To me, to live is Christ. (Philippians 1:21)
I wonder very often if the fact that our tremendous knowledge about Christ, our tremendous doctrinal apprehension, failing to lead us into triumphant joy, failing to result in something of this contagious spirit of triumph that was about Paul, does not imply that it is something which is not Christ personally with which we are occupied and taken up. We are getting to know Christ purely by a book knowledge, and a Conference knowledge, an address knowledge, an historic knowledge; that really, apart from our Conferences, our books, our studies, our addresses, and all these things; in the secret place, in the secret history back of it all, we are not living on Christ Himself, and out from Christ, and knowing Christ. So much of our Christian life is a matter of teaching, of things about Him.
We recognise the simplicity of that word, but we are quite sure that you understand what we mean, because you have known a very great deal about Christ in doctrine, and then you have discovered something of the Lord Himself, and you have discovered the tremendous difference. There is nothing more uplifting than to come into a personal experience of the Lord, a knowledge of the Lord, in a living way, to have Christ ministered to your heart by the Holy Spirit. Then you discover that there is something there which is more than all your suffering, and which makes suffering worthwhile, and which robs suffering of its deadly sting. It is Christ. Paul lived on Christ: “For me to live is Christ.” Now, what might have been put afterward? For me to live is to be able to go to meetings! For me to live is to be able to have fellowship with other believers! If I am cut off from them I cannot live! If I cannot go to the meetings I cannot live! You can put in anything else: For me to live is to have encouragement in the work, to see results for my labours! You can cover a great deal of ground, if you are going to cover the ground of our demands in order to be triumphant. But Paul looked out, and he saw his work being injured, damaged, outwardly destroyed, his old friends being alienated and led to doubt and suspect him. Oh, he saw enough to take the heart out of any man at the end of such a life, but he did not say: “for me to live is to see my life work standing as a monument, intact; to have all my old friends faithful and around me; to know that my message has had universal acceptance and appreciation!” No! “For me to live is (when all these things, and many others, have gone) Christ!”
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Excellency of the Knowledge of Jesus Christ - Chapter 2