Greg Laurie — What Do You Live For?
Tonight, the title of our message is What Do You Live For? What do you live for, a good question. Why don't we pray?
Father, as we open Your word now, we believe it's alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. We believe that it has the answer for every question we have and even answers to questions we haven't come up with yet. We believe, Lord, if we believe these words and apply these words, it can change our lives. And most importantly, it's not just the words of the Bible, it's You living in us. That's what being a Christian is, it's Christ in us, the hope of glory. So Lord, help us to grow spiritually, help us to learn more, help us to grow in our love and our discernment as we look at Your word now. We commit this time of Bible study to you. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Again, the title of the message is, What Do You Live For? I saw an advertisement in, I believe it was a computer magazine, quite a few years ago. It's a picture of a guy shaving in the mirror. It asks this question, is it an alarm clock or a calling that gets you up in the morning? I thought, "That's a good question". They were selling some who knows what, computer item, but I thought it was a bigger question. Is it an alarm or a calling that gets you up in the morning? I mean, what makes you tick? What do you get fired up about?
Everybody is passionate about something. What do you get up for in the morning? I know it doesn't hurt if I smell coffee in the morning. Throw in some bacon and eggs and now we're talking. Come on, the smell of bacon in the morning, for you vegetarians, the smell of Brussels sprouts and kale or whatever you enjoy. But I'm talking about more than that. I'm talking about what really gets you moving in life, what gives your life purpose or a sense of meaning, raising it above the level of mere existence? Because we don't want our lives to just be some blip on the screen. We don't want to be just another statistic. We want our lives to matter.
So my question is, what is your master passion in life? If you were to sum up what you live for in one word, what would it be? Some would say, "For me to live is, you know, to just live". To live is to live. Their philosophy would be take it one day at a time. They just sort of exist, almost in an animal-like state, just kind of following impulses and desires and so forth. They just live for the moment. They live for the next paycheck. They live for the next weekend. They're just sort of existing. Paul talks about people like this. He says, "Their god is their belly," and some people's gods are bigger than other people's gods, right? But when he said belly, he didn't mean their actual stomach. He meant their appetites. In other words, their god is their appetite. They just live for satisfying the appetites that they have in life. Man, that is just a really lame way to live.
Number two, there are some that would say, "For me, to live is pleasure". Just living for pleasure, living for that experience, living for that rush, living for that buzz, living for that excitement. They might seek it through drinking. They're not happy till they get that buzz, right? For some, they're not happy until they're passed out, I suppose, because they do it every night. Or they want that drug high, or they want that adrenaline rush, or whatever it is. They live for pleasure. One person said, "Living for pleasure is one of the least pleasurable things a person can do". I think that's really true. The Bible even says, "She that lives for pleasure is dead while she's living". By the way, this is not new to our time. It's going back 2,000 years. Popular philosophers of the day were called the Epicureans. The teaching of Epicurus, their founder, was the chief purpose of life is pleasure.
So they were living for that as well. And, in fact, Caesar Nero was in power at this time. He was the Caesar or the emperor of Rome, and he himself said, "To live was to be like an unbridled beast in pleasure, passion, and partying". Man, Caesar would have fit in with everybody else today, or many people today. Maybe our modern equivalent would be what we call the Playboy philosophy. Hugh Hefner would be the patron saint. So if you wanna end up as an old guy in pajamas wearing a captain's hat, go for it. Pretty sad way to live a life, I think. Chased after pleasure his whole life. But this is the idea that cast off all restraints, no absolutes, you do whatever you wanna do. If it feels good, do it. That's what some people live for.
The Bible tells us this is a dead end street. Others might say, "You know what? I live to get even. I don't get mad, I get even". Their philosophy is not live and let live. Their philosophy is live and let die. If you get me, I'm gonna get you back. A lot of these people happen to be driving cars, I think. You know, you're at the light. The light turns green. It's not even a second. It's not a half a second. It's just a fraction of a second. They lay on the horn behind you, they tail gate you the whole time, cut you off, these kind of aggravated people that are basically always in a perpetual bad mood. They're always at war with someone. They always have their nemesis. They always like to be in a fight. They love to be in a conflict. There are people like this that live for these things.
Another might say, "Well, man, I live for possessions. It's to get stuff. And then when I get that stuff, I wanna get more stuff. And then when I get that other stuff, I need to get rid of this old stuff so I can make room for new stuff". And they're just always collecting items and objects and it's always that next shiny thing. It might be a shiny car or a shiny ring or a shiny computer or whatever it is they're chasing after, but it's a object or a thing. Their philosophy would be, "He that dies with the most toys wins". I would just add a dot, dot, dot. He that dies with the most toys wins, dot, dot, dot, nothing, because Jesus says, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul"? As I've often said, you've seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer. You're gonna leave everything here on this side, in this life.
Solomon, who lived many years ago, was a man known for his wisdom and also had incredible possessions. He said this in Ecclesiastes 2:4. "I tried to find meaning in my life by building huge homes for myself and planting beautiful vineyards and I made gardens and parks and I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of kings and provinces. I heard wonderful singers, men and women, and had beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire. Anything I want, I took, and I did not restrain myself from any pleasure". And he says, "And one day I looked at all the things that I had accomplished and all that I had acquired, and it was all meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing," Solomon concludes, "really worthwhile anywhere".
Others might appear more noble and say, "I live to acquire knowledge. I wanna learn. I want to discover new truth". And that's actually a pretty good thing. It's a lot better than just living for pleasure or living to get even. But if in your pursuit of knowledge you leave God out of the equation, you're just gonna end up as a well-educated fool. And I look at a lot of the universities today and I'm not so sure people are getting an education or if they're getting an indoctrination, you know? And usually in a worldview that's contrary to scripture. You look at a lot of these colleges and you have these safe spaces where you won't have any conflict or disagreement. It's pretty amazing to me. But this is not new to our time either. A philosopher of that day, during Paul's day, was Seneca. He said, "The purpose of life is to enjoy oneself in the realm of ideas, to think, to learn, to master the laws of nature, then make the mind the master of men". But again, if you forget God in your pursuit of knowledge, you will have learned nothing.
Solomon also went after the pursuit of knowledge. He was known at one point as the wisest man who ever lived. He said, "To increase knowledge only increases sorrow". That's in Ecclesiastes 1:16. But students, don't go home and quote that verse to your parents when they tell you to do your homework. Mom, the Bible says to increase knowledge only increases sorrow. Shut up and do your homework, okay? That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about pursuing knowledge without God. So what are you driven by? What do you dream about? What are you passionate about? I think some people are just enduring. They're just waiting for the next thing. Their favorite day of the week is someday. Someday their ship will come in. Someday their prince will come. Someday they'll get that promotion. Someday they'll build that dream house. Or someday they'll retire.
I read a stat that said, 94% of people who responded to a survey, he said, "They were enduring the present while waiting for something better to happen". But the problem is life passes by so quickly, and before you know it, a good deal of your life may be behind you instead of before you, and you'll find that you've been living for nothing. So we need to think about this, because then the afterlife comes. So listen to this. Only those who are prepared to die are really ready to live. Let me say that again. Only those who are prepared to die are really ready to live. Now, I've talked about what people live for. Let me tell you what the apostle Paul lived for. Philippians 1:21, "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain". Oh, I love that. "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain".
Now, we're gonna explore that a little bit more. Let's just do a little backdrop on what we're looking at here. We're looking at the book of Philippians. And the theme that keeps bubbling up through this great epistle is happiness and joy. In fact, this is probably the most buoyant, happy letter that Paul ever wrote, not that there is not happiness and joy in other epistles he wrote, but it just seems like there's a lot in this one in particular. At least 19 times in these four chapters of Philippians Paul mentions joy, rejoicing, or gladness. But yet, circumstantially, he really had nothing to rejoice about. If we read that Paul wrote this book kicking back in the Mediterranean enjoying life, we'd say, "Well, yeah, I get it". But he actually wrote this under house arrest.
This wasn't as bad as some of his imprisonment where he might have been in a dungeon, but this is where he was chained to a Roman guard and he was under the control, at this point, of Caesar Nero, and his case was waiting to go to court. Paul had no idea what was about to happen. He might be acquitted. He might be beheaded. But all he knew was he was a prisoner. He could not walk about freely as he wanted to. If that wasn't bad enough, some of the believers in the Church were against him. Some were even spreading lies about this great apostle. But he knew God was in control. Here's what he wrote, Philippians one. We're gonna start in verse 12 and we'll read down to verse 16. I just put a drop in my eye, in case you saw. I wear a contact lens in my right eye. These are my drops. I'm a drop-aholic. The moment I stop speaking I rip the contact out of my eye 'cause I can't stand contact lenses. Just wanted to share that.
Alright. Roman, or Philippians 1 verse 12. Romans, where did that come from? "I want you to know, brothers, that the things that happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel, so it has become evident to the whole palace guard and to all the rest that my chains are in Christ. And most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident in my chains, are more bold to speak the word without fear. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and strife. Some also from good will. The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains, but the later route of love, knowing that I'm appointed for the defense of the Gospel, what then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached, and in this, would I rejoice? Yes, I will rejoice". So here's Paul, chained to a Roman guard, writing these words.
Can you imagine being one of those guards? I'm sure they didn't like that job at first. Oh, no, I have to be chained to the stinking preacher. All he does is talk about God. This is insane. But guard by guard, they were coming to Christ, and then they were probably standing in line as to who would be the next guy to get to be chained to the apostle Paul for that particular period of time, because Paul writes in verse 13, "It's become evident to the whole palace guard". Now, who are the palace guard? These most likely are the Praetorian Guard. The Praetorian Guard were the cream of the crop of the Roman military. They were 10,000 hand-picked soldiers. They were initially established by Caesar Augustus who, by the way, was the Caesar that gave the decree that all the world should be taxed, causing Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem. But the Praetorian Guard, they were very powerful people. In fact, they were king makers. Sometimes they would play a key role in deciding who the next Caesar would be. These were the ones who were chained to the apostle Paul, and that brings me to point number one. When you live for Christ, you will accept God's will for your life. When you live for Christ, which we all should be doing, you will accept God's will for your life.
See, Paul went to Rome to preach, but he ended up under house arrest. How is that a good idea? He was reaching an elite group of people that would have not been reached otherwise, so Paul understood God had His hand in it. Look at verse 12. "The things that happened to me have turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel". Did it ever occur to you that you are where you are because God wants you there right now? Maybe in effect you're chained to someone. By that I mean maybe you're chained to a nonbeliever. Maybe it's a nonbelieving husband or a nonbelieving wife or kids that don't believe what you believe, or parents that don't believe what you believe, or a argumentative coworker that you sit next to in your office space, or some guy on your construction site that's always giving you a hard time and you're thinking, "Why do I have to be here with this person"? Did it ever occur to you that God wants you there to reach that person? You know, sometimes the people that argue the most are actually closer to coming to the Lord than those that say nothing?
I think a lot of times we think of someone as pleasant and nice and we share the Gospel, we think that's a good thing, and then when someone's argumentative that's a bad thing. But sometimes it's the very opposite, because it's been said when you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that barks the loudest is the one that got hit. Try it after church, find some dogs, throw a rock. No, don't do it. Find a pack of cats, but, see, you never find a pack of cats. They're very independent creatures. But the idea is the dog that barks the loudest is the one that got hit. So when you share the Gospel with someone and one objects and they protest and they scream and they yell, it might be because they're under the conviction of the Holy Spirit and God's working on their heart, so don't be discouraged. Be encouraged.
So Paul is reaching the Praetorian Guard, really quite significant. God has put you where you are for His purposes. And he says, in verse 14, "Most of the brethren in the Lord have become confident by my chains and are more bold to speak the word without fear". You see, examples of evangelism spark others to be more evangelistic. So they're saying, "Wow, Paul's chained up under house arrest and is willing to share the Gospel with the Praetorian Guard. Certainly we, who have freedom right now, mobility, we should be doing the same". You know, if you've ever been around an evangelistic Christian, it can be quite contagious. There are some people, man, they're just always finding opportunities to share their faith. And you think, "How do they do that"? They're just tuned in, I think. Tuned in to the Lord, tuned in to opportunities, looking for opportunities, even. And you get around a person like that and you think, "Well, I think I can do that". Yes, you can, as a matter of fact.
So Paul's example was inspiring other believers as well. Number two, when you live for Christ, as we all should, you'll be a person of prayer. Again, when you live for Christ, you'll be a person of prayer. Have you ever wondered what to pray for when you pray for fellow believers? Paul actually gives us an answer here. Look at Philippians one verse nine. "And this I pray," he's saying to the church of Philippi, "That your love may abound to more and more in knowledge and all discernment, and that you may approve the things that are excellent, and that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God". Interesting. So Paul's praying that they would grow in both love and discernment. Love and discernment.
You know, sometimes it seems to me as though the two are mutually exclusive. In other words, some people seem to be very discerning but not very loving, and some can be very loving and not very discerning. In other words, there are people that say, "I have a discernment ministry," which is another way of saying they like to argue and be obnoxious. And you know, I just think you're off a little theologically, brother, and they're always challenging everything. I get this sometimes because of my work that I do in evangelism, and I go to different places and speak and come into contact with different people, and so maybe I'm at a conference and there's another speaker I would not agree with on every point theologically, and someone says, "Greg endorses everything that that person says". Well, that's not true. How do you know what I say to that person behind closed doors?
I say a lot of things to a lot of people, but I don't talk about it publicly, because my conversations with people are private. But I try to influence people I come into contact with in every way that I can to help them be closer to the Lord and do what He's called him to do. I don't always do a good job of it, but at least I try. But sometimes it's guilt by association. You talk to that person, therefore you endorse everything they say. No, not necessarily. But I've found some of these people, they're just downright mean. It's like, "Where's the love, man"? They don't even check out the facts. They just jump to conclusions.
As J. Vernon McGee used to say, "The only exercise some Christians get is running down others and jumping to conclusions". I mean, that's true. Some people are discerning but they're not loving. And I would even question if they're really discerning. Others are loving but they're not discerning, and by that I mean they just accept everything and everyone. It's all good, man. We all love the Lord. Whatever they believe, it doesn't matter. Well, actually, it does matter. There is a place for discernment. But look at Paul says here in verse one, or actually, verse nine, that they would grow in love. "This I pray, that your love will grow still more". Love is a mark of a true Christian. Don't say to me, "I love Jesus but I don't love the Church". You can't love Jesus and not love the Church. You can't love God, who you can't see, if you're not willing to love your brother or sister who you can see. And so a mark of real faith, of real love, is that you'll love your Christian brothers and sisters. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know you are my disciples," what? If you have what one for another? Love one for another.
So we should be loving. The Bible tells us in Romans 5:5, "The love of God is poured out in our heart". So the love's there. So you don't even need to pray. "Lord, I don't have any love". You have some love. Paul saying, "I pray your love will grow". And you know how your love will grow? Just start doing loving things. Don't wait for the emotion. Just take that little step and that benevolent gesture, the kind word, the word of encouragement. Paul says, "I pray that you grow in love," but he also says, "I pray that you will grow in knowledge". And the way that we grow in knowledge is through the study of scripture. That's why we're here tonight, to study the word of God. This is called a Bible study and a worship service. I love Bible studies, don't you? Where we can just open up the word of God and look at what it says and see how it applies in our lives, and it concerns me that some believers are in their knowledge of scripture like brand new Christians, still.
People that have known the Lord for 10, 20, 30 years, that don't even know the basic Bible doctrines, and thus they get misled. That is why Paul also says, "You need to grow in spiritual discernment". Verse 10 he says, "That you may approve the things that are excellent". The word approve means to analyze and examine. Think carefully, think Biblically, think analytically. Take all things and compare them to what the scripture says. So we need to be praying these things for others, and we need to be praying that God will do these things in our life as well. Now Paul tells us how living for Christ affects us in this and the afterlife.
Look at verse 21, Philippians one still. "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, that will mean fruit for my labor. Yet what I shall choose, I cannot tell, for I am hard pressed between the two. Having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you, and being confident of this I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again". Look again at verse 21, "For me to live is Christ". Now, when we hear someone say, "For me to live is Christ," we wonder, are these people in touch with reality, really? To live is Christ? What does it even mean? Some will say, "Some are so heavenly-minded they're no earthly good".
My counterpoint to that is, some are so earthly-minded they're no heavenly good. I think when you're really heavenly minded, when you're really living for Christ, you will be of the greatest earthly good. C.S. Lewis said, quote, "The Christians who did the most with the present world were precisely those who thought most about the next world," end quote. I think that's true. I mean, you think about the great hospitals and the great universities and other things that have been done historically in our country. In almost every case, at least in their original state, they were started by followers of Jesus Christ. And you look at the great relief organizations in the world today, they're Christian organizations. Christians are always on the front line, wherever people are suffering. It doesn't matter if they believe or if they don't believe. It doesn't matter if they're Christian or if they're Muslims or if they're Buddhists. If there's a tragedy, if there's a calamity, Christians give, Christians help, Christians are always doing these things.
When's the last time you heard of an atheist relief organization? Heathen purse, there's no such thing. But there's Samaritan's Purse, isn't there? Nonbelievers vision, no, I've never heard of them, but I've heard of World Vision. Because they don't care for the most part. There might be some out there, there might be some exception, but by and large it's believers out there doing this work. You see, real spirituality is practical. And Paul was a balanced Christian. And the most Godly men and women I've had the privilege of meeting over the past 40 plus years have always been very down-to-earth, not holier-than-thou kind of people looking down on you, but very genuine people, often fun-loving people, people with a self-deprecating sense of humor, not that spacey, wide-eyed, one clown short of a circus look.
You know what I'm talking about? Heavenly-minded people are gracious. They're approachable, they're accessible. And religious people are just weird. I so don't wanna be a religious person. They get this religious vibe and they talk religiously and they look at you weird religiously. It's like, just stop. Here's my suggestion. They were always weird to start with, okay? Their faith in Christ did not make them weird. They were weird, and now they just talk about Jesus and they're still weird. Maybe they're saved weird, I don't know, but they're weird, okay? It's all I know. Your faith in Christ will not make you that person. If you have faith in Christ and know what it means to live for Christ, you'll have your feet on the ground but your heart and your thoughts will be in heaven.
I think Paul is an example of this in so many ways. There's no greater example of this than Jesus Himself. Jesus was a practical man. He was God in human form walking among us, but Jesus lived a real life on planet Earth. He was a real, living human being, but He was God walking among us. So Paul is saying, "To live is Christ". That was pretty much not just Paul's motto, but I think the motto of pretty much everyone in the early Church. If you look at the Church of the first century, they changed the world. They changed the world. They turned the world upside down, and imagine it. They did it without media. Thomas didn't have a Twitter account. Peter didn't have an Instagram page. Paul didn't have a Facebook page, but they had a lot of followers and a lot of friends, and they changed the world that was there at the time, the world that was under the rule of Rome.
It's amazing to think about how they did it. The first Christians did not out-argue the pagans. They outlived them. They didn't conquer paganism and dead Judaism by reacting blow-by-blow. Instead the Christians of the first century out fought, out prayed, and out lived the nonbelievers. Their weapons were positive, not negative. They didn't stage protests and they didn't hold boycotts. Have you ever noticed that? They didn't have a campaign to unseat the emperor. They would have died if they did that. Instead, they prayed and preached and proclaimed the message of the death of Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, and they backed up that message with actions to match, and they changed the planet. They were out there loving and giving and healing and doing all the things God called them to do.
So the slogan of the first century Church, the Church that changed the world, was, to live is Christ and to die is gain. What would the slogan of the 21st-century Church be? What about my needs, man? Something like that maybe? I go church shopping and I'm gonna try to find a church that meets all of my needs, or maybe I go to multiple churches. Listen, if we train people to be consumers instead of communers, we'll end up with customers instead of disciples. Let me say that again. If we train people to be consumers instead of communers, we'll end up with customers instead of disciples. So this is the church that changed the world, and I pray that we can be the church that changes our world as well. Paul lived for Christ, but he was human. He was not perfect. Did you know the apostle Paul was not perfect? He'd get irritated at times. When he was being mistreated by the high priest's servant, and actually a guy struck him, he shot back us. "Might you, you whitewashed wall". Guy was like, "What'd you say"? "I didn't know you were the high priest servant, whatever". He got ticked off.
Who likes to get hit in the face? Not the apostle Paul. When it was revealed to Paul that there were some guys that wanted to kill him, Paul didn't walk out in the town square and say, "Here I am, kill me". No, he was lowered over the side of the wall in a basket. Why? Because Paul wanted to live to see tomorrow. A Christian doesn't have a death wish. We don't walk around saying, "Man, I hope I die today". But here's what we do say, "To live is Christ and to die is gain". I wanna live today, and I wanna live tomorrow. I wanna live as many days as God has given me to live. And when that day comes when I'm called to heaven, then that day will come, but I'm gonna do everything I can to live in this day. So Paul was a practical guy and he cared about the church.
Look at verse 23. "I'm hard pressed between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, but it's important for me to remain in the flesh for you". He wanted to help them, but notice what he says. He says, "Having the desire to depart with Christ, which is far better". Listen to this. Death for a Christian is something that's going to happen, as it will happen for every person. But Paul understood that when death came, and it did come for him, it was a conscious existence, not an unconscious oblivion. It was to be with Christ. For me to live is Christ, for me to die is gain. In other words, he was not gonna just go into a grave. It was a continuation of life, not the conclusion of life, and that life ahead was a greater and better life.
Death, for the believer, is a promotion. Death, for the believer, is a graduation. Death, for the believer, is a coronation, bringing me to point number three. When you live for Christ, you're not afraid to die. When you live for Christ, you're not afraid to die. Again, only the person who has said, "To live is Christ," can then say, "To die is gain". It's interesting the word that Paul uses here for departing. When he says, "I have a desire to depart and be with Christ," it's translated multiple ways. One way it's translated is to strike the tent. It was a term used to describe what soldiers did that set up camp, and then when it was time to leave they would strike the tent. Sort of like when you go camping, of course, camping's a lot more sophisticated now than it used to be.
Some might use tents, but some have motor homes, and a motor home is, some of these motor homes are incredible. They have big flat screen TVs on the outside, you know. They have everything that you have in a regular home, and they just go park it and do that thing and they say they're camping. I don't know if it's really camping. But maybe you'll set up a fire and then it's time to leave and you'll extinguish the fire and you move on to your next campsite. But for me, I'm not a huge camper. I've never loved camping that much. It's sort of like camping, to me, is very similar to going to the beach. My favorite part of camping is getting there and then the next favorite part is leaving, you know? Truly exciting, oh, we're camping. And then it gets cold and I wanna go home. I want a hot shower and I want clean clothes, you know? Or going to the beach, the best part of going to the beach is when you arrive. Oh, it's a beach, and the sun is out, and the waves are looking good. It's fantastic and nobody's here and I just love the beach. An hour later you're sweating.
Somebody comes and puts their towel right next to you, when there's miles around, they're right next to you. And they crank up their radio, really obnoxious music, seagulls start invading, taking things, taking your lunch, flying off with your children. You say, "I wanna go". So Paul says, "You know what? I'm gonna break camp. I'm gonna strike the tent". That's the word he uses here for depart. It's interesting, because the Bible does compare the human body to a tent. See, your soul will live forever. And your body will one day be resurrected into a perfected state. But when a believer dies, their body, the body we live in now, goes into the ground, but then it's ultimately resurrected, but the soul goes immediately into the presence of God. But it's interesting that the Bible does call our body a tent.
In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:1 says, "We know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down, that is, when we die and leave these bodies, we'll have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God Himself". Now look, you can do all that you want with this tent you live in. You can stretch it and we can paint it and you can do other things to try to make it look younger, but it is what it is, okay? And it's not meant to be a permanent dwelling place. It's temporary. So that is the very picture used in scripture. Another word, or another way the word departure is translated is being released from shackles. Now, when Paul wrote this, he was in shackles. He was chained to a Roman guard, so it's like being released from those shackles. Number three, the word is also used to describe untying a boat from its moorings. Untying a boat from its moorings.
So Paul is saying, "Hey, I'm ready to set sail". You know, when a loved one leaves us, especially if it's unexpectedly, there's great sadness, and sometimes we feel sorry for them. We may have a fun experience, a great meal, a family reunion, whatever it is. We'll say, "Oh, I just wish my loved one was with me right now seeing this right now. I wish they could be here. They'd love it so much". You ever wonder and think if your loved one is in heaven thinking, "Man, I wish they could be up here with me right now seeing what I'm seeing"? I guarantee no one who has gone to heaven would ever wanna come back to Earth again, if given the choice, because heaven is so much better. I'll touch on that in just a moment, but untying a boat from its moorings, that is the picture that he used, bringing me to point number four. When you live through Christ, one day you will be with Him in heaven. When you live for Christ, one day you'll be with him in heaven.
Look at verse 23. "I want to depart and be with Christ, which is far better," and by the way that's a strong superlative form that Paul uses, which means far, far, far better. Much, much, better. We're gonna put it in local speak in Hawaii, mo betta, bra. It's mo betta, bra. It's way, way better than what you have here. We wanna go to heaven. We just don't wanna die to get there, right? You heard about an old man who was asked what he wanted said at his funeral. Thought about it for a moment and said, "I wish they would say, look, he's moving, as in, you're still alive, right"? What do you want said at your funeral? Why is heaven better than Earth? It's better because I'm moving from a tent to a mansion. I'm moving from a tent to a mansion. How many of you remember the TV show The Beverly Hillbillies? We're all very old. Many of you don't.
How many of you remember it, raise your hand again, let's see. Okay, a lot more of you. How many of you have no idea who I mean when I say The Beverly Hillbillies? Raise your hand. Okay, this was a show on a long time ago. It's a story of Jed Clampett and his family and they discover oil and so they move to Beverly Hills. Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed, poor mountaineer barely kept his family fed. Then one day when he was looking for some food out from the ground came a bubbling crude. Black gold, that is, Texas tea. The next thing you know, old Jed's a millionaire. The kinfolk say, "Jed, move away from there". They say, "California's the place you oughta be". So they loaded up and the truck and they move to Beverly, Hills, that is. Swimming pools, movie stars.
So those are the lyrics. I don't ever remember consciously memorizing them, but clearly I know them. I know other weird lyrics too, but I won't go into all those. I like that. He loaded up the truck and he moved to Beverly. That's what we'll do. We'll leave our broken-down shack for a mansion far better than even Beverly Hills. Heaven's better because it's immediate. Heaven's better because it's immediate. Verse 23, "I'll depart and be with Christ". That's very important, because often people ask us, what happens when we die? You go straight to heaven. Simple answer. The moment you take your last breath on Earth you take your first breath in heaven. You don't go to a holding tank. He did not say, "I'll depart and just kinda hang out for a few hundred years. I'll depart and go to Purgatory or I'll depart and go to a soul sleep". No, "I'll depart and be with Christ". You go right into the presence of Jesus Christ.
Many verses affirm this, 2 Corinthians 5:8 says, "We are confident, and I say, we're rather willing to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord". Thirdly, heaven is better than Earth because all my questions will be answered. All my questions will be answered. We all have questions in life. I heard about a mother who had some questions. She invited a bunch of people over to her house for dinner, far too many. It was a lot more work than she thought it would be. Everyone was seated at the table, so she asked her little six-year-old daughter if she would say the blessing. The little girl said, "Mommy, I don't know what to say". She said, "Just say what you hear Mommy say". So the little girl bowed her head and said, "Lord, why on Earth did I invite all these people here today"? She heard Mommy say that. I'm sure we have more profound questions than that for God. God, where were You on this day? God, why did You let this happen? God, why didn't You let that happen? I have questions for God, we all do.
I really wonder if when I get to heaven I'll have my list. Lord, it's good to be here, but I have this list. I kind of think once I see Him I'll just say, "Nevermind. It's all good, very good". But we'll know all things in that day. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says, "Right now we see imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we'll see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now as partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God knows me now".
I believe that when I get to heaven I'll spend all eternity learning and learning. I don't think it's like God dumps all this knowledge into my brain. I'd be like some weird bobble head, just huge head, little body walking around, no. I think you're learning and learning and growing and discovering all through heaven and then ultimately when heaven comes down to Earth again. This is the hope of the Christian, and only the Christian. And lastly, heaven is better because I'll be with Christ. Be with Christ. I'll be with Him. Yes, you'll be reunited with loved ones that have preceded you. Yes, all of your questions will be answered. Yes, you'll trade in your tent for a mansion. Yes, it'll be so much better on every level, but yes, you will be with Christ, and that's what makes heaven heaven.
So wrapping this up, what do you live for? If you say, "For me to live is money," then for you one day to die is to leave it all behind. If you say, "For me to live is fame," then one day for you to die is going to be that you'll be forgotten. If you say, "To me, to live is power," then I'm telling you, one day, to die will be for you to lose it all. But if you say, "To live is Christ," then you can also say, "To die is gain". What do you live for? You live for something. You live for something. It gets you up in the morning, it fires you up. But that something, or that someone that you live for, will they be able to save you in the final days? When you live for Christ, it's win-win. It's win-win. Why? Because you have heaven, guaranteed, absolute heaven. But this life on Earth is life lived to its fullest. The Christian life is the best life.
Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and them more abundantly". So he wants to give you a happy, fulfilled, joyful, purposeful, meaningful life on planet Earth. And then the absolute assurance that there's an afterlife for you in His presence in heaven. If you've not believed in Jesus, this is not promised to you. Heaven is not the default destination of every human being. The only way you can know you're going to heaven is to get you reservation. If I wanted to go fly to Tahiti, I can't just go down to LAX and board a plane going to Tahiti and take some seat, and expect to get there. I can expect to be arrested. Because I have to buy a ticket, and then I have to wait to board, and then I have to take my seat and all that.
And so in the same way, if you want to go to heaven, you need to get a ticket. But you don't buy it with your own money. And you don't buy it with your good works. God bought you the ticket already, 2000 years ago when Jesus died for your sin. He'll give you the ticket, but you have to ask for it. It's a gift. The bible says, "For as many as received Him, He gave them the power to becomes sons of God". It's just like if I were to offer someone here this Bible. Here, I want you to have this. If you want this Bible, you have to reach out and take it, and hopefully say thank you. God said, "Look, I want to give you eternal life, it's here, I paid for it, you can't earn it, but I'll give it to you". So you reach out and say, "I'd like that Lord, thank you very much". And Jesus will forgive you for all of your sin, and give you the hope and the assurance that you'll go to heaven when you die, if you'll believe in him.
You say, "Well how do you do that"? Through prayer. That's why I'm going to close now with a simple prayer. I'm going to extend an invitation to any of you that have joined us who may not have this relationship with Jesus yet. You've been living for other things, and it's been a dead-end street, hasn't it? Living for that pleasure, living for that possession. Living for that accomplishment, it hasn't delivered, has it? News flash, it never will, but God will. Do everything He promised for you, but you must believe in Him. So we're gonna pray. If you've never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life, why don't you do it right now? Let's all bow our heads.
Father, thank you for loving us so much that you sent Jesus to die on the cross in our place. Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross and taking the judgment of Your Father upon Yourself that should have come on us for our sins. But then You rose again from the dead three days later and now You stand at the door of every human heart and You knock, and You say to us, if we'll hear Your voice and open the door You'll come in. I pray for any that are here, any that are listening, that do not yet know You. Help them to come to You and believe now, we pray.
Now all our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, and we're praying. Maybe You would like Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sin. Maybe you would like to know with certainty that you'll go to heaven when you die. Maybe you would like to ask Christ to come into your life right now. If that's true, if that's what you want, if you want Jesus to forgive you of your sin, if you wanna know you'll go to heaven when you die, if you want all of your guilt taken away, would you raise your hand up right now, wherever you are, and I'll pray for you right now. Just raise your hand up, wherever you are. God bless you, God bless you, God bless you. Raise your hand up high where I can see it please. You want Christ to come into your life today, let me pray for you. God bless you there in the back.
Anybody else? Raise your hand now, saying, "I want Jesus Christ right here, right now, I want a relationship with God". God bless you, and God bless you over here on the side and there in the back, two of you back there. Anybody else? If you haven't raised your hand yet, lift it now. Let me pray for you. Listen, this is a decision only you can make. Someone else can't make it for you. You need to say, "Jesus, I need you and I want you". And Jesus will say yes to you. He will forgive you. He'll not turn you away, but you must come to Him, no matter what you've done. God bless you. Anybody else? Raise your hand up now, let me pray for you. God bless. Anybody else in this last moment, let me pray for you. God bless you.
Father, thank you now for each one of these and I pray You'll give them the strength to stand up and follow you. We commit them to You now, in Jesus' name we pray, amen.