“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 KJV)
Life changes completely when a person meets Jesus Christ and accepts Him as their Lord and Savior. The apostle Paul is an example. Once a persecutor of Christians, after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus, he became one of His most effective servants (Acts 22:3-15). From that moment on, he wanted to live for Christ. That’s how it should be with every born-again Christian as well.
#1 Jesus Is Our Purpose in Life
The apostle Paul wrote that “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20 KJV). In this sentence, he expressed his purpose in life, which was to magnify Jesus. He was willing to live and even die to fulfill it.
The original word translated as “magnified” can also be translated as “exalted” (NIV) and “honored” (ESV). Paul’s ultimate desire was that everything he did in his life, including his death, would magnify, exalt, and honor the Lord Jesus. That’s why he wrote that, for him, “to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21 KJV).
We, Christians, must have the same purpose that Paul had. We must live so that everything we do, we do it for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17). Whoever looks at us, they should see Jesus. Not only in our words, but in every aspect of our lives.
#2 Jesus Is Our Security in Death
Paul wanted to magnify Jesus in his life and, when it came to it, in his death (Philippians 1:20). Then he said that “to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21 KJV). We have already covered the first part of this sentence. Now, let’s take a look at what he meant by “to die is gain.”
Paul himself explained it in verse 23 by saying that he had a “desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23 KJV). He knew that he didn’t have any reason to fear death. For him, dying meant he was going to be with Christ, which is “far better” (indeed!). But how was he so sure?
The fear of death comes from uncertainty. It is the fear of the unknown. But Paul’s faith gave him the certainty of what would happen after death: he was going to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). His encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus not only changed his life, but it impacted his expectation about death too.
His assurance was not based on his own accomplishments (Titus 3:5; Philippians 3:7-9). He knew that he could never earn his salvation (Romans 7:19). Salvation is a gift from God, which we receive through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
If our salvation depended on our good deeds, we would have every reason to be afraid of dying. But, as Scripture affirms, our salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why we can rest assured that, if we believe, we will be with Him after we die.
#3 Jesus Is Our Hope of Eternal Life
Paul wrote that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). Paul is talking about what we call “spiritual death,” which is to live apart from God. Sin is what keeps a person separated from Him. On the other hand, “eternal life” is to live in peace with God because of Jesus’s sacrifice (Romans 5:1). It is only possible if a person’s sins are forgiven.
The apostle John gave us a definition of eternal life. He wrote, “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3 KJV). Jesus is the only way to eternal life with God (John 14:6).
We often think about eternal life in the future, referring to the life that will come after we die. But note that the Bible says that eternal life begins here, in this life. It begins when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and are saved from our sins. It begins here, and it will continue for all eternity. And it will be so much better after we die (1 Corinthians 13:12).
When it comes to life and death, the promise of eternal life tells us that we will continue living with God after our physical death. Jesus said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Jesus is the only one who can give us eternal life. He is the one that guarantees that we will not perish, not even after our death. He promised that we will live eternally with Him. All we have to do is believe.
Living according to God’s will is not easy. But we need to have our life’s purpose clear in our minds. We must live so that our lives are a testimony of God’s love, mercy, and grace. We must live to magnify and glorify our Lord, knowing that even death cannot shake the hope we have that we will live forever with Him. That is why we can, through faith, agree with Paul and say that, for us, “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21 KJV).
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.