It is at times very tempting to give up and say, “Now Lord, come now.” But we are not given that option. We can long for heaven all the while preparing for it. And not only preparing for ourselves, but also and more importantly, reaping many souls for Jesus. This is the joy of the Christian life here on earth. That is what Paul is saying in today’s passage:
“For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.” (Philippians 1:23-26)
If you had the choice to go to heaven right now or stay to further the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy of the church, which would you choose? Would it even be a hard choice? If you wanted to stay because you desire the worldliness of earth over the holiness of heaven you best get on your face before God and get your stinking thinking cleared up. That’s not the difficulty in the choice Paul is facing.
He knows that if he stays here on earth he will be able to push the saints into a deeper relationship with Christ. He knows this because it has been and is true in his own life. He has personally experienced this “progress and joy of faith.”
Imagine a betrothed young lady awaiting her groom. She does not know when he is coming for her, only that he has promised to come for her. She has been instructed to prepare herself and all other necessities so that when her beloved groom arrives, she’ll be able to be whisked off with him. This is the scene in Jesus’ Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins:
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” (Matthew 25:1-13)
Let me finish this by asking two questions; the first is for you blood-bought born-again Christians. Are you living your life for the “progress and joy of faith” of your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you greatly desire heaven all the while working hard in the harvest fields? What is the point of you being here on earth as a Christian? Are you a sponge or a dispenser; in other words are you soaking up the grace of the gospel or pouring it out to all with whom you come in contact?
To you who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior but are religious, spiritual, or however you see your relationship with the God of the Bible, is your lamp without oil? When it comes time to light it and you have no oil, it will be too late to buy it. And you who have heard the gospel but rejected salvation through Christ, you will not come to Him after the Church is taken home…after Christ comes for His Bride. The Apostle Paul warns:
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He[e] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
Dear reader, you who are without Christ and die outside of His grace and mercy will not get a second chance. There are no second chances after death. If the Lord should return, which He could at any time, you will not turn to Him because the Anti-Christ, Satan’s messiah, will delude you into believing he is the real savior of the world. This may all sound like I’m trying to scare you into believing; I am not…I just want to be sure you know the truth of the gospel.
The Apostle Paul as Saul the Pharisee not only once scoffed at Christians and what they believed, but he also great persecuted the church and had many Christians murdered. But then one day he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus and was transformed into Paul, the great church planter and majority writer of the New Testament.
So it comes down to this. If we are to be living like Paul, as Christians we should be modeling our lives like Paul’s because he modeled his life after Christ. And if you are not yet living like Paul, then you need to first become like Paul. I pray that today will be your day of salvation.
May the Lord richly bless you, may you have a wonderful weekend, and please remember to go to church on Sunday.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers