CHRIST AS OUR PATTERN AND EXPRESSION
The subject of chapter two is taking Christ as our pattern (Phil. 2:5-11) and experiencing Christ as our expression (Phil. 2:12-16). When we take Him as our pattern, spontaneously we express that pattern.
CHRIST AS OUR GOAL AND SEEKING
In chapter one Christ is our life and our living, in chapter two Christ is our pattern and our expression, and in chapter three Christ is our goal and our seeking, our pursuit (vv. 12, 14). We all must have a goal, and our goal must be Christ. He is our seeking, our pursuit. Day after day we seek Christ. He is not only our destination but also our goal. Sometimes we may reach a certain destination but miss our goal. In shooting a gun, the bullet may reach the target, but it may not touch the center of the target. We have to run not only to reach the destination but to obtain the goal.
CHRIST AS OUR STRENGTH AND SECRET
In chapter four Christ is our strength (v. 13) and our secret (v. 12). Paul said, “I can do all things in Him who empowers me” (v. 13). In order to do anything, we need strength, and we also need to know the secret, the way, to accomplish a task. You may have a lot of strength, but if you do not have the secret, you may waste your strength. Even in tasks such as arranging plants in a house or hanging pictures on the wall, there is a certain way, a secret, to doing them. Christ is not only our strength so that we are able to do things; He is also our secret. A secret is not rigid or legal but very flexible. It is always flexible and readily available to be applied at any time and at any place.
EXPERIENCING CHRIST THROUGH THE BOUNTIFUL SUPPLY OF THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST
As Christians, we should enjoy Christ as our life, our living, our pattern, our expression, our goal, our seeking, our strength, and our secret. The way for us to enjoy and experience Christ as all of these items is through the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:19). The Spirit in this verse is called the Spirit of Jesus Christ. This Spirit is the consummated Spirit. In eternity past the Triune God had not passed through any processes. But in time, the Triune God passed through incarnation, human living, crucifixion, and resurrection. After all these processes, He became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45b), the consummated Spirit. This consummated Spirit is the consummation of the Triune God. Now, after all the processes, God is no longer “raw.” He has been processed, “cooked.” This “cooked” Triune God as the Spirit is the consummation of the Triune God.
After His resurrection and before His ascension, the Lord Jesus came back to the disciples and said, “Go…disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). In the entire Bible, this is the first time the Triune God is mentioned in such a perfect and complete way. At this time, after resurrection, the Triune God had been consummated. In eternity past He was the Triune God, eternally perfect but not complete. He did not have the human nature and the experiences of human living, death, and resurrection. Through incarnation He put on human nature; thus, humanity was added to His divinity. He then passed through human living. That was wonderful, but He still had not experienced death. He entered into death and died an all-inclusive death, solving all the negative problems in this universe. From that time onward, the element of death has been with Him. Death in Adam is ugly, but the death accomplished by Christ is so dear, precious, sweet, and lovable. Now such a sweet death is with the Triune God.
After His resurrection, He came back to His disciples and breathed into them the consummated Spirit (John 20:22). This Spirit is not only the Spirit of God, but also the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7), and the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9). This Spirit as the consummated Spirit, the all-inclusive Spirit, is the consummation of the processed Triune God. Such a Spirit is now within us. The Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—is now in us (Eph. 4:6; 2 Cor. 13:5; Rom. 8:11). If we want to enjoy Christ and experience Christ, there is no other way except by the all-inclusive Spirit as our bountiful supply.
Paul said the Spirit of Jesus Christ had become his salvation (Phil. 1:19). From what did this Spirit save him? This Spirit did not save him from his bonds or chains; rather, this Spirit saved him from being weak, so that he could magnify Christ. By this Spirit, Paul in his imprisonment was able to magnify Christ without being defeated. This is salvation on the highest level. If we were taken by persecutors and threatened with death, we might pray, “Lord, save me from being martyred.” This kind of prayer indicates that we are already defeated. Instead, we should pray, “Lord, supply me with the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ that I may overcome such martyrdom.” This would be salvation on the highest level.
When I was a young Christian, my friends and relatives who did not love Christ would sometimes argue with me, saying: “Look at how much the Apostle Paul loved Christ. Did Christ save him from Roman imprisonment? Did Christ save him from being martyred? You should not believe in Him or love Him because He cannot be seen, and He can do nothing for you. Jesus Christ did nothing for the Apostle Paul, and he was martyred. Where is your salvation?” This salvation may not deliver us from martyrdom; rather, it gives us the victory in martyrdom.
In the 1930s as the Communists were spreading in China, they captured and martyred two missionaries. One of them said that the face of a martyr is an angel’s face, and his heart is a lion’s heart. This missionary experienced salvation to the uttermost. The Apostle Paul also enjoyed Christ even in the face of martyrdom through the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Paul might have prayed: “Lord, thank You that You have chosen me, commissioned me, and sent me. Caesar did not bring me here, but You have brought me here. Lord, I am willing and ready to be martyred. What a glory that I can die for You.” The Spirit of Jesus Christ became Paul’s top salvation.
We may have all kinds of situations in our married life, work life. and in our relationships with other brothers and sisters. These situations may cause us to be defeated. The only way not to be defeated is by the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
You may be without a job. If you pray for a job and the Lord gives you a job, you may be happy and say that your getting a job is your salvation. Actually, this is not salvation. On the other hand, suppose you lose your job and, being unable to find a job, have to look for two or three months. If you have the strength to overcome the suffering of losing a job in order to live and magnify Christ by the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, this is the top salvation.
Although the term the Spirit is short and simple, it denotes something which is all-inclusive. The Spirit is the secret of our victory. In human life, one of the most difficult things is to forgive people. To remember someone’s mistake is easy, but to forgive someone’s mistake is hard. To forgive means to forget. To forgive anyone’s offense to the extent that you forget requires the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
By this Spirit you take Christ as your life for your living. By this Spirit you take Christ as your pattern for your expression. By this Spirit you take Christ as your goal and your pursuit in seeking. By this Spirit you are really able to do all things in the One who strengthens you, and this is your secret.
(The Experience and Growth in Life, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)