By Dr. Donald Whitchard
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor, yet what I shall choose, I know 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.” – Philippians 1:21-24
The apostle Paul was writing this letter from the cell of a Roman prison, not knowing if he would live or die. What we read in this letter is someone who is not afraid of death or its attributes. The Christian should model their attitude of where they will spend eternity by the way Paul faced his mortality. He exemplifies the teaching of Jesus, where our LORD said that it is not worth it to gain the world, yet lose your soul. Nothing on this earth can be made to fit inside of a casket. It is so true that we cannot take anything we own with us to our eternal home. If anything, we should be tired of all of the world’s garbage and wickedness and long for our home in heaven. Personally, I don’t want to bring anything with me that would remind me of this sin-soaked world and its imminent destruction.
When I was a young man, I thought to myself that I needed to have a career, be faithful to the woman who is the love of my life, be a good Dad to my children, and serve the LORD in whatever capacity He should call me. After all, shouldn’t we enjoy the fruits of this world while we live in it? I knew that because I placed my faith and trust in Jesus Christ as a teenager, I was assured of a heavenly home, but I didn’t want to go just yet. I was just getting started in my discovery of the richness of God’s word and the fellowship of other believers. After a series of careers in pastoral ministry, jewelry sales, and teaching, and now retirement due to disability, I grow weary of this world. One would think that being middle aged, I would look forward to a long life of service to the LORD, and if that is what He wants, I will be obedient. However, I was diagnosed with kidney disease which could shorten my life. This doesn’t bother me, though. As of now I am pain free and my kidney function has increased from 35 to 38%. By the time this article is posted, I will have undergone a biopsy to help my doctor see what procedure to take next and prayerfully be able to regulate my function with medicine, diet, or other areas of regulation. God has been faithful in this adventure, and I am giving Him all the praise.
For the past two weeks before I had my visit with the doctor, I was doing a lot of praying and came to a conclusion. I didn’t pray for healing exclusively. However, I put myself in God’s hands and figured that it was a win-win. If He heals me, then glory be to His name. If this progresses, then I’ll still give Him glory because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I’ll see Him face to face and I’ll be rid of this aged, sick, and often hurting body, mired in sin and destruction. I suppose I have Paul’s attitude towards the whole episode. While I’m still here, I figure that He has work for me to do. I’ve got sermons to preach, books to write, columns to present to the reading public, and souls to be won by the power of Christ.
I am confident that according to Scripture, my life does not end in a six foot deep ditch, but I will be more alive than I have ever been when I see my Savior face to face. To be sure, this world is wicked and there seems to be no solution, certainly not from the politicians who got us here nor from the sewer that is Hollywood. Education has its merits but in the wrong hands it can become a tool of terror. After all, educated men with doctorates built the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. The devil has his disciples in places of power and it seems that he is running amuck. However, we are made certain by Scripture that this fiend is on a short leash and his doom is certain. The world will continue to ignore and hate God and us who are His children and will gladly kiss the ring of the devil’s masterpiece, the Antichrist, taking his mark and in turn committing themselves to an eternal hell along with this monster, the False Prophet, and all of the demons. People will gladly sell their soul to Satan for a few years of pleasure without thinking about the consequences. Brethren, we have the authority in Christ to see that the message of the Gospel is victorious over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus is the victor and we who are His will rule and reign with Him forever throughout the new heaven and the new Earth. All things considered, I’d rather be with Jesus now and for always. Nothing of this world holds any interest for me and I know that because of Jesus Christ, I have peace that the world can never give and riches that can never be corrupted. Eternity is going to be a blast, and I can hardly wait!
For those of you who are reading this and you don’t have this assurance, rest assured that you can have peace and joy by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. You didn’t read this by accident or from a decision to surf the internet (if that expression is still used). Face the facts, this world is not getting better and you’re not right with God. You can’t save yourself nor can any religion that is not exclusively based on the person and work of Jesus Christ (John 3:16; 14:6). If you’re ready to meet God on His terms, then pray this prayer and mean it:
“Dear God. I am lost and a sinner. I am under your judgment. I don’t want to go to hell when I die. I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that you raised Him from the dead. I surrender my life to Him and ask Him to be my Lord and Savior. I give myself to you without reservation or hesitation. I ask that your Holy Spirit guide me and teach me. I will read your Word each day and live for you and look forward to seeing you face to face. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer and were sincere, then I welcome you to the family of God. If you don’t have a Bible, then buy one in a version that you can understand. I recommend the New King James Bible. I have preached from it for years and it has been used to draw men and women to Christ. Start reading the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts as an introduction to the work of Jesus and the early church. I’d love to read your testimony and see how the LORD has changed your life. My e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, I’ll serve Him until the trumpet sounds (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) or He takes me home, kidneys and all. Amen.
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.