Thursday, October 15, 2020

86. Philippians and Colossians

Philippians and Colossians (Thru the Bible #48) J. Vernon McGee. 1993. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians is one of the Prison Epistles. Paul wrote four epistles when he was in prison, and we have labeled them Prison Epistles.

I am reading the Bible in 2020 using the daily M'Cheyne (Robert Murray M'Cheyne) plan. I thought it would add a layer of substance to in addition to the four chapters a day, to also read commentaries for those chapters. For that I am using Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. But the plan goes through the New Testament (and Psalms, I believe) twice. So now that I've finished Henry's commentary for the New Testament, I am tackling the New Testament commentary section of J. Vernon McGee's series.

This is not my first time reading J. Vernon McGee. I've read probably twenty or so of his commentaries. Most recently Ephesians.

Overall, I like his laidback, casual, straightforward, tell it like it is approach to teaching Scripture. There is something so grounded and down to earth about him. Each reader is "his" friend. It's hard not to feel like he is a friend too.

In this book, he is combining his commentary for Philippians AND Colossians. I suppose this makes sense because both books together are just eight chapters of Scripture. And also both epistles are prison epistles written by Paul. Still I am a bit used to reading commentaries focused on just one book of the bible at a time!

Quotes from Philippians:
  • I believe the little phrase in Christ comprises the most important words that we have in the New Testament. He explained words like propitiation and reconciliation and redemption. These are all marvelous words, and they are all Bible words, but not one of them covers the entire spectrum of salvation. The Spirit of God chose just one little word, the preposition in, to explain what salvation is. It is to be in Christ. How do you get in Christ? You get in Christ when you accept Him as your Savior.
  • Although the word joy appears nineteen times in this epistle, I have never felt that it should be called the “joy epistle.” If we are going to pick out the word that occurs more than any other word, we must take the name of Jesus Christ. His name appears over forty times in this epistle. He is the center of the epistle. He is the One who is the very source of joy. Therefore, the emphasis should be put upon Him rather than upon the joy.
  • I don’t know what your circumstances are, but if you are a child of God, I am sure you can testify that God has brought you up to the present moment, hasn’t He? Can’t you look back over your life and see how He has led you and provided for you? Then why should you be concerned about tomorrow?
  • So many times we Christians act like unbelievers. In fact, we live and act like practical atheists.
  • We are to love all believers in Christ. Some of the believers are a little difficult to love. Some of our friends are even difficult to love. We are to love the unlovely, but we are to love with knowledge and with discernment. That does not mean we just let our love slop over on every side. It is to abound with discernment.
  • I am a little rough on female preachers because I believe they are unscriptural, but, as I have said on several occasions, some women are preaching Christ better than the average male preacher. What is my position? I rejoice and thank God that Christ is being preached.
  • Dr. William L. Pettingill used to say that gain is always more of the same thing. If to live is Christ, then to die would be more of Christ.
  • I am convinced that the most important thing in my life as a Christian is to have the reality of Jesus Christ in my life. This is not too popular today. People would rather talk about being dedicated, wanting to serve Him, or doing this and that. But the most important thing is to have fellowship with Him so that your joy might be full. 
  • “Others?” is the key to this passage. It is the Christian faith which first made that word others important. Why did Christ come from heaven’s glory to this earth? It was for others. Why should we carry the gospel? For others. To think of others rather than ourselves is having the mind of Christ.
  • You and I can’t be humble. We can’t be meek. We are not made that way. We want to stand on our own two feet and have our little say. All of us are like that. Don’t say you are not, because you really are. None of us wants to be offended. None of us wants to be ignored. We develop hang-ups if we are brought up in such a way that we have been trampled on.
  • Today we often rejoice over the wrong things. We need to rejoice over the fact that Jesus died for us and that we can serve Him.
  • My friend, the problem is that we don’t get back to the Word of God. It is the Word of God that reveals Christ and the mind of Christ.
  • I would think one of the reasons that the Spirit of God did not let Paul end this epistle when he wrote in 3:1, “Finally, my brethren,” was because He wanted to let us know today that there is power for Christian living. We need to know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
  • Rejoice in the Lord always. That means regardless of the day, whether it is dark or bright, whether it is difficult or easy, whether it brings problems and temptations or clear sailing on cloud nine. We are commanded to rejoice. He repeats it, in case we missed it the first time: “again I say, Rejoice.”
  • God has given to us richly all things to enjoy, and to enjoy means to rejoice. That’s your strength, that’s your power. You can’t be a Christian with power without joy—that’s what gets up the steam. Joy is the source of power.
  • If we are going to ride a hobbyhorse, let Him be the hobbyhorse. “Let your sweet reasonableness be known unto all men.”
  • “Be careful for nothing” is sometimes translated: Be anxious for nothing, or not overly anxious. The fact of the matter is that Paul seems to be making a play upon two indefinite pronouns: nothing and everything. Let me give you my translation, which I call the McGee-icus Ad Absurdum. It goes like this: “Worry about nothing; pray about everything.” Prayer is the secret of power. Paul says that we are to worry about nothing because we are to pray about everything. Nothing is the most exclusive word in the English language. It leaves out everything. “Worry about nothing.” But the reason we are to worry about nothing is because we are to pray about everything. This means that we are to talk to the Lord about everything in our lives. Nothing should be left out.
  • God has a lot of spoiled children. When He says no to them, they pout and say, “I have unanswered prayers.” You don’t have unanswered prayers. God always hears and answers your prayers.
  • When a wheel comes off your wagon, it may look like an impossible problem to you, but He will hear and answer your cry. If He says no, it is because that is the best answer you could have.
  • If a Christian is going to spend his time with the dirt and filth and questionable things of this world, there will not be power in his life. The reason we have so many weak Christians is that they spend their time with the things of the world, filling their minds and hearts and tummies with the things of this world.
  • We need a sanctuary. We need something to think upon that will clean up our minds. Here are some questions to think about: How much time do you spend with the Word of God? How much time do you spend contemplating Christ? “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). The Word of God is a mirror, and in it we behold the glory of the Lord. The only way you can behold the living Christ is in the Word of God. As you behold Him, there is a liberty, a freedom, and a growth that He gives you. You cannot come by it in any other way.
  • I am amazed at how easily Christians are taken in by every wind of doctrine that comes along. They are not able to discern truth and error. The one explanation, as I have pondered it in my mind, is ignorance of the Word of God. To have power in our lives we must contemplate the person of Jesus Christ, contemplating Him in the Word of God.
  • My friend, only the Word of God can bring strength to you. You need physical food when you are weak; you need bread and meat to give you strength. The Word of God is your spiritual bread and meat. The only way to grow spiritually is to spend time in the Word of God. It is the Word that reveals Jesus Christ. I believe He is on every page of Scripture if only we have eyes to see Him.
  • I think one of the things that will cause believers to be ashamed at the appearing of Christ will be their ignorance of the Scriptures when they stand in His presence. I’m of the opinion He will say to many of us, “I gave you all the information you needed in the Scriptures. You didn’t listen to Me; you didn’t hear Me.” We say that one of the problems with our children is that they don’t listen to their parents. The problem with the children of God is that they don’t listen to their heavenly Father.
  • Paul says, “I can do all things in Christ”—that is, in the context of the will of Christ for your life. Whatever Christ has for you to do, He will supply the power. Whatever gift He gives you, He will give the power to exercise that gift. A gift is a manifestation of the Spirit of God in the life of the believer. As long as you function in Christ, you will have power.
  • You see, I can’t do all things, but I can do all things which God has for me to do from the time He saved me to the time He will take me out of this world. Christ is the One who will strengthen you and enable you to do all that is in His will for you. He certainly does not mean that He is putting into your hands unlimited power to do anything you want to do. Rather, He will give you the enablement to do all things in the context of His will for you.
  • Don’t stop with the Gospel of John, wonderful as it is. There are sixty-five other books in the Bible. If you get the total Word of God, you will get the total will of God for this life, and you will have a basis on which you can operate. There is joy, there is satisfaction and sheer delight in being in the will of God and doing what God wants you to do.
Quotes from Colossians:
  • You haven’t really heard the gospel until you have heard something to believe. The gospel is not something for us to do. It tells what He did for you and for me over nineteen hundred years ago. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Faith is not a leap in the dark. It rests upon historical facts; it is believing God.
  • The world is looking to see whether Christians love each other or not. It is hypocrisy to consider oneself a Christian and then not to demonstrate love for the brethren. If we have disagreements with our brethren, we are to bear with them, we are to pray for them, and we are to love them. Remember that a Christian is a sinner saved by grace.
  • Love is for the present, it is true, but it is also going to make it into eternity. It is very important that we begin to exhibit love down here upon this earth, don’t you agree?
  • “Increasing in the knowledge of God.” A Christian should not be static but alive and growing in the Word of God.
  • Notice that all things are going to acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ—all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth. That doesn’t mean that they are all reconciled. Paul makes no mention of things under the earth being reconciled to God. My friend, don’t listen to the deception, the siren song, that all is going to work out well. Don’t think you can depend on God being nice and sweet and pleasant like a little old lady. Things in heaven and in earth are reconciled to God, but not the things under the earth. The things under the earth will have to bow to Him, but they are not reconciled to Him at all. This is the place and this is the life in which we need to be reconciled to God.
  • “Things in heaven”—not only must we be made ready for heaven, but heaven must be made ready to receive us. The Lord Jesus said, “… I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). By the Incarnation God came down to man; by the blood of Jesus man is brought up to God. This blood also purifies things in heaven according to Hebrews 9:23–24. Heaven must also be reconciled.
  • A great many people think that men are lost because they have committed some terrible sin. The reason people are lost is that their minds are alienated from God. I think this explains the fierce antagonism toward God on the part of the so-called intellectuals of our day. There is an open hatred and hostility toward God.
  • You and I cannot present perfection to God, and God cannot accept anything short of perfection. That is the reason we cannot be saved by our works or by our character. We simply cannot meet the demands of a righteous God.
  • But He is able to present us unblameable. Why? Because He took our place. “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” (2 Cor. 5:21).
  • He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, and none of us can enter into that suffering at all. We can appropriate His death for us, we can recognize the fact that He took our place, but we cannot enter into it. He alone went to the cross. He was forsaken of God and forsaken by men. His was not the blood of martyrdom; His was the blood of sacrifice.
  • The gospel is not what we preach, but it is whom we preach. No man has ever preached the gospel who hasn’t preached Christ. Jesus Christ is the gospel. He is eternal life.
  • On one extreme Christianity is in danger of evaporating into a philosophy—then it becomes nothing but steam. The opposite danger is that it will freeze into a form and become nothing more than a ritual. There is a real peril on either side.
  • Walking is not a balloon ascension. A great many people think the Christian life is some great, overwhelming experience and you take off like a rocket going out into space. That’s not where you live the Christian life. Rather, it is in your home, in your office, in the schoolroom, on the street. The way you get around in this life is to walk. You are to walk in Christ.
  • “Complete” is a nautical term, and it could be translated in this very vivid way: You are ready for the voyage of life in Him. Isn’t that a wonderful way of saying it? You are ready for the voyage of life in Christ, and whatever you need for the voyage of life you will find in Him.
  • When Christ died you and I died with Him; He took our place. And when He was raised, we were raised in Him, and we are now joined to a living Christ. It is so important for us to see that we are joined to a living Savior.
  • Dedication is Christ preeminent in our lives. You cannot just say, “I am a dedicated Christian,” and then live your life as you please as a great many people are trying to do today. No, if Christ is preeminent in your life, then you are going to live out His life down here on earth.
  • What are we to do today? We are to “seek those things which are above.” Seek is an interesting word. It actually means “having an urgency and a desire and an ambition.” There should be an excitement that goes with seeking spiritual things.
  • I believe with all my heart that the Bible is the one Book which reveals the living Christ, and that is my purpose in teaching it.
  • My friend, when you read the Bible, you are not looking at a dead person. You are looking at the real, living Christ. He is the One at God’s right hand. We are to seek those things which are above—we are to seek Him. That is why I have a ministry of teaching through the Bible. There is no shortcut.
  • Real study of the Word of God will get you through to the living Christ.
  • You died more than nineteen hundred years ago when Christ died. He took my place; He took your place. We died in Him. “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” I have been taken out of the old Adam by baptism; that is, by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I have been taken out of Adam and placed in Christ. I am now in Christ. Now that I am in Christ, I should live out His life and let His fullness be lived out through me.
  • Christ was born as a little Babe in Bethlehem, but He is no longer in that inn. He is up yonder at God’s right hand at this very moment. He’s on a throne—not in a cradle and not in an inn but in heaven itself. And He’s there for you and me today. Now, if you are in Christ, if you have accepted Him as your Savior, then that is going to show in your life down here.
  • It’s like the little boy whose mama called to him one night when she heard him in the kitchen, “Where are you?” He said, “I’m in the pantry.” He had the cookie jar open. She called, “What are you doing?” He answered, “I’m fighting temptation!” My friend, that is the wrong place to fight temptation. Don’t fight it there at the cookie jar, if you’re not to have the cookies.
  • Oh, my friend, do we put Him first? Or are we engaged in the very things that the world is engaged in and for which God intends to judge them? Well, how then can we expect that we shall escape the judgment of God?
  • The best Saturday night bath that you can take is to study the Word of God.
  • We should be familiar with the Word of God. The Bible should not be a strange book to you as it is to so many people today.
  • “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”—let it be at home. Know Him. Be familiar with the Word of Christ; study it and know what He’s saying to you. That is where He is going to speak to you today, my friend—in His Word.
  • Do you want a norm for Christian conduct? Do you want a standard to go by? Do you want a principle rather than a lot of little rules? Paul gives us such a principle here. He does not say what we should or should not do. He simply says, “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
  • Don’t look to the Babe in Bethlehem. Go to the living Christ who is at God’s right hand.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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