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!)
What will the final goal be for the Christian who knows who he is in Christ?” is an important question that might be asked as a person gains understanding as to his position in Christ.
HOW ONE’S LIFETIME RELATES TO
ETERNITY FOR THE CHILD OF GOD
16. VIEW PRESENT DIFFICULTIES IN LIGHT OF ETERNAL GLORY – II Corinthians 4:14-18,
Knowing that He Who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Believers operate in two spheres of activity simultaneously – the temporal and the eternal. The difficulties of the temporal which are described as light afflictions are to be regarded relative to the eternal weight of glory. Such a realization enables an individual to endure afflictions with confident expectation. Since every benefit of life is not dependent on good environment and conducive conditions, the ominous threat of distresses is lessened. But there is also the anticipation of the greater compensation of the glory which will be realized throughout eternity!
17. LIVING TO BE WELL-PLEASING TO THE LORD AT THE JUDGMENT FOR BELIEVERS – II Corinthians 5:8-10,
(See also Bema Judgment, and Judgment Seat, Numbers 8 and 22 of this Chapter 4.)
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore, we labor that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
The beginning of II Corinthians 5 contrasts the resurrection body to the earthly house of this tabernacle (vs. 1). Then the principle follows: that which a believer does during his earthly sojourn will influence eternity. Although this passage doesn’t describe the precise way or means by which our earthly life has such an influence, it states that it will be manifest at the judgment seat of Christ. We believe the description given in I Corinthians 3:9-15 of the believers’ works tested by fire is concurrent with the judgment seat of Christ.
18. SUFFERING WITHIN THE WILL OF GOD – Romans 8:17-25,
And if children, then heirs – heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ – if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope. Because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope. But hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
This passage is undoubtedly the most extensive treatise in Scripture regarding the relationship of temporal experiences to eternal results. The believer’s position as children of God and heirs is foundational to understanding the fact that present suffering is directly contributing to the participation in Christ’s glory. Whether it is a quantitative relationship is not clearly stated, but the very fact that glory awaits the child of God is presented as an encouragement so that as suffering is experienced while in the will of God, one should not be overcome with panic or despair, but will continue on with steadfast endurance.
The suffering that befalls the child of God is part of the general scope of suffering which prevails throughout all of creation. The sense is that creation is anticipating the day when the children of God will experience perfect liberty at the time when they share in Christ’s glory. We, who are the children of God, should live in such an anticipation. This is the intent of verse 23 that the believer is in expectation of the future enjoyment of the inheritance at the resurrection in a similar way as creation is in expectation. Meanwhile, the ministry of the Holy Spirit enables us to remain steadfast in the midst of present trials.
The phrase, the first fruits of the Spirit, indicates that the Spirit’s present ministry is partial and a token of that which God has waiting for us at the resurrection. Thus, we can expect the ultimate reality to be as much greater to present blessings as the final harvest is greater than the first sheaf of a harvest!
The time of that ultimate reality is spoken of as the adoption; that is, the time when believers are enabled to fully participate as fellow-heirs with Christ in His inheritance. That time is then equated to the redemption of the body, or the resurrection. Then, it is emphasized that what one hopes for is not something one sees while he hopes, but because of his confidence that he will gain it eventually, it becomes the basis for patience in the present experience of suffering. This helps us to understand the passage in Romans 5:3-5,
…We glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope; And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.
19. INTERCESSION BY THE SPIRIT ENLARGES OUR PRAYERS – Romans 8:26,27,
Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Although the individual believer may not be able at a given moment to understand how present circumstances relate to God’s eternal purpose, the Holy Spirit makes intercession on behalf of the believer in the very presence of God at such time as the believer may feel he is being overwhelmed by the weight of his circumstances and is incapable of putting the necessary prayer into words. Thus, God’s answer to the prayer of the believer will be in a manner consistent with the heart-cry of the believer as the Holy Spirit has expanded that heart-cry in God’s presence in the heavenlies!
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.