‘For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now’, 1. 5.
In this opening chapter Paul speaks of their ‘fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now’. It was:
However, we may consider it in a simple way as follows:
When we were united by faith to Christ, we were brought into such complete fellowship with Him, that we were made one with Him, and His interests and ours became mutual and identical. We have fellowship with Christ in His love; what He loves, we love. He loves the saints – so should we. He loves sinners – so should we. He loves the poor perishing race of man, and longs to see earth’s deserts transformed into the garden of the Lord – so should we. We have fellowship with him in His desires. He desires the glory of God – we should also labour for the same. He desires that the saints may be with Him where He is – we should desire to be with Him there too. He desires to drive out sin – we should fight under His banner. He desires that His Father’s name may be loved and adored by all His creatures – thus, we should pray daily, ‘Let thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, even as it is in heaven’. We have fellowship with Christ in His sufferings. We are not nailed to the cross, nor do we die a cruel death, but when He is reproached we are reproached; and a very sweet thing it is to be blamed for His sake, to be despised for following the Master, to have the world against us. The disciple should not be above his Lord. In our measure, we should commune with him in His labours, ministering to men by the word of truth and by deeds of love. Our meat and our drink, like His, is to do the will of Him who has sent us and to finish His work. We also have fellowship with Christ in his joys. We should be happy in His happiness and rejoice in His exaltation. Have you ever tasted that joy? There is no purer or more thrilling delight to be known this side of heaven than that of having Christ’s joy fulfilled in us, that our joy may be full.
Philippians chapter 1 verse 6 speaks of ‘the day of Jesus Christ’. The difficulties and experiences through which the Lord brings us here will all be fully realized and revealed at the Judgement Seat of Christ. His glory awaits us to complete our fellowship, for His church shall sit with Him upon His throne as His well-beloved bride.
Love is the central theme throughout scripture, and this challenges every believer who has come to faith in Christ. Consider the Lord’s prayer in John chapter 17 verse 23, ‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me’. Come a little closer and listen to verse 26, ‘that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them’. Did I hear that right? How little we show of that love! We are constantly fighting, finding fault and criticizing one another, and fail to see our own shortcomings. Just think of how the Lord Himself dealt with all His disciples, and was there ever such ‘a motley crew’ as them? He dealt with them in love. He never wrote them off, as we sometimes tend to do with our brothers and sisters. We ought to heed the command that He gave to them on that night in which He was being betrayed, John 15. 12, ‘This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you’. This love should characterize our lives, as John says in his Epistle, 1 John 5. 2, ‘By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments’.
This is practical as well, inasmuch that, if I see a brother or sister struggling with a need, I should be prepared to help them, 1 John 3. 17.
Philippians chapter 1 verse 10 states, ‘without offence till the day of Christ’; we will all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ and give account. Sadly, Christians can be, and are at times, very cruel to each other, because of pride or jealousy, or even sometimes because of feeling left out. I wonder, if the Lord was to say to each one of us, ‘Lovest thou me more than these?’, what would our reaction be? How sad to think of those words which the Lord spoke concerning the church of Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2, ‘thou hast left thy first love’. Oh, may He never say it about us today!
‘For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ’, 1. 19.
There are four aspects to prayer, two of which are to be seen in this chapter.
How lovely it is when you become aware that certain saints are praying for you, as indeed the apostle did; he emphasized this in his letter to them, ‘Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy’, v. 4. How it must have uplifted these saints to think that here was a dear brother, confined in a prison, earnestly supplicating for them. Do we do the same for all our brothers and sisters?
It is also lovely when saints have a collective desire to come together to lay hold upon God for thanksgiving, requests and supplication. We should not miss the statement at the beginning of the Epistle, ‘to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi’, v. 1. Notice the ‘all’! Collective prayer is what is referred to in verse 19, ‘your prayer’. Note also Acts chapter 12 verse 12; the night that Peter was in prison, in the home of Mary the mother of Mark, ‘many were gathered together praying’. Is it any wonder that the Lord not only saw their exercise, but moved to answer their prayer, even though they found it incredible that the answer came so soon? It is in this context that the apostle is requesting that prayer be made for him, in order that he might be delivered from bondage. Nevertheless, he states that, whether by life or death, his desire is that Christ might be magnified by his testimony for Him.
Do we pray, or do we use vain repetitions? ‘Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints, Eph. 6. 18.5
Without much speaking: long prayers destroy prayer meetings. ‘But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking’, Matt. 6. 7; in other words, be specific.
Boldly, but not brashly: ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need’, Heb. 4. 16.
Humbly, not forgetting that we are only sinners saved by grace. ‘And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted’, Luke 18. 13, 14.
Reverence: God is still the God of eternity, even though we approach Him and have that privilege of calling Him our Father. ‘God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him’, Ps. 89. 7.6
Our blessed Lord knew what it was to give Himself to earnest prayer, Luke 22. 41, 44.
This is that which lays hold upon God, that He will do what we request. However, there are often misunderstandings relative to this for the following reasons:
As the apostle writes, ‘In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known unto God’, Phil. 4. 6.
See also Titus 1. 4; Rom. 11. 17.
See also Philem. 17; 2 Cor. 8. 23.
See also Heb. 10. 33; Rev. 1. 9.
See also Heb. 13. 16; Rom. 12. 13; 15. 26, 27; 2 Cor. 8. 4; 9. 13; 1 Tim. 6. 18; Gal. 6. 6.
See Luke 18. 2-8; the unjust judge and the woman who cried for vengeance.
See also Job 40. 4; 42. 5, 6.