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For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. ~ Philippians 1:21

READING: Acts 7:54-8:8

A few years ago I was shocked to read the story of a young pastor who was electrocuted during a baptismal service. He left a wife and small children, and a growing church. Most of us church planters don’t think about our deaths, but we are all going to die. The exact length of our earthly life is established by God, not by us (Ps. 139:16).

The Apostle Paul was beheaded in Rome. Sensing his departure was close, he made this amazing statement: “to die is gain.”

You can’t understand “to die is gain” without first understanding “to live is Christ,” our theme from yesterday. And obviously death is not “gain” for everyone. To die without Christ is to lose everything forever.

But for us who love Jesus, how is death gain? Death is gain because…

It means victory over sin. In heaven we’ll be able to live without that old, nagging struggle with our sin nature. We’ll serve the Lord in holiness and innocence and perfection.

It gives us one last witness. We have the opportunity to bring glory to Christ in our death. That was Paul’s desire: “…it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20, my emphasis).

We’ll be in Christ’s presence. This is most precious of all, and what Jesus prayed for us: “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory…” ( Jn. 17:24).

May our new churches teach people how to live and how to die to God’s glory.

Father, Show me how to bring You glory in my life and in my death. Amen.

Jim Carpenter