Desires and Necessities
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Desires and Necessities

Philippians 1:18  (ID: 2041)

Given the choice between life or death, most of us would immediately choose life. In sharp contrast, Paul desired to depart and be with Christ—though he also understood the necessity to remain for a time and encourage others in their faith. Rejoicing in all circumstances, he lived and died to glorify God. Exploring the basis of Paul’s joy, Alistair Begg reminds us that God alone determines the length of our earthly pilgrimages, which should always point others to Christ.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in Philippians, Volume 1

Shining Lights in a Darkened World Philippians 1:1–2:30 Series ID: 15001

Sermon Transcript: Print

Now, our reading this morning is Philippians chapter 1, and we’ll begin reading partway through the eighteenth verse. Philippians 1:18:

“The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

“Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [I’m] torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.”

And this is the Word of God.

The apostle Paul is confronted by a dilemma, to which he refers in the twenty-third verse: “[I’m] torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but [it’s] more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” So he has his desire, and it is set against this matter of necessity. Phillips paraphrases the twenty-third verse, helpfully: “I am,” he says, “torn in two directions—on the one hand I long to leave this world and live with Christ, and that is obviously the best thing for me. Yet, on the other hand, it is probably more necessary for you that I should stay here on earth.”

And as we’ve seen in other places, Paul’s perspective—both on living and dying—flies in the face of so much contemporary thinking. C. S. Lewis describes in one of his writings how on one occasion he saw an epitaph which read, “Here lies an atheist all dressed up, but with nowhere to go.” And Lewis commented, “I bet he wishes that were so.”[1]

Or what of the false bravado expressed in the dying sentiments of Oscar Wilde, who apparently died in a room where he had a significant distaste for the wallpaper, and he staggered those around his deathbed by commenting on how awful the wallpaper was, and then saying, “One of us will have to go”? Of course, there was nothing in his life that would give him any expectation that he was going anywhere other than to a most dreadful end.

‘To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.’ How is it that Paul is able to make such a statement?

And so it is that Paul is able to make this staggering statement, so unlike the comments of our day, unlike anything in humanism, or animism, or naturalism, or Buddhism, or rationalism at all: “To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Now, how is it that he is able to make such a statement?  And what is the context in which he makes this great affirmation? Well, that is the focus of our study, because we must now unearth this from the verses that we read.

You may recall, if you were present last Lord’s Day evening, that we left Paul in verse 18 “rejoicing.” His rejoicing was not related to his circumstances, but it was on account of the fact that the gospel was being preached. And he says, “I am continuing to rejoice; joy is going to be a feature of my life.” And he then iterates for his readers just what the source of his continued joy is going to be. And he tells them first, in verse 19, that the basis of his joy is to be found in what he knows. And what he knows is that these events will turn out to his deliverance. Then in verse 20, his joy is built on the second leg, as it were, of a three-legged stool upon which he sits with joy; this second leg of the stool is found in what he anticipates, or what he “eagerly expect[s],” as the verse begins. And then thirdly, his joy is grounded in all that Christ means to him, as he expresses it there in the twenty-first verse.

What Paul Knew

Now, let me then work my way through this material. First of all, his joy is grounded in the fact that he knows he’s going to be delivered. He knows he’s going to be delivered. The immediate question, of course, is, To what deliverance does he refer? Is he referring to an immediate deliverance by means of an acquittal in the court and the unleashing of his bonds from the jail? Or is he referring to the ultimate deliverance which will be his when he passes through the “valley of the shadow of death”?[2]

Commentators argue both ways, some pointing to the fact that Paul is almost quoting here from his Greek Old Testament, and the words of Job himself when he talks—in the verse following his great statement, “Though he slay me, yet I will trust him”[3]—in the verse which follows that in Job chapter 13, he talks about how the circumstances are going to work out for his deliverance. And Job is there not speaking about an immediate deliverance from the prospect of his dreadful predicament, but an ultimate deliverance when he will see God.

Now, some say, therefore, in light of that, in the phraseology that he uses, Paul is presumably talking about an ultimate deliverance. Others then turn the other way ’round, and they say, “Well, when you look at the way in which this deliverance is going to be effected—namely, as a result of the prayers of the Philippians and the help of the Spirit of Christ—it would seem far more likely that Paul has his mind on an immediate deliverance: acquitted in court and freed from bondage.”

My thought is simply this: that since he doesn’t explicitly say, there is some value in assuming that in light of the way the passage unfolds, his whole notion of deliverance is such that he may exactly have both in his mind—that there is going to be an immediate deliverance, because he anticipates staying with the people, and he’s going to rejoice in that; and, of course, he is looking to an ultimate deliverance when he will cast off the “earthly tent” that he lives in, and it will be “destroyed,” and he will find the fullness of this “building” that is “not [made] with … hands” that is kept in heaven for him.[4]

Will you notice—because it is important to notice—that Paul is relying on the help of the prayers of the Philippians? He is dependent on the prayers of others. Is there anyone that you know, and you tend to think of them, “Oh, I don’t need to pray for her; she seems to be fine”? Or, “I don’t need to pray for him, you know; he moves at a different level from me. There are people I need to pray for, but I don’t need to pray for him, you know. He has a sort of high-octane fuel that he uses. He flies in the stratosphere. He’s a jet, he’s a … you know, he’s up there. And I’m down here, and others, like little gypsy moths puttering along at thirteen hundred feet and five thousand feet,” and so on. And we might be tempted to think of Paul in that way. After all, he’s the mighty apostle, he’s had a sight of the risen Christ, he has been delivering these amazing sermons. People have been miraculously healed in his presence, countless numbers have come to faith in Jesus Christ. And yet he says, “I’m so concerned and I’m so delighted that I’m going to be delivered as a result of your prayers.”

This is not unique to Philippi. When he writes to the Christians at Rome, at the end of the book of Romans, in Romans chapter 15, he says the exact same thing. You may want to turn to it so you can see it’s actually there. Romans 15:30:

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. [And] the God of peace be with you all. Amen.[5]

You see what he longs for? That they will be “together” and “refreshed”; that his “service in Jerusalem” will be “acceptable to the saints,” that it will be helpful to them; that he will be “rescued” from the pagans around him who are ’tempting to take him over. And how is all this going to be achieved? As a result of the prayers of the Christians in Rome—that prayer, as Spurgeon used to say, is the rope that rings the bell in the belfry of God;[6] that it unleashes, in some amazing way in relationship to God’s providence, the unfolding plan and pattern of God. Oh yes, it is with the enablement of the Holy Spirit, but the enablement of the Holy Spirit is somehow directly related to the prayers of the people of God.

Here’s a prayer you can pray for all your pastors:  pray that whenever our mouths are opened, words may be given us so that we will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel in a culture that is opposed to the gospel, in a church environment that is increasingly diluting the gospel.

In Ephesians 6, he says the same thing at the end of it all. He says, “Pray … for me [also]”—“pray for me also, I need your prayers”—“that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which [I’m] an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”[7] Now there’s a prayer you can pray for all your pastors! Pray that whenever our mouths are opened, words may be given us so that we will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel in a culture that is opposed to the gospel, in a church environment that is increasingly diluting the gospel. 

The vitally important place of the prayers of God’s people. He is urging them to cry out, “O Father, send your Spirit to Paul and help him. Support him in his weakness, Father. I know that he’s concerned that he will have sufficient courage. Grant him courage. I know that he is concerned that people are making a big fuss about him, and he wants Christ to be exalted. Grant, Father, that they may forget the channel and may see only Christ. We know, Father, that Paul can’t make up his mind whether to go to heaven or stay here with us. Father, listen to your children praying.” If you want to see God move by his Spirit in Parkside Church in a way that is only supernatural, let me tell you: at the very core of such a move of the Spirit of God will be the earnest, continual, humble cries of the core of Parkside, “O God, rend the heavens and come down here.”[8]

What Paul Anticipated

Secondly, the source of his joy is to be found in that he anticipates that Christ will be exalted in his body. That’s verse 20. His prayer is that he will have sufficient courage that this will take place. His concern was that he would be faithful, that there would be no occasion for shame, whether he was standing before a human court or before the bar of God’s judgment. “Oh,” he says, “may it be that Christ will always be exalted in my body.” To be “exalted” means to be made large. It’s the notion of John the Baptist when he says of Jesus, “He must increase, [and] I must decrease.”[9] This is at the heart of Pauline theology. “What, after all,” he says, “is [Paul]? And what is [Apollos]? Only servants, through whom you came to believe.”[10] “You have,” he says, “this treasure in old clay pots so that the transcendent power might be seen to belong to God and not to us.”[11] In other words, you never find Paul drawing attention to himself. You find Paul only as a conduit pointing away to Christ. And this is his concern now, as he writes to the church in Philippi: “My concern is,” he says, “that Christ may be exalted in my body. And to the extent that he is, that will make me joyful.”

You are not your own. Nothing you have is your own! Everything is a stewardship. The totality of us belongs to God.

Now, Paul has a great concern about people’s bodies; you know that. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, he tells the Corinthian believers there, “[Don’t you] know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? [You’re] not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”[12] You are not your own. And nothing you have is your own! Everything is a stewardship, whether God has given us a lot or given us a little, whether we’re envious of what someone else has or disappointed what we have. It doesn’t matter; we’re not our own. The totality of us belongs to God.  Our bodies belong to God! That’s why it matters what we do with them. That’s why it matters how we care for them. That’s why exercise is important. That’s why we wash. That’s why we comb our hair. Because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. And if you’ve been combing your hair so that people would say, “Oooo, isn’t that nice!” you’ve been combing your hair for the wrong reason. You should thank God you’ve even got hair to comb. And whether it goes the way you want it or goes a way you don’t want it, that’s not the issue. Just comb it.

So we tell our children, “O be careful, little feet, where you go. Be careful, little hands, what you touch. Be careful, little eyes, what you see. Be careful, little ears, what you hear”—or, in my case, “Be careful, bigger ears, what you hear”—“There’s a Father up above, and he’s looking down in love.”[13] Can I ask you, have you offered your body as a living sacrifice to God?

God is Lord over all these things: our bodies, our time, our totality.

I remember some years ago writing in a little New Testament—I’ve forgotten it now, and I’m not sure if I can complete it, thinking of it as it comes to my mind—but I remember writing in the flyleaf of a New Testament, “Though I am young in years, youth thou canst use. Make your demands on me, I’ll not refuse. Take all there is of me, all that I hope to be…” Then I can’t remember how it finishes from there. But God honors that. God honors that. In your marriage, you rejoice in it. In your work, you rejoice in it. In the appreciation of a beautiful painting, you rejoice in it. In the magnificence of a chord of music that just makes your hair stand up, you rejoice in it. Why? Because God is Lord over all these things: our bodies, our time, our totality.  

In fact, when Paul wanted to exemplify his credentials as an apostle, and when he says to the Galatians at the end of chapter 6, “I don’t want any of you giving me a bad time”—“Finally, let no one cause me trouble”—he doesn’t say, “Let no one cause me trouble because I’m a mighty apostle; let no one cause me trouble because I’ve been used of God to preach”; he says, “Let no one cause me trouble,” and then, as it were, metaphorically, he takes his jacket off and he says, “[because] I bear on my body the marks of [Christ],”[14] and he takes his jacket off and he shows them his back. It was in his body that his discipleship was revealed. So he was not saying to people, “Offer your bodies,” and then not doing it himself. His body was increasingly crushed for the sake of Christ. He finally went into his grave brutalized, disfigured, dismembered, if history is accurate. And he says, “I rejoice in this, whether it’s in my life,” he says, “or in my death.” How could it be that he would rejoice in his death? How could there be joy in his death?

Do you remember I’ve told you the story of Richard Cameron, the Scottish Covenanter? No? That’s good, ’cause I’m about to tell you it again. But this is Reformation Weekend, and we remember [1517]. And we remember Martin Luther, and we remember that God stirred up the flames in a Roman Catholic monk, and he nailed the Ninety-Five Theses to the door, and had he not done so, the history of the church would have been radically different for ill. And in Scotland, which is a land of reformation, the Covenanters were chased from place to place for one reason and one reason only: that they affirmed their freedom under God to worship the Lord Jesus Christ and to read the Scriptures and to gather in these conventicle gatherings. And so it was that the troops frequently went out on the moorsides to find these folks. And on the Fenwick moorside, on one occasion, they encountered Richard Cameron and his small company of worshipping friends. And they killed him when he was just thirty-two years old—and I’m reading this to take less time. His enemies cut off his head and his hands. And on their way to the Netherbow in Edinburgh where they were going to display these trophies of war, they took them to Richard’s father, who was being held prisoner in the Tolbooth jail. And they displayed his head and his hands on the end of two daggers and a sword. And they took them into the jail and they said to him, “Do you know them?” (It’s amazing the brutality that man is capable of, is it not?) And his father “took them upon his knee, and bent over them, and [he] kissed them, and [he] said, ‘I know them! I know them! They are my son’s, my dear son’s.’” And then, weeping and yet praising, he went on, “It is the Lord!” (You can imagine his voice getting a little more firm.) “It is the Lord! Good is the will of the Lord, who cannot wrong me nor mine, but has made goodness and mercy to follow us all our days.”[15]

I wish I’d been present to see that, because I’d like to know what the soldiers did at that point. What do you do at that point, when you’ve played your ace and the guy says, “Blessed be God”? They must have looked at one another and said, “Well, let’s go.” And as they went up the dungeon steps, they sayin’ to one another, “I never thought he would say that, did you? I thought he would have gone mad. I thought he would have jumped us. I thought…”

No. Why? Because through the pain of the loss of his dear boy, God was glorified even in his death. And hundreds of years later, any thinking, reasonable mind in this moment is stirred by that story. And though dead, Richard Cameron yet lives and is glorified in his dying. If he had just died as an old man, there’d be no story. There would have been no mark in the soldiers’ lives. There would have been no impact for the gospel. And in the mystery of God’s providence, he determined that that would be the final chapter in Richard Cameron’s life. And we live to bless his memory. And we seriously, then, look at the notion of God being exalted in our bodies.

What Christ Meant to Paul

If all my joy is earthly, then the prospect of going to see Jesus is nothing much.

Thirdly, he is joyful because of what Christ means to him. He is looking forward to the prospect of being ushered into the presence of Jesus. And the joy in anticipation is directly found in the fact that Christ means everything to him now. Do you get that? The reason that a soul looks forward to being with Christ then is because for that soul now Christ is increasingly their all in all. And if he is not increasingly my all in all, then the notion of being with Christ “far better” is a hollow prospect. You see, if all of my joy is earthly, if all of my fulfillment is in my marriage—as much as I love my wife—if all that thrills my soul is my kids rather than Jesus, if all of my identity is wrapped up in my position or my prominence or my influence, then the prospect of going to see Jesus is nothing much , you see. Because we’ll have to leave all that behind; there’ll be no marrying in heaven.

It’s like, you know, when you were a kid, there were Saturday afternoons we had to go to people’s houses, often. And there were occasions when, frankly, it was not a pleasant prospect. It would be announced sometime around lunchtime: “We’ll be going over to see, you know, Uncle Whoever,” you know, and, “Hey, let’s get all cleaned up and let’s be on our way,” you know. And you go up in your bedroom, you say to your sister, “This stinks. I don’t really like the guy that much, and it’s, like, the worst thing I can imagine, spend the afternoon in his house.” Well, you gotta go there, and you go there. And you endure it, and you smile, and you do your thing, And you leave, and go home, and you go, “Well, we did it.”

But there were other people I recall who, when the word broke that we were going to their house, we couldn’t wait to get to their house. Because these people were precious to me! I liked them! Every remembrance of them filled me with anticipation, whatever it was. And the details are irrelevant, because the illustration is straight: because of what I knew of them now, the prospect of being with them then filled me with great joy. But those I think little of now hold no prospect for me of spending time in their presence.

That’s why some of us don’t want to go to heaven, if truth were honestly told: because Christ is not our all in all. It’s not that we’re so heavenly minded, we’re no earthly use; it’s that we’re so earthly minded, we’re no heavenly use. We want heaven now down here. We want healed now, we want no bereavement now, we want perfect worship now, we want it all now. Why? Because we don’t really want to go there. And we’re not going to get it now! We are going to die, we are going to lose our loved ones, we are going to get those dreadful hospital reports, we are going to face disappointments and death and disasters. That’s all part of now. But there’s a then. And that’s Paul’s dilemma: “I don’t know whether I want the then or whether I should stick with the now. If I go for the then, it’s going to be far better for me. If I stay with the now, it’ll be far better for you.”

Incidentally, that’s a help to us in how we make decisions. If, in our decision-making processes, as we said last time, we want to ask the question, What is right? and then we want to ask the question, What is best? then I think in decision-making we have to do two further things. In Paul’s case, what he is setting in antithesis is this: his natural inclination, which is to go to heaven, and his apostolic responsibility, which is to stay there and come back to Philippi and see them. In making decisions, we also have to do that as well.

Column number one: at the top of column number one I write down, “What are my natural desires and preferences and instincts in this situation?” I’m trying to make a decision about something, now; so what are my natural preferences, my desires, and my instincts? But there has to be column two: at the head of column two we write, “What responsibilities do I have in terms of my home, and my family, and my role in the church, and the stewardship of my gifts?” Because there has to be, somehow or another, the ability to choose between these things or to see the point at which those two columns become superimposed on one another. For if we go only with column number one, we may get ourselves into some kind of subjective By-path Meadow, or we may determine to do things that is purely selfish. If we go only with column number two, we will always be deferring to those who are around us, and we may miss what God intends. And somehow or another, we must assume that in the decision-making process that these two things will eventually become, in some measure, superimposed on one another, so that in doing the will of God I ask, “What is the right thing to do? What is the best thing to do? Where do my natural inclinations flow in to the estuary of my responsibilities?”

Paul is not choosing death as though he were rejecting life; he is choosing Christ, whom he loves and whom he believes he will get to know better still.

And that’s what Paul is doing here. He says his desire is “to depart.” The word he uses is analyseōs; he uses it in 2 Timothy 4:6. It means to weigh anchor, to pull up the tent pegs, to unyoke the oxen. Notice that he desires “to depart and be with Christ.” He doesn’t desire to depart because he wants to escape from his bodily existence; that was Greek thought. The Greeks taught that we were trapped in our bodies, and any way that we could get liberation from our bodies would be fine. That thought is around presently in all kinds of dimensions. Paul is not concerned to “shuffle off [his] mortal coil,” as it were, in Hamlet.[16] He is not choosing death as though he were rejecting life; he is choosing Christ, whom he loves and whom he believes he will get to know better still.  

Now, my time is gone and I can’t unfold this, but I will one day come back and unfold this for you in relationship to the whole notion of euthanasia and living wills and all that stuff, which is such a pressing issue in the realm of bioethics and a pressing matter for us in our lives. But understand this, dear ones: Kevorkian does nobody any favors. His worldview is death from beginning to end. He is a child of the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning. And he is suggesting wrongly to men and women that they are entombed in their bodies, and if he can release them from their bodies they’ll be fine, because he doesn’t understand that they are being released to heaven or to hell. And in USA Today this week, in the forum section, William R. Mattox, Jr., whom I would like to meet and give a hug to, writes a column entitled “Hell Deserves as Much Respect as Heaven.” “Curiosities aside,” he says, “I suspect part of the reason we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about hell or talking about hell or confronting our contradictions about hell is because hell is hell! I mean, it doesn’t exactly conjure up warm fuzzies.”[17] Survey the passersby, they will tell you that there is a heaven and that they’re probably going to it. They just came out of a building where, in a moment of disgust, they told somebody to go to hell. But they will then tell you that they don’t believe that there is a hell to go to, despite the fact that they dispatched somebody to it in a moment of disgust.

Paul says, “I’m not shuffling off life to embrace death, as if that were attractive; I’m considering the possibility of going to be with Jesus, which’ll be fantastic.” But he says, “All in all, I’m going to stay with you.” And the reason is—verse 22—because it will “mean fruitful labor.” In other words, “All my days and all my desires will count for something.” Look at verse 25, if you’re feeling, incidentally, as I end, that your life is insignificant—if you’re feeling maybe you’re gettin’ a wee bit old, and you’re kinda done with your opportunities. Look at what he says in verse 25: “[I’m going to] continue with … you for your progress and joy.”[18] “That’s why I’m staying,” he says. “For your progress and joy.”

“Why are you still here, Dad?”

“For your progress and joy.”

“Why are you still here, old Aunt Mabel?”

“For your progress and joy.”

“I don’t see you’ve been getting out as much.”

“No, I can’t get out as much as I could.”

“You seem your eyes are a little dim.”

“Yes, I’m on a magnifying glass now.”

“Why are you still here, Aunt Mabel?”

“For your progress and joy.”

There are few richer blessings than being in the company of someone who obviously lives for Christ.

That’s why she exists! She exists for your progress and joy. “So that,” he says, “through my being with you—just being with you, not saying anything to you—through my being with you, your joy in Christ will overflow on account of me.” Wouldn’t it be great if somebody said that about us? They said, “You know, just being with you, man, is fantastic! I’m just with you, and you bring Christ to me. I’m just with you, and heaven is closer to me”? And that’s a wonderful encouragement, and we ought to give it to one another when we sense that. Because, you see, there are few richer blessings than being in the company of someone who obviously lives for Christ.  

Years ago, now—and with this I close—years ago, now, I presided over the funeral of one of the men who was a deacon at Hamilton Baptist Church, a dear man called David Quinn—Davy Quinn. And he left his wife widowed. By the time he passed away, he was retired and retirement age—indeed, a little beyond it. And his wife was a dear soul and is a dear soul. And in the aftermath of the passing, I would go and visit her in the home, and those early days were painful, because Davy was no longer there. And we would talk about that. And she would say to me—and this, now, is 1978 or ’79—she would say to me, “Ach, Pastor, I’m done. I’m done!” And she had these eyes… “Ah, the Lord may just as well take me away home out of here. I’m just done, I’m just an old woman, I’m just done.”

Every day you have significance. Every moment and every matter is worth something to someone.

I could take you to her house right now, this afternoon, if we could get there on Concorde. She’d make you a cup of tea. She’s far from done! And I had to tell her, “You’re not done, Mrs. Quinn! You’re not done till God says you’re done. When he says you’re done, you’re done. But you’re not done till you’re done. Do you understand?” “Aye, I think I understand, son.” “Listen, the reason you’re going to continue, Mrs. Quinn, is for my joy and encouragement, and for the joy and encouragement of all whose lives you touch.” Every day you have significance. Every moment and every matter is worth something to someone.  There are few richer joys than being in the presence of someone who obviously lives for Christ. Please God that before too long we would become that someone. For his glory we ask it. Amen.

Father, look now upon us in your grace and goodness, we pray. Out of all of these words, grant that we might, as we asked at the outset, hear your voice alone. Come to those of us whose hearts are heavy, pained by the loss of loved ones, and give us some measure of comfort. And for those of us who’ve been thinking that our day is done, we’re over, we’re really nothing much to contribute now, help us to continue for the joy and benefit and blessing and encouragement of those who rub our shoulders and with whom we spend time.

And may grace, mercy, and peace from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one today, and until Jesus comes or calls us to himself, and then forevermore. Amen and amen.

[1] Walter Hooper, preface to Christian Reflections by C. S. Lewis, ed. Walter Hooper (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), xi.

[2] Psalm 23:4 (KJV).

[3] Job 13:15 (paraphrased).

[4] 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NIV 1984).

[5] Romans 15:30–33 (NIV 1984).

[6] C. H. Spurgeon, Feathers for Arrows: or, Illustrations for Preachers and Teachers, from My Notebook (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1870), 235.

[7] Ephesians 6:19–20 (NIV 1984).

[8] Isaiah 64:1 (paraphrased).

[9] John 3:30 (KJV).

[10] 1 Corinthians 3:5 (NIV 1984).

[11] 2 Corinthians 4:7 (paraphrased).

[12] 1 Corinthians 6:19–20 (NIV 1984).

[13] “O Be Careful, Little Eyes, What You See.” Traditional Children’s Song. Paraphrased.

[14] Galatians 6:17 (NIV 1984).

[15] Alexander Smellie, Men of the Covenant: The Story of the Scottish Church in the Years of Persecution (London: Andrew Melrose, 1903), 275. Paraphrased.

[16] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act 3, scene 1.

[17] William R. Mattox Jr., “Hell Deserves as Much Respect as Heaven,” USA Today, October 29, 1998.

[18] Philippians 1:25 (NIV 1984).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.