Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi…
The ancient practice of correspondence had one very distinct advantage over our modern method. They signed their name at the beginning of the letter. Have you ever received a letter, perhaps two or three pages long, and had to flip through the pages to see the name at the end before you knew who the letter was from? The ancients were much more efficient, putting their name at the beginning.
The address of the letter is very distinctive: to the saints in Christ at Philippi. In Christ was the source of their lives. In Philippi was the sphere in which they lived it. Both are very important in this letter. For what these people would be as citizens in Philippi would be determined by who they were as Christians — in Christ.
As you read through this letter you will see that there are four major propositions that govern the Christian life. There is first of all those who are without Christ. There was a time when we all were without Christ, strangers, far-off, without any inheritance of our own. As Paul has written to the Ephesians, we were under the control of the God of this age, driven about by forces of which we were unaware, and we entered into the same concepts and lies that brainwash people everywhere. We were without Christ.
Then there came a time as with these Christians, when we were in Christ, that is, we entered into His Life and His Life entered into us by faith in His work and in His person. We became personally related to the living God. We didn’t merely exercise faith in what He did or said. We knew Him. We became part of Him, a vital part of His life. We were in Christ. If anyone be in Christ he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. All things become new.
Then as we go along in life we see the relationship connect in us of speaking and working and reaching out for Christ. That is, our lives are increasingly lived on His behalf. He becomes the focus of every activity. Then, finally, there will be that moment when, as it says in the old hymn, Face to face I shall behold Him. We shall be with Christ, forevermore.
These four propositions govern the Christian life. That life begins with our being in Christ, whether at Philippi or wherever God may lead us.
Thank you, Father, for placing me in Christ. Teach me to realize and lay hold of all that you have for me in Him.
If we have truly entered into Christ’s Life, and He into ours, are we moving toward the goal of serving others in His name and by the power of His indwelling Presence?