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With all that is transpiring in our world today and the swift approach of Revelation and the Great Tribulation/Jacob’s Trouble/the Day that includes economic collapse, food shortages/famine (which are already manifesting worldwide), violent riots, political unrest, and the unprecedented arrival of Christian persecution in the U.S. and ongoing and presently escalating persecution worldwide, this is the prescription of Dr. Jesus. The passage of Philippians 4:6-9 covers incredibly powerful, life-altering topics that we cannot afford to miss!

Philippians 4:6-9 has been the topic of seven previous Bible studies and has included the concept of 4 puzzle pieces: “Do Not Worry,” “Thankful Prayer,” and “Think on These Things.” Today we’re going to cover the 4th puzzle piece found in Philippians 4:9 which is that of “Habitual Practice”.

Philippians 4:9 says, “9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Now, what were the Philippians to practice exactly? That which they had learned, received, heard, and seen of course! So, what was it that they had learned, received, heard and seen? Before we get to some of those specifics, let’s take a look at the Greek behind those four important words: Learn, Receive, Hear, See, and Do.

A Little Greek Lesson

The Greek word for Learn is not the type of learning that can be attained overnight, but rather, is acquired from experience through a great deal of reflection and discipline.

The Greek word for Received comes from the combination of two Greek words which when combined mean, “to aggressively take alongside,” or “to receive with the mind.” In other words, you really want it and readily receive it.

The Greek for Hear, literally means “to hear (listen)” and figuratively means, “to hear God’s voice” which leads to inner faith. After all, “Faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

The Greek meaning of to See can mean to physically see, but can also mean to perceive with the mind “with inward spiritual perception” all through experience.

And To Do in the Greek means to practice regularly, to “perform repeatedly or habitually” and is not just a one time thing. In other words, what one was discipled in, exuberantly received, heard with their inner ears, and saw with their spiritual eyes, was to be lived out over and over again.

Paul’s Example

Now in order for us to apply this passage to ourselves, we need to know what they had learned, received, heard and seen in Paul. To better understand this, let’s go back into Philippians 3 beginning in verse 8.

“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ…10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death… forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you….17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.”

And then Paul goes on to say in Philippians 4:4, 11-13, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice…11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.12I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

A God-Sufficiency

According to this passage, Paul had learned through experience, reflection and discipline to be content, to be satisfied, to have an “inward sufficiency” that comes from the empowerment of Christ. A God-Sufficiency. Paul also knew how to be “abased”, that is, to be completely humble, even humiliated and God-reliant instead of self-reliant or others-reliant, as well as to “superabound” and to have excess. Furthermore, he had been instructed. The word used here should not merely say “I am instructed,” but rather should be translated, “I have learned the secret,” for it does include a message of powerful importance. And the Secret appears to have to do with the art of being famished or full, the art of superabounding in goods or suffering in great need.

In every secret society or brotherhood or fraternity there is always what is called an initiation for the newcomer, and nearly if not always, the new initiate has to go through some sort of pain or humiliation or bloodshed of some kind in order to be initiated into the group. The word used for the mystery religions of Paul’s day for doing such an initiation was the word used here for “I have been instructed” or “I have learned the secret.” It is not just a mere instruction that anyone would learn in the classroom, but rather pictures the initiate closing their eyes and mouth in order to “experience [the] mystery” and thus be “initiated into the wonderful “mystery revelation” of learning.”

The Ceremonial Initiation of Suffering

What is the mystery in which Paul had been instructed? Succinctly put: remaining in perfect peace while suffering. After all, Paul had gone through and would continue to go through extensive persecution, physical and emotional pain, poverty, severe opposition, and deep disappointments. As it says in 2 Corinthians 11, “in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one [195 lashes].25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” And yet in all of it Paul goes on to say,“29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.” In chapter 4 states, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh….14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

Application

Indeed, Paul had learned the secret, and had been initiated into “Christ’s sufferings” and that secret was resting in Christ and remaining in God’s peace through it and in spite of it all.

Now, how about us? Have we been initiated? Let us learn this secret of how to be unshakably peaceful, this mystery of being content in Christ no matter where we are located, no matter what is in our tummies, no matter what people are with us or not with us, no matter how much or how little money we have in our pockets, not matter if the economy collapses, no matter what the political climate, no matter who is president, no matter who is in Congress or what mandates or executive orders or laws or judgments are made in the days and weeks and months to come.

Through Paul, the Philippians had learned, received, heard, and seen what to do in the midst of good times and bad times, times of great overflowing abundance and times of little to nothing, days of great discomfort and days of a multitude of benefits. But, have we as modern day readers done the same? The Gospel is not just about the good days, but about the bad. The Gospel, as exemplified through Christ, does not promise us smooth sailing, great wealth, or only good times. Really, it guarantees us the opposite. It says we are blessed when we are persecuted (Matthew 5:10-12), that we are to take up our shameful cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23 and 14:27), that we are to rejoice anyway in all situations (Philippians 4:4), and that when we are generous here (whether we have a little with which to be generous or a lot) then we have riches in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). The Gospel promises us something more amazing, more mind blowing and more incredible than what this superficial world will ever experience. It promises us REST, whether we are rich or destitute, when we are starving or fat and sassy. It promises us a sufficiency in Christ that nothing can touch! It promises us unshakable peace that nothing can defeat! It promises us that we are more than conquerors through Christ (Romans 8). Do YOU know this peace????

We along with Paul are called to count all accomplishments and gains and all that this world looks up to as dung (or as I called it while growing up on a farm “horse apples” or “mud pies” or “cow plop” or in Dutch “stront”). We too are called to fellowship with Christ in His suffering. We are not to be conformed to this world’s standards, but instead are called with Paul to conform to Christ in His death. We are called to follow Paul in his example of following Christ, and are to thus learn the art of suffering well. We are to habitually practice peace in both prosperity and poverty, in humiliation and happiness.

For when we habitually practice what we have learned, received, heard and seen, then “the God of peace will be with you,” and Him being with us, changes us from glory to glory. As it says in Romans 8:16-18, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Let’s keep our focus on Jesus and remain in His perfect peace even as the darkness grows and the world is set up for judgment and the Day of His return draws ever nearer!

*This article was also published on this website under a different title. Both are by me. The present article contains a few additions and changes. “God-Sufficiency: Have You Learned the Secret,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/10/12/god-sufficiency-have-you-learned-the-secret/

Other Jehovah Shalom Articles:

Part 1:

“Jehovah Shalom: What is Our Focus?” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/19/jehovah-shalom-what-is-our-focus/

Part 2:

“Jehovah Shalom: Peace in Spite of Our Circumstances,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/jehovah-shalom-peace-in-spite-of-our-circumstances/

Part 3:

“Jehovah Shalom: Do Not Be Anxious,” (Puzzle Piece #1) https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/jehovah-shalom-do-not-be-anxious/

Part 4:

“Jehovah Shalom: Abiding in Christ,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/10/jehovah-shalom-abiding-in-christ/

Part 5:

“Jehovah Shalom: Thankful Prayer,” (puzzle piece #2), https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/jehovah-shalom-thankful-prayer/

Part 6:

“Jehovah Shalom: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/12/29/jehovah-shalom-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus/

Part 7:

“Jehovah Shalom: Think on These Things,” (puzzle piece #3), https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2021/01/07/jehovah-shalom-think-on-these-things/

Part 8:

This Present Article (puzzle piece #4)

Other Possible Articles of Interest:

“The Time Is At Hand: Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/07/15/the-time-is-at-hand-turn-your-eyes-upon-jesus/

“At Home In Christ,” https://holylight4u.wordpress.com/2020/09/09/at-home-in-christ/