Facing death with confidence

Facing death with confidence

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. – Philippians 1:21

Philippians 1:19-27

 19 For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance.

 20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.

 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.

 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

 25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.

 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

 27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.

In the 1940s, when the Japanese invaded China, Dr. William Wallace was a medical missionary in Wuzhou, China. Wallace. He was in charge of Stout Memorial Hospital. He was committed to caring for patients in South China for as long as possible.

Something remarkable began to happen. The Chinese had strong negative thoughts about foreigners being in their country. His dedicated work of loving care began to impact them. They had heard foreign missionaries preach sermons before. But they had never seen a sermon lived out in the life of a person. He became a living sermon. First, he won their respect and later their admiration not only for his medical skills. They were impressed by his commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Japanese were driven from China, and World War II ended. But things went from worse, to even worse. The Chinese communist soon took over. His life and commitment to Christ embodied the very things that the Communists wanted to be rid of. He was soon arrested and accused of being a spy. His response was calm and clear, “We are what we seem to be. We are doctors and nurses and hospital staff engaged in healing the suffering and sick in the name of Jesus Christ. We are here for no other reason.”

“Bill Wallace was a Jesus-intoxicated man” (Daniel Akin). As people came to visit him, he encouraged them, “Go back and take care of the hospital. I am ready to give my life if necessary.”

In less than two months, Wallace was in the presence of the Father. His earthly grave was left unmarked. But those who loved and respected him placed a marker at the site which read, “For me to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21).”

Paul’s words reflect his deep devotion that enabled him to face trials, mistreatment, beatings, danger, and ultimately death. He was enabled by the Holy Spirit and the continual prayers of the children of the King (Philippians 1:19).

REFLECT & PRAY

“Paul did not want to do great things for God; He wanted God to do great things in and through him. His goal was to serve as the hands and feet and mouth of Christ, doing in Christ’s power what Christ would do” (Stanley).

Father I want to be intoxicated with the Lord Jesus Christ. I want to seem to be by my life and words, what you dream for me to be.

INSIGHT

Paul has a concern that seems incongruent in light of his commitment, service, and accomplishments. “Paul did not want to feel ashamed when he stood before the Lord at His judgment seat” (Constable).

Philippians 1:20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

The Greek word translated as earnest or eager expectation or deep desire is apokaradokia. Apokaradokia provides an interesting and compelling word picture of “waiting and watching with an outstretched head” (UBS). It connotes an intensely desired expectation with a high degree of confidence it would occur (Romans 8:19). He passionately hopes, that is, he has a confident expectation, that he will be ashamed of nothing.

When Paul makes this statement, he is the Everyman of every child of the King. He had the same nagging self-doubt we do. As we get to know and experience the holiness, righteousness, purity, beauty, and absolute loveliness of the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ we feel as though we are moral and spiritual paupers.

Paul was a super apostle. Because of the Father’s grace and favor and the power of the Holy Spirit working through him. Consequently, he worked harder than any of the other apostles.

1 Corinthians 15:10 But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me – and Not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

But rather than seeing himself as a great saint, Paul saw himself as a great sinner. The greatest of all sinners.

1 Timothy 1:15 “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them all.

But he had absolutely no fear of dying. For children of the King, death is not the end, death is but the beginning of our time of being with our Father. We simply go home to the Father’s house which He has prepared for us (John 14:6). We depart to be with the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:23).

This is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ told the believing thief, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Paul is torn. He is ambivalent and anguishes over the options of staying or going. Of course, the choice is not his, but the Father’s alone.

Philippians 1:21-24

 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.

 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.

 23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.

 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

Is what we claim to be, what we seem to be?

¯\_()_/¯

© Dr. H 2022

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