How to Get Along with Other Questions

Tuesday: Christian Doctrine and Life

In this week’s lessons, we learn how to maintain unity with other believers.
Christian Doctrine and Life

Bishop Handley Moule, who is one of the great commentators on the book of Philippians, has written some wonderful words on this point of having the mind of Christ. He lived in the last century, and some of his language is a bit archaic. But he is so good and this is so practical that I want to share his thoughts with you. He writes: 

St. Paul is not here, as elsewhere in his letters, combating an error of faith; he is pleading for a life of love. He has full in view the temptations which threatened to mar the happy harmony of Christian fellowship at Philippi. His longing is that they should be “of one accord, of one mind”; and that in order to that blessed end they should each forget himself and remember others. He appeals to them by many motives; by their common share in Christ, and in the Spirit, and by the simple plea of their affection for himself. But then—there is one plea more; it is “the mind that was in Christ Jesus,” when “for us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and was made Man, and suffered for us.” Here was at once model and motive for the Philippian saints; for Euodia, and Syntyche, and every individual, and every group. Nothing short of the “mind” of the Head must be the mind of the member; and then the glory of Christ (so it is implied) shall be shed hereafter upon the member too: “I will grant to him to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne.” 

What a comment this is. Moule then writes upon that fallacy of religious thought which would dismiss Christian doctrine to the region of theorists and dreamers in favor of the Christian life: 

Christian doctrine, rightly so called, is simply the articulate statement, according to the Scriptures, of eternal and vital facts, that we may live by them. The passage before us is charged to the brim with the doctrine of the Person and Natures of Christ. And why? It is in order that the Christian, tempted to a self-asserting life, may “look upon the things of others,” for the reason that this supreme Fact, his Saviour, is in fact thus and thus, and did in fact think and act thus and thus for His people. Without the facts, which are the doctrine, we might have had abundant rhetoric in St. Paul’s appeal for unselfishness and harmony; but where would have been the mighty lever for the affections and the will? 

Oh reason of reasons, argument of arguments—the Lord Jesus Christ! Nothing in Christianity lies really outside Him. His Person and His Work embody all its dogmatic teaching. His Example, “His love which passeth knowledge,” is the sum and life of all its morality. Well has it been said that the whole Gospel message is conveyed to us sinners in those three words, “Looking unto Jesus.” Is it pardon we need, is it acceptance, free as the love of God, holy as His law? We find it, we possess it, it possesses us, as we “look unto Jesus” risen and reigning, for us on the Throne, with us in the soul. Is it rule and model that we want, not written on the stones of Horeb only, but “on the fleshy tables of the heart”? We find it, we receive it, we yield ourselves up to it, as we “look unto Jesus” in His path of love, from the Throne to the Cross, from the Cross to the Throne, till the Spirit inscribes that law upon our inmost wills.1

Bishop Moule speaks the truth, and he points us correctly to the Lord Jesus as the Christian’s example.

1H. C. G. Moule, Philippian Studies (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1975), 102-104. Originally published 1927.

Study Questions
  1. In Philippians 4, Paul wants to exhort the church to a life of love, as opposed to arguing against a particular theological error. Where in Philippians do we see Paul contending for doctrinal orthodoxy, and what is the issue?
  2. How do people today emphasize the practical aspect of Christianity at the expense of doctrine?

Application: Is there any relationship in your life for which you need to have a greater presence of the mind of Christ?

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to Irfon Hughes’ message, “The Fellowship of the Saints.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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