kingdom is not of this world." In referring to the church, Jesus spoke of it many times as the kingdom of heaven, do you remember? Matthew used this most often. If you are a citizen of Christ's kingdom, the church, and that kingdom is of heaven; then your citizenship, your conversation or manner of life pertains to heaven. Right? Until one gets this metaphor ingrained into their thinking, it's hard to even understand some of Jesus' parables. For example, what about the Parable of the Talents? Do you remember how it starts? (Matt. 25:14)? Jesus said: "For the kingdom of heaven IS AS a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods..." Do you remember? Jesus has gone on into that far country called "heaven" and left us, his servants (i.e. Christians) here on the earth. Down in v.19 of that parable, Jesus continued: "After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." Do you get it? Jesus is coming back! This idea penetrates the whole New Testament. In the household of Zaccheus at Jericho, on his last trip to Jerusalem only a week or two before Jesus was crucified, our Lord gave a parable like this: "A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his...servants...and said unto them, Occupy till I come" (that's Luke 19:13). And then, Jesus goes on to say that eventually the nobleman returned to reckon with his servants; just like the Parable of the Talents. On that last night in the upper room, Jesus told the apostles: "I go to prepare a place for you...I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:2-3). This analogy is woven through many passages of the Bible.
May I bring you back to Phil. 3:20? "Our conversation is in heaven." We are citizens of heaven. Where is Jesus now? Heaven! That's right! You got it. Then, where will he come from when he returns? Heaven. Look at the last part of v.20, "from whence also WE LOOK FOR the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." Now Paul, when Jesus comes back from heaven, what will he do? V.21, "who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body..." This old human body that we know (Paul called it "our vile body" in the KJV), another translations say "our body of humiliation." Still another translation says: "He will take these dying bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like His own." That's what Christians can expect when Jesus returns from that far country, called heaven. And Jesus is able to do it. That's the thought in the rest of v.21.
Let's read some more. It's about time! Here we go, beginning in Phil. ch. 4, v.1. We'll read nine verses. Are you ready? Beginning in v.1, here we go. "Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, -Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
It seems like there should be an "Amen" at the end of this verse. But, back up to v.1 and let's re-do it. "Therefore" (v.1). What does "therefore" mean? As a result of what has just been said. THUS I conclude this, in other words, based upon what has just been said. Now, what has just been said? Jesus is coming back. When Jesus returns, he will then change our vile body (this human body) to a body like Jesus now has. "Therefore!" Therefore what, Paul? Therefore..."so stand fast in the Lord" (last part of v.1). Now, let me ask you: what does it mean to: "stand fast?" Why don't you underline that? What does it mean "to stand," spiritually speaking? When a human child is born, it cannot stand alone. It takes time, growth and development just to stand alone. Now, spiritually speaking, when one becomes a child of God, a babe in Christ, they need the "sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" as Peter expressed it (I Pet. 2:2). In other words, it takes some spiritual development: understanding, study and insight to stand spiritually. How DO WE stand? Paul said to the Corinthians (II Cor. 1:24), "For by faith ye stand." It takes a certain level of faith just to become a Christian (Heb. 11:6); but from there, it takes a higher level of faith to stand alone in God's service. Now, turn the coin over just a moment. What would it be, not to stand? Not to stand would be to fall...to fail...not to be dependable, in other words. What is Paul's "therefore" based upon? That which Paul has just been saying. What, has he been saying? Take a look back up at v.17 (in ch. 3) for example, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample." To "walk" is a higher level than to just stand, obviously. Paul said (v.1), "so stand fast in the Lord," i.e. stand spiritually with great strength, i.e. with great spiritual vigor and vitality, you see. Now, what would that involve? Spiritual growth, spiritual development; we have said (faith, knowledge, study, dedication). Can I inject something here without ruining your thoughts? Please notice, this is the same old tune Paul has been playing in every book he has written, really. Take the time to learn the spiritual meaning here. Back in Eph. 6:13-14, Paul said: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able [to what?] to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace..." Back in v.11 (Eph. ch. 6), Paul said: "that ye may stand against the wiles of the devil." Do you get the idea of "stand fast?" In writing to other Christians, Peter (another apostle) said: "this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand." (I Pet. 5:12). This thought is repeated over and over in the New Testament.
Then at Philippi (here in 4:2-3), Paul got a little personal, "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord." Now, I don't know who Euodias and Syntyche were; but, the brethren at Philippi knew and understood this. Where you and I worship, there are probably a few Euodias and Syntyches also...I would venture to say. Paul wasn't wasting his breath; there's a message in this for you and for me. Be of the same mind. Do you remember the mind principle? How is it supposed to be done Paul? "in lowliness of MIND let each esteem other better than themselves...Let this MIND be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." (2:3-4- 5). To "beseech" means to beg. Paul was begging these brethren to do it right. To "entreat" (v.3) means to appeal to or to urge. Paul said, "I entreat" you, I urge you to help those women which labored with Paul. One of those women was possibly Lydia. Do you remember Lydia? She had helped Paul; now Paul appeals for his brethren to help her and others. Also, he mentions a "Clement" for which we have no information.
V.4 down through v.9 in ch. 4; are the verses I usually read to patients when I visit a hospital. These six verses are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and most thought provoking passages in the New Testament. I urge you to read it about a half dozen times and pick up on the thought. I have never memorized these verses; because, I want the person I'm reading it to, to realize this is Paul's recommendation and this is authoritative, God's word. "Think on these things." You know, it's so easy to worry and clutter up your mind with anxiety, dread, fear, fright, alarm, the cares of this old world, unhappiness, trouble, misgivings, to say nothing of stress when you are sick and/or in the hospital. In these verses, Paul is saying: don't let these things drag you down. How do you do that Paul? "Rejoice in the Lord always..." (v.4). In v.5, he said: "Let your moderation be known unto all men." Another translation renders that like this: "Have a reputation for gentleness." Yes, but Paul how do you do that in pain and in distress? "Be careful for nothing." (v.6). Another says, don't worry about any thing. Don't worry? Boy that sure is easy to say; but, it is hard, hard, hard for most of us to do. Do you agree? What is worry? How would you define WORRY? To worry means to think about, study about and concentrate on things you don't want to happen. But, how can I keep from worrying Paul? First off, in the rest of v.6, he said: pray, pray, pray. Then in second place (v.8), he gave the real secret, the only formula that can overcome worry. What is it? Paul said, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." It is a proven fact, the only way you can rid your mind of worry is to replace worry with something else, something constructive. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). In effect, Paul is saying: don't think on sad, negative things. Concentrate on positive things, that which is true, that which is honest, that which is just, pure and lovely. Think on these things! (v.8). No man can think of two things at once. You can't think of murder while you are concentrating on how to honor another person. If you fill your mind with honest, true, just, pure and lovely things; there is simply no room for evil. An idle mind is the devil's playhouse. You control your mind. Learn the mind principle. It is a bible concept. Rejoice always. Pray. And think on kind, honest and pure hearted things. Do you remember Matt. 5:8? Look it up AND have a good day.