Christian Life

CHRISTIAN life By which we mean Christian life lived out. This in its excellence and beauty we have presented to us in the second chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians, in a way which must speak to the soul of the true believer, for it is presented to us chiefly by example.
We read from the fifth verse, "Let this mind be in you"—this frame of mind, a practical consideration being in view. And the mind in us, to which we are exhorted, is none other than that which was also in Christ Jesus.
The mind, which was in Him, will be more simply under our eye, by setting out the words in their seven steps-seven stages of humiliation, with seven stages of answering exaltation. By the study of the words we may be led to pray for such a frame of mind for ourselves.
“Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God —
He who is equal with God, and was in the form of God, emptied Himself, stooped down and assumed the servant's form. The eternal Son, of His own will and grace, becoming thus a servant, stooped beneath the angel's greatness, and was made in the likeness of men; yes, of poor, weak men. What strange steps of condescending grace! Such is the wonderful story of the incarnation of the Lord.
And the blessed Lord, being found in fashion as a man here upon this earth, in His lowliness humbled Himself. As God, He emptied Himself; as man, He humbled Himself. He emptied Himself to assume the creature's form, and having assumed it and become a man, He humbled Himself. These are three words never, never to be forgotten as we consider our ways— He humbled Himself! His pathway here, as the perfect man, was one of obedience to His God and Father, to do whose will He came to this earth, and part of that will was that He should die; hence He became obedient even unto death. The stoop from the unutterable glories on high to the servant's place on earth is beyond all our just conception; but the Lord stooped lower still—He became obedient unto death. Nor death alone, but the most shameful death that could possibly be— even the death of the cross. Let these wonderful steps occupy our hearts: from the glory which is His right—equal with God—to the shame which He voluntarily took upon the cross.
Such a frame of mind as this which was in Christ Jesus, Christians are exhorted to have in them, and how lovely would our steps be were such the case in us! We have His example. He will not deny us His grace.
Now, since the Lord emptied Himself, God hash highly exalted Him—He sits at the right hand of God. Since He took upon Himself the servant's form—and servants have no name of their own—God has given Him a Name, which is above every name, whether of angels or of men. Since He was made in the likeness of weak men—and Christ was made lower than the angels—God has ordained that to the name of Jesus (His human name) every knee shall bow!
He did not shun the weakness of humanity, and angels came from heaven and ministered to Him here; lo! all things in heaven shall bow to His Name. He was the despised Jesus, the carpenter's son, on earth; lo! all things on earth shall bow to His Name. He died, and he who had the power of death, that is, the devil, seemed to have gained the victory; but, lo! the things under the earth shall bow to His name!
Yes, the humiliation of the cross, to which form of death He became obedient, shall have its eternal answer from every tongue, whether of angels, of men, or of devils, for all shall confess the Son of Man to be LORD—to the glory of God the Father.
Such is the glorious exaltation by God of Christ Jesus, in response to His incarnation, humiliation, and death.
As we mark the effect upon us of these wondrous facts respecting the Lord Jesus, as set forth in the exhortation, the first thing we observe is the call to obedience—.
“Wherefore as ye have always obeyed." Jesus obeyed His God, let us, too, obey. Let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.
Christians now have no apostle to direct them, but are precisely where the Philippians were, to whom the apostle wrote; but as the early Christians had, we have the Scriptures to obey.
Let us who are the subjects of such grace work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. We are His people, and He is graciously pleased to work in us the will and the power to obey Him. Godly fear and trembling, lest we should disobey, should characterize us. For we each one are the subjects of His mighty operation. Let it be but a child, still the steps of life's pathway are, if obediently trodden, to the glory of God. What God has done for us, we enjoy; what God is doing in us, we are to work out. In the one case all is His grace; in the other His grace and our responsibility are both evident. God has saved us, the salvation is the individual portion of each of His people; we are, therefore, to carry out what God is doing in us.
The next exhortative call to us from the example of Christ is to moral likeness to Himself. We are to do all things without murmurings and disputings. A man may grumble to himself, he must dispute with someone else. The murmuring spirit is first forbidden, and indeed, if contentment reign within our breasts we shall hardly be likely to be found disputing with others.
And neither murmuring nor disputing, we shall be blameless and harmless, or artless, sincere towards men, honorable before God; a truly noble manner of life!
God's children we are, and we are called to be in our measure like to His blessed Son, and thus we should be without rebuke from God—which, alas! our disobedience so often calls out. We are called to walk as Christ walked, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. How distinctly the character of Christ Jesus is here seen in answering beauty in God's children. Shall we not again repeat the exhortation, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus"?
The Lord was the Light of the world, He shone here by every word and step. In Himself He was Light. The Christian appears now in the darkness of unbelief and selfishness, as a heavenly body is seen in the night. The Christian may be compared to a globe wherein is the electric light. Those brilliant beams originate not within the globe, but are energized and maintained by unseen force afar off. So long as the communication is unbroken the light is strong, but sever the connection and the light is gone in less than a moment. The Christian gives out light so long as he is Christ like, and lives in dependence on Him. But, returning to the figure of the heavenly body, the Christian is God's luminary in the world in the absence of the Lord Jesus from it.
What, then, are the rays of the light which are visible to all? We say of the various lights we see, that is gas-light, that oil-light. Of the Christian it shall be said, that is life-light—he holds forth the word of life!—and at once we are reminded of the Lord, who is Light, and who is Life. The Christian is a heavenly light-bearer in the midst of this dark world, and holds forth the word of life to them who are around him. What a privilege—what an honor! And how lovely would be the sight, if on every hand God's children on this earth were shining brilliantly in the beauty of Christ, holding forth the gracious word of life—the word of the truth of the gospel—even as God's stars in the sky shine in their order and loveliness at His bidding in His heavens!
With such things filling the soul of the apostle, and his soul looking on to the day of Christ, he speaks of having neither run nor labored in vain. No, indeed, to have come into Europe, to have been cast into the inner prison, and to have been beaten, as he was, would not have been in vain if as a result in the Philippians he loved, was found this mind, which was also in Christ Jesus.
“O patient, spotless One!
Our hearts in meekness train,
To bear Thy yoke, and learn of Thee,
That we may rest obtain.”