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
35. ALLOWING GOD’S LIFE TO BE A REALITY IN THIS AGE IN VIEW OF THE BLESSED HOPE OF CHRIST’S COMING – Titus 2:11-14,
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present age, Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people of His own, zealous of good works.
In writing to Titus, Paul describes the divine intent and the human role in bringing to reality the effectual working out of God’s redemptive purpose.
The divine intent is stated in the phrase, the grace of God…hath appeared to all men. This statement carries with it several significant truths. First, God has one means of manifesting His grace to all mankind – in saving them. Secondly, God has designed the same means of saving mankind for everyone – not several ways. Thirdly, God’s provision of saving mankind has appeared in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The fact that not all men will recognize God’s grace as having been revealed in Christ’s work in no way deters from the fact that “God’s grace has appeared”.
When God’s “grace that bringeth salvation” is received, the believer is taught several matters which require obedience, which is the human role: (1) To deny ungodliness, i.e., to not allow ungodliness to have a place in one’s life. (2) To denyworldly lusts; likewise, to not allow worldly lusts to have a place in one’s life. (See I John 2:16,17.) (3) To live soberly, i.e., to have a balanced perspective (both heavenly and earthly) on one’s life and its purpose. (4)To live…righteously, i.e., to allow Christ’s imputed righteousness (II Cor. 5:17) to be integrated into practical experience (Rom. 8:4). (5) To live…godly, i.e., in conformity to the life of God within.
God’s purpose is for the believer to allow God’s life to be brought to reality in his own experience in this present age rather than the believer’s expecting it to be done only in heaven when this life is over.
Next, Paul describes the believer’s attitude which will both monitor and motivate the believer throughout the foregoing discipline of life. He states, Looking for that blessed hope. Along with the blessed hope of Christ’s appearing for the child of God is the expectation of the believer’s receiving a resurrected, glorified body (Phil. 3:21), and being forever with the Lord in personal presence (John 14:3). The believer’s attitude will also be based on his looking for…the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. In speaking of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Apostle is referring to Jesus, the second person of the godhead as the great God. This focuses on Christ’s deity. The truth of Christ’s deity is the basis of the hope of seeing Him at His appearing, and serves to motivate the child of God to live a life of obedience, as stated, denying ungodliness, etc. Recall that Jesus responded to Thomas’ request to show us the Father by saying, He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (John 14:8,9), and the similar statements in John 1:18 and I John 4:12, No man hath seen God at any time. This principle of seeing the Father through Christ will continue to be the manner of God’s revealing Himself through Christ until all things shall be subdued unto Him (implying that everything is to be delivered up to the Father), I Cor.15:28.
The appearing of Jesus Christ will be the same event as the blessed hope. Thus, when Jesus Christ is revealed in power and glory at His second coming, those who have placed their faith in Him and who have received the free gift of eternal life will be appearing with Him in resurrected, glorified bodies, realizing the complete blessing of having lived in obedience.
36. BEING HEIRS PROVIDES THE BASIS TO SHARE IN CHRIST’S GLORY – Titus 3:5-7,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, That, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Although Paul’s primary purpose in these verses is to show God’s purpose and provision in saving us, the phrase, That…we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life also suggests that those who have received His salvation have entered into the conforming process so that as an heir each person is being made ready to properly share and appreciate the inheritance in the eternal glory. Thus, our present lifetime serves as the time to become prepared for sharing Christ’s glory in eternity.
37. HAVING STEADFAST FAITH IN PRESENT TRIALS RESULTS IN GLORY TO GOD IN ETERNITY– I Peter 1:3-9,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, according to His abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold trials, That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ, Whom, having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Peter brings together the eternal and temporal aspects of God’s gift of eternal life to everyone who has placed his faith in Jesus Christ, similarly as Paul has previously done. This life begins for the child of God through his being begotten… again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Next, Peter presents to the believer the truth of the eternal inheritance as a reference point for setting one’s perspective toward the future in hope, i.e., that confident expectation that God will fulfill what He has promised. From that perspective, Peter directs his attention to God’s power to keep the believer on the pathway of God’s design to the conclusion of his life when he is delivered from the very presence of sin (salvation ready to be revealed in the last time).
This ultimate expectation of the believer enables him to rejoice in the midst of present trials, knowing that the outcome of the trials is going to result in praise, honor, and glory to Christ when He returns. Therefore, one’s steadfastness in faith through present trials will result in glorifying Christ at His return. The believer’s love to Christ, combined with faith, becomes the basis of his ability to rejoice in the midst of the present trials.
38. LIVING RIGHTEOUSLY IN VIEW OF OUR ETERNAL STATE – II Peter 3:11‑14,
Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Peter ties together a dual emphasis in this present passage. He admonishes the child of God to live his life in a holy and godly manner because of the knowledge he has that the realities of the present world will come to an end. The child of God has the privilege of choosing to give himself to those actions which will continue on to his good in the eternities.
Another, but less obvious implication in Peter’s statement seems to be that living righteously in one’s present experience plays a part in his blameless condition when the new heavens and earth are a present reality. Peter’s purpose seems to be to encourage the believer that one’s present choice to walk in righteousness and holiness is to have some bearing on the degree to which a person will enjoy his eternal state.
39. BEING FAITHFUL BY LOVING CHRIST’S APPEARING – II Timothy 4:8,
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.
A most obvious relationship of present experience to our eternal state is described by Paul in this passage in II Timothy. A crown of righteousness awaited the Apostle Paul because he had been faithful in running the course the Lord had laid out for him. He looked forward to receiving the crown when Christ returns. Paul goes on to give a word of assurance to all who love Christ’s appearing that they, too, will be able to receive a crown of righteousness. Loving Christ’s appearing is the basis for being faithful.
40. LIVING BY FAITH RESULTS IN SALVATION COMPLETED – Hebrews 10:35‑39,
Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
The burden on the heart of the writer to the Hebrews all through the epistle is to encourage them to be steadfast and maintain confidence in the promises of God. The intent of Heb. 10:35‑39 is to assure the Hebrew believers that the reward is certain for all who do not cast away their confidence in God’s faithful fulfillment of His promises. Believers can have confidence that Christ will come again as promised, and it will be without delay when He does come. Faith is the absolute essential ingredient that protects believers from losing confidence. Thus, the writer continues, God finds no pleasure in those who draw back from the continual walk in faith, since His intent is for them to realize the full and complete benefits of His salvation, that is, deliverance from the power of sin throughout one’s earthly life and deliverance from the presence of sin in the life eternal.
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.