The Ultimate - Desiring to Die
William R. John
New Castle, Indiana
Although Christians well realize they are (I Peter 2: 9), we sometimes fail to recognize the degree of that peculiarity. The apostle Paul presents to us the greatest degree of being peculiar and actually the ultimate in living a life as a Christian. He states in Philippians 2:21-24, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wit not. 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." How peculiar! Paul desired to die. Of course, he understood his usefulness to the Lord in the flesh, but nevertheless he has given to us the ultimate characteristic of a Christian.
How many people of the world today desire to die? On occasion, there will be an individual who, as a result of great physical or mental agony, will conclude that anything would be better than living. This type of person most often gives no thought for his soul. Another type of person is one who has been deceived by Satan into thinking that all is well with his soul, when in reality he is heading toward eternal torment because he lacks spiritual truth to substantiate his thoughts of well being. In either of the cases mentioned, the desire to die is not predictable.
The Christian, however, has everything to gain and nothing to lose in dying. The eternal glory that awaits the child of God should be so impressive upon that child to the point that he has no reason to live, save one, and that reason being to serve the Lord in the flesh. However, the reason so stated should never minimize "the desire to depart, and to he with Christ; which is far better." The only reason a child d God could give for not desiring death (regardless of what he might say) would be expressed in the fact of not being prepared to meet our Lord.
The reason Paul desired to die is because he was fighting a good fight, he was finishing his course, and he was keeping the faith (See 2 Timothy 4:7). In other words, he was prepared to die, so he desired to die. His desire to depart represented quite well his acceptability to the Lord and his preparedness to meet his Maker. As those of "like precious faith" with the apostle Paul, we who are Christians most assuredly can prove the extent of our faithfulness (or unfaithfulness) to the Lord by answering the question, "DO I DESIRE TO DIE?"
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 23, p. 13
April 16, 1970