Christian Experience: Christ Our Life

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The epistle to the Philippians is the epistle of Christian experience, for therein is presented in a very touching way the experience of a believer that lives the Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Though written by the Apostle Paul, he does not speak of his apostleship, nor does he address the Philippian assembly as an apostle, but as a servant of Jesus Christ. Nor does he speak of gifts and powers that alone belong to an apostle, but rather of experiences that are possible for every Christian. Thus, as we read the epistle, each one can say, This is the experience that is possible for me to enjoy if I live the Christian life in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, the blessed experiences brought before us are entirely independent of circumstances, be they bright or sad. When the Apostle wrote the epistle, his circumstances were sorrowful and heartbreaking. He himself had been a prisoner four years. He knew that within the Christian circle there were some who were taking up the service of the Lord, and preaching Christ, even of envy and strife, supposing to add to his afflictions (chap. 1:15, 16); outside the Christian circle there were adversaries plotting for his life (chap. 1:28). Such was the state of the Christian profession, that he has to say, "All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's." Chap. 2:21. And the walk of many was so low that, instead of being witnesses to Christ and His work, they had become "enemies of the cross of Christ."
Such were the circumstances: Paul a prisoner; inside the Christian circle, envy, strife, and contention; all seeking their own, and many walking as enemies of the cross; outside the Christian circle, adversaries, dogs, and evil workers.
Nevertheless, in the midst of these distressing circumstances the Apostle enjoys the most blessed Christian experience.
He has deep and continual joy in the Lord, and in everything that is of the Lord in the saints (chap. 3:1, 3; 4:10).
His confidence is unshaken in the Lord. He boasts in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh (chap. 1:6; 3:3; 4:13).
He is kept in a peace that passes all understanding (chap. 4:7).
His love flows out to the saints and appreciates their love to him (chap. 1:8; 4:1; 1:17).
His hope is undimmed as he looks for the Lord Jesus to come from heaven (chap. 3:20).
His faith trusts the Lord in whatsoever state he may be found (chap. 4:12, 13).
What then is the secret of such blessed experiences in the midst of such distressing circumstances? In one word it is CHRIST. All the experiences that pass before us in the epistle are the result of a believer having Christ before the soul.
The Apostle sees clearly that Christ is in the presence of God to represent believers, and that believers are left here for a time to represent Christ. He sees that Christ is our righteousness before God, and the prize at the end of the journey, and he has only Christ before him every step of the way. For him it was Christ, "whether it be by life, or by death." Having Christ before him he enjoyed all the blessed experiences of which he speaks in the epistle, and in order that we may enjoy these experiences he sets Christ before us. First, CHRIST our life (chap. 1:20, 21). Second, CHRIST our Pattern (chap. 2:5). Third, CHRIST in glory our Object (chap. 3:13, 14). Fourth, CHRIST our Hope (chap. 3:20, 21). Fifth, CHRIST our Strength (chap. 4:13).
In all truth Paul could say, "For me to live is Christ." Christ was all in his life. If he lived, it was by Christ and for Christ. If death was his portion, he would die for Christ. Over such a Christian, adversaries had no power, Satan no point of attack, and death no terror. The malice of envious brethren could not move him, and the low walk of those who were minding earthly things only drew forth his tears. Self being gone as a motive, insults and desertions called forth no bitterness and rancor; circumstances, however trying, drew forth no complaint. His one object was not to defend or exalt himself, or to decry and belittle others, but, in all circumstances, whether in life or death, to magnify Christ.