Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Resolved 2008: Session #9

Rick Holland – Two Resolutions for a Life that Counts

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as 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. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Philippians 1:18-24

Paul, in this passage, is having an interesting self-debate, whether to live or die. He is struggling between wanting to go to heaven to be with Christ and remaining on earth to continue to minister to the Philippians.

This passage contains Paul’s manifesto, his declared summation of principles by which he lived by: To live is Christ and to die is gain.

We have all heard this verse and probably memorized it so three is nothing new here for us. But we need to look at it in order to dissolve the false dreams and treasures that do not exist and better behold the only true Treasure in the entire universe.

Two resolutions:

1) Resolved, to live life to treasure Christ.

v.21: To live is Christ. Paul’s view of his life was like a solar system that had Christ as his center, around which all things revolved.

What does it mean to treasure Christ?

This verse in the Greek or in the English makes no sense. Look at the verse. We would expect Paul to say that to live is loving Christ or worshiping Christ. But he merely says that to live is Christ. Christ is the essence of all things.

Christ isn’t to have first place above all things. He is to have first place in all things. He is to be #1 and #2 and #3 and #67 and so on. We dare not separate Jesus from any part of our lives.

It’s so easy for us to think of Christianity as behavior modification instead of a relationship as it really should be. Behavior modification is to be the fruit of the relationship.

To live is Christ can be seen in the way that Moses relates to God in Exodus 33. Moses prays in Exodus 33:19 that he would be able to know God because he knows that the experience of God that he had daily in the tent where he met with God wouldn’t last. He wanted to know God through and through, not just in the tent but also outside the tent.

How do I live Christ? How do I know Christ? It’s about sustained, building, present-tense awareness of who He is and what He’s done. Present-tense awareness of past-tense realities about who Christ is. To live is Christ means to consider everything as it is in relation to Him. We consider everything as loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing (present-tense) Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:8).

We have not understood the fullness of John 3:16. This verse speaks of us having eternal life. But what is eternal life? Jesus defines it at John 17:3 as knowing the true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. Eternal life isn’t about the future. It is about the present. It’s not about a quantity of life. It’s about a quality of life.

To live is Christ means that every possibly thought that we could have ought to be in relationship to Jesus Christ, who He is, what He’s done, and that He’s here. He’s amazing. Are we amazed? He’s awesome. Are we in awe?

2) Resolved, to anticipate death to treasure Christ better.

v.21: To die is gain. Paul is speaking so as to say that to die is like hitting the lottery. This word gain is the strongest word in the Greek language that he could have used to express what people want most. He’s saying that to die is richness and wealth, indescribable and unimaginable.

Paul speaks of having a lust for going to heaven. That’s the strength of his desire. He wants to be with Jesus and the way to get there is to die.

How is dying gain?

John 14:2,3 – Jesus goes to prepare a place for us so that He will receive us to Himself.

2 Corinthians 5:4 – We groan for that day when we will be with Christ.

2 Timothy 1:10 – Light and immortality are manifested through the gospel of Christ.

The only person who will be able to say that to die is gain is the person who is able to say that to live is Christ.

Most of us have it backwards, thinking to live is gain and to die is Christ. We are wrong. When a man and woman get engaged, they aren’t to be focused on the engagement but rather on the marriage. This entire life is an engagement period that will end in the marriage of being with Christ in heaven.

When Jesus prays in John 17:24 that we will be with Him to see the glory that the Father has given Him, He is praying for our death because that glory is most fully seen when we are with Him in heaven.

Heaven is precious because our Lord Jesus is there. We long not for a place but for the place where our Savior sits and bids us come to be with Him.

Download the audio here.

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