Summary: A child of God knows that there is no way to lose in God’s kingdom as a committed Christian for living means Christ and to die is to be with Him for you win either way.
NO WAY TO LOSE: YOU WIN EITHER WAY Philippians 1:21-30
Proposition: A child of God knows that there is no way to lose in God’s kingdom as a committed Christian for living means Christ and to die is to be with Him for you win either way.
Objective: My purpose is to challenge people to realize that Christ can be magnified by our life or by our death.
Illus: Lois had just undergone cancer surgery and was alone with her thoughts. She had faced death before, or so she thought, but it had always been the death of people she had loved -- not her own. Suddenly she realized that losing someone she loved was more threatening to her than the possibility of losing her own life. She wondered why. She remembered what she had asked herself before her operation, "Am I ready to die?" Her immediate answer had been, and still was, "Yes, I am. Christ is my Lord and Savior." With her readiness for death secure, she now needed to concentrate on living. Would it be in fear or in faith? Then God seemed to say, "I have saved you from eternal death. I want to save you from living in fear." Isaiah 43:1 came to mind: "I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine." Now Lois testifies, "Yes, I am His! That’s the reality that is more important than doctors telling me I have cancer." And then she adds, "I win either way!" Lois’ insight is a convinced echo of Paul’s words in today’s text, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain."
Paul believes that CHRIST OFFERS MORE MEANING TO HIS PEOPLE THAN OUR LIVES CAN EVER CONTAIN. In a world where people are having difficulty finding meaning, Christ offers not only meaning but a path to a victorious life. This is what we learn from Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Paul is in prison. He is awaiting trial. A conviction could mean his death. He wants his friends to know that he is prepared either way. Thus he writes, “For to me, living means opportuni-ties for Christ, and dying--well, that’s better yet! But if living will give me more opportunities to win people to Christ, then I really don’t know which is better, to live or die! Sometimes I want to live and at other times I don’t, for I long to go and be with Christ. How much happier for me than being here! But the fact is that I can be of more help to you by staying! Yes, I am still needed down here and so I feel certain I will be staying on earth a little longer, to help you grow and become happy in your faith; my staying will make you glad and give you reason to glorify Christ Jesus for keeping me safe, when I return to visit you again.” Do you get what he is saying? In Paul’s mind, it was a win/win situation, whether he lived or died. Why? Because Christ promised him a full, rich, purposeful life either way - whether he was serving God in this world or in the world which is to come.
I. RIGHT DECISION: Living is not about me (vvs. 21a, 22) “To live is Christ”--Life is filled up with, occupied with Christ, in the sense that everything Paul does—trusts, loves, hopes, obeys, preaches, follows (Vincent), and so on—is inspired by Christ and is done for Christ."
1. The consecration (v. 21a) “To live is Christ”-- One goal for life is to honor Christ at the center of life. Christ had become for him the motive of his actions, the goal of his life and ministry, the source of his strength. The consummation of this life is stressed since there was only one purpose or goal for his life: to honor Christ as the center of life. Paul so totally wanted to glorify Christ that as long as he lived everything about him was to point people to Christ.
2. The concentration (v. 22a) “If I live on in the flesh” -- Don’t miss what he just said...spiritual work is not easy but is work and it is hard work. Epaphroditus almost died in the "work of Christ" (Phil. 2:30). Spiritual fruit may be converts to Christianity (1 Cor 16:15), deeds, praise to God (Heb13:15) -- whatever is of eternal value. That kind of fruit comes from hard work, which is the natural activity of the godly on earth.
Illus: Florence Nightingale wrote in her diary when she was 30: “Now Lord, let me think only of Thy will.” Later, she was asked the secret for her life, “Well, I can give only one explanation. I have kept nothing back from God.”