The same man who was led by the Holy Spirit to write, “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalm 6:5) also wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” (Psalm 23:6)
A very well-known pastor of our day received the diagnosis of cancer while in his forties and had much difficulty dealing with the possibility of his death. Another who was in his day just as well-known and respected as a man of God went through the same ordeal, yet prayed to be healed and was. Hezekiah was granted an extra fifteen years by the Almighty, for he feared death as well.
Think now on all those pastors, elders and deacons who agreed that the best course of action was to acquiesce to the fear and thereby lock their church doors, some of them actually born-again.
I will place this verse before you and let you decide for yourself if any of these should ever preach a sermon on it.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)
“Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.” (Acts 20:23)
Yet Paul walked on.
“For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:” (2nd Cor. 1:8)
That was the man the Lord used to pen the words to die is gain, and yet there was at least one time recorded for us that he also feared death.
If each of these examples mentioned have recognized the error of that moment, if each of these men repented in dust and ashes with a contrite and broken heart for fearing that which they all know will bring them into the presence of the Most High God for all eternity, they will be forgiven that fear.
In my personal opinion, if they have not, then they have no right to ever preach a sermon on that verse from Philippians again.
It may be the last vestige of self we attempt to hold onto, it may be a minute fraction of doubt that comes with the moment of impending death. It may be the fear of the unknown, or in some cases, those who have only professed Him with their lips their entire life, the hypocrites who have deceived even themselves, it may be the fear of that which they have never admitted to themselves, they never lived for Christ in the first place, so death to them is not gain, but an eternal loss.
It is why I do not believe one single account of those who say they have died, seen heaven and then returned, for I see smiles on their faces, not tears of longing to be in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
They preach to live is Christ, yet to die is not gain to them, is not a solid truth within them, death to many brings nothing but fear, a desire to remain here.
Many excuses are offered, there are those they say that need them, that they have work for the Lord that has yet to be finished, that sadness will envelope those that love them. All of these supposed reasonings they offer does not say to die is gain, but that something here matters more than the will of God. And so, they pray to be healed and many times are, this too then would be the will of God, would it not?
It is a verse that must bear serious contemplation in your life, many will profess the words as truth, “To live is Christ,” few will accept, willingly and with great anticipation “to die is gain.”
No, they will pray to be healed for a myriad of reasons, they will offer numerous excuses for why they locked those church doors, and as time passes, they will hope you forget.
There are some things, my friends, that God does not forget.