Friday, February 25, 2011
Tuesday, in Philippians 1:21, we said that this verse is something which is true of all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, having looked at the meaning of the two parts of this verse earlier this week, we’ll apply it this today and into next week. The first question that we’re going to be studying as an aid to applying this passage is simply this:
What does it mean to live as if to live is Christ: It means that we live with our first and central aim in life being to know, glorify, and enjoy Christ.
What is your first and central aim in life? Not what do you say is your purpose is in life when in a religious crowd and need to give a spiritual answer; but, in your heart of hearts, what is your first and central aim in life? Paul said the answer to that question for every Christian is the same.
Now in one sense that is just filling out the first commandment. He is to be sole and singular in getting the great and ultimate worship of our life. And so, in a sense, to live is Christ, and living it out, is simply saying that Christ is the One that I worship.
There has been a battle at this point from the beginning history. In the Garden, it is the battle between the supremacy of God and the supremacy of our desires from the very point of Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve through the serpent. When Eve takes and Adam eats that fruit, they are saying to God, ‘No, sir! We are not going to follow Your word. We’re going to do it our way.
Every day that same story is played out in human experience, where we set our desires on something other than the one true and living God in Jesus Christ. We say, ‘To live is_____’ and you fill in the blank, and it’s not Christ, it’s something else, it’s ‘to live is to experience this sensual pleasure.’ And our hearts are pulled to it, and we do it. And we have chosen that pleasure over God.
Paul is saying in this passage that Christ is first and foremost, and no desire and no wealth, can substitute for knowing and serving, and loving and fellowshipping, and glorifying and enjoying Christ.
So, how do we know that we are living as if to live is Christ? Here’s four quick things:
First, those for whom it is true that ‘to live is Christ’ purpose to know as much of Christ as possible.
Those who know that to live is Christ want to know as much of Christ as possible. They want to know about His character, His plans. They want to know about how the Persons of the Trinity relate to Him. They want to know all about His claims, His words, His works, His ways, the meaning of His death—His saving, redeeming work—and they cannot get enough!
When you fall in love with a person, you want to both know him or her and know all about him or her. That’s the way it is for those for whom it is true that to live is Christ.
Secondly, those who live as if “to live is Christ” want to be like Christ.
They’re not satisfied with just knowing about Him. They themselves want to be conformed to His image. They want to think like He thinks, believe like He believes. They want their life goal to be His life goal.
And on the Last Day, when we stand before God clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ, one of the interesting things will be that though we will be accepted—not we did anything before or after our conversion that fitted us for life with God in heaven—yet we’ll stand back and we’ll look at the multitude say, “They’re like Jesus! They’ve become like Him, and He’s accepted them, not because of those things, but only for Christ. And He’s transformed them so that in their character they have become like Him who is the image of the living God.” Those who really live as if to live is Christ want to be like Christ.
Thirdly, those who live as if “to live is Christ” purpose to make Him known as far as possible to all humanity.
Paul thought God’s purpose for him in life was to stamp out the name of Christ and crush Christianity. And then, Christ met him on the way to Damascus, changed his heart, and turned him into a dynamic missions-evangelist-pastor-theologian. And when He did, because Paul understood the greatness of Christ in that encounter, he wanted everyone else within earshot to know the greatness of Christ, and he crossed land and sea so that others might experience the grace and the greatness of Christ in the way that he did.
One last thing. To live as if ‘to live is Christ’ means to purpose to enjoy Christ, to draw our comforts from Him, to find our happiness in communion with Him.
It is not that we don’t enjoy the good things that God has given us in this life. But even when we’re enjoying those good things, we know that we have them only because of Jesus Christ, and we can enjoy them only in fellowship with Jesus Christ. As good as these things are, they would mean nothing to us apart from Jesus Christ.
This is what it is to live is Christ. And if this is to live, then this also says to us something very important about death, which we’ll look at next week.
Posted by Ligon Duncan at 5:27 PM