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Life Now vs. The Life to Come

By: Scott Morton

 

Philippians 1:18-26

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. [19] For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, [20] According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. [21] For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [22] But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. [23] For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: [24] Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. [25] And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; [26] That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.

 

The Apostle Paul speaks here of a contrast between the life we are now living and the life which is to come for a believer. Individuals have access to this life to come after they have put their trust in the gospel for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the only gospel message which can have an effect on an individual�s life today and bring them to the place where God intends for man to be.

 

There is a major challenge which comes for those who are the members of the Body of Christ. There are a lot of things which are desirable about the life which is going to come for us, as we will be spending eternity living and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavenly places. However, there also is a role we are supposed to be playing here on the earth today as we are living our lives now. This is the struggle which the Apostle Paul is identifying here as he is writing to the local assembly in Philippi.

 

One of the first things we see the Apostle Paul speaking of here is the issue of the prayers of this assembly having an impact on his salvation. This is not speaking of the salvation which comes through the gospel which was mentioned above. We know this because of the understanding we have from something else the Apostle Paul had written:

 

Ephesians 1:13-14

 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

 

It is clear from this passage we have a guarantee of our salvation. One part of the Godhead is actually functioning as a seal to keep us in the Body of Christ. There is nothing which can be done which would break this seal. It is such a glorious thing to realize this, as many people struggle with the idea of possibly losing their salvation. There is a fear they could do something wrong which would cause them to lose the salvation they have. This comes from a failure to rightly divide the Word of truth and attempts to apply passages such as this to themselves:

 

Hebrews 6:3-6

 And this will we do, if God permit. [4] For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, [5] And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, [6] If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

 

This passage states it is possible for someone to lose their salvation. We know this is being written to the nation of Israel because of who the book is written to, the Hebrews. In their program, they will need to keep performing the things of the law, walking right, and enduring to the end. If they fail to do so, it will be possible for them to actually lose the salvation they had at one point. If that does occur, they do not have the hope of being saved again, as they do not have the ability to be saved again.

 

The salvation the Apostle Paul is speaking of in this passage in Philippians is speaking about a salvation from the current circumstances he is in. When he was writing this epistle he was sitting in a prison cell. He was there because of his stand for the Word of God rightly divided and his continued preaching of the gospel. He knew this is what he was supposed to be doing, as his responsibility was to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9). In order to do that, he needed to keep teaching the things which were committed to him, no matter what the cost was going to be.

 

The Apostle Paul also had plans to keep going. This can be seen by some of the things he writes to other local assemblies:

 

Romans 15:24

Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.

 

He was looking forward to being able to go out and see these individuals who he had never met. In order for this to occur, he was going to have to be released from prison at some point. These plans were inspired by the Holy Ghost, as we have them recorded for us in the Word of God. Since they are inspired, we know this was the plan for the Apostle Paul to be able to go and meet them. The Apostle Paul was going to be released from prison and would be able to go meet with them.

 

Many individuals struggle with the fact he was praying for something physical here. The belief is the prayer life of an individual should be for only spiritual things. The Apostle Paul instructs us to offer up all things in prayer (Philippians 4:6-7). He does not put a restriction on what we are supposed to be praying about. Man has wrongly put restrictions on prayer which have never existed.

 

The Apostle Paul speaks about how our lives should be reflecting the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many passages which show how this is to occur:

 

Galatians 2:16-21

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. [17] But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. [18] For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. [19] For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. [20] I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. [21] I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

 

The Apostle Paul speaks here about how the individual needs to allow the Lord Jesus Christ to live through them. Since there is no justification by a performance system, it can only be by what He accomplished for us on the cross. We are to allow Him to live through us, which occurs when we are applying the doctrine properly to our lives. The grace of God shows how our salvation occurred, which is shown in this passage:

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

 

The Apostle Paul again declares how our salvation has occurred. It occurs not by anything which we have done and is instead a demonstration of the grace of God. This salvation is given to mankind for a particular purpose. We are supposed to demonstrate good works as a result of our salvation. This does not mean it is a true requirement. However, it is something which we should be doing. There is an understanding for the members of the Body of Christ on how these are learned and manifested. The Apostle Paul gives us these instructions:

 

Titus 2:11-15

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

 

The Apostle Paul shows us how it is the grace of God which gives us the instructions on how to live our lives. After our salvation, we continue to take in the doctrine and have a renewed mind (Romans 12:1-2). This information is applied to our lives as we study the Word rightly divided (2 Timothy 2:15) and the Spirit communicates the truth of these things to us (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).

 

2 Corinthians 4:7-11

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [8] We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; [9] Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; [10] Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. [11] For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.

 

The Apostle Paul states the life of Christ should be manifest in our lives. This is because we are created unto good works (Ephesians 2:10) and the Lord Jesus Christ should be living through us (Galatians 2:20). This is the demonstration of the grace message to those who are alive, as we function as a light to this lost world (Philippians 2:15).

 

Even though our responsibility is to go out and preach the gospel to individuals, there are many who are will reject what is being said. For some, the proof is going to come by the observation of how we live our lives. If we are giving into the lust of the flesh and doing many things which are contrary to the doctrine, there would not be a reason for some individuals to want to receive the salvation which is being offered during this dispensation.

 

The reason why the Apostle Paul is mentioning there is a struggle with the issue of death, is he can see the benefits of both. He knows there is going to be a reigning with Him in the heavenly places:

 

2 Timothy 2:11-13

It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: [12] If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: [13] If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

 

This reigning which is being spoken of here has nothing to do with here on the earth now. It has to do with us reigning with Him in the heavenly places, once we have received our new body. This future event is when we are in glory with Him and is something to definitely look forward to.

 

There also will be an end to the suffering that is occurring now. This is something which is a guarantee for the life of the believer, as we told we are going to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:29). These sufferings are only temporary, especially in light of eternity which is waiting for us (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). It is also important to note God is going to provide the comfort which we need in order to be able to get through any of these situations (2 Corinthians 1:3).

 

The Apostle Paul contrasts the issues of what is to be gained with death and what is to be gained with continuing to live the life here. The life today has a true gain as we grow in the knowledge of what has been given to us:

 

Ephesians 4:15-16

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

 

The believer is edified by the doctrine coming into them. As this is occurring, there is a growth which occurs, which is needful for all of us. This is why we are instructed to study (2 Timothy 2:15) and the Apostle Paul begs us to renew our mind (Romans 12:1-2). These things are needed so we can come unto the knowledge of the truth, which is what is intended for us.

 

The taking in of the doctrine is what is needed for the growth of the individual. It is only through the information which is found in Paul�s epistles that we find the information about how to live the life which is intended for us on the earth during this dispensation. We cannot find this information through the doctrine which was given for Israel or through anything which comes from man.

 

Titus 3:8-9

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. [9] But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

 

The intention is that we do have the good works in our lives. This is pleasing to God, as the Lord Jesus Christ is magnified in our lives. He also gives some examples of how this occurs in the following passage:

 

1 Timothy 4:12-13

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. [13] Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

 

These things are a big part of the life which we are supposed to be living. This is why it is to live is Christ. However, the Apostle Paul also states there is a gain which comes from death. This is something which is a major struggle for individuals, as they do not want to think of it in that manner. They think this is all there is, which leads to the fear of death and the many worries which people come up with. The Apostle Paul clearly did not feel this way and is instructing us to not have these same thoughts. When we understand the doctrine which he has given to us, it is clear on why this would truly be the case.

 

While there are things going on in this life, there are also gains that come about with our death. The Apostle Paul understood there was a resurrection to come and life after death (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). There was not any confusion for him on this manner. He also knew that every member of the Body of Christ was going to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10) in order to receive their reward. He describes this in detail in the following passage:

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-15

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. [11] For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. [14] If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

 

This passage shows how there is a promise of a judgment of what each member of the Body of Christ has done in their lives here on earth. Everything we do falls into one of two categories: things which are pleasing to God (gold, silver, and precious stones) or the things which are not pleasing to God (wood, hay, and stubble). Fire comes down and burns away the bad and leaves the goof. Based on what is left, there is a reward which is given to the members of the Body of Christ. This reward is related to us ruling with Him in the heavenly places for all eternity.

 

A major question many ask with this is what happens to the person who has everything burned away. The passage is very clear this individual still has their salvation, which is a guarantee to any individual when they put their trust in the gospel laid out in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The seal of the Holy Ghost keeps us as a member of the Body of Christ and there is nothing we can do which would break this seal (Ephesians 1:13-14, Philippians 1:6). However, the individual who has everything burned away suffers a loss of rewards, which is the ability to reign with Him has been taken away. This is what the Apostle Paul speaks of in 2 Timothy 2:11-13.

 

There is also the promise of a new body which the Apostle Paul speaks of:

 

1 Corinthians 15:39-57

All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. [40] There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. [41] here is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. [42] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [43] It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: [44] It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. [45] And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. [46] Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. [47] The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. [48] As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. [49] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. [50] Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. [51] Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, [52] In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. [53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? [56] The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. [57] But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Looking at this passage, there are a number of characteristics of this new body which we will receive when we get to heaven. This shows how we will have a body which is going to last for all of eternity. There will be nothing which breaks down with this body and we have a guarantee of the position for ourselves. This is why this is something which can be labeled as being a gain for the believer.

 

Based on what has been done for us and what we will be gaining, there is a responsibility we have. We need to make sure the gospel is getting out to this lost world. This is why the Apostle Paul gives us a warning about the time we have:

 

Ephesians 5:14-17

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. [15] See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, [16] Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. [17] Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.



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