For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.
I. ITS SOURCES — "the tender mercies of Jesus Christ." Here the hardness of our hearts is melted. Sin has dried up the wells of sympathy, broken the family ties of mankind. Jesus collects the fragments, places them in the furnace of his love, and welds them together.
1. The restoration of the family likeness. When we see God the Father in each other, we begin to love one another. The spirit of Christ generates that love. When we meet in Christ we experience the first touch of heart. The ministry of the tender mercies of Christ quickens those who are dead in trespasses and sins.
2. On the basis of brotherly love human society is reconstructed. The branches touch each other in the vine. The whole fabric rests on the one corner stone, Christ. By the power of the Cross the clouds of selfishness are rolled back. The social instincts are sanctified to constitute universal society.
II. ITS ATTESTATION — "God is my witness." The evidence was an inward consciousness, and an outward life. Omniscience was the final court of appeal.
1. Love to the Church is an evidence of our conversion by the truth (1 John 3:14).
2. Through the Church we commune with God. The heavens declare God's glory, the earth His riches, the Bible His will, human experience in the Church His goodness. The historical side of religion administers to the spiritual. The wisdom of Paul, the zeal of Peter, the affection of John, bring God nearer to the heart. Every believer is a vessel of the Holy Ghost; and to drink of His experience is to commune with the Divine.
III. THE FUNCTIONS OF SPIRITUAL LONGINGS. Paul's supreme desire was to be near the Philippians, and to be of service to their growth. Thereby he would witness —
1. To the love of God.
2. Against the hatred of the sinful heart.
3. To the final society of the blest.
Parallel VersesKJV: For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.