Category Archives: Death

One Philosophy – To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

One Philosophy

What is your philosophy of life? To what in life would you respond with the words, “Man! This is Living!”?

Everyone lives by a set of values – things you believe are important. These beliefs form your philosophy of life. Your philosophy of life determines how you view the world.  They shape how you view your purpose for living.

Philosophy = core beliefs (values) that guide your decisions and actions.  The world offers many philosophies of life:

1. Life is pleasure – Epicurian View – Person who takes pleasure in fine food and drink. Followers of Epicurius (341-270BC) a Greek Philosopher who promoted the theory of a material universe composed of indestructible atoms moving in a void, unregulated by Divine Providence.

This philosophy of life centers on living rather than life. Life to these people means one round of pleasures after another. They pursue entertainment and pleasure at huge cost and in it seek satisfaction. MTV/Hollywood, recreation, amusement park and holiday. Like a lady I heard of who who wanted to go on a cruise but did not have the money, so she sold her body to science.  After she dies the company gets her remains.  She takes the money she got for the sale of her body and went on a cruise!

This is the successful farmer in Luke 12:19 who after a successful harvest said, “And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.”  What he didn’t know was, that very night would be his last!

2. Life is pain – Stoic View – Life is something that has to be endured. Living means hard endurance in the midst of harshness, suffering and pain. In the midst of it all the stoic is determined to hold on till the end. These people find it hard to smile, no joy in life, they are bitter and cold. They have never learned that the joy of the Lord is strength.

There was an elderly lady I knew as a teenager, her name was Mrs. Morgan.  The thing you learned never to do at church was to say to Mrs. Morgan “how are you today?” because she would hold onto your hand and tell you! Before she launched into her list of aches, and difficulties she would say, “I’m doing pretty good under the circumstances.”

3. Life is hopeless – Cynics View – What is the use of anything? Nothing I do will make a difference anyway. What will be will be, so why try. They believe anyone is motivated by self-interests.

4. Life is people – Humanist View – Man is intrinsically good but in a bad environment. Humanist believes in the potential good in everyone and seeks human means to solve the problems of mankind. Ignorance, prejudice, social injustice, government policies are the evils that must be corrected through education, social programs, and pressure groups.  Christians ought to quickly realize that this is the exact opposite of that God says to be true.  We are depraved.

5. Life is religion – Religious View – Life is the performing religious duties, traditions. Mindlessly going through the motions.

6. Life is family – Average-Man’s View – Life is our family, our home, work, and the activities of life. These things are important but they often become the most important things in life and when they are taken away our life collapses.

The book of Philippians reveals the true Christian mind. In every chapter and every division in the book this word is found.(1.7,2.2,2.3,2.5,3.15,3.19,4.2,4.10.) Paul is literally saying through the Book of Philippians: “Here is how a Christian should think about these various matters.”

So how did Paul think about life and ministry? What were the guiding principles for Paul’s behavior? Paul made many statements throughout his life that offer insights into his thinking:

  1. Necessity is laid upon me, yea, woe to me if I do not preach the gospel. (1Cor. 9:16)
  2. I made it my aim not to preach where Christ was named (Ro. 15.20)
  3. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. (I Cor. 9.22)
  4. Who are we but bond-servants through whom you believed (I Cor 3.5)
  5. Neither count I my life dear to myself. (Acts 20.24)

Today we are looking at Philippians 1:19-26. In our text we discover the foundational theme of Paul’s philosophy of life and ministry : “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (21)

I fear that if we are not intentional the philosophy statement of many Christians is the reverse of Paul’s; it goes something like this: “For to me, to live is gain, to die is Christ.”  We live for all that we can get out of this life, but we still have Christ as our heavenly insurance policy in the end.


Paul what do you mean, “For to me to live is Christ”?

1. My highest affection, my deepest passion, my overriding ambition is Jesus Christ and Him alone. In Him alone I find fulfillment, happiness and joy unspeakable. My worth both personally and in ministry is found in Him alone – in His approval, His smile, His nod. (21a)

What are your priorities in life?

  • How do you spend your leisure time?
  • What do you read?
  • What do you think about?
  • Where do you spend your money?

2. My motive is for His will (20) – nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Christ is my life and nothing else. His will is my chief concern (Ro. 12.1-2). My great concern is that His eternal purposes might be fulfilled in me and through me in the world. His goals are my goals, His desires are my desires. (20c)

3. My single aim in life is to glorify Christ. Christ lives in me and lives his life through me, thus God is glorified in my body which belongs to Him. (Gal 2.20, I Cor 6.19)

4. My singleness of purpose boils down to this central philosophy of life – To me to live is Christ!

  • • To know as much about Christ as is possible to know.
  • • To imitate Christ, to make Him the model of my life.
  • • To make the gospel of Christ known as far as possible and to as many people as possible in my lifetime.
  • To enjoy Him – to be comforted in trouble, to find my happiness in communion with Him!

5. For me to live is Christ simply means that Christ is the love of my life

Love is always thinking about the object of its love (Mt. 6.21). With Paul his love was Christ,

  • Love expresses the emotion and gives release to the desires within us. Paul’s desire was to know Christ better. (3.10)
  • Love translates into action – A reckless abandon to the object of his love. Paul has spent his time preaching Christ and he was not concerned what might happen to him because Christ was in control. (20b) Whether by life or by death.

2 Cor. 11:22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Paul, what do you mean, “To Die Is Gain”?

1. Death is gain (21b). To attain something greater, more profitable!

Heb. 11:9-10 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

2. Death is desirable (23)

  • To depart and be with Christ is far better than living on here.
  • I will however remain and fulfill my ministry because that is what is best for you (24-25)
  • My ultimate joy will be to see him face to face. To be in His physical presence never to depart.


What will it mean to my life to live by this philosophy “to me to live is Christ”?

1. It means I will make all decisions in my life based upon God’s priorities. It means I will demonstrate my priorities consistently in such a way that it impacts my children. If you wish to see the priorities of Christian parents watch their offspring over time

  • For some, education is the highest priority – all else is willingly sacrificed at her altar. We teach our children it is fine to miss church, neglect godly responsibilities, ignore the call of God to service for the sake of education.
  • For some, the attainment of a good job, the securing of a career is all-important. “Of course I would be happy for your to serve God in ministry, but first you need to have a career to fall back on in case it does not work out.”
  • For some, it is the pursuing of worldly comfort and pleasure. We need the latest fashion, the newest upgrade, the surrounding of our lives with every comfort and ease we can find.
  • Little of the conversation in our Christian homes centers around the character of God, a Christian world-view. Is it any wonder that we are producing a self-centered, self-serving generation of young people who have no interest in serving God with their lives?

2. It means I will gladly sacrifice my all and even my life if required in order to glorify God’s great name!

“People who do not know the Lord ask why in the world we waste our lives as missionaries. They forget that they too are expending their lives … and when the bubble has burst, they will have nothing of eternal significance to show for the years they have wasted.” — Nate Saint, missionary martyr, 1956

What will it mean to my life to live by this philosophy “to die is gain”?

1. It means I must develop an eternal perspective. This life is not the end but merely the path to the greater. To die is gain! (21)

2Cor. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2. It means I unwaveringly press toward the mark (20) – earnest expectation = intense desire, anticipation! We have a goal and continually evaluate to determine if what we are doing moves us toward that mark. We must focus on “this one thing.” Shed off the many good things that hinder us from achieving that ‘one thing’. I count all things as dung – in comparison to Christ all the things that can be achieved or acquired are refuse. (Phil 3.7-8)

3. It means I “become all things to all men.” – Willing to step outside our comfort zone for the sake of His name among the lost of the world. (I Co. 9.22)

4. It means I am willing to take risks for God. “Neither count I my life dear.” (Acts 20.24)

5. It means I desire that Christ be magnified above all else at all costs. This means that I am willing for Christ to be magnified at my own expense – by life which is Christ’s or by death only that Christ is glorified. The choice rests with Him. (20). I am willing for God to build His kingdom at my expense?

  • “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” – Tertullian of Carthage
  • According to “Christians in Crisis” there have been 43 million Christians martyred in the last 2000 years – 50% of those in the last century.


Great courage – Boldness, confidence before God and man.

On 12/28/1852 David Livingstone wrote: “Am I on my way to die in Sibituane’s country? Have I seen the last of my wife and children? The breaking up of all my connections with earth, leaving this fair and beautiful world and yet knowing so little of it? O Jesus, fill me with Thy love now, and I beseech Thee accept me and use me a little for Thy glory. I have done nothing for Thee yet, and I would like to do something. O do, do I beseech Thee, accept me and my service and take Thou all the glory…”

On 4/4/1853: “If God has accepted my service then my life is charmed till my work is done. And though I pass through many dangers unscathed while working the work given me to do… Death is a glorious event to one going to Jesus… There is something sublime in passing into the second stage of our immortal lives if washed from our sins.”

Magnification of Christ (20c)

1. Chief purpose of man is to glorify God and worship Him forever

Jer. 9: 23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; 24 But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

2. Suffering and even death become the verification that we believe what we proclaim.

Mal. 1:11 For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

On December 6, 1943, John Stam wrote: “Dear Brethren, My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of the Communists, in the city of Tsingteh. Their demand is twenty thousand dollars for our release. All our possessions and stores are in their hands, but we praise God for peace in our hearts and a meal tonight. God grant you wisdom in what you do, and us fortitude, courage and peace of heart. He is able – and a wonderful friend in such a time… The Lord bless and guide you, and as for us, May God be glorified whether by life or by death.”

The next day John and Betty Stam were marched to another city stripped of their clothes and paraded through the streets before being shot. Their three-month old baby, Helen, was found in an abandoned in a house thirty hours after the execution. A Chinese evangelist delivered her in a rice basket to a missionary family hundreds of miles away.

Desire to be with Him – To die is gain! (23)

To depart is something desirable, something far better  To die is gain because we depart to receive the full inheritance and eternal reward of heaven. Yet we are willing to stay and faithfully serve God’s people while longing to depart and be with Christ.

When death comes we can say: (II Tim. 4.6-8)

  • I have fought a good fight
  • I have finished my race
  • I have kept the faith.

What is your philosophy of life?

For to me to live is gain and to die is Christ?

Or can you say like the Apostle Paul:

“For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain!”

Note: I am indebted to Martyn Lloyd-Jones for his insights into this text.

ONE PLEA – Glorify God With Your Life

One Plea to Glorify God.001

We have all been guilty of offering habitual prayers, or even casual prayers. You know, the kind of thoughtless prayers like “Lord bless all the missionaries today.”

I will never forget the night Carman was born. It was 9:30 in the evening on April 8, 2002 when Lori said that she thought it was time. Having been through this routine with four other babies I was not in a big hurry.  When Lori was expecting Cherith I remember at the first sign of labor I bolted into motion, grabbed our gear and wisked Lori into the car and raced to the hospital at breakneck speed only to  wait another 12 hours before the baby was born.  Lori came back a few minutes later and said it was urgent that we go now!  We got to the clinic here in Kitwe and at 11:30pm Lori gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who we named Carman.

Carman was a cord birth.  I watched the midwife work frantically and finally get the cord off the baby’s neck.  She was a deep purple color, but slowly gained a more normal shade.  After things had settled down I went back to an empty room to sleep.  After a time, I felt a hand on my shoulder, it was Lori.  She said, you must come quick, the baby is in distress.  I ran back to the room and Carman was taking short little gasps of air.  Each time she exhaled bubbles came out of her nose. She was now an ashen grey color, drowning from the amnionic fluid she ingested during birth.  I grabbed Lori’s hand and began to pray. I remember that prayer, it came from deep in my heart, a cry for God to be merciful and intervene and spare her life.

This is the kind of prayer that we find in our text Philippians 1:9-11.  Paul is laying out his passionate prayer to God for the Philippians. He has spoken of his deep affection for them, “I have you in my heart” he says in v 7.  “I greatly long for you all with affection” he says in v 8. Now he shares with them his prayer.

Passionate prayer is praying from the overflow of a burdened heart with a sense of our own inability. It is the pursuit of God by one man on behalf of another.

“And this I pray!” (9) Here is the content of Paul’s prayer: He longs for them to glorify God with their life, to be the means by which praise and glory is rendered to God!

In these three short verses Paul lays out the essentials for a life that glorifies God! This is essentially a plea to glorify God with your life!

Glorifying God With My Life Begins With A Love That Is Constantly Growing (9a)

How does this happen?

We grow in knowledge of God through His Word.

As we know him our love increases but this overflowing love is more than just a head full of facts about God and His Word, it is the basis for obedience. (John 14:15,21,23)

Love and obedience are not the same thing. You can obey with the wrong attitude. You can obey without love, but you cannot love without obeying. Obedience is the natural expression of love.

The reason that so many Christians are indifferent and careless toward God is that they are in love with the wrong thing. We are prone to love the gifts God gives instead of loving Him!  We love the creation instead of the Creator! (Rom 1:21,25).  We love money, education, our occupation, sports, or entertainment but we do not passionately pursue Christ as greatest end.

The question for you today is not, do you know about Jesus, the question is do you know Him The question is not, “Do you love Jesus?” but, “Do you love Jesus more than anything else in this world?” (Lk. 14:26).

This growing love is the product of a growing knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ! It is not only a knowledge of facts but an experiential knowledge gained by walking with Him day by day.

What does this growth look like? How does a growing knowledge of God flesh out in everyday life?

We grow in discernment

Discernment is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong.  This is not a legalistic list of regulations and checklists used to evaluate spirituality, nor is it is it license to do whatever you want. This discernment is based upon a deep heart desire to please the object of our love. It is genuine holiness based upon a deepening knowledge of God through His Word. It is a life in balance, able to discern what is appropriate, what is helpful.

We are called to embrace the knowledge of God that produces holy living! The ability to make proper judgements for everyday living in line with the nature and character of God. The practical application of our knowledge of God to the realities of every-day life!

1Thessalonians 5:21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Glorifying God With My Life Means That I Choose What Is Best Over What Is Merely Acceptable! (10a)

Approve what is excellent

This is not to determine good and evil but to determine what is of real value so that you don’t waste your life!  Determine what is best! Live for what matters most! There are many things that can fill your time each day. There are opportunities that come in life that are not necessarily sinful. Paul is saying that the life that glorifies God evaluates each opportunity to determine what has real value!

Don’t waste your life on rubbish.

Choose the real thing!  A couple years back I was on safari in Chobe National Park in Botswana.  We spent the morning on the Chobe River viewing abundant wildlife.  After a wonderful lunch at the lodge we climbed into the open safari vehicles in search of big cats.  As we moved through the bush the drive suddenly slammed the brakes and pointed.  I missed it at first, but then I saw what the guide was pointing at.  Crossing the trail in front of us was a Dung Beetle. It’s front feet were down in the sand and the back legs were up on a ball of elephant dung.  It was pushing that ball back to wherever it lives.  A dung beetle spends his whole life pushing a ball of animal feces. Dung beetles will attack one another to steal the ball of dung!  As we continued our drive I sat back and prayed, “God, don’t let that be the parable of my life!”  What a tragedy to get to heaven one day and see our Christian life from heaven’s perspective only to realize that we did little more than push around balls of dung!

And Paul was concerned about this very thing! Notice what he writes in Philippians 3:3-8!!

For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, 4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: 5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. 7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as dung, that I may gain Christ

Paul had reached the pinnacle of success in Hebrew culture. He had a stellar pedigree, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.  He was religious and full of zeal.  In the eyes of his contemporaries Paul was to be admired!  But all of this he viewed as dung, compared to the excellencies of having Christ!

What really matters in life is serving God and living a life that brings Him glory. To live a life that is worthy of the gospel. (1:27)

As I come to know Christ, I see Him hanging on the cross in agony, I view His glorious character in the Word, I experience his grace in my life and my perspective changes. I no longer see ugly, unloveable people, I see people who Christ loves. I no longer see thieves and prostitutes and drunkards and rapists I see men and women who God loves and sacrificed His own Son on the cross to save!  When I know Christ my perspective changes. I no longer view people in light of how they affect me, or their impact on my life.  I view them through the eyes of the One who loved them and gave Himself for them! When Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion because they were wandering like sheep without a shepherd. (Mt. 9:36)

So what is best? Christ Himself! In Him alone the Christian finds satisfaction, fulfillment, love, and joy unspeakable and full of glory! Pursue Christ not for what He can give but for who He is!
Don’t waste your life on rubbish!

Glorifying God With My Life Means That My Life Is Characterized By Integrity. (10b)

Be sincere

Sincerely is to be without hypocrisy. Christ’s most scathing rebukes were reserved for the self-righteous, (Matthew 23:13-15, 23,25,27-28) those who appeared one way but inside they were something totally different.

When life turns up the heat, when your goals and plans begin to crumble, when trials or afflictions come, when people begin to falsely accuse you, you are suddenly presented an opportunity to demonstrate your sincerity. What you really believe about God, his love, his faithfulness and his goodness is actually lived out in the midst of the fiery trial.

Be blameless

To be blameless is to be a person of Christlike character. This is the extent and goal of integrity. (2:14-15). We were chosen by God to be blameless Eph. 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.
Blamelessness is not only requirement for every pastor and deacon – it is the standard for every child of God. (I Tim 3:2,10)

Glorifying God With My Life Means That My Life Produces Good Works. (11a)

Christ produces in my life “fruits of righteousness.”

This is the external fruit of our internal love for God! This is seen in my response to suffering, in my graciousness when attacked, in my courage when threatened, my ability to suffer and even die if need be for the sake of Jesus Christ. The world is not at all impressed with our business success, with the size of our bank accounts, with our beautiful houses. What impacts the world is our response to suffering, pain, death, bankruptcy, or how we handle the death of our child. A dear friend who recently lost her daughter said to Lori at the funeral, “It hurts so much, but I know God is good!”  This is the genuine fruit that is produced by an overflowing love for God!

Don’t waste your life!

Several years ago someone gave me John Piper’s book entitled “Don’t waste your life!” Let me to borrow those words to press home the urgency of living for the glory of God!

  • Don’t waste your money
  • Don’t waste your influence
  • Don’t waste your education – use it to establish a beachhead for the gospel in some restricted access country in the 10/40 window.
  • Don’t waste your robberies
  • Don’t waste your dis-functional family upbringing
  • Don’t waste your death.  The first Administrator of Faith Children’s Village, Joe Mbewe, lost his wife in tragic circumstances.  I will never forget his testimony at the funeral of his wife. With his two year old daughter in his arms, he gave testimony of his faith and the confidence that he would see her again.  Joe then sang his wife’s favorite song, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”  This is what it means to not waste your death!

Jesus spoke of Peter’s death and then these words, “signifying by what death he should glorify God!” (Jn 21:19)

As God orchestrates the dark valleys and deep trials in your life, Don’t waste them!  Don’t waste these opportunities to magnify Christ (1:20)!  Allow His life to so saturate you that your very presence permeates Christ to the world around you. Whether in life or in death – glorify Christ!

Here is the culmination of Paul’s prayer! (11b) Paul’s passionate plea to God on their behalf all crescendos to this as its highest end: “to the glory and praise of God!”

Paul prayed that the Philippians’ love would increase through a growing knowledge of God that would result in the discernment to spend their lives for what really matters by living as men and women of integrity so that the righteousness of Christ might bear abundant fruit in them to the glory and praise of God.

Are you wasting your life or spending your life for what will count for eternity? Is your life bringing glory and praise to God?

What a tragedy it would be to get to heaven and suddenly realize that all you did was push around balls of dung your entire Christian existence!

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Why I Believe In The Resurrection

Why I Believe In The Resurrection.001Two days ago my wife’s uncle died after a long battle with cancer. Death is not natural to life. It is not part of the original created order. We recoil from death we wish to be far from it. When we hear the footsteps of death coming for us we fight and some fear it.

Yet none of us speak of death in terms of “if” but always with the word “when”. Deep inside we know that one day we will “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.”

Why do people die? Why do humans face pain and death?

There is one answer – Sin. When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race (Romans 5:12). Adam’s sin brought death and death spread to everyone, for everyone has sinned.

So what is your perspective of death and life? For most of us we share the “ground-level” perspective of the sisters in our text. In John 11:1-45 I want us to consider the perspective Jesus gives to us. An accurate perspective changes everything! What do you believe about death and life?

Today I want to share with you two overwhelming, undeniable life-changing reasons why I believe in the resurrection.


Jesus loves (3)

When the message came they identified Lazarus, not by name but by the phrase, “the one whom you love.” The word for love speaks of friendship love (3). In other words these sisters were saying to Jesus “the friend who you love is sick!”

They knew Jesus loved them! In verse five we again see the word love. Here it is the Greek word agape and this refers to the sacrificial, undying faithful covenant love that finds its source in God Himself. They knew that Jesus loved them and we know that God loves us! He tells us that He loved us and he proved that love to us:

John 3:16 ¶ “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Rom. 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus knows (3)

Jesus knew everything about Mary & Martha and the situation with Lazarus and Jesus knows everything about the situation you are in today.

Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick (1,3). And the fact that Lazarus was terribly sick did not change the reality of Christ’s deep, passionate, abiding love for him (5). Jesus knew that Lazarus had died (11-14).

Jesus cares (4)

First Jesus cares about the glory of His Father! Christ’s delay in coming to Bethany was to fulfill God’s purpose, and that purpose was ultimately the glory of God.

We may not know why we are in the situation or circumstance that we are going through, but God does!

Jesus says, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (4) Even in death, sorrow, pain, and tragedy – God is with us and God is at work carrying out His plan.

Second we see that Jesus cares that we develop faith. “Lazarus is dead, but I am glad I was not there, so that you might believe!” (15). Later when he arrived at the funeral home “he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” (33) Jesus wept (35). Jesus is our compassionate High Priest who feels our weaknesses and pain.

Heb. 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.


Jesus has the power over death and the power over life.

Mary & Martha believed in Him but their understanding of Him was incomplete. They were called to re-evaluate their faith. In times of tragedy, pain, death – we often respond this way: “IF ONLY!” “Lord, if you had been here, by brother would not have died” (21,32). God if only you had been here this would not have happened! But Jesus was fully aware of what was taking place and his delay was part of God’s plan. He could have rushed in and averted the death, but instead He was working for a greater purpose (6).

A couple years ago our family had traveled abroad and we took the kids to a fast-food restaurant that had an indoor play park. Corban was probably three at the time. A little bully pushed him off the top of the kids slide and then a minute or two later hit him in the face. All of my father-instinct wanted to snap up that little bully and teach him a lesson in defense of my boy. But instead I encouraged Corban to persevere – and yes if he gets hit again to defend himself. I think that incident gives me some insight into our text. Jesus could have saved Lazarus’ life and healed him from a distance, he could have spared Mary and Martha the pain, but instead He allowed it for a greater purpose – that they and us might believe!

Christ’s assurance – Jesus gave Mary and Martha the absolute certainty of the resurrection. “Your brother will rise again” (23). I know he will rise again at the last day was her response.

Job also believed this!

Job 19:25-26 For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth; And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God.

Christ’s person – “I am the resurrection and the life.” (25) Jesus assured them that Lazarus would rise again because of who He is: I am LIFE!

Jn 14:6 – Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one will come to God the Father except through ME”

This is an exclusive claim! He is either telling the truth or he is the greatest deluded fool the world has ever produced! To stand in front of a grieving sister and claim to be the resurrector and giver of eternal life is either truth or the most wicked, gross kind of torture one could give to a grieving soul. Either Jesus Christ knew he was not what He claimed and thus He is a LIAR, or He really believed what He claimed but it was not true and He is a LUNATIC, or He is who He claims to be and you and I must fall before Him and acknowledge him as LORD.

Spiritual life cannot be extinguished by physical death

Those who believe in Jesus though they may die physically, they will live because He will raise them up. (25). In this text death is referred to as sleep because it was temporary (11,13-14)

Since everyone who lives and believes in Him has eternal life they will never die spiritually. Spiritual life cannot be extinguished by physical death. (26)

1Cor. 15:51 ¶ But let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. Not all of us will die, but we will all be transformed.
1Cor. 15:52 It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, the Christians who have died will be raised with transformed bodies. And then we who are living will be transformed so that we will never die.
1Cor. 15:53 For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.
1Cor. 15:54 ¶ When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
1Cor. 15:55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

Jesus asks Mary & Martha a question that forces them to make a decision: Do you believe this? (26) Do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life?

This is question is for you today: DO YOU BELIEVE IN JESUS?

This is a penetrating question!  Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life? It is one thing to hear it, discuss it, or argue about it, but it is another altogether to believe it , embrace it and trust it!

Death strips us of all pretense and exposes what we truly believe: “Yes Lord; I believe that you are the Christ (Savior) the Son of God (Diety) who is coming into the world.” (27). This is more than believing that Jesus is merely a historical figure, a great teacher, or a moral leader.

You are not being challenged to believe a fantasy.

Jesus proved He was who He claimed to be – He raised Lazarus from the dead, after four days, after the processes of death and decay were undeniable. (39,44) Jesus went on to demonstrate His power over death by rising from the dead on the third day! (20:11,15; 19-20; 24-29). He arose – death cannot dominate Him!

Rom. 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Heb. 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

The proof that the gospel is true is that Jesus rose from the dead. The good news is that you can be forgiven for your sins and made a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection.

Rom. 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

There is a coming resurrection of the dead (Jn. 5:24-29): one resurrection to eternal life, the other to eternal judgment.

Acts 17:30-31 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

There are three powerful implications of the resurrection:

  1. The resurrection gives authority & credence to everything He claimed!
  2. The resurrection proves His power over sin that is the cause of death and over Satan who places people in bondage through sin..
  3. The resurrection testifies to all mankind that Jesus is LORD!

And there are two possible responses to the resurrection:

  1. Some believe – they witnessed the resurrection power of Christ and put their trust in Him. (45)
  2. Some reject – in spite of the undeniable reality that Lazarus had died and was now alive, they rejected Jesus. (46)

What about you? Will you believe in Jesus today?

Download pdf Why I Believe In The Resurrection

The Need For The Cross

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Palm Sunday is typically remember for the triumphant entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. From the Jew’s point of view in that day, this was the highlight of His ministry. And yet by Friday He was hanging on the cross, dying the tortured death of a criminal. What went wrong in five days to fall from the most popular Jew in Israel to the depths of the same people calling for His crucifixion?

From a human perspective, this was a tragic end to a good man’s life. Yet when we look at what God has to say about it, there is a much bigger plan being worked out.

We will look at the “need for the Cross” and then finish with the “Cross meets the need.”  Here are the unmistakable gospel truths found in Scripture:

Everyone that is conceived will live forever … somewhere.

Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

There are just two choices. What makes the difference in where we spend eternity? • Everything we do will be judged.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.

Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. We will all stand before God one day. What will make the difference in where we spend eternity?

By ourself, our good works are filthy when compared to the holiness of heaven.

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

If the best works I have are not good enough, what makes the difference in where we will spend eternity?

Good men are condemned.

Matthew 23:33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

Spoken to men who were convinced that their good works earned them favor with God. If the best men of the day were not able to escape hell, what will make the difference for me?

This is hard to accept, but we must correctly diagnose our problem if we are going to be able to find the solution. To ignore the diagnosis, is to live in denial and ultimately to die in denial.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I can’t identify the problem, I will never have access to the solution.

The sad news

I want to say this in all kindness for each of us sitting here. I am not passing judgment on any of our loved ones who are no longer with us, God knows their heart. I am saying this for us here to look at our own hearts. The sad news is that there are a lot of good men and women who are going to hell because good works will never replace the death penalty for sin.

Is this fair? If God was fair, the death penalty would already have been given and God would still be loving, merciful, and good. God is not fair, thankfully.

God is just.  The death penalty for our sin must and will be carried out or else God would not be holy or trustworthy. The death penalty cannot be canceled; it must happen. 

The good news is that God is also a God of love.

There is a solution to the diagnosis of sin.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The solution is that Someone had to die for your sin and mine.

The wages of sin will always be death.

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He took our death penalty.

Remember Matt 25:46? There are two destinations.  God made the way, God did the work, we are left to believe this was for us or deny it.

This satisfies the death penalty for all our sins we have committed, are committing, and will ever commit in the future.

So why not get saved and then live however we want to? God did not save us from the pit latrine of sin only to have us jump back in and play. We underestimate the filthiness of sin and undervalue the gift of salvation if we do this. Christ’s death was to save us from the penalty of sin and from slavery to sin.

Romans 6:1–2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Romans 6:16–18 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

So let’s take a look at this death that was given for me. The suffering began in the garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

An angel had to come and strengthen Christ. This sorrow is the curse of sin (Gen. 3) that was placed on the world. He took our guilt on Himself (Isa. 53).

The pain of omniscience and anticipation

Luke 22:41–44 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Hematidrosis – bleeding from the sweat glands. This is a documented physical situation brought on by extreme stress and anguish. The first six documented cases went on to die of the same stress.

The pain of betrayal and abandonment

Co-workers – Matthew 26:47-48 – Judas betrays Him

Close Friends – Matthew 26:56b Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled. 

Christ understands loneliness and betrayal.

The pain of mocking the truth of His Godhood

By the soldiers – mocked Him by saying “Hail, King of the Jews,” put a purple robe on Him, bowed to Him, and “worshiped” Him. By the Jews when on the cross – “He saved others, Himself He cannot save” Mk. 15:31

The pain of physical abuse and assault

  • Whipped – Mark 15:15 – this ripped and tore
  • Crown of Thorns – put on His head and hit with a reed or a staff
  • The Cross – Nails in the wrist severed the ulnar nerve. Nails, likely in the heel, fixed Him to the Cross Suffocation was the typical cause of death.

“Until we see the cross as that which was done by us, we will never fully appreciate that it was done for us” – John Stott

The pain of sin to holiness

Trinity rent – we don’t understand the Trinity as it is, but somehow the Trinity was severed as the Father turned His back on Christ as He bore my sins.

Who killed Christ?

The Jews?

The Romans?



No one, He gave Himself willingly for you and me. He did not suffocate, He gave up His spirit.

John 10:15 … and I lay down My life for the sheep.

1 John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. This is the demonstration of love.

Romans 8:31–32 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

So what will you do with the cross?  Will you believe in Jesus and receive His work on the cross to be bridge that brings you to God?

Repent and believe in Jesus today!

Download a pdf version of The Cross.

Recovering From Grief

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The human capacity for grief is at times overwhelming! Time and again this year I have been face to face with people who are suffering deep grief.  In the past ten months I am aware of at least 10 ladies who husbands have passed away. Others have suffered the loss a son or daughter or parent.  Many are asking the question, “Will this ever get better?”

Recently I read an article written by June Hunt entitled, “Grief Recovery, Living At Peace With Loss.”  I share a portion of it here in hopes that it if you are grieving the loss of someone you loved, that you will find hope and comfort:

“Who has not questioned the reason for pain and suffering in the world? Certainly some people have become hardened by their losses, while others have become softened—God used their grief to cultivate in them tender, understanding hearts. Only days before His own death, Jesus traveled to the grave of Lazarus to comfort his two sisters in their loss. Jesus was not only deeply moved in His Spirit, but He was also weeping with Mary and Martha. It may seem paradoxical that Jesus—the Son of God, the one who turned water into wine, the one who multiplied the loaves and the fishes, the one who raised Lazarus from the dead—could not avoid grief in His own life. But the prophet Isaiah foretold that Christ, the coming Messiah, would be a man who would understand grief well for, indeed, He was … “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

What Is Grief?

  • Grief is the painful emotion of sorrow caused by the loss or impending loss of anyone or anything that has deep meaning to you. “Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.” (Psalm 31:9)
  • Grief begins in your heart as a natural response to a significant, unwanted loss.
  • Grief is a God-given emotion that increases with knowledge about the sorrows of life. The wiser you are about the grief that people experience, the more you yourself will grieve. “With much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.” (Ecclesiastes 1:18)
  • In the New Testament, the Greek word lupe means “pain of body or mind. ”When Jesus told His disciples He would soon be betrayed and killed, they were filled with grief. The disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:23)

What Is Mourning?

  • Mourning is the process of working through the pain of sorrow that follows a significant loss. “Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning.” (Lamentations 5:15)
  • Mourning (also called grieving), is a normal, healthy process that lasts for a period of time. God uses mourning in order to produce the ultimate healing of deep distress and sorrow. “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)
  • Mourning evokes compassion and expressions of comfort from others. When Lazarus died, Jesus and many others came to comfort Mary and Martha. “Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother.” (John 11:19)
  • In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word abal means “to mourn or lament. ”Jacob’s favorite son was Joseph. When Joseph’s brothers told their father, Jacob, that his favored son had been killed by a ferocious animal, Jacob went into deep mourning for days … and ultimately years.
    “Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days.” (Genesis 37:34)

What Are the Stages of Healthy Grieving?

Emotional complications occur when we block the natural process of grieving. Have you ever told yourself, I need to get my act together. I’ve got to snap out of it. I should be handling this better!

These self-incriminating thoughts reveal unrealistic expectations about grieving and a failure to understand the grief process and the slow journey of restoration. While “stages” of grief do exist, they are not “stair-step” stages that you walk through in a specific order. In truth, people do not go through all the stages in a predictable fashion. People are unique in their individual grieving. Some stages may be experienced with varying degrees of intensity, some may be missed, and some stages may be repeated.

Give yourself permission to experience the inconsistent stages of grieving … trusting God to bring new life again. “Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” (Psalm 71:20)

Crisis Stage

… can last from two days to two weeks. In this stage of grief, you are mechanically going through daily activities. You will experience many of the following characteristics:

  • anxiety/fear
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • concentration limited
  • confusion
  • crying uncontrollably
  • denial
  • disturbing dreams
  • exhaustion
  • feeling trapped
  • shock/numbness
    “My eyes will flow unceasingly, without relief.” (Lamentations 3:49)

Crucible Stage

… can last up to a year or two or more, perhaps even until death if grief is not resolved. This time of sorrow will be accompanied by many of the following characteristics:

  • anger/resentment
  • anguish
  • appetite/sleep loss
  • bargaining with God
  • depression/sadness
  • guilt/false guilt
  • helplessness/lethargy
  • judgment impaired
  • loneliness/isolation
  • low self-worth
  • self-pity/victim mentality
  • intense yearning
    “My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3)

Contentment Stage

… accepts the loss, leaving it in the past. This stage not only accepts that the present offers stability, but also accepts that the future offers new and promising hope. As this time approaches, the following characteristics will become more and more apparent.

  • experiencing greater compassion toward others
  • experiencing greater acceptance of others
  • experiencing greater appreciation of others
  • experiencing greater humility before others
  • experiencing greater dependence on the Lord
  • experiencing new ability to leave the loss behind
  • experiencing new patterns for living
  • experiencing new purpose in life
  • experiencing new hope for the future
  • experiencing new contentment in all circumstances
     “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.… For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 3:13; 4:11)


If you are suffering through the stages of grief take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!  God understands your grief, He loves you and will walk this path together with you.

If you are in the Kitwe area and you would like to discuss what you are facing right now, please get in touch with me on 0976153466 or email me at  I would be happy to meet with you.

Blessings, Phil Hunt