Readiness for life and death
We all encounter the question “Why are we here? What is the purpose of your life here on earth?” I’ve been pondering this question when I was not yet a believer. Now that I’m a Christian, I’m still trying to answer the question. The good thing now is I have better perspective. Christ is now the center of my life. Paul is in prison but still rejoicing. His difficult circumstances do not remove the joy in his heart. Remember that the Book of Philippians’ is called the “epistle of joy”.
I. Paul’s view of his imprisonment – Phil. 1:19
1. Paul view everything with God’s will as the best. He knows that he is going to face trial and if found guilty, he will be facing death. However he is still calm and full of trust because of two reasons:
a. He looks forward that the believers in Philippi will pray for him not for the salvation his soul but for his deliverance from prison. If Paul can count on the prayer of his brethren, can you rely on your church leaders and brethren to pray for you?
b. The supply of the Holy Spirit here is the Holy Spirit who will move the authorities in Rome so that they will release Paul from prison. The Holy Spirit also would take care of Paul’s needs whether it is physical, emotional, etc., so that he can go on living. There will always be adversity but we can rely on God that He will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5), and God’s grace is always sufficient for us (2 Cor. 12:9).
When Peter was in prison, the church in Jerusalem prayed for him (Acts 12:5-7). He knows that he is to be executed but he slept soundly. In the face of death he is calm and has a solid confidence that the Lord Jesus Christ would make everything alright for him. Do you have that kind of trust and confidence in Christ?
II. His earnest expectation – Phil. 1:20
1. His most confident expectation or intense anticipation is that he will always magnify Christ in life or in death. “Hope” in the Greek means more than “wish.” It carries the idea of confidence in the ultimate out-come. Paul looks at life with the eternal values in view, not only what life is here on earth. His being in prison because of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ does not cause him to be ashamed. Like Paul we must never be ashamed in sharing the gospel of salvation to people around us. (Mk. 8:380. Also, he knows that he has the authority from Jesus Himself to preach the gospel compared to the false teachers. Paul did not distort the truth to make personal profit.
2. His boldness- boldness means frankness in speaking, communicating without fear especially when it comes to sharing his faith. (Rom. 1:16). By his words and by the way he lives, Christ is magnified. The word magnified means to enlarge, that’s why
we have “magnifying glass, microscope, and microphones, to make small things big.
Paul wanted Christ to be magnified in his “body.” The soul and spirit shines through
the body (i.e., what the body does). Nobody can see our soul and spirit but people
can see what we do to our body whether we live in sin or not. (Rom. 12:1).
Like Paul we should strive to magnify Christ whether we live or die. How do you magnify Christ in
your life? Are you willing to give your life for Him and for the furtherance of the gospel? Jesus
doesn’t want to make you a martyr now but He wants your heart. He wants us to live a holy life so
the people around us can see the difference between a true Christian and not. (Mt. 5:13, 14).
Illustration: Supreme Sacrifice
George Atley was killed while serving with the Central African Mission. There were no witnesses, but
the evidence indicates that Atley was confronted by a band of hostile tribesmen. He was carrying a
fully loaded, 10-chamber Winchester rifle and had to choose either to shoot his attackers and run
the risk of negating the work of the mission in that area, or not to defend himself and be killed.
When his body was later found in a stream, it was evident that he had chosen the latter. Nearby lay
his rifle—all 10 chambers still loaded. He had made the supreme sacrifice, motivated by his burden
for lost souls and his unswerving devotion to his Savior. With the apostle Paul, he wanted Christ to
be magnified in his body, “whether by life or by death.”
Writing on Philippians 1:20 in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Robert P. Lightner said, “Paul’s
concern was not what would happen to him but what testimony would be left for his Lord. Release
would allow him to continue preaching Christ. But martyrdom would also advance the cause of
III. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Phil. 1:21).
1. The word “is” is in italics so it was added by the translators for clarity. Technically
speaking it would mean “live = Christ”. I would say that what Paul means here is
what he would do if he would continue living. Christ is the object of his love and goal
of his life. If he is to live longer, it would mean more service for Christ, more
obedience, glorify Him more, and to know Him more. (Phil. 3:10, Gal. 2:20). To be
spiritual now is to:
a. Have faith in Jesus. Jn. 5:24, 20:31
b. The Word of God is the foundation. Deut. 8:3, 55:3
c. Death to sin and self. Gal. 2:20.
d. Love is the demonstration of this spiritual life. 1 Jn. 3:14
e. We are to be the light and salt of the earth. Mt. 5:13, 14
2. How can death be gain?
a. No more tears
b. No more death
c. No more sorrow
d. No more pain.
e. We will be with Christ in heaven.
Indeed if a true Christian dies, it would be a great gain. Under normal circumstances most of us
wants to live longer here. We don’t want to leave our love ones and possessions. But we must all
die. Death will be a different story and far better if you are a true believer in Christ. The promises in
the Book of Revelations are all true and the Lord Jesus Christ would fulfil them all (Rev. 21:3-4).
Like Paul, we must magnify Christ whether we live or die. We must use every opportunity to serve
Him even in difficult times. Hard times should never rob us the joy that is given to us by the Lord, but
should encourage us to be more intimate with Him even unto death. Indeed, to live is Christ and to
die is gain.