THE PROPER PERSPECTIVE
How many of you have been up in one of those small airplanes? This fall was the first time that I had the opportunity to go up in one of those little four seat planes courtesy of xxxx. I had been up in commercial airliner and military aircraft but nothing where I was able to sit in the cockpit and get a good look.
Those of you who have been in planes remember the first time. You were a little apprehensive about it. Tried to act nonchalant about the whole thing. As the plane gets higher and higher houses, buildings, cars, streets all seem to take on a different look. It looks as though you are looking down on a child’s train set. You notice things like how many little ponds and lakes there are. How the road you travel on everyday looks so windy when you look at it from above.
Now of course the house, buildings and roads have not changed, but what has changed is you prospective. When we change are prospective things look very different.
All through our life our perspectives change. There was time when we may have thought the best thing in the world was riding our bikes over ramps and around the neighborhood. A time when people over 40 seemed very old, (they still do to me), A time perhaps when you thought your parents were not only very ignorant but extremely out of touch with reality.
But things don’t real change over the years, bikes are still bikes, people over 40 are still over 40, but what changes is our perspective, the way in which we look at things. This morning I would like us to consider our perspective on life and death. What does life mean to you? What does death mean to you? What is your perspective on these things? Today I want to challenge you all to began to look at life from a different perspective, one that you are probably familiar with, but perhaps have moved from.
To do this let you look at some words of Paul as we continue our study into the book of Philippians. Turn with me to chapter 1 verse 19-26. Here we see the perspective which Paul had on death and life, and may I suggest that this is the perspective we all need to have on death and life.
"For I know that this will turn out for my salvation through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again."
Let us take a look at this passage verse by verse;
We remember last week we saw how there were some who were again Paul. Paul to Paul it really did matter if they were against Paul as long as they were for the gospel, what matter to Paul was the Christ was preached. Paul noted in verse 18 how in this fact he would rejoice.
He now states that "he knows" that this will turn how for his salvation. Notice the confidence in which Paul speaks. He "know" that this will happen, he is sure of it. And how is he able to be sure of this salvation, two things mentioned in this verse, the power of prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Now the word salvation here does not refer to Paul’s spiritual life, but refers to is release from prison. He is certain that he will not bring shame to the gospel, and he is also certain that he will have boldness in presenting the gospel of Christ.
You see Paul was certain that God would hear the prayers of those dear saints in Philippi. He knew that they were lifting him up in prayer and that through that prayer God would be at work in Paul. Paul states that he knows this.
He also knows that he will be bold for the Lord Jesus and not bring the gospel shame because he as "the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ". Paul knows that when he trust in the Holy Spirit he will be given the boldness he needs, he will be given that things to say, and he will not bring the gospel shame.
So we can say that in a manner of speaking that has the prayers of the Philippian people go up, the Spirit of Jesus Christ came down.
And when we put these two things into practice in our on lives we do will be bold for the Lord, and we will not bring shame to the gospel. We also need to be praying the Spirit of Jesus Christ down upon us. We need to pray that the Spirit will work in us.
It is a shame that many of us are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are ashamed to let people know that we are born again of the Spirit of God. We don’t want people to think that we are some kind of Jesus Freak or something. But I will tell if you pray for boldness, God will work His Holy Spirit in you and give you boldness, just as it was with Paul.
We are capable of the same thing as Paul and more. We can be just as bold as Paul, and have
the same perspective as Paul. Let move on.
So we see that Paul had confidence because of those two things prayer and the Holy Spirit. And it was because of prayer and the Holy Spirit that Paul was not only able to be bold and not bring shame to the gospel, but also look at verse 21, "so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life of by death."
But also given the strength to have Christ magnified in his body, through his life, and if need be through his death, but in any case Christ was to be magnified.
Here we see the perspective which Paul views life and death. Christ is magnified through all.
We have all look at the stars at night. We see the gleaming in far away places. And we wonder what they look like a little closer. Well with the telescopes they have now-a-days they can look at those far away stars and planets and get a very close look at them.
And like those telescopes magnify those stars, we are to magnify Christ. Because sometime the world can see Christ very well through all the sin and immorality that goes on. So we as Christian are to bring Christ closer we are to magnify Christ for the world so that can see what He looks like, what He acts like.
Paul is confidant that Christ well be magnified through is life or death. He is confident that Christ will brought closer through his life or death. What about you. Are that confident that Christ will be, or is magnified by your life, is he brought closer through your life so that others can see. If not you need to change your perspective on life so that Christ is magnified. And it all can happen through prayer and the Holy Spirit.
Let us go to the next verse, verse 21, "For me to live Christ, and die is gain." I don’t know about you, and I hate to sound corny but this verse just send shiver down my spine. "For me to live is Christ." It is just one of those verse where you say, "Boy I wish I had written that."
Christ was all to Paul. As I stated last week it Paul was not concerned with Paul was concerned with Christ. Christ was Paul life, "For me to live is Christ!" Everything that Paul did everything that effect Paul’s life Paul looked at in such a way as to how Christ fit in. When you read that writings of Paul you will find no aspect of His life where he does not apply Christ to it. His thoughts on his personal life, marriage or lack of, his work, his society, his emotions, his sufferings, and on and on. Every point of Paul’s life Paul viewed with His saviour in mind. To Paul the only reason life was worth living was because "To live is Christ." This was Paul’s perspective for live. Everything I do Christ is involved in.
There are far to many Christian who cannot join in with Paul as say to "me to live is Christ and to die is gain."
Perhaps one of these is more appropriate, "For me to live is money and to die is to leave it all behind". Or "for me to live is fame and to die is to be forgotten." Or maybe "for me to live is power and to die is to lose it all." Go ahead and fill in the blanks. For me to live is _______ and to die is _______". Each one of here needs to be able to say "for me to live is Christ".
He needs to be everything to us. Every aspect of our life needs to be looked at that way Paul looked at it, "how does Jesus fit in here" We all need that proper perspective, and that perspective is "For me to live is Christ."
And when we can say with Paul for "me to live is Christ" then and only then can we say with that "for me to die is gain". Paul knew that his relationship with Christ would not cease at his death. He would not have to give up Christ when he died. Death for Paul would be the end of suffering, the end of the chains, the end of the beatings, and abuse. Death for Paul would be a glorious promotion.
You see Paul knew that with death there would come a new perspective. While on earth we have a very faint view of our Lord. Yet when we are face to face with the Lord, we will realize that true magnitude of his power, His holiness, His righteousness, grace, His love. We will receive a whole new perspective of all these things. And what a wonderful thing that will be.
While death itself is gain, the act of dying can at times be very tragic. It can be at time very painful for us and our loved ones. While if we can say "for me to live is Christ to die is gain" we must realize that death itself is a punishment for sin. Had sin not enter the world we would have no death. Therefore the act of death itself can be painful, yet once we cross over into that life it is gain.
Now death means certain things;
First it means the end of some things. Life stops. Your heart stops, you stop breathing in and out, and body functions cease. But other things end as well suffering, pain, worry, all these things ends as well. The Bible also promises that for the believer there will be no more death. It will be a one time thing for those who have placed there trust in Christ. For those who have not put their trust in Christ death is something that goes on for eternity.
We will also lose some earthy pleasures, we lose our spouses when we die, we lose golf. So these scripture can also be hard to deal with.
While there are loses the second things death means for the believers is the continuation of life. But this is a glorious life. A life like we cannot imagine. A life so much better then what we have here. It is a continuation of our relationship with Christ, a relationship that will be stronger in the life to come.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written: "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
What the Lord has prepared for those who love Him cannot even begun to be stated.
Thirdly death means renewal for the believer. Renewal of strength, and health. There are no physical pains. It is a renewal of friends and family who have passed on to the Lord before us. It also means peace. Peace from the Spiritual warfare the Christian is involved in every day of his or her live.
Paul continues on with this thought in the next three verses;
Philippians 1:22-24 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you."
Paul states here that he is certain that if he goes not living that God will produce fruit through him. Yet in his heart he states that he is hard press between being with Christ and continuing the work God had given him to do. He states that he has a desire to depart and be with Lord.
Some things to note from this verse. Paul knew that it was up to God whether he was to live or die. He is not talking about taking his own life here, that is up to God. The desire to die is not necessarily sinful, but it can be a sign of faith. If we have the desire to die to be with the Lord that is faith. The desire for death should not be from weariness or escape. Yet the choice is always Gods.
So for Paul it was a matter of God’s will. He would have liked to depart to be with Christ. The Greek word for depart refers to ship being loosed from it’s moorings or in military term to breaking up camp and taking down your tent to go to another assignment. That is certainly a beautiful way to look at going to heaven.
But while Paul would have liked to break camp and move onto heaven, he knew that it was up to His commanding officer to decide when. Paul wanted God’s will done not his.
While Paul wanted to be with Christ he knew that he was to stay on earth to continue that work. There was a greater need for Paul on earth then there was in heaven. And God revealed this to Paul. Paul did not fear life or death. For Paul loved Christ, yet he also loved the Philippians. Thus Paul could say in verse 26 that he rejoiced in the fact that he would be coming to the Philippian people at some time in the future.
Now very few of us could say that we are reluctant to leave this world because other need us here. We simple do not want to die. We are not ready to release our hold on life. Why is it that those who are truly saved, that is we are certain we are going to heaven when we die- yet most of us do not want die. If believe first of all God give us a strong will to live so that we are to do the work which He has called us. When He is ready- when our work is done- He will call us home. Also as a stated earlier that death is a punishment for sin, and because it is a punishment we tend not to want to go through it, even thought for the Christian "to die is gain."
The final thing I wish to point our from this passage is that when we die we go to be with the Lord immediately. There are certain religious groups that teach a think called soul sleep. Which is to say that when we die we are conscious of nothing. It is not until the end of the ages that we are aware of being with Christ. Now there are other verses which show this to be false, but here Paul is clear when he died he was going to be present with the Lord. And we can be assured that when we have Christ as our Saviour, when we pass from this world to the next we will be present with the Lord.
So let us bring this all together. Paul’s whole perspective on live can be summed by reading verse 21 "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The only way death was gain for Paul was because is live was Christ.
Now what about you. What is your perspective on live and death. Is it similar to Paul’s. Or do have to change that perspective. You will notice in your bulletin these little books marks or signs or whatever you want to do with them. Put them in your Bible, on your fridge, or in your purse or wallet, wherever. But I want you to use them as a remember that "To Live is Christ" that is why we are hear. That is why we have been given life. So that our whole live is Christ. All we do needs to be done because "to live is Christ". Please use the piece of paper to remind you of that very important truth, be reminded of that truth every day of your life.
And "to live is Christ" must begin with you making him your personal Saviour. You need to trust in him to take away your sins to give you eternal life. You need to turn life over to Jesus Christ. You need to live Christ. And when you have done this, when you have made Him your personal Saviour, then and only then can you say "to die is gain".
SHALL WE PRAY