“Necessary for Your Sake” ( Philippians 1:21-26 LEB ) by Carley Evans


Paul writes to the church at Philippi, telling them in no uncertain terms, “I’ve got it rough!” Then he says his rough times benefit the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, Paul finds himself torn between two strong desires – the better desire is to depart this life and go to Christ; the lesser is to remain behind; “to stay on in the flesh.” Unfortunately for Paul, his remaining alive “is more necessary for” the sake of the church.

That Paul is more desirous of death is obvious. He writes to the Philippians:

For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain. But if it is to live in the flesh, this is fruitful work for me, and which I will prefer I do not know. But I am hard pressed between the two options, having the desire to depart and to be with Christ, for this is very much better. But to stay on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And because I am convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that what you can be proud of may increase in Christ Jesus because of me through my return again to you.

Yet, Paul is obviously not suicidal. Once again, he puts others above himself. He is convinced that it is more necessary for him to remain alive, so he knows he will “continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith.” And so, Paul can readily say, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” without any hint of self-pity or drudgery. He does not threaten the church; he only reminds them that he remains alive for their sakes.

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“The Simple Message of the Good News” ( Galatians 2: 16-21, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Mankind is not justified before God by working hard to please Him. Paul simply says that if that were so, then Christ died in vain. Rather mankind is saved by the Work of God in His Son, Jesus Christ and by God’s Grace and Mercy.

Paul also says that if we fall into sin, that does not then make Christ the “minister of sin!” He also claims that if we strive to obey the Law, we make ourselves trespassers. Rather we “are fixed to the Cross” so as “to live to God with Christ.” The Law is nailed there on the tree, and all its power destroyed.

Paul warns “cast not away the Grace of God.”

“16 know that a man [soothly knowing for a man] is not justified of the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ; and we believe in Jesus Christ, that we be justified of the faith of Christ [that we be justified by the faith of Christ], and not of the works of the law. Wherefore of the works of the law each flesh shall not be justified.

17 And if we seek to be justified in Christ, we ourselves be found sinful men, whether Christ be minister of sin? God forbid. [That if we seeking to be justified in Christ, and we ourselves be found sinners, whether Christ is minister of sin? Far be it.]

18 And if I build again things that I have destroyed [Soothly if I build again those things that I destroyed], I make myself a trespasser.

19 For by the law I am dead to the law, [For by the law I am dead to the law, that I live to God;]

20 and I am fixed to the cross, that I live to God with Christ. And now live not I, but Christ liveth in me. But that I live now in flesh, I live in the faith of God’s Son, that loved me, and gave himself for me. [with Christ I am fixed to the cross. Forsooth I live now, not I, but Christ liveth in me. Forsooth that I live now in flesh, I live in the faith of God’s Son, which loved me, and betook himself for me.]

21 I cast not away the grace of God; for if rightwiseness be through law [for if rightwiseness is by the law], then Christ died without cause.”

“Asking the Reason” ( 1 Peter 3:15, WYC ) by Carley Evans


I wish I could say that people come up to me and ask me the reason for my “faith and hope.” I can’t. I can tell you people often comment on how happy I am – they do this because at work in the hospital as I walk between seeing patients, I sing or hum. People, as they pass, comment, “My you’re happy this morning.” And my response, most often, is: “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was singing out loud” or “I am happy, thanks.” Sometimes, if I’m not bubbling with true joy, I respond, “Might as well be happy.” I say this because for me happiness is a choice. I do choose to be happy. Life is too hard and too short not to make the very best of it. I admit I’d get a real kick if someone would actually stop and ask me why I am happy, why I have faith and hope as if that someone could see that in my demeanor. I know exactly what I’d say.

But hallow ye the Lord Christ in your hearts, and evermore be ye ready to [do] satisfaction to each man asking you reason of that faith and hope that is in you, but with mildness and dread, 

 

“A Better Thing” ( Hebrews 11: 39-40, GENEVA 1599 ) by Carley Evans


The author of Hebrews delineates the champions of faith from the time before Christ, then says that although their faith allowed them to “obtained good report;” nevertheless they “received not the promise.”

“these all through faith obtained good report, and received not the promise,

40 God providing a better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

In order to obtain perfection, these Old Covenant saints needed us. What do we have that they don’t? The author says they have faith. What are they missing that is found in us? It isn’t as if God did not forgive sins during the Old Covenant times, it’s that it required the repetitive sacrifice of bulls and goats and lambs and doves – it required a great deal of shed blood.

What we have that the OC saints did not is – of course – the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the one and only sacrifice. His sacrifice is the promise we obtained; the promise they only looked for as through a glass darkly. The OC saints yearned for a better country – perhaps we should say – a better time, a better thing.

“A Perfect Work” ( James 1: 4-6, WYC ) by Carley Evans


James Bond Island
 (Photo credit: Jo@net)

Patience, steadfastness, determination – James says “patience has a perfect work.” With patience, you may become “perfect and whole, and fail in nothing.” And, if you are not wise enough to be patient, you need only ask God for His wisdom; but when you ask, ask in faith, not doubting. Don’t be like a wave on the sea, moved about at the whim of the moon and the wind.

“patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, and fail in nothing. [soothly patience hath a perfect work, that ye be perfect and whole, in nothing failing.] And if any of you needeth wisdom, ask he of God, which giveth to all men largely [that giveth to all men largely], and upbraideth not; and it shall be given to him. But ask he in faith, and doubt nothing [nothing doubting]; for he that doubteth, is like to a wave of the sea, which is moved and borne about of the wind [the which of wind is moved and borne about].”

The great judge, Solomon speaks of fools as if they are on every street corner; and they are. We rush about, silly for pleasures, intrigued by this, then by that. We buy things to fill our voids. We ask our gods for more things when we tire of old things or exhaust the resources God gives.

Solomon cries out to his own son to flee folly and earnestly seek wisdom. Patience leads to a perfect work.

“No Pain, No Gain” ( James 1:2-3, KNOX ) by Carley Evans


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You’ve heard it before – there is a wall a distance runner hits that hurts considerably, then as that wall is breached, the pain dissipates. People who exercise every day know the adage well: “no pain, no gain.”

James reminds us that we work under a similar adage:

“Consider yourselves happy indeed, my brethren, when you encounter trials of every sort, as men who know well enough that the testing of their faith breeds endurance.”

As we live through ‘trials of every sort,’ we are asked to consider these as opportunities for growth. As a matter of fact the only difference between our trials and those of the rest of humanity is that we have faith. Our faith is strengthened as we face the tribulations which are common to all human beings.

Therefore, we may as well be happy. For our happiness is not dependent upon our circumstances, but upon the victory won by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

“Of God Having Mercy” ( Romans 9: 16, WYC ) by Carley Evans


Yes, Paul tells early Christians to run the race so as to win the prize. But the fact that we run in the race has nothing whatever to do with us. Rather, Christ’s winning of the race, yea, of the battle! puts us in the field with Him as if we are running along side Him or – more accurately – as if He is running inside our bodies. So, it is God’s mercy that puts us where we are – safety on the journey to full salvation. And who will win? Each of us whose God is merciful.

“It is not neither of man willing [Therefore it is not neither of a man willing], neither running, but of God having mercy.”