Magnifying Christ

Intro: Have you ever used a magnifying glass? (We used to use them to roast ants) Some of you are wearing them on your nose – some eyeglasses are simply a pair of magnifying lenses. Nathaniel has a huge one – it’s a telescope capable of gathering enough light to see far into space. What does the magnifying lens help us do? – see things better.

Read Phil 1:12-20But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; 14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15 Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. 19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.

1) The apostle has a unique perspective on his mission, and where it has led him. He uses words and phrases here that reflect his mission as an apostle: the furtherance of the gospel; speak the word without fear; preach Christ; appointed for the defense of the gospel; Christ will be magnified. Paul understood what God expected of Him. He also knew that everything else was subordinate to this mission.

2) “The things that have happened to him”, to which he refers would not be considered as blessings from God by most folks. He has been persecuted, beaten and imprisoned. He writes from the confines of a Roman prison. Yet He rejoices that Christ is preached. He is mindful of the mission first. He is able to set aside the personal attacks and refrain from striking back at those who are making things harder for him because he knows that Christ will be magnified. What does he mean by that? How can Christ be magnified? How has Paul accomplished it in his life?

I. Meaning of the word Magnify: The Greek word is megaluno – , “to make great” (megas), It also signifies to enlarge.

A. The Pharisees were said to “enlarge” the borders of their garments so as to be more conspicuous.

B. Mary magnified God in her praise (Luke 1:46)

C. The church was magnified (highly esteemed) in Acts 5:13 because of the miracles done by the apostles

D. The name of the Lord was magnified in Ephesus when the exorcists failed to cast out the evil spirits as Paul had done. Acts 19:17

1. So, to magnify Christ meant that He would be enlarged, or more highly esteemed in others eyes. Paul saw this as an important part of what he was called to do. Do we? Do we magnify Christ, cause Him to be enlarged in the eyes of others, by how we live and the decisions we make?

II. How Would Paul Magnify Christ?

A. By Trusting God to Care for Him: He was confident of God’s care and content with his present circumstances.

1. “according to my earnest expectation & hope” Paul was not doubting that God could work his purposes, no matter what the circumstances.

a. earnest expectation is a compound word that literally refers to stretching the neck. It often was used figuratively of an eager longing or expectancy, a connotation reinforced by the synonym hope. Paul was certain that, in the eyes of God, he would never truly be put to shame, whether before Caesar, the world, or the church. Ultimately, he would be vindicated. The implicit idea is that Paul’s earnest expectation and hope were grounded in the Lord’s promise, not in the apostle’s wishful thinking.

b. This confidence embodies a contentment that helps us live apart from the cares of the worlds around us. When God’s children can exhibit a peace & contentment in the face of trouble, Christ is magnified. Heb 13:5-6 – Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

B. By not being ashamed of God’s Testimony. Have you ever apologized for not having any other reason for your conviction other than God’s word? Is the word of God enough for you? How can Christ be enlarged in the minds of others if we are ashamed of what God has revealed through the scripture.

1. Paul said earlier that he was set for the defense of the gospel (v. 1:17) – which seems to imply something about the gospel. Some will reject it.

a. The gospel would generate a need of a defense. It would not be an inoffensive, “everybody’s OK” message. It will not accommodate our generation either.

C. By Speaking Boldly. He Had Developed a Lifestyle of Speaking Boldly – “As Always, So Now…” If we uphold Christ today, will people be surprised, or do they expect us to make certain decisions. Paul recognized that Christ was not magnified through sporadic or occasional obedience. There is a need for consistent and lifelong commitment among God’s people. John 15:7-8“If you abide (continue to dwell) in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. We need to develop habits of doing good that will bring glory to God – prayer, worship, giving, reading & studying, etc.

1. The early disciples prayed for the boldness to speak up in the face of persecution. Should we? Acts 4:23-30And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

D. By Being Ready to Suffer for Christ. Allow Christ to be magnified in his body. There was a connection between his mission and the physical pain he felt in his body. He viewed his physical body an instrument to be used to magnify Jesus. Paul commands that our bodies become “spiritual sacrifices” Rom 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God– this is your spiritual act of worship”. (NIV) He told the Corinthians that their physical bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit, and as such were instruments to bring glory to God –

• 1 Cor 6:19-20 – “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”. (NKJ)

• Gal 6:17From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus

1. We not accustomed to discomfort, and when we experience it, it sidetracks us in many ways. (all old people talk about!) What would it be like to physically suffer FOR CHRIST? How focused could we be?

2. But if we did suffer and remain faithful, how would that reflect on Christ?

Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for thee!

E. Whether by Life or by Death–Paul was willing to completely trust the plan of God. Paul was not certain what God’s plan was for him, whether he would continue to serve and exalt Him through his life and ministry or through the final exaltation of death. Either way, the Lord’s will would be done; His plan would be fully accomplished.

1. To the elders from Ephesus, who met him on the beach near Miletus, Paul declared unequivocally, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

2. A short while later he said to the believers in Caesarea who were distressed by Agabus’s prophecy of Paul’s impending arrest: “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).

3. He reminded the believers in Rome that “not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living” (Rom 14:7-9).

4. Whether he lived or died, the apostle could say now as he would to Timothy a few years later: “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:6-7). Either way, he would be victorious, and Christ would be magnified.

a. Paul glorified and magnified Christ because he was willing to go to the limit – He even saw the opportunity to bring God glory in his own death. I don’t know what that type of devotion to spiritual good is like — Phil 1:21-24For 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. (NKJ)

1) The Greek phrase rendered to live is Christ and to die is gain contains no verb. It literally reads “to live Christ, to die gain.” Paul knew that living is Christ, because he would continue to serve Him while he lived. He also knew that dying would be gain because then he would be in God’s presence, able to worship and serve Him in holy perfection (cf. v. 23). Paul fully understood that wealth, power, influence, possessions, prestige, social standing, good health, business or professional success, and all other such things are transitory. Many acknowledge that truth, but not many live as if it is true. Few can say with Paul’s utter sincerity to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Conclusion: The apostle’s very being was wrapped up in his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He trusted, loved, served, witnessed for, and in every way, was devoted to and dependent on Him. His only hope, his only purpose, his only reason to live was Christ. He traveled for Christ, preached for Christ, and was persecuted and imprisoned for Christ. Ultimately, he would die for Christ. But even death, by God’s marvelous grace, was ultimately for Paul’s eternal gain.

Magnification produced by large telescope, like Hubble in space or the Keck Observatory in Hawaii is sometimes misleading. It is not so much its ability to magnify, make thing look bigger, as it is its ability to collect more light, and thus improve its vision. If we want others to see Christ more clearly, we need to collect more light and reflect it back.