Summary: Last in series on Eternity. Living with an eternal perspective changes how we live in the present.
“Eternity: What Awaits After Death”
Sermon # 7
“Living In the Light of Eternity”
A pastor visited an older man. The Pastor said, “At your age you should be thinking about the hereafter.” The older man replied, “Oh, I do all the time. No matter where I am - in the living room, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement - I ask myself ‘What am I here after?’”
Christian author Phillip Yancey wrote, “Although [most] of us believe in an afterlife, no one much talks about it. Christians believe we will spend eternity in a splendid place called heaven . . . isn’t it a little bizarre that we simply ignore heaven acting as if it doesn’t matter?” Does heaven matter?
For the last six weeks we have been engaged in a study of Eternity, generally and of Heaven, specifically. What difference does is make now that we know more about Heaven and God’s future plan for us? How should we live now in the light of what we know about the future? Hopefully you know more about what awaits after death than you did before the series. And with new truth always comes new responsibility.
What we need to realize is that, what you think about Heaven determines what think about the present. C.S. Lewis said, “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”
But it is easy to get so swamped with things here on earth, as we get squeezed by our jobs, the finances are tight, and our relationships are going sour. When those kinds of things are happening it is not easy to mediate on the glories of heaven.
In 2 Peter 3:11-14 Peter addresses this very concern, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness. (12) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (13) Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
The word “manner” means what kind or sort of person am I suppose to be. The word “ought” carries the idea of necessity. But as we all understand there is often a vast difference between what we are and what we should be.
Joseph M. Stowell, Pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago wrote, “When we begin to believe the reality of the other side, we start behaving differently on this side. This is what drove the disciples out into their world – they had seen firsthand the reality of the other side.” [Joseph M. Stowell “A Glimpse At The Other Side.” Moody Magazine. (April/1994) p 24]
The word translated “ought”(dei) refers to obligation including the idea of owing a debt to someone. The question is, “Do you sense an obligation to live with an eternal perspective?” Peter is saying, "If you don’t, you should" The Living Bible conveys the idea: "And so since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives we should be living!" “How astoundingly excellent you ought to be!” Heaven is our real home and we need to live accordingly.
What kind of people ought we to be then? We’re not living for this world; we’re aliens, strangers, and foreigners. We as Christians are not a part of this world system, we are commanded not to love the world, neither the things that are in the world. It’s not our place. We are pilgrims. We belong to a heavenly place. We look for a city whose builder and maker is God, a city not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
What kind of people ought we to be, at what level of excellence ought we to live? Since I am headed for eternal glory, since I am going to be a citizen of God’s eternal Kingdom, since I am going to be delivered from the day of the Lord to enter into the eternal day of God, I should be living in expectation of that.
Three things About How We Ought to Live.
First, We Are To Live With Devotion (v. 11b)
“… in holy conduct and godliness.”
Peter says that an eternal perspective will change the way we behave in two very practical ways, “holy conduct” and “godliness.”
John McArthur compares holiness and godliness this way, "Holy conduct refers to action, godliness refers to attitude. Holy conduct refers to the way I live my life, godliness refers to the spirit of reverence within me by which I live my life. Holy conduct refers to that which rules my behavior, and godliness refers to that which rules my heart. And so he is saying what kind of person ought you to be in heart and in behavior, in motive and in action, in attitude and in duty.” [John MacArthur. “Living In Anticipation of Christ’s Return” (2 Peter 3:11-13) Part I. www.biblebb.com/files/MAC61-26]