I haven’t posted for a while because I’m been in the process of moving, and tonight I finally have internet up and running.  Here is the sermon for Wednesday, August 4th, 2010.

Philippians part 4

The proper attitude toward living and dying.

Philippians 1:19-26

Philippians 1:19-26 ESV – 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Introduction: Last time we looked at the Gospel that Paul preached; we saw that it was an advancing Gospel.  We also saw some benefits of Paul’s imprisonment.  Let’s refresh ourselves.

Benefits of Paul’s imprisonment:

  • The advancement of the Gospel (verse 12).
  • The Gospel became know throughout the whole imperial guard (verse 13).
  • Other believers became confident and bold in their sharing of the Gospel (verse 14).

Now Paul reveals to us the proper attitude Christians should have when it comes to life and death.  At this stage of Paul’s life he welcomed death, for he knew that being in the presence of the Lord was awaiting him.  But he also knew that while he was still alive, he had a job to do: that job was to share the Gospel.

There is so much that we can learn from Paul here.  As believers in Jesus Christ – we await the joys of being in His presence in heaven; but while we are here, we must live our faith and share the Gospel to a world that doesn’t know Him.

Let’s begin unpacking our text.

The defining attitude: To live is Christ, to die is gain.

Philippians 1:19-21 ESV – 19for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Paul’s life was consumed with knowing Christ Jesus and the power of His resurrection and sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings.  This is why he could say in verse 18, “Yes, and I will rejoice.” You see, Paul was sure of his deliverance.  In verse 18 he lays out the two keys to his deliverance: (1) the prayers of the saints; (2) the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Its amazing that God would choose to use the prayers of frail, weak people.  Yet that is what He does.  In our weakness when we cry out to God in behalf of other weak Christians, the Spirit of Christ comes and supernaturally moves in accordance to the Father’s will.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 ESV – 26For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

In verses 20-21 Paul is eager and expectant for his deliverance from chains.  But I believe that he has left it up to God’s will how the deliverance will come; either he will be delivered by being released from prison, or he will be delivered by being released from his body; i.e. death.  But either way God will bring the deliverance and will be the only one to receive glory.

We live in a culture that Christians try to put a demand on God in the area of how we like to be delivered.  But the God who delivers is also the one who determines how He will deliver.  Now don’t get me wrong, we will be delivered; either in this life or the next.  But deliverance will be according to the plans and timing of God the Father.

The debating attitude: to stay and labor or to die and rest.

Philippians 1:22-26 ESV – 22If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

Why do I call this, “the debating attitude?”  Well, Paul has this ongoing debate within him.  He longs to see his Savior, Jesus Christ, face to face.  But he knows that it would benefit the church if he stayed.  I believe Paul in this case is justifiably selfish.  But he is willing to stay in the flesh longer so that he can continue to labor amongst them.

In our struggles and prayers for deliverance, we can find such peace, joy, and hope of the promise of the next life with our Savior.  That’s the purpose of our hope, but let’s not be too selfish.  Christ might not be done with us in this life yet and He might not be done with our suffering either.  So when praying for deliverance, also pray that God will still use you now and that while you are suffering, you might suffer well for the glory of God.

Conclusion: As we close, what is the proper attitude toward living and dying?  Well, Paul sums it up well, “To live is Christ, to die is gain!”

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