By John Piper
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)
How is it “gain” to die?
1) Our spirits will be made perfect (Hebrews 12:22–23).
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.
There will be no more sin in us. We will be done with the inner war and the heartrending disappointments of offending the Lord who loved us and gave himself for us.
2) We will be relieved of the pain of this world (Luke 16:24–25).
The joy of the resurrection will not yet be ours, but the joy of freedom from pain will be. Jesus tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man to show the great reversal that is coming at death.
“[The rich man] called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.’”
3) We will be given profound rest in our souls (Revelation 6:9–11).
There will be a serenity beneath the eye and care of God that surpasses anything we have known here on the softest summer evening by the most peaceful lake at our most happy moments.
I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer.
4) We will experience a deep at-homeness (2 Corinthians 5:8).
Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
The whole human race is homesick for God, without knowing it. When we go home to Christ, there will be a contentment beyond any sense of security and peace we have ever known.
5) We will be with Christ (Philippians 1:21–23).
Christ is a more wonderful person than anyone on earth. He is wiser, stronger, and kinder than anyone you enjoy spending time with. He is endlessly interesting. He knows exactly what to do and what to say at every moment to make his guests as glad as they can possibly be. He overflows in love and with infinite insight into how to use that love to make his loved ones feel loved. Therefore Paul said,
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.