Text: Philippians 1:20

If God is going to use you, Sunday School teache, deacon, Christian, you must choose one great purpose in life. I think the great purpose that every Christian ought to have for his life is the purpose that Paul revealed in the twentieth verse of Philippians, chapter one.

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

What is the one absorbing purpose? That Christ shall be magnified in my body. To me, I cannot think of any greater purpose in life than that. That ought to be the sole and chief purpose of any Christian, no matter his calling. I hope you understand that I am not talking about a preacher, a missionary, an evangelist; I’m talking about you—the Christian. The one great purpose of his life should be: Christ shall be magnified in my body.

What does it mean for Christ to be magnified in my body? Notice he is talking about in my body. The body refers naturally to the everyday life, to my conduct, to my behavior. He doesn’t say that Christ may be magnified in my preaching. He was, and he ought to be. In 1 Corinthians 2, he says, I determine not to know anything among you save Christ and him crucified. Christ was magnified in his preaching but that’s not what Paul is talking about here. He doesn’t say that Christ may be magnified in my writings. He was. What Paul says is that Christ may be magnified in my body—my everyday life, the way I talk, the way I eat, the way I behave myself, the way I work. When Paul was making tents while living in Ephesus, he said, I want Christ to be magnified in my body—even while I am making tents. The physical, everyday life—not just the religious life. I heard a young evangelist say a remarkable thing after he came to the realization of some deeper things in his life. He said, I lived in Sunday in the Spirit, and I lived Monday through Saturday in the flesh. He said, I had more sense than to know that I couldn’t preach by himself. I had to have the anointing and filling of the Holy Spirit to preach. He said I would preach in the power of the Spirit on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday, out of the pulpit, I was living in the flesh. That’s what Paul is talking about. He says, I want Christ to be magnified in my body when I’m preaching, witnessing, or doing anything else—whatever it is. Monday through Sunday, Christ magnified in my body.

The Greek word means that Christ should be made great or conspicuous in my body. Do you like to be conspicuous? I don’t like to be conspicuous. Have you ever gone to a dress up affair, and you’ve got on your best T-shirt. When women will be invited somewhere they will call up and ask, what are you wearing? If everybody else is going to have slacks on, she doesn’t want to come in a dress. And if everybody is going to have a dress on, she doesn’t want to come in slacks. But we don’t like to be conspicuous. Paul said, the one purpose of my life, the one sole, absorbing passion of my life is that in my body Jesus shall be conspicuous, made great.

It is like his body becoming a microscope. You can take something that is small, something that is naked to the natural eye, and place a powerful microscope over it, and suddenly it looms large. That is what Paul is saying. Paul is saying to a world that looks upon Jesus as somebody small and insignificant, I want my body to be a microscope. When people look at my body, they see Jesus large and conspicuous. That’s the way our bodies ought to be. You ask the average man on the street what he thinks about Jesus. If he is honest with you, his conception of Jesus is somebody small and insignificant. Have you ever noticed a Christian who has only one absorbing purpose in his life, and you look at that man’s life and Jesus looks big. Paul says I want my body to be a microscope.

I want my body to be a telescope. A telescope is something that takes an object that is far, far away and brings it closer and closer and closer. Paul says, in my body I want Jesus Christ to be close. When people see me, talk with me, come around me, I don’t want them thinking of Jesus as someone far off, unreachable, inaccessible. I want my body to be a telescope that brings Jesus close so that they can see him–Christ magnified in my body. That is the all absorbing purpose, and it bends every circumstance to its purpose.

Here is the key. You have to be right in your purpose. I’m talking about the absorbing purpose in your life. Many of us have lesser purposes, of lesser degrees, and lesser grades. We have to have these, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I am talking about the all absorbing purpose in your life, because whatever that all absorbing purpose is, that purpose takes every other circumstance and bends it to its service. It makes every other circumstance a servant of the purpose.

For instance, if a person’s all absorbing purpose is to make money, then he is going to look upon every situation as to how he can make a buck. He is going to take every circumstance and try to make that circumstance serve his purpose. If a fellow’s primary, chief absorbing purpose is to gain an education, then he is going to make every circumstance of life submit to that purpose. He is not going to let circumstances contradict that purpose. I guarantee you that the football coach of your high school has only one absorbing purpose in his life, and that is to win. He had better have a winning season or we’ll get somebody else. You think being a preacher is a shaky business; I wouldn’t be a high school football coach for all the money in the world. I wouldn’t coach Baylor University Bears for a million dollars. Boy, you better make it all the first year or you may not get a second chance. Only one purpose. If you go to that coach and say, we’re having a little get-together in our home, and we would like for John to be excused from football practice today. Would you mind excusing him? Do you think that coach is going to do that? It doesn’t matter if it is raining, snowing, sleeting, or what other demands there may be on that boy’s life, every other circumstance, every other need, every other claim must submit to that one all absorbing purpose.

Do you know the reason so many other things can knock us out of our service for Jesus Christ? Paul says to be instant in season and out of season. That means to serve the Lord when it is inconvenient—even when it’s out of season. Do you know why some people let a little rain keep them out of the house of God on the Lord’s Day? Because their all absorbing purpose is not that Christ shall be magnified in their body. They are at the mercy of circumstances. I can tell you something about yourself. If Christ being magnified in yur body is not the all absorbing purpose in your life, you are a slave to circumstances. Your Christian life is dictated by circumstances.

Paul dictated circumstances. If he was put into prison, hee made that prison experience submit to his purpose, and he used that even as a place to magnify Jesus. One night he and Silas were thrown into the Philippian jail. Remember now that he has one absorbing purpose. What does he do? He makes that bad circumstance submit to that purpose, and he wins the jailer and probably every prisoner there. He gets on a ship. The ship is wrecked, and they are cast on an island. What does Paul do? He uses that as an opportunity to glorify Jesus. If you follow the life of the apostle Paul, you will find he would preach at the drop of a hat. It made no difference what the circumstance was, he had one all absorbing purpose and he made certain that every circumstance submitted and was the slave and servant of that purpose. I will tell you right now. It is the only way you are going to make it in your Christian life. It’s the only way you are going to be consistent. You need to look upon every circumstance and situation in life, whether it is good or bad, and say the one purpose of my life is that Jesus can be magnified in my life. How can this circumstance serve that purpose? It will make a difference. I can tell you right now that God is not going to be able to use you until you come to that place. Lord Jesus, just use my body as a magnifying glass, a telescope. I don’t care what you do with it. I don’t care how you use it. I don’t care what the circumstance. All I want to say is that Jesus is magnified in my body.

Now, this is to be done in a certain manner. I want you to notice verse 20. He is to be magnified in our bodies at any place. Look at what Paul says in Philippians 1:20:

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Underscore two words: now also. Paul says, I have always had as my supreme purpose that Christ shall be magnified in my body. Now also–let’s identify that now also. Where is Paul? What is Paul’s now also? He is in jail, in prison. A lot of people would say, how unfortunate. That will stop Paul’s ministry. That put the quietus on Paul’s preaching. That destroyed Paul’s purpose of life. You say you want your purpose in life to be Christ magnified in your body. We’ll just put you in jail and see what you do. Paul says, every other place he has been magnified in my body. At every place, and any place, this is what I want. Now also Christ is going to be magnified in my body even though I’m in jail. Let’s see the result. When you have this as your purpose in life, it will work. You will find it true that once you submit your body to the Lord Jesus Christ for this purpose, he will be magnified at any place—even in jail.

Look at what he says in verse 13: so that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace. That Greek word palace means Caesar’s court. Think about it. Caesar’s court. The magnificent opportunity that Paul had. They wouldn’t let him come in and preach though he did the next best thing. He went to jail in Caesar’s court. He says, now since I have this all absorbing purpose of life, the bonds of Christ are manifest in all the palace and all other palaces. Do you see the result? At any place, and also at any price.

Notice what the apostle says: so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. At any price I want Christ magnified in my body. He says, Jesus is going to be magnified in my body if it kills me. That’s what he is saying. Whether by life or by death is immaterial, inconsequential; Christ is going to be magnified in my body at any price.

Let me read in 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, how this worked out in Paul’s life. Some of us might make this kind of decision. In times past I have heard some fireball evangelist say ask if I am willing to suffer for Christ and I raised my hand, saying that I’m willing to suffer for Christ, knowing that I will never be called on to suffer for him. It is easy for us to say at any price Christ is going to be magnified in my body. In the back of our minds we never think it is going to cost us anything. Let me read in 2 Corinthians 4:7-11. This is Paul’s personal testimony.

But we have this treasure (What? He’s talking about Jesus.) in earthen vessels (that’s His body), that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us; we are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.; (The Williams translation there says “knocked down but not knocked out.” Always getting a knock down, but not knocked out. I like that.) always, in every place, at any price, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, (He says, you look at my body and it is just like the body of Jesus. My body is bearing the dying of the Lord Jesus. I am suffering. I am paying the price. Why?) that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in my body, for we which that live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

Paul says, I am always at the door of death. My body has been handed over to Jesus, and no matter what it cost, Jesus is going to be magnified in my body. If it means I have to leave friends I don’t want to leave, if it means I have to suffer persecution, if it means I have to be ostracized from this little clique or group, if it means I don’t get this promotion, if it means I don’t get this raise, if it means I have to forfeit this sale, it doesn’t matter. At any price, Christ is going to be magnified in my body. I want Jesus to be conspicuous. When I walk into a business meeting, into a salesroom, I want the conspicuous part of my life to be Jesus, no matter if it offends, goes against the grain or causes me to be ostracized, Jesus is going to be conspicuous in my body. I don’t want people to have to search and ask questions to find out if I know Jesus. You don’t meet too many people that you can just naturally tell they know Jesus.

Now, one last thing I want to look a is the alternative, or the motive. I wonder if you caught it as we read that twentieth verse. According to my earnest expectation and my hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but (there’s the contrast) that with all boldness as always so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. Notice the word but. That in nothing I shall be ashamed but on the contrary, Christ shall be magnified in my body. Paul says, the only alternative is either disgrace, shame, or Christ magnified in my body. That’s the motive, the alternative. Christian, there is only one alternative. Either Jesus Christ is magnified in your body, or you are a disgrace to him. There is no other alternative, no other outlet. That’s it. Either I am ashamed of Jesus, ashamed of my faith, or Jesus is magnified. That is the very reason that in some of us Jesus is not being magnified in our body: because we are ashamed of him. That is the very reason why in the life of a teenager, the life of a man who goes to work,or the life of a woman taking care of her house, if they don’t make Jesus conspicuous in their, they are ashamed. Either you are ashamed of Jesus or Christ is magnified in your body.

The first step for being useable; meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work is to have but one great purpose in life. That one great purpose is always Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death.

© Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2007

Categories: Sermons

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