IF YOU COULD AVOID DEATH…
Phil. 1:23-24 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.
If you are really honest, to most Christians Paul’s words sound a little extreme. He actually would prefer to die than to live on in this world. How could that be? If that was really true, is that a healthy position for a Christian to be in? Of course that was the true feeling of Paul’s heart and yes it is the most healthy condition a Christian could possibly be in. What was it about Paul that gave him that perspective of life after death? Why would he choose to die rather than to live a long life? Jonathan Edwards addressed some of these questions in his message on Psalm 73. here is something he said about death and heaven.
“If you could avoid death, and might have your free choice, would you choose to live always in this world without God, rather than in his time to leave the world, in order to be with him? If you might live here in earthly prosperity to all eternity, but destitute of the presence of God and communion with him–having no spiritual intercourse between him and your souls, God and you being strangers to each other for ever–would you choose this rather than to leave the world, in order to dwell in heaven as the children of God, there to enjoy the glorious privileges of children, in a holy and perfect love to God, and enjoyment of him to all eternity.”
If you will ponder this question and answer it honestly to yourself, it will bring you great insight into your spiritual condition. The desire to live a life here in prosperity and health is extremely appealing to the natural man. The natural man has no sphere of reference to understand what heaven is really like. All of that changes when one has an encounter with Christ. When we catch a small glimpse of what He is really like everything changes. suddenly we become aware of what makes heaven so heavenly. Its not the endless life or the incredible riches that are there. Its not even seeing our loved ones and Christians from other generations. Heaven is heaven because Jesus is there. Heaven is heaven because of the glorious atmosphere there which is God Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. We will breath in and breath out God. We will be all consumed in His love because heaven is a world of love. Heaven will be heaven because our Heavenly Father is there in all His Glory. It will take eternity (which means it will never end) to explore the ever increasing unfolding of the glory of God in Christ. One taste of heaven in this life through the outpouring of the Spirit and you will say with Paul, “to depart and be with Christ is far better”.