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

       holiness"

 

- 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

     similar?

 

- 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

                         known

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

                         was preached

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

                         magnified

 

            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

               Christ...

 

    - 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

          places

 

        - 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

            one)

            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-

                  centered

 

            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

                 roll!

               - 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

      statement:

 

      - 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

          church

 

        - 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

          death

        - 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

          feasting"

      - 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

        perspective

 

      - 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

          standard

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

         in

 

       - 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

              gain

            - 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

          papers

    - 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

        enough)

 

 

    - 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?