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To Live Is Christ, and to Die Is Gain

Philippians 1:21 is more than a quote for a coffee mug; it should define our lives.
This sermon is part of the sermon series "Philippians: Christians Are Invincible". See series.


I don't like it when people take Bible verses out of context and slap them on coffee mugs, put them on bookmarks, put them on bumper stickers. Philippians is the book of the Bible that has the most "life motto" verses that get taken out of context. Think about all the verses that come from Philippians: "Do not be anxious about anything," "Rejoice in the Lord always," "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling," "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," "To live is Christ, to die is gain." Philippians is full of these verses. We're actually going to memorize one of these verses today, because it's in our passage. So you can go home and tell your friends, "I memorized a Bible verse in church today." Philippians 1:21 says, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain." I'm going to say this twice, and you're going to say it with me. Repeat after me: "To live is Christ, and to die is gain." "To live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Most people hear that verse or see it on a coffee mug and think, That's a great life motto, I'm going to live by that. But we need to hear the context in which this was first spoken. The Apostle Paul is in prison in the city of Rome, facing trial, knowing he's going to be executed for his faith in Christ. So he writes a letter to the church in Philippi, and tells them, "This is what I believe: to live is Christ and to die is gain." This is a man facing execution. We've got to wrap our heads around what he's saying.

Nero was the emperor of Rome at this time. Paul would have to stand before Nero and give his defense for why he came under charges. Tacitus was a historian in first century Rome. He says this about Nero, the guy the Apostle Paul would be facing:

Besides being put ...

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Justin Buzzard is founder and lead pastor of Garden City Church in Silicon Valley, California.

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