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Pearls from Philippians - Chapter 4

Today marks the final lesson in this series of lessons, each dealing with highlights from each of the four chapters of this great epistle of Paul to the Philippians. Chapter 4 might be described as a chapter which gives a formula for peace, a peace which passeth all understanding. Surely we all seek peaceful living; yet do we seek it from the proper source?

Surely we all seek to live in peace, but how do we define “peace”? Do we define peace as “absence of war”? Or, do we define peace as God defines it, from the standpoint of the peace which is from within, the peace that comes from knowing that we are in a covenant relationship with our God and with his Son Jesus Christ?

Chapter 4 of Philippians really contains a theme of peace, the kind of peace that all should seek. In verse 6, for example, Paul said, In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. What a great statement! In nothing be anxious—do not be overly concerned. Anxiety should not be in the vocabulary of the child of God. Why? Because we are in the Lord if we are Christians. There we may rejoice, as Paul said in verse 4: Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. There is no reason for anxiety. It goes back to a statement made by Jesus himself in the “Constitution of Christianity,” the “Sermon on the Mount,” as he said,

“Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Oh, how we need to learn that lesson—the lesson given by Jesus in verses 25-34 of Matthew 6, as a part of the Sermon on the Mount! Paul, who had learned that lesson, could say, In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

Paul learned to do that very thing, and in verse 11, he said, Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. Paul learned the lesson of contentment, because the Gospel had taught him that lesson. The transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ enabled Paul to say, I have learned... You know, the Holy Spirit did not do this in some miraculous way for the apostle Paul; he learned it. Out of the school of life, Paul allowed the principles of the Gospel of Christ to enable him to make that statement and to enjoy that peace.

We think peace is determined by outward circumstances, but peace is determined by what is on the inside. You see, it takes total commitment to Christ, living completely, totally, for Jesus Christ, as Paul did, to know the peace that Paul described.

In verse 12, Paul said, I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. And here is a key verse in this great chapter: “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me. What a pearl this is! Success does come in cans—“I can”! The key qualifying phrase here is in him. I can do all things—I know I can, Paul said, because I have the greatest helper available to any man, Jesus Christ Himself. Through Him I gain the strength to know how to live with or without certain things. I can be abased, I can abound, I can be full, I can be hungry—all of that through Jesus Christ.

The world seeks peace, but many times the world does not seek it from the only true source of peace—peace from within made possible through Jesus Christ.

Peaceful living—that is really the great theme of this fourth chapter of the book of Philippians, where Paul gave some parting charges to those whom he obviously loved so very much. He said, in verse 19, And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Near the end of this great epistle, Paul reminded his brethren at Philippi that God is able to supply every need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

And in the concluding verses, Paul left them with these words: Now unto our God and Father be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren that are with me salute you. All the saints salute you, especially they that are of Caesar's household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

What a great epistle this is! Chapter 1, where we highlighted the fact that Paul expressed for his brethren at Philippi his desire that they would continue the work which had been begun in them by Christ Jesus, that they would continue it through to its end, being faithful unto death, and giving them the ingredients to do so—prayer, love, knowledge, discernment, approving things that are excellent, being sincere, being without offence, being filled with the fruits of righteousness—all inspired ingredients for fulfilling their God-given mission upon this earth.

In Chapter 2—an expression of a desire for unity, the unity of believers, based not upon agreeing to disagree, based not upon compromising the truth, but based upon truth itself as God has revealed it.

The great theme of sacrifice is seen in Chapter 3. Paul said that if any man had reason to boast he did (vs. 4-6). Yet, he said, he counted all of the things he sacrificed “loss for Christ.” It was worth it all and more. Paul knew it, and we should learn it ourselves.

Peaceful living in Chapter 4, as we have studied it—true peace, the peace that passeth all understanding, may be yours in Christ Jesus, through belief in Him as the Son of God, repentance of your sins, confession of Him as Christ and Lord, and by being buried with Him in baptism for forgiveness of your sins, being added then to the church, where you may labor, rejoicing, peacefully, enjoying the peace from within, even unto death, then receiving the crown of life.

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