Wednesday, September 9, 2009

9/10- Phil. 4:1-3 Agreeing

(river outside Philippi where Lydia, the first European convert, was baptized. Baptism is a sign of our unity)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

1 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! 2 I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:1-3)

Calvin abridged: 4:1- “Therefore my brothers and sisters”- Paul endears himself to them by sincere appellations. “my joy and crown”- Paul was delighted to see those who had been won to the faith by him persevering in that faith. He hoped to attain the crown of triumph which the Lord gives to those things which have been accomplished under his guidance. “stand firm in the Lord”- by praising their current condition, he exhorts them to perseverance. 4:2- “I plead with Euodia and Syntyche”- It appears that these two women had excellent qualities for he calls them fellow soldiers in the gospel. Their agreement was very important, and their disagreement would be a great danger for the Church. We should note that when he speaks of agreement, he also speaks of the bond of it- in the Lord. Every concord will be accursed apart from the Lord. 4:3- “I ask you my true companion”- Paul is not speaking of his wife (as some contend) but probably of a male companion. “whose names are in the book of life”- The book of life is the roll of the righteous who are predestinated to life (cf. Ex. 32:32). The book is nothing else except His eternal counsel (Ps. 69:29). Some may say Paul is speaking rashly pronouncing the secrets of God. But we may in some measure for a judgment by the way God shows his election, but only in a limited sense. Therefore those in whom we see the marks of adoption, let us reckon them to be children of God until the books are opened (Rev. 20:12). It is true that God alone knows who are his (2 Tim. 2:19), and separates the lambs from the kids. But for now, it is charity to reckon all to be lambs who submit to Christ as their Shepherd, who go to and remain constantly in his fold. We should highly value the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Thoughts: Being able to agree to disagree and stay together is a lost art in our society. In our selfishness combined with the stress of our super-business, it is very hard to stay together. Calvin and John Wesley worked harder than most Reformers to keep the church together, and possibly unite them. Jesus prayed that the Church should be one, and we should work for that as well. There are two parts to this- one is to remain true and faithful to God, and the second is to not foster disagreement among church members.

Prayer: May we be one, Lord, as you are one.

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