Pastoral Letter 03 Jan 2021
My dear readers,
To Die is Gain
Philippians 1:21: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
It is an unwanted reality that when a person dies, everything on this earth ends for him. All his friends and loved ones live on without him. The more friends and loved ones we have, the harder it is to die. However, death is no respecter of persons. The power of death is fearfully awesome. Man is totally helpless against death. Yet God’s Word says, “…to die is gain”! How is this possible? To die means leaving everyone we love on earth. All man’s labour ceases at death. Is this not a great loss? The world cries at the death of the most brilliant doctor or scientist whose contribution could have benefitted more, but death intervened. They sorrow that he died too soon. Is this not a great loss to humanity? Death ends all things on earth. The most generous philanthropist or the greatest scientist or the most highly regarded religious leader, whose following may number in the billions, will die. There is no exception. Man’s life is his only connection to this present world and everything that is in it.
Having known this irrevocable truth of man’s guaranteed fate, why is it that man continues to live as if he will live forever and take no thought of where he will go after death? For if he knows that he will die and stand before his Creator as His enemy and be cast immediately into hell, will he not take stock of how he is living today? Will a child of God, who definitely knows that he will stand before his Master to give an account of how he lived, therefore devote his entire life to live for Him? How can both these individuals not be fearfully concerned? Unless they are fools!
The apostle Paul was no fool. When he wrote the epistle to the Philippians, he was under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial before Caesar. He believed that he would soon be called home to be with his Lord Jesus Christ. He already said his final farewell to his “spiritual children”, of whom he was used by the Lord to lead to Christ and also to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord. Before Paul was arrested and taken to prison, he counselled the Ephesian elders: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” [cf. Acts 20:29-30].
No Gain to Die in Sin – Man is born in sin and he will soon die in sin. This is the sad life of every man from birth to death. He enjoys his life on earth to satisfy the insatiable lusts of his sinful flesh and his roving eyes. His never contented heart is filled with greed and pride, metamorphosing him into an arrogant unteachable fool. Every minute he wastes in the pursuit of carnality is a minute closer to his death. He does not even know it because he has been consumed like canker by his appetite for evil and debauchery. He eats and drinks and is merry, turning a blind eye to eventual death. He does not realize that every night when he lies down on his comfortable bed, it is a picture of his own death. One day he will lie down for the last time on his “bed”, i.e. his coffin, and he will face the God who created this earth for him to live in and to enjoy. He had not been grateful or thankful to Him. Instead he lived in idolatry, making himself god as he lived according to what was right in his own eyes. He wasted his three-score-years-and-ten life, pursuing all things that perish. His gain on earth had been fool’s gold, forgetting the simple truth that naked he came into this world and naked he would return!
There is no gain in dying in sin, only a great loss. His life, which he could only live once, had been lived and after his death, hell received him. Then he realizes the reality of his eternal pain-filled unending eternity. He need not have ended up in this abyss if only he had listened and believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. All his sad gains on earth are lost forever. To the ones in hell, to live is self and to die is loss.
Only Gain is to Die in Christ – The only way to not die in sin is to die in Christ. Christ died on Calvary’s cross for the innumerable sins sinners have committed against God. Christ redeemed us with His precious blood. We who are Christians surrendered our lives to Christ when we accepted Christ as our personal Lord and Saviour. We belong to God. We are duty-bound and constrained by Christ’s love to serve and live only for Him. We understand that Christ is the only reason we are spiritually alive. Christ has made our lives meaningful and worth living.
Before salvation, we lived for mammon and self. It was vanity of vanities. Naked we came into this world, and naked we leave it. We can carry nothing with us that is of this earth. We must stop wasting time pursuing emptiness. We must stop living for self and live only for Christ. For in Christ, even a deed as simple as giving a cup of water in the Name of the Lord is fulfilling. Christ is exalted. God is glorified. Revelation 14:13: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
We might be separated at death but it is temporary. All Christians will be reunited in heaven forever. Christ is the only reason we are free – from sin, death and hell. Christ is the only reason we wake up every morning and leave our homes. Christ is everything to us. This makes life worth living and death will truly be gain, for not even death can separate us from Christ Jesus our LORD.
Food for Thought – Is Christ your only reason for living?
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew