Therefore, my brothers dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
(Text in connection with chap. Philippians 3:20, 21): — Every doctrine has its practical bearing. Hence you find Paul full of "therefores" — conclusions drawn from statements of Divine truth. The Lord is coming to glorify His people; let us therefore keep our posts until the coming of the great Captain shall release the sentinels.
I. Paul joyfully perceived that HIS BELOVED CONVERTS WERE IN THEIR RIGHT PLACE. It is important that we should begin well. The start is not everything, but it is a great deal. "Well begun is half done." We must enter the strait gate, and begin at the right point. Many slips and falls are due to not being right at first, a flaw in the foundation will make a crack in the superstructure.
1. The only position in which we can begin aright is "in the Lord." It is a very good thing to be in the Church, but if you are not in the Lord first you are out of place What is it to be "in the Lord"?
(1) When we fly to Him by repentance and faith and make Him our refuge and hiding place. Are you in Him? You can have no better hiding place; in fact, there is no other.
(2) When we are in Christ as to our daily life; whatever we eat or drink, doing all in His Name.
(3) By a real vital, union. In Him and in Him only is our spiritual life sustained, just as it can only be received from Him.
(4) Christ has become our element, vital and all-surrounding. We are in Christ as birds are in the air which buoys them up and enables them to fly; as fish are in the sea.
2. Because they were in Christ, therefore —
(1) They were Paul's brethren. Many of them were Gentiles whom Paul would once have regarded as dogs. But now as Christ was not ashamed to call them brethren, neither was Paul.
(2) They were his dearly beloved, the repetition of which makes it mean "My doubly dear ones."(3) His longed for — his most desired ones. He first desired to see them converted, then baptized, then exhibiting all the graces. He desired their company because they were in Christ.
(4) His joy and crown. Paul had been the means of their salvation. The minister's highest joy is that the brands snatched by him from the burning are now living to the praise of the Lord Jesus.
II. PAUL LONGED THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR PLACE. The beginning of religion is not the whole of it. Precious are the feelings which attend conversion, but dream not that repentance, faith, etc., are for a season and then all is done with. In conversion you have started in the race, and you must run to the, end. In your confession of Christ you have carried your tools into the vineyard, but the day's work now begins. "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." The difference between the spurious and the real Christian is this staying power.
1. Stand fast doctrinally. In this age all the ships are pulling up their anchors, drifting with the tide, driven about with every wind. It is your wisdom to put down these anchors. We will hearken to no teaching but that of the Lord Jesus.
2. Practically stand fast. The barriers are broken down; they would amalgamate Church and world: yes, even Church and stage, and combine God and devil in one service. "Come out from among them," etc. Strive together to maintain the purity of Christ's disciples.
3. Stand fast experimentally. Pray that your inward experience may be close adhesion to your Master.
4. Stand fast in the Lord without wishing for another trust. What way of salvation do we seek but that of grace? what security but the precious blood?
5. Stand fast without wavering. Permit no doubt to worry you.
6. Stand fast without wandering. Keep close to the example and spirit of your Master, and having done all to stand.
7. Stand fast without wearying. You are tired; take a little rest and brush up again. You cry, I cannot see results. Wait for them. Practice perseverance.
8. Stand fast without warping. Timber, when it is rather green, is apt to go this way or that. The spiritual weather is very bad just now for green wood: it is one day damp with superstition, and another parched with scepticism.
III. PAUL URGED THE BEST MOTIVES FOR THEIR STANDING FAST.
1. Because of your citizenship (Philippians 3:20). Men ought to behave themselves according to their citizenship, and not dishonour their city.
2. Because of their outlook. Jesus is coming not as judge or destroyer, but as Saviour. Now if we look for Him we must stand fast. There must be no going into sin, no forsaking the fellowship of the Church, leaving the truth, playing fast and loose with godliness, running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. Let us so stand fast that when Jesus comes we may be able to say "Welcome."
3. Because of their expectation of being transformed into the likeness of Christ's glorious body.
4. Because of our resources. "According to the power," etc.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.