Friday, May 29, 2020
“According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:20-24 KJV).
To “be with Christ” is “far better!”
As believers in Jesus Christ, we cannot help but remember saints we have known here on Earth who have since graduated to Heaven. Various dear friends come to my mind. How we look forward to the day when we see them again—without the effects of aging, disability, and petty denominationalism to disrupt and terminate our fellowship!
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, the Apostle Paul speaks of a man who experienced physical death and temporarily visited “paradise” or “the third heaven.” While never actually identifying the individual, there is strong evidence it was Paul himself. After all, he was seemingly put to death by stoning in Lystra (Acts 14:19). God miraculously restored him to life to continue his apostolic ministry for another 20 years!
Therefore, when Paul, in today’s Scripture, spoke of life on Earth and life in Heaven, he knew both firsthand. To live here or die here, he would glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. Being a vessel of His grace while on Earth, or dying as a martyr and leaving Earth, Paul had his eyes firmly fixed on the goal. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Yet, he had a ministry to conduct on Earth—and, for now, he was in prison in Rome, writing to the Philippians (1:7,13,14,16). “But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.” Still, Paul wanted to return to Heaven—and to be with one Person in particular. “To be with Christ; which is far better.”
Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is ‘room’ a King James Bible mistake in Matthew 23:6?”