What is the best news that you’ve ever heard? Maybe it was the news that you were going to have a baby. Maybe it was your acceptance into your dream college, or the news that you got your dream job. When you heard this news, how hard was it for you to keep it to yourself? Almost impossible, wasn’t it? Our natural response to life-changing news is to shout it from the rooftop, post it on every form of social media, call or text everyone we know and want them, also, to share in the joy and excitement that we ourselves are currently experiencing.
As I’ve been studying and preaching through the Book of Philippians recently, there is something that has struck me afresh regarding the Apostle Paul — He was a man that was incredibly joyful because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and supremely committed to sharing it with everyone.
You see, for Paul, there was no greater news in the world than the fact that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners like himself. And not only was this the greatest news for him personally, he also knew that it was the greatest news that anyone could ever hear, and so he devoted his life to the spreading of this Good News and helping brothers and sisters in Christ further contemplate and comprehend its impact into every aspect of their lives.
As we enter into this Fall season and the holidays that will quickly be upon us — a season filled with giving, joy, and thankfulness — I want you to think with me for a moment about the love, joy, and thankfulness that Paul has for the Gospel in the book of Philippians.
Every aspect of Paul’s life was lived in light of and because of the Good News of what God has done to reconcile sinners with Himself. In Philippians 2:5-11 we see the epitome of the humility shown by Jesus and the sacrifice He made on behalf of sinners. And why was it that Jesus had to go through such a sacrificial, substitutionary death? It was because all men, ever since Adam and Eve, are born in sin — we are all sinners both by nature and by choice. And our sin is not just against each other, though it is that. Our sin is not merely against some arbitrary laws or some made up morality of right and wrong. Rather, our sin is against a holy and righteous God — the one, true God of the universe that has created every single one of us for His glory. Yet each of us have committed acts of divine treason through our sin, and because of that, we stand guilty before God and fully deserving of His wrath to be poured out upon our sin.
But here’s the Good News — the Good News that sustained and ignited Paul throughout his life. God himself made a way of salvation by sending the eternal second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, to take on the form of a man in the incarnation, to live a perfect life that we could never live, to die the death that we should have died, to take the sins of His people upon Himself as their substitute, to satisfy the wrath of God on their behalf as a propitiation, to rise from the dead and defeat sin, death and Satan, and to ascend to the right hand of the Father, where He now rules and reigns and intercedes for His people until He comes again.
What INCREDIBLE news that is! We all have excellent and exciting things that we experience in this life — good gifts given to us by our good and gracious God. But every single one of them pales in comparison with the good news of what Jesus has done to save sinners! Paul knew this. Paul lived his life for this. Paul ended up giving his life for this. Paul’s love for the Gospel was such that he could say in Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In this passage, Paul is contemplating the possible outcomes of his current imprisonment. He may be set free. He may be put to death. Whichever happens, he’s confident that Christ will be honored in his body, whether by life or by death. What does he mean that for him to live is Christ? Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th century British preacher, summarized it by saying that Paul’s life is characterized by this fourfold pursuit — to know Christ more, to imitate Christ more, to preach Christ more, and to enjoy Christ more.
We see a more detailed picture of what this looked like in Paul’s life in Philippians 3:7-8, when he says:
“7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
For Paul, the Good News of what Jesus has done to save sinners was the best news he had ever heard — so good that he gave his life to share it, teach it, and proclaim it to all who would listen.
What about you? What is the best news that you have ever heard? May we, like Paul, be thankful for the good gifts that God gives us in this life. But may we, also like Paul, see the supreme and preeminent value of Christ and the Gospel over all things.