I CAN HARDLY WAIT TO DIE FOR CHRIST or Allah! (PART I)
In light of the many recent be-headings and murders of Christians by radicalized Muslims or Islamic Extremists, some in the Church are teaching that if you are in the place God wants you to be and this happens to you, then it is “gain,” because even Paul said it was better to be with Christ than to be ministering here on earth or so it is taught. Who really benefits when a Christian dies? Both Muslims and Christians hold the erroneous belief in life immediately after death. I think there would far fewer suicide bombers if they knew the truth.
Paul said in Phil 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” When we look at this verse as it stands alone it leaves us with the impression that death is something to be gained, yet we know that death is and always will be an enemy; the greatest enemy of life. No one gains anything by being dead; not God, not Jesus and certainly not you. In order to “gain” a proper understanding of the preceding verse it must be seen in its context. In its context we must go back and read from the beginning of the chapter to the end of the Epistle. In verse 6 we read:
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Phil 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
Phil 1:20 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.
We can see that the context preceding verse 21 is “the day of Jesus Christ” when he returns to gather us together to heaven. This was Paul’s earnest expectation and hope and should be ours as well. The words “earnest expectation,” is the Greek word apokaradokia, to watch with intense anticipation, and is used in one other place in regards to the creation:
Rom 8:18-19 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. NKJV
When are the sons of God revealed? When they/we return with Jesus for the Battle of Armageddon.
The second word Paul uses in conjunction with earnest expectation is his “hope,” elpis. Hope is often associated with the return of Jesus Christ:
Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, NASB
1 Thess 2:19-20 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? 20 For you are our glory and joy. NASB
For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
(TBC, see Part II)