Far Better

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?

Death! #8

Monday, May 18, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Sin has “wages” (payments): physical death (soul and spirit separated from physical body), spiritual death (soul and spirit separated from God on Earth—can be remedied by faith in Christ!), functional death (believer separated from Christian living), and second death (soul and spirit separated from God in the Lake of Fire—permanent!).

We enter this world “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [resurrected us, given us life and energy] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; )…” (verse 4). Thus, God through Christ overcomes spiritual death. The “eternal life” of Romans 6:23 especially emphasizes subsequent Christian living. If we as believers want deliverance from daily sinful conduct, we read and trust chapters 6–8. Thus, God through Christ conquers functional death.

Some of the Church the Body of Christ will physically die, but not all. Those believers alive at the Lord’s return—the Rapture, the resurrection, “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:18-25)—will never experience physical death. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…” (1 Corinthians 15:50-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Living or dead, all Christians will receive a new body. Thus, God through Christ overcomes physical death. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile [sinful, corrupt, subject to death] body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20,21).

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25,26).

Death! #7

Sunday, May 17, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

Second Timothy 1:9-11 states: “[9] Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, [10] But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: [11] Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” As saints, people who trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we have a hope that, when this earthly life ends with death, it is really not the end!

First Corinthians chapter 15 speaks of resurrection life: “[18] Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. [19] If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. [20] But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. [21] For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. [22] For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. [23] But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. [24] Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. [25] For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. [26] The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The Bible labels death an “enemy.” It was not in God’s original design in creation. Adam’s sin caused it. Therefore, the Lord has gloriously conquered it before (Christ’s bodily resurrection), and He will magnificently overcome it again (all subsequent bodily resurrections). Let us summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Death! #6

Saturday, May 16, 2020

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19 KJV).

It is a morbid topic, but a reality we know all too well….

While physical death is certain, He [The LORD] will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8). “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). Through His power demonstrated at Calvary’s cross, Almighty God will physically raise the dead.

The Bible speaks of the bodily resurrection of the saints: “[4] And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [5] But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. [6] Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation chapter 20).

Turning to 1 Corinthians chapter 15, we see a special bodily resurrection as pertaining to us, the Church the Body of Christ: “[50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Due to the Lord’s “special working,” some in human history will not physically die….

He Finished His Course!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV).

Another one of our brothers, friends, and coworkers in the grace ministry has entered the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ!

For the last several years, Dr. Charlemagne “Charlie” Fouché, 59, suffered from diabetes. During the last three years, he was further debilitated with Parkinson’s disease. He battled melanoma (cancer) during his last two years on this Earth—including months of grueling radiation and then ineffective chemotherapy. Diabetes led to a partial foot amputation. Parkinson’s rendered him unable to dress himself, and even caused him to get lost at times. Finally, the cancer spread to his lungs; therefore, he coughed endlessly, unable to get adequate sleep at night. He spent his last few weeks housebound, bedridden, and just “existing.” Our dear brother, suffering tremendously in this temporary body, is now permanently healed!

I met this fellow Frenchman when we were teaching at a Bible conference four years ago. The Lord used him mightily to counsel with me during our ministry’s darkest hours (2018–2019). It was my privilege to serve him in his last few years during his difficulties too. His soon exodus from Earth was expected. Hence, I decided months ago to dedicate our New Testament Survey video series (still in production) to him. He knew. Our last Bible Q&A study of 2019 was dedicated to him. He enjoyed reading it, as well as our other Bible studies these last four years. How we thank Father God for having this saint to fellowship and serve with us on Earth. We look forward to serving the Lord with him in the ages to come!

Before his parting, I let Brother Charlie know how much he meant to us. Also, I told him to enjoy his retirement in the heavenly places until we meet again. “À plus tard, mon frère!” (“See you later, my brother!”) Louez votre Seigneur Jésus Christ! (Praise our Lord Jesus Christ!

-IN MEMORIAM-
Dr. C. F.
1960–2020

A Momentary Separation

Friday, May 10, 2019

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV).

Yes, we sorrow, but not as “others which have no hope.”

Recently, I counseled a dear brother in Christ who has been mourning the loss of his believing wife nearly two months now. He has “his good days and his bad,” struggling with bitterness and loneliness. It was a privilege for me to remind him again of our Christian hope. She is “absent from the body and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). We are “at home in the body and absent from the Lord” (verse 6). This is temporary; she has left us but for a moment.

We have unlimited confidence or courage. If Jesus Christ went to such great lengths to save us from our sin—and was completely victorious over sin and death—then we too have conquered sin and death. Short of His coming at the Rapture, we will age, grow sick, weaken, and die. That really does not matter. Bodily resurrection is inevitable for lost and saved alike, non-Christian and Christian alike. See the Bible’s great “resurrection chapter,” 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

Today’s Scripture and its context show us that, at the Rapture, we will be reunited with our Christian loved ones: “[14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

Brethren, let us find boundless solace here, for herein can be found great hope! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the Bible say about motherhood?

She Finished Her Course!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8 KJV).

Back in early 1980, “Ms. P.” led my parents to Christ. I played at her house as a 5-year-old boy with one of her grandsons. Her (late) husband was a Bible teacher of our family. For the last decade, I had the privilege of being her Bible teacher: she was an asset to our ministry. Physical age 80 years—and 50 years old in Christ—she has finally met her Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ!

At age 30, she left Roman Catholicism, having heard the Gospel of the Grace of God, recognizing her righteousness was but filthy rags. She saw and trusted Jesus Christ’s shed blood as the fully-satisfying payment for her sins. Ten years later, she met my parents and shared the Gospel with them. She was zealous in reaching as many people as she could for our Lord Jesus Christ. Several years ago, she opened her house to host some of my home Bible studies. (These videos are here.) We will surely miss her fellowship and counsel, but she is far better with Christ. He has her, and we have Him. There is great peace and hope in knowing that we will see her again, when we assemble at the Grand Bible Conference!

Only a week ago, she fell at home and broke three ribs. Complications arose—she had a host of other chronic bodily afflictions—and we had been preparing for her departure. Now, she has graduated to glory! Our joy is indescribable in knowing that her suffering has ended, having given way to our Lord’s presence. She is free from the curse of sin. We know she was a genuine warrior for Jesus Christ, we can testify she fought a good fight, we rejoice she finished her course, and we are thankful she kept the faith! With this devotional memorial, we now send her off to her heavenly retirement, grateful to have known her—our strong and dedicated coworker in the Lord’s grace ministry! (Please pray for her family, especially her husband.)

-IN MEMORIAM-
Ms. P. K.
1938–2019

 

 

Why Death Loses

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57 KJV).

Behold, the deathblow to death!

Secular scientists claim “natural selection” (the heart of evolutionary theory) is nature’s mysterious method of “selecting” against weak and sickly traits while simultaneously ensuring beneficial characteristics are passed on to offspring. Organisms, if they do not adapt to their environments, die (making reproduction impossible). (On a larger scale, such vague genetic “selections” allegedly originated Earth’s millions of species of life over four billion years.) Since natural resources are limited, not all members of all species can survive anyway. Death is therefore viewed as advantageous: it eliminates the bad, that the good may have a chance to exist and thrive.

Indeed, it makes perfect sense in the lost person’s mind, but we with spiritual eyes simply cannot agree that death is suitable. Romans 5:12 declares: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:….” Originally, immediately after Creation, sin and death were nonexistent on planet Earth. It was not until Adam, the first man, intentionally followed Satan did our world (and human race) fall. Death made its grand entrance all those millennia ago… and has been stealing from us ever since!!

If death were “natural”—God’s intention from the very beginning—then He would have no reason whatsoever to abolish it with resurrection! Today’s Scripture in context: “[53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [58] Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Death loses simply because the Lord Jesus Christ resurrected and won, thereby giving us the victory too!

Bible Q&A 545: “O ye of little faith?

When Death Loses

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54 KJV).

Friends, it (unfortunately) appears that death wins, does it not? Loved ones leave us; we leave them. Yet, God’s Word speaks of the day when, “Death is swallowed up in victory….”

Isaiah 25:8 prophesies of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” The Lord GOD—Father God—will wipe away all tears from their faces via bodily resurrection. Shortly after Christ’s Second Coming, He will physically resurrect the saints of the ages in Israel’s program (Revelation 20:1-6).

When describing our resurrection at the Rapture, the catching away of the Church the Body of Christ, the Apostle Paul quoted Isaiah. While Isaiah 25:8 is not fulfilled at the Rapture, our resurrection is similar to the believers’ resurrection that will transpire after the Second Coming to establish God’s earthly kingdom.

Today’s Scripture in context: “[51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

“[55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [58] Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Buried Servants, Not Buried Program

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel (Joshua 1:1,2 KJV).

Yea, “God buries His servants, but not His program.”

Moses was certainly dead: his soul has departed his body, and God Himself has buried the corpse (Deuteronomy 34:5,6). Yet, Israel will still enter the Promised Land—except under Joshua’s headship. Had it depended on Moses, it would have never happened. Moses is deceased… but God is living and in control!

While the God of the Bible uses men and women to accomplish mighty things, they are nevertheless bound to frail, temporary “houses of clay” (Job 4:19). He does not shield them from old age and ultimate physical death. Dying King David, another servant of Israel’s God, remarked, “I go the way of all the earth” (1 Kings 2:2).

These men were mighty testimonies of God’s power and grace, so why did He not spare them physical death? People ask today, “Why do the good die young and the evil live to old age?” Why does God let His servants die? He does not want them to be praised and worshipped. He is showing how it is His program, and He really does not need man’s cooperation. With or without man, God will achieve His goals in creation. He does not need us, but He does invite us to join Him! He wants to share His good pleasure with us, that it may become our good pleasure.

If we do join God’s side by faith, working with Him in His program, let us remember that it is still His program. We are not the issue. Hence, we will have a limited time on Earth to participate in His plan. Brethren, once we physically die and relocate to serve Him in the heavenly places, His purpose down here on Earth will continue (without us!!!!). It never depended on us anyway: it was here long before we were born and will remain long after we are gone. 🙂