Sunday, 12 October 2003 00:00

The Biblical Foundation

Philippians 4:1-11 (KJV)

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are hones, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 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. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

There is nothing wrong in having a desire to be happy:

  1. The Declaration of Independence says "All men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
  2. The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession says "The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."
  3. Jesus, in the greatest sermon ever preached, continually described His followers as happy people (Blessed: makarios - Gk.)

Happiness for the lost man happens when his happenstances happen to be happy; but for the believer, happiness should come in knowing WHAT, or WHO, I AM IN CHRIST.


In Philippians chapter 4, Paul is teaching the Philippian Christians about joy and peace (4:1, 4:4, 4:6, 4:7, 4:9). In verse 10 Paul says he rejoiced greatly when the financial gift from the Philippians arrived. He knew they had wanted to help previously with his support, but had been unable. Not wanting to be misunderstood about where his joy or happiness comes from, Paul says, "I do not speak in respect of want," or rather, "I am not rejoicing because I was in need and now, because of your gift, I have plenty." Paul then explains from where his joy or happiness springs:

"For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."

What has Paul learned? The original Greek reads:


The word state or circumstances is not in the original. In other words, Paul says: "I have learned, in what I am, to be content (self- sufficient)." Now the million dollar question remains - who are you?

I AM                                         


The key to Christian happiness is the discovery of who we are in Christ.

"Genuine religious experience is nothing but the impression of divine truth on the mind by the energy of the Holy Spirit. There is reason to believe, therefore, that ignorance of revealed truth, or error respecting it, must be attended with a corresponding defect in the religious exercises of the person." (Archibald Alexander, "Alexander On Religious Experience")


  • "That we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves" (II Corinthians 3:5).
  • "By the grace of God I am what I am" (I Corinthians 15:10).
  • "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities (weaknesses), that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (II Corinthians 12:9).

With the preceding in mind, ask yourself the question, WHO AM I?

In the past, when someone asked me - who are you? I would usually respond, "I am Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church." However, in reflecting upon my usual response I discovered I said nothing about who Wade Burleson was but rather what Wade Burleson did! So, in responding to the question who am I? Do not answer with what you do, have done, or will do, for "you are not sufficient of yourself to think anything of yourself," but rather voice what God has done, is doing, or will do in you!

"For we are His workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10).

If your theology is man-oriented rather than God-oriented you will always be struggling for happiness and contentment. No person can be content until he believes God is doing an unconditional work of grace in his heart.

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