Issues of Life and Death
A sermon by Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Wong
Martin Grove Baptist Church
November 13, 2016
We have had a wonderful focus on Remembrance Day during our worship service today. Can we ever forget? Of course for many the memory is fading. We may not hear the stories directly from a spouse, parent, grandparent or another. I read where John Babcock, a Canadian veteran of WWI, lived to the age of 109. He held the honor of being the last surviving veteran of that war before passing away in 2009. Over one million Canadians served in WWII, a figure that represents over ten percent of the country’s population at the time. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, as of early 2014, 88,400 Canadian veterans of WWII were still alive, although most are over the age of 90. I spoke to my former youth pastor who officiated the funeral of both my parents. He frankly told me in the cemetery, they won’t be remembers after the grandchildren. They won’t have personal contact with the person who is deceased.
How will you be remembered? By current generation or the following generation. Now with video you can preserve many of those memories. I have my Christian testimony and calling on my YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9bI_kqwGdA under Daniel L Wong. I have 371 views and 8 thumbs up, no thumbs down.
We are creating memories and a legacy every day, every moment.
That is why I want to talk to you today of “Issues of Life and Death” from Philippians 1:19-26. Here we receive the Apostle Paul’s perspective on life and death. He even reflects on his own life and death which is instructive for us.
Last Sunday I talked about “Unhindered Outreach.” How many have done your homework? You had two assignments which you can submit. The first was to reach out to someone about your faith. How did that go? Did you tell people why you go to church? Did you tell someone that you are a Christian? The other assignment was to “pick a perch.” That is a place to connect with people. I went to a local Starbucks on the way to school. It is not a busy as others. I overheard some interesting conversations. I do think I may head back to a library near our school. It is not only a place of relatively quiet study but a place where people come regularly. If you did not complete your assignment, I will give you a one week extension.
1. Make Christ your life
Paul states clearly in 1:21 – “For me, to live is Christ.” Christ is the centre of his life. In
Galatians 2:20 he further explains, it’s not me, it’s Christ living through me. Here he speaks of his life going on. V. 19 – deliverance is release from house arrest, jail.
This is his deliverance. “The complexity of the sentence is due in part to Paul’s beginning with a verbatim incorporation of a clause from Job 13:16 (‘this will turn out for my deliverance’)” [from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/ivp-nt/That-Christ-Be-Exalted by the way a very good free online resources for your study of Philippians]
By the Philippians’ prayer and help by the Spirit of Christ. Earlier we spoke of the “partnership in the gospel” and there is partnership in pray to accomplish God’s work. Of course the supernatural element – Spirit of Jesus Christ (used 3 times in the New Testament). Human help but moreover, divine help.
Christ exalted in his body. Christ seen in him. Not ashamed of Christ, Courage to share Christ. He also speaks of fruitful labor. For the Philippians “progress and joy in the faith.” Paull helped others to grow. This was his aim – to proclaim Christ and help other grown in Him.
How is our perspective? How do we view others sitting near us? Are they also partners in the Gospel? Can we do God’s work together? What can I do to help my brother and my sister progress in the faith – by my example, words I share, listening ear that I lend, the prayers I say for them and with them. On the other hand, do I allow them to influence my faith too? We are often too self-sufficient and not God-sufficient.
The joy too! When people joyfully serve together you hear laughter above the complaint and groans. You see smiles on faces. You hear stories about God’s work in lives and you rejoice.
2. Being with the Lord is far better
The Apostle Paul called death gain. It is his preference and his prize (Philippians 3). It is
being with the Lord. Depart means to weigh anchor or pull up the tent pegs. It is far better. Here it is not a morbid preoccupation. But is it death and life in perspective.
We look forward to being with Christ. Of course leaving behind our frail bodies. It is being with Christ (chapter 3).
It is the balance sheet – gains, loses (developed in chapter 3). What is in the black and what is in the red? Best is being with Christ. It is necessary, important, it is fruitful labor. As you came to church today, you came to worship God. Yes, that is foremost. Did you also come to be with the body of Christ gathered in the location? Jesus said that is more blessed to give than to receive. That is not just about money. It is give our attention or concern and prayers for others and receive that as well.
This is the tremendous hope we have in Christ. The resurrection. It is embedded is Psalm 23, John 14 – many dwelling places, to depart and be with the Lord which is far better.
Last night we heard the testimony of a holocaust survivor. As a Jewish man, he spoke often of miracles of preservation of himself and his family. Now 89 years of age he is thankful to tell his story. At the end he turned the tables. Now that you have heard my story, tell it to others. Let it sink into your life. Do not hate. As his inscription to me, “Daniel, always have hope.”
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have hope. We have the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. We proclaim this one who was “born a Savior.”
As your homework, help someone with their faith. They may need faith restored. They may need you to encourage the flame of faith. Pray about it. Who does God bring to your mind? Be God’s instrument of encouragement to them. You help them for their progress and joy in the faith.
@DanielLWong, Instagram: DrDanielWong
Martin Grove Baptist Church, Toronto http://www.martingrovebaptistchurch.org/