Christ All in All

Stephen Whitmore, Clacton-on-Sea

Category: Devotional

ONE THEME WHICH IS PROMINENT throughout the Philippian epistle is the thought
of Christ in every aspect of Life. A simple breakdown of the epistle would be:

Chapter One - Christ, the Purpose for Life
Chapter Two - Christ, the Pattern for Life
Chapter Three - Christ, the Prize of Life
Chapter Four - Christ, the Power for Life

Chapter One - Christ, the Purpose for Life
The key verse in this context is verse 21, 'For to me to live is Christ, and to
die is gain'. For Paul, life had only one purpose, that Christ be magnified,
v. 20. How we need to search our hearts to emulate the example before us
here, to put away everything that may come between us and our Lord, or
may hinder the purpose of magnifying Him.
These words were not written lightly. but rather by one who was content
to languish in bonds because it was 'unto the furtherance of the gospel',
v. 12, and yet more needful for the saints to abide in the flesh, v. 24. There
were benefits in being put aside, yet not presently to be removed. Paul
knew by experience the truth of David's words, 'As for God, his way is
perfect', Psa. 18.30. This is always true, but we appreciate it only when we
are interested in magnifying our Lord.
As Paul looks around at the results of his imprisonment he sees many
speaking boldly, without fear. There is no resentment that others are doing
what he could do so much better, an attitude that will so quickly arise if we
give place to the.flesh urged on by the whisperings of the evil one. Remarkably,
Paul will even rejoice where Christ is preached out of wrong motives, vv.
16,18, even if it has the purpose of adding to his affliction. Here surely is a
practical example of fulfilling James' exhortation, 'count it all joy when ye
fall into divers telnptations', Jas 1. 2. There is no justification of those who
preach in this way; the later chapters will correct their attitude.
Let us weigh our life and ambitions in the light of Paul's teaching and
example.

Chapter Two - Christ, the Pattern for Life
The key verse in this context is verse 5, 'Let this mind be in you, which
was also in Christ Jesus'. The first four verses contain exhortations which
are summed up in this, then in verses 5-11, there is the Perfect Example,
while the remaining verses bring us three further examples, Paul, Timothy
and Epaphroditus.
If there is an exhortation to be 'likeminded, .. of one mind', v. 2, then we
are pointed to the One who exemplifies the only mind that will bring
pleasure to God. It is not an artificial, man-made unity, but one created by
the Spirit as He would produce the mind of Christ in us.
If there is an exhortation to avoid 'strife or vainglory', v. 3, then we are
pointed to one 'in the form of God', v. 6, yet taking 'the form of a servant',
v. 7; one on equality with God, v. 6 (W. E. VINE), yet making Himself 'of no
reputation', v. 7. Absolute authority is balanced by total subjection, 'the
brightness of his glory', Heb. 1. 3, is balanced by 'there is no beauty that we
should desire him', Isa. 53. 2.
The language is precise, 'the form of God', 'the form of a servant', but
'the likeness of men' . He is truly God in every detail as servant, He was all
that a servant should be, but as man, He never took sinful flesh, only flesh.
His body was flesh and blood, but 'in him is no sin', 1 John 3. 5.
If there is an exhortation to 'look ... on the things of others', v. 4, then we
are pointed to the One who 'became obedient unto death, even the death of
the cross', v. 8. This was not easy, as we see from the agony in the garden
Luke 22. 42-44, and the forsaking on the cross, Matt. 27. 46; yet He 'for the
joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame', Reb.
12. 2. Nothing could move Him from finishing the work that would ensure
the purpose of God is fulfilled, that we are purchased as his own peculiar
people, a bride in whom He will take pleasure.

Chapter Three - Christ, the Prize of Life
The key verse, in this context is verse 10, 'that I may know him'. This has
in view a knowledge of Him such as will be our portion in eternity with
Him. Too often we are guilty of only quoting 1 Cor. 2. 9 without its
explanation in verse 10. The truth is that 'the things which God hath
prepared' are 'revealed unto us by his Spirit'. All these are found in Christ,
hence Paul's desire to appreciate not only the blessings, but the One who
blesses, to allow the knowledge of Christ to pervade his whole life, bringing
him into the fulfilment of resurrection life. It is an aim which should
always be before us, but which can never be truly achieved.
The prerequisite to this is to count all things but loss for the excellency of
the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord, v. 8. Here is a simple balance
sheet, viewing life as 'Profit and Loss'. The items fall into two categories:
Profit - the knowledge of Christ, Loss - anything else. This is searching. In
a world marked by materialism, by education, by achievement, we must
learn that the only prize of any value is to win Christ, to know Him.
In knowing Him, we appropriate to ourselves 'the power of his
resurrection'. That power, which set Him far above all, that power which
seats us with Him in heavenly places, Eph. 1. 20-23; 2. 6, that will transform
our bodies and conform us to Him bodily, vv. 20, 21, and morally, 1John 3.
2, that power is ours today. There is suffering, too, but it is 'the fellowship
of his sufferings'. He had to suffer before He entered into His glory, why
should we be different? He suffered alone, but we suffer knowing that He
sympathizes in all our sufferings. Finally, there is conformity to His death.
We are dead to sins, and should live unto righteousness, 1 Pet. 2. 24.

Chapter Four - Christ, the Power for Life
The key verse in this context is verse 13. 'I can do all things through
Christ which strengtheneth me'. Here is one who has so learned Christ, as
to have perfect contentment in any circumstance. The assurance is that His
strength is always adequate. For us, we could lightly speak of this, but as
we consider the catalogue of trials and tribulations which were Paul's lot,
we must appreciate the experience from which such a statement comes.
How little we realize of the abundant provision that is ours. Even as he
receives this gift, he thinks of the fruit that will accrue to these saints. So
much has Christ filled his vision that he does not consider himself, content
in the assurance of One who does. He sees their fruit, he sees their need, but
assures that the One who has strengthened him will supply all their need.
May we so learn to appreciate our Lord as to rest on Hiim, knowing that
He has 'riches in glory' from which to supply every need.

Conclusion
As we consider this epistle, it brings us to the realization that Christ must
fill our vision if we are to live the Christian life. We progress from a desire
to magnify Him to the contentment which comes from resting wholly in
Him. The mind comes before us, but its occupation is always Himself;
fellowship is seen, but always it is linked with Him. The purpose of God is
'that in all things he might have the pre-eminence', Col. 1. 18. May this be
evident in our lives to his praise and glory.