(1) To be alive for the Rapture, which is to be expected in our generation, according to the signs of the times. This was Paul's blessed hope (1Corinthians 15:51; 1Thessalonians 4:15). How wonderful it would be not to suffer death but to be changed in the twinkling of an eye and then see the Lord!
(2) Long-Life is God’s general will for us (Psalm 91:16). Although there is an important exception to this rule (See Appendix 1: What about Martyrdom?), long-life is God’s general will for believers, as we have seen through all the promises (see Appendix 2, where they are given in order). Therefore if we seek to fulfil God’s will and best for our life, we need to believe and pray for His will to be done in our life, which includes long-life. As we trust God for His life to sustain us in health, soundness and strength through a long-life we glorify God, and are a witness to His loving care.
In Exodus 23:25,26, God reveals His will for us: "You shall serve the Lord your God, and He will BLESS your bread and water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you, and the (full) number of your days I will fulfil." His will is to BLESS and His blessing is health and long-life.
1Peter 3:9,10: "You are called to inherit a BLESSING. What blessing are we called to inherit? If you read on, you will see it is the blessing of a long and good life: For he who desires life, and loves to see many good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil."
God gives US the CHOICE of LIFE or DEATH, BLESSING or CURSING, and He wants us to CHOOSE LIFE:
Deuteronomy 30:19,20: “I have set before you:
LIFE and DEATH, BLESSING and CURSING;(notice BLESSING = LIFE, and CURSE = DEATH) therefore (you) CHOOSE (the blessing of) LIFE, that both you and your descendants may LIVE (long);(God makes it clear that His will for us is LIFE not DEATH) that you may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him, for He is your LIFE and the LENGTH of your days (the blessing of LIFE clearly includes long-life).”
The BLESSING (life) and the CURSE (death) are 2 opposites. The blessing of God includes healing and long-life. The curse includes sickness and early death (Deuteronomy 28). Therefore God’s will for us is the blessing of healing and long-life, and He proved it supremely by sending Jesus to die for us to set us free from the curse (of sickness and early death) and release us into His blessing of health and long-life:
Galatians 3:13,14: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse having become a curse FOR US (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree), that the BLESSING of Abraham might come upon us in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
Sickness and early death is part of the curse (Deuteronomy 28). But according to Galatians 3:13, Christ has redeemed us from this curse, therefore He has redeemed me from sickness and early death, so that we can have the promised blessing of healing and long-life. Therefore His will for us is long-life.
If Jesus died for us to set us free from the curse of sickness and early death, and release us into His blessing of long-life, then the best way to honour His sacrifice is to receive all that He has done for us, including the blessing of long-life. If we reject His provision of healing and long-life, we are rejecting His will for us, and we are dishonouring His sacrifice for us.
He bore the curse for us, therefore it has no right or authority over us, and by faith we can walk free from it. We believe the Word, and as we believe it and speak it and act on it (as if it were true), it will come to pass in our life.
Declare: “Christ has redeemed me from the curse of sickness and early death. I have been set free from the curse. I have been redeemed from the curse for Jesus took the curse for me. That means I am no longer cursed. No curse can come upon me, because I am blessed. I declare myself free right now. I am redeemed, I am delivered, I am free. God’s blessing of health and long-life is upon me now. Thank you Lord. Goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. Thank God, I am redeemed. Thank you Jesus for setting me free and releasing Your life and blessing upon me.”
“Jesus Christ has redeemed me,
as He hung on that shameful tree,
and all that is worse is contained in the curse,
and Jesus has set me free,
Not under the curse, not under the curse,
Jesus has set me free,
for sickness, I have health, for poverty, wealth
since Jesus has ransomed me.”
(3) Death is an enemy to be resisted. God did not make us for death. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death."(1Corinthians 15:26). Christians need not fear death for Jesus has already overcome it by His resurrection; but we are to resist death by laying hold of His resurrection life which dominates death (Romans 6:8,9). The same life (power) that transformed His body from death to life is towards (available to work in us) us who believe (Ephesians 1:19-21).
1Corinthians 15 is all about our victory over physical death: "Thanks be to God who gives us (now) the victory (over physical death) through our Lord Jesus Christ" (v57). Since we need victory over death, it must be our enemy, and therefore we must resist death with God’s help and power.
(4) We should believe for long-life and resist death,so that we can fulfil our mission and destiny in life. God has a plan and purpose for our life: "We are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God has before ordained for us to walk in" (Ephesians 2:10). Our life is like a long-distance race, which God has set before us to run, and He wants us to run all the way to the finishing line: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus (who has already run His race)” (Hebrews 12:1,2).
In a long distance race there are times when the runner feels like quitting before the end. He may hit a pain-barrier and feel like he cannot continue, but if he digs deep he will find the extra strength to continue and push past the barrier and pick up a second wind. But if he is not determined to complete his course and run the full race, he will most likely give up too soon. Likewise we have a race to run, and there will be times when it feels hard and we are tempted to stop pressing onto the finish-line and become passive and give up. If we are not resolved to endure and run our full race, we will fail to complete the course set before us.
But if we keep our eyes on Jesus and the joy awaiting us at the end of a good race, we will dig deep into the resources of God available to us, and be renewed by receiving His life into our body to run even stronger than before. We need to resolve to complete our course (mission) and fulfil God’s will for us. Therefore we need to believe for a long-life and fight the fight of faith to overcome death and all resistance, to make this possible.
To inspire us in this, let us look at the example of Jesus, who completed His race in spite of great opposition, suffering and pain: “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, fully ran His race, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”Many times His life was threatened by storms and those who wanted to kill Him, but by God’s help He resisted and overcame these powers of death, because as we are often told in John’s Gospel, His time (to die) had not yet come.
Likewise, we must continue to run our race and resist death until we know we have finished our work on earth. When Jesus suffered on the Cross unto death, it was the final part of His earthly race and it was in the will and timing of God. In Gethsemene, under the pressure of all that He would have to suffer, He felt the temptation to quit and not run His race to the end. However, He kept the vision before Him of the joy of accomplishing His mission to save us, and that enabled Him to endure the pain, opposition and difficulties, and He completed His race victoriously and now cheers us on in ours.
The Apostle Paul is a great example of this. He said: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life to which you are called, and have confessed a good confession”
(1Timothy 6:12). Paul fought a good fight overcoming death by laying hold of God’s strength and life, until he knew that he had finished his course. His final victorious words were:
“The time of my departure (from this earth) is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2Timothy 4:6-8)
Paul’s focus and determination to complete the race and reach the finishing line is shown in Philippians 3:12-14:
“Not that I have already attained or am already perfected but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Then v15 tells us that his attitude is the example for us all: “Therefore let us, as many as are mature have this mind (attitude); and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this (passivity) to you.”
Because of persecutions and attacks stirred up by satan to stop his ministry, Paul’s life was in constant danger and he came under great pressure to quit and die before he fulfilled his ministry (2Corinthians 1:8-11,11:22-28, 12:8-10). Only by constantly drawing upon God's power could he continue to live. Many times he could have chosen to quit and go to be with the Lord. It would have been much easier, but he was a fighter, so he decided to live and fulfil his course (ministry).
He reveals the kind of choice he faced in Philippians 1:20-25: "To me to live is Christ, and to die gain (he had no fear of death, for even if the worst happens it is better in heaven!). But if I live on in the flesh, this means fruit from my labour: yet what to choose I know not (he had the choice). For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart, and be with Christ; which is far better (for me). But to abide in the flesh is more needful for you and being confident of this, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all, for your progress and joy of faith."
Paul was weighing in the balance the thought of living on in a fruitful ministry against accepting an early death and going to be with the Lord. Obviously he was not considering suicide! It was simply that with all the attacks upon him, if he did not fight the fight of faith, constantly trusting God to raise him up and keep him alive, it would be impossible for him to live much longer. Such were the pressures, he felt the temptation to give up the fight and go home, but then at the end of the passage, we see that he finally decides he wants to live and fulfil his ministry, so he gets into faith that he will live and not die, so that he can fulfil his life's work for God: “being CONFIDENT of this, I KNOW that I SHALL abide and continue (to live) with you all (on earth).”
We too must overcome death to fulfil our course and receive the reward: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory(over death) through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1Corinthians 15:57,58).
Paul knew when he had finished his course: "I am now ready ... the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith Now there is laid up for me a crown" (2Timothy 4:6-8). We only run a good race by finishing our course and completing the work He has given us. This requires us to lay hold of God’s life and to fight a good fight against death,until we have fulfilled what God has called us to do.
Final victory over death is in the resurrection, but: "NOW, God, also has given us the earnest (down payment) of the Spirit" (2Corinthians 5:5). We can experience now a foretaste of His life swallowing up death in our physical body (v1-5). A measure of Christ’s resurrection power is available to us now.
We have seen in 2Corinthians 4:7-12, that when the spirit of death pressed in upon Paul, he was able to receive the LIFE of JESUS MANIFESTED IN HIS BODY to push back the power of death, until his mission was fulfilled.
Now that we have seen we should believe for long-life, how do we lay hold of Christ’s resurrection life for our bodies?
1Corinthians 15:57: "Thanks be to God, who gives us (in this life) the victory (over physical death) through our Lord Jesus Christ." God gives us victory over death in the now. This will ultimately be fulfilled at our physical resurrection. But notice he does not say: "God WILL GIVE us the victory”, but: "God GIVES us the victory (NOW).”
Paul believed that through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God gives us the victory over the power of death in this life.He did not just believe it, but he proclaimed it, expressing his faith by giving thanks to God for this victory over death.
He thanks God for releasing resurrection-life to his body, enabling him to overcome the power of death and fulfil his mission. Likewise, by faith we must resist the spirit of death, and trust God’s promise to impart Christ’s resurrection life to our body NOW, and then like Paul, GIVE THANKS to God in confident faith that He is doing it, saying: "Thanks be to Godwho gives me the victory over death through Christ."
Our DECLARATIONS of faith through CONFESSION of the promise and through THANKSGIVING that He is doing it now, activate and release our faith and the resurrection power of God to overcome death and renew our youth.
Say with faith: "Thanks be to God who GIVES ME THE VICTORY over death through my Lord Jesus Christ."
Galatians 3;13,14: “Christ has REDEEMED us from
the CURSE, having become a CURSE for us (for it is written, “CURSED is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the BLESSING of Abraham might come upon us.” Christ has REDEEMED us from the curse of a life cut short, so that we could have the blessing of long-life, through faith.
Psalm 107:1,2 tells us our part: “Oh, give THANKS to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy (His covenant love and faithfulness) endures forever. Let the REDEEMED of the Lord SAY SO (SAY: “I am redeemed from the curse”) whom He has REDEEMED from the hand of the enemy.” Christ has redeemed us from the curse, but it is up to us to activate the blessing by THANKING God for it, and by SAYING: “I am redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”
Claim Romans 8:11: "If the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He who raised up Christ from the dead shall also give (resurrection) life to your mortal bodies by His Spirit."
Confess: "The same Spirit of Him who raised Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in me, and He shall also quicken and give life to my mortal body by His Spirit who lives in me. Thank you Lord, for giving me that life now."
As we continually draw on God's renewing and healing power and so fulfil our years in health and long-life, our lives will be a witness and demonstration of His resurrection-power to the glory of God. You will have all eternity in heaven, but only a limited and relatively short time here now to make a difference, so believe for longevity and make the best use of the time you have, so you can fulfil your purpose in this life.
CONFESSION: "The Resurrection Power of Christ is working in me. I WILL LIVE and NOT DIE. I will live to a full age. With long-life I will be satisfied. I will fight a good fight and finish my course."