Posts Tagged ‘eternity’

God’s Purpose in Redemption

August 2nd, 2017

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 5:5 NIV)

The phrase “made us” refers not to the original creation of God but to His work of redemption. Katergazomai in the original Greek, it means to accomplish, to achieve, to work out, or, by implication, to make one thing fit for another. Paul used it earlier in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” So in a similar way the work of redemption is achieving for us eternal life.

The gift of the Spirit in the life of a Christian brings new life, hope, transformation, the capacity for intimacy with God, and the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. We may think that these things are purpose enough in and of themselves. But here Paul teaches us that they are merely as deposits guaranteeing that eternity for the Christian will be much greater and grander.

In this day and age we make a great deal of the Christian life, and there is much good in this. We do not wait until heaven to receive the blessings of salvation. But let us not be confused – the blessings of heaven will be infinitely greater than what we receive here. It will be glory and understanding unequaled in this life. In his first epistle to the Corinthians Paul wrote:

For now we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfection comes, the imperfect disappears … Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (1 Cor. 13:9,12)

There is much thought assumed in this chapter of 2 Corinthians that is taught elsewhere in scripture. It is taught that only in Christ do we come to God and to salvation (John 14:6), that only through the cross of Christ are our sins paid for (Rom. 4:25), and that the cross has become not only the means of our eternal salvation, but the model and example of how we are to live the Christian life today. We are to deny ourselves daily and take up our cross and follow after Christ (Luke 9:23).

The new life and the eternity that God brings us into is not merely one thing added on top of other elements of our thoughts and values. Rather it is entirely new and of God, and none of it is from us. God in the redemption fashions us fit for a new type of life and the old life must go, the old thoughts must go, and old ways of living must go. _We shall not enter into eternity bringing little tokens of our self righteousness as proofs that we deserve to be there. It shall all be by grace. And we are not to live today with the thoughts that these little tokens of self-righteousness or self-achievements earn for us anything from God. A.W. Tozer wrote:

The witness of the saints has been in full harmony with prophet and apostle, that an inward principle of self lies at the source of human conduct, turning everything men do into evil. To save us completely Christ must reverse the bent of our nature; He must plant a new principle within us so that our subsequent conduct will spring out of a desire to promote the honor of God and the good of our fellow men. The old self-sins must die, and the only instrument by which they can be slain is the Cross. “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” said our Lord, and years later the victorious Paul could say, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

Roy Hession in his classic, Calvary Road, wrote:

If, however, we are to come into this right relationship with Him, the first thing we must learn is that our wills must be broken to His will. To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, humiliating, but it is the only way. It is being “Not I, but Christ” (Gal 2:20), and a “C” is a bent “I.” The Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights, and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God’s will, admits its wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory – that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words it is dying to self and self-attitudes.

If you will permit me to speak this way, it is as if our choice at death is to remain in the stinking decay of the grave or to rise in Christ Jesus to life eternal in a glorified body with a new eternal reality. And it is our choice in life to either remain in the stinking decay of our lusts and pride, of our silly ego trips and meaningless self desires, or to die to sin and self and to live in Christ.

If the Christian life today will make sense, it will be spent and invested in putting aside our own wills and letting Christ have His way fully in our lives. And this is the blessed life!

2 Corinthians , , ,

The Soon Coming King

April 11th, 2017

… until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:14-17 ESV)

In giving his divinely-inspired charge to Timothy, Paul added this thought. He said that Timothy was to “keep this commandment,” or he was to fulfill his calling “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The “appearing” is epiphanea in the New Testament Greek, and was an important word in the New Testament for the coming of the Lord and the end of the age. (See 2 Tim. 4:1 and Titus 2:13.)

We often say these words with a sigh, “until He comes,” aware more of the delay in His coming than the promise of it. But it is given here in an entirely different manner, in a completely different spirit. Here there is faith, hope, and enthusiasm for the coming King.

There is one view of life that sees old age dismally. We start out strong and then grow weaker through the years, losing friends, strength, mental abilities, and optimism. We die as a relief, exhausted by our long and tiresome journey through life. Even some Christians fall into this view, even though there is little Christian about this outlook on life.

The other view is that for the Christian there is always a brighter day coming. We grow old and despite whatever indignities are associated with age, despite the losing of friends, strength, etc., we can say with the apostle Paul, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16 ESV).

The hope of the pastor and of each Christian, is not that we will be recognized and rewarded on earth for our contributions to the work of God, but that we will be affirmed in heaven by Christ Himself, who says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

And in order for that to happen, He must return. Truthfully, we are more excited about His return than about our own reward. He will come at the right time, and all of history is moving and working toward this goal. He is the One worthy of praise:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12 ESV)

We do not serve for just the sake of resting. We do not serve in order to be forgotten. We do not serve a cause or a calling that is passing away. We serve and worship the coming King, who is and will be victorious. This is the hope that we are to keep before us at all time.

Art is made, whether in paintings, music, or literature, by contrasting light and darkness. Dark and subdued colors fade into the background and bright and vivacious colors leap off the canvas. The darkness of this age, the subduing of man’s spiritual nature and of God’s standard of holiness, the darkening of hearts across this world, has caused a shadow to pass over our age. But the light is not some “new” human idea, or some “new” charismatic leader. Those are just more of the subdued colors of darkness.

The hope is the coming King who is the Light of the World and the hope of eternity. He is the new bright “color” of the future. From the moment we trusted in Christ we began living for eternity. Each day is closer to His return. Each day is closer to this great event. This is what we look forward to. He is who we look forward to.

1 Timothy, Second Coming of Christ , , , ,