Philippians 1:19, 20
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. Here the apostle expresses the belief that all the endeavors of his enemies, especially of those who, he said, sought to add "affliction to his bonds," will turn out to his deliverance. The word "salvation" here does not refer to salvation of the soul, but to Paul's temporal rescue and security. In the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth verses of this chapter he utters very clearly his assurance that he should be delivered from his enemies and continue with the Philippians for their "furtherance and joy of faith." It is now many years ago, when a boy, I attended the ministry of Reverend Caleb Morris, at Fetter Lane Chapel, and the sermon he preached the Sunday previous to my first entering his church was on this text. It was his first discourse after a dangerous and protracted illness, and the proposition he drew from the passage and laid down was that "usefulness is the aim of every genuine evangelical ministry." He then went on to remark that the passage suggested that, in order to be useful, three things were necessary.
1. To magnify Christ. "Christ shall be magnified in my body," etc.
2. To render all the circumstances of life subservient to that end.
3. To have supplies of the Spirit of Christ. I proceed, in a somewhat modified form, to give some of the beautiful thoughts of that distinguished preacher.
I. The supreme purpose of life is to MAGNIFY CHRIST. "Christ shall be magnified." Every living man is either an injury or a blessing to creation - every bad man is an injury, every good man is a blessing. Goodness is at once the cause, the evidence, and the measure of moral usefulness. But how is this usefulness achieved? By magnifying Christ. But how are you to magnify Christ? Not by making him greater than he is. This would be impossible. His "name is above every name." He is Lord of all; "Of him, and to him, and through him, are all things." All heaven feels that he is the greatest; there he is seen as he is; is supremely worshipped and adored. Hell, too, feels his greatness: "The everlasting destruction with which the lost are punished, comes from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." It is to be done:
1. By giving him the pre-eminence in your own soul. Putting him on the throne of your being, and crowning him Lord of all, having all the activities and faculties ruled by him as the moral Monarch of the soul.
2. By promoting his sovereignty over others. Seeking to establish his kingdom, the kingdom of peace and truth and righteousness over all contemporaries. Sad, terribly sad, it is that many who profess to magnify him degrade him. They degrade him by flippant and irreverent repetitions of his holy Name, by misrepresenting his work. They speak of him as a poor Victim on the cross rather than as a triumphant Victor - One who, in his sufferings, is to be pitied rather than applauded. They speak of him as a Purchaser of Divine love for man rather than as its grand Messenger and omnipotent proof. They represent him as One who seems to be in deep need of man's humble services; and in their hymns they call upon their hearers to "Stand up and fight for Jesus," as if Jesus were in difficulties and wanted their help to relieve him. They seem to trade in his holy Name. The crafty priest employs him in order to gain power over the people, mercenary preachers and authors in order to get gain. These magnify themselves under the pretense of magnifying Christ. "The false teachers to whom the apostle refers in this chapter were guilty of this, as are not a few in the nineteenth century. For instance, they who take up Christianity with a view to amass wealth, to gain honor, or to subserve political designs. This is very wicked. It is to betray Christianity with the kiss of treachery, in order to deliver it up to the fury of its foes. It is to purchase earthly toys with the blood of souls. It is to drink damnation from consecrated vessels."
II. In order to magnify Christ, THE WHOLE OF OUR LIFE SHOULD BE CONSECRATED TO THAT PURPOSE. Observe:
1. The circumstance of life here indicated. "In my body, whether it be by life or by death."
(1) Life must be consecrated to the work. All its energies should be directed to it; all its faculties should be employed in its interest; all the circumstances, in fact, should be subordinated to its advancement. "For me to live is Christ," says Paul "I long," said Bernard, "to be as a flame of fire, continually glowing for the service of the Church, preaching and building it up to my latest hour." Paul here specifies affliction. "I know that this" - that is, his imprisonment - "shall turn to my salvation." "Time spent in affliction is not lost. To a man who stands on the margin of eternity the world appears in its proper light. How worthless its smiles! How absurd its fashions! How trifling its all! Never does the better country appear so inviting as when we linger on its borders, expecting every hour to plant our feet on its happy soil. The odours wafted from its shore refresh us before we land."
(2) Death should subserve this spiritual usefulness. "Whether by life or by death." So die - die with such calmness, resignation, holy serenity, as to commend Christ to the spectators of the event.
2. The intense desire that it should be so is here indicated. "According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body." This was his "earnest expectation " - an expression which implies an intense and painful longing, not only expectation, but hope. There may be expectation where there is not hope. Hope implies desire for an object as well as a probability of obtaining it. "That in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always," etc. This was his grand purpose, and he would not have that purpose frustrated so as to be ashamed, but would, with wonted boldness and courage, struggle on to its ultimate triumph.
III. In order to consecrate the whole of our life to that purpose we require THE INTERCESSION OF THE GOOD, AND A SUPPLY OF THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST JESUS.
1. The intercession of the good. "Through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." This overruling of all enmity to his safety he hopes for, through the intercession of the Philippian Church (comp. Philemon 1:23) and the fresh supply of grace which, through such intercession, may be given to him. For the word "supply" in this sense, see Ephesians 4:15; and comp. Galatians 2:5; Corinthians 2:19. "Through your prayer." By an instinct of our nature involuntarily we breathe intercessions to heaven on behalf of those in whom we are most vitally interested. This is natural; this is right. Whether intercessions of any kind secure direct answers or not, the assurance of them is always most encouraging to their object. If I know that a good man is earnestly interceding for me in my mission, I have an assurance that he will use every effort to contribute to my success. Hence Paul always felt encouraged by the prayers of the good.
2. The supply of the Spirit. "Of the application of this name to the Holy Ghost we have instances in Romans 8:9; 2 Corinthians 2:17; Galatians 4:6; 1 Peter 1:11. Of these the first is the most notable, since in two clauses of the same sentence we have first the Spirit of God and then the Spirit of Christ. But the name has always some speciality of emphasis. Thus the whole conception of the passage is of Christ: 'For me to live is of Christ;' hence the use of this special and comparatively rare name of the Holy Ghost" (Dr. Barry). These two things Paul felt would enable him to consecrate his whole life to the life of Christ - "the intercessions of the good," and the "supply of the Spirit of Christ." - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,