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Cat’s Have Nine Lives, Christians Only Two July 20, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Evangelism, Philippians, Religion, Sermons.


Philippians 1:12-26

When googling “cats nine lives”, I came across a number of interesting facts, quotes, and tidbits of information. For example:

“Most are surprised to learn that a cat stands a greater chance of survival if it falls from a higher place than from a lower place. New York veterinarians gathered data from their feline patients, which clearly supports this fact. Ten percent of their patients died after falling from 2-6 stories, while only five percent of the fatalities occurred when their patients fell from 7-32 stories

Laws of physics explain why these survival rates vary. All falling bodies, regardless or their masses, accelerate by 22 miles per hour per second of their falls. The falling object, after traveling a certain distance through the air reaches a final speed, or “terminal velocity,” because the object’s friction with the air slows the fall. The smaller the object’s mass, and the greater its area, the more it will slow.

A cat falling from a higher floor, after it stops accelerating, spreads its legs into an umbrella shape, which increases the area against which the air must push and increases the friction, thus slowing the cat’s fall. Through the cats highly developed sense of balance, he buys more time to maneuver his body in preparation for landing on all fours. A cat falling from a lower height does not have the opportunity to increase its body’s area, slow its fall, or position his body to land on all four feet.”

From http://www.coolquiz.com/trivia/explain/docs/cats2.asp


Certainly there would be an advantage in having nine lives. “After all, a creature with nine lives can afford to take risks” (Justine Hankins from http://www.moggies.co.uk/html/9_lives.html).

However, we know that this is just a superstition. Our passage today teaches that we as believers in Christ have two lives and it also makes clear that as believers in Christ we a second life in hand, can afford to take risks but they are not risks without a purpose.

Our first lives have a unique purpose (verses 12-18, 24-26)?

Our present lives are for the progress (furtherance) of the gospel (verses 12-18).

“The word “advanced” is a military term that refers to the movement of an army into enemy territory. As the soldiers move forward, they clear the obstacles, open the roads, drain the swamps, and build pontoon bridges so that the whole army can advance unhindered. Paul means to say that his imprisonment—which seemed to be a setback—actually served to advance the gospel in Rome” (Ray Pritchard).

There are basically two types of standards to evaluate military success. One is to destroy the enemy army. Occupation is not the goal, destruction is the goal. That is Satan’s strategy. Although he desires to control territory, more important to him is that he destroys God, Christ, and all who follow Christ. Now there is coming a day when God will resort to this strategy also, when he will fight against and destroy all who are in rebellion against Him but that is not His strategy at the present. His strategy is advancement, the furtherance of the gospel. God, however, has a different strategy. His strategy is for the gospel to advance into new territory, to be proclaimed in new areas, for people who have yet to hear the gospel of Christ to finally hear this good news of salvation and forgiveness of sins through faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The advance of the gospel has two characteristics that are emphasized in this passage. It is tough (verses 12-13) and it is a group effort (verses 14-17).

Our present lives are for the progress (edification) of other believers (verses 22, 24-26).

Paul makes it clear that he wants to have fruit. Now there are many different kinds of spiritual fruit mentioned in the Scriptures. Earlier in this chapter, Paul mentions that he is praying for the Philippians that they might be filled with the fruit of righteousness in their lives (verse 11). At the end of the book in 4:17 he seems to be emphasizing the furtherance of the gospel of which we have just spoken. Verses 24-26, however, seem to indicate that the fruit that he is speaking of here is spiritual progress in the lives of the Philippians. We wants them to be built up, to grow. If evangelism is an advance into the devil’s territory, then spiritual growth is an advance into the areas of our hearts and lives that continue to be stronghold’s for the old man. This progress, however, is not just for the purpose of removing the enemy within but the replacement of our old ways with joy that comes from faith in Christ.

Ultimately, however, our present lives are for the magnification of Christ (verses 20-21).

“But in fact for thousands of people and pastors the event of “worship” on Sunday morning is conceived of as a means to accomplish something other than worship. We “worship” to raise money; we “worship” to attract crowds; we “worship” to heal human hurts; we “worship” to recruit workers; we “worship” to improve church morale. We “worship” to give talented musicians an opportunity to fulfill their calling; we “worship” to teach our children the way of righteousness; we “worship” to help marriages stay together; we “worship” to evangelize the lost among us; we “worship” to motivate people for service projects; we “worship” to give our churches a family feeling, etc., etc” (John Piper).

Now all of these things are good and we could easily argue that all of them are necessary but we need to remember that all of these things are primarily for the magnification of Christ. That is our purpose now in this life.

Our lives hereafter have a unique purpose (verses 19-23)?

The opportunity for the gospel to progress (to further the gospel) is past.

The opportunity for us as individuals to progress (to edify other believers) is past.

There are some other things that are past. In his sermon on this text Alexander MacLaren gives the following answers:

We lose everything we don’t need—We lose the world, the flesh, and the devil. We lose our trials, our troubles, our tears, our fears, and our weaknesses.

We keep everything that matters—We keep our personality, our identity, and our knowledge of all that is good.

We gain what we never had before—We gain heaven, the saints, the angels, the presence of God, and Jesus himself.

Our death can and our lives hereafter will continue to magnify Christ. There is no end to the progression of magnifying an infinite God.

The earnest expectation (verse 20): Paul was eagerly looking for the day when He would see Christ. He was like a young man, looking out the window of the train, to see the his family waiting for him at the train station. He cannot get off the train yet, it has yet to stop but he cannot wait and he is looking forward, looking for the station, looking among the crowds of people for those who he loves. That is the type of expectation and hope that Paul is expressing here for his future. He is looking forward to magnifying Christ for all eternity.

To die is gain (verse 21). Why did Paul count dying as gain? Why did he feel it was better for him to depart?

It was not because of his circumstances there in prison. He was confident that through the prayers of the Philippians and the supply of the Holy Spirit that he would soon be out of prison.

He does not mention his physical health as the reason for his departure. Most feel that Paul was never a strong man but he does not mention the desire for a glorified body in this particular passage.

He does not mention the loved ones who had gone on before him. Paul had been serving for many years and there was no doubt he looked forward to seeing them again but that was not what caused him to desire to depart this earth.

His reason? Christ. You see, to Paul, trusting Christ was like cashing in a bond. When you buy a bond, that bond gains interest. When you cash in that bond you receive both principal and interest. Paul is saying that to die is to cash in “…both principal and interest and so to have more of Christ than when living” (Robertson).

INVITATION: It will be a wonderful life, our second life, our new life, when we will be able to concentrate ourselves on magnifying Christ. I trust you are looking forward to that day. Right now though, we are in a war. A war to advance the gospel into our area and a war to advance the fruit of joy in our hearts. These are two of the main battlegrounds between God and Satan.

Concerning this first battleground I am only addressing those believers who regularly attend this church. There is no doubt in my mind that God wants every person in Castleton and Fair Haven and the surrounding area to hear of Christ. That is our mission. We are doing a lot of skirmishing but we need to take some territory for Christ. What are you doing as a believer to advance the gospel of Christ?

Concerning the second battleground, my question for every person, believer and unbeliever is this, “Who are you going to bow down to and who are you going to serve?” Matthew 4:8-10 says, “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” That is the way to true joy.

This not about religion or religious practices. Religion without Christ is dangerous. This is about an inward change. Millions of people today are trusting in something that they or some other man can boast about. John 3 teaches that religion without being born again will send you to hell. One preacher said it this way, “You can say your prayers five times a day…you can listen to Billy Graham, you can take the Lord’s Supper, you can light the Advent candle, you can even drop a million bucks in the offering plate, and if you don’t know Jesus, it won’t do you a bit of good.” (Ray Pritchard)


Jesus came that you might know true joy. It is not based on a place or a religious direction. It is based on trust in Jesus Christ alone, buying the bond; and then magnifying Christ in your life. He died for you and rose again, that you might magnify Him. Trust Christ as your Savior from sin today. Let us show you from the Bible how to be saved, how to accept this message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Believer, did you magnify Christ this morning or did you just enjoy yourself? Did you focus on advancing against the enemy within and submitting yourself to Christ this morning? We should never wait until the invitation. We should enter those doors submitting ourselves to Christ, ready to advance against the old man within us and replace him with the joy that is found only in faith in Christ. Bow before Him now in your heart and submit yourself and everything and everyone you have totally to Him.

Next Week: THE PRICE OF HUMILITY, Philippians 1:27-2:13




1. cat » Blog Archive » Cat’s Have Nine Lives, Christians Only Two - July 20, 2008

[…] Michelle . Excerpt: “Most are surprised to learn that a cat stands a greater chance of survival if it falls from a higher place than from a lower place. New York veterinarians gathered data from their feline patients, which clearly supports this fact. … […]

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