Sunday, May 03, 2020

“I Will Continue to Rejoice” [Matt's Messages]

“I Will Continue to Rejoice”
LEFC Message for Worship at Home
May 3, 2020 :: Philippians 1:18-26

This is the third video message in this series on Philippians. If you haven’t already, you might want to go back and watch the first two before watching the rest of this one.

Paul, who is very far away from his beloved Philippian friends, is writing to them from a Roman prison. And so far in this letter, he has emphasized joy.

Paul always prays with joy for the Philippians because of their partnership in the unstoppable work of the gospel.

And Paul also is full of joy–he rejoices–because of the advance of that gospel. Because Christ is being preached.

The Lord is using even Paul’s imprisonment, his chains, to advance the gospel.

The whole palace guard is hearing the gospel, and even some other Christians who don’t like Paul very much are preaching the true gospel for the wrong reasons.

But Paul doesn’t care. He says in verse 18, “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”

“I rejoice.”

But he doesn’t stop there.

In the very next sentence (same exact verse!), Paul writes, “Yes, and I will continue to rejoice...”

Paul is not done explaining why he is always rejoicing.
Why he continues to rejoice. Why he will not stop rejoicing.

And I think we all need to hear and take in what Paul says next.

We all need this.

Paul continued to rejoice because he knew that he could not lose.

Paul will continue to rejoice because he knew that, no matter what, he could not lose.

Whether he lived, or whether he died.

Remember, Paul is not only in prison, but he is in danger of execution.

If his case goes a certain way, he will live.
If his case goes the other way, he will die.
And he’s not certain at this point which of those will happen.

How would you feel if you were in that same situation?

Guess what? We are all in that same situation.

We may not all be in prison, but we all don’t know if we are going to live or going die in the near future.

I mean, eventually, we’re all going to die! Except for the generation alive at the return of Christ, we are all going to die. You are going to die.

But we don’t know when. For now, we might live. Or now, we might die. We don’t know.

And in the face of that kind of uncertainty, Paul continues to rejoice!

I don’t know about you, but I want what he had!

I want to be able to rejoice and continue to rejoice no. matter. what.

Paul says that he continued to rejoice because he knew that he could not lose whether he lived or whether he died. Look at verse 19.

“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

Paul knows that the Philippians are praying for him.

And Paul knows that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, is using those prayers to turn his circumstances into salvation.

“Through your prayers” and through the Spirit, “what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.”

Now, I’m not sure if Paul means his deliverance from prison or his deliverance from sin, self, and Satan through death into eternal life. I think he might be intentionally ambiguous here. Paul knows that God is working it all out for his good. No matter what. It will turn out okay because God’s people are praying and the Holy Spirit is at work.

Because what Paul really cares about is, not his life, but the glory of Jesus Christ. Look at verse 20.

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Do you see what Paul is concerned about? Paul is concerned about being found faithful.

He doesn’t want to be ashamed. He doesn’t want to afraid.
He wants to be courageous. He wants to be faithful.

He wants Jesus Christ to be highly honored by his conduct. No. Matter. What.

Is this what you and I care about?

Do we care whether or not we are an embarrassment to Jesus Christ?

Is this what we pray about?

We’re going to see that Paul doesn’t really care if he lives or if he dies. He has a preference, but that isn’t what he is most concerned about.

He is most concerned about whether or not his behavior, his conduct brings glory to Jesus Christ.

When was the last time you and I prayed about that?

Put that on your pandemic prayer list.

Don’t just pray for health or safety.

Don’t just pray for medical personnel and essential workers.

Pray that you and I would always exalt Christ. That we would always have sufficient courage to bring honor to Christ in our words and our deeds.

Right now we tend to worry about ourselves and our lives and our wants and our needs and our rights.

But what we need to be most concerned about is whether or not our lives bring glory Christ.

Paul does worry about himself, but what he worries about himself is whether or not he will be faithful to the name of Jesus.

And, blessedly, he believes that he will be. “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Paul knows that as he stays faithful he cannot lose.

“Whether by life or by death.” Verse 21. This is one to memorize:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

“To live is Christ and to die is gain.”

What does he mean?

Paul explains himself in verse 22.

Here’s what “to live is Christ” means. V.22

“If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruit-ful labor for me.”

To live, for Paul, means ministry.

It means serving people for Christ’s sake. “To live is Christ, to serve and magnify Christ with fruit-ful labor.”

And that’s good!

But there is something that might be even better. V.22 again.

“Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far...”

There’s Paul’s actual preference. If you pushed him to decide, this is his deeper desire.

His deeper desire is to die.

Not because he has a death-wish, but because he has a Christ-wish, a Jesus-wish.

“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”

Paul knows that when he dies, he will be depart from this world and enter into the presence of Jesus Christ.

He calls it, “with Christ.”

And he says that being “with Christ” is “better by far.”

That is such a wonderful truth!

“Better by far.”

Several in our church family have recently lost a loved-one to death.

All of us have lost loved-ones to death at some time.

This is such a comfort when we are grieving the death of a follower of Christ.

Because we know that they have left us, but they are with Christ, and it is better by far than we can ever imagine.

Let that comfort you if you have recently lost a loved one.

But Paul isn’t talking about losing someone else. He’s talking about losing his own life.

“I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”

Can you say that?

Are you ready to die?

I think that one of the benefits of the outbreak of this new coronavirus is that it is bringing so many of us face to face with our own mortality.

We are all thinking more about death.

Other people’s deaths, and our own.

Are you ready to die?

Are you prepared for your own death?

Paul actually was looking forward to it!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my own death. This coming Monday is my birthday. If I live to Monday, I will have lived yet another complete revolution around the sun.

I do not know how many of those I have left. And the truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Because if I die, I gain.

I’ll be with Christ, and that is far better!

If you live for Christ, you cannot lose.

Are you ready to die?

Many people are not, but you can be.

Turn from your sin and put your trust in the Savior.

Repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the Cross taking your place there and who came back to life to give us eternal life with Him.

Are you ready to die?

You can be. In fact, you can be looking forward to it!

Now, of course, we all should be careful of this virus that’s out there.

We should wash our hands.
We should follow the guidance of our governing leaders.
We should take precautions.
We should think about others and not just ourselves.

But we should not fear for our lives at all costs.

Not if we are in Christ. If you are in Christ and are living for Christ, to die is gain.

At the same time, dying is not what Paul thought he was going to do.

Paul thought that it was much more likely that he would continue to live to serve the church and to fulfill his mission. V.24

“I am torn between the two [death and life]: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy [there’s that word again] in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.”

There is a different word for joy there in verse 26. The word has a flavor of “boasting” to it or “exulting.” Paul expects them to be exulting in Jesus Christ, overflowing exultation because Paul continues to live and minister to them.

See what’s going on here?

Again, Paul is not thinking about himself. Paul has a servant’s heart. He’s thinking about them.

He expects to live (at least in the short run) because he thinks that he will serve them better here than gone.

I think that’s instructive for us, too.

While we wait to die, we need to be focused on loving other people for Jesus’ sake.

If we cannot lose, then we have nothing to lose.

So we can give up our own rights to serve others.

We can forget about ourselves and pour ourselves out for the good of other people.

Who are you here for right now?

Do you see what I’m asking?

If you are not dead yet, then you have a mission.

If you are not dead yet, then you are here for someone else.

If you are still remaining in the body then who are you called to continue with for their progress and joy in the faith so that by you being with them, they will exult in Christ Jesus and overflow with joy forever?

Who are you here for right now?

Make sure to love and serve them for the sake of Christ.

And you will always have a reason to continue to rejoice.


Previous Messages in This Series:
01. "I Always Pray with Joy"
02. "Because Of This I Will Rejoice"