Lessons from the future: The way it can be
Just having talked to a faithful brother in the Lord today, a rather common refrain was once again brought up which revolved around some of the regrets we have as believers. Even though I did encourage him despite his concern, I couldn’t help acknowledging that’s exactly how I felt myself.
All of us as Christians have regrets. But like many other things that can affect us adversely, let’s leave our past regrets in the past and dwell upon the goodness of God that we might learn to walk therein- today. Every day is new in Jesus and it can be with us as well provided we choose to make it so. That change of heart starts with a proper belief about what is really true.
Recently I’ve been thinking about and writing about the perfection of God. Even when friends ask me how I’ve been doing lately I’ve been foregoing the typical answer of “ok” or “fine” and jumping right into “perfect.” That usually garners a laugh or two- that is until the person on the other end of the phone realizes I’m not joking. Seeing that people already think I’m a little out there, I thought I might as well add this response to my repertoire.
As funny as this seems, and considering God’s own rather radical declarations, most Christians might as well be laughing just as hard about these things God Himself promises to His children:
“But seek first His kingdom and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33, 34]
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” [Matthew 7:7, 8]
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30]
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My ekklesia; and the gates of hell will not overpower it” [Matthew 16:18]
“Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.” [Matthew 17:20, 21]
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life” [Mark 10:29, 30]
And why would they be quietly and secretly laughing? Ask yourself, “How much of the above have you lived or are living presently living at this very moment in your life?” If your not living all of the above, “Don’t you think that warrants an investigation of why not? For either God Himself is a liar (which means He isn’t trustworthy) or the problem resides with you and I? Hopefully we’re no so foolish to think outside the latter.
Promises in the Bible are not always easy to understand. Some are for some people and not others. Some are conditional, some are not. Others relate to very specific things, times, nations or are fulfilled under very specific circumstances. Many if not most of the promises are misunderstood or ripped from their proper context. Take for example the promise above in the book of Mark. What is this promise stating exactly? What does “will receive a hundred times as much in this age” actually mean. Does God want each of us to be rich? Does God really want us to store up earthly treasures upon this earth? Despite what this verse seems to say, wouldn’t both of the previous statements be contrary to other Bible passages?
The whole He hath made
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” [Romans 1:20]
The verse above is a divine indictment toward all of mankind. It might as well say “THEY KNOW I EXIST” by the evidence I have left for them through creation. God has not merely created the marvel of this world, He has done that in such a way that its existence could not be explained in any other rational way outside of the existence of Himself. Have you ever thought deeply about the marvel of creation? The manner the sun and the moon and the earth all work together? How storms create rain, ice and snow and the other way around? How all of the earths ecosystems are all intricately connected? Although we cannot possibly grasp the entire magnitude of what God has done, we do know this about what we’ve discovered so far- it’s perfect. The fool says in his heart their is no God.
Why is this important to you and I? How does this relate to the perfection of God?
God has reasons for our existence and He put His plan for us together before the beginning of time. God is in the business of redemption, redeeming a fallen world- not through partial or imperfect means, but with a perfect solution, through a perfect Savior.
Most of us realize that it was necessary for Jesus to perfectly fulfill His father’s law as a human being in order for Him to be able to condemn sin and free us from its grasp. He was the perfect lamb of God- an absolute necessity if we were to find forgiveness and ultimately share in His glory. This of course has been accomplished and becomes a reality for those who trust in His finished work on their behalf. “The hour has come (and gone now) for the Son of Man to be glorified” [John 12:23]
Sadly, many people, even Christians are convinced that this is where the story ends. Huh what? This is the beginning folks, the SEED OF PERFECTION which has fallen into the ground and died:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” [John 12:24]
Oh Christian, do you not want to share His glory? Do you not want to follow in His footsteps of suffering that you might share in that glory?
“For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” [Hebrews 2:10]
Beautiful in its time
“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent His Son…” [Galatians 4:4]
There is a time for everything…..and God is not in a hurry like we are. He knows the tasks that He has prepared for each of us, He knows how to prepare us for those tasks and knows what resources will be needed for their accomplishment. Sadly, two things happen when we don’t wait upon God’s timing:
1. We do things “for God” that He does not sanction
2. We use our own resources/methods to bring our plans to fulfillment
Looking over the thousands of years since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, would you say God’s people are nearer the perfection that God desires for us? Or would we have to conclude that we are as far away from that as we have ever been? Such questions cannot be slighted anymore than those concerning His promises. They too warrant an explanation for what surely amounts to a failure on someone’s part. Someone is to blame for stopping this train on the tracks or replacing it with another that is heading somewhere else.
Get on the right train
If your not on the right train, your bound to end up somewhere other than your destination. Jesus is the engine that is pulling His people exactly where He wants them to go. If you haven’t figured it out yet, as a Christian you have absolutely zero say in the matter. If you are His than you have absolutely no right to yourself.
He hath put eternity in their hearts
In an earlier post we discussed how despite God placing this desire to understand “the ends of the earth” (eternity) or “their beginning and end” that this is beyond the reach of mortal man. This was specifically done that men my grope for God in their quest for that answer. We also discussed how Christians have some insight into this manner because those who have been born again can see the kingdom of God and how Jesus is both the Creator and their guarantor of life after death. As such, these Christians must become the ones who not only preach the message of truth and reconciliation but live in a manner that is consistent with those truths. Jesus says;
“Sanctify them in the truth, Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” [John 17:17-23]
Uh oh, there’s that word perfection again! Except this time its not just talking about God and Jesus, it’s not just talking about His children also, it’s not just talking about people who will become believers through His children, it’s talking about perfection in this world, in this life among all of these people! This is easily proven by the part of verse 23 which says, “that the world may know that You sent Me.” Where this statement is found is crucial. It shows us that a perfect practical unity is indeed possible in this life amongst believers.
If indeed a perfect practical unity is possible among those of faith, then only one question remains to be asked:
How might perfect practical unity be accomplished among us? I am so glad you asked. If you don’t mind, I’d like to answer that by answering why it’s not happening, why Christians are not united and as a result convincing the world than God the Father sent Jesus to them.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded , unstable in all his ways” [James 1:2-8]
We fail to live in the manner God desires for two primary reasons. First, we flat out don’t believe this is possible. This of course is based predominately upon what we see as continual disunity amongst those who claim to be Christians. This is exactly the opposite of how Christians are called to live by faith, a faith that does not take into consideration things like, whether it seems possible or what we happen to think or presently see about us.
Secondly, and tied to faith is the manner in which we are to share the glory that Jesus promises us in John 17. On one hand we already share His glory due to the deposit of the Holy Spirit in us which is given as a pledge of our inheritance. You can find this truth here (Romans 8:30) But practically living in God’s glory is an entirely different thing. How and when was Jesus glorified? Was it not after His death and resurrection. Was that not when the real fruit from His labors was born? When the Holy Spirit was sent forth in power? Was not that when we witnessed the true unity of the Spirit amongst those believers present in the upper room and afterwards?
Read again John 17:22;
“The glory which you have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, and the result of that glory is that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know……”
A Simple Equation
+ Belief in what God’s Word says and not our preconceived notions about the truth or what we see with our eyes
+ Belief that our sufferings are the means to fruitful living and individual effectiveness & power
+ Belief that our collective sufferings lead to fruitful living, power and influence in society
= A willingness to embrace one’s sufferings leading to the death of their old self, a death which in turn leads to glory and in glory God’s power is made manifest. The problem we face today among God’s people is UNBELIEF and UNWILLINGNESS which are both equated by God to be DISOBEDIENCE.
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His” [2 Chronicles 16:9]
Do you dare be one of them…..?