Past several weeks¡K been in a series entitled ¡§From Here To Eternity.¡¨ Before concluding, let me REAFFIRM what God¡¦s Word has spoken and set before us:
GOD HAS PUT ETERNITY IN OUR VERY HEARTS
o Nothing has or can ever remove it.
o To deny the reality of a life hereafter simply because we haven¡¦t experienced it yet is like the days of ocean travel before Columbus.
o Science points to this very horizon
„X What is the relationship between Science and Theology? The relationship has never been closer, because it is mathematics and physics which now point beyond the natural world. Herman Weyl, an eminent mathematician and physicist of Gottingen and later a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, opened the Terry Lectures of Yale with these remarks: ¡§Mathematics and physics make the world appear more and more an open one, as a world not closed but pointing beyond itself.¡¨
Precisely what Jesus said:
- Life as we now live it, is but a part of labor pains leading up to our birth into eternal life¡K there¡¦s pregnancy at hand¡K through Christ, death is no longer defeat, but a doorway.
- Death is the grand intrusion¡K the grand intruder on the life God has given. Death and divine judgment are but the consequences of our sin and separation from the life with God as it was created.
- The Gospel¡K meaning ¡§Good News¡¨ ¡K is that God in Christ provided for the forgiveness of our sins¡K to defeat death and reconcile us as children to our heavenly father.
We looked at what God say about ¡¥what¡¦s up when we go down¡¦¡K and find that God is clear that through eternal life in Christ, HEAVEN AWAITS US NOW.
Then at the culmination of ¡§this age¡¨¡K there lies the climactic recreation of a new heaven and a new earth, which will be eternally united in God¡¦s very presence.
- In regards to its beauty¡K consider how even the beauty of creation in this now spoiled creation can be stunning¡K Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Tropical paradises¡K then consider how much more.
- In regards to its atmosphere¡K ultimate joy¡K marked not by rigidity¡K but by an ultimate freedom¡K
- It will be like a banquet¡K a dinner party¡K full of unexpected guests¡K like the thief crucified next to Christ¡Know made perfect¡K
- For all we might possibly imagine, we can be certain that we are only being given a glimpse of the wonder that awaits us.
- ¡§No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind can fully conceive what God has prepared for those who love him¡K¡¨ 1 Cor 2:9
- ¡§Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known¡¨ ¡V 1 John 3:2
C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia¡K¡§There was a real railway accident,¡¨ said Aslan softly. ¡§Your father and mother and all of you are¡Xas you used to call it in the Shadow-lands¡Xdead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.¡¨
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and 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 for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.¡¨
In the end it will be this life that will have been a dream.
- Which leads to the most significant question of all¡K SO WHAT? HOW DOES THE REALITY OF ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD INFLUENCE MY PRESENT, TEMPORAL LIFE ON EARTH, NOW??
A great trend among the church in the western affluent world in modern times has been that of a declining interest in heaven and a focusing of our hopes and expectations on earth. Whereas those throughout most of history and even the world today hold few illusions about just how great are the consequences of sin and the subsequent suffering at hand, we life in a time and place which is constantly given to stirring the sense of infinite possibilities in life¡K to the point of detaching ourselves form the futility beneath it all and denying death itself.
We can become so stimulated we think we¡¦re satisfied.
We can become so important we think we¡¦re immortal.
We can become more interested in adding a touch of heaven to our earth¡K and end us reducing the greater message of hope¡K the Gospel¡K to simply another self-enrichment program¡K when its hope is so much more.
We were never intended to be EARTHBOUND believers¡K on the other hand, neither are we to become ESCAPISTS¡K a trend common in which we become ¡§otherworldly¡¨¡K ¡§to heavenly for any earthly good.¡¨
- retreat into our pursuits of purity until Christ returns or we go to meet him.
Neither tendency¡Xescapism or earthboundness¡Xfully grasps the reality of heaven that¡¦s at hand. Both perceive the reality of eternal life as detached; as so often we fail to grasp the depth of connection at hand.
- Jesus has brought heaven to bear on earth¡K declared ¡§the kingdom is at hand¡¨¡K ¡§among you¡¨
Eternity is a realm parallel to our temporal existence¡K eternity is parallel to time, not simply after it¡K and thru Christ it has broken thru to impart a new quality of life¡K Eternal life neither binds us to earth nor is simply an escape from earth, rather Eternal Life becomes the power to live in the present.
WE¡¦RE EMPOWERED BY ETERNITY
Follow with me¡K 1 Peter 1¡K
¡§Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade¡Xkept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God¡¦s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer in grief in all kinds of trials¡K Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.¡¨ 1 Peter 1:3-6, 13-15
Peter describes a ¡§Living Hope¡¨ which leads to an active, empowered life.
- C. S. Lewis If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.
Aim at Heaven and you will get thrown in. Aim at earth and you will get neither.
ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN HAS ENTERED MY LIFE NOT TO DISTRACT MY LIVING BUT TO DIRECT MY LIVING.
How does it direct my living? What¡¦s the power at hand if you and I really let heaven in?
Having studied nearly every reference to eternal life and heaven, I find God¡¦s Word consistently illuminating 3 key dynamic influences by which eternity transforms my living in the present. All have traces of Peter¡¦s statement but I¡¦ve included other references for your reference as well.
1. OUR DISCOVERY OF ETERNAL LIFE TRANSFORMS OUR PERSPECTIVE OF THE EARTHLY HARDSHIPS WE FACE.
- We can appreciate Peter¡¦s reality¡K v. 6 ¡§You can rejoice in a new life though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.¡¨
- Grief is a natural part of life, particularly when we face disappointments and loss.
- Sometimes those disappointments run deep¡K and can lead to underlying battles with despair deep within.
- Even depression can be a natural response to unmet longings; to expectations which are deeply and despairingly unmet.
- The Bible isn¡¦t afraid of revealing such a sense about life, it¡¦s filled with glimpses into the souls of faith.
- David often spoke of temporal life as despairing apart from God¡K
o Ps. 16:2 says to the Lord ¡§apart from you I have no good thing
o So what kept a step in David¡¦s dance for life?
„X Ps. 16:8-11 ¡§I have set the Lord always before me Because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; by body also will rest secure because you will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your Holy One see decay You have made known to me the path of life You will fill me with joy in your presence With eternal pleasures at your right hand.
- Jesus¡K a man acquainted with grief and sorrow; for he knew life¡¦s pain. So how¡¦d he rise up with such endurance in his humanity? Hebrews 12 ¡¥He endured the cross¡K for the joy set before him¡K he loved his Father and held close his relationship with him.
- Paul¡K who gave up comfort and prestige to follow Christ despite great suffering
o After encountering the resurrected Christ he wrote to the Philippians, that the glory of resurrection was all he wanted.
o Describes in Romans 8¡K
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ¡§Abba, Father.¡¨ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God¡¦s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs¡Xheirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:15-18
¡Kwe know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:14-18
The power to live lies in the fixation of our eyes;
Catherine Marshall in Touching the Heart of God writes, ¡§My friend Marge was waiting for her plane to take off. On one side of the plane the sunset suffused the entire sky with glorious color, but out the window next to her, all she could see was a sky dark and threatening, with no sign of sunset. A voice within her said, ¡¥Your life, too, will contain some happy beautiful times and some dark shadows. You see it doesn¡¦t matter which window you look through; this plane is going to Cleveland.¡¦¡¨
Life is not simply a matter of looking at the bright side, but of letting the reality of your destiny raise your soul above any circumstance.
¡KMalcom Muggeridge once said that Mother Teresa never reads the news paper, never listens to the radio, and never watches T.V. so she¡¦s got a pretty good idea of what¡¦s going on in the world.
2. OUR DISCOVERY OF ETERNAL LIFE TRANSFORMS OUR PURSUIT OF PLEASURE; AWAKENING US TO THE PURITY OF OUR ETERNALLY-REDEEMED NATURE, STIRRING US TO LIVE IN THE LIGHT OF GOD¡¦S LOVE AND FUTURE
Eternal life allows me to see how passing and pseudo are the pleasures that seek to call me.
- If someone says to you, I live you and here¡¦s a special future¡K a wonderful destiny you could only long for¡K and I give it to you¡K you¡¦d rise to the occasion to live up to it!
- That¡¦s what Paul describes in Colossians 3: 1-5, 12-14
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Therefore, as God¡¦s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
- Not a call to retreat into some monastic life, but a call to rise up and put on the reality of sharing in the very life of Christ. For eternal life is essentially being given the life that only the Son of God has known¡K and to be awakened.
In I Thessalonians 5, a central text in Scripture re: Christ¡¦s return, Begins stating that regarding the day and hour we won¡¦t know, for he will come unexpected like a thief in the night and continues¡K
You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the n9ight or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For god did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11
- If you¡¦ve invited Christ into your life, you¡¦re no longer asleep¡K you ¡§belong to the day¡¨¡K and together we should stay awake¡K live in the light¡K and encourage the best in one another.
3. OUR DISCOVERY OF ETERNAL LIFE TRANSFORMS OUR INVESTMENT OF TIME, TALENT, AND TREASURE
- If you look back to our opening text of I Peter 1, verse 4 declares ¡§he has given you not only new birth into eternal life, but an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade, kept in heaven for you.¡¨
- Phil 3:20 ¡¥Our citizenship is in heaven¡¦
- DID YOU KNOW YOU HAVE REAL ESTATE IN HEAVEN?¡K better than any real estate on earth, and it will last forever.
- Jesus said,
Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:20-21
In our temporal lives, great value is given to a FINANCIAL ADVISOR who can offer a glimpse into foreseeing the stock market¡K a glimpse into the future.
JESUS CAME FROM HEAVEN AS THE ULTIMATE ADVISOR AND SAYS ONLY ONE MARKET IS GOING TO REALLY LAST¡K AND ITS VALUE AND DIVIDENDS WILL NEVER END.
Story about a sailor shipwrecked on one of the South Sea islands. He was seized by the natives, hoisted to their shoulders, carried to the village, and set on a rude throne. Little by little, he learned that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, king for a year. He liked it until he began to wonder what happened to all the former kings. Soon he discovered that every year when his kingship was ended, the king was banished to an island, where he starved to death. The sailor did not like that, but he was smart and he was king, king for a year. So he put his carpenters to work making boats, his farmers to work transplanting fruit trees to the island, farmers growing crops, masons building houses. So when his kingship was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance. It is a good parable of life: We¡¦re all kings here, kings for a little while, able to choose what we shall do with the stuff of life.
¡§Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break in and steal.¡¨ Matthew 6:19-20
> We¡¦re all here a short time, and whatever we do with our lives is really an investment in the real thing¡K the age to come.
I¡¦m torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith (Philippians 1:23-25)
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)
C. S. Lewis, (The Problem of Pain, Ch 10, p. 147-148)
¡§Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you¡Xyou, the individual reader¡K Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another¡¦s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction¡K Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it.¡¨