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.  Philippians 1:22-26

Adoniram Judson was a brilliant man.  He taught himself to read at 3.  At 16 he entered Brown University, and graduated at 19 years old as valedictorian.  In seminary he could not refuse a missionary appeal.  “Go ye into all the World” was a mandate he could not ignore.  So he and his wife became the first overseas missionaries from America.  He and his wife went to Burma.  They served for 6 years before having their first convert.  After 14 years there he had only a few converts.  He spent 2 years in prison and lost both his wife and daughter. Like the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1, Adoniram Judson was ready to be with the Lord.  He asked the Lord to live long enough to translate the Bible into the language of the people, and to have 100 members in his church in Burma.  God granted his request.

As Christians we feel pulled in two different directions.  We have a strong desire to leave this world and to go be with Jesus.    “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” is a verse quickly on our lips.

But then we are also pulled with a desire to remain on earth to make an eternal difference in the lives of others.  This is the dilemma that Paul was expressing in these verses.  Paul acknowledged that this choice to stay or go was not really up to him.  For Paul, to leave or to stay was a win-win situation.  Paul expressed this by saying, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Why do you live?  What does your life say?  Is it “to live is material wealth, and to die is total loss”?

We should be saying the words of Jesus from the garden.  “Nevertheless, not my will by Thine be done!”  We don’t know what God’s will is when it comes to timing, and we leave it in His hands.  This is the best place for us to be.

Notice the word “Depart” in verse 23.

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better…”  Philippians 1:23

This word “depart” was used in several different contexts during Paul’s day.

1. A soldier would use this word while taking down his tent to move on to the next station or position.

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

2. A sailor would use this word when they would loosen the ship and set sail.

When my lifework is ended and I cross the swelling tide,
When the bright and glorious morning I shall see;
I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side,
And His smile will be the first to welcome me.

I shall know Him, (I shall know Him,) I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand;
I shall know Him, (I shall know Him,) I shall know Him
By the print of the nails in His hand.

3.  Prisoners used this word when they are let go from prison.

This is how we feel in our own bodies at times, tied to a body that is degenerating.  There are many who can not do what they used to do.  In our flesh we are constantly battling temptations.

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  Galatians 5:17

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Romans 7:19

One day we won’t battle with this body or the old, adamic nature.

4.  Farmers used this word after a long day of plowing the field when he unyoked the oxen.

One day our work will be done.

And I heard  a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. Rev 14:13

No wonder Paul had a desire to depart!  To depart meant to be with Christ.  He says that to be with Christ is “far better”.  This is a double comparison in the Greek.  It’s the highest superlative one could give.

It was David Brainerd who wrote, “O! one hour with God infinitely exceeds all the pleasures and delights of this lower world”.

“For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better…” Philippians 1:23

Notice there is no in-between place. There is no purgatory.

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”    2 Corinthians 5:8

The false doctrine of purgatory is an offense to the work of Christ, and to the pages of scripture.

So, when you take your last breath on earth, where will you spend eternity?