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For Me To Live Is Christ (Julius Hovan)

by

Julius Hovan

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program)

 

Welcome to this broadcast of Words of Life.  We are so glad you have tuned in today. It is our joy to come to you and share the marvelous Word of God and to talk about the love of God and his promises to us, promises that help us in this life and take us out into eternity when we leave this world.  So we hope you will stay tuned and you will be blessed by hearing this message today.

It has been my privilege to serve churches in several states in the United States. It has been my privilege to share the gospel in revival meetings in many different places around the country. It has been my privilege to know the people who established many of the churches in which I found myself, those that have now aged, those that have grown old, many who have passed on because time had taken its toll on them.  And, my friends, in those churches I found a common thread that ran through all of them. And that thread is the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul said, “I preach nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” That is the heart of the Christian gospel that we bring to you. And so to be able in the midst of an ugly society where vileness and meanness, the product of the evil of the heart of man is all around us, how good to have a church family, a place where you can go that gives you the simple beauty of a Christian life, where you can hear the sweet words of encouragement, where you can receive hugs and handshakes, where you can have that caring touch of the fellowship of Christian believers.

And so in the places where I have ministered and the place where I am ministering now, we share the person and work of our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ. The message has gone out from those pulpits into those churches and then even around the world.

I believe we can sum all of this up in the text that we are going to use this morning. It is a very short verse and a very short text, which will be ours. Only six words, on syllable words, but oh what a message of hope they provide.  Because they are six simple, one syllable words, there is a possibility we can get some understanding of what they mean. Oh, but then when we think about them deeply they are a mystery. How can it be?

The verse is this.  Paul says in Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ.” Six words. Let’s look at each of them in combination. “For me to live is Christ.”  The words to me or for me that is something that is personal. It goes beyond my affiliation with a certain denominational church, whatever that might be.  This goes well beyond how much theology I know, how smart I am with knowledge of the Word of God and I can out argue someone else. This verse of Scripture speaks to us of a personal relationship between a saved sinner and the holy Son of God.  This is personal. It is for me. It can be personal for you, my friend, if you are willing to take God at his Word.

I believe it is personal, first of all, because that involves my acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The writer John said in John chapter one and verse 12, “To as many as received him,” that is Jesus, “to them he gave power to become the sons of God.” Wow, what a thing that is to think about, become sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

Nobody can do that for you. Nobody could do it for me. I think back, as I share this message with you, to many, many years ago in a little church in Jacksonville, Florida where my elderly mother and I both stepped out in the aisle on that day, went forward and confessed Jesus Christ and were baptized into him for the remission of our sins. I could not do it for my mother. She could not do it for me. It was personal. We had to do it individually.

And so you need to make that decision. You need to do that yourself. Jesus in Revelation 3:20 tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in.”

The invitation is to you. If you are hearing me today and you are not a Christian God, has given you the opportunity through the message you are hearing, for you to have a changed life, to become a Christian, to be a follower of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

If we can know he is the Son of God, the miracle of God coming down and taking the form of a man, that he is our Savior because he died in our place for our sins, not his and he is Lord, he is supreme. He is the preeminent one. Oh, he is the one who died in my place for my sins who won the victory over the tomb and over death itself on that third day to make it possible that a sinner like me could have a relationship with a holy God and with the Lord Jesus. And so, my friends, there is personal acceptance with regards to this. And I would ask you. Have you accepted the gift of salvation that comes through accepting Jesus as Savior?  It is personal. Me, you, we all together have to make that decision on our own.

But I believe those words also address the fact that it is my allegiance to Christ. This Savior is a Savior indeed, but he is also sovereign Lord.  I am willing to let him be a new authority in my life. I want to know and do his will. Paul told the church at Ephesus, he reminded them of their past walk. They walked according to the course of this world. They lived according to their flesh nature. They did what other evil people did according to the desires of their flesh.

What a sad picture it is in a society when people live like that.  Paul himself learned very quickly when he was struck down on the road to Damascus by that bright light and the voice of Jesus. He said, “Lord, what would you have me to do?” Oh, he learned that day that if he is Lord when I know his will I must obey his orders.

For me to live is Christ.   For me it is a very, very personal matter. I must accept him on my own and I must pledge my allegiance and give myself to his lordship.  For me, yes, personally, for me to live.  Here is something very practical. This is your every day life. This is your feet hitting the floor in the morning to go to work and to go to school or to do whatever you are willing to do that day.  What kind of day are you going to have?  What kind of life are you going to live in this day? God has given you life and health and strength and opportunities. How well will you use them?
For the Christian this goes well beyond that hour that you spend in Church on Sunday or maybe you occasionally pick up the Bible to read it. This involves all of life, 60 minutes of every hour, 24 hours of every day, seven days of every week and 52 weeks of every year. And for every year of my life, for me to live.  What a precious gift life itself can be.

Did you sign on for this kind of Christian life when you became a Christian? Are you really living the Christ like life?  That is the question that comes to all of us today.  I believe there are two things, then, that follow this practical side of this verse of Scripture. First of all, every moment of my life is spent with Christ. His promise is if we will open the door of our hearts, he will come in and he will dwell in us.  He will sup with us. He will sit at the table with us.  He will be our every day companion. Lo, I am with you always.   So wherever I go as a Christian, whatever I do, Christ accompanies me.  That truth brings an end to loneliness, making life hard because we feel rejected or unloved. Christ is there. And so every moment of my life involves a walk with him.

Not just the moments of my life, but every matter in my life is shared with him. We all want to share a certain thing. As you look in to your life is there something you wouldn’t want to share with Jesus, with God, maybe with your husband or wife or your mother? Then if there are those things in your life, you would not share, you are better off without them.  Root them out. Get rid of them. Put them aside. And let the power of God fill you with his goodness.

This relationship with Jesus is much like a marriage. There is togetherness. There is sharing.  There is that intimate relationship that we share with him. And so as we share our life with the Lord Jesus he shares his life with us.  His purposes become our purposes.  His resources are ours to take and use. Paul describes it as being a new creation, what a marvelous thought. Oh, the land of beginning again. Have you ever had the thought if you could just do so and so over again? Oh, I made such a mess when I made that decision, when I did what I did and it brought me such heartache. My friends, you can not go back and redo those things, but you can have new life. You can be a new creation. Life that is utterly and wonderfully new. What a thought that is, as we know our need for such a one in our life.

To me, the verse says this is something very personal. For me to live, it is something very practical, something very useful on a moment by moment basis. It sounds good, but beyond what I maybe could ever hope for. It is an awfully high standard – to live like Jesus? Who in the world can do such a thing?  Paul gives us the answer.  I have begun to discover in my own life as a Christian, having walked with Jesus for many years, this personal, practical thing that we are talking about.

 

Third, notice what it says. For me to live… the next two words: is Christ.  That makes it all possible. It is not me doing the living. It is not my life, my power, but it is Christ living in me.  This is so much deeper than following or serving or just trying to be like Jesus today.  Good luck with that. You need him living in you and we must allow Christ to live that life in us.  Paul says, “Christ who is our life.” Listen carefully to me, my friend. If you are a Christian and you are trying to live the Christian life without letting Jesus be in your life, you have no hope of possibility. It cannot be done. Attempting to live this kind of life instead of allowing Christ to have his way in us, leads inevitably to failure and tragedy.

The good news is this. This life, number one, is available to all.  That key verse of the Scripture, “God so loved the world that whosoever believes can be saved…” The world brings in an awfully lot of folks, doesn’t it? It covers a lot of territory, but oh that little word ‘whosoever’. That is me and that is you. That is the personal side of this. This great power and this new life is available to all on an individual basis.  What did Paul say in Romans chapter five and verse 10? When we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.

Now think about it. Much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  We were sinners. We were enemies of God, but Jesus came. Jesus made possible our simple faith in him, and our acceptance of him as Savior and Lord, changing that picture dramatically. I am now friends with God. I have been joined with him. I am saved by the life that he gives to me. And so this relationship with Jesus and these resources that he makes available are available to all through that life of Christ that comes to each of us. It can be present in our lives by his Holy Spirit.   Paul said it was no longer he that lived, but Christ lived in him. Oh, yes, I live, he says, but the life I live is the life of Jesus coming out of me.

My friends, this life is available to all, to you, whatever your past has been. In Jesus Christ, in the Christian life, you have a glorious, glorious eternity. This life is available to all.  It is attainable by all. What I cannot do, what I do not have the power to accomplish he can, he does. What I lack, he provides. He takes my foolishness and corrects it. He takes my ignorance and gives me in its place his wisdom. He takes that selfish Spirit that is in every one of us and he corrects it by his sacrifice. He takes my fears away and conquers them by his courage. My weakness is under girded by his strength.

 

What f you were a pauper, that is, a person with practically nothing?  How many are on the streets of our great cities today holding a sign that says hungry, will work for food, or I need a job, or will you please help me? Our streets across the land and around the world are filled people with that kind of need. Now what would happen if all of a sudden this person could marry a millionaire’s daughter, or if he was simply given a large amount of money?  Well preacher, that is not going to happen to me. No, not to me either. But do you see the difference?  From a pauper, from living on the street, to living in a mansion, that is what happens. That is the difference. If you are not a Christian and you become one by faith in Jesus, it is like going from being a pauper to being a millionaire.

Think about this lesson as the Lord leads you through this day. For to me to live is Christ.  Now there is a challenge for us. We must find out what it is in our life that prevents us from living like Jesus would have us to live.  What is there in my life that I am allowing to stay there that keeps me from being the Christian that I ought to be? I must deal with that and I must get that out of the way.  I must discover the resources that God has made available to help me live this Christ life.  I must recognize the place of obedience. I must decide to pay the price. Yes, it is not easy to be a Christian in many circumstances. And so we must allow the Holy Spirit to do in us what he wants to do.

The Christian is not someone who stands wringing his hands and crying out, “What is coming? What is the world coming to?” That person sees no hope. The Christian, rather, is someone who can stand amidst the crowd, stand in the darkness of an evil age, and he can raise his voice and cry out, “Look what has come into the world. It is none other than Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, with all of his adequacy, with all of his authority, with all of his grace and love and mercy.  And he invites each of us to accept this new life, this eternal hope.” May we learn to say each day of our life, “For me to live is Christ.”

How about you, my friend? Are you a Christian? Can you do a better job, with the help of the Lord Jesus in you, in living that life and being salt and light and leading others to the Lord?  Make that your desire and your prayer today.  If you are not a Christian, how the very angels of heaven would rejoice for you to confess Christ as Lord, to be willing to face the truth, the facts about who he is and what he is willing to do. And when you confess him with your mouth as Lord and as Savior, give your allegiance to him and accept his salvation, and are then baptized into Christ, you are raised to walk in newness of life.

It is still true. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.  Belief follows and is followed by action. What do you need to do today, Christian friend, or one out of Christ? What decision would God have you make? If we can help you with that decision, please get in touch with us. Find a good Bible believing church where you are and allow the Spirit of God to work in your heart. God bless you for tuning in today.

 

Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Kentucky.




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I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13