Christ Is Life!

No Tags | Sermons

Christ Is Life!

Sermon Notes – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 7th March, 2021

One of the things that stirred within me after Simon and Allison shared about their personal connections with the people of Myanmar a couple of Sundays ago, was how vastly different the experience of being a Christian is – all around the world. 

Yesterday, Simon sent me an update, having been constantly in touch with Silas, than man in the video he played.  This is Simon’s update:

“These last few days have been terrible. The township where one of our volunteers lives in Yangon is in an emergency situation. Tear-gas bombs were dropped down by helicopters in the township. Soldiers shot with machine guns killing at least 18 people. 

More than 50 people are seriously injured and in a life-and-death stage. Medical doctors have reopened an emergency ward of a hospital and are looking after the wounded. Wednesday was the most bloody day of the coup so far.  

> Pray that our volunteers in Myanmar and their families are kept safe as there are snipers randomly shooting people on the streets. 

> Praise the Lord that Silas and his team are currently safe, however a number of them are traumatised from witnessing these events. 

> Pray that in the midst of this tragic situation our team will not lose hope and that they will continue to take opportunities to share their hope in Christ with others.

Thanks Simon”

To simply try and “live” in a nation like that – especially as a Christian – is extremely confronting.

We don’t face that level of chaos, intimidation and insecurity here in Australia.

As Simon has said previously, the opposition to Christian faith and life in Australia comes more as a slow eating away of long held values, through the sometimes militant push of agendas from radical minority groups – ungodly and anti-Christ changes to legislation – laws that once protected the Christian values that the majority of people still uphold.

We mightn’t face military coups or persecution as we normally understand it – but we are experiencing something like a cancer of evil influence that is slowly changing our society from the inside out.

Whatever way it happens, we ourselves as individuals and as the church, need to be completely grounded and secure in our own understanding of what our faith means to us – but also – what it means to “live” in 2021 – with a world that is increasingly unstable.

We’ve been looking at what it means to love as Christ would love – ministering to people practically, emotionally, relationally – as if we are actually ministering to Him.

That is a life transforming concept if we really get it.  And it’s a vital key in understanding what the Kingdom of God is all about.

God is love!

But do you know what else is true?  Christ is life!

My main scripture comes from a letter Paul wrote to the Philippian Church, in about 61AD, when he was in chains and in prison, most likely in Rome.  He literally didn’t know if he was going to be set free or be killed.

If you thought last weeks message was a stretch – knowing that loving the hungry and naked, the imprisoned and sick – the ones we may perceive to be the very least in our society – understanding that Jesus sees it as if we are loving Him….     then you are going to be really challenged by what this scripture this morning means for us.

We are definitely being called to higher ground….  The Holy Spirit is asking of us – what is love?  But also – what is life?  What does it mean to truly live?

Paul says, from his dungeon prison:

Philippians 1:21-25

New King James Version

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I [a]cannot tell. 23 [b]For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,

Let’s just focus this morning on what it means when Paul says – “to live is Christ.”  We know that to die in Christ will be the most unimaginable joy – in a place that has no pain – or tears – or sorrow – free from the restraints of this corrupt world.  To be face to face with Jesus – that in itself is the far greater part.

But what does it mean when he says – to live is Christ?

I’ve read that the original Greek doesn’t even have the word – “is.”

So what Paul actually wrote was – “to live – Christ.”

Can you imagine – in countries where Christians are persecuted every day for their faith – for many – it would come down to that very statement.   Life is Christ – and Christ is life.  Everything would fade into insignificance compared to your own faith in Jesus, and the faith of those you love.

Paul said –  it’s more needful for me to “remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith,”

Philippians 1:25

The Passion Translation

“…deep in my heart I’m confident that I will be spared so I can add to your joy and further strengthen and mature your faith.”

Paul’s message is about bringing glory to Jesus – by bringing joy, strength and maturity of faith to those to whom he is a father in the faith.

This is a really personal and intimate letter Paul is writing to the church.

He says – “for to me…”, regardless of what others are living for or whatever everyone is doing – this is my life – Christ is my life – and as long as I breathe air on this planet, I’m going to bring the gospel of Christ with joy – to build you up, to encourage and strengthen you, to enlarge and mature your faith.  This is my life!

I don’t care any more about my religious past, he says – or my reputation – I don’t care about circumcision – or about being a self righteous, zealous Pharisee, and my pride in being from one of the best tribes of Israel.   It’s all loss for me now…. The only thing that means anything to me is Jesus Christ – and the power of His suffering, death and resurrection.  

That’s my paraphrase – but you can read his exact words in Philippians 3.

Paul is completely and utterly sold out for Jesus.  Everything about his life is centred on His faith in Christ.

He even says to the Galatian church, in a separate letter:

Galatians 2:20

New King James Version

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

I am so challenged by these scriptures.  How dead am I to myself?  How much do I really live by faith?

I asking you these questions too.  

You may not be an apostlic father, a teacher, a church planter like Paul.  But what does it mean for us in this century – in Australia – in our society – to declare that – for to me, to live is Christ?

We need to work it out – and we need to be strong and secure in who we are – because the days we live in are the very days that Isaiah prophesied:

Isaiah 5:20

New King James Version

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;

Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

At this point in my message I started ranting, and then had to go back and delete about 4 paragraphs. I realised I am not here to glorify the devil’s work – the way he has ridden on people’s brokenness and exploited their pain.

We’re not here to judge people – but we are definitely here to uphold Jesus Christ and where darkness increases, we see the Light of Christ becoming brighter and brighter also.

Let’s overcome darkness with Light.  

Let’s see what love and a truly light filled life can do to impact our world.

We have Jesus Christ with us – in us – going ahead of us…

Colossians 3:2-4

New King James Version

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”

I want to pause right here and pray because we need the Holy Spirit to do something really deep within us.  I’m glad He convicted me when I started down the track of throwing up all the dark and evil things that are going on in our nation.

That’s not what we’re about!

I know He wants us to set our minds on things above –  so let’s do that.

Father in Heaven, Holy Spirit, we need You to send a fresh wind of renewal across our lives, our minds, our hearts…

Blow away the tendency to get involved in the devil’s own games of blaming, shaming, judging – and glorifying darkness above the light.

I pray that all fear and intimidation, any sense of hopelessness be gone in Jesus name.  

We position ourselves where we rightly belong – seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus.  And we set our minds on things that are pure and holy, noble and true, things that are of a good report and praiseworthy.

Christ you are our life.  Help us to see life through Your eyes.

Reveal to us right now, through Your Word, through the revelation of Your Holy Spirit, through the conviction of our own hearts –  the reality of who we are.

Help each one of us to answer the question for ourselves – what does it mean – “For to me, to live is Christ.”

We ask these things in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

And another thing that I declare into the spirit realm right now is that these words that I speak this morning will remain with us – they will continue to speak to our spirit throughout this week. 

I pray that the words – “to live is Christ” – will become the motto over our lives!

Lord, undergird Your word with this prophetic promise – You said:

Isaiah 55:11

New King James Version

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

(That means empty or without fruit)

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

I believe it.  We are breaking through some spiritual walls.

Do you know where Jesus says I have come to bring life – abundant life?

He’s speaking about this life. Not just the one to come.  Where some versions add in “eternal” life, apparently that wasn’t in the original text.  We are meant to abound in life now – and overflow with it.

And the way we do that is through the grace that abounds towards us in the Holy Spirit.   We have the Spirit of God in us.  

We may very well suffer the consequences of a fallen world – and we do.

But we have God’s full presence to encourage us, to strengthen us, to comfort us, to abound in life through us.  Always pointing us to Christ.

Why do we allow the old man to still have so much say?  Why do we not embrace the newness of life – the new man – with total abandon?

We need to ask ourselves – why aren’t we seeing God move in the church according to the fullness of His Word?

Well I wonder if there’s still too much of us and not enough of Him bubbling up from within us.

If John can say:

John 3:30

New King James Version

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Then that should be our prayer as well.

The incredible thing is – as we allow Him to increase, that joy that we spoke about at the beginning will more freely flow to the faith of others around us.  And that is one of the main fruits of a life that is Christ.

Imagine if Christ really had first place in your marriage, your family, your business, your conversations, your relationships, in the things you watch, the way your respond…. 

I can ask you these questions because I ask them of myself.  Praise God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  It’s probably the most precious gift He has given us.

And you might say, but this world has so much influence on me – there are so many distractions – the world’s values are so far removed from God’s values and His word.

And I get it that this is a journey that we are all on.

But I also know that later on in Philippians Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

Is this Word speaking to you this morning?  

If you are honest with yourself – how would you have finished the sentence:

“For to me, to live is ………”

We could fill that with any number of answers.  And they would most likely be really good things.

For me to live is, financial security.  For me to live is family.  For me to live is my church community.  For me to live is my wife, my husband, my children…

For me to live is freedom.  For me to live is to be healed, to be reconciled, to be happy….

The Word says – if we seek Him and His Kingdom before anything else – all these other things that we need in life will be added to us. 

Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith – our faith in Jesus – Who is our life.

To live is Christ – means so many things.  Here are a few:

  1. It means having complete trust in Him.  Paul says earlier in Philippians 1 that what has happened to him will turn out for his deliverance – because of Jesus.   He wasn’t quite sure if that deliverance was coming through life or death – although he had a confidence that he would remain.

He believed, ultimately:

Romans 8:28

New King James Version

“… that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

I know that trust is something many of you have shown as you’ve faced life and death, fair and square.   The way you respond speaks volumes to those around you.

      

      Which leads to the next thing…

  1. We must view life from the perspective of Eternity.

We’re just journeying through this life as pilgrims.  We all seem to get caught up in building our temporary life – but a life in Christ is one that is building the things of eternal value.

Again, Paul makes it pretty clear what the important and eternal things are:

1 Corinthians 13:13

New Living Translation

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”

It’s interesting that this message about life in Christ comes straight after our message on love last week.  I didn’t plan it that way.  God is love.  Christ is Life. 

  1. Our whole life should glorify God.

That can sound like a very lofty goal.  But Paul tells us – it’s not what you think.  You bring glory to God even in the most ordinary parts of life.

1 Corinthians 10:31

New Living Translation

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

God is glorified in how we do the most ordinary every day things, like eating and drinking.  Like how we speak to one another.  You can pass on the presence of God – the Anointing of the Holy Spirit in the way you show others grace, go the extra mile, treat others as more important than yourself.

  1. We are to be examples of Jesus.

There are a number of Scriptures that speak about being imitators of God – of following in His steps.  Paul said also to be imitators of him just as he is an imitator of Christ.

Our world needs good solid examples of Christlikeness.   I really pray that we as a community together can represent Jesus well.

Being Christ to others glorifies God.

So let me bring a bit of a summary of all that I’ve shared this morning:

  • although we don’t face persecution to the level others do – we still need to be grounded, secure and solid in our faith and how we live every day. 
  • For us to live – is Christ!  Christ is our life!
  • A big part of living for Christ, as Paul says, is to share the joy of our faith to others – strengthening and maturing one another.  If Paul can speak of joy in the faith from prison, do we have an excuse?
  • As the days get darker, with good being called evil and evil good, we have greater opportunity to shine our lives brighter.  
  • We can pray for our own lives to decrease and for Christ to increase.
  • Is Christ first in our home, our family, our work place…. Do we really believe that if we seek Him and His kingdom first, everything else will be added?
  • Do we trust Him to deliver us – whatever way that happens?
  • Do we live with a perspective of eternity in our hearts?
  • Do I glorify God in even the simplest every day things?
  • Am I an example of Christ so that others see Him through me?

No Comments

Comments are closed.