John Piper on Philippians 1:20–21

| Thu, Aug 1, 2013 | Set 3 Week 31

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It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.—Philippians 1:20–21

The following excerpt is from a sermon Pastor John preached called God Is Most Glorified in Us When We Are Most Satisfied in Him:

Paul says that his great passion in life — I hope it’s your great passion in life — is that in his life Christ would be seen as great — supremely great. That is why God created us and saved us — to make Christ look like what he really is — supremely great.

Now the relationship between verses 20 and 21 is the key to seeing how Paul thinks that happens. It’s going to happen, Paul says — Christ is going to be magnified in my body by life or death — “because to me to live is Christ and to die is gain” (verse 21). Notice that “life” in verse 20 corresponds to “live” in verse 21 and “death” in verse 20 corresponds to “die” in verse 21. So Paul is explaining in both cases — life and death — how Christ is going to look great.

He will look great in my life because “for me to live is Christ.”

He explains in Philippians 3:8, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” So Christ is more precious, more valuable, more satisfying than all that life on this earth can give. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

This is what he means when he says in Philippians 1:21, “To me to live is Christ.” And that he says is how his life magnifies Christ — makes him look great. Christ is most magnified in Paul’s life when Paul, in his life, is most satisfied in Christ. That’s the plain teaching of these two texts.

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