PI:  Let’s develop a Philippians 1 perspective on life because it’s a blessing to us & to others.


Just recently I found out that the ALL TIME best-selling book originally written in English is Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities.

Now if you were an English literature major in college or you love English fiction you probably knew that but it was news to me. The book was published in 1859 and as of 2016 it has sold over 400 million copies.  And if you’ve ever read it you know that it starts out like this:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.

It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.

It was the season of light, it was the season of darkness.

It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.

In your opinion and from your perspective how well does that describe our day and time?

Just to stimulate our thinking on this let me quote a few statistics from American Magazine:

75% of young men 25 & under suffer from a health defect induced by mental anxiety.

The FBI reported that avg. age of criminals is 19

estimates of abortion and STDs are the highest of any generation

Drinking bouts among HS and College students have produced a huge spike in promiscuous sexual activity

80% of young men & 60% of young women report having engaged in pre-marital sex

Marriages are 4x more likely to end in divorce than 50 years earlier

Another gov. study concluded that marijuana & other mind-altering drugs are now being peddled to thousands of young people in almost every school, town and city in the country. Onе оf thе bіggеѕt іmреdіmеntѕ to ѕuссеѕѕfullу ԛuіttіng ѕmоkіng is уоur іntеrnаl bеlіеf ѕуѕtеm. Hеnrу Fоrd once ѕаіd thаt іf уоu thіnk уоu саn or уоu thіnk уоu can’t еіthеr way уоu аrе rіght. Of соurѕе that is easier ѕаіd thаn dоnе ѕоmеtіmеѕ. But as you approach уоur hурnоѕіѕ ԛuіt ѕmоkіng ѕеѕѕіоn уоu can dо ѕо аѕ a skeptic, whісh will flооd уоur mind wіth dоubt аnd anxiety. I’m ѕurе уоu саn ѕее hоw thіѕ wouldn’t bе helpful like pure cbd online fоr уоu асhіеvіng your gоаl.

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The president of a major university said that every day newspapers report “one more grave crime after another, one more social crisis after another and one more dereliction of duty after another.”

One journalist traveled 10,000 miles across America to study the country’s youth & concluded that the majority are confused, disillusioned and disenchanted.

So, it sounds like a very bleak time, doesn’t it?

But here’s what’s really interesting: 

ALL of those statistics I just read come from the years 1936-37.

The media and sociologists of that time called the group of young Americans who were alive then ‘The Lost Generation’.

But 60 years later NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw called them ‘The Greatest Generation’ because they survived the Great Depression, won WW II, provided decades of outstanding leaders and statesmen, created family stability and imbued American culture with a ‘can do spirit’.

Quote Brokaw:  ‘This was the greatest generation any society has ever produced.’

Transition/Curve/Go Slow….

Given all that, it seems pretty clear that the difference between labeling that generation lost and labeling it great was one of PERSPECTIVE.

I’m not sure we realize this but our perspective on life is incredibly important because it can either make us or break us.

That’s what this text that we just read in Philippians 1 is all about.

  1. Have a Positive Perspective in the Midst of Tough Times (v. 12-18): The Advance of the Gospel
  • Paul is writing this to the church in Philippi – a church he had planted about 10 years before – but he’s writing it while he’s in prison in Rome and it’s obvious that he’s restricted, limited, and quite literally in chains.
    • There’s no freedom, almost no privacy and I doubt that the food was what you’d get from Chilis or Chipotle.
  • Moreover, if you know anything at all about Paul you know that instead of being stuck in a small one room house in Rome, chained to a succession of Roman palace guards, he wanted to travel to Spain to preach the Gospel OR roam from city to city in Greece and Asia Minor to visit all the churches he’s started OR minister the love and grace of Christ to all the people that he’s won to the faith.
  • And not only is he imprisoned but it’s clear that he’s got some enemies in the church who are trying to shame him because of his arrest and impending trial before the Emperor.
    • We don’t know who these people were but, as he notes, they’re trying to cause him more pain and anguish as he suffers thru the difficulties of his imprisonment
  • If there was ever a person whose life illustrated that to be a follower of Jesus means taking up a cross to follow Him, it was Paul.
  • He shows us that sometimes life – even as a Xian – is just plain tough.

ILL. – I’ve seen this up close and personal over the past year:  A woman in my prayer group (Patty) trying to help her sister battle cancer; two colleagues with very sick spouses; Mark Young’s son-in-law and grandkids were in a horrible accident. My sister, Becky, almost died last Xmas.

  • Life can be tough even for God’s people, as it was for Paul, and yet he transforms his tough time by turning his prison into a pulpit.

ILL.-  I don’t know why but God has used prisons in enormously powerful ways; John Bunyon wrote The Pilgrims Progress from Befordshire jail;

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote letters to his students and friends from Flossenburg prison in Nazi Germany;

Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letters from that jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama and Paul wrote this great letter to the Philippians from his prison in Rome to give them a fresh perspective.

  • For starters, he focuses on the mission of God. Listen again to v. 12ff.
    1. The Gospel is advancing:

Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.

  1. The Praetorium Guard knows he’s in prison for his religious beliefs, not because he was an enemy of Caesar
  2. His friends & his enemies are motivated to share Christ
  • Implication: people are coming to faith, Christ’s kingdom is advancing, the Gospel is expanding and as a result he can REJOICE.

PI:  Oh, our perspective on life is incredibly important because it can make us or break us and Paul knew that.

  • So, he was going to do everything he could to look for the providential work of the Sovereign Savior in the midst of tough times.

ILL. – My youth pastor:  Scott, this is the best thing that’s ever happened to you:  Trying leverage my experience of getting my heart-broken with my kids in Oak Creek:  ‘Oh, Mr. Wenig….’ ‘Oh, Mr. Wenig…’ ‘Oh, Mr. Wenig…’ Accept Jesus!

APP.-  Friend, you might in the middle of a really tough time right now; I feel for you because I’ve been there.  So let me ask you this:

Do you see anyway that the Sovereign Savior might be providentially at work in the midst of your circumstances to advance the gospel?

Without diminishing your pain, how is your perspective?

Transition/Curve/Go Slow

Paul felt the pain of his imprisonment but what’s really interesting – and important for us – is that he takes the perspective that God is doing some great things & then applies it to himself.  Look at the rest of v. 18 thru v. 20.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

  1. Have a Positive Perspective in Difficult Times: God’s Best for Us (v. 18b-20)


  • It’s important that we focus on two details here to help us to understand exactly what Paul is communicating:
    • First, WS: ‘deliverance’ at the end of v. 19 (also translated salvation or vindication) but as we look at the flow of thought it would seem best to translate it ‘best’.
      • Paul is telling the Philippians that thru their prayers and the work of the Holy Spirit God is providentially at work and so his imprisonment will work out for his best.
  • Second, if we go to Acts 25 Paul was on trial in Caesaria before the Roman governor Felix and he leveraged his Roman citizenship and appealed to Caesar so that’s what got him to this prison in Rome.
    • But that meant that in the very near future he would go before Caesar and the Emperor would decide his fate which would either be to release him or have him executed as an enemy of Rome.
    • Caesar at that time was Nero: Nero was compulsive, corrupt, wildly extravagant and violent man who ended up killing his own mother and one of his brothers.
    • He was a genuinely dangerous and malevolent personality so there’s a real chance that he could give Paul a ‘thumbs down’ and send him to the chopping block.
  • And yet in the face of that he’s rejoicing because he really believes that all this will work out for his BEST!
  • Paul is not a naïve optimist about life who is in denial about the suffering that has come his way.
  • He’s not a ‘pie in the sky by and by person’ who’s emotionally shut down in order to protect himself from more pain.
  • He’s in prison, under severe restrictions, bothered by his enemies & there’s the very real possibility that he might be executed.

Transition/Curve/Go Slow

  • And yet, he’s thrilled, excited, & pumped; he is rejoicing!
  • The reason he could do that was because his perspective on life an death had been Christianized. Look at v. 21

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

This is the key statement in this passage & Paul spells out in detail what he means by this.

Let’s look at the first part in v. 22

  • A Christianized Perspective on Life: (v. 21-24)

If I go on living in the body this will mean fruitful labor for me.

  • Paul is arguing that since he’s centered his life in Christ the Sovereign Savior – if he’s allowed to live – that will mean fruitful labor for him.
  • Some of us were taught in Churchworld that life should be prioritized with God at the top, then our family, then our ministry and then our work, and then maybe our recreation or hobbies down here at 5th or 6th on the list.
    • That sounds really spiritual but, if we think about it, it’s not very biblical and it doesn’t work very well because it goes against the way life works.
    • Life is filled with all kinds of responsibilities & tasks & problems & interruptions that blow that list of priorities apart on a daily basis.

ILL.- It’s better to view life as a wheel with a series of spokes around the hub.  To live is Christ means that we put Jesus at the center and let all the spokes of our lives be influenced by Him.

  • That’s what Paul did:
    • Christ was at the center of life when he was making tents to pay bills, when he was traveling from place to place to preach the Gospel & when he was relating to both believers and unbelievers and – now here – when he was in prison and as a result Christ has transformed his perspective on life.

ILL.- Cinderalla; before she goes to the ball she’s really unhappy, sad and dejected.  But after meeting the prince at the ball she’s thrown back into the same situation & yet everything is different.  Meeting the Prince didn’t change her situation but it changed her perspective because now she saw everything with him in mind; now she sweeps like never before, mops like never before, and cleans like never before.  Her work was the same but her perspective was different.

  • If we place Jesus at the center He will influence every part of our lives, and like Paul, over time we’ll bear good fruit.
  • We’ll see ourselves grow in grace and godliness and good character, we’ll have a positive impact on our family and friends and our co-workers. We’ll see the value of church and ministry and we’ll reach out to our friends and neighbors in the love of Jesus.

PPI:  A Philippians 1 Perspective is one where Jesus is at the center of life and everything we do.

Transition/Curve/Go Slow

And that’s not all:  A Philippians 1 Perspective also impacts how we see death.  Look at what Paul says in v. 23:

I am torn between the two; I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far.

  1. A Christianized Perspective on Death (v. 23)


  • Paul is teasing out his statement in v. 21 that ‘to die is gain’.
  • He’s saying that when we die our souls go to be with the glorified Jesus and when we’re in His presence everything is peaceful and HAPPY as we wait for the day when Christ returns & we get our own resurrected bodies to live in the new heaven and the new earth.
  • Death is an enemy but it’s an enemy that Christ has conquered and transformed for those who trust in Him and, therefore, it has become a means of GAIN for His people.

ILL. – Cyprian of North Africa:  “Christians saw the dearly departed as, “freed from the world, summoned of the Lord, not to be mourned as lost, but considered sent ahead, leading the way, longed for as a traveller or voyager, and though dead, we know that they are alive.”

ILL. – Perpetua and Felicity:

Our perspective on life – especially when it goes south – is incredibly important because it can either make us or break us.

PI: And that’s why it’s so important that we develop a Philippians 1 perspective on life and death.

Transition/Curve/Go Slow

Now, some of you here might have this down.  You’re incredibly mature in your walk with Jesus and you possess a Philippians 1 perspective on life and death and so you navigate tough times pretty well.

But if you’re like me, you want this and you’re striving for it, but developing a Philippians 1 perspective is challenging.

And since I know it’s challenging for me & I suspect it’s challenging for some of you let me make some suggestions on how we might move that direction.

  1. How to Develop a Philippians 1 Perspective on Life and Death


  • This Takes Time:
  • A Philippians 1 Perspective where we look for the good in the midst of the bad takes time to develop because it’s not natural – it’s supernatural
  • And so let’s give ourselves some time to mature so we can gain this kind of perspective

ILL. – Carter:  “I saw Miss Melanie at the Pizza place last night and she was with her dad!’

  • This Takes Grace:
  • Let’s look again at v. 19 where Paul says ‘I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my best.’
  • He recognizes he needs God’s grace to maintain his perspective & that will come thru their prayers and the Holy Spirit’s help
  • WS: ‘help’ in the original text is the word from which we get our English word ‘Choreography’
    • A choreographer is the person who arranges the set, the designs, and routine of the dance or the play.
    • Paul is saying that thru our prayers and God’s choreography in our lives, whatever happens will turn out for our best.
    • We may not see it at the moment, we may not feel it in the middle of tough times, but God will give grace to change our perspective so that in due time, we can see that good things have happened.
  • This Takes Sacrifice:
  • I’m more convinced that if we want to develop a Philippians 1 perspective – where we live for Christ and see death as gain – that we need to sacrifice our engagement with the media
  • I’m encouraging you to dial back on how much TV you watch, especially cable news shows, because a lot of what they peddle is negative & how bad things are & how evil that candidate is or how corrupt that person is & how civilization might come to an end or your life will be ruined if that person gets elected.

ILL.-  If you don’t mind, I’d like to give us all a little perspective. 

First of all, negative news sells and those people are in the business of making $.  So, while they claim to speak truth, they’re only giving us a small portion of the story because they want to make $ off us. 

Second, God is doing some REALLY GREAT THINGS locally & globally.

  • In the last 30 years, we’ve seen 1 billion people come out of dire poverty into what we might call the lower class.
  • In the last 40 years, Xianity has exploded in Africa, Asia and South America.
    • Hundreds of people confess X in Africa and So. America every single day.
    • There’s a distinct possibility that within the next decade the largest Xian nation in the world will be China
  • Locally, we’ve seen innumerable church plants in the Front Range over the past 25 years making an enormous impact for the Gospel
  • One of my students works at a church in Highlands Ranch: ‘A shy little 5th grade girl asked 10 of her friends to a retreat they had in August and 8 of them accepted X.  A 6th grade boy in his ministry is starting a prayer ministry in his PUBLIC school.’
  • GOOD, things are happening here at South Fellowship:
    • Our attendance has doubled in under 4 years, we support innumerable ministries and are expanding that, we had some people get baptized last Sunday and we need to be humble, prayerful and grateful going forward.

PI:  Friends, We need to have a Philippians 1 Perspective on life and death because it’s good for us. 

It’s good for me and it’s good for you to know that regardless of our circumstances if we have Jesus at the Center of our lives we’ll bear spiritual fruit & if and when He calls us home, it is GREAT GAIN!

Transition/Curve/Go Slow

And we also need to remember something else really, really important:

And that is that our perspective on life ALSO impacts those around us for good or bad. Look at what Paul says in v. 24-26

…but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

  1. Our Perspective impacts other people (v. 24-26)


  • Paul still has to go before the Emperor for the legal decision on his case but he loves the Philippians and wants what’s best for them
  • And so – in faith – he makes this statement about remaining in the flesh so that he can be united with them again and minister to them again and everyone can be happy together!
  • And according to tradition Paul was released by Nero and continued his ministry in the Empire for another 6 or 7 years.


  • And yet, while he’s still there in prison, Paul knew that how he saw his situation would impact everyone around him: the Praetorium guards, the other Xians and anyone else he came into contact with.


  • Friends, these verses go beyond Paul’s circumstance & his experience.
  • They show us that our perspective on suffering, life and death really influences those around us.

ILL.-  My friend, the Bee-keeper.  Sometimes you have to change the kinds of bees you’re keeping because of the weather or season.  But you don’t kill off the whole hive & bring in a new one; you just change out the Queen.  The bee-keeper kills the old queen & inserts the new queen.  And after a week or so the new queen is assimilated into the hive but the hive now takes on the personality of the queen.

  • I don’t know if you’re the queen in your home or your work or your neighborhood or our church, but I do know that your perspective bleeds out and influences everyone @ you, just like my perspective influences those around me.
  • If we’re negative, if we’re pessimistic, if we’re discouraged and we think everything is going to Hades in a Handbasket that will bleed out into our jobs, our relationships and our own health.
    • And that takes everyone into a downward spiral & no one wins.


  • But if we have a Philippians 1 perspective – the perspective that Jesus, our Sovereign Savior, is at actively at work in our lives and that He will more than take care of us in death, – that will give us energy, enthusiasm and a really, really positive impact…

  ….because a Philippians 1 Perspective is really good for us and it’s good for all of those around us!


  • Now….Just Imagine if every single person here at South Fellowship – by grace of God – developed a Philippians 1 Perspective.
    • Imagine the Joy that we would all experience personally and then imagine the happiness that would bring to our marriages, our families, and to our friends
  • Just Imagine if every single person here at South Fellowship had a Philippians 1 Perspective on living for X and dying is gain – and took that into the marketplace and the work place and the school setting.
    • Imagine how we could infuse those places with a sense of optimism because we know that Christ is at work and He’s extending His kingdom in each one of those places.
  • Just Imagine if every church in Denver possessed a Philippians 1 Perspective and was reaching out into our community with the love and grace and mercy of Jesus to the least, the last and the lost.
    • Imagine how many thousands of lives would be touched and transformed for now and for all eternity.
  • Just imagine if every Xian in the United States – by the grace of God – demonstrated a Philippians 1 Perspective in the next 3 months.
    • Just imagine if we all prayed that God’s grace would descend on the political process and, in the love of Christ, we all stepped across the political aisle and said, ‘We are about something much, much bigger than one election! We’re about spreading the Good News of the Gospel because it’s the Hope of our nation and the Hope of the World.’

I think if, by the grace of God, we all did that everyone around us would be amazed, the Good News of Jesus would expand much further than we can imagine or think and we’d all be much, much happier because as Paul shows us here

A Philippians 1 Perspective is good for you and for me and for everyone as well!