Part 3 – Where are we going?
CHAPTER 4 – From Here to Eternity (Continued)
My Conduct Here Will Affect My Outcome in Glory
(The Relationship Between Our Present Position – Who I Am In Christ – And Our Ultimate Maturity At The Resurrection!)
In Ward Brandenstein’s introduction to chapter four he writes: “Life for the Christian, when viewed in its eternal aspects, gives a balanced perspective to the relationship of time and eternity to come. Although we are not given the understanding to see how the daily experiences of life being lived in the present will relate to eternity, we are given many clear Scriptural statements that there is such a relationship. Such a relationship is referred to in Philippians 1:6, `Being confident of this very thing, that He Who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’ This Scripture indicates that God is accomplishing a work in the life of each believer in the course of one’s earthly lifetime that will be on a continuum until the day of Jesus Christ, i.e., the day of His return. Let us consider Scriptures from the New Testament that will aid our understanding of the importance of present conduct to eternal realities.
HOW ONE’S LIFETIME RELATES TO
ETERNITY FOR THE CHILD OF GOD
11. BEING STEADFAST IN LOVE – I Corinthians 13:12,13,
For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then, face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The contrast between the temporal and the eternal points out that our temporal vision is partial, but that our eternal perspective will be complete and entire in accordance with the complete way in which we are known of God.
The three virtues of faith, hope, and love (agape love) are continually abiding virtues needed throughout the earthly life of the believer. Faith enables the believer to know spiritual things in the present; hope enables one to know things that are future; and love, which is a part of the fruit of the Spirit and which is ministered through one’s spirit by the Spirit of God, is for both time and eternity. Faith and hope, necessary in our present existence, are temporal, not being needed in the eternal state; love abides forever!
12. THE RESURRECTION AFFECTS OUR PRESENT LIVING – I Corinthians 15:20-28,
But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of them that slept.
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection (from out) of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive;
But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.
Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
For He (God) hath put all things under His (Christ’s) feet. But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted Who did put all things under Him.
And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him that God may be all in all.
We noted earlier the contrast in this Scripture between Adam and Christ. As we consider the passage at this time, we are interested in seeing the way in which life in this present time influences eternity. One of the most obvious ways in which temporal life is a part of eternity is inherent in the truth of the resurrection. Resurrection is the change of the body from the present existence to the eternal state.
Christ, in His resurrection, is the head or beginning of a new and different resurrected people. The Scripture presents the truth that the Son who came into temporal, human existence, will one day be in the priority position, that is, in the forefront of all creation, in the eternal and spiritual order in the new heavens and the new earth. At that time He will subject all things to the Father. Thus, all who receive eternal life will likewise experience the resurrection life principle presently and will be willingly participating in the same state of subjection to the Father as is the Son. The resurrection of the body is the final element in our present sharing of eternal and spiritual life that enables us to have an eternal perspective on the present order of things in our lives.
13. THE RESURRECTION HELPS THE BELIEVER TO HAVE SPIRITUAL PRIORITIES – I Corinthians 15:42-45,
So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man, Adam, was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit.
This resurrection discourse shows the contrast between man’s temporal state and his eternal one. This passage focuses on the difference between man’s present body and the post-resurrection body. The first body is described as being characterized by corruption (tends to decay), dishonor (or, shamefulness), weakness, natural (or, soul-dominated), and received by being born into Adam’s family; whereas, the resurrected body is described as being in incorruption (not subject to decay), glory (free of shame), power, spiritual (spirit as its life), and is the result of the work of the Spirit, as evidenced in Christ’s resurrection, and subsequently the Christian’s resurrection. The benefit of drawing such a contrast is that by seeing the impermanence of one’s temporal body, a person will be encouraged to shift his priorities from living primarily to care for his present needs to giving a balanced consideration to his eternal responsibilities and privileges.
14. THE RESURRECTION BRINGS HOPE TO THE BELIEVER – I Corinthians 15:51-53,
Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
The point of transition from the temporal to the eternal as it affects man’s physical being is also presented in these verses. First, believers are assured that there is no difference at the time of the rapture of the church between those who have died and those who do not die, because the change brought by resurrection will apply equally to both. There will be an instant change for all believers at which time all receive an incorruptible (or, eternal) body, a never-dying body! The promise of an incorruptible body gives the believer hope to endure through present adversity. The intent, once again, seems to be to encourage the believer to shift his focus from living primarily with only temporal interests, to enduring, eternal interests.
15. VIEWING OTHER BELIEVERS AS IN THEIR ETERNAL GLORY – II Corinthians 4:5-7,
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
The eternal aspect of the treasure which is now housed in earthen vessels refers to believers in Corinth who were brought to Christ through Paul’s declaring the gospel to them initially. Thus, we are given some insight into Paul’s heart in his regard for the Corinthian Christians. Rather than seeing them only in their carnal condition (I Cor. 3:1‑5), he views them at the same time in the eternal perspective. This enables him to endure many adverse situations as he continues to fulfill his commitment to carry the gospel message to others who need to hear who will also become a part of this treasure.
Likewise, in the present time, we, as Christians, will regard other believers differently from the way we would naturally, as we see them in view of the ultimate glory that will be theirs at the resurrection. Such a perspective enables us to be patient in adversity and maintain a prevailing attitude of love toward those whom we have seen come to Christ and are presently going through growth experiences which could be very trying to them and to us.
Next Week: Continuing through Fifty-Three Scripture Passages
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.