Part 3 – Where are we going?
CHAPTER 4 – From Here to Eternity
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.
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. By following the Scriptures in a chronological sequence, i.e., the order in which the New Testament books were written, we will receive greater appreciation of the interpretive (hermeneutical) principle of the expanding revelation of Scripture. That principle is based on the concept that truths presented in a simple form in earlier Scriptures are developed and expanded in later ones. (See Appendix C for a suggested New Testament Chronological Order.)
When a believer in Christ knows “WHO HE IS” IN CHRIST (The 50 Facts of Salvation), which is “Point A” in the journey of life, and knows “WHERE HE IS GOING”, “Point B,” which is being blameless and holy in Christ’s presence at the resurrection (Ephesians 1), it will help him to know how he is to walk in the Spirit. The walk in the Spirit is the line or course of life from Point A to Point B. Time, Point A to Point B, is part of eternity for the child of God because he is beginning to participate in eternity during his lifetime. This is what it means to have eternal life, John 17:3.
HOW ONE’S LIFETIME RELATES TO ETERNITY FOR THE CHILD OF GOD
(The First Five of Fifty-Three Scripture Passages)
The 53 Scripture passages describe God’s intent as to how the Christian’s manner of life has a direct bearing on the ultimate glory which the believer shares with Christ at the resurrection and throughout eternity.
1. ENDURING TEMPTATION; CROWN OF LIFE – James 1:12,
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.
There is a direct benefit in time for the believer who endures temptation or testing. The benefit is a blessedness or happiness because the believer’s sense of assurance and of peace is based, not on his condition in life or experiences, but on the knowledge of God’s sovereign power and eternal purposes. To endure carries the idea of steadfastness and patience. The period of time referred to in the passage is the entire lifetime of the believer. One’s lifetime can encompass many testing times so that as the individual continues to go steadfastly forward, he is promised the ultimate reward of the crown of life (also referred to in Rev. 2:10). This crown is given as an emblem of the believer’s faithfulness to a faithful God, Who will always bring glory out of suffering and life out of death.
2. HAVING PATIENCE NOW IN ANTICIPATION OF THE LORD’S RETURN – James 5:7,8,
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth near.
The farmer has learned the principles of agriculture, which enable him to trust that as he has sown seed, time will enable him to enjoy fruit from his labor. Likewise the believer sees a similar principle at work in sowing to the Spirit (Gal. 6:8) as he waits patiently, which will result in eternal fruit, or the benefit of life everlasting in his present experience. By extending this principle of sowing to the Spirit repeatedly throughout his lifetime, the believer develops in the practice of patience, with the coming of the Lord as the ultimate reward. So the believer is encouraged to be patient, and to establish (or, strengthen) his heart (or, resolve) in the anticipation of the Lord’s imminent return. Such expectation will keep the life of the believer in proper alignment.
3. BEING SEPARATE FROM PRESENT EVIL AGE – Galatians 1:3d‑5,
…Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of God and our Father, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Because Christ gave Himself for the sins of believers, the provision is made for the believer to be delivered from the control and influence that the present world system attempts to exercise over every person living on earth. The fact of such deliverance is the basis for bringing glory to the Father in heaven.
4. FAITHFUL WITNESSING AND DISCIPLING RESULTS IN A CROWN OF REJOICING – I Thessalonians 2:19,20,
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For ye are our glory and joy.
It is a great privilege and joy for a believer to share the gospel message with a person, see him or her come to a knowledge of Christ as Lord and Savior, and continue in discipling him or her. The Apostle Paul had such a relationship with those who became believers at Thessalonica. But he anticipated a greater joy when he and these believers will be together in the presence of Christ when he comes in power and glory. So the believer today is afforded a similar privilege of sharing the gospel message and discipling those who believe, with the expectation of standing in Christ’s presence with them at Christ’s return. That reality will be the believer’s Crown of Rejoicing.
CROWNS FOR THE BELIEVER:
In addition to (1) the crown of life (Jas. 1:12; Rev. 2:10), and (2) the crown of rejoicing (I Thess. 2:19), there are three other crowns which are given to believers at the judgment seat of Christ. They are (3) the incorruptible crown (I Cor. 9:25), given for being temperate and running the race of life as it is pleasing to God; (4) the crown of glory (I Pet .5:4), given to those who feed the flock (pastors) and are examples to the flock, and who exercise oversight of the flock in a willing attitude; and, (5) the crown of righteousness which the Lord gives to all who love His appearing (II Tim. 4:8).
5. A BENEDICTION FOR LOVE AND HOLINESS – I Thess. 3:12,13,
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you, To the end He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
God is imparting His desire for us, through Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians, for each of us to continue to grow in the imparting of God’s love from within toward all people. The need for such love to be manifest is a continual one throughout each Christian’s lifetime and throughout the entire time until Christ returns. The purpose for such love to be shared increasingly is so that each believer’s heart may be established unblameable in holiness before God when Christ does come. Paul expresses this as a prayer, but the prayer also serves to give each believer an eternal perspective to direct him throughout his earthly sojourn. The statement, establish your hearts unblameable in holiness, primarily has reference to the realization of practical holiness reaching its ultimate perfection at the time of Christ’s coming. Thus, becoming holy is never fully completed during this lifetime, but only at its conclusion.
Next Week: Continuing our 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.