Summary: Ultimately salvation is about knowing God, and commitment to Christ is about dying to self.
Crucified With Christ, Philippians 1:21-30
On a dark and stormy night, a child was lost in the streets of a large city. A policeman found him crying in distress, and gathering enough from his story to locate the home, gave him directions after this manner. “Just go down this street half a mile, turn and cross the big iron bridge, then turn to your right and follow the river down a little way, and you’ll see where you are.”
The poor child, only half comprehending, chilled and bewildered by the storm, turned about blindly, when another voice spoke in a kindly tone, “Just come with me.” The little hand was clasped in a stronger one, the corner of a warm coat was thrown over the shoulders of the shivering child, and the way home was made easy. The first man had told the way; the second man became the way.
This is exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ has been for us. From eternity He has told us that He is the Way. He has to become our Light also, to lead us to the Way.
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (NKJV)
This morning I want to talk to you about the nature of our affections. In today’s Scripture reading the Apostle Paul says, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 NET) The Apostle Paul is talking about his, and our, hearts affection. What is it that drives our life? Is it Christ love in us?
The people of the early Church did not call themselves Christians. That is a term which was cast upon them by unbelievers. They merely referred to themselves and followers of “The Way.” Followers of the way of Jesus, that is. What is it that is motivating us in the Christian life? Has our faith become an appendage to our morality, our sense of ethic, or is our faith the driving force of our life, even as Christ is the very source of our life?
This passage is about being a disciple. The Apostle Paul, in Philippians chapter one describes the nature of his discipleship to Christ. He is so absolutely devoted to The Way, to Jesus, that for him the very act of living is Christ; so much so, in fact, that he saw dying as gain so that he might be united with Christ eternally.
It is interesting that Paul speaks of radical devotion to Christ, of genuine discipleship and then only a few verses later he speaks of salvation.
In mainstream systematic theology these are usually seen as two separate issues. The issue of discipleship, an often ignored and neglected matter of the Christian faith, is not normative to a conversation about salvation.
For many people salvation means little more than “fire insurance,” that is, there are many people whose primary and even only interest in coming to faith in Christ is to do whatever it takes to avoid the place of eternal torment mentioned often by those finger wagging preachers who love to scare folk into obedience to God.
It seems clear that the point the Apostle Paul is making in speaking of discipleship right alongside of salvation is that they are much more closely linked than it is often taught. Salvation is so much more than “fire insurance,” than escaping eternal separation from God by choosing self love over Christ love.