2315. Paul Apprehended And Apprehending

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No. 2315-39:313. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, May 30, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, July 2, 1893.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended by Christ Jesus. {Php 3:12}

1. Observe the apostle’s condition when he wrote these words. I do not think that either you or I will be found to be in a better one. If any are, or think they are, I would suggest a question. I, for my part, would be satisfied to be just as Paul was.

2. He was in a position of conscious safety; he was a saved man, he knew that he was saved, for he rejoiced in Christ Jesus, and had no confidence in the flesh. He knew that he was justified by faith in Christ Jesus, and he considered all his own works, which formerly were his basis for trust, to be as dross and dung, so that he might win Christ. He was a saved man, and he knew it. I do not think that he often had doubts about that point; but yet he was in a state of conscious imperfection: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” He had not yet reached his own ideal of what a Christian might be. He had not yet obtained from Christ all that he expected to obtain. He was not sitting down to rest and be thankful; but he was still hurrying on, reaching after something which was still beyond him. He could not say, “Soul, take your ease, you have many goods laid up for many years”; but he still felt his own spiritual poverty, and he cried, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect.” But, beloved, do not let that thought be any kind of solace to you, for I would remind you that, though consciously imperfect, Paul was zealously making progress. He says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” I know many who say that they are imperfect, and they seem to be quite satisfied to be so. That was never the case with the apostle; as long as any trace of a sinful nature or a sinful tendency remained in him, it made him cry out, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” It was not because he was dead in sin that he cried in that way. It would be a new thing in this world for a sinner dead in sin to cry like that; but because he was already largely delivered from sin, and its reigning power had been broken, therefore he felt the burden of any kind of contact with sin. A man who is in the sea, deep down under the water taking a plunge, does not feel the weight of the water; but bring him out on the shore, put a great tub of water on his head, and see what a weight that is to him. So, while a man is in sin as his element, it is no burden to him; but when he is out of it, and not under its power, then he feels the weight of it, he grows weary under it, and would gladly be rid of every particle of it. The apostle, I say, was conscious of imperfection, but he was also conscious that he was making progress, that he was running towards a mark, that he was, leaving much behind him, and was pressing toward what was before him. He was also in a state of anxious aspiration. He desired that he might be found in Christ, that he might attain to the resurrection from among the dead, that he might, in a word, grasp that for which Christ had grasped him. I am going to talk about that double grasp tonight: “That I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended by Christ Jesus.”

3. Notice that there are two forces mentioned here, which are at work in every gracious man. There is Christ’s power by which he apprehends us, and then there is the new power, the new life of God-given faith, by which we, in our turn, seek to apprehend that for which Christ has apprehended us. Christ has apprehended us for a purpose; we wish to experience that purpose even to the full. That is the intent of the apostle’s words. Let us consider them in detail.

4. I. First, let us think of PAUL’S APPREHENSION BY CHRIST JESUS.

5. We do not often use the word “apprehended” now, in the sense in which it is used here. The only example that I remember is, when we speak of a policeman apprehending a person, that is, laying hold on him, seizing him.

6. At his conversion, Paul had been apprehended by his Lord. Take the word “apprehend” in the sense of arresting him, and it stands true of Saul of Tarsus. I need not repeat the story; you all know how that desperate rebel was going down to Damascus, to persecute the saints of God. Nothing was further from his mind than the thought of becoming a Christian; but while he was riding the high horse, and Damascus lay below him, just like a sheep within reach of a wolf, the Lord Jesus Christ stepped in, and laid his hand on his shoulder.

    Thus the eternal counsel ran,
    “Almighty grace, arrest that man!”

And almighty grace did arrest him. He fell to the earth at the first blow; he was blinded with the second; indeed, not so much by a blow as by the greatness of the light that shone all around him; and there he lay prostrate, broken in heart and blind in eye, and he had to be led into the city, and one of those poor men whom he had determined to hale to prison, had to come and pray for him, that his eyes might be opened, that he might be baptized, and that he might make his confession of faith in Christ. He well says that he was “apprehended by Christ Jesus.” The King sent no sheriff’s officer to arrest him; but he came himself, and took him into divine custody, laid him up by the heels for three days in the dark, and then let him out into glorious liberty, an altogether changed man, to go out to preach that faith which he had previously sought to destroy.

7. You may not all be able to remember any special day when you were apprehended by Christ; but some of us do. We remember when we, who had been formerly carried captive by the devil at his will, found ourselves arrested by One stronger than Satan. We managed, by divine grace, to escape from the clutches of the devil; but we could not escape from that dear pierced hand when once it was laid on us. We surrendered ourselves prisoners; there was no resisting any longer when his mighty grace came in to arrest us. I say that some of us remember that day. Other days, notable for great events, have been forgotten; but the day when we were apprehended by Christ Jesus is stamped on our memory, and always must be, even throughout eternity.

8. Since then, dear friends, we have always felt that grip, just as Paul always fell himself in Christ’s grasp. We have never gotten away from that one arrest. It was not the work of a few minutes, and to be remembered, but to be then ended, and all over. No; at this moment we feel the same divine hand on us; today we are prisoners to Christ, who alone has set us free by capturing us. There was a legend, among the heathen of old times, that if people saw certain spirits in the woods, they became, from that moment, amazingly changed; they became possessed by the spirit which they saw. They had, as we say in our language, a twist. I remember when —

    I saw One hanging on a tree,
       In agonies and blood,
    Who fix’d his languid eyes on me,
       As near his cross I stood;

and I have had a twist ever since. I never got over it, and never expect to; I hope that twist will get a more and more powerful hold over me. It turned everything upside down; it changed the right into the left; it made the bitter sweet, and the sweet bitter; the light darkness, and the darkness light. It was a wonderful twist; and, as I say again, that twist still continues; where it has once been experienced, there is no escaping from it. We can say, not only, “I was apprehended,” but as the text has it, “I am apprehended by Christ Jesus.” He still binds us with the fetters of his love; we still sit at his dear feet, enthralled by his beauties; we are still under the omnipotent fascination of his altogether lovely face. We could not depart from him if we would; and we would not if we could. If we went away from Christ, to whom should we go? He has the words of eternal life. His love holds and binds us firmer than fetters of iron. We must for ever be apprehended by Christ Jesus our Lord.

9. Now, beloved, this arrest of Paul by Christ was the force and motive of all of his subsequent life. Because Paul had been apprehended by Christ, he began to live different from what he had ever lived before. He had an apprehension that he had lived amiss. He had an apprehension that his evil life would end in eternal destruction. He fled away from all his apprehensions of the wrath to come, to the Christ who had apprehended him in quite another sense. So he had been apprehended, conscripted into the service of Christ, and made by that pressure to become a volunteer, for here there is a paradox; all Christ’s soldiers are conscripted men and volunteers, too. There are two senses, the one in which grace constrains them, and the other in which their will, being made truly free, runs delightfully after Christ. But having once been apprehended, the apostle never shook off Christ’s grasp; but he began to live as an apprehended man. He said to himself, “I cannot follow the world; for Christ has apprehended me. I cannot go after false doctrine; for Christ has apprehended me, and crucified me with himself. I cannot cease to preach the gospel; I cannot become a self-seeker; I cannot do anything but live for him who died for me, for the Master has apprehended me. He has put me under parole to keep close to him for ever; and I must not, cannot, dare not, would not, leave him. I am his apprehended one henceforth and even for ever.”

10. I want your hearts to talk over this first part of the sermon. Never mind my faltering tongue; let your own hearts speak. If Christ has never apprehended you, well then, you have nothing to do with this matter, and you may leave it alone; but if he has arrested you, acknowledge the soft impeachment tonight. Say in your heart, “Yes, he has indeed laid hold on me, and my heart’s desire is that he would bring every thought into captivity to him. From henceforth I would be led in triumph by him, his captive all the days of my life, to show the power of his illustrious love, the victories of his grace.” Oh, that each one of us might say with Paul, “I am apprehended by Christ Jesus!”

11. Ah, dear souls, you who have never been apprehended by him, I hope that you will be tonight! I pray God that you may run away from your old master the devil, and not give him even five minutes’ notice, but just start off directly; and while you are a runaway slave, may my divine Master come, and lay his hand on you, and say, “You are mine; you never did really belong to your old master; and even though you promised and swore that you would be his, thus says the Lord, ‘Your covenant with death shall be annulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand.’ I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are mine; and now I only take what I bought on the tree. I take by power, by might, by sheer strength, by grace, what I purchased with the blood of my hands and feet and heart. I will have you, for you are mine.” Lord, arrest some sinner like this tonight, to the praise of the glory of your grace!


13. Well, why did Christ apprehend Paul? First, it was to convert him completely, to make a new man of him, to turn him from all his old ways and pursuits, and put him on quite a different road. Now, brothers and sisters, that is why the Lord apprehended us, to make us new creatures in Christ Jesus. Let us pray God to carry out that intention to the full, to make us altogether new creatures. Do not let us be satisfied while there are any remains of the old nature; let us cry to the Lord to drive the Canaanites out; and though they have chariots of iron, let us, by divine grace, drive them all out. Pray, “Lord Jesus, you have come to turn me from every sin; turn me, and I shall be turned. You have provided medicine for every disease; Lord, heal me, and I shall be healed.” Do not be satisfied, any of you, with half a conversion. I am afraid that there are a great many who have not much more than half a conversion. I know a man; I hope he is converted, but I wish that the Lord would convert his temper. He prays very nicely; but you should see him when he is red in the face with anger at his wife. I know a man; I hope he is a Christian, it is not for me to judge; but I wish that the Lord would convert his pocket book. It needs a button taken off, for it is very difficult to get it open. It is very easy to put anything in, but hard to get anything out for any good purpose. I know a great many professing Christians who do not seem to have had what we might call a thorough conversion. We want the power, which has arrested us, to do its work completely, until there is no part of us left except what has been renewed by grace, and sanctified to the service and glory of God. Brethren, seek to apprehend that for which Christ has apprehended you, namely, a thorough conversion, a turning of yourself from every evil way.

14. But the Lord apprehended each one of his people, in the next place, to make them like Christ. This is the great purpose of electing love: “Whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son.” That is the great object of the very first act of divine love; and whatever the Holy Spirit does in us, he does it with this aim, to make us like the Firstborn among many brethren. This will be our satisfaction in eternity: “I shall be satisfied when I awake with your likeness.” Come, then, beloved, if Christ has arrested us to make us like himself, let us not rest until we have become more like him. Perhaps the Lord has made you like Christ in some respects, but not in all; or if you are like Christ in all respects, yet the likeness is dim, shadowy, rather in outline than entirely. Though we may be likenesses of Christ, there is not one of us who does not need many touches before we shall be good likenesses. Some, I fear, are caricatures of Christ. May the Lord have pity on us if that is the case, and go on with his work, and take out all the blotches and blemishes, and paint the true portrait, until at last everyone who sees us will say, “There is Christ in that man; he is a likeness of Christ!” We may not all be paintings on ivory; we may not all be taken on a sheet of silver; but the Lord’s portrait, even though it is on a piece of clay, still has great beauties in it. And since he intends to make us like Christ, oh beloved, let us aspire to this! Come, get it into your voice, and get it into your heart! You are to be like Christ; and since you are to be so, and this is the very reason why Christ has arrested you, pine after it, thirst after it, labour after it. Trust God to work in you to will and to do his own good pleasure; and while he is doing that, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God who works in you.

15. If you turn to Paul’s description of his own conversion, which he gave to Agrippa, you will find that the Lord said to him that he had appeared to him to make him a witness of what he had seen, and of what he would later reveal to him. So, in the third place, we have been apprehended by Christ so that we may be witnesses for him, first seeing a great deal, and then telling what we have seen, which is the other sense of the word “witness.” A witness sees or hears, and then he tells in court what he has seen or heard, and so be becomes a witness to others as once he was a witness to himself. Now, the Lord has apprehended every Christian here, to see his Saviour, to see his grace, to see his love, to see his power, to see all the wonders which the Holy Spirit works among men, and then to go and talk about these things to others, so that they also, hearing from the lips of a witness, may be led to believe by the power of the Holy Spirit. Beloved, if the Lord Jesus Christ has apprehended you so that you may be a witness, be on the look out, keep your eyes open; see all that you can see. Every prophet of olden times was called a seer. You cannot prophesy to others until you have been a seer yourself. Pray that you may see all that is in the Word. Cry, “Open my eyes, so that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Pray that you may see the movements of God in providence, and may see the hand of God in your own heart, and your own experience. Pray God first to make you a witness, an observer; and then tell to others what you have tasted and handled and felt of the Word of life, and be a faithful witness for your Lord and Master all your days. Do not some professing Christians, who are here tonight, feel a little uncomfortable? You have not yet seen all that you should see; and have you not kept very much to yourselves what you have seen? I wish that you could apprehend that for which also you are apprehended by Christ Jesus, seeing what he intends you to see, and then telling what he intends you to tell. May the Lord instruct us more and more, so that we may fulfil all his good pleasure!

16. But, next, we were converted in order to be the instruments of the conversion of others. Paul, when he was speaking to Agrippa, expressly mentioned how the Lord said, “Delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom now I send you, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith that is in me.” So, you see, there was a certain number of souls for whom Paul was apprehended, so that he might be the instrument of their salvation. Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify your Son, so that your Son also may glorify you: since you have given him power over all flesh, so that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given to him.” Now, Christ distributes that power among his people. There is a certain number of people who will receive eternal life through my ministry; there is a certain number who will receive eternal life through another man’s ministry. I wonder how many have, in this way, been appointed to you, so that you might be the means of their salvation. You were not saved that you might go to heaven alone; you were saved that you might take others there with you. In the olden days, when a man wanted pigeons, he used to take a dove of his own, and smear its wings all over with perfume, and then, when it was very sweet to smell, he threw it up into the air, and it went into other dovecots, and all the pigeons followed it; and when it came back, it brought them home to its master. That was a roguish trick; but it is a blessed method of bringing poor flying doves to Christ. When your wings are sweet with Christ’s love, when every time that you move you perfume the air with holiness and mercy and grace, others will flock around you, and fly with you like doves to their roosts. I like to think of the many whom God has appointed to me to bring to him. I cannot tell you how many I have met during the past week; they have made my heart dance for joy. Last Tuesday, when we had a large company of deacons of our Metropolitan Churches here, one would steal up to me, as I sat there shaking hands, and say, “On such a day, I heard you preach from such a text. I was a careless young man; but you brought me to the Saviour.” Another would come and say, “God bless you, sir! I remember when you were the means of leading me to the Saviour.” One took my hand with a ferocious grip, and could not say a word until he had shed many a tear. These things make us very happy; and my heart’s desire is that I may get all that Christ intends for me to get, so that I may apprehend all that for which he apprehended me. I want every Christian brother and sister here to feel the same. There is someone in the world whom you have to bring to Christ. I do not know where he is, or who he is; but you had better look out for him. Come, seek now. Say, “I would not lose a single pearl, though it lies deep under the waves of the sea, if my great Lord intends me to dive for it, and bring it up into the light.” Get to your searching after the hidden treasures, and be intent day and night, in the power of the Spirit, so that you may apprehend that measure of usefulness for which you were apprehended by Christ Jesus. It will be a high honour to appear at last as a winner of souls. Kings might doff their diadems, and forget that they ever wore them, in comparison with that crown which God will give to those who turn many to righteousness, for they shall shine “as the stars for ever and ever.” Aspire to this, my dear friends, and lose nothing of that for which you have been apprehended by Christ Jesus your Lord.

17. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the Lord said to Ananias about Paul, “I will show him how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” Well, now, some of you were apprehended on purpose that you might suffer for Christ’s sake. Did I see you wince at that word? Well, but if usefulness by labour is an honour, usefulness by suffering is a still greater honour. In heaven, the brightest crown that any saint wears is what is set with the rubies of martyrdom. When I have read the stories of those holy men and women who died in Roman amphitheatres, or were burned to death at Smithfield {a}, I must confess that I have envied them. To preach Christ seems so little compared with having grace enough to suffer for his name’s sake. As one reads about their intense suffering, one naturally shrinks from it, and says, “I thank God that I am not called to endure that trial”; but yet, if we were called to it, we should have grace given to us to bear it. What an honour it was for them, for the sake of the Prince of martyrs, the Leader of the sacramental hosts of God’s elect, to be able and willing to give themselves up to death! Well, you may be called to suffer for Christ’s sake; at any rate, you are called to this, to lay your all on his altar, to devote yourself, your substance, all that you are, and all that you have, to his honour and glory. You are apprehended by Christ Jesus for this purpose; try to apprehend it. Oh, brothers, let us resolve to live entirely for Christ! Let us ask him to take hands, and feet, and heart, and eye, and brain, and every faculty of our being. May God get as much glory as he can out of us, or reflect as much of his glory as is possible through even our weakness and infirmities! But this is why we have been apprehended by Christ Jesus, that we may be entirely and completely the Lord’s: “For the love of Christ constrains us; because we so judge, that if one died for all, then all died, and that he died for all, so that those who live should not henceforth live for themselves, but for him who died for them, and rose again.” Here is the prize of your high calling; are you ready to run for it? May God help you to do so, to apprehend, in personal self-sacrifice, all that for which Christ has apprehended you!

18. But that is not all. Paul said that he regarded himself as having been arrested by Christ that he might attain to the resurrection from among the dead. Oh, when that trumpet peals out, and the righteous arise, shall I arise; or shall I lie rotting in the tomb another thousand years? And when he calls his saints together, when —

    East and West, and South and North,
    Speeds each glorious angel forth,
    Gathering in with glittering wing
    Zion’s saints to Zion’s King;

shall we be there? Shall we behold the splendour of Christ’s appearing? Shall we sit on the throne with him, judging mankind? Shall we be for ever with the Lord? It is for this that we are apprehended. Are you getting ready for this? Are you preparing, by his grace, for that eternal future? I believe that all the saints will get to heaven; but every saint ought to aspire, not only to get there, but to carry there with him what will make his heaven more glorious to God than it otherwise would be. Part of the joy of heaven will be to remember what the Lord did through us. We are not going there to go to bed for ever; we are going there to do some glorious work for Christ. How does he describe it? He says that, if his servants have been faithful and diligent, he will say to one, “Have authority over ten cities,” and another shall be ruler over five cities. As we have proved our ability, such will be the dominion that Christ shall give us throughout the ages to come; and a little failing today, as it were the loss of a penny, may mean the loss of thousands of pennies in the world to come. You shall be as full as the greatest vessel; but you shall have smaller capacity. Look to that matter now. I believe that every action in this mortal life rings through eternity. Time and eternity are like one tremulous mass of jelly; if you touch one particle of it here, it trembles right through, and right throughout the ages. Not a word is spoken but the echo of it shall be heard when time shall be no more. Not a deed is done that dies, especially the deeds of quickened men and women. They do not know what they do; they will be astonished to find, at the last great day, what they have done, for the Lord will evidently surprise his people when he says, “I was hungry, and you gave me food: I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.” They will say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you a drink?” And if you apprehend to the full the great purpose of Christ in apprehending you, though it is not by debt, but by grace; not by works, but by faith; yet, in the ages to come, you shall be surprised to find how the little that you did shall bring you great reward. God gives his people good works, and then rewards them for them. He works in us to will and to do, and then we will and do, and he gives us a reward for willing and doing.

19. I wish, dear friends, that in heaven we might feel, “Well, I did as God helped me. I apprehended that for which my Master apprehended me.” You have no idea what you are going to do in glory. I expect one day to preach to an assembled universe concerning my Lord and Master, to tell to principalities and powers what Christ has done; not to sit with a lot of you good people, some listening to me, and some perhaps not; but to have angels, and principalities, and powers to be my congregation; and I want to learn to preach well here so that they may be attentive to me. Each one of you who has served your Lord shall be a monument of his love and his mercy, and the angels shall stop and read what is inscribed on you. Oh, that there might be some good letters written on you, so that when Gabriel stops to read, he may clap his hands, and then fly with swifter flight, as he says, “Bless the Lord for what he did for that poor man, for what he did in that poor woman! His grace is conspicuous there.” Since you are to be seen throughout all eternity, may you be fit to be seen! May the Lord, by his grace, work in you what shall be to the praise of his glory!

20. III. I am finished when I just take a minute or two to show THE LESSONS WHICH PAUL IS TEACHING US BY THIS TEXT.

21. The first is this, make sure of your apprehension by Christ Jesus, so that you can talk like Paul about it, “That for which I am apprehended.” Pray the Lord that you may feel his hand on your shoulder, that you may feel his grace in your heart, his blessed fetters on your feet, his divine manacles on your wrists. Pray that you may have no doubt about it; but may know for certain that the Lord has arrested you.

22. This being known, do not let it make you idle. Do not say, “Christ has arrested me; I am saved; nothing more is needed.” No. For what has he arrested you for? He has a purpose in it. That arrest was only the beginning of a great life-work. Do not let it make you idle; but let it be your encouragement. If Christ has arrested you to be holy, he will make you holy. If Christ has arrested you for usefulness, be confident in seeking it. If Christ has arrested you to make you an eternal monument of his grace, believe that you will be, and press forward to the mark for the prize of your high calling.

23. Finally, let this lead you to hope for the salvation of others. Go forward hopefully in your service for others. Teach that Sunday School class with a firm belief that you were apprehended on purpose so that John and Tom might be converted. Go and teach the girls, and say, “I was apprehended to bring Mary, and Jane, and Louisa to Christ”; and do not be at all doubtful about it. This is the purpose of God; expect it to be accomplished. Go to your street corner, my beloved brother, and preach away still, even when the mob disturbs you. Go from door to door with your tracts, even though they may be thrown in your face. Go, city missionaries and Bible women, to your holy and righteous toil. Go each one of you to the work for which God has apprehended you, for since the Lord has apprehended you, it is for a purpose; and do not rest until that purpose is fully served.

24. May the Lord arrest some sinners tonight! Pray, as you go down the aisles, “Lord, arrest them! Bring them to your dear feet, and save them tonight, for Jesus’ sake!” Amen.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Aspirations for Heaven — The Church Triumphant” 852}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Revivals and Missions — Awake, Oh Arm Of The Lord” 964}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — Jesus, Reign In Us” 803}

{a} Smithfield: The place where the fires that Queen Mary (1553-1558) ordered to be lit to put to death such Protestant leaders and men of influence as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer and Hooper, but also hundreds of lesser men who refused to adopt the Catholic faith. See Explorer "http://www.britannia.com/history/narrefhist3.html"

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Php 3}

The Holy Spirit inspired this Epistle by the pen of his servant Paul. May he also write it on our hearts!

1. Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.

When you get to “finally,” when you are very near the end of your journey, still “rejoice in the Lord.” “Finally,” says Paul, as if this was the end of his epistle, the conclusion of all his teaching: “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” But never do it finally, never come to an end of it. Rejoice in the Lord, and yet again rejoice, and yet again rejoice; and as long as you live, rejoice in the Lord.

1. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.

Some hearers are like the Athenian academics; they continually want to hear something new. The apostle says, “To have the same things written to you, is safe.” So it is for you, dear friends; to have the same gospel, the same Jesus, the same Holy Spirit, made known to you, is safe. New doctrine is dangerous doctrine.

2. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers,

They are like dogs. If they fawn over you, they will foul you with mire, if they do not bite you.

2, 3. Beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

There were some who had confidence in circumcision, who greatly troubled Paul. The apostle says that they were “the concision,” the cutters-off, of whom he would have the Philippians beware.

4. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinks that he has anything that he might trust in the flesh, I more:

If any man might have had confidence in the flesh, truly Paul might.

5, 6. Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is by the law, blameless.

So that I do not know what more he could have had. If a Jew had tried to select a man who had something to glory in, he could not have picked any man to stand ahead of Paul. He was truly a Jew, he had received the initiatory rite, and on the right day. He was born into the innermost tribe, the tribe of Benjamin, in whose country stood the temple itself. He was a Pharisee, who pushed the law to the extreme; he tithed his mint and his cummin. No one could have anything to glory in which Paul did not have.

7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

So that, when we come to Christ, whatever we have to trust in, we must put away. We must write it on the other side of the ledger. We had entered it as a gain; now we must record it as a loss; it is of no value whatever, it is a loss if it shall tempt us to trust any less in Christ.

8. Yes doubtless, and I consider all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord:

Those are sweet words, “my Lord.” Remember how Thomas cried, in ecstasy, “My Lord and my God.” Paul, by faith putting his finger into the prints of the nails, says, “My Lord.”

8, 9. For whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and consider them only dung, so that I may win Christ, and be found in him,

Oh, what a precious place to be found in, “in him,” trusting in him, hidden away in him, a member of his body, as it were, losing myself in him!

9. Not having my own righteousness, which is by the law,

He does not say, not trusting it, but not even having it, not counting it, not thinking it worth while to list among his possessions what he once prized so much.

9, 10. But what is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith: that I may know him,

Paul means, “That I may know him more than I now do”; for he knew him, and delighted in him; but he felt as if he had not begun really to know Christ. He was like a child at school, who has learned to read and to write, and knows so much that he begins to want to know more.

10, 11. And the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death; if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead.

He knew that all the dead would rise again; but he aspired to the first resurrection: “The rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”

12, 13. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not consider myself to have apprehended:

He did consider himself as saved, he knew that he was Christ’s; but he did not consider himself as having experienced all that Christ meant to do for him and by him. He did not consider that he had reached as far as he could reach, or learned all that he could learn, or done all that he could do.

13, 14. But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching out to those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

You have seen a man running very fast. How he leans forward, as though he would send his heart before him, and go quicker than his legs can carry him! So did the apostle “press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

15, 16. Let us, therefore, as many as are perfect, be so minded: and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to what degree we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

Let us keep all the good that we have received; let us not give up the truth that we have learned; let us not leave the way along which we have travelled so far; and let us keep together, let perfect unanimity prove that the work of grace is going on in one as well as in another.

17. Brethren, be followers together of me,

In these days, certain people find fault with Paul, and speak of him as if he were not inspired, and not to be followed as Christ was; but here he expressly says what no man like Paul would ever say unless moved by the Holy Spirit, for he was modest, and by no means anxious to push himself forward: “Brethren, be followers together of me.”

17. And mark those who walk so as you have us for an example.

Mark them, but do not follow them. See how they walk, but do not imitate them: “Have us for an example.”

18. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:

I lay a stress on the article: “They are the enemies of the cross of Christ.” Professors of religion, who get into the church, and yet lead ungodly lives, are the worst enemies that the cross of Christ has. These are the kind of men who bring tears into the minister’s eyes; these are those who break his heart; they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.

19. Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

“Who mind earthly things,” — even when they profess to be minding spiritual things; pretending to be followers of Christ up to heaven, and yet really making a gain of the things of God here below.

20. For our citizenship is in heaven;

Can you say that, dear friend? Is your citizenship in heaven? Is your conversation there? Do you often commune with your Lord on the throne? Judge yourselves whether it is so or not. It is a very poor thing to have a name to be in heaven, and yet never to have any conversation with heaven. I wish that we could all say that we talk more to God than we do to men, and have more business upward than we have here below.

20. From where also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

He is coming! He is coming! Are we looking for him? This is the true position of the Christian, looking for the appearing of his Lord.

21. Who shall change our vile body,

“The body of our humiliation.” We have only part of the redemption while we are here. The soul is regenerated, newly-born; but the body is not. “The body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” The redemption of the purchased possession will be perfect at the resurrection. The resurrection will be, to the body, what regeneration is to the soul. We sometimes wonder why we are sick, when Christ could make us well in a moment; but the reason is that, as yet, he has not fully brought his divine power to bear on the body. That is to happen eventually; we are waiting for the Saviour, “who shall change our vile body.”

21. That it may be formed like his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself.

May he show some part of that blessed power in us tonight! Amen.

The Christian, Aspirations for Heaven
852 — The Church Triumphant
1 Give me the wings of faith to rise
      Within the veil, and see
   The saints above, how great their joys,
      How bright their glories be.
2 Once they were mourning here below,
      And wet their couch with tears;
   They wrestled hard, as we do now,
      With sins, and doubts, and fears.
3 I ask them whence their victory came?
      They, with united breath,
   Ascribe their conquest to the Lamb,
      Their triumph to his death.
4 They mark’d the footsteps that he trod,
      His zeal inspired their breast,
   And, following their incarnate God,
      Possess the promised rest.
5 Our glorious Leader claims our praise
      For his own pattern given,
   While the long cloud of witnesses
      Show the same path to heaven.
                        Isaac Watts, 1709.

Public Worship, Revivals and Missions
964 — Awake, Oh Arm Of The Lord
1 Arm of the Lord! awake! awake!
   Put on thy strength, the nations shake:
   And let the world, adoring, see
   Triumphs of mercy wrought by thee.
2 Say to the heathen, from thy throne,
   “I am Jehovah, God alone!”
   Thy voice their idols shall confound,
   And cast their altars to the ground.
3 No more let human blood be spilt,
   Vain sacrifice for human guilt;
   But to each conscience be applied
   The blood that flow’d from Jesus’ side.
4 Arm of the lord, thy power extend;
   Let Mahomet’s imposture end;
   Break papal superstition’s chain,
   And the proud scoffer’s rage restrain.
5 Let Zion’s time of favour come:
   Oh bring the tribes of Israel home:
   And let our wondering eyes behold
   Gentiles and Jews in Jesus’ fold.
6 Almighty God! thy grace proclaim
   In every clime of every name;
   Let adverse powers before thee fall,
   And crown the Saviour, Lord of all.
                  William Shrubsole, 1795.

The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
803 — Jesus, Reign In Us <8.7.>
1 Jesus, whose almighty sceptre
      Rules creation all around,
   In whose bowels love and mercy,
      Grace, and pity, full are found.
2 In my spirit rule and conquer,
      There set up eternal throne;
   Win my heart from every creature,
      Thee to love, and thee alone.
3 In thy bleeding wounds most happy,
      Nought will do for wretched me,
   But a Saviour full of mercy,
      Dying, innocent, and free.
4 Climb, my soul, unto the mountain,
      Ever-blessed Calvary,
   See the sounded Victim bleeding
      Nailed to a cursed tree.
5 Love to miserable sinners,
      Love unfathom’d love to death,
   Was the only end and motive,
      To resign his gracious breath.
                  William Williams, 1772.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

Terms of Use

Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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