A Life Worth Living and a Death Worth Dying | Philippians 1:18b–26

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Good morning! My name is John and I serve Mission Church as one of the pastors. Our mission is to partner with God to see His Kingdom come in Las Vegas as it is in Heaven and we are striving towards this goal by loving Jesus, living like Jesus, and leading others to Jesus.
Please grab your Bible and turn with me to Philippians 1.......this morning we are going to take a brief pause in our sermon series through the Gospel according to Matthew...but have no fear .....for we’ll be back to it next Sunday.
Maybe you’re thinking....... “what’s the reason for the change today?” And... well..... this past week …as I spent time in God’s Word …the Holy Spirit .... through His word.....He graciously provided me with some much need perspective. And as I studied in preparation for this morning I felt led to preach to you from my fullness and to guide us towards considering how it is you and I are to live and how it is we are to die?
Now…if you are able to…I would like to invite you to stand for the reading of Gods Word.
Philippians 1:18b–26 (CSB)
18 … Yes, and I will continue to rejoice 19 because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Let’s Pray
Life.....well.....life is both beautiful and chaotic....in fact ....at times.....life can be both wonderful yet also extremely messy…life is much like a grand tapestry with the beautiful pattern on one side yet under the surface is the messiness of all of the woven threads .... in the same way …life lived in a broken and sinful world provides a level of messiness…but God takes our messy and our broken threads and He weaves together purpose, love, and divine intention....resulting in a beautiful tapestry of grace. Yet, in the midst of our daily routines…the difficulties and struggles....... we often find ourselves pausing and asking fundamental and existential questions such as..... “What is the purpose of our existence? Why are we here on this Earth?” You see…it’s often hard to see the big picture when your deep in the mundane day to day routine…and its even harder when that routine is shaken by the various difficulties that life throws our way. And…as a result.....these questions have echoed through the corridors of human history.... and we often find ourselves searching for answers to these questions that resonate with the very core of our being. What is the purpose of your life? Why are you here?
A recent video was made by a popular youtube channel in which they interviewed several people between the ages of 5 and 105 years old and they were all asked these same existential question, “What is the point and the purpose of this life?.....another way to state this question would be..... What are you living for?” And....Here are a few of their answers:
9 years old Isaac - to be awesome and to have a nice family
17 years old Sawyer - to get married
27 years old Brian - To live life to it’s fullest, to have awesome experiences, YOLO
34 years old Susan - to be a mom
45 years old Laura - to make a good living and to live comfortably
80 years old Tom - to figure out how I can live to be at least 110
84 years old Brittany - to live my best life now
Now, it’s one thing to get other people’s opinions…and perspectives on life and the point of life but the reality is this: All of us have to answer this question for ourselves...... What am I living for?
Well…Paul…..a man in chains.....writing from a Roman prison tells us about the meaning of life…and as he does so......he tells us about a life worth living and a death worth dying. Look back at v21
Philippians 1:21 (CSB)
21 For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
In other words…“Living and dying is all about… Jesus!….My life is about serving Christ and dying is about being with Christ.” Paul says, “For me…” Underline or circle those 2 words …For me…..Paul resolved that he would live for Christ…….and the truth is…..everyone of us has to answer this question for ourselves.
So…tell me....How would you complete this sentence,
For to me, to live is __________?
What? If you you were to step back and survey your life…what is it that motivates you? what drives your priorities? what do you treasure? How would you answer this question?
The reality is……many of us complete this sentence …and we may not say this out loud ……but the way we live our life answers the question like this…..For me to live is family, is money, is pleasure, is power, is beauty, is comfort, or entertainment……
And Paul is telling us……that Christ is better than any other option. Jesus is better than all the unfulfilled plans and aspirations that you might be treasuring in our heart right now…you see…. To have Jesus is to have everything worth having in infinite supply. Now…… if we follow the logic….. to live is Christ…to die is gain……If living is anything other than Christ, then dying won’t be gain.
Think about this.....If the answer to the question is any one of the substitutes our culture provides……… If living is financial security? Well….then dying is being broke. Life becomes a futile grasping at something that is going to let you down….. guaranteed! If living is pleasure…..then dying is to have no more pleasure.” What about power? ….then, “dying is to be powerless.” What about to live is beauty? Then dying is to get old and lose all beauty.” If you live for entertainment, then your gravestone would read, “to die is to have no more fun.” If living is a career. Well then, dying is loss because your source for true significance vanishes.
If living is popularity or respect. Then dying is pathetic because when you die you’re forgotten and your popularity becomes obscured.If living is Good Health? Then death is a bummer! Because you’re dead! And life itself becomes a futile attempt at self-preservation.
Brothers and sisters.....life is short! and in this short life….what will you live for? What will you die for?
Martyn Lloyd-Jones says this,
To live is Christ and to die is gain is not only a statement of the apostle’s true experience, but also it is a standard of judgment which confronts us with the most thorough test of our Christian faith we will ever encounter. Every person who professes Christ as Savior must grapple with the question, “Can I honestly say, ‘For me, to live is Christ’?” If I can say, “Yes,” then I have also answered that fundamental question, “What about death and what lies beyond?” It will be gain for me. If for me, to live is Christ, then for me to die will be gain. - Martyn Lloyd-Jones
As I read Loyd’s commentary I thought to myself.... “Can I truthfully say this? Can I honestly proclaim that Christ is my life? And..... can I honestly find comfort in my death?” These are difficult questions! And.....What about you? Can you truthfully say that Christ is everything that you are living for? And do you find comfort in your inevitable death? Are you living with the belief that death will be gain for you?
[pause]
I think that..... in order for us to be able to answer these questions fully and truthfully we first need to know what Paul means when he says ‘to live is Christ”. …and our text this morning gives us three specific answers to this question.....the first answer …#1
1. To “Live is Christ” means to Rejoice in Christ.
look back to v18b
Philippians 1:18 (CSB)
18 ... I will continue to rejoice
First off….. what does it mean to rejoice? Well……..rejoicing means…that you find pleasure in… find joy in… it means to delight in………..so to “Live is Christ” means that we find our ultimate delight, joy, and pleasure in Jesus. And here in verse 18 ....Paul looks to the future and he emphatically proclaims, “I will rejoice.”
Now…it’s important to understand that Paul is not in the most ideal situation…as he pens these words he’s in prison....he is in chains…..and not only does he rejoice in the midst of his pain circumstance as we see in the beginning of verse 18 but…with confidence….he essentially shouts, “I don’t care what I face in the future … I WILL REJOICE…….there are no chains…there is no amount jail time…there is no amount of suffering or strife that will extinguish my joy”.....You see....In life…in suffering…even in death….Paul says, “I am going to rejoice!”
Paul…he took refuge in the Lord and was able to rejoice regardless of his circumstance because he knew what the Psalmist proclaimed in Psalm 5:11-12.
Psalm 5:11–12 (CSB)
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them shout for joy forever.
May you shelter them,
and may those who love your name boast about you.
12 For you, Lord, bless the righteous one;
you surround him with favor like a shield.
Those who put their trust in the Lord are called to rejoice. Why? Well.....Because the Lord will “shelter” you....The Lord will defend you and protect you. You see....if you trust the Lord....then you can trust him to be your refuge.....you can trust Him to be your divine protector. Like a great eagle spreading her wings over her young..... so our great God and King spreads his covering of protection over those who seek him in prayer,…and depend on his mercy…and ask for his guidance....and trust in his protection.
In other words.....no matter where you find yourself this morning....if you are worn out…you can find rest in Christ....if you are hurting ....you can find comfort in Christ and rejoice…if you are feeling worthless …you can find purpose in Christ and rejoice....if you are feeling unsteady....you can find a firm foundation in Christ and rejoice....if you have sinned…you can find forgiveness in Christ and rejoice.... you see......no matter where you been or where you are now....Christ makes it possible for you to rejoice!
Now….we need to understand…..that the ability to rejoice in the midst of suffering and difficulty requires the gift of faith in Jesus…..and that’s because there is nothing in and of ourselves that would result in us rejoicing in God. It’s a gift and this gift of rejoicing….. especially in suffering……well…..it greatly honors Jesus…..and here’s why….. You rejoice in what you value…. You rejoice in what you value
As some of you know....... I am a huge San Diego Padres fan....and if you aren’t sure.....the Padres are a professional baseball team..... and last season the Padres made it to the National league championship series.....they lost but it was a major accomplishment because …well....the Padres have always been a pretty unsuccessful team.... and as a result I rejoiced...... I celebrated and greatly anticipated this years season.....and well....this season was bad....I mean....the Padres were horrible!!!! and well....last years posture of anticipation and celebration was fleeting....and my rejoicing turned into disappointment. I realize this is a superficial illustration but I think it helps us to think about what it is that we value and what it is we are rejoicing in.
Think about it......What do you value? What are you rejoicing in? ….And…. will it last?
Brothers and Sisters.......we can rejoice in Christ even when we suffer because faith looks beyond our circumstances to our relationship with God…..that’s what this is all about…a relationship with God….and it’s only in a relationship with Jesus that we can find lasting joy.
And when we find joy and when we rejoice even in the midst of suffering and difficulty......it shows a watching world that our treasure isn’t anything in this world……and it shows them the reality....that.....the wheels can be falling off of your life and everything can be seemingly falling apart….but you can still rejoice…. and you can rejoice because Jesus and Jesus alone is your treasure....and there is nothing and no one who can rip you from the grip of your savior and pull you out from under His protection.
2. To “Live is Christ” Means Living with the Sole Ambition of Honoring Christ.
Paul’s goal to honor Jesus is amazing….especially given his circumstances… it’s remarkable that his main focus was not on getting released from prison…or getting out of those chains…or getting a good meal or a god nights sleep…. but rather....his sole ambition was on exalting Jesus. Whether he lived or whether he died ….that wasn’t the issue…… all that mattered to Paul …Paul’s singular passion and consuming ambition….was that his life exalted and honored Jesus!
Look back at v20 ….
Philippians 1:20 (CSB)
20 My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
Do you see the contrast here? There are two sides to Paul’s ambition…… “That I may not be ashamed about anything” and “that Christ may be honored.”
In other words…..If Christ is honored..... then I am not ashamed. To the extent that the glory goes to Jesus….. I avoid all glory and all shame. If Christ is not honored in my life.... then I am ashamed……..You see….for Paul..... his shame and disgrace is completely determined by whether or not Christ is magnified.
Can you relate to that? Is this your ambition? Is this what gets you up in the morning? Christ’s honor and the display of His greatness? Is that what drives your motives? Your decisions and your priorities? Man!! All I have to do is think of this morning and I’m convicted! My priorities and desires are all over the place.
You see…….Paul is revealing to us a radically God-centered perspective on life. The only disgrace Paul fears is disgrace in the eyes of God. Disgrace of unfaithfulness, of unbelief, of disobedience—that’s all he cares about. His positive ambition is utterly God-ward. He evaluated all of his life—his goals, his activities, his bank account, his to do list—by one ambition...... Does it magnify Christ? Is Christ’s reputation enhanced? Are His Kingdom purposes advanced?
And friends.......this is so challenging….but….. what’s absolutely amazing is.....not only is this a God-centered way to live....but it’s also a freeing way to live. You see....If Christ’s honor is my greatest aspiration…if glorifying God is my foremost consideration......then a thousand self-centered concerns fall off my shoulders and as a result.... life becomes so simple....for..... I could care less about any one else’s assessment and approval of me.....and as a result....my reputation, my agenda, my desires, and my purpose in life is all bound up in Christ! And man.... that is so freeing! My greatest anxieties melt away when Christ’s honor is my chief passion and concern.
3. To “Live is Christ” Means that We Die to Our Selfish Desires and Serve Others for Jesus’ Sake.
Philippians 1:22–26 (CSB)
22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am torn between the two. I long to depart and be with Christ—which is far better—24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that, because of my coming to you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus may abound.
It seems like Paul’s desire was to check out…..He really wanted to leave and be with Jesus......But......on the other hand he also realized that the Philippians needed his ministry….and I believe every faithful follower of Jesus lives with this tension…we long to know Jesus intimately and to be with him physically…….but also we are compelled to be committed to the advancement of the kingdom and to serving Jesus here on earth.
Paul clearly did not escape this dilemma and he too lived with this tension…you see…. for Paul…this phrase… “to live is Chris”….this was n’t a slogan or a wall hanging from Hobby Lobby……but rather …it was a truth that propelled him and infused his life with significance..…with purpose….and resolve. In other words…. Paul wasn’t so heavenly minded that he was of no early good. And here’s the point…..if our goal is truly to live for Christ…then we will live a certain way........and we will ultimately give of ourselves and sacrifice for the good of others. Like Paul……We will die to our desires…..so that we might live to serve others.
Look back at v25…what does he say?
Philippians 1:25 (CSB)
25 Since I am persuaded of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you......why?........ for your progress and joy in the faith,
It’s for your progress and joy in the faith. Paul worked so that the Philippians would grow in their understanding of their faith….of who Jesus is and what He’s done on their behalf……..It’s as simple as this…..Paul’s life was devoted to producing in others the same cherishing of Jesus and the same desire to honor Jesus that characterized his own life. “If for me to live is Christ, then I will give my life so that the same is true for everyone I come in contact with.”
So……..How do we know that “for me to live is Christ?” How do I know if I am serving others selflessly? Well……you will put to death any desire within that would keep you from serving others.…and....as you observe your life..... there will be concrete expressions of serving others, encouraging others to godliness, praying for others, and you will be intentionally coming alongside others to encourage them....and......there will be an overwhelming passion and commitment to the embodied gathering of the church on Sunday’s. So tell me.......Is your life characterized by continuing with others for their progress and joy in the faith?
[Pause]
Now….the question is begging to be asked…..How? How do we live like this? Well…I am glad you asked. The text shows us 3 ways…
How do we live a life worth living and die a death worth dying?
1. Make Jesus your ultimate aim
Jesus was Paul’s constant aim…….I am reminded of
1 Corinthians 9:23 (CSB)
23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.
and
Philippians 3:7 (CSB)
7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ.
and
Philippians 3:13–14 (CSB)
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, 14 I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
All of these verses speak to the truth that Jesus was Paul’s constant aim….and..... I don’t know about you but for me it’s so easy to fall into living for good things.... but not for the best. You see……God graciously blesses us with our families, friends, homes, careers, and possessions. But if we’re not careful, these good things become the things for which we’re living. Brothers and Sisters…it is imperative for us to remember that when we take good things and make them ultimate things…the result will only ever be heartbreak and destruction.
For me…….. it was when I was a teaching pastor at a previous church….. when I took the position the church was extremely unhealthy.....but in my arrogance and ignorance I took on the challenge believing that I could lead this already dead church to a place of health. And really....my ambition and my motives were good…but what happened in the process was …leading this church and trying to lead it to health became my ultimate ambition…and as a result …my family suffered…I suffered as my relationship with Jesus suffered…and the church suffered as its doors ultimately closed . I was focused on a good thing…but I lost sight of the ultimate thing … glorifying Jesus. Ultimately .....I elevated the church and the pastorate higher than I should have.
Maybe for you it’s a job, a relationship, or your finances……and we need to continually ask ourselves this diagnostic question......“What if this thing…or this relationship.... was taken from me?”
And....Maybe you experienced this kind of loss in the past…or.....maybe you’re experiencing it now right. Maybe you have lost a job or a loved one....maybe you lost a friendship or something or someone important to you.....and certainly......it’s difficult to loose things ……But…… if we are truly living for Christ....we will be able to make it through any tragedy or loss without despair....because we know that Jesus can not be taken away from us.
So …friends.....one way we can grow in this area is to be constantly evaluating our life and asking ourselves, “Is Jesus at the center? Is He my all in all?”
So.....How do we live a life worth living and die a death worth dying?
We make Jesus our ultimate aim and #2 We fully depend on Christ
2. Fully Depend on Christ
Look back at v19
Philippians 1:19 (CSB)
19 because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Underline or circle the word “salvation”....this word speaks to the truth that Paul was fully dependent and confident that God would sustain him through and deliver him out of his current circumstance ……and he knew that God would do so through the prayers of the Philippians and through the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
And this verse speaks to the truth that the Christian life is impossible to live in our own power…. you see.....as we follow Jesus it is imperative that we do so through the power of the Holy Spirit .....it is imperative that......that every day we would are intentional to depend on the Holy Spirit....and not only that ....but also...... we have also been given the gift of the church and ……notice the relationship between the prayers of the people and the working of the Spirit in our lives…look back at v19…
Philippians 1:19 (CSB)
19 because I know this will lead to my salvation through your prayers and help from the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
I am reminded of another truth found in Romans 8:26 which says,
Romans 8:26 (CSB)
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.
Brothers and Sisters.........our prayers matter! And we see this truth all throughout scripture……..we see that prayer is a normal means that God uses to provide abundant help to the believer.
Consider James 5:16
James 5:16 (CSB)
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
Consider also how in the book of Acts.....we have numerous examples of the church praying for boldness and endurance……We also see how Paul told the Corinthians that God was using their prayers to help him in his great trials. Paul also asked the Romans, the Ephesians, the Colossians, and the Thessalonians to pray for him . So this reference in Philippians isn’t just some passing comment. Paul really believed that God used the prayers of His people to provide strength to His servants. Friends......we must not forget that prayer has great power and that it works!
Now….finally .....How do we live a life worth living and die a death worth dying?
We make Jesus our ultimate aim
We fully depend on Christ
3. Rest in the good news of the gospel.
Take a moment and turn to Philippians 3:7-11
Philippians 3:7–11 (CSB)
7 But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 My goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, 11 assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
When Paul met Jesus ....His life was radically changed. You see......Paul was previously a religious person .....an extremely religious person..... but he didn’t know Jesus....and it wasn’t until he traded religion for the righteousness of Christ that he found life.
You see…..it wasn’t until Paul forfeited religion for Jesus that he found the meaning of life and death.....for that was the moment he stopped looking for meaning from some philosophical reflection or spiritual quest or from working really hard to earn God’s favor....and he found life in …not his own work........but through the work of Christ on his behalf.
In other words.......when Paul discovered that Jesus took the divine execution he deserved, and gave him a righteousness that he did not deserve.....it was in that moment that Jesus became the most precious and most valuable and satisfying, comforting, joy-giving reality in his life.
And….as we reflect on the truth..... that..... Jesus died in our place to reconcile us to God so that we might spend an eternity delighting in Him and magnifying Him……that is when we will be able to join Paul and proclaim that..... for me. .....to live is Christ and to die is gain.
So…….What does it mean to Live is Christ? Well......It means that we rejoice in Christ……. that we live with the ambition to honor Christ…….. and that we die to our selfish desires...... so that...... we might live to serve others for Jesus’ sake. And the only way we can live this life is by fully depending on Jesus as we make Jesus our ultimate aim in life and as we rest in the good news of His gospel. And the result of this is that .....when we die..... we can have a death that is worth dying...because we can be confident that we will forever be with Jesus!!
Friends……..If you are struggling to find meaning in this life and if this outlook on death sounds crazy to you….listen to me….grace is available to you in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Jesus loves you so much that he humbled himself and lived a perfect life…a life that we can not live and He died the death we deserved…Jesus paid the penalty that sinners like you and me deserve.... and then Jesus rose from the grave conquering sin, satan, and death.… And the life and grace that you receive by faith in Jesus is a gift…it is not something that you can earn through your own efforts…it’s a gift....
The truth is.....everyone wants to live….and even though nobody wants to die…we all will….and the only way to have a life worth living and a death worth dying is to look to the only one who has lived a perfect life and conquered death. His name is Jesus! Trust in Him today…find your rest and your purpose in Him today.
Let’s pray.
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