Living for Jesus - Philippians 1:21

September 4, 1990 Philippians 1:21

- so far we've studied 7 favorite Bible passages

- let's do something we did several weeks ago - let's see if

you can quote one or more of the verses we've studied

- Zech. 4:6 - not by might...

- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world...

- Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ...

- Isa. 40:31 - They that wait upon the Lord...

- Rom. 8:28-29 - and we know that all things...

- Prov. 3:5-6 - trust in the Lord with all thine heart...

- Eph. 4:22-24 - "that ye put off concerning the former

manner of life the old man, which is corrupt according

to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit

of your thinking, and that ye put on the new man,

which after God is created in righteousness and true


- the good news about tonight's passage is that it is very

short - so if you don't have it memorized, you probably

will by the end of the evening (in fact, in a few minutes,

we're even going to share an easy way to memorize this one)

- READ Phil. 1:21 (while turning - after we've read, instead

of asking what questions this verse generates, we're

going to ask, why do you think this verse is such a

favorite for so many of us?)

- INPUT - why do you think this verse is such a favorite of

so many?

- one of the things that we have been trying to accomplish in

this series is to learn and practice some important

principles of Bible study

- our goal has been that you will learn some questions to ask

while you are studying a passage of scripture

- one of the questions that needs to be asked is - what was

the historical context when this passage was written?

- or, what was happening in the life of the writer during

the time the passage was written?

- how would you answer that question if it were applied to

Phil. 1:21? (in jail)

- why would that be so bad to Paul? (maybe in his mind -

couldn't accomplish what God wanted him to accomplish)

- let me put a couple of additional facts in here that make

the situation worse

- 1) the man who had been in charge of Paul had treated

Paul very well. His imprisonment had been unusually

mild. But this man had just recently died. The man

Nero put in his place was Named Tigellinus, who was

know for his cruelty to the prisoners.

- 2) Nero had just recently married the woman he had been

committing adultery with, Poppea. She had Nero kill

his previous wife, and gloated over the head of the

victim. She was also a Jewish proselyte, which meant

she had converted to Judaism.

- that meant that an enemy of the Jews was an enemy

to Nero's new wife

- obviously the Jews in Rome hated the message Paul

had been spreading around the empire

- INPUT - if you were going to choose a word, or a phrase to

describe this situation that we're talking about, what

word or phrase would you use?

- point is this - Paul was writing from a situation that he

had no control over, and certain circumstances made the

outcome appear very bleak

- INPUT - what are some situations, to a greater or lesser

degree, that a believer may have to face that are


- tonight - we want to see 3 truths about Paul that helped

him face an uncertain situation:

I. Made Life Christ-Centered

A. meaning of "to live is Christ?"

- INPUT - what did Paul mean when he said "for me to live

is Christ?"

- literally meant, my life is Christ-centered.

- INPUT - if you were going to diagram this idea, how

would you do it?

(draw a circle with me in the center, Christ around it,

everything else outside)

- point is - for Paul - he couldn't think about this

situation apart from his relationship with the Lord

Jesus Christ

- Paul has been saying those kinds of things all throughout

the book:

B. examples

1. here in Phillippians

read v. 13 - because of Paul's chains, Christ was


read v. 18 - because of Paul's critics, Christ

was preached

read v. 20 - because of Paul's crisis, Christ was


point - Paul wanted to develop a lifestyle that

was more and more Christ centered, and he

wanted other believers to do that as well

- he made those same kind of comments in other books

- INPUT - can you think of other passages that would

talk about or describe our relationship

with Christ - where Paul was trying to

communicate how we can't think about life

apart from our relationship with the Lord

2. in other books

a. Col. 3:1-4

b. Rom. 8:1 - There is now therefore no

condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus

c. Rom. 6:3-5 - Know ye not, that, as many of us

as were baptized into Jesus Christ were

baptized into his death? Therefore, we are

buried with him by baptism into death, that

as Christ was raised up from the dead by the

glory of the Father, even so we should also

walk in the newness of life. For if we have

been planted together in the likeness of his

death, we shall be also in the likeness of

his resurrection.

d. II Cor. 5:17 - Therefore, if any man be in


- point is - we're not just talking about the message of

one favorite Bible verse -- we're talking about a

major theme of Scripture

- Paul wanted to develop a life that was more and more

Christ centered, and he wanted other believers to do

the same

- I'm sure you can see that there are some real

implications to you and I

C. Implications

- perhaps the best summary is:

1. I need to be growing in my ability to look at life

from the perspective of:

a) how "this" affects my relationship with Christ

b) how my relationship with Christ affects "this"

- now we're not talking about doing this perfectly -

even Paul would be the first to admit he didn't do

this perfectly - he made that admission in many


- but he was shooting for a lifestyle that could be

described by the words "to live is Christ"

- the reason he had to shoot for that is because there are a

lot of other things that can get put in that space

- there are plenty of times where, in a given day, if we were

going to fill in the space "to live is_________", we would

fill it in with something other than "Christ"

- INPUT - what are some other things that could get put in

there? (for me to live is______)

- this affects all areas of life:

2. affects:

(in a minute, I'd like to hear from you on this


a. what I do

b. what I don't do

- there are all sorts of things that I have no

business getting involved in if they could

bring harm to Christ, or could mar my

testimony, or muddy my testimony

1) we have a policy here at the church for

our staff that the pastor's wives won't

get involved having home parties where

the goal is to try to sell the folks who

attended something

INPUT - why do you think we would have

that kind of policy?

- so folks don't think our church

doesn't take care of their pastors

- so folks don't wonder whether she is

interested in them spiritually or

interested in making a sale

- because unbelievers can often sniff

out mixed motives in a second

- when you're not around, they may use

that as an opportunity to ridicule

you or reject Christianity

- he/she will look at try to soothe

their guilty conscience and say -

her life song is-"for me to live is

Christ, and to make a little money!"

2) if you've been around here long you've

heard Arvid Olsen's testimony. Arvid first

came to our church as an unsaved man and

he'd be the first to say that one of the

main things that attracted him to the

church was all the cars in the parking lot

and all the young married couples. He was

in one of these pyramid sales groups and he

saw a great opportunity for profit. Then

he and Rose were saved, so they would have

someone over for a meal, fellowship, and

then a little sales talk. But then through

a series of events he became convicted

about that because he realized his goals

were wrong. People would never know if he

was interested in them or what he could get

from them.

So he got out - and in the process took a

step of applying the truth of this verse.

- by the way, we probably need to say that if

recession comes, those companies will

immediately become popular. Those pyramid

companies seem to always have some

motivational tapes from some preacher which

all makes it sound good.

- question is - am I doing things or not doing

things that would make iot hard for me to say

- "to live is Christ" - my life is Christ-


c. what I think about

d. who I talk to about Christ

- this is a strongly evangelistic passage

- Paul could handle being imprisoned because

he saw the way it was positively impacting

his desire to spread the gospel

- "to live is Christ"

- if this situation will result in more people

hearing about Christ - let the bad times


- we all need to ask the question - when it

comes to who I decide to talk to about

Christ and who I don't, could I repeat the

words of this verse or would I have to

substitute another word

e. what I watch

f. my goals, ambitions, dreams

g. how I dress

h. what I listen to

- in every one of those categories, could I sing "for

me to live is Christ" in the midst of that

II. Put Death In Perspective

- said "to die is gain"

- he was able to make life Christ-centered but he was

also able to put death in perspective

- if we went out on the streets of Lafayette with a

survey tonight and asked them to fill in this


- the worst thing that could happen to me would be___

- do you think its safe to say that many would say -

the worst thing that could happen would be that I

would die, or that someone I loved would die

- now, let me ask you this - does that kind of thinking

stop at the door of the church?

- I'm not suggesting that we become caulous and cold to

the subject, but if there's something unbiblical

about our thinking, we need to change it

- see, I don't think if we asked Paul what is the worst

thing that could happen, he'd respond - I might die

- INPUT - how do you think Paul would have answered

that question?

A. viewed death as an opportunity to see Christ

- read vs. 23

- even though Paul had had an exciting life of

planting churches and seeing many folks saved and

rejoicing in their growth

- being right in the forefront of building Christ's


- he still kept that in perspective with his desire

to see his savior

- knew death was as natural as birth, and unless the

rapture came, the only way to see Christ was by


- for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

- also put death in perspective because:

B. viewed death as an opportunity to glorify Christ

- thats what he's doing in this book

- read vs. 20

- this isn't a trial - its an opportunity, to minister

in a very unique way to a very unique group of people

- see, can you say tonight, thats the way I view death

- For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

- I see death, whether it be my own, or the death of

someone I love, as an opportunity to minister in a

very unique way to a very unique group of people

- some folks will listen to the things of God around

the time of a person's death where they wouldn't

listen at any other time

- thats why Solomon said in Eccles. 7:2 - "Its better

to go to the house of mourning than the house of


- you know what that means? - its better to go to a

funeral than to go to a party!

- the verse goes on to say - "for that is the end of

all men, and the living will lay it to his heart"

- Paul could handle this situation, where he may lose

his life, properly, because he had put death in


- for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

III. Made Truth Personal

INPUT - how did Paul tell us in this verse that this truth

was something personal to him? (to me)

- now, that makes the verse read a little rough - in fact

the song that we learned just takes out the word "to"

- but the people that translated your Bible left that word

in there because Paul put this idea:

- in the emphatic position

- in English we pretty much have a standard word order

(noun, verb, object) - the word order is more


- but that’s true of the language the Bible was written


- Bible writers could shift around the word order for

the purpose of emphasis

- whatever they wanted to emphasize came first in

the sentence

- Paul is saying, "to live is Christ and to die is

gain" isn't a universal truth - not everybody

believes that or lives that way

- but "to me", to live is Christ and to die is


- this truth is personal to me, and as a result

I'm able to handle this upsetting situation

- INPUT - why do you think Paul said that to the

Philippians? What process was he trying to start

in their minds? (could I make that same statement?

Have I personalized that truth?)

- its possible for a person to go to a church that makes

this statement

- to be married to someone who could make this statement

- to be in a family...

- to have friends...

- but they couldn't make the statement themselves -

they couldn't say "For to me" to live is Christ

and to die is gain

- there's been no personal internalization of those

kinds of truths

- Bethany - Sunday after church - showing me her SS


- God made the world

- "Oh, you don't really believe that, do you?"

- do you see why I asked her that question? - to see if

she was personalizing truth

- she gave me an earful

- I asked her - how did God do it? (he just spoke)

- Why can't daddy do it? (your words aren't powerful


- she had it down, and she believed it ( I explained why

I was questioning her the way I was)

- but that’s why Paul starts this verse the way he

does - to tell us he has personalized this truth

and to make us consider whether we had

- those are the kinds of questions we need to leave with:

- to what degree could I say "for to me to live is

Christ, and to die is gain"

- what habit is preventing me from being able to say

that with more enthusiasm?