Be at home with the Lord
aymon de albatrus
“we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord.” (2Co 5:8)
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this to me is fruit of my labour, and what I shall choose I do not know. For I am pressed together by the two: having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better, but to remain in the flesh is more necessary on account of you.” (Phi 1:21-24)
“And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6)
having a desire to depart and be with Christ The sense is, that Paul (like every other real Christian) would have preferred to die, leave this valley of tears and to go to heaven with his Lord, rather than to remain in a world of sin and trial.
to be at home with the Lord, The Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus constitutes the main glory of heaven, and that to be with Him is equivalent to being in a place of perfect bliss, to be with Him, the redeemer, is to be in heaven. It is clear that this also proves that the spirits of the saints, when they depart, are with the Redeemer; that is, are at once taken to heaven; demonstrating:
That the elect are not annihilated at death,
That they do not sleep, and remain in an unconscious state, as some preach, but are alive and conscious with the Lord, (Mar 12:27).
That they are not in some intermediate state; either in a state of purgatory, as the Romanist suppose, or a state where all the souls of the just and the unjust are assembled in a common abode, as some suppose, but
That the Lord’s elect will dwell WITH Christ; they will be WITH the Lord immediately after death. Abiding in His presence; partaking of His joy and His glory; sitting with Him in His throne, Rev 3:21. Our beloved Saviour confirmed this fact to the dying thief on the cross “And Jesus said to him, Truly I say to you, Today shall you be with me in paradise.” (Luk 23:43).
Nothing in this world compares with the joy of being at home with the Lord, thus we would prefer to be absent from the body; that is, to die, and to depart out of this evil world. Real believers have nothing in this world that would keep them here, (1Jo 2:15),but, like Paul, they remain because it is more necessary for the others.
having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. The desire of Paul to leave this world was from a pure, high motives, based on the strength of attachment which bound him to the Saviour, and which made him long to be with Him. The departed souls, although disembodied, still exists in a separate state; not in a state of inactivity and sleep, but of happiness and glory, enjoying the presence of God, praising Him and waiting for the resurrection of the body, at the Lord’s return. At that point both will be reunited, and then there will be no more absence, neither from the body, nor from the Lord, Amen.
We can glean the following points from this expression of Paul:
That this was the true reason why he wished to be away. It was his strong love to Christ; his anxious wish to be with Him; his firm belief that in His presence there is "fullness of joy."
Paul believed that the soul of the Christian would be immediately with the Saviour at death. It was evidently his expectation that he would at once pass to His presence, and not that he would remain in an intermediate state to some far distant period.
The soul does not sleep at death. Paul expected to be with Christ, and to be conscious of the fact, to see Him, and to partake of His glory.
The soul of the believer is made happy at death. To be with Christ is synonymous with being in heaven, for Christ is in heaven, and is its glory.
This wish to be with Christ constitutes a marked difference between a Christian and other men. Other men may be willing to die; perhaps be desirous to die, because their sorrows are so great that they feel that they cannot be borne. But the Christian desires to depart from a different motive altogether. It is to be with Christ, and this constitutes a broad line of distinction between him and other men.
A mere willingness to die, or even a desire to die, is no certain evidence of preparation for death. If this willingness or desire is caused by mere intensity of suffering; if it is produced by disgust at the world, or by disappointment; it constitutes no evidence whatever of preparation for death. Also not many persons, not professing Christians, on a death bed, are willing to die, indeed, not many wish or are ready to depart, for they are unbelievers without hope.
Which is far better. To be in Heaven would be attended with more happiness; and would be a higher, holier state than to remain on earth. This proves, also, that the soul of the Christian at death is made at once happy, for a state of being ‘asleep’ can in no way be said to be a better condition than to remain in this present world. Also, Paul did not mean to say that he was merely willing to die, or that he acquiesced in its necessity, but that the fact of being with Christ was a condition greatly to be preferred to remaining on earth. This is the true feeling of Christian piety; and, having this feeling, death to us will have no terrors, for we have an unshakeable hope in Christ the Lord. (Heb 11:1) Amen
having a desire to depart. To depart this sinful life and be with Christ is far better than to live in the flesh in this sinful world. In Heaven in the presence of the Lord, life is free from sin and sorrow, and in the utmost pleasure, enjoying communion with Jesus without interruption.
We see the Apostle Paul even though he had a very profitable and useful ministry; yet it was toilsome, laborious, dangerous and wearisome to the flesh; wherefore dying and being with Jesus could not but be desirable. This not in disrespect to the ministry the Lord gave him, but from a deep desire to be with the love of his heart, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing wrong in desiring to be with the Lord (which is far better), nevertheless, as Paul did, we will carry on this earth the good works Christ has prepared for us, to their completion (Eph 2:10).
to be with Christ. The Christian does not desire merely to depart this life, but chiefly to be with Christ, his Lord. The saints are in Christ now, chosen in Him, set upon His heart, and put into His hands, are created in Him, and believe in Him, and are in Him as branches in the vine; and He is in them, formed in their hearts and lives by faith, they are indeed one with Him.
Death with the saints is no other than a removing from one house to another. From the earthly house of their tabernacle (the body) to their Father’s house, and the mansions of glory in it, prepared for them. Death is not an annihilation of men, neither of soul nor body; it is a separation of them, but not a destruction of either; it is a dissolution of the union between them for a while, when both remain in a separate state till the resurrection.
Death to the unbelievers is a king of terrors, very formidable and terrible, and not desirable; it is an enemy for they have no hope nor knowledge and thus it is great jump in the dark for them. Not so for the Christians, for they have wonderful Jesus with His Angels waiting for them in Heaven, as Scripture attests (1Jo 5:11-14).
Christians desire death in the sense of being with the Lord, though always when right, always under submission to the will of God, that they may be rid of sin, which so much dishonours God as well as distresses themselves; and that they may be clothed upon with the shining robes of immortality and glory; as Paul expresses here.
There is another interpretation on the state of the saints at death, i.e. they will be ‘asleep’ till the Lord’s return. Well, we take the words of our Lord on the cross to the repentant robber as true and meaning what they say: “Today shall you be with me in paradise.” And Today was the day in which our Lord died physically as the robber did (almost 2000 years ago), that is sufficient for us. Nevertheless if it were indeed the case of being “asleep” it would really make no difference for the time between our death and the Lord’s return, whenever that may be, will be as suspended for us, and thus it would be to us as a “twinkling of an eye”. (support verses)
To be present with the Lord is the earnest longing of every true believer. We disciples of Jesus Christ yearn earnestly to be with the Lord for two reasons:
To be in the presence of our marvellously beautiful Lord, and
To abandon this body of sin that is dishonouring God and distresses us continually for, as Augustine said, “non posse non peccare” (I cannot not sin), alas.
For this longing our spirit cries out "ABBA, Father, a wish to be with you".