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.
“TO LIVE IS CHRIST…” (v. 21a) – Means simply living seeking Jesus with all your heart because Jesus has sought and saved you! Christ has given His life in exchange for yours. You are no longer your own. You are His.
Beloved Christians: Don’t merely live your life for Christ, but realize that Christ is your life. You are not your own. Christ has saved and redeemed you by His precious blood. His life is your life. He is your strength because you are united with him.
In this passage, the Apostle Paul is imprisoned, in chains for Christ and His Kingdom. Yet He can also rejoice because for him “to live—Christ” (v. 21).
For Paul, to live is Christ.
Paul has nothing to lose- -HE HAS EVERYTHING IN JESUS. Not even death can move him. In fact, to die is gain!
Whatever place the Apostle Paul found himself, wherever he is, 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.
For the Apostle Paul, “to live is Christ” is THEOLOGICAL and very PRACTICAL.
THEOLOGICALLY Paul is in union with Jesus Christ.
Union with 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).
Because of God’s grace and mercy toward sinners in Jesus Christ, we have been united to Jesus Christ in His death and resurrection; Jesus is our life! (Col. 3:1-4). So, because He is our life, we are to seek the things that are above in Him because our lives have been hid with God in Jesus!
“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
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.
Paul’s mind, affections, and will are filled and directed by Christ; Jesus defines Paul.
How about you? What or who defines you?
What brings you the greatest joy? Honestly.
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.
Do you believe this?
Is this obvious in your life that you believe this? How about to your family? Can your friends and neighbors see that what brings you the greatest joy is to live- -CHRIST!? As the great Robert Murray M’Cheyne encouraged Christians to live unto Jesus:
“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 we live by faith with Christ Jesus as the chief end, aim, and/or hope of our lives.
Whatever your confession, what you live for is what you most “glory in” or “value” as being best– -what is most worthy of your time, money, and investment of energy.
What you value most is what you long for- -you hope for- -what your affections are set on and what you dream about.
Some live for self. “To live is Me”
Some live for pleasure. “To live is joy, happiness, peace and escape.”
Some live for money. “To live is possessing more so that I am secure.”
Some live for family. “To live is my family.”
Some live for career. “To live my career; what I do most defines me.”
Some live for ministry or for religion. “To live is my performance for God, my reputations of what I am doing in my service.”
What do you ultimately prize?
Could what is most important to you ever be taken away?
Where is your hope?
What do you spend most of your time pursuing?
What do you spend your quite moments daydreaming about?
What do you long for?
Where do you “put” your money?
What you value most will be what you glory in, ‘LIVE FOR’, and from that (or those things) you will derive your joy, hope, peace, happiness, etc.
But if what you live for is not Christ, it will never fully satisfy, and you will constantly be threatened that you will lose it.
How do you know if you are functionally living for something or someone other than Christ?
You lose your joy when it is threatened, or you lose it momentarily or permanently.
For Paul, and for all believers, if Christ our life, our all, then we have nothing EVER to worry about losing! That which is most worthy, glorious and valuable to us is JESUS and we cannot lose Him.
And whatever loss we are going through, whatever affliction, whatever the trying circumstance, with Jesus, in union with Jesus, we can rejoice even more knowing this truth- -HE IS WITH US- -AND WHILE OTHERS LOSE EVERYTHING, WE CAN ONLY GAIN MORE OF HIM ‘IN IT’!!
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.”
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…
If we have this, we can lose NO thing- -nothing.
If we have Jesus as our life, we can lose nothing; if we have not Jesus as our life we will lose everything.
This will bring us true joy. But we must understand that joy is not happiness, it is a much richer and deeper soul-satisfying gladness that comes from our union with Jesus Christ!
Joy is a God-given grace in response to our need for communion and fellowship with him; it is NOT mere happiness that changes with circumstances.
Joy cannot be bought; it can never be taken away.
Joy is found in the Person of Jesus Christ; Joy in many ways is a Person.
Joy is found in seeking Christ—knowing Christ. My prayer for our congregation here at KCPC is often from Ephesians 3:19:
“…And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
“TO LIVE IS CHRIST”
This is to say: CHRIST IS THE CHIEF END OF OUR LIVES.
To say this is to say:
“Christ is my hope.”
Christ is my greatest treasure and pleasure.”
Christ is my greatest friend.”
Christ is my end, my goal.
Christ Jesus is the one thing, the one person I can never lose; Christ is my richest gain- -and I can never lose him. He is with me always…I will never leave you nor forsake you!
This is what is meant by TO LIVE IS CHRIST.
Let CHRIST be THE CHIEF END OF YOUR LIFE.
If you’re a believer, the Lord is your portion; he is your possession; he is all you need and will ever need and you have him now.
Let us rejoice! There is JOY in Christ!
“Can you be sad when you have all possible treasures in Christ laid up in heavenly places for ever and ever? O vain man! Show me your faith by your joy. If you say you have faith and live a life of sadness, I will not believe you. Use your faith and increase your joy.” – Samuel Ward
Here is the believers’ hope- -let us all confess this to one another as often as we have the opportunity!
ESV Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In God’s presence there is fullness of joy!
At God’s right hand is the Glorified, Enthroned Savior and Lord of All! There in Him, we will find all the pleasures we have ever desired or wanted- -or knew we could want!
Christ has given His life for us and shed His blood for our salvation, how could we not give ourselves wholly unto Him?
How could we as believers NOT see Jesus as the very life-power of our day to day pursuits?
How could we as believers NOT have what is most important to God most important to us!
How could we as believers NOT make Christ’s goals our goals; Christ life our life; Christ’s beauty our beauty?
Let us as a congregation at KCPC to 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,