Elder Vernon Johnson

   
 

Philippians 1:21-24 

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.

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

Paul is telling the brethren at Philippi that his life in the flesh is to live it to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ.  He was striving to live according to the leadership of the Spirit of Christ and to live it according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.  His desire was to live his life as though Christ was living in him and directing his actions and words and deeds.  However, Paul recognized that when his fleshly life ended, it would be gain to him.  What awaited Paul and all of God's elect children at cessation of natural life is great gain.  When we die, our spirit and soul shall go immediately into the presence of God in heaven.  All suffering will have ceased.  All struggles with the fleshly lust will have ceased.  All pain will have ceased.  We will enter into that place of eternal joy and peace and rest, giving all praise, honor, and glory to God.  Sin will cease from hindering our joy.  Death will never again be an enemy to us.   

Furthermore, our body will return back to the dust to await the great rising day, when Christ shall come again to claim those bodies which he has purchased and reunite them with the souls and spirits, change the bodies to be conformed to the very image of Christ and take us home to glory to be with God forever in a totally blissful state, life without end. 

But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.   

Paul taught in Ephesians 2:10 the great purpose for the lives of each of God's elect children: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."  Whenever a person is born of the Spirit of God, he is created in Christ Jesus unto good works.  Good works to the honor and praise of God is the purpose for our being given to us from God.  Christ said in John 15:8 "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."  Bearing the fruits of good works glorifies God.  Our lives in the flesh should be to bear the fruits of good works to the glory of God.  Sometime in the life of the child of God there comes a dilemma.  That dilemma is whether to continue to have a desire to bear the fruits of good works in our life or to go home to glory.  We really do not know what is best to choose.  This is what Paul said when he wrote, "yet what I shall choose I wot not."  The word, wot, means know.  Paul said he did not know what to choose.  Thankfully, we do not have to make this choice.  God knows best and he should make this choice for us: we should not make it for ourselves.   

For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 

Paul said that being with Christ is far better.  He did not say that it was better, but he said it was far better.  One of the meanings of far is "much in every respect."  In every way that you can compare the abiding in the flesh with going to be with Christ, the being with Christ exceeds in every respect the abiding in the flesh.  However, one of the great guiding principles of being a disciple of Christ is that we should live our lives unselfishly.  Paul told the church at Philippi that his abiding in the flesh was more needful for them.  Yet his going home to glory was far better for him.  As long as we have life in these mortal bodies, we should strive to bear fruit to the honor and glory of God, knowing this is more needful for those we serve than our going home to glory.  There will come a time when the Lord will call us home to glory.  Then we will have that which is far better.   


Philippians 1:24-30

24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. 27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; 30 Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me.         

Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.  

 For the church at Philippi it was more needful for them that Paul abide in the flesh than that he die and go home to glory.  Paul had previously stated that to die is gain, but to live is Christ.  He also stated that going home to the Lord was far better.  Sometimes the ministers of the gospel are torn between desiring to go home to the Lord or to abide in the flesh.  For their own personal joy, going home to the Lord is far better.  However, when we view this in an unselfish manner, to abide and serve the church is more needful for the church.  The same could be said for each member of the congregation.  A Christian father who dies when the children are young is in a far better place, but the children suffer because the father is not around.  The children need their father.  The same can be said for the mother and the children.  Often the service of individuals is of much benefit to those they serve, however, if they depart then the service may suffer.   

And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

Paul is illustrating how that his abiding in the flesh would be more needful to the church at Philipi.  For him to abide, their faith would be furthered in knowledge and understanding of God's word and their joy likewise would be furthered.  Their rejoicing would increase more and more in Christ Jesus.  The service of a faithful gospel minister is of great benefit to the congregation.  

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospelů

The word, conversation, comes from a Greek word that means behavior or lifestyle.  Paul is telling the members of the church at Philippi that they should live their lives in such a way that it is becoming of the gospel of Christ.  To live dishonestly or to live after the fleshly lust would not bring honor unto Christ or to the gospel of Christ.  However, to live honestly and godly with much charity is honoring to Christ and to the gospel of Christ.  It is our privilege and duty to honor and glorify Christ and his gospel by the way that we live our lives.  Paul was desirous to hear that the members of the church at Philippi were standing fast in one spirit and that they were of one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.  One of the joys of a faithful ministers of the gospel is to see that their labors have not fell on deaf ears and that those on whom they have bestowed labor are earnestly contending for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.  Let each of us strive to do so with his life.   

And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.  

The fact that we are not terrified by our adversaries, i.e., that we are not afraid of their threatenings and persecutions is to them an evident token of our damnation and ultimate destruction.  Their belief system is based on fear.  Since we do not fear them nor serve God out of fear, their belief system tells them that we are reprobates.  However, to us the fact that we fear God and not man is an evidence of our salvation and that of God.   

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake; Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me."   

Suffering for the cause of Christ is something we should expect and not shy away from: 

1.  2 Tim. 3:12 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

2.  Acts 5:41 "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."

3.  Acts 9:16 "For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake."

4.  Heb. 11:25 "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;"

5.  1 Pet. 3:14 "But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;"

6.  1 Pet. 4:15 "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. 16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."

7.  1 Pet. 4:19 "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator."