“To Die Is Gain” 

Philippians 1:18b-26 (Pt. 2) 

August 13, 2023 

Faith Presbyterian Church – Morning Service 

Pastor Nicoletti 

The Reading of the Word 

We return, this morning, to Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, and as we do, we come for a second time to the passage we considered last week: Philippians 1:18-26. 

Please do listen carefully, for this is God’s word for us this morning.  

Paul writes: 

1:18bYes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again. 

This is the word of the Lord. (Thanks be to God.) 

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” [1 Peter 1:24-25] 

Let’s pray … 

Prayer of Illumination 

Lord, you have dealt well with us, 

just as you have promised in your word. 

Teach us now good judgment and knowledge, 

for we believe in your word to us – your commandments and your testimonies. 

You are good and you do good, 

teach us your ways. 

We know that your word to us in the Scriptures is of more value for us 

than thousands of pieces of gold and silver. 

Help us now to treat it and attend to it as such. 

Grant this, we ask, for Jesus’s sake. Amen. 

[Based on Psalm 119:65, 66, 68, 72] 


As we said last week, we have before us Paul’s words and reflections as he sat, imprisoned, awaiting trial, and possible execution. And so, what lay ahead for Paul, at this point, very starkly, was that he would either live or die. As has been said, “Death tends to concentrate the mind wonderfully.” And so Paul takes this moment, not just to share his own personal reflections on life and death, but to instruct the Philippian Christians about how they should think about life and death. 

And at the heart of his reflections and his instruction is verse twenty-one. There he says: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In a sense, everything else in this passage flows out of that statement. That statement is the heart of this passage: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”  

That is how Paul thinks. And that’s how he wants us to think as well. 

But most of us, if we’re honest, struggle to think that way. For some of us, we struggle to see the connection between Jesus Christ, and the mundane details that take up so much of life. And so Paul’s statement that “to live is Christ” can leave us scratching our heads. 

For others, we may find that we rather like our lives, and we work pretty hard to avoid death, and so we may find ourselves puzzled by Paul’s statement that “to die is gain.” Sure, if we’re Christians we may understand abstractly that death is a spiritual gain. But saying “to die is gain” doesn’t feel very true to us if we’re honest. Our head may consent, but our heart isn’t in it. 

And so, many of us tend to hold on to one half of verse twenty-one, and then brush aside the other half. But Paul tells us we need both. In fact, Paul is telling us, I think, that we can’t truly understand either one unless we hold on to both. 

And so to help us look squarely at each half of this important statement, we have split them up, and spent a sermon on each. Last Sunday morning we considered Paul’s statement about how “to live is Christ.” We talked about how every aspect of life finds its true root, its right meaning, and its ultimate goal in Jesus Christ.  

This morning we will consider what Paul means when he says, “to die is gain.” 

That’s a statement that may seem odd, and maybe even unsettling to many of us. It may seem grim and morbid.  

Now, again, what we say today needs to be taken along with what we said last Lord’s Day about how “to live” now “is Christ.” But what we said last Lord’s Day also should in no way detract from, or contradict, or weaken what we say today. We need both truths in full force, and so we need, this morning, to look head-on at Paul’s bold statement that for the Christian, “to die is gain.” 

To do that well, we need to step back and consider why we struggle with that statement, and then we can move forward, to reflect on what Paul has to tell us here. 

So, to do that, we will consider four things this morning:  

  • First, the denial of death, 
  • Second, the fear of death, 
  • Third, the defeat of death, and 
  • Fourth, the gains of death. 

So, the denial of death, the fear of death, the defeat of death, and the gains of death. 

The Denial of Death 

First, as Earnest Becker has articulated so thoroughly, and many more have echoed, we live in an age in which people deny the reality of death. 

Now, it’s not that people actually claim that death does not exist. Rather, it’s that people more often refuse to speak of death, or even to think about death. As a culture we have in many ways hidden death from ourselves. We don’t see it in person as often as people of past centuries did. And our public consciousness seeks to avoid any reflections on the very obvious fact that every one of us is one day going to die. 

But our culture was not always like that. 

In her book These Beautiful Bones, Emily Stimpson writes about the Capuchin Crypt in Rome. 

The crypt, found underneath a church in Rome, consists of six different rooms. Each room is a bit different from the others, but what they have in common is that each one is intricately decorated with thousands of bones from deceased friars who used to serve there. The skeletal remains of about four thousand Franciscan monks are contained in those six rooms. The point of the crypt is made most overtly in the room called The Crypt of the Three Skeletons. There, surrounded by many other bones and skulls, stand three skeletons. And with them is a plaque, with these words carved onto it, in seven different languages – it says, “What you are now we used to be; What we are now, you will be.” 

The crypt, Stimpson reports, was one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome in the 1800s. “Throughout the nineteenth century,” she writes, “pilgrims and dignitaries alike, including American writers Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne, flocked to the church, or more accurately, to the crypt beneath the church, eager to look upon the bones of the four thousand Capuchin monks buried there.” 

“But,” she adds, “not anymore. Today, [it] is a quieter street. Most pilgrims to the Eternal City come and go without hearing of the crypt’s existence.” [Stimpson, 1] 

And, I’d add, that those who do hear of it, often have little interest in going to it. Not too long ago, when I heard that a couple I know was traveling to Rome, I excitedly told them all about the crypt. I’ve never been to Italy, but I’d read a lot about the crypt and if I ever get to Rome, I’d love to visit it myself. I shared my enthusiasm and a lot of information about the crypt with them … they heard me out, and then they politely declined to go. 

To the nineteenth century mind, it made sense to go to a place that would help you reflect on the fact that one day you would die. To the twenty-first century mind, it is a meditation best to be avoided. 

Things have changed. In fact, now, people often can’t even bring themselves to speak about death. 

Tim Keller tells the story of Mark Aston, a British pastor, who, “at the age of sixty-two, in late 2008 […] was diagnosed with inoperable gallbladder cancer.” Keller writes: 

“Because of his faith and joy in Christ, he showed a great deal of confidence in the face of dying and even a sense of anticipation, despite his keen recognition of the sadness of his family. During the next fifteen months, he talked with virtually everyone he met about his coming death with ease, eloquence, and poise. But this unnerved many people, who found not only his attitude but even his very presence difficult to take. 

“He wrote: ‘Our age is so devoid of hope in the face of death that the topic has become unmentionable.’ He made a trip to a hairdresser in Eastbourne, where he engaged in conversation as usual with the woman who was cutting his hair. When she ‘asked me how I was and I replied that I had been told I had got just a few more months to live,’ the ordinary friendliness and chattiness of the place ceased. No matter how much he tried to talk to her, [he writes,] ‘I could not get another word out of her for the rest of the haircut.’” For many people, “Rather than accept and prepare for the inevitable, we only avert and deny it.” [Keller, 12-13] 

This is how it often is in our culture. Anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer has even argued that in our culture death has replaced sex as the new unmentionable subject – taboo and unacceptable for polite or even intimate conversation with others. [Keller, 7] 

The dominant way our culture (and often we ourselves) relates to the reality of death is that we turn away from it, and pretend it does not exist. We deny it. 

The next question to consider is: Why? 

The Fear of Death 

The second thing for us to consider is the reason why we deny death. And as the Bible points out, and many others have echoed, the chief reason we deny death is because we fear it. 

And the type of fear we often have of death is a uniquely human experience. Other animals may avoid death, of course, but the knowledge of and fear of death haunts human beings in a way that it can’t haunt other animals. Earnest Becker puts it like this – he writes: “It is a terrifying dilemma to be in and to have to live with. […] The knowledge of death is reflective and conceptual, and animals are spared it. They [experience death as] a few minutes of fear, a few seconds of anguish, and it is over. But to live a whole lifetime with the fate of death haunting one’s dreams and even the most sun-filled days – that’s something else.” [Quoted in Keller, 17-18] 

The knowledge – and fear – of death is always in the background of human life. And the fear exists among modern people for two reasons: one that tends to be on the surface, and one that tends more often now to be below the surface. 

The surface fear many face is the fear of non-existence. The modern, secular, materialist world has come to view death as non-existence: our bodies cease to live, and our consciousness ceases to exist. Many have tried to put a positive spin on this, but their spin fails, in the end, to truly comfort. The thought of every relationship we have, everything we love, every unique aspect of who we are ceasing in a moment is terrifying. Others try to come up with vague spiritual assurances of an unspecified life beyond the grave, but for modern people, with their array of ideas that have little grounding in the world around us, it only takes a little reflection to see how these beliefs resemble wishful thinking. And so, modern people struggle, on the surface, with the fear of non-existence. [Keller, 13-19] 

But the Bible tells us that there’s also a deeper fear that often goes unarticulated in the human heart: the fear of judgment. The Bible tells us that every human being knows, deep down, that they have a Creator, whom they owe their existence to. And every human being knows, in their heart, that they have fallen short of the kind of life their Maker expects of them. And death means standing before their Maker face-to-face. Death means having to give an account of how they’ve lived. And that knowledge – even if it goes on below the level of consciousness, deep down – terrifies people. [Keller, 20-25] 

Death itself entered the world as a sign of judgment. God made human beings to live forever. But then they sinned. Then they rebelled against him. And so death entered the world. Death itself is a judgment on the world … but it’s also a door to further judgment. And deep down, all people know this. It’s written on our hearts. 

And so we fear death.  

The Defeat of Death 

We deny death because we fear death. And in a way, that makes sense. If death is judgment, and we’re doomed in that judgment, then the best we can do is try to put the reality of death, and our future doom, out of our minds, and just try to enjoy what we have now. 

But even that’s not much consolation.  

Tim Keller gives an illustration of this – he says: “Imagine someone has broken into your house, tied you up, and announced that he is going to kill you. For the sake of the illustration imagine also that you have absolutely no hope of rescue. What if he said, ‘I’m not heartless – tell me something you do that gives you a lot of happiness.’ You answer that you enjoy playing chess. ‘Well, let’s play a game of chess before I kill you. [he says,] Won’t that make your final moments pleasant?’ The only truthful answer would be that your impending death would drain all the satisfaction out of a game.” If there is no hope beyond death, then “Death takes away the significance and joy of things.” [Keller, 16-17] 

And yet, many still look to the joys of this world to find consolation for the reality of death. But that’s not the Bible’s consolation. The Bible tells us something very different. The Bible tells us that God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ, has come to earth to save us from death and judgment. He lived the life we should have lived, and then he died the death we deserved to die so that we might be saved. 

On the cross, Jesus received the judgment that we deserve. God poured out the penalty on him that belonged to us – the sentence for our sins. Jesus willingly took it onto himself. All so that we might be saved. And now, if we place our trust in him, if we call out to him in faith and we pledge ourselves to him, there remains no more judgment for us. And so our experience of death is transformed. 

Keller liked to tell the story of Donald Grey Barnhouse. Barnhouse “was the minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia when his wife, only in her late thirties, died of cancer, leaving him with four children under the age of twelve. When driving with his children to the funeral, a large truck pulled past them in the left lane, casting its shadow over them. Barnhouse asked all in the car, ‘Would you rather be run over by the truck or the shadow of the truck?’ His eleven-year-old answered, ‘Shadow, of course.’ Their father concluded, ‘Well, that’s what has happened to your mother … Only the shadow of death has passed over her because death itself ran over Jesus.’” [Keller, 32-33] 

Jesus received the death of judgment – death in its full force – so that we would not have to. 

But it’s not just that. Jesus also defeated death. Death could not hold him. At the resurrection, Jesus overcame death, so that death no longer has dominion over him, or over anyone else in his keeping. 

Whereas before death was a portal to judgment and destruction, now, for those who cling to Christ in faith, death is a doorway into the joyful presence of Jesus. 

And that is why Paul can speak of death in this passage the way he does. He doesn’t speak of death as judgment here. He certainly doesn’t speak of death as non-existence. Instead, he speaks of death for the Christian as more like a doorway – a passageway from one form of life to another. He says that even death will turn out for his deliverance – his salvation, in verse nineteen. He says that Christ will be honored and glorified even in his death, in verse twenty. He says that for him, to die is gain, in verse twenty-one. He says that his desire even, is to depart from this life in death, because that is far better. 

Paul is able to say all this because Christ, in the gospel, has transformed death from a judgment to a doorway. The doorway may still be difficult and painful. Death may still be an intrusion in this world that separates what was never meant to be separated – tearing apart body and soul, separating loved ones from one another – all that may still be true. But even so, at its deepest level, death has been defanged by Jesus Christ – so that in him, to die is even gain. 

The next question is: What exactly is that gain? 

The Gains of Death 

So we’ve considered the denial of death and the fear of death that is so common. We’ve remembered the defeat of death, as Christ, on the cross, took on the death of judgment that we deserve, and then, in the resurrection, conquered the power of death on our behalf. 

Finally, we need to consider what Paul means in verse twenty-one when he says that “to die is gain.” Paul focuses on one specific answer to this question, but the Bible gives us several. 

But even before we get there, we need to be more specific even, about what we mean by “death” in this context. We are, of course, speaking of life after death – what comes for us, as conscious beings, after our heart stops or our brainwaves cease in this life. But interestingly the Bible speaks not of one stage of life after death, but two, or even three. 

First, there is our experience immediately after death. This is where our soul goes when death separates our soul from our body. The Bible actually does not tell us a lot of details about this stage. We know that for those who have rejected Christ, death is a preview of their final separation from God that is to come. But for those who have trusted in Christ, they enter immediately into his joyful presence. While away from the body, they are at home with the Lord. As Paul says here: when they depart from this world, they are with Christ.  

Second, there is the period of time when Christ returns bodily to the earth. Then, all who have died will be raised from the dead, and every human being will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Those who have clung to Christ in faith – who have trusted in his death on their behalf, and his resurrection to rescue them from death – they will be ushered into everlasting life. And those who have rejected Christ – who have trusted in themselves, who have refused to serve Christ as King – they will be sent out into the everlasting death they dreaded, but have chosen, nonetheless.  

That then leads to the third stage of life after death: the eternal state. 

Christ will make, for his people, a new heaven, and a new earth, and they will be one. There, God will dwell with his people forever, in the City of God. 

Those are the three stages of life-after-death for those who cling to Christ. In some places, Paul and other biblical writers explain some of the distinctions of these different stages, but in other passages, like this one, they lump the blessings of these stages all together. That’s what Paul does here, and so that’s what we’ll do as well. 

When then, are the gains of departing this life and being with Christ? 

Here, the Puritan Richard Baxter is helpful. 

First, Baxter reminds us that at death, the Christian will set down the troubles of this life, and will receive the blessings of the life to come. 

For one thing, when we depart this world while clinging to Christ by faith, there will be no more trials and tribulations for us – no more suffering or loss. We will eventually even be given new resurrection bodies, free from sickness, pain, and death. 

“There is no such thing as grief and sorrow there.” Baxter writes, “Nor is there such a thing as a pale face, feeble joints, languishing sickness, groaning fears, consuming cares, or whatever deserves the name evil. A gale of groans and a stream of tears will accompany us to the very gates [of death], and there they will bid us farewell forever. Our sorrow will be turned into joy, and no one will take our joy from us.” [Baxter, 35] 

In this life, Baxter writes, “Some bewail a whole catalogue of calamities, especially in days of common suffering when nothing appears to our sight but ruin: families ruined, country ruined, court ruined, and kingdoms ruined. Who does not weep when all these bleed? But our day of rest will free us from all this.” [Baxter, 67] 

All circumstances of suffering will end. 

Second, there will be no more sin, doubt, or spiritual struggles within us. We will be given new hearts that are free from sin, doubt, and despair. 

In this life, Baxter writes, “Some are weary of […] doubts concerning the way they walk; they are unsettled in almost all their thoughts. Some are weary of a hard heart, some of a proud heart, some of a passionate heart, some are weary of all of these. Some are weary of their daily doubts […] Some are weary of their absence of spiritual joy, and some of the sense of God’s wrath.” But in the life to come those burdens will all be over. Our temptations will end. Our doubts will end. Our struggles will end. [Baxter, 59] 

“That hard heart,” Baxter writes, “those vile thoughts that lie down and rise with you, that accompany you to every duty, that you could no more leave behind than leave your very self behind, will now be left behind forever. They might accompany you to death, but cannot proceed a step further.” [Baxter, 64] All temptation will cease. [Baxter, 65] 

All spiritual struggles will end. 

Third, all strife and conflict and misunderstanding and hurt between people will be done away with. Our relationships will be perfect. Baxter compares this to the strings of a musical instrument. In this life, even among sincere Christians, discord is not unusual, but common. But in the life to come, harmony will reign. We will not sin against one another, we will not hurt one another, we will not feel disconnected or isolated from one another, but we will relate to one another with perfect love and harmony, and those harmonies will rise up and glorify God. [Baxter, 55] 

And nothing will break those relationships apart – not sickness or sin or death. They will go on for eternity, growing deeper and more joyful, forever. 

All social strife will end. 

We could go on and on about these kinds of blessings – and indeed, they are great. But we still have not mentioned the greatest blessing of all – which is, in fact, the only blessing that Paul focuses on here: When we depart this life in death, we will be with Jesus. We will be with Christ. And that blessing is so great that it fills Paul’s vision here and blocks out everything else. 

There, God will dwell with us, and we will be his people and he will be our God. There Christ will be among us, and we will see him as he is.  

There, we will fully love God, and be fully loved by him, with no coldness of heart. Our love for God here is always mixed. But then it will be perfect. And yet, even when it’s perfect, the love we experience from God will surpass it a thousand fold. [Baxter, 38-39] 

This is the greatest joy of heaven – the most astounding blessing of all: that we will be with our infinite Maker forever, in perfect relationship with him. And it’s here that Baxter admits … that while we can know now, in theory, how wonderful that will be … we cannot really imagine it. In our fallen state in this fallen world, it is, quite literally, beyond our imagination. 

He writes: “This rest contains as the highest part our deepest enjoyment of God the highest good. And here, reader, do not be surprised if I am at a loss. When I know so little of God [now], I cannot know much of what it is to enjoy him [then]. […] How can a man born blind conceive of the sun and its light? How can a man born deaf conceive of the nature of sound and music? So too, we lack still that sense by which God must be clearly known. I stand and look on a heap of ants and see them all with one view, very busy to little purpose. They do not know me, my being, my nature, or thoughts, though I am their fellow creature. How little then must we know of the great Creator, though he with one view continually beholds us all? What knowledge we have is imperfect […] it is only a glimpse the saints behold, as though through a glass darkly. But, poor Christian, be of good cheer. The time is near when God and you will be near, as near as you can ever desire.” [Baxter, 36] 

That is the greatest blessing of all. 

And that is the chief reason why Paul can say that for the Christian, “to die is gain.” 


Paul, we can tell, has thought about this a lot. 

Unfortunately, we often have not. And that can cause problems for us. 

I have this tendency, whenever I travel, to get a bit fixated on what I need to do at home before we leave. And so, when planning a trip to somewhere nice with my family, I get focused on all the things I need to wrap up at work, or the details I need to arrange at home, or various projects I should have done months ago, but I put off, but now I feel like I need to get done before we leave. And I can focus on those things to such an extent that soon I find myself frustrated that we’re leaving at all – after all, I have so much to do! And then my wife, in her wisdom, reminds me that we are going somewhere nice … somewhere delightful … somewhere unusually beautiful and enjoyable … where we will get to be together, and enjoy it together. When I have an impending trip, I sometimes get so focused on what I still need to do here, that I forget where I’m going, and why it is good. I need reminders. 

Even as Christians, we can be like that with death. We can get so caught up with what we need to do here and now, that we forget where we are going and how it will be. And we need reminders. 

We need to meditate on heaven. Richard Baxter urges us to set aside time every day to meditate on heaven. [Baxter, 122] 

It’s good advice. But even if we feel like we can’t yet do that, we can do something to focus our minds a bit more on heaven. It may be helpful to sit with Christians who have thought more about heaven than we have, and to listen to their reflections. 

There are many Christian books that can help us do this. One I’ve been quoting from a lot this morning is Richard Baxter’s book The Saints’ Everlasting Rest. Crossway has just come out with a version of it that is abridged and updated with modernized language by Baxter scholar Tim Cooper. I’d encourage you to get a copy and read it. Even just a few pages a day can help you think more about how it is actually true that “to die is gain.” 

If you’re not much of a reader … if you maybe prefer to listen to things, well the very same book by Richard Baxter, updated and abridged by Tim Cooper, is also available as an audiobook. I assure you, it’s worth taking a few minutes away from your usual podcasts to spend some time with Baxter, thinking about eternity. 

As modern people, it’s not our natural habit to think about heaven. But we can be intentional about seeking out help from others who have learned to do it – others like Baxter. 

But we shouldn’t just help ourselves. We should also help our children. 

At GA this past year, I was a very happy victim of a good salesman at one of the book booths. I selected a book from one table for my kids, and after I paid for it, the salesman said, “You know … I think this is the book you really want.” And he handed me Joni Erickson Tada’s book titled: The Awesome Super Fantastic Forever Party. And he walked me through it. And he was right. I did want that book. I bought it, and gave it to my kids. And it’s wonderful. 

It’s a good book to talk to our children about heaven. I would commend it to you. In many ways she sums up well all we have talked about this morning, in a way that young children can grasp. 

Whatever the details for us or our families, we need to spend more time reflecting on this precious truth, not just so we know where we’re going, but also in order to keep everything in this life in its proper perspective. 

Our lives in this world are deeply significant. As we talked about last week, “to live is Christ” – everything in this life has its proper root, meaning, and goal in Jesus Christ. 

Our lives matter because they are grounded in Christ. 

But our life here before death, is really only the beginning of our lives, rightly understood. And that’s sometimes a perspective we can lose. That’s sometimes a perspective we need to be reminded of. 

Perhaps C.S. Lewis captured this best of all, at the very end of his Chronicles of Narnia series. There, speaking of those who had eternity with God stretching out before them, Lewis writes: “The things that began to happen after that were so great and so beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” [Lewis, 228] 

That, brothers and sisters, is what awaits us. 



This sermon draws on material from: 

Barth, Karl. The Epistle to the Philippians. 40th Anniversary Edition. Translated by James W. Leitch. Introductory Essays by Bruce L. McCormack and Francis B. Watson. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. 

Baxter, Richard. The Saints’ Everlasting Rest. Updated & Abridged by Tim Cooper. Foreword by Joni Earickson Tada. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2022. (Originally 1650) 

Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1973. 

Fee, Gordon D. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995. 

Hansen, G. Walter. The Letter to the Philippians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009. 

Keller, Timothy. On Death. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2020. 

Lewis, C.S. The Last Battle. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1956. 

McDonough, Sean M. Introduction and notes to Philippians in The ESV Study Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008. 

Stimpson, Emily. These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body. Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2013. 

Tada, Jon Earickson. The Awesome Super Fantastic Forever Party: A True Story About Heaven, Jesus, and the Best Invitation of All. Illustrated by Catalina Echeverri. The Good Book Company, 2022. 

Note: In my preaching I often cite and draw from a range of sources, which includes material from Christians within my theological tradition, Christians outside my theological tradition (in keeping with our church’s core value of “Reformed Catholicity”), and also (following the Apostle Paul’s example in Acts 17) non-Christians who are well outside of Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy. And so, when I cite an author or a source, that citation should not be understood or construed as me necessarily agreeing with, endorsing, or recommending to others anything else from that author or source, except for what I explicitly say I agree with, endorse, or recommend. When engaging with different materials and thinkers, all Christians must exercise wisdom and discernment to determine what is helpful, appropriate, and edifying for each person, taking into account their current needs, wisdom, and spiritual maturity. 

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