Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 18, 1971

Willing To Be Absent From The Body

Carol Bates

Paul could make this statement that he would rather be absent from the body so that he might be at home with the Lord. Why is it that Paul could make this statement while many of us could not? Is it because he was an apostle and had the guarantee of heaven? No. Paul said, "but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage; lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected." I Cor. 9:27. So it wasn't because he didn't have the ability to fall.

Was it because he had the gift of the Holy Spirit? No. The Holy Spirit was not given to Paul and the other apostles in special measure to make sure that they got to heaven. It was given to guide them into all truth, (John 16:13) and to confirm the word spoken by them.

The reason that Paul could have this attitude toward death is because of his attitude toward life. Paul could say "I have been crucified with Christ: and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself up for me." Gal. 2:20. Christ had so permeated the body of Paul that he could make this statement. Has Christ taken over your life? If so, you too can look forward to death because you have labored for the Lord.

Let us look at one other statement of Paul's concerning death. "But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake." Phil. 1:23, 24. Here again Paul states his desire to go and be with the Lord. But the needs of the brethren are also pulling at him. His first desire is to the and be with the Lord, but he knows that the brethren need him.

If we had the choice, to die or stay, would we want to stay because of the need of the brethren, or would it be for some other purpose? Would Paul's preference be our own?

The reason that Paul could desire to die and be with the Lord is because he had been faithful to the Lord. His was not a hit-and-miss kind of service, but one that was dedicated to the Lord's church. He was truly converted to the Lord and lived each moment of his life in His Father's service. If we will have this attitude toward life, we will also be able to have Paul's attitude toward death. We will be able to say as did Paul, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also all them that have loved His appearance." II Tim. 4:7, 8.

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