by Mike Ratliff
21 For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
As we have been seeing over the past several months (or is it years?) as we have dug deeper and deeper into the persons of the Holy Trinity, the doctrines of the Church, which is the Body of Christ himself, hasn’t it also been true how in our drawing closer and closer to God that in this that the disingenuousness of the man-centered elements of the visible church becomes more and more exposed to those with eyes of genuine saving faith? On the other hand, those with their self-focused, self-edifying faith in their in their own self-made religiosity simply continue to go deeper and deeper into their self-made deceptions that are based on a world view as shallow and insipid as post-modernity. Those people actually are guilty of saying that Christianity and the Church as formed by Jesus Christ is wrong and they have a better idea.
What is the Apostle Paul saying in Philippians 1:21 (above)? Jesus Christ was the source and secret of his continual joy even in prison for Paul’s life found all its meaning in Christ. What did he mean that it would be gain to die? Death for the Christian is to be with Christ. For the true Christian his or her most precious possession, both now and forever, is Christ and their relationship to him.
22 But if it means to live in the flesh, this for me is fruit of labor, and what I will choose I do not know. 23 Now I am hard pressed from two sides. The desire to depart and be with Christ is much better, 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake, 25 and having been persuaded, I know that I will remain and will continue with you all for your progress and joy of the faith, 26 that in me you may have ample cause to boast in Christ Jesus through my presence with you again (Philippians 1:22-26 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
In v22 Paul tells us that if it is not time for his death then the alternative will always be “fruit of labor,” that is, the spread of the gospel and the building up of the church. He wasn’t concerned about trying to get the church that our Lord was building to be “culturally relevant” or “seeker sensitive” or “man-centered” in any way. Paul was never concerned about anything other than preaching the gospel and obeying His Lord.
In vv23-24 we see that Paul sees ether alternative as a good one. To die and be with Christ is very good, but to remain and serve Christ on behalf of the flock of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul was more than willing to do. There are times that I deeply desire for my time here to end so I can be with my Lord Jesus forever, but I also know that when I wake up in the morning, he is not done with me…yet, therefore, I have work to do and I will rejoice in it, even if there are struggles and conflicts with our enemy and his people as Paul says in vv25-26.
My brethren, after God had mercy on me in Tulsa, Oklahoma back in January1986 and I began this Pilgrimage, I remember so many teachings on how our enemy would continually attack the Church from the outside and it would slowly crumble until there would only be a small faithful remnant left at our Lord’s coming. One thing that those who taught that never seemed to grasp was what we are seeing right now in that those who are remaining faithful, never compromising God’s truth and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and are not deceived to follow after the lies like the “social gospel” are looked at as “stick-in-the-mud” or “backward” or “fundamentalists” or some other derogatory expletive when compared to those who are “Progressive,” “Culturally Relevant.” “Post-Modern,” et cetera. Those in the second group use the ways of the flesh or the ways of the world or culture to get and keep their people, not by obeying the Gospel and preaching the Word of God. When our Lord returns, he will find a small, faithful remnant obeying the Gospel and worshiping Him in Spirit and Truth daily, but he will also find a lot of deceived religious people who think they are Christians and they will call Jesus, “Lord, Lord!” However, he will say to them, “Depart from me for I never knew you!”
Soli Deo Gloria!