ESV Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
As Christians we must learn not merely to live for Christ, but to realize that Christ is our life.
If we have Christ, we have everything we need and we can lose nothing. Even death will be our gain, not a loss. Having the mindset “Christ is my life” will help us to make progress in our faith and grow in our joy (Phil. 1:25). Christ teaches us in “Discipleship 101” that we are to love and serve Christ more than we love and serve our most beloved persons and things, including our very lives (Luke 14:26).
Don’t merely live for Christ, but realize that Christ is your life.
This means not merely living for Jesus, but living in a way that shows that Jesus is what defines your life!
Think about the Apostle Paul who was writing this letter to Philippians to encourage Christians. Paul is imprisoned, in chains for Christ and His Kingdom. Yet the Gospel is advancing- -many are being en-couraged– -the Gospel is advancing and the brethren are boldly preaching without fear the good news of Jesus Christ as a Savior from sin, even though they are threatened with persecution. Paul can rejoice because He knows that whatever happens to him, he interprets the circumstances from God’s perspective and He knows that what may seem like “hindrances become by God’s grace high-speed highways for the advancement of the Gospel (Phil. 1:3-11).”
For Paul, to live is Christ.
Paul has nothing to lose- -HE HAS EVERYTHING IN JESUS.
Whatever place he finds himself, it is for Jesus; it is with Jesus; it is in Jesus! Nothing to lose and everything to gain! (v. 21) – -REJOICE!!
Paul lives his life in a moment-by-moment “win-win” situation; there are not good times and bad times- -every moment is a good moment where Christ can enter in by virtue of Paul’s real and Holy-Spiritual union with Him and be transformed- -made more like him- -and to become more and more fruitful as he progresses in his faith.
Do you have this kind of ability to rejoice? All Christians can know this both theologically and practically!
For the Apostle Paul, “to live is Christ” is THEOLOGICAL and very PRACTICAL.
THEOLOGICALLY Paul is in union with Jesus Christ.
Paul is: “Buried with Christ” (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12); “United with Christ” (Rom. 6:5); “Crucified with Christ” (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20); Alive with Christ” (Rom. 6:7); “Heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Suffers with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Glorified with Christ” (Rom. 8:17); “Have the same form as Christ- -be like him” (Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:21); “Be conformed with Christ” in every way: life, death, and resurrection (Phil. 3:10ff).
“The foundation, center, purpose, direction, power and meaning of Paul’s life is Christ” (see Hansen, PNTC, Philippians).
“The central soteriological reality is union with the exalted Christ by Spirit-created faith. That is the nub, the essence, of the way or order of salvation for Paul.” -Richard B. Gaffin, By Faith, Not By Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation
Our union with Jesus Christ is a glorious reality, where we can withdraw from the Risen-Ascended-Exalted Jesus all the power we need for life and godliness!
PRACTICALLY (theology lived out), Paul knows that Christ is the most important person, thing, possession and reality in his life. Period.
All of Paul’s “meaning of life” or what it means to live for Paul is about Christ.
Paul cannot fathom a life that is truly a life being without Jesus Christ.
CHRIST IS HIS LIFE.
What about your life?
Is Christ your life concerning the BIG Questions of life? Can you say with the Apostle Paul to live is Christ? Ask yourself:
“Who am I?” Can you answer: “I was created for Christ.”
“What is my purpose?” Can you answer: “Christ.”
“Why am I here?” Can you answer: “Christ.”
Paul’s mind, affections, and will are filled and directed by Christ; Jesus defines Paul’s person and mission and is his purpose.
What defines you? What brings you the greatest joy? Honestly. Getting at what brings you the greatest joy (which is often just happiness that changes with circumstances, but what is it that makes you happy most of the time), will help you to know what defines your life.
What is your heart’s greatest longing?
What’s most important to you? Right now.
What is your most important goal?
What could you never live without?
What fills your daydreams and captures your imagination?
What possesses you? (We often says what “possesses that person to do that?!”)
What is your most valuable asset? What is most precious and “worthy” to you?
Does Jesus bring you the greatest joy? When you say the name JESUS does your heart beat harder within you? Do you sense his presence and think of His goodness towards you?
Can you say with the Psalmist:
ESV Psalm 16:2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
ESV Psalm 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
What do you long for the most? What causes you most to rejoice now? This will help you to find what matters most to you. “To live is ___________.”
Is it Christ Jesus who died for you?
“Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him. Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.” – Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
Christ Jesus is the chief end of our lives. We are to glorify and enjoy God forever. We can only do this when Christ Jesus is the chief end, aim, and/or hope of our lives.
No true joy is possible UNLESS JESUS CHRIST is everything (as the hymn we sing reminds us):
“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride…
…Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God: all the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to his blood…
…Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
We will never be able to rejoice always like the Apostle Paul (see also Phil. 4:4ff) until we know what it means “to live is Christ” or “To live—CHRIST!”
Jesus Christ must be our life! Jesus must be dearer to us than our richest gain; Jesus Christ must be more dear to us than our jobs, our careers, our families, friends, reputations, finances, homes…
Our Gospel promise is that God who began the Gospel work in us, will complete it (Phil. 1:6). As God has sought us, and redeemed us by the blood of Jesus, so let us seek for Christ to be our life. As Christ has laid down His life for us so that we can be God’s children (although we do not deserve such mercy!), let us learn to live for Him and Him alone!
Let us learn to pray for one another for the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ to fill us and that we might be overflowing with God’s joy and hope in Him! Let us pray to know Christ better- -his love, his work for us, his priestly intercession, his sufferings for and with us- -and to know Christ more intimately, closely, adoringly, affectionately. Let us at KCPC come to Christ more and by your grace, O Father, let us leave with more of Christ. Grant that we might be a congregation characterized by “TO LIVE IS CHRIST.” For Christ’s sake and His glory alone! Amen.
In Christ’s love,