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2/17/16 - How God wants Believers to view death

Published: Wednesday, 17 February 2016 Written by Carlton L. Arnold

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:20-21

Every time I read these verses, something inside of me becomes a little nervous.  I know what it is: “death”.  There are not too many human beings that have a perspective of death as Paul writes in the verses above.  He expresses an emotion that all Christians have when we think we will have to witness to someone about Jesus Christ.  There is definitely a nervousness and hesitancy about witnessing.

I am glad he left the door open to be a little hesitant, because he says that he expects and hopes that he will not be ashamed.  There is the element of fear of being made fun of or being rejected.  I too hope and pray that I will be prepared to give an accounting of my beliefs in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to anyone at any time.  As Christians, we all should hope that we would not be ashamed to testify about God or Christ. 

 

I recall a time when our church in Liverpool, NY was doing door-to-door canvassing.  I was not received into too many homes, because most people in the area were Catholics.  I knocked on one door, and before I knew what was happening, the homeowner had me on his back deck. This was very unusual, and I had the feeling that the man wanted to have some fun with me.  However, this man invited into his home and into a crowd of about a dozen adults having a party.

Many of you would probably welcome an opportunity like this.  I was flabbergasted, because it was beyond anything I had imagined could happen.  The homeowner had everyone’s attention as he started asking me questions about my church and my faith.  In all honesty, I believe he was a little inebriated and wanted to liven up his party by using me.  However, God through His Holy Spirit calmed my heart, and I answered all of his questions with sincerity and conviction.  It became evident that everyone was listening to what I was telling him. 

I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I left his home.  I do not know of any spiritual changes that may have occurred with any of those people who were on that deck.  God is not required to show us results.  He does expect us to view life on this earth as an opportunity to tell others about how He has worked in our lives.  He also expects us to tell others about what Christ did for each of us when He died on the cross for our sins.

Paul expresses the same hope and expectations that he will be strong in his testimony of Christ.  This should be the same for all Believers. Paul expresses this situation in a wonderful way.  He says that to live is “Christ”.  What he means is that he can continue to work for the Lord while living on this earth by telling others about Christ.  However, he uses some unusual language by saying that for him to die would be a “gain” for him.  Most Believers have a difficult time seeing death as a gain.  Paul was referring to all of the benefits of being a Believer.   His final statement seems to conclude that Paul would rather be dead and with Christ as opposed to living on this earth.  As Believers, we all need to be striving toward and encouraging others to reach this same level of spiritual maturity.  How mature are you with this perspective of death?

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