Saturday, August 29, 2009


This past month has been such as to get me thinking about death--particularly about my death, impending as it is. (Heb 9:27) I am not being maudlin, nor am I morose, but I am certainly MORTAL.

Of course, in its wanderings my mind strayed soon enough to Philippians 1 and Paul's comment "to live is Christ, to die is gain" Really, what a thing to say! Frankly, for me, the second clause is easier than the first. I have no doubt that my death will usher me through a doorway to inexpressible joy and eternal blessings. And, I grow weary of this world. The political situation in this country is ugly and offers no sensible hope for improvement in the near term, rather going from bad to worse. That doesn't weigh on me too heavily, however, not nearly so much as the decline of the church. (See my previous blog article for some of that)

All the forces of the flesh continue to hammer away at the professing church and more and more inroads are made, undermining once-sound bodies with one form of theological HIV or another. The "American Church" stands aloof from the persecuted church in China, Africa, Asia and elsewhere.....seeming impervious to persecution and martyrdom. Unfortunately, the reason it is untouched is that it is not an offense to the world. So long as this "church" goes along, it gets along. Millions warm a pew for an hour or two on Sunday morning, then spend the remaining 166 hours of the week living the most worldly, Godless lives, totally indistinguishable from the non-church going, non-Christ-claiming population.

Paul said the only reason he would stay in this world was for the benefit of his flock-- " I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,..." I do not mean to equate myself with Paul in any way except to say that I feel like that with regard to the ministry I have. So long as I am useful, able to minister the Gospel to my inmate brothers or elsewhere, I am content. It is disconcerting to think of being physically unable to do anything like what I consider ministry. This is at war with my intellectual understanding that God has people paralyzed in hospital beds, incapacitated in nursing homes, etc, all for His glory. Me, I'd rather just go on..........(not that He's going to ask my opinion)

Albert Barnes' listed 7 ways in which it is gain for a Christian to die:

1. The Christian will be freed from sin. (Hallelujah!)

2. He will be freed from doubts.

3. He will be freed from temptation.

4. He will be delivered from his enemies.

5. He will be delivered from suffering.

6. He will be delivered from death.

7. He will be immediately and eternally ushered into the presence of our Savior. (which makes the other 6 almost irrelevant)....and if we ever get accustomed to His presence, we will also be in the presence of all the saints of all the ages, forever!

So, understand me when I say with Paul:

My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
(Philippians 1:23)

Death is the crown of life:
Were death denied, poor man would live in vain:
Were death denied, to live would not be life.
Were death denied, even fools would wish to die.
Death wounds to cure; we fall; we rise; we reign!
Spring from our fetters; fasten in the skies;
Where blooming Eden withers in our sight.
Death gives us more than was in Eden lost,
The king of terrors is the prince of peace.
(Edward Young
Night Thoughts, iii.)

1 comment:

Prodigal Knot said...

This article definitely affirms for me your faith in God, Ed. I have a hard time grasping why anyone who really loves God would want to remain in these broken and failure prone bodies (wonderfully made though they are) when we can look forward to eternity with Christ.

A true believer, I think, looks forward to going home. Sure, it may be intimidating, but as Phlip Yancey puts it, you'd have been very afraid of being born if you were completely cognizant at the time.

Our hope lies in the Resurrection of the blessed, which all who have participated in the first will enjoy.