One of the most quoted verses in all of Scripture is Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” The verse is often used to assume that anything we purpose to do, anything that we set out for we can accomplish through Christ. But is that really what the verse is talking about? The answer to that question is ‘no’ that is not what this verse is talking about.
When we look at Scripture we must always look to the context of the passage and this verse is no different. So what is the context of Philippians 4:13?
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:10-13 English Standard Version
The immediate context shows that Paul is referring to being able to do all things through Christ no matter what the circumstances are that he has been put into. It is a verse that gives hope in suffering and trials. It is not a verse to say that we can accomplish anything we set our minds on.
So whenever someone uses this verse we need to ask ourselves, “How are they using this verse?” Is the verse being used properly based on its context or is it being, as it often is, taken out of context?
At the beginning of Philippians chapter three, Paul tells the church to rejoice in the Lord. Now, this doesn’t seem extraordinary because we know we are to rejoice in the Lord. That is a theme we see over and over in Scripture. But what is extraordinary about this instance is what we have seen discussed in the first two chapters of the letter.
In chapter one, Paul talks about his personal suffering for the Gospel. He does not know whether he is going to live or die. But whichever way it is, he is going to count it as gain and rejoice. And in chapter two, he talks about the suffering of Christ on the cross for the glory of God and for our salvation. He further discusses the trials that have awaited him and also Christ’s servant, Epaphroditus, and how he almost died in the service of Christ.
And after all of this, Paul says to rejoice in the Lord. Why? Because the Gospel has advanced, Christ is exalted, and God is glorified. That is the key, the advancement of the Gospel, the exaltation of Jesus Christ and the glory of God. That is what our lives are to be all about. That is to be the focus.
After all, Romans 11:36 says:
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV)
Everything in this life is to be for Christ. For God. For His Kingdom and for His purposes. We are not our own. We are merely servants, vessels to be used for His glory. Let us not forget what our role is and to spend today and each day rejoicing in the Lord.
I have been studying the book of Philippians for a few weeks now and something in Chapter One stood out to me like it has not before in the past. Paul is writing that famous verse, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I’ve heard that verse all my life, I have always known what it meant, but did I truly know what it means? Well now I do.
The following verses are so beautiful as Paul shows his great love for the church and the people of God. He says that he is hard pressed between the choices of going to heaven and seeing the savior, or to continue the work of the Lord here on earth. What a statement!
So often we get caught up in our yearning to see the savior that I think we honestly forget why he has us here in the first place. There is work to be done. We should be glad that we are here to continually serve others for Christ.
One of the challenged points of Calvinism is that of Sovereign (unconditional) election. This states that God has chosen some to be saved and passed over others. People challenge this as unfair, unjust, or just plain unbiblical. So do we see any examples of Sovereign Election in Scripture? Of course we do.
In the Exodus story we see the tenth plague, the plague of death. Exodus 11 says the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart against Israel and he did not let them go. Then, in chapter 12, he gives Moses, and by extension Israel, the instructions on how to be passed over by death. These instructions were not given to the Egyptians. They were not chosen to be saved.
The result of this was that the firstborn children of Egypt died that night. Paul even addresses this in Romans 9. Was God unfair? Was God unjust?
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
Romans 9:14-18 ESV
God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy. God chose not to have mercy on Egypt. The same way, God chooses not to have mercy on some people today but others he calls by his Sovereign choice to come to a saving faith in Him.
False teachers abound in the church today. From “Prosperity Doctrine,” to the denial of Christ’s Deity, you do not have to search long or hard for these glaring errors. So how should we handle false teacher? Does Scripture give us any indication as to how we should proceed? The answer is an overwhelming YES! In fact, false teachers were a major problem in the New Testament as well and there is plenty of instruction on what we should do. Continue reading →