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12th November, 2007

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Simple logic, astounding conclusion

A sprinkling of yeast can wondrously convert grape juice into wine; a generous dash of reason can sometimes turn a simple-sounding statement of truth into a heart-thumping knockout of an insight. Before revealing the item of data upon which we will let logic work its magic let's provide a backdrop against which our insight's glories will be brilliantly silhouetted.

Even hermits love the company of others whom they trust and click with. Most people relish family get-togethers. Who cannot be stirred to a lather of excitement contemplating eternal life in the kingdom of God in which, assuming you are there, you will be embraced and loved by billions of glorified, perfected brothers and sisters, each one of whom will be more precious to you than the person now dearer to you than any other? (See "When the saints have marched in".) In the kingdom of God the saints will be members of one huge, harmonious family.

Against that backdrop, consider now the "simple-sounding statement" alluded to earlier:

For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (Phil. 1:21-23).

Paul had a healthy hankering to "depart" this life for the far better life in the kingdom of God. Stop and think. Paul was a man of love, one who yearned to be surrounded by his brethren, fellow disciples of Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 2:17). He prayed night and day that he could see the faces of his Thessalonian family (1 Thess. 3:10). Yet, in contemplating arriving at the end of his earthly pilgrimage, his heart was stirred by the prospect of "being with Christ". He could quite easily have said that he desired to depart and be raised with all his friends, but he didn't. What he said and what he didn't

say speaks volumes. Being with Christ was for him a more thrilling thought than being with his beloved brothers and sisters - all of them. Consider also these breathtaking verses:

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17).

Paul did not say, "And thus we shall always be with one another".

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

Paul did not say that we are well pleased to "be with one another".

What a knockout! What a shocker! Simple logic yields the conclusion that intimate contact with Jesus Christ will be more satisfying, more exciting, just plain more fun, than being around hosts of perfected, sinless "siblings". Please milk this concept of its last nourishing drop. The resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ is fully God and as such has no limitations imposed on Him; He can "be everywhere at once". You can be enjoying intimate, personal, face-to-face contact with Him at the same time every other saint is doing the same. If you had to wait in line to have your turn to spend time with Jesus, you'd have a very long wait indeed. Being "with the Lord" implies continuous personal contact. Can you imagine that? Ongoing contact with Him who was fully involved in the creation of the universe, Who worked miracles among men and Who willingly suffered the agony and humiliation of the cross. May we be uplifted beyond words to describe by imagining ourselves walking the paving stones of the temple with Him on His holy mountain in the land of promise. Oh, and yes. Doing so in the company of multitudes of brethren.


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