For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:…
I. THE APOSTLE'S CERTAINTY RESPECTING THE DISEMBODIED STATE.
1. Paul was an eminently conscientious man who would not say what he did not believe to be true, and a man of well-balanced reason, logic preponderating among his faculties.
2. Now this Paul was convinced of a future state. He did not believe in purgatory, much less that the soul sleeps until the resurrection.
3. What made this conscientious and collected man come to this conclusion? I suppose he would have replied first that he had been converted by a sight of the Lord Jesus. He was sure he had seen Him, and that He had come from somewhere and gone somewhere; and recollecting the prayer, "I will that they be with me where I am," he was quite certain that as soon as saints died they were with Christ.
4. Remember this judicious and truthful witness had other distinct evidence of the disembodied state. He had been caught up into Paradise. It was, therefore, not merely matter of belief but of observation.
5. Paul had no doubt then, nor need you. If you believe in Him there is no condemnation, and if so, no separation (Romans 8) either in this life or that which is to come.
II. THE APOSTLE'S IDEA OF THAT STATE.
1. It is a one-sided idea and almost a one-worded description: an inclusive idea, for it takes in all the heaven which the largest mind can conceive.
2. Being with Christ is so great a thing that he mentioned it alone.
(1) Because his love was so concentrated on Christ that he could think of nothing else in this connection.
(2) He was persuaded that heaven could not be heaven if Christ was not there. It would be day without the sun, existence without life, seeing without light, the heavens without their stars. Christ is heaven and heaven is Christ.
3. What is it to be with Christ?
(1) It is to be with Him — heaven is not merely what comes out of being with Him, His company itself is heaven.
(2) It is to have a clearer vision of Him than is possible now, and this vision will be ravishing.
(3) Brighter knowledge. Here we only know in part.
(4) More intimate intercourse.
(5) Unbroken fellowship.
(6) A share of His glory.
III. THE APOSTLE'S ESTIMATE OF THIS DISEMBODIED STATE. "Very far better."
1. St. Paul does not claim for this state that it is the believer's highest condition, because one half of him is left behind. The fulness of our glory is the resurrection. Yet for one half of his manhood to be with Christ is far better than for the whole of his being to be here under the best possible conditions, not merely of worldly wealth, etc. — he had got above all that — but of spiritual excellence and blessing.
2. Concerning our departed friends, then, how can we sorrow?
3. With regard to ourselves what is there to fear?
4. All this points to the fountain of bliss while we are here. The nearer we get to Christ the more we shall participate in what makes the joy of heaven.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: