Elder Vernon Johnson


Philippians 4:8, 9

8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9 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.

In this passage of scripture, Paul exhorts the church to think on some things and to do some things.  The things that they are to think on and to do are not just anything, but are specific things.

We begin with those things that we are to think on.  The first thing is whatsoever things are true.  God is a God of truth: Deu. 32:4 "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."  Next, God's word in the mouth of his prophet is truth: 1 Ki. 17:24 "And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth."  In addition, God's works are truth: Dan. 4:37 "Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase."  Moreover, the church, New Jerusalem is called a city of truth: Zec. 8:3 "Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain."

The Holy Comforter is the Spirit of Truth: John 15:26 "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:"  Finally, all the word of God is truth: John 17:17 "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth."            

Second, we are to think on whatsoever things are honest.  The word, honest, is translated from the Greek word, "semnos."  Semnos appears four times in the New Testament and three times it is translated grave, and one time honest.  Thus, the word semnos indicates both an honest and grave or serious character.  No doubt, these are characteristics of God.  They are also characteristics that a disciple of the Lord are supposed to exhibit.  When it comes to the worship and service of God we are to be honest and grave or serious minded.  This is not a trivial matter to worship and serve the Lord, but is to be taken quite seriously.             

Third, we are to think on whatsoever things are just.  One of the most, if not the most broadly established characteristics of God taught in the bible is that God is just:  Deu. 32:4 "He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he."  One of the great themes of the bible is the justice of God in saving his people from their sins, while satisfying the just demands of the law: Ps. 85:10 "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."  In the sacrificial atonement of Christ, God established our righteousness or justness: 2 Cor. 5:21 "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."  God made us, the elect, perfectly just before Him: Rom. 8:33 "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us."             

Fourth, we are to think on whatsoever things are pure. The scriptures speak of several things that are pure.  We should think on these things:                       

1.  1 Tim. 1:5 "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:"                       

2.  1 Tim. 3:9 "Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience."                       

3.  James 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."                       

4.  James 3:17 "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."                       

5.  2 Pet. 3:1 "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:"                       

6.  Rev. 15:6 "And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.                       

7.  Ps. 12:6, 7 "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.  Thou shalt keep them, O LORD, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever."           

The above verses speak of a pure heart, a pure conscience, a pure religion, a pure wisdom, a pure mind, a pure linen, and pure words.  These are a lot of things to think upon that are pure.           

Fifth we are to think upon "whatsoever things are lovely."  The word, lovely, comes from the Greek word, prosphiles, meaning towards friendship.  Thus the meaning is that we should think upon those things that lead us to a friendship with God and with his disciples.           

Sixth, we are to think upon whatsoever things are of good report.  A good report is that which is well spoken of.  We should think upon those things that are well spoken of.  To get a sample of things well spoken of we can look at a couple of examples of people that were well spoken of:                       

    1.  Acts 10:1 "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway… 22  And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee."                         

    2.  Heb. 11:1 "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good report."                       

    3.  3 John 1:12 "Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true."           

The things that brought about Cornelius' good report include his devotion to God, his fear of God with all his house, his giving of alms to the people, and his continual praying to God.  The things that brought about the good report of the elders were the things that they did by faith.  While we are not told specifically what brought about Demetrius' good report, we are told that the truth itself bore record towards his good report.            

Seventh, we are to think on those things that have virtue.  The Greek word for virtue is "aręte" meaning moral excellence.  The only other time this word is used is in 2 Pet. 1:3, 5: "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:… And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;"  God has called us to walk in the way of moral excellence.  We are taught that we should add this quality to ourselves as the disciples of the Lord.  Thus, we should think upon those things whereby we can walk morally upright before God.

and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Eight, we are to think upon those things that are praiseworthy.  While we do not think of ourselves as being praiseworthy, yet we can live our lives in a commendable way.  This is not to seek praise, but to have the approval of our Lord and Master.  This is what the Lord said to the man who had the five talents and gained five others and the man who had two talents and gained two others: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."           

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.  Elsewhere Paul wrote: "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."  Paul is admonishing the brethren at Philippi to be followers of Christ by doing the things that Paul had taught them, gave to them, the things they had heard from Paul and the example that Paul had given them.  Paul said that in doing those things that the God of peace would be with them.  Likewise, when we do the things that God's word teaches us, including the things we have heard in the preaching of the word, and the godly examples in our lives the God of peace will be with us also.