Tag Archives: Philippians 1:21

“Choose life” by Jonathan Edwards

“What a vast difference is there between the death of a child of the devil and a child of God! The one leaves all his troubles and afflictions behind him, never to feel them more; the other, he leaves all his pleasures behind him, all the pleasure that ever he will enjoy while God endures.

The one leaves all his temptations forever, but the other instead of that falls into the hands of the tempter, not to be tempted but to be tormented by him. The one is perfectly delivered from all remainders of corruption; the other, he carries all that vast load of sin, made up of original sin, natural corruption, and actual sins, into hell with him, and there the guilt of them breaks forth in the conscience and burns and scorches him as flames of hell within.

The filthiness of sin will then appear and be laid open before the world to his eternal shame. Death to the true Christian is an entrance into eternal pleasures and unspeakable joys, but the death of a sinner is his entrance into never-ending miseries. This world is all the hell that ever a true Christian is to endure, and it is all the heaven that unbelievers shall ever enjoy.

‘Tis a heaven in comparison of the misery of the one, and a hell in comparison of the happiness of the other. The sinner, when he dies, he leaves all his riches and possessions: there is no more money for him to have the pleasure of fingering; there is no more gay apparel for him to be arrayed in, nor proud palace to live in. But the Christian, when he dies, he obtains all his riches, even infinite spiritual, heavenly riches.

At death, the sinner leaves all his honor and enters into eternal disgrace; but the Christian is then invested with his. The one leaves all his friends forever more: when he sees them again at the resurrection, it will be either glorifying God in his justice in damning him, or else like furies ready to tear him.

But the other, he goes to his best friends and will again meet his best earthly friends at the resurrection in glory, full of mutual joy and love. The death of a believer is in order to a more glorious resurrection, but the death of a sinner is but only a faint shadow and preludium of the eternal death the body is to die at the great day and forever more.

So great is the difference between the death of the one and the other, ’tis even as the difference between life and death, between death and a resurrection. Wherefore, now you have both before you—the glorious gainfulness of the death of a Christian, and the dreadfulness of the death of a sinner—or rather you have life and death set before you, to make your choice: therefore, choose life.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Dying to Gain” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10: Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723 (The Works of Jonathan Edwards Series) Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 588-589. Edwards was 19 years old when he preached this sermon.

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“The gain of a Christian’s death” by Jonathan Edwards

“By death the true believer is brought to the possession of all those heavenly riches, honors, and glorious pleasures that were laid up by Christ for him. Being thus made gloriously beautiful, with perfect holiness, he is embraced in the arms of his glorified Redeemer and he is conducted to the infinite treasure that was laid up for him.

He has his crown of glory placed on his head and he is led to the rivers of pleasure that flow at God’s right hand. He is set down at the eternal banquet of heaven and he is eternally entertained in the heavenly music of God’s praises that are sung by choirs of angels above, resting forever in the arms of a glorious Christ, forever delighted in his sweet embraces.

‘Tis this, and no less than this, that death brings the true Christian to: this is the gain of dying, this is instead of those worthless, miserable, wretched, dull, earthly vanities which he left behind. No less than this is the gain of a Christian’s death.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Dying to Gain” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10: Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723 (The Works of Jonathan Edwards Series) Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 586-587. Edwards was 19 years old when he preached this sermon.

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“The foremost reality and passion of Paul’s life” by Gordon Fee

“Anyone who reads even a smattering of Paul’s writings recognizes early on that his devotion to Christ was the foremost reality and passion of his life. What he said in one of his later letters serves as a kind of motto for his entire Christian life: ‘For me to live is Christ; to die is [to] gain [Christ]’ (Phil 1:21). Christ is the beginning and goal of everything for Paul and thus is the single great reality along the way.”

–Gordon D. Fee, Pauline Christology: An Exegetical-Theological Study (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007), 1.

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