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That Jesus Christ Be Honored (Sermon Recap)


In our most recent sermon we reflected on Philippians 1:18b-21 and were encouraged to have the same central focus in our life as the apostle Paul had in his. Here is an overview of the sermon.

1) Paul declares his resolve to rejoice (v. 18b). He had already told us that he rejoiced because the gospel was advancing in mission (Philippians 1:12-18a). Now he tells us that he will rejoice because of something else. What is this something else?

2) Paul tells us the that additional reason for his joy is that his suffering for Christ was advancing his salvation in Christ – and this was happening by the power of Christ, who works through His Spirit and the prayers of His people (v. 19). Although suffering cannot advance the decisive foundation of our salvation (e.g., our regeneration and justification), suffering does advance our ongoing salvation in terms of our spiritual growth and our increasing conformity to the life, death, and resurrection pattern of Christ (see Philippians 3:10-12). Suffering also ripens us for our future salvation in terms of resurrection and glorification with Christ (see Philippians 3:10-12, 20-21). We should welcome suffering, especially suffering on account of the gospel, because it brings us more deeply into Christ and His saving purposes for His people.

3) Paul describes his salvation in terms of not being put to shame and of Christ being honored (v. 20). Those who trust in the Lord will never be put to shame (Psalm 25:3, Romans 10:11). This has nothing to do with human assessment, popular esteem or public image, but rather with God's assessment and approval. God does not abandon His believing people! Therefore "with full courage" (v. 20, ESV) we can honor Christ in every aspect of our life and also in our death. Paul's desire is to honor Christ completely, because...

4) ... he loves Christ supremely (v. 21). The reason Paul wants to honor Christ is because Christ means everything to him. Christ is not part of Paul's life; Christ is Paul's life: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (v. 21, ESV). It is the nature of love to desire close fellowship with the beloved. Therefore Paul feels within his heart a deep desire "to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better" (Philippians 1:23 ESV). Precisely because it is far better, the Christian's death is gain – it is advancement into the very presence of Christ, it is faith becoming sight and thus beholding with clear vision the excellence of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Fellow Christian: love Christ supremely, seek to honor Christ completely, welcome suffering as a friend of your progress, and rejoice because of God's faithful work in your life. At the same time, pray for your brothers and sisters, that they would walk in like manner on this earthly pilgrimage.