“Reflections” From John Brown of Haddington

Based on Philippians 3:1 – 21



“With great earnestness should professors (believers) guard against the seduction of false teachers, especially such as set up men’s own righteousness in the room of the justifying righteousness of Jesus Christ.  And ministers have need to repeat their warnings on this head.  Nothing goes down more sweetly with a corrupt heart than the doctrine of justification by self-righteousness.  Amiable, yet very rare, is a lively, devout, cheerful, a duly self-denied Christian.  But contemptible are all external privileges in comparison of Christ and his righteousness; and very unprofitable are human works in the matter of our justification.  The faith and enjoyment of free justification through his glorious sacrifice powerfully animates and enables to the diligent study of holiness.  And though there is no absolute perfection in this life, yet every one ought to press as near to it as possible, and carefully avoid the smallest appearance of backsliding in faith, profession, or practice, and tenderly bear with others in lesser differences.  It is a great mercy for a church to have ministers of exemplary practice and heavenly conversation.  Eternal glory will crown their and their followers’ labours along with Christ.  But what a burden to ministers, a plague to churches, and what enemies to Christ, are untender, sensual, and worldly-minded preachers and professors!” (John Brown’s Bible).


Righteousness Through Faith in Christ


3 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.


Straining Toward the Goal


12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.