Monthly Archives: January 2012
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him even to subject all things to Himself.
The New Testament Church, that turned the world upside down, was birthed into the midst of fierce opposition and persecution, not knowing what was going to happen from one day to the next; many that joined the Church knew their immediate future was far removed from being certain and secure. Their property and possessions were plundered, their homes taken away. A vast number were thrown into prison, and many that faced execution of the most barbaric nature, not because of rampant unemployment and the collapse of a weakened economy, but for the crime of being – Christians.
It is common among many evangelical Christians today to have joy and happiness because one’s circumstances turn out well as wished. Sadly such security is based on the immediate – all depends on that, whether to our happiness or misery. But surely this runs contrary to what we read in the epistles and letters to the first churches.
The first Christians knew their joy and security ought never to depend on their circumstances. The apostle Paul would have been the most miserable wretch had that been the case with all the ‘mishaps’ in his own life. Happiness is the outcome of ‘happenings’, but joy goes even further – the kind that the Holy Spirit imparts. This is one of the key qualities the early Christians possessed that the world couldn’t touch or take away. Their eternal and glorious destiny was made so more real than the world in which they lived. It was a burning, convincing and persuasive reality that made these believers shine brightly as stars amidst a dark and twisted generation. Hebrews 11:16 was no mere fairytale to conjure up a positive mindset; it was a reality that transcended mere ecstatic experiences – “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.”
Much of what makes up the church today is more attached to this world and increasingly more detached from these eternal realities and liberating truths that had central influence in the lives of first generation Christians, and others throughout the history of the Church.
I am doubtful as to whether a majority of evangelical Christians believe these truths anymore.
Do we give time to really think about eternity? Do we meditate on it? Do we think about it more than before? Is it more real to us? Do we long more for it? Does it govern our lives? Our honest answers to such questions give evidence that indicate how truly we view what scripture speaks of so loud and clear.
While some of us wait patiently and look forward with eagerness to the appearing of our Lord, we have foretastes of that indescribable glory to come, the spiritual riches that we partake of in the here and now. Ephesians 3:13-14 is a wonderful passage that speaks much of what has happened to us now. Verse 3 in particular is where Paul introduced such grand themes and subsequently unfolds and elaborates all the way through to the end of the chapter: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us [present tense] in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”
We are not to wait mournfully, amidst all the chaos, for Christ’s return and consummation of all things; we are to enjoy our riches in Him, the Heavenly Father’s love, favour and kindness – now. David said, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6). Paul also, in Romans 8:32, “He Who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” And Peter writing to believers going through grievous trials, “Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9).
Neither do we wait for eternal life, even though our body degenerates; we have it now – Since You [the Father] have given Him [Christ] authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all who You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent” (John 17:2-3), and John again in his first epistle verse thirteen of chapter five, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Our outer self is wasting away but our inner self is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Do we sincerely believe God’s Word, or does scripture somewhat exaggerate in these matters? “…renewed day by day…” These are incredible truths we miss and overlook so easily and frequently, and much to the cause of our own misery which is a travesty of the Good News of Jesus Christ, Who has provided, sealed and secured our salvation.
These are not just truths believed and adhered to intellectually, but realities dawning brighter upon the soul by the power of the Holy Spirit; His persuasion that convinces us beyond a shadow of a doubt. It is what has empowered the Church and is also one of the major hallmarks in revival – the Spirit Who burns these realities into our innermost being, truth that enables the Christian to stand and walk victoriously in a twisted, depraved and sick world. It is what will encourage and strengthen our hearts while the prince of this world has yet to manifest his worst as the final moments draw close. We are called not to panic but ‘straighten up’ and raise our heads for our final redemption draws near.