Our Purpose And Goal


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Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Not too far from our Church on the Nashville Highway is a Church called “A Church With A Purpose”. I’ve seen churches pop up with many different names. We have a Church in town called “Connections”, one that meets in a High School called “The Bridge”. As I was headed to Nashville last week I noticed “The Bridge” has built a large, new facility off of highway 396. Good for them.

I thought about the name “Church With A Purpose”. Isn’t that what every Church should be? We should and do have a purpose. It is not to entertain, but to lead others to Christ. Once led to Christ, we teach one another how to live in the Kingdom of Christ, following His example in all that we do.

I listened to a rather harsh sermon preached by Evangelist Paul Washer the other day where he castigated American Christianity. He has preached in many different lands, and seen Christians all over the world come to Christ, then begin to live for Christ. In his sermon – which I could not disagree with – he remarked that American Christianity for the most part is no different than the lost world. The Church that is supposed to be “the light of the world” looks just the same as the darkness. Sadly, this is true.

Christianity is not just about going to Heaven. It is about bringing Heaven to earth. It is about living under the leadership of Christ. We are supposed to be living like Jesus, loving like Jesus, helping others to walk like Jesus. This is our calling. This is why God left us on the earth. Whether your Church is called “The Bridge”, “Connections”, “A Church With A Purpose” or “Riverview”, every member of the Church is supposed to be born again Children of God. We are to imitate our Savior and Lord. Our lives should clearly reflect Christ to all around us.

For To Me”: What Is True For MY Life?

Let’s take our verse today and as God leads, open it up. The verse reads:

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

Now let’s take out the word “Christ” and put a blank there. And let’s take out the word gainand put a blank there. Now our verse reads:

For to me to live is ________, and to die is ________.”

What would you put in these blanks for yourself? Every religion attempts to answer the questions “What is life?” and “What is death?”. The secular religion of HUMANISM, so prevalent in our world today, says:

For to me to live is for myself, and to die is loss.”

Modern evangelism has catered to this notion. We have filled Churches with people who think that life is all about themselves. Religion teaches that God is our Servant, that He exists to wait on us, to do for us, to bless us. In reality Humanism and Secularism just teach that “I am God” and that God must placate me if He wishes to live. That’s what sin is, Beloved.

Sin is the making of an idol called “Myself”, making myself the God of the universe.

The problem with making ourselves gods is that – eventually – we all die. If I make MYSELF the center of the universe, if I make MYSELF big and God small, then death is NOT gain but LOSS. Death is a TERRIBLE LOSS to those who worship themselves. An idol is when you give anything or anyone more glory and more respect and obedience than you give the God of Scripture. An idol cannot save me. I cannot say “for to me to live is ME and to die is GAIN” because that wouldn’t be true. Death is the bringing of less of me.

Let’s consider the Apostle Paul, the one who wrote these divinely inspired words. Paul did not start out as Paul – he started as Saul. Saul was a very religious man. He tells us in

Galatians 1:13-14 … ye have heard of my {way of life} in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.

Saul (Paul) was a very religious man. When he gives his biography he puts us all to shame on how religious he was. He said:

Philippians 3:4-6 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: 5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; 6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

Saul lived his life perfectly as a Pharisee. He served on the Jewish Board of Elders called the Sanhedrin. As the Pharisees hated Christ, they also hated the Church. The Pharisees commissioned Saul to hunt down and bring Christians to destruction.

The first time we see Saul revealed was in the life of the Christian named Stephen. Stephen loved the Lord.

Stephen also believed that to live is Christ, to die is gain.

When his life was threatened he refused to denounce Jesus. The Bible says that the Pharisees …

Acts 7:58-59 {cast Stephen} out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen, {as Stephen called} upon God, … saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

As Stephen bloodily died Saul was one of the witnesses and perpetrators of his death. At this point in his life for Saul to live is religion, not Christ. Saul left that place that day to bring great persecution against the Church. The Bible says that:

Acts 8:3 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and {dragging out} men and women committed them to prison.

For Saul, “Christ” was not in the blank. For Saul to live was the Sanhedrin. To live was religion. To live was for self. Saul sought to please not God, but a corrupt religious system that had denigrated into a works salvation. Saul thought he was living for God as he killed others. He was much like the confused of the Muslim faith today who, preaching Jihad, believe that they are doing God’s Work by murdering others. The Bible tells us that:

Acts 9:1-2 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.

Saul went looking for those who were “in the Way”. Early Christians were not called “Christians” at the beginning. They were called “Followers of the Way”. This is because Jesus told His people:

John 14:6 I am the Way, the truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but BY ME!

Saul was hunting for those in the Way. He himself thought that He was in the Way. But he was not. Our Lord Jesus Christ knocked Saul down on the Damascus Road. The Bible says that Saul:

Acts 9:4-5 {Saul} fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest

On that day Saul changed. He moved from Saul to Paul. Jesus Christ changed him. Prior to meeting Jesus, Saul made an idol out of religion, out of Phariseeism, out of pleasing a misguided High Priest and a council of ruling elders. What is it that God hath said? What is the very first commandment? Jesus told us:

Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

When you make yourself big and make God small then you have violated the very first commandment. If you violate the first, you will violate all the others as well. If you make yourself bigger than God then others will be smaller than you as well. That is sin. To those for whom God is small and they are big, their final destination is not Heaven but Hell, a place of eternal torment.

I believe hell is a place of eternal torment because of it’s content. When you trap a bunch of selfish idolaters – people who lived to elevate themselves above God – in a single location,
you have hell!

Hell is where the selfish go. Hell is where those go who say “For to me, to live is ME, and to die is LOSS”. Because death for those without Christ is an absolute and total loss.

For Saul Death Is Loss,
But For Paul Death Is Gain

When Jesus knocked Saul down on the Damascus Road, He did something with Paul that He does with every Christian.

God gave Saul a new heart.

I have heard preachers say “Give your heart to Jesus”. That’s not a bad statement. But the truth is, if you belong to Jesus then God gave you a new heart. That is the very essence of the New Covenant that Christ offers to us. A new heart. God told His people in the Old Testament:

Ezekiel 11:19-20 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: 20 That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

God broke Saul on the Damascus Road, and gave Saul a new heart. God takes the person who is broken, who has tried to live life as if they were the center of all things, the selfish, the “me first” group. He takes these surrendered souls and, upon their unconditional surrender to Him through Jesus Christ, God puts in those children a new heart. God said:

Jeremiah 31:33 I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

This is what God has done for us in Christ. When Saul was converted by God our Savior he became Paul. God put a new heart in him. God puts a new heart in all of His children.

When Paul got up from the Damascus Road, his life was changed. He began to follow Christ. He began to live not to please the Sanhedrin, or to please his neighbor, but to please Jesus. Whereas before his conversion Saul sought to destroy the Church, Paul sought to build it up. Before he was saved Saul sought to please himself. Now as Paul, he wants to please Jesus Christ his Lord.

Paul is now writing this letter in chains. He is headed toward a horrible death in Rome. Nero was the Emperor of Rome at this time. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote:

Besides being put to death, the Christians were made to serve as objects of amusement. They were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs. Others were crucified. Others were set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed.”

Paul was facing a horrible death. How did he approach it? He told the Philippian Church:

Philippians 1:12-14 But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

Paul did not consider his approaching death to be a waste. No! He said “God has allowed this for the furtherance of the Gospel”. As a prisoner brought before Nero, Paul would be in a perfect position to share the Gospel with that lost soul. Those who were in the inner palace who would never hear the Gospel otherwise would now hear it from the lips of a condemned man. Paul knew that others, seeing his courage in the face of impending death, would not only come to know Jesus Christ as Savior, but would also be emboldened to share their faith.

Paul lived his faith as if GOD WERE BIG and he were small. He cherished Jesus. Not only this, Paul looked forward to his death. He said:

Philippians 1:23-24 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

Paul was not concerned about keeping his life for himself. He looked forward to leaving this earth, for he fully believed the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was willing to stay on this earth to bless and serve other believers, but Paul earnestly desired to be with Christ, which is far better. The Apostle encouraged us, his Church family, to be as he is. He said:

Philippians 1:27-30 Only let your {way of life} be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For UNTO YOU IT IS GIVEN IN THE BEHALF OF CHRIST, NOT ONLY TO BELIEVE ON HIM, BUT ALSO TO SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE; 30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.

The German Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer echoes the words of Christ when he said:

The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man at his call. (The Cost of Discipleship, 99)”

Saul died the day he met Jesus as Lord and Savior,
and Paul was born.

Saul lived for himself. Paul lived for Christ. The same is true for every Christian. If you are born again into God’s Kingdom by faith in Jesus, then to live is Christ, to die is gain.

What Is True For Me?

The first three words in our text today are:

Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

This is where the rubber meets the road. What is true in your life? Do you see death as gain, or a terrible loss? Then you need to surrender to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are told in:

Romans 10:9-13 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

You have tried living life with yourselves as god. Now let’s try something new. Let us bring our broken lives to Jesus. Jesus healed the lepers, the crippled, the blind, the deaf. Jesus cast out the demons that afflicted the people. The Great Physician our Jesus is able to diagnose and cure you – but you must come to and submit to Him. If you go to your doctor for a problem, you listen to your doctor. You do what your doctor says. You submit to that doctor if you want to be healed.

Even so, you must submit to Jesus. To live is Christ. Here is the Source of life, and that Source is Jesus. Jesus came for we who are broken. He said:

Mark 2:17 .. They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

I say along with the Apostle Paul:

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

There is a man powered faith that modern evangelism preaches, and there is a God powered faith that the Bible preaches. This is the faith you need to have – a God powered faith. A faith that submits to Christ. A faith that says, “For to me, to live is Christ.”

Once saved dear Christian, you are to follow the Lord Who saved you. You are to imitate Christ in everything.

1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

In order to follow Christ, we must know Him from the Scripture. We must know Him, and the POWER of His RESURRECTION, and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10-11). We must do as Jesus said:

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

This is why we come together as a Church – to learn more about Jesus from God’s Word. To learn of Him. To live like Him in all things. For to me, to live is Christ. We who are His give up all in order to follow Him:

Mark 10:29-30 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, 30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

I conclude with this quote from Matt Chandler:

To live is Christ” means that Christ is our focus, our goal, and our chief desire. Christ is the center point of our mind, heart, body and soul. Everything that we do, we do for Christ’s glory. As we run the “race marked out for us,” we lay aside the entangling sin and worldly distractions, “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1-2). He is our life.”

May God touch your hearts with His Word and His Spirit.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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