Finding that place of peace and equanimity where choosing between life and death is of any consequence is a powerful thing and is possible only in Christ Jesus.
Paul found that place where he said he was hard pressed between the two, whether to live or to die. He was imprisoned at the time and did not know which way the chips would fall, but he was not worried in the slightest. Choosing between life and death was not something he was particularly concerned about.
This is a place we all as Christians should think about and aspire to as we see in these verses today.
Rejoicing in Life or Death
First, let us consider the scriptures under review.
19 Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:19-26)
In the first two verses of these scriptures, Paul states that whether he lives or dies, Christ will be honoured. Clearly if he lived he could continue to give glory to Christ for his deliverance and taking away the threat that hung over his head. This would certainly be a great reason for joy and rejoicing in the Lord.
But even if he died, Jesus would and should be glorified because Paul’s life would be given for the Lord whom he loved more than anything. More than once Paul had stated that he would and did give up everything for the sake of knowing and being known by Jesus Christ. And once again he was prepared to give everything, including his life for the sake of his faith.
How many of us today can honestly say the same? Sure, we all say we would give all, but would we be prepared to face death as Paul was, and do so with peace in our hearts.
I mean, after all, many of us struggle when we have a conflict of schedules where some event clashes with a church meeting or commitment. And how many of us take the alternative path rather than the Lord’s path? Be honest with yourself as you answer that question.
If you can truly say you would give all, then I applaud and congratulate you. This is where we need to be in Christ. Whether we live or die we should give Jesus Christ and God the glory for they are the reason why we have this chance at salvation.
Whether life or death…Christ is gain
In the next few verses we see exactly how Paul viewed his position. He says in verse 21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Paul did not consider there was any difference to him whether he lived or died. In fact as we look at those words it seems he was leaning a little towards dying because that meant he would leave this world of pain, sin, evil and suffering to be with Christ.
And who wouldn’t want that? Hands up…Who doesn’t want to go and live with Christ? Huh! I don’t see any hands so I’m pretty certain the feeling is unanimous that we would ALL love to go and live with Christ.
BUT…what about if you had to die first?
Now I know there are some who are a little more hesitant. There is a little hesitation because it is the nature of man to fear death.
This was not an issue that Paul suffered with. He was at peace over his situation, which is why he was hard pressed between the choice of death or life. Paul had come to grips with and understood the truth of these following words.
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Paul recognised and knew that the devil holds the power of death. But he also knew and understood that Jesus had already won the victory over the devil.
Jesus came to earth as a man and experienced all of the challenges and fears that face all of mankind, including the fear of death. But He overcame His fear and died in the most horrific way so that we could be freed from the bondage to death and receive life through Him.
Paul understood this and that is part of the reason why he was at peace over his situation, whether to live or to die.
And he had pretty much worked out what was going to happen. Even though he was leaning towards death to be with Christ, he knew his work was unfinished.
This is why in the last few verses of this section he indicates that he would not die but the threat of death would pass over him. It was because he had work still to do for the Lord that he understood he would remain to continue working in the service of the Lord.
And we should be glad that was the case because had he died, all of the rest of the letters he wrote that form such a significant part of the Bible would not have been written.
His work was not just for the churches in his day, but the Lord had him working for us, two thousand years or so later.
And we need to be of the same mind as Paul. We need to come to that same place of internal peace in the Lord so that whether we live or die we are at peace.
Do not fear death. Christ has already overcome death. As we continue to walk with Him we walk towards salvation and life. And His life is our life. When we understand this, then choosing between life and death is not an issue. We go where the Lord wants us and either way we give Him praise and glory.
If we are to fight the spiritual war that we are told as Christians
will assail us, and if we are to stand against the spiritual hosts of
wickedness that seek to harass and undermine our life in Christ, then we
need the armour of God.
A spiritual war requires spiritual armour, and if we are to have the
victory in the spirit we needs the weapons of warfare of the Spirit.
This podcast takes an overview look at the armour of God as defined in Ephesians 6. It is important that we take the whole armour of God if we are to stand victorious in Christ.
There is talk in the world that the church is dead or dying. They say that church attendances in the western world are falling and that Christianity has become a thing of the past.
And yet at the same time we also see stories saying the exact opposite; that Christianity is the fastest growing religion in other parts of the world, especially in those places that have suffered under oppressive and repressive regimes.
What is the truth of these things? Is the church dead or alive, dying or growing? This scripture today gives us an insight.
One of the most important things all Christians must do is to seek the knowledge of the truth when they come to Christ Jesus. There is much that is taught in the name of Christ that has no biblical basis and is in some cases opposed to the Gospel of the Truth.
Knowledge of what is right and wrong will keep Christians able to stand and fight the spiritual war that rages about us.
Click here to listen to this podcast to find out more.
As Christians we have been called to learn how to love God and to love one another as Christ loved us.
This does not come automatically. It takes time to learn to love someone. Love begins with knowing the other person, then understanding where they are coming from, then trusting them and finally loving them.
So growing in love is a journey, and it is not static at any time. In these few verses we gain some insight into the process of growing in love so we can travel the road of love that leads to Christ.
Some sections of the modern Christian church have instituted the
practice of tithing as the mechanism for financing the church. But this
practice has deep and often unseen implications for the church that can
sever Christians from grace and from Jesus Christ.
Click here to listen to this podcast now to find out more.
Today we commence looking at the letter of Paul to the church of the Philippians, and as we read the first few verses we get an understanding of just how much Paul loved this church.
In my mind the letter to the Philippians is a letter of love, not as man loves, but the love of God. Paul does not identify problems in the church but this letter encourages and strengthens the church to lift them up to a greater love of God and of the brethren.
Paul is both proud and humbled by the church of the Philippians and has no hesitation expressing his love for them.