The Christian Motto Text

The Christian Motto Text

The Christian Motto Text
Text: Philippians 1:21

One of the great testimonies to the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the radical transformation of the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Those of you who know the gospel records will be aware of the sadness that gripped the heart of the disciples and followers of the Lord when the knowledge of Christ’s death set in. They were totally defeated, and hid themselves away out of public sight for fear of what the Jews might do to them now that they had gotten rid of their Master.

But as soon as Christ appeared in His resurrected form before them, their cowardly hearts turned into courageous hearts. It would have taken something out of the ordinary to change how they felt so quickly, and that something is the resurrection of Christ. It made them invincible to outwards pressures. If Christ has dealt a final blow to death, why should we fear? What are our enemies going to do, threaten us with Heaven? Death has lost its sting, and the grave its victory.

And it was of course a confrontation with the risen Christ that transformed the life of Saul of Tarsus. A man dedicated to the destruction of Christianity, and persecuted believers with unrelenting zeal, is impossibly changed to become the most devout believer of all. Nothing but meeting with the risen Christ could have done this, and it was the knowledge of the risen Christ that enabled Paul to stare at death with a cry of triumph.

His life is in danger here, imprisoned with the strong possibility of being another martyr for Christ, and as we saw last week, his only concern was continuing steadfast in the faith so that Christ would be magnified in his body whether by life or death v20.

Then he summarizes his life motto in v21. This is Paul’s entire existence and this is to be the attitude of every believer. We all look into an unknown future. But this is to be the motto of all believers in spite of what’s happening or will happen.

I. OUR VIEW OF LIFE – “for to me to live is Christ”

Paul states plainly his only reason for living was Christ. It was his only reason for existence. His only reason!

Paul basically tells us here that the entire existence of the Christian draws its life from Jesus Christ. Everything comes from Christ. It’s not an act. It’s not a show. It’s not abiding by a set a rules. It’s not a title. It’s not adhering to a creed. It’s not ceremony. It is an existence that gets all its strength from another person, even the God-man Jesus Christ.

i) Christ as our Spiritual Progenitor

Everyone of us inherited a corrupt and fallen nature. We are born into this world cut off from God. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.” 1 Cor 15:45

Christ came to undo and reverse what the first Adam did. He is not only living, but just as the first Adam was death-giving, so Christ is life-giving.

Is this not what we rejoice in today, beloved? That Christ has given the life of His resurrection to us in order to end the threat and fear of death. He as the risen Lord now lives by the power of the Spirit of God in our hearts. Eph 2:1 “you hath he quickened” i.e. you hath He made alive.

And if you’re hear this morning without Christ you should know that this is what you need. It’s not turning over a new leaf or a religious ceremony, it’s Christ and His life. He alone can give you life, true spiritual life, a life that can face life and death without any deep concern.

ii) Christ as our Spiritual Position

The Christian has a certain position in their life that they have received from Christ, “As Christ is, so are we in this world” 1 Jn 4:17.

It’s a position of justification Rom 8:1. The gospel takes men out of sin and puts them into righteousness. From darkness to light. From condemnation to justification. Justified freely by His grace.

It’s a position of sanctification. We continually draw from Christ the grace and strength to live the Christian life. Living as a Christian is not a matter of your will, but a matter of being made willing. The life of Christ streams into us and changes our hearts, giving us different desires.

It’s a position of adoption. Now are we the sons of God. This is the life the believer has as a joint heir with Jesus Christ. In the physical realm you can be without parents, but in the spiritual God takes you as His child when you believe in Christ.

iii) Christ as our Spiritual Pattern

What pattern was Paul following when he said these words? Is it not the pattern laid down by Christ? The pattern that recognizes life isn’t a possession and we do with it what we please, but life has a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves and our desires.

You young people particularly are often tempted to follow a personality. I say to you young people, make sure that pattern is Christ. When Paul said, for me to live is Christ, he was making it clear that Christ is the very pattern of his life. Gal 2:20.

II. OUR VICTORY IN DEATH – “to die is gain”

How contrasting this is to the world. To most it’s all about living for now. Satisfying our lusts, desires, and habits. And death is a horrible and cruel reality that will rob you of all your dreams and pleasures and past-times. But not for Paul.

This seems unnatural. Even in light of the biblical understanding by which we understand death to be a curse. An invader into God’s perfect world that upset the perfect equilibrium of His creation. So how can Paul say death is gain? Because he understands it in light of what Christ has done for him.

“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” Gal 3:13

For the Christian, death is promotion. It is the path to beholding the One who purchased eternal redemption for us. This statement reflects the invincibility of the Christian’s position. To live is to live with the life of Christ, to die is to be in the presence of Christ.

“Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” 2 Tim 1:10. ‘abolished death’ i.e. to render it powerless. 

Here Paul is living as a prisoner with the prospect of death looming at any moment, but rather than tormenting him, it delighted him. The sting of death had gone.

Dear believer, do not be afraid to die, and if this isn’t the spirit you possess, if there’s an element of fear in your heart about death, then pray that the Lord prepares you for death. Even that the Lord will excite you with the prospect of heaven.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet 1:3-5

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” Rev 14:13

What a contrast for those without Christ. Your life is entirely vain, and your hope in death is without foundation, whether that’s a hope that God will overlook your sin or a hope that there’s nothing after death. These are hopes without foundation, and that very moment you close your eyes and open them in eternity will be one of unimaginable awfulness.

But for the believer it is gain. Think about this as we come to the Communion Feast today. Remember that while it is a memorial of Christ’s death, it is not a feast of lamentation over one who remains dead. We continue this feast until He comes, the implication being that we remember the death of one who now lives, and shall return to receive His people and bring them into an everlasting communion with Himself.

Remember dear believer, because He lives, we shall live also.