Those Things

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do. And the God of peace shall be with you.” —Philippians 4:9

THIS TEXT IS an exhortation to build up one another in our most holy faith. The apostle says that there will be a positive result from the doing of those things which we have learned: “The God of peace shall be with you.”

It might seem strange that the Apostle Paul would make a statement like this one, but it does not mean that he was putting himself before the Lord as an example of Christian faithfulness. In the opening verse of this epistle he wrote, “Paul and Timothy, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Also in the thirteenth verse of the fourth chapter he says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” In I Corinthians 2:2, the statement that Paul made there in that prominent city, Corinth, was, “I was determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

So we see that he was not putting himself before Christ. But there was a reason why he felt he could make this statement to his brethren at Philippi. Perhaps it was because of his particular closeness to them. The Philippian epistle, we know, is one that offers no rebuke, but only expressions of love, and suggestions for their welfare, prayers and commendation. He felt that he could use this statement to them without seeming to be presumptuous.

Notice how he addresses them: “My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.” Twice in this one verse he expresses his love for them.

Let us go back for a few moments to the sixteenth chapter of Acts, where we find the account of his first association with them. After leaving Antioch, he and Silas had gone on through Galatia. We find this recorded in the early verses. It tells us that as they were thinking of going into Bithynia, a vision came to the Apostle Paul at night. “There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” (vs. 9) The apostle, who had received instruction from the Lord at various times previously, heeded the message, and immediately made arrangements to go into Macedonia. And as they went they came to Philippi, which was a principal city and a Roman colony. You remember that it was there that some would go down by the river for prayer on the Sabbath. So Paul and Silas joined them, taking the opportunity to speak God’s glorious truth of the Gospel of our salvation, the glad tidings that have so lifted the hearts of every one of us.

There at Philippi lived a lady named Lydia, a seller of purple, “whose heart the Lord opened that she attended unto the things which were spoken of by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”—vs. 14

The Lord knew, of course, when he arranged for them to go into Macedonia and to arrive at Philippi, that it was just the right time and place. There was even water there in the river, and so she and her household were able to be baptized immediately after hearing the wonderful message of salvation.

As the apostle and disciples joined those men of Philippi who would go down to the river for prayer, one day there was a damsel possessed of a spirit of divination which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying. (vs. 16) She would follow the apostle and the disciples around, calling out and saying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”—Acts 16:17,18

She was stating the matter accurately. Why did the apostle want to terminate that message? Perhaps there is a lesson in this for us. Paul knew that her masters made much gain by soothsaying, and of course she was not operating her own mind because she was possessed of the spirit. So her owners were using her and making merchandise of the truth. Furthermore, under the Law they were to have nothing to do with seers, diviners, magicians, etc. This is something for us to consider. The truth is too precious for us to allow it to be used in such a manner.

Of course the results were that the masters who had lost this source of gain arranged for Paul and Silas to be brought into the marketplace to the rulers for a trial. (vs. 19) They were brought before the magistrates and were evilly spoken against. They were beaten and put in prison. This is the occasion when, at midnight, Paul and Silas, even though being incarcerated in the dungeon, sang songs and prayed to their Heavenly Father. Then there was a great earthquake, so terrible that the foundations of the prison were shaken, the doors were opened, and the bands were loosed from off them. The keeper of the prison wanted to kill himself because under the Roman law it was his responsibility to keep his prisoners from escaping. But Paul said, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.”—vs. 28

As a result, the jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spoke unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.”—vss. 30-33

Evidently this was an additional reason, an overruling of circumstances by the Lord again, that they should go into the area of Philippi at that time rather than elsewhere. “When he [the jailer] had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go.”—vs. 35

The magistrates wanted to let them go in peace, “but Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out.” (vs. 37) Now this took courage on the part of the Apostle Paul, but he evidently knew his rights, having been freeborn and a Roman citizen, educated at the feet of Gamaliel and fluent in several languages. “And they [the magistrates] came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.”—vss. 37-40

They had had quite an experience there at Philippi! And those who had come into Christ during that time—Lydia and her household, in particular—had seen the Apostle Paul under several different kinds of conditions. Perhaps that may have had something to do with the reason why he could say to the brethren at Philippi that “those things which ye have learned, and accepted, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

In Philippians, the first chapter, the apostle wrote to his beloved brethren at Philippi telling them of his experiences and conditions that he was then undergoing. He was in prison and he wrote, beginning in verse 13, “My bonds in Christ are manifest in the palace, and in all other places; and many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the Word without fear, … knowing that I am set for the defense of the Gospel.” Paul continued, “Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” Here was an insight into the apostle and his attitude of keeping his heart and mind in proper relationship to the Lord.

Then he goes on to explain to them that if he continued to live, it is for “Christ” and to die “is gain.” If he had been given a choice, he said, it was far better to depart and to be with Christ! He knew that the best was yet to come, if he would be faithful unto death. This is the goal that we are all looking for. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.

However, he continues to say, “Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.” He expressed his heartfelt contentment with whatever experiences the Lord would send to him, as long as He would overrule each vicissitude to his best interests.

Continuing on in his letter, beginning with verse 27, Paul then gave this exhortation to them, “Only let your conversation [your conduct of life], be as it becometh the Gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition [or their destruction], but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”

Going again to our text, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do.” Here is another instance in which the Philippians would do well to emulate his Christian behavior. He had sent Epaphroditus unto them, for their comfort and encouragement, to let them know of his condition there in Rome, and they had sent messages to him—“an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” We see how he used every experience as an opportunity to encourage, benefit and instruct the Lord’s people.

Paul went on to remind us of the great contrast between Christ and the Adversary—the great gulf between the motivating forces which drove those two outstanding figures, whose places in the great plan of the ages are central. Satan sought with an evil and ambitious spirit to be equal with God. And certainly that would not have satisfied him—we realize that he would have had to be supreme. But Christ Jesus—who was next to the Heavenly Father, the beginning of his creation, who had been with him the longest time from point of seniority, a faithful and obedient son on the plane next to God himself—was willing to give up that rich position and humble himself even to the ignoble death of the cross.

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth [those in the tomb]; And every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:9-11) What a wonderful occasion it will be, when that glorious truth is made known. Paul said, “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” whom he came to reveal and serve so faithfully.

Paul suffered much, as a result of false brethren, at other times, and he felt it necessary to tell some of those details for the sake of the brethren. There was a philosophy extant called ‘antinomianism’, similar to the spirit of Balaam. It was the early seeds of the beginning of clergy and laity, and of serving for hire, taking advantage of a knowledge of the truth, or, again, making merchandise of God’s glorious truths. Paul had to speak out against that philosophy, and in so doing he did something which he knew was ‘foolish’.

When he advised the class that these false brethren were endeavoring to take advantage of them, he said, “I speak as a fool.” He reminded them that if they want to boast after the flesh, that he could ‘outboast them’—he was born of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, that he was a ‘Hebrew of the Hebrews’, a Pharisee and a son of a Pharisee. (Acts, chapter 3) When he said, “I speak as a fool to be praising myself,” he was well aware that to praise yourself means nothing. There’s a statement that’s been made that is so despicable that perhaps it can be helpful to us—‘self praise stinks!’ To have praise come from someone else is the correct posture of modesty, particularly when it is from someone we respect. And the apostle knew that very well. But he would resort even to self praise if it was necessary to help his brethren, to open their eyes to the fact that they were being taken advantage of.

We read in the ninth chapter of Acts concerning the time when the Lord appeared to Paul on the way to Damascus. He was going there to persecute the brethren as an authorized Pharisee, to rid the country of this new religion. You remember that a great light shown from heaven, and he heard the voice of the Lord calling him, and he answered “Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” His very next question was, “What wilt thou have me to do?” The Lord told him exactly what to do.

His eyes had been damaged by the great light from heaven, and his soul had been shaken by the traumatic experience he had undergone—discovering that he had been persecuting the son of God. So he was led to Judas’ home in Damascus, to recuperate. There another faithful Christian, Ananias, instructed Paul, and healed him that he might receive his sight. Jesus said he was to be a “chosen vessel” unto him, to bear his name before the children of Israel, and kings, and rulers, and the Gentiles.—vss. 5-15

Now these were Jesus’ words after he was glorified and with the Heavenly Father. He said, “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” How many people would have responded to an invitation such as that one! Yes, the Lord knew full well that the members of the Early Church would suffer much for the witness of the truth. Now the message is still privileged to go forth in this harvest time, because those who have been blessed by it are desirous of sharing it with others. But at this time we no longer have to fear being put into prison, being beaten, or killed, for the witness of the Gospel.

Paul was such a faithful follower of Christ. We remember the time when he would have ventured into the theater to be with his brethren who were being persecuted by their listeners. The disciples restrained him from going in because there was a mob spirit there, and you can not reason with a mob. So they successfully restrained him from joining his brethren, but he would have been willing to suffer with them.

The Apostle Paul, because of what he had given up, progressed before and ahead of those who were his peers in spiritual learning. He was reared at Tarsus, which was an educational center, and he was taught of Gamaliel in Jerusalem. Since he was a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee, clearly his ability in the law was great. However, he met his match with the truth when it came to the martyr, Stephen. Perhaps that is why the Lord told him, as recorded in a later account, “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks [the pricks of his conscience],” because he knew that what Stephen had been saying was truth. Paul knew the law and the history of Israel well enough to recognize truth.

When Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute the brethren, the Lord knew his heart was ready to receive the truth that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. Jesus knew that when he revealed himself to him he would become a faithful follower and an important apostle to the church. Then he went into Arabia and studied diligently to confirm his belief in this new doctrine; from whence he went to Damascus. As we remember, his preaching there was not received favorably. Finally it was necessary for the brethren to let him down in a basket over the wall, and he was able to escape into another area, where his preaching would bear more fruit.

Paul had a similarity to Christ in that he had given up a great deal. We find this thought expressed when first he tells the Philippians of his background, and of the fact that he had been using all the power of his position as a Pharisee to persecute the brethren. (Phil. 3:7) “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”—vss. 8-11

Paul longed for the resurrection to be together with Christ, to be a member of that Christ body, with all the glorious opportunities that will lie before the faithful. The opportunities of service at that time will be so much more productive and blessed of the Lord than at present. The Adversary will be bound; a pure message and language will be turned to all people; the truth will be clearly spoken; the overruling providences of the glorified Christ, the heavenly phase of the kingdom will be in effect; the restored Ancient Worthies, who will be perfect representatives to carry forward that law coming forth from Zion, will be the leaders on the earth. No wonder Paul longed for that time—no wonder our hearts also yearn for the kingdom to be established here upon this poor, sinsick and dying earth.

Yes how productive, how successful, that kingdom will be! What a blessing it will be to the world when they realize that finally they have turned the corner into the kingdom of God and of Christ that we have been taught to pray for! The beginning of that work will eventuate in God’s will being done as fully and completely in earth as it is in heaven. There will be the inspiration of progress, and the encouragement of success to press them on. “Come … and … take the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17) will be the invitation to all!

So then, the apostle says, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect [mature, complete]: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. … I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (vss. 13,14), “being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (vss. 10,11) “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”—Rom. 6:5

We see a similarity here between the Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus, whom he was following. They both had a willingness to give up everything to do the Lord’s will no matter where it led them. He was similar to Christ also in his love for the Father, and for the truth, and for his brethren in Christ, and he was willing to go through great hardships, and to experience many difficult experiences to serve God’s truth and to serve his brethren—to do the will of God.

We remember how Paul reprimanded Peter when that apostle was dissembling a bit before the Jews by not eating with the Gentile brethren, because of still being influenced by the Jewish Law. Paul helped the Apostle Peter on that occasion, showing him the marvelous grace of justification by faith.

Our appreciation for the Apostle Paul grows when we realize his clarity in doctrinal matters. His help with our understanding of the resurrection of the dead, both terrestrial and celestial is exceptional. He explained so simply and clearly how God gives each one a body as it pleases him. He explained the extent of Christ’s kingdom and of the work that it will do. He outlined with clarity doctrinal points of the ransom and the application of its merit in the sin-offering. His description of sanctification is without equal. When we think of the doctrines that he made dear to us, we realize how much has been brought to us by this apostle.

Of course we appreciate the other apostles greatly, also. We are reminded, too, of the faithful disciple, Luke, who brought us the Gospel according to Luke, and also the Acts of the Apostles. So we see that “God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Cor. 12:18), and for the service of the Christ as a whole. These things have been recorded for our benefit, throughout the Gospel Age.

The apostle desired fruitage in his beloved brethren In Philippi, so he was pleased to thank them for their gift to him. He told them he had all he needed, but he so greatly appreciated that they had communicated with him and had tried to help him when others did not. Notice how he states this: “For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.” (Phil. 4:16,17) The apostle knew that God would develop his Spirit in them, and that they would prosper as New Creatures in Christ through the exercising of their love to him. This singleness of purpose on the part of the apostle is exemplary; it is beneficial for us to consider his wonderful attributes and emulate them.

Truly he followed in the steps of his Master, the beloved Lord Jesus Christ, very carefully, very faithfully. Yes, if eating meat made his brethren stumble, he would eat no meat as long as he lived. It is a thought of loving concern that he expressed, saying, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”—II Cor. 7:1

What had he been describing in the sixth chapter as the ‘filthiness of the flesh and spirit’? He was telling them to have nothing to do with idols, and to have nothing to do with those who were not walking correctly. He says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”—vss. 17,18

“Contention cometh only by pride.” (Prov. 13:10) There were those who had opposed him because of their pride and ambition, the two most dangerous foes of the New Creation. These evil attributes were exhibited in the Adversary himself. May the Lord help us to be aware of and heed these lessons through which the apostle warned us.

As we think of Paul’s loving concern for the brethren, his desire to see much fruit developed in them, and his warnings to protect them, there are a few words in the little book of Philemon we want to consider. Paul was growing old and he wrote to Philemon about Onesimus, a slave who had come into the truth. He said: “Though I might be much bold in Christ [as that chosen vessel, and an apostle] to enjoin thee that which is convenient, yet for love’s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 8) Instead of ordering Philemon through the authority of his apostleship, he preferred to beseech him through love!

As we consider those things which we also have “learned and received, [or accepted], and heard and seen,” let us endeavor to do them. Perhaps the most helpful instruction is to realize that this one who had so bitterly persecuted the Early Church, and made havoc of it even to the point of arranging for the imprisonment and death of some faithful ones, had now become a humble, loving, diligent, faithful, mature Christian in Christ. He measured up as best he could to the image of God’s dear Son. He had been prepared for an inheritance together with the saints in light. Perhaps it is in this—what he gave up—and the transformation that took place in him under the guidance and the operation of the Holy Spirit in his life, and the counsel of God’s Word, that resulted in such an one as Paul, the aged, speaking to the Christian church in love.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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