Philippians 3 has taken us on an interesting study of the essentials of the gospel. Paul showed us that Christ should be the passionate pursuit of our hearts. When our lives are focused on Christ we want to grow in relationship with Jesus to become more and more like him daily. Just before we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps he also reminds us that this relationship is only a result of grace, and not through our own efforts. In chapter 8 of To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain, Matt Chandler concludes the discussion of Philippians 3 with an illustration of the Christian life centred on the gospel.
Reading for the Week
Chapter 7 – Never Satisfied
Chapter 8 – Centering on the Gospel
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.Philippians 3:20-21
What is the Gospel?
I have had enough discussions and sat through enough services to know that the definition of the gospel is not understood equally by everyone. The gospel, or good news, is not the life of Jesus Christ and his teachings as captured in the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. It is not “to love God above all and your neighbour as yourself”.
The gospel of Jesus Christ can be summarized in 6 points:
- God created us for his glory (Isaiah 43:6-7);
- Every human should live for God’s glory (1 Corinthians 10:31);
- We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23);
- Therefore, we all deserve eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9);
- Through his great mercy, God sent his Son Jesus Christ into this world to take on the punishment for our sins and ensure eternal life for all who believe in him. (John 3:16); so that
- All who believe in Christ and his sacrifice and trust him for their salvation will be saved and receive eternal life. (Romans 10:9).
In this video John Piper explains the gospel more clearly:
Ephesians 2:1-10 is an excellent summary of the gospel in one paragraph:
By Grace Through FaithEphesians 2:1-10
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Why should we live a life focused on the gospel? When we keep our eyes focused on Jesus and his finished work on the cross we are transformed into his likeness. We also receive the power and courage to live the Christian life only through the lens of the gospel. The gospel is the beginning and end of the Christian life.
How do we centre our lives on the gospel? Matt Chandler shows us three ways.
Engaging in Discipleship
In Philippians 3:17 Paul encourages the congregation to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). When we allow believers who inspire us with their faith to disciple us through their beliefs, customs, habits and temperaments we grow in these areas as well.
Matt Chandler reminds us that faith is personal but not private. Too often we sit in the church pews perfectly polished and too afraid someone will find out our flaws. But this is not how the early apostles envisioned the church. We are supposed to evangelize to each other and do life together. We need to uplift each other and admonish each other. So, just as we are being discipled by others we should also disciple other believers who need evangelizing.
Remembering your Citizenship
The illustration of Matt Chandler as an awkward, clumsy teenager is all too familiar. From our teenage years and beyond we form our identity and define the things we will live or die for. But no job, car, house or any other worldly title will satisfy us as our citizenship in heaven will. Our identity as Christians should be built on Christ and what he has done. Any other identity outside of Christ is idolatry.
This Christian identity makes no sense in this world. We are foreigners and exiles that do not fit in. If we ground our identity in Christ our actions will naturally flow out of the gospel. Christ’s work on the cross has rescued us from the idolatry of earthly things.
Christian, remember your citizenship. Remember who you are.Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain
To be a Christian is to live a life of waiting. “But this is not an idle waiting. It is a hopeful expectation” for the imminent return of Jesus Christ. We have to examine our daily decisions and ask ourselves if we really live as if Jesus is coming to establish His Kingdom soon. Do we live as if we are looking forward to the glorious future we will share with him?
Matt Chandler shares his dream of what heaven will be like. What it will feel like, look like, taste like when we celebrate the Wedding feast together. There’s no time for small talk because we’re all recounting the marvellous works of our Creator and Saviour in our lives as well as the lives of our spiritual family.
I can’t wait!
What about you?
Here are your discussion questions to dig deeper into Chapter 8.
The Christian life is a life of waiting. In this session, Matt Chandler elaborates on waiting for Christ.