Summary: The knowledge of eternal progress can be so encouraging to the those who feel this life has not been all they wish. Ian Maclaren wrote, "Heaven is not a Trappist monastery, never is it retirement on a pension. No, it is a land of continual progress.
The story is told of an old farmer who frequently gave his testimony at prayer meetings, and it was
always the same. He would say, "I am not making much progress, but I am established." One
spring this farmer was hauling was logs when his wagon sank into the mud in a soft spot in the road.
As he sat there reviewing the situation a neighbor came by and said, "I see everything is normal.
You aren't making any progress, but you are established." Many people feel established when they
are really only stuck. The fact is, progress is essential to the Christian life, for not to be moving
ahead is to be slipping back.
Two Irishmen were walking from New York to Yonkers. After a long walk they inquired from a
man how far it was to Yonkers. "Five miles," he replied. After walking again for a considerable
time they asked another passer-by. He also said it was five miles. They pursued their journey and
finally asked a 3rd man. "Its just five miles," he responded. One of the Irishmen said to the other,
"Well, we're holding our own anyway." The fact is, they were losing ground, for all of their efforts
was getting them no nearer to their destination. You are not holding your own if you are not moving
Progress is linked to the idea of the abundant Christian life. Paul had not attained all that Christ
saved him for, but he was ever pressing on to reach it. That is the motive of all who really
understand that life and growth go together. Longfellow in A Psalm Of Life wrote,
Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act that each tomorrow
Finds us further than today.
It is universally recognized that progress is essential in this life, but this unity does not continue
when we look at eternal life. Christians generally have not thought very deeply about life in heaven,
and the result is they tended to jump to the conclusion that progress ends in heaven. This is based on
the assumption that once we are made perfect, and once we become like Christ, there is no further
room for progress. I Cor. 13:12 is the text usually used to confirm this conviction. It says, "Now we
see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, then I shall understand fully, even
as I have been fully understood."
This text has led Christians to stop thinking about heaven and all of its infinite potential. They
assume that they will be at once all they will ever be, and so they lose the motivation to gaze into
eternity with enthusiasm, like those who are convinced that progress will be a part of all eternity.
My purpose in this message will be to expose you to the great Christian minds who see perpetual
possibilities even after we become like Jesus. The foundational theological principle for this view is very simple. The finite can never become
equal with the infinite. In other words, just because we become like Jesus does not mean we become
equal to Him, and just because we gain an understanding of all God's plan and purpose in history
does not mean we know all that God knows, or that we understand all of the mysteries and purposes
of God for other worlds throughout eternity. Those who assume that we will cease to make progress
have too small a view of God, and too limited a view of His infinite wisdom.
Charles Spurgeon was one who had a vast view of eternity and of God, and thus of progress. He
wrote, "As eternity goes on, I have no doubt that the Savior will be indicating fresh delight to His
redeemed. "Come hither," saith he to his flock, "Here are yet more flowing streams." He will lead
them on and on, by the century, aye, by the chiliad, from glory unto glory, onward and upward in
growing knowledge and enjoyment. Continually will he conduct his flock to deeper mysteries and
higher glories. Never will the inexhaustible God who has given Himself to be the portion of His
people ever be fully known, so that there will eternally be sources of freshness and new delight, and
the Shepherd will continue to lead His flock to these living fountains of water. He will guide them-
From glory unto glory, that ever lied before,
Still widening, adoring, rejoicing more and more,
Still following where He leadeth from shining field to field,
Himself our goal of glory, Revealer and Revealed!
If Spurgeon was alone in this conviction, we could say he was just an eccentric dreamer, but the
fact is, most everyone of the great Christian minds that have delved deeply into the study of God's