“By Life or By Death”

Wednesday evening I’ll plan to continue our study in Philippians, beginning with Principle 4 that I’ve entitled “Eternal Values.” It comes from Paul’s testimony while imprisoned in Rome. Though he was uncertain of his future, he wrote that he wanted Christ to “be highly honored in his body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20). He then went on to record these immortal words:

For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (1:21).

When I enrolled at Moody Bible Institute many years ago now, these words were embedded in my mind, not because Paul wrote them but because of two missionaries who attended Moody Bible Institute long before me. Their names were John and Betty Stam. In 1934 they were both martyred for the cause of Christ by Chinese bandits who were angry at the government. Their death was brutal. But before they died at the hands of these evil men, John wrote these words:

My wife, baby and myself are today in the hands of Communist bandits. Whether we will be released or not no one knows. May God be glorified in our bodies, whether by life or by death.

John Stam was no doubt meditating on what Paul wrote from a Roman prison. Sadly, both John and his wife, Betty, faced death because of their faith. Thankfully, they entered heaven’s gates the moment their life ceased on earth. Miraculously, the baby’s life was saved.

This story impacted me as a young eighteen-year-old student at Moody Bible Institute. Dr. Will Houghton, then President, had penned both the words and music to a song that still touches my soul. It’s simply entitled “By Life or By Death.”

Here’s the final stanza that I’ll share tonight as we look at this “Principle to Live By” entitled “Eternal Values.”

Help me to know the value of these hours,
Help me the folly of all waste to see;
Help me to trust the Christ who bore my sorrows,
And thus to yield for life or death to Thee.
In all my days be glorified, Lord Jesus,
In all my ways guide me with Thine own eye;
Just when and as Thou wilt, use me, Lord Jesus,
And then for me ‘tis Christ to live or die.

Remember, because he lives, so can we–eternally!

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

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