Paul captures the essence of Christianity in this short verse. There is no life circumstance, no challenge, nor guidance in life that is not answered in it. The fulfillment of every human being is life in Christ – in all its fullness. How did Paul come to the living reality that every part of life is found in Christ? How did his faith progress to the point that if following Christ meant death, then that is even better? This will be a two-part teaching on how God wants each of us to live in the reality that true life is in Christ and death only draws us closer to Him. The questions raised in this verse are answered in the truths that are instrumental in making our God bigger and more real while uncovering the things that diminish our God.
Paul could only make this proclamation because of the size and reality of His God. I found three truths that can help make this a reality in your life. Colossians 1:5 reveals hope as the first: “The faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth.” We tend to see hope as weakness, while convictional hope is the firm expectation of the reality to come. It means your hope has grown in a way that says the consequence of death has no bearing on the reality of your God. It is out of this hope that faith flourishes.
Having a hope that firmly believes and trusts God releases you to firmly fix your heart on the second truth in making your God bigger. Jesus was critical of divided and conflicted hearts. Paul challenged the Colossians in Colossians 3:1-2: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Paul could make the proclamation that life is Christ and death is gain because of Christ’s reality in his life from making Him Lord. The Bible is filled with teachings on the ramifications of placing the idols of this world ahead of God. It is only when the love and values of your heart place God first that life is Christ and death is gain. Philippians 4:12 tells of the contentment that results from making Christ Lord: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
The third truth in life is Christ and death is gain is found in an enlarging relationship of knowing Christ. Philippians 3:8 portrays Paul’s desire to fully know Christ and His greatness, “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” This is not a casual and shallow passing statement, but one that says, “I am all in to do what it takes to know Jesus in all His fullness.” This total commitment reflects a hope in Christ that is large enough to consume all of life, a willingness to filter all of life through Christ and a passion to know and experience Jesus as your first priority. Hope, Lordship, and relationship with Jesus will transform your life from a casual participant in Christianity to one whose God is great which causes you to exclaim: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!”
Philippians 4:13 “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”
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