Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 1:8-11 

8 For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. 9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

For God is my record…

The word, record, comes from the Greek word, martus, and literally means witness.  Words are easy to say.  Sometimes people can say things that they do not really mean, but will say them because they think the ones they are talking to want to hear them say that.  Sometimes people feign words for gain.  There are many evil reasons that people will say things they do not really mean.  Paul wanted the church at Philippi to know that the things he had to say to them was not feigned nor said for personal gain.  He called God as his witness of the things he was about to tell the church.  It is indeed a fearful thing to call God as your witness and then tell a falsehood.  Paul wanted the church to have the assurance that the feeling he had for the church was genuine. 

How greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.  

Paul had a great "inward affection" (bowels) for the saints at Philippi.  This inward affection for them was not just a natural affection that is sometimes born out of fleshly relationships or close interaction.  It was an affection greater than natural affection.  It was an affection that came from the tender mercies of Jesus Christ.  It was a spiritual affection that comes when someone has been born of the Spirit and has come a knowledge of the precious truths of the gospel and has fellowshipped with those who also have been born of the Spirit and known the gospel truths.  This love of Christ and love of His people is rooted in the heart of the spiritual inner man. 

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment… 

 Paul did not pray that the saints have love, for they already had love in their hearts.  Love is a fruit of the Spirit.  It is an evidence of having been born of the Spirit.  John wrote "for we know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren."  Rather, Paul prayed that their love may abound yet more and more.  Paul desired that the manifestation of their love may increase abundantly.  Often times we have love in our hearts, yet do not manifest that love as we should or as we may be able to do.  One of the major goals of a child of God's life should be that he continuously grows in his manifestation of love.  In order for our love to properly grow, we need knowledge and judgment.  Yet not just any knowledge and any judgment, but knowledge of the teachings of God's word and the judgments contained therein.  Paul prayed that the saints at Philippi may abound in love by increasing in knowledge and judgment taught in God's word.  Likewise, we should pray for one another that we too may about more and more in love by increasing in knowledge and judgment taught in the scriptures. 

That ye may approve things that are excellent… 

What are the things that are excellent?  To answer this question we look at the verses that have the word excellent in them in the New Testament: 

1.  Luke 1:3 "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus," 

2.  Rom. 2:18 "And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;" 

3.  1 Cor. 12:31 "But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way." 

4.  Phil. 1:10 "That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;" 

5.  Heb. 1:4 "Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they." 

6.  Heb. 8:6 "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." 

7.  Heb. 11:4 "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh." 

8.  2 Pet. 1:17 "For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 

It is apparent in studying the above that spiritual things are more excellent than fleshly natural things.  The things that God has established are more excellent than the things that man has established.  Heavenly things are more excellent than earthly things.  Christ's sacrifice is more excellent than men's sacrifices.  Christ's ministry is more excellent than the ministries of men.   

Paul prayed that the saints of Philippi may approve the things that are more excellent.  That is, he prayed that they may be in agreement and harmony in their thinking and in their lives with the things that are more excellent.

That ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ…   

There are a lot of sincere people that are in ignorance and thus are sincerely wrong in what they do.  Paul's prayer for the saints at Philippi is that they may be sincere in the true gospel and service of Christ.  Further, we know that we are all sinners by nature and unfortunately sinners by practice.  The being without offence does not mean that the saints at Philippi never sin.  It means that they should be without offence in their worship of God and their service to God.  Certainly, we should strive to keep from sinning.  However, sin often deceives us and we commit sins through ignorance, or in anger or secretly in our mind, etc.   

Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

The fruits of the Spirit are the fruits of righteousness.  We are to be filled with the fruit of the Spirit.  "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."  Just as Paul prayed for the saints of Philippi that they be filled with the fruits of righteousness, we also should pray for one another that we also be filled with the fruits of righteousness.  When we are filled with the fruits of righteousness we give praise, honor, and glory to God.  Further, those of God's people who witness our actions when we are filled with the fruits of righteousness also give praise, honor, and glory to God.