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
26. GLORY TO GOD THROUGH CHRIST IN THE CHURCH – Ephesians 3:20,21,
Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
The paramount privilege afforded the church in time and eternity is to ascribe glory to God. It is not only a verbal ascription of glory in this doxology, but the sharing of glory in eternity. As can be seen in Ephesians, chapters 4‑6, the truth is expounded that the walk of the believer is to be in accordance with God’s call and purpose as set forth in the first three chapters of the epistle. Thus, the present doxology is a pivotal passage, emphasizing that the glory to God through Christ in the church is to be a primary consideration in the believer’s walk, resulting in the experience of the believer’s sharing in glory in Christ’s presence.
27. THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY BRINGS THE CHURCH TO COMPLETION – Ephesians 4:12,13,
For the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ,
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
An important aspect of the relationship between present experience and eternal benefits is seen from the gifted positions made available by Christ to the church. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (v. 11) are given to the church to bring the saints to maturity, that they may do the work of the ministry in order to build up the body of Christ until the time when the completed body of believers is in eternal unity of the faith. The building up of the body of Christ will be completed when the church measures up to the full stature of Christ at the resurrection.
28. THE CLEANSING OF THE CHURCH THROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF AND OBEDIENCE TO THE WORD- Ephesians 5:26,27,
That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word; That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
From the heavenly standpoint, Christ is cleansing the church throughout time so it will be holy and unblemished for all eternity. Thus, as believers grow in the knowledge of the Word and are obedient to it, the cleansing process is accomplished in view of the eternal result.
29. CHRIST WORKING A GOOD WORK IN THE BELIEVER THROUGHOUT HIS LIFETIME – 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 is a statement to give assurance and confidence to Christian believers that adversity is used by God to accomplish the good work that He has in mind for them. Along with the truth that Christ is accomplishing His program for the church throughout time, to have the church holy throughout eternity, is the parallel truth that Christ is working a good work within the believer which is completed when Christ returns in glory! The believer gains assurance as he accepts this truth and discovers how the good work is made evident by the many circumstances which God weaves into the fabric of the believer’s life as he submits to God’s working.
30. SEEK FOR EXCELLENCE FOR GOD’S GLORY; BE SINCERE; HAVING FRUITS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – Philippians 1:10,11,
That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
This is a prayer by the Apostle Paul, beginning at verse nine, which he is offering to God on behalf of the believers at Philippi. One part of his prayer in verse ten is for them to be able to approve things that are excellent. Paul’s concern seems to be that these believers should not merely settle for good things, but rather to seek for excellence for God’s glory. By seeking values and standards that are excellent, the believers will be living in a manner consistent with God’s righteousness and holiness, which righteousness and holiness are intended by God to bring blessing in the believer’s experience.
As a result of Paul’s prayer, the approving of things that are excellent by the believers, that they may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, will be fulfilled. It seems that Paul’s desire for Christians both then and now by praying as he does, is that we will be sincere: genuine, transparent, honest, and consistently truthful in conduct throughout our lifetimes until the time when Christ returns and we will be sharing in His glory. What a high motivation for all Christians of all ages for a God-honoring life!
In verse 11, the fruits of righteousness are the working out of the imputed righteousness (justification) that all believers receive at salvation, resulting in a practical benefit to the believer by his living in righteousness. This principle applies to believers in Paul’s day, to those throughout the church age, including believers today. Righteousness will provide for things to go “right”. In other words, the fruit of righteousness (Rom. 6:16‑22) is the imputed righteousness (Rom. 3:24) working out in practical ways.
The fruits of this righteousness are designed to be of practical benefit as the believer freely submits his life to the control of the Holy Spirit in his step-by-step daily spiritual walking. This pathway of righteous conduct is accomplished through Christ’s living out His righteous life through the believer, and will increasingly bring glory to God. The process of the fruits of righteousness in the life of the believer will be part of the basis of our eternal praise to God!
31. GUARDING AGAINST MURMURINGS and DISPUTINGS; SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD – Philippians 2:14-16,
Do all things without murmurings and disputings, That ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, Holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ…
The believer is admonished to forsake the carnal or negative practices that bring division, and to live in the light of the positive aspects of the gospel. In order for us as believers to experience the reality of the gospel, we are exhorted to guard against allowing murmurings or disputings to enter into (1) our service for Christ, and (2) into our ministry to one another. This positive conduct will promote the light of the gospel of Christ to shine forth brightly so the world will have continued opportunity to receive eternal life. If believers shine as lights and hold forth the word of life faithfully, it will be cause for rejoicing when Christ returns in glory!
32. STRIVING FOR THINGS THAT ARE EXCELLENT – Philippians 3:14,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul’s personal motivation for faithful service to Christ is related to the picture of running a race. Paul sees his earthly time of ministry as the time the race is being run, with the finish line in heaven where the recognition for the race run will be awarded. (Cf. I Cor. 3:9-15, No. 8.)
With such a goal (pressing toward the mark) in mind, the believer will want to establish priorities in life to give his time to things that are excellent and not to settle for merely good things or less. Thus, life is not just a matter of doing right or wrong, but of not even settling for good when the best is possible.
33. STEADFASTNESS NOW; BLAMELESS THEN – Colossians 1:21-23,
And you…hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight, If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature that is under heaven, of which I, Paul, am made a minister.
The reconciliation of the believer to God was provided in order that Christ will be able to present the believer to God holy, unblameable and unreproveable. This truth is to be kept in view by the believer in order to maintain a consistent adherence to the faith which was preached by Paul and has been made known to all people through the gospel. In reality, Paul’s exhortation is based on the dual principle of God’s work as the basis of reconciliation and on the believer’s consistent walk of faith as the means for actualizing it into experience.
34. THE BASIS OF OUR PERFECTION IS CHRIST’S INDWELLING PRESENCE – Colossians 1:27,28,
…Christ in you, the hope of glory; Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
Because Christ’s indwelling presence is the basis and means for every believer’s hope of perfection when Christ returns in glory, Paul’s ministry (as all ministry today needs to be) is to warn and to teach individual believers to have their spiritual walk in proper alignment. As each one keeps his life under the direction of Christ’s dwelling within him, that perfection (completeness) will be more and more a reality throughout one’s lifetime.
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.