Lesson 11 – The Secret of Experiencing Christ in Philippians
CHRIST AS OUR LIFE AND EXPRESSION
Philippians gives us the secret to experiencing Christ. The first chapter speaks of Christ as our life and expression. For Christ to be magnified in our body (1:20) is for Christ to be expressed in us in a glorious way. In order for Christ to be magnified, to be expressed, through us and from within us, He must be life in us. That is why Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ” (v. 21a). This means that Christ lives in us and lives Himself out of us. He is our life; He is living within us. Now He wants to live Himself out of us so that He can be magnified in us. Therefore, Philippians 1 speaks of Christ as our life and our expression.
TO KNOW CHRIST AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION
We should not think that we know Christ. Yes, on the one hand, we all have known Christ, but on the other hand, we still do not know Him in an adequate way. That Paul aspired to know Christ (vv. 8, 10) seems to pose a problem. However, this does not mean that Paul did not know Christ. He knew Christ very well, but he still needed to know Him more. He aspired to know not only Christ but also the power of His resurrection. This relates to the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b). If Christ were not the life-giving Spirit within us, we could not know and experience the power of His resurrection. The power of His resurrection is not in our body; it is in our spirit.
CHRIST AS OUR PATTERN
In Philippians 2 the apostle sets up Christ as our pattern, our example. Here, the most important factor is our mind. Verse 5 says, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” In Greek the first phrase literally means “think this in you.” We have to think things as Christ did. The real human life is bound to the mind. Whatever we think, we will do. The kind of life we live depends on what we have in our mind. According to the New Testament the mind has an important position in our being. It is the leading part of the soul. After we are regenerated in our spirit, the next step is that we are transformed by the renewing of the mind (Rom. 12:2). This means our mind has to be changed. Even to repent means to turn, to change, the mind. We need to repent by turning our mind to the Lord, but that is only the beginning. After we have repented and been regenerated, from that time onward we need to have our mind constantly renewed. How is our mind renewed? On the one hand, it is to take Christ as the pattern, the example, and on the other hand, it is to have Christ spread Himself within us, permeating and saturating all our inward parts. Then we will truly have the mind which was in Christ Jesus.
The example of Christ set up in Philippians 2 actually refers to the record of the four Gospels. This is why we have to read the Gospels many times. We have to take Christ as our example. However, this is not merely to follow Him by imitating Him. Just as a donkey or a monkey cannot truly imitate a man, we cannot imitate Christ. We are as stupid as a donkey and as naughty as a monkey. If we could get into a monkey, however, the monkey could live our life. In the same way, how can we imitate Christ unless we have Him living within us? Christ has to live in us; then we can follow Him.
CHRIST AS OUR GOAL
In Philippians 3 we have Christ as the goal, the mark, the aim, and even the prize. We should not be frustrated by all the other things. As we said before, God gave us many material items in order for us to exist and live. Without food, drink, and other things, we could not exist. How then could we live for Christ? In order to keep us alive, God created the material things and gave them all to us. However, there is too much of a possibility that we will be distracted by these material things, and attracted to the material things, away from Christ as the mark of God’s economy. God created these things for Christ, and God provides for us so we can live for Christ. God’s purpose in giving us so many material things that we may exist is that we may live with Christ and for Christ.
Not only so, but the religious things are also distracting, as mentioned in Philippians 3. In Galatians 1 the apostle Paul tells us that when he was religious, he was distracted from Christ. He was not distracted by the worldly things but by fundamental religion, not the heathen religion but by Judaism. Judaism was something given and ordained by God. Even something ordained by God can be a factor utilized by the enemy to distract people from Christ. God ordained the Jewish religion for the purpose of keeping people for Christ and bringing people to Christ, but the enemy of God utilized this God-ordained religion to distract the religious people from Christ. Paul indicates this in Galatians 1 and again in Philippians 3. In Philippians 3:5 and 6 he says that he was “circumcised the eighth day; of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, become blameless.” How much he was distracted from Christ by the religious things and to the religious things!
CHRIST AS THE SECRET
Philippians 4 speaks of Christ as the secret. In verse 12 Paul says, “I know also how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to lack.” Paul knew the secret not only of the good things but also of suffering, of being abased. Today we often hear testimonies about abounding. In the church meetings the brothers and sisters stand to testify of how they abound. We almost never hear a testimony of how someone was abased. The apostle Paul was very much abased. He may also have been challenged, “If the Jesus you preach is the living One, if He is God, why are you suffering here? If He is the almighty One, why are you still hungry? We have plenty to eat, but you do not.” In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul tells us that he was in hunger and nakedness (v. 27). That was a real testimony. If I testify that for the past thirty years I have been very rich, and now I am a millionaire, then I must be wrong in some way.
Christ is the secret for us to live, suffer, and sometimes enjoy. Sometimes we are truly rich. We know how to be abased, and we know how to abound. To know how to be abased may be easy, but to know how to abound may not be easy. If God were to put a million dollars into our hand, we may be changed; we may feel that we are now glorious. If we receive some money, that money may spoil us. Christ must be the secret by which we know how to use riches and not be spoiled by them. To have millions of dollars in our hand yet not misuse them or be spoiled by them is a true grace. This means we know the secret. Christ is the secret for us to be abased and to abound.
THE SPIRIT BEING THE SECRET OF THE SECRET
The foregoing points are the concept of the four chapters of Philippians. Christ is life, so He is our expression. He is the example, the pattern, and He is also the goal, the aim. Moreover, Christ is the secret. Still, there is a secret to the secret. The secret of the secret is in 1:19-the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This is not the Spirit of God, as such, but the Spirit of Jesus Christ. We all know that the Spirit of Jesus Christ is the Spirit of God, but the apostle Paul spoke here not of the Spirit of God but of the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The Spirit is the key and the secret.
The phrase bountiful supply was a special term to the Greeks of ancient times. It relates to a chorus, a band or group of people that performed by singing. The leader of the chorus was the choragus, who was responsible to supply all the needs of the chorus. The choragus supplied what they ate and drank, what they wore, their dwelling place, and their music and instruments. This is the word used in verse 19. Today the Spirit of Jesus Christ is our Choragus, supplying whatever we need. We are the chorus, demonstrating Christ by our “singing.” We need many things, and whatever we need, the Choragus, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, will supply. This is the bountiful supply, the all-inclusive supply.