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To Live is Christ (conclusion)

Intro:  If you planned on getting something done in 2018, time is running out. We made a plan at the beginning of the year to study through the book of Philippians through our sermon lessons. So this morning seemed like the appropriate time to bring those lessons to a conclusion.  I know we did not consider all that is contained in this epistle or learn all there is to learn from the text.  I hope you will continue to read and apply the words of that letter.

  1. Today’s lesson will serve as a review of sorts. I want to consider again the passages that we focused on through the past year and remind ourselves of the commands, promises and teachings of the book. The apostle tells the Philippians how God wants them both to think and act. I would like you to read these verses with me.
  2. (Jan) Phil 1:21– For to me, tolive is Christ, and to die is gain. – These are the words of the apostle Paul. The letter he wrote to the church at Philippi serves as a window into the heart of the apostle. It reveals to us his undying passion for his divinely-appointed mission of preaching the gospel. Paul mentions several times in this letter that he is rejoicing.  The main reason for his joy, even though he is in prison himself, and some are preaching the message out of envy, is the success of the gospel in the lives of people. Disciples among the palace guard and Caesar’s household?  Who would have thought it was possible?
  3. 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.
  4. (Feb) Phil 1:27-28 – Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.
  5. Conduct worthy of the gospel is behavior that displays the value or worth of the message itself. It is conduct befitting of the gospel.  The gospel is not just a joyful story, it is a call to conduct.  It demands certain choices and actions that correspond to the story.  What does the message commend and demand?  What type of message is the gospel?
  • It is a message of compassion – I must be compassionate to others
  • It is a message of truth – I must seek the truth and speak truth to others
  • It is a message of impartiality and justice – I must be fair and impartial toward others
  • It is a message of mercy – I must extend mercy to others
  • It is a message of obedience – I must respect God’s authority and strive to do all that He commands.
  • It is a message of forgiveness – How can I refuse to forgive my brother?
  • It is a message of love – above all things I must love others, as Christ has loved me
  1. This is a powerful argument to those who value their own salvation and sanctification from God. If you know what the gospel is all about; if you know what Jesus did for you, then you know how to act…
  • Ephesians4:1-3 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Do you see any of the characteristics of the gospel message in the conduct Paul commands – lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing in love, unity, peace?
  • What did Paul mean when he told the church at Rome to receive their sister Phoebe in “a manner worthy of the saints” ( 16:1-2)? Did they know what that meant or did Paul need to spell it out?
  • The apostle John urged Christians to treat strangers in a “manner worthy of God”. (3 John 5-6)
  1. (March) Phil 2:5 – Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  The gospel message is designed to change us from the inside out. God does care what you think and we are responsible for controlling our thoughts (“let this mind”).  The apostle helps us understand what Jesus was thinking when He willingly condescended to this world and lived as a servant among men.
  2. What does the mind of Christ look like among us? It will be noticed today, just as it was then. It is uncompromisingly different than the mind of the world around us.
  • Selfless – First, a Christian with the mind of Christ is no longer consumed with self. Jesus’ mind tells me that it is not all about me.  Those who seek to follow God so they can get everything they want are not of the mind of Christ.  A Gospel that promotes itself by promising people wealth and prestige is not the Gospel of Jesus.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit…”
  • Surrendered – Second, a Christian with the mind of Christ completely surrenders to the will of God. Jesus’ decisive selfless thinking led Him to surrender to God’s will above all else.  His single agenda was to be obedience. Those who claim to have the mind of Christ and balk at obedience to the words of God are fooling themselves.
  • Serving others – a Christian with the mind of Christ will serve the needs of others. Aren’t you glad that, when it came time for the cross, Jesus was focused on us, that He put our concerns before His own?  We appreciate Jesus’ mind and choice, but do we make the same one?  Paul had been able to teach the mind of Christ to others, who in turn filled his needs.
  1. (April) Phil 2:12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
  2. What does the Bible teach about our salvation? Is it all God’s doing, all the believer’s doing, or a combination of both?  Scripture makes it clear that it involves both God’s power and human response. These words describe the divine-human synergy present in our salvation. We are saved by God’s mercy and power, but we are not saved apart from our obedience to God’s commands.
  3. Obeyed” translates a word from which the English word acoustics derives. hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo’-o); to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority; placing oneself under what has been heard, and therefore of submitting and obeying. Implied in this word is the believer’s responsibility to listen attentively to God’s Word so as to obey.
  4. Paul’s words call for consistent obedience (not in my presence only) and a humble and respectful attitude in our doing. (with fear and trembling).
  5. (May) Phil 2:14-16 – Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
  6. There is nothing more incongruous to the Christian life than complaining or disputing. When we do either we lose our influence for good among those in the world. Instead we must shine as lights in a dark world, through being blameless (without censure or assigned fault) and harmless (innocent, not causing harm to others).   We cannot compromise the truth (hold fast the words of life).  But as we oppose evil and fight against sin, we must be cognizant of how we are doing it.Overcome evil with good.–Rom. 12:17-21  “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
  7. (June) Phil 3:7 – But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. What did you give up to become a Christian and live as a Christian?  In June we studied about intense decision a disciple makes to follow Jesus. We learn this from Paul’s own personal life. In chapter 3 Paul catalogues the things that he valued and put his confidence in as Saul of Tarsus. His Jewish pedigree, intense religious training and knowledge of the OT law. But when he came to know Jesus, these things were discarded as rubbish; never to be regretted. As a man who finds a pearl of great price, the disciple abandons everything else to be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:9-11)
  8. G. (July) Phil 3:12-1412 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  9. Although Paul was totally dependent on God for every spiritual blessing, he described the Christian life as a struggle and labor – and the struggle was still going on – he had not yet obtained; not yet been perfected. Colossians 1:29 “To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”
  10. Twice Paul uses the verb dioko (dee-o’-ko) – press on. – in vs. 12 & 14) It means to “pursue or chase”. As a hunter in search of its prey. Paul was not sitting back and resting on his oars, as though he had it all wrapped up.  It is a single-minded pursuit, forgetting the past and reaching forward to what is ahead. What is the goal? – the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (v. 14) The prize is associated with the call of God.  God calls us through the gospel message. Paul describes the call as an upward call.
  • It is a call from heaven (upward) as opposed to this ambitions and callings of this world.
  • It is a call to heaven – the prize of the gospel message is not of this world.
  1. (August) Phil 4:4Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Some see this verse as central admonition of the letter. Rejoice in the Lord. We spent some time looking at the command to rejoice and the definition of real joy. Paul’s joy was not created by good circumstances or destroyed by bad circumstances. It was born of a relationship with Jesus that provided hope under every circumstance.
  2. The road to joy is to look outside ourselves.. it is about others – John was joyful even as he was
  3. The road to joy is about repentance – not just turning from sin (that is necessary), but a turning away from this world to embrace the world to come.
  4. The road to joy is about spiritual improvement. Growing in our understandingof what is good in life. Seeking the things above; living by faith, not by sight.
  5. The road to joy is about the eternal kingdom of God. It is about living for Christ so intensely and intentionally that to live is Christ. Luke 10:17-20 – “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” 18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Christ in you, the hope of glory. Whatever happened yesterday, last week, last year, or even what might happen tomorrow,  it cannot rob you of the joy that comes through having your name written in the book of life.
  6. (Sept) Phil 4:6-7 – Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. We studied about anxiety way back in September. Do you still worry?  Anxiety is pervasive and challenging to every person. God describes a lack-of-faith anxiety as sinful, and calls on us to overcome it completely (be anxious for nothing) through comprehensive prayer (in everything by prayer and supplication)
  7. The fruit of prayer is the peace that God alone can provide.
  8. (Oct) Phil 4:8 – 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things. What should the Christian think about? Does God care? The apostle lists 8 adjectives to describe the character of the things we should put on minds on.  These are the things of God, not the world.
  9. How do we obey this command?
  • Recognize that sin begins in the mind (or heart), and purity is not just outward. Bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10).
  • Block the sources of sinful thinking… If we allow things into our lives which promote sensuality, greed, sexual impurity, crude language, violence, hatred, love of self, or anything else not pleasing to God, we will practice impurity and fail at being holy people.  You will not be a godly person if you do not control the TV, videos, movies, music, magazines, books, and even the radio programs you take in.
  • Absorb God’s words –It is not just a matter of avoiding bad thoughts. If we would be joyful, peaceful, contented and holy people we must think on the things of God. These thoughts originate in His word. Read it daily. Saturate your mind in it.  You’re not what you think you are, but what you think, you are.
  1. (Nov) Phil 4:11 – Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: Despite all the things that were missing in Paul’s life – wealth, freedom, loyal friends, security, etc.) He was satisfied in God’s provision. He was content, and could be in any circumstance – whether he had much or little.
  2. We noticed in our study in November that the providence of God is at the heart of this command. Discontent is not sinful because it makes us unhappy, but because it is an affront to the divine provision. It is indicative of a lack of faith.
  3. Real contentment is not achieved by getting more stuff, or even getting rid of stuff. But rather by putting the Lord in charge of the stuff. If we seek peace, or contentment in the pursuit of physical things, or the good life, we are looking in the wrong place. Jesus spoke of laying up treasure in heaven, and not on the earth where those treasures could be spoiled or destroyed.
  4. (Dec) Phil 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Earlier this month we considered one of the great divine promises of this book – A promise for the strength to do all things. We also concluded that this promise is not about athletic competition or human achievement, or  a promise of the ability to accomplish anything we might desire.  Rather it is a promise of spiritual strength to endure the worst of circumstances.  The strength Jesus provides is not physical strength, but strength from the Spirit of God for the inner man (Eph. 3:15)
  5. God provides the strength we need for every circumstance though the knowledge of His words, prayer, and the experience of suffering for righteousness.
  6. How strong are you spiritually? We might not know until we are tested by the circumstances of life. But we can be assured that if we remain with Jesus we will be strong enough to endure all circumstances and do all things that He expects of us.  How? Through the strength that Jesus provides.

 

Conclusion:  What do you live for?  To go fishing?  To play golf?  To travel? For my family? For my spouse?  To help others? Some of these answers may seem more correct than others.  But for Paul there was only one answer.

  • To live is Christ. 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.
  • If you are living for some other purpose than Christ, you can change that today. You can die with Him (repent of sin); be buried with Him (baptized) and you can be resurrected to a new life with Him.
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