Summary: Part of a lengthy series I am doing in the book of Philippians.



Sunday April 27, 2008

Scripture Reference: Philippians 1:22-26


A. [] I know this is kind of a scary thought but if someone were standing before you today with a loaded gun and asked you, “Which do you want to live or to die?” What do you think your answer would be? Unless you are suicidal I am pretty sure your answer would be, “I want to live!” In fact you might even get down on your knees and beg them to let you live. Isn’t it true that if we were to ask this question of someone and they responded by saying that they wanted to die. We would think they were crazy or that they might need psychological help, right?

1. We have been noting in the last several messages here in Philippians that Paul seems to be somewhat preoccupied with the subject of death. For whatever reason he feels that his death might not be to far away.

2. For most of us the choice or decision between living or dying is not all that difficult. In fact I think most people fear death and for some the very word brings terror to their hearts. You know it is really not all that difficult to understand these fears. If my life is all about my job, earning a living, accumulating possessions, saving for retirement and looking forward to enjoying those years then I have every reason to fear death. As we learned a few weeks ago death means the loss of all those things. If I am living for power, for position, for fame in this life then death is a terrible thing because death will take that all away from me. A few weeks ago we watched that little video where we were reminded that our lives will boil down to the dash between two dates. I have yet to see a tombstone with PhD’s listed on it or other accomplishments in life that we hold so dear.

3. I believe that one of the biggest reasons we fear death is because there is so much unknown about death. When I officiate for funeral services I often talk about this factor. Even for all the talk about these so called “near death” experiences no one has yet to go beyond the grave and tell us what death is really like. In fact most of these stories we hear have to do with “feelings” people had rather than any thing concrete or substantive. There were bight lights or warm feelings or for some if was dark and cold.

a) Let me add a little side note here if you will. Paul admonished us in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. I have stood beside many, many people over the last 23 years of ministry and watched people grieve who have no hope. Who as we learned a few weeks ago in V.21 see death as nothing but a total loss. Now I want you to see that Paul did not say, “Don’t grieve” or “Don’t cry”. What he said is that we should not grieve as those who have no hope beyond this life. Do you want to know why Christians should not fear death? Why we should not grieve like those who have not hope? The reason we should be able to face death with confidence and assurance is because we DO know what lies beyond the grave! Yes we do not know what heaven will be like in it’s fullest detail, bet what we do know is that it will be more wonderful than we are able to imagine. Here is what the bible says about heaven, 1 Corinthians 2:9 That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

B. I have talked about lot in this series about the need to die, which I know sound strange especially in light of the fact that the series is entitled, “How To Be A Christian And Still Enjoy Life” but we have also noted that our lives as Christians is a paradox to the rest of the world. We are as Paul told Titus, “peculiar” people. We are taught in the bible that if we want to really live we first have to die. We are also taught that if we really want to love our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers then first we have to hate them. We are even told that in order to become rich we have to give everything away. It is little wonder that Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that the way that leads to life is a narrow way. That is why I believe there is no such thing as a “casual Christian”. This life of faith requires too much concentration to be anything less than totally dedicated and surrendered to God.

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