“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
I love the way Paul closed his letter to the Philippians (4:21-23). The apostle called all the believers “saints.” So, if we’re in Christ, we’re saints. That’s way cool.
Do we then, as saints, enjoy any perks? Indeed we do.
We enjoy the perk of security.
When Paul referred to “every saint” (4:21), I think he was making a point: Security in Christ is the present possession of every Christian person. This was an Old Testament promise coming to life (Isaiah 27:12): “You will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel!”
I’m so glad that, though Jesus was moved by compassion for the multitudes, He went after people one by one.
We also enjoy the perk of solidarity.
Via this letter, the church at Rome – this time Paul said “all the saints” (4:22) – was sending its love to the church at Philippi. The church is not just individuals – but a united body!
Guy H. King preached in 1952: “The Christian songster is not just a soloist, but a member of a choir! The Christian soldier is not just a solitary figure, but a member of an army! The Christian scholar is not just a privately tutored learner, but a member of a school! The Christian son is not just a lonely child, but a member of a family! The Christian sprinter is not just an individual performer, but a member of a team!”
In one Spirit we were all baptized into one body (First Corinthians 12:13).
And we enjoy the perk of surprise.
Paul even included “those of Caesar’s household” in his greeting. “Especially those!”
Paul is including the whole range of imperial employees. Not just Caesar’s family, but his slaves, his army, and his officials. Even the people among whom the fad of emperor worship would be most prevalent. The soldiers have noticed Paul. Some inside the walls have come to faith in Christ. You can almost hear Paul dictating Ephesians: “Put on the full armor of God.”
Paul is showing us the power of the gospel, even in the halls of power. He’s showing us the power of the Spirit to change sinners of all stripes. Paul doesn’t want the church to be bummed out because of his imprisonment.
It’s even happening in Nero’s house. There are believers in the emperor’s own household! In this mad, mean, crazy man’s house there are now Christians. Jerome will report in a couple hundred years that Nero’s wife became a Christian. Just thirty years after the crucifixion of Jesus, this persecuted minority has converts in the upper echelons of the Roman Empire.
About 130 years after Paul wrote these words – in A.D. 197 – Tertullian will write a letter to Roman citizens saying: “We are but of yesterday, but we have filled your empire. Your cities, your islands, your forts, your towns, your marketplaces, your very military camps and wards and companies, and palace and senate and forum – all of these swarm with Christians. We have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods. They are the only places that you can name in your empire where there are not Christians.”
We need to think about this the next time we feel tempted to conclude that we live in too dark a place to open our mouths for the Lord Jesus.
“With your spirit.”
That’s what I pray for you today, Beloved: that God’s grace will be poured out on and in you until it permeates the very core of your being. Charles H. Spurgeon said it like this: “Little faith may bring your souls to Heaven, but great faith will bring Heaven to your souls.”
And Annie Johnson Flint like this:
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He sendeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth … and giveth … and giveth again!