1. For months I had been looking for the answer. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life - the decision would change not just my life, but the lives of our family . Which way to go. "God, if you want me to go into ministry, please let me know for sure! Please give me a clear answer." So I could take steps - sell house, quit work, get paper work moving. I needed to know and soon.
2. One day I said to Margaret - "Why is God not answering our request? Why does He not let us know?" Margaret answered me with a few words that I know came from God. " Has He answered you already but you haven’t heard Him?" And so we talked about all the messages He had given us, the affirmations, the open doors.
3. I had been longing for something, an answer so much, while I had already been given it.
4. Today there is something that I long for. I long for eternal life, the life everlasting. I long for day when earthly troubles, my own sin and struggles, sickness and death will be no more.
5. Especially when we struggle, each one of us longs for eternal life. When we escape the clutches of this world. And yet, just as with the answer I longed for, could it be that God has already given us eternal life.
6. Could it be that we are looking forward to something that we already have?
7. Today as we consider the last part of the Apostles’ Creed, we consider the life everlasting. As we do we usually think of something that lies ahead of us in heaven, and yet I say to you today, people of God that eternal life is here and now and we can already enjoy this gift from God
8. As Paul said to Timothy, I say to you today "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called"
1. When we think of eternal life we think of that which has no beginning or end as with God. We as people have a beginning but we have no end. Eternal life is not just about time, it transcends time and it is something
that takes us out of this temporal world and all that is associated with it. Eeternal life does not begin when we leave this world. (John 3:36). We have it now.
2. We are citizens of heaven already. (Eph 2:19; Heb 11:13)
3. While we will not experience the fullness of eternal life now we do get a foretaste of it, as the Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of the joy of eternal life.
4. How can we experience eternal life now? Heidelberg Catechism (HC) 58 says that we can take comfort now in the life everlasting. It says we can feel in our heart the beginning of eternal joy. What is this joy?
5. The joy is seeing and experiencing the presence and goodness of God in our lives. Knowing who we are and where our home is.
a. It is the joy of hope - a living hope as Peter calls it. We know that though we may suffer now that this suffering is for a little while and is there to prepare us for the day we will suffer no more. That in our suffering our faith may be proved genuine.
b. As said a few months ago genuine faith is not proven by answered prayer but by prayer that seems not to be answered.
c. To experience eternal life now is to have hope in suffering.
d. It is the joy of peace with God. (Rom 5:1)
e. It is the joy that we experience in worshipping God. Times when we feel overwhelmed with His presence, when we rise above matters of this world.
f. Perhaps what Paul says a man experienced in 2Cor 12:2-4 when a man was caught up to paradise, the third heaven. As we may experience in Lord’s Supper as we are raised, as Calvin says, up to the physical presence of Christ in heaven.
6. Do you have joy in hope, in peace and in worship? If so you are experiencing eternal life.
7. According to the HC, this is important. It says that SINCE we feel this eternal joy, after this life we shall inherit perfect salvation. If we do not feel joy, will we inherit perfect salvation? (Not saying always outwardly joyful - but again hope, peace and worship.)
8. Eternal life is perfect salvation. What is this perfect salvation?
9. Salvation is a fact (past) in that we have been saved (fact of saved from effects of sin), it is something that is present as we are sanctified or saved from reality of sins (1Pet 1:9 - we are receiving salvation) and (1Tim 6:11 - pursuing righteousness), and we will be perfect in future when we are glorified .
10. HC shows this salvation is hard for us to conceive or understand.
a. It will be dwelling with God. (Rev 21:3)
b. It will be deliverance from all evil and enjoyment of all good. (Rev 21:4)
c. It will be complete renewal - - of understanding (1Cor 13:12), of feelings (Pss 16:11), of will (Pss 110:3), of body. As said last week bodies made to behold and worship God.
11. For believers eternal life is the worship of God. For lost it will be eternal damnation.
a. We will eternally praise God, overwhelming joy and thankfulness
12. Will you experience this eternal life?
13. As HC asks what comfort do you take from the belief of "life everlasting"? Are you certain of this life?
14. We are given evidences to assure us.
a. Living faith (1John 5:10)-11
b. Holy life (1John 3:2-3)
c. Heartfelt longing. (Pss 42:2)
15. Friends - experience eternal life today. Get a taste of that which awaits us in its fullness. Like special meal we smell the aromas as it is cooking. We may even take lick when no one is looking. The best is yet to come. (1Cor 2:9)