Category Archives: Victorious Living

Be Still and Know!

Be Still !

Be still!

 Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations,

 I will be exalted in the earth. (Psalm 46:10, NKJV)

This is the closing instruction the Psalmist gives in the 46th division of Israel’s song book.  It was to be remembered and recited as they worshipped Jehovah in the Temple.  Perhaps it was read during times when the nation was threatened by foreign nations.  It could even be cited as kings prepared to bring a somber message or bad news to their subjects.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.  Though the waters be therefore roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  Selah

With the latest mass shooting in Kansas City after the Chief’s Super Bowl parade, we ask ourselves the question, “Lord, when will the madness stop?”  It seems as if evil is on every hand—locally, nationally, and without a doubt internationally.  We may even ask, “is God in control?”

The Answer

Psalm 46 answers those questions in its final verses.  Yes, God is still in control.  And in response to the problems we face, we are to “be still and know” who God is and His ability to address the issue at hand.  To know (yada) means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting, and (2) to know by experiencing.  It is to have an intimate knowledge of Him.

As we reflect on our lives, where have we seen God at work?  When has God come to our rescue or given us the strength to endure trying times?  Have there been situations where we realized that God had gone before us to make a way out of no way (Psa. 50:15)?  God is awesome and available and much, much, more.

A Mighty Refuge

As I process the trauma of the senseless shooting, this time, in “my city”, I recall the words from the powerful hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, which is said to be a paraphrase of Psalm 46.

A mighty Fortress is our God

A Bulwark never failing

Our Helper He amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing

The concept of fortress appears numerous times throughout the Bible, often carrying deep symbolic meaning beyond just a stronghold or place of defense (Psa. 18:2; 62:6-8).  Fortress is most often used metaphorically to represent God as a source of refuge, protection, and salvation for His people.  These verses portray God as an unshakable fortress or tower that provides safety and security for those who trust in Him.

This thought continues with the Psalmist’s use of the word, bulwark.  A bulwark is a wall meant to provide protection.  “Mortal ills” are human sins we must deal with while operating in our “human flesh”.  These often result in negative outcomes in our personal life and in society.

Words to Remember

Jesus in His final moments with His Disciples presented a “sobering expectation” of their future: “In this life you will have tribulations.”  That message is still true for us in the 21st century.  But Jesus adds the “blessed reality and result” of our relationship with Him.  “Be of good cheer (take courage), I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

In other words, Jesus’ victory over death and sin by way of the Cross, would be the same victory we would experience as we encountered life’s trials—individually or collectively.  Victory includes our ability to persevere and to succeed regardless of the circumstances we may experience (Eph. 1: 18-19).

As we navigate tragedies and misfortunes, we must remember that we live in a fallen world.  And while we have been delivered from the penalty and power of sin, we must still expect and deal with the consequences of its presence.  Our knowledge of God assures us that His presence will go with us (Deut. 31:8), His power will protect us (2 Thess. 3:3), and His peace will sustain us (John 14:26-27). Therefore, we can be still (relax).

Throwback Wednesday: Truth: The Divine Perspective

 

Throwback Wednesday: Truth:  The Divine Perspective

For the past few weeks WordBytes has focused on the process of  “returning”.  Return by definition means to come or go back to a place or person or thing.   As a part of speech, it is an action word that demands a personal response to accomplish a desired outcome.

In our series we suggested that to live victoriously, it is critical that we as believers not forget key spiritual virtues.  If we have “drifted”, it begins by returning to our first love, God.  Other areas include fellowship, faithfulness, joy, and repentance.  Returning is an indication and an admission, that we, at one time, have been in the “right place”.

With that in mind, for Throwback Wednesday we’d like to “return to basics”; and that basic involves truth.  More specifically, God’s Truth.  We offer for your consideration, “Truth:  The Divine Perspective.”

Truth: The Divine Perspective

Return to Fellowship

Return to Fellowship with God

We must draw near.

There are two (2) biblical truths that should motivate believers to live their lives “more fully and abundantly” (John 10:10).

The first truth is that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, presently lives within us.  Jesus promised this to those that “believeth on and in Him” (John 14:16-17).  The second is that we live continuously in the presence of God (Ps. 139:7).  There is never a time nor is there any circumstance in our life where we will find ourselves outside God’s love and purview.

Both truths are “spiritual blessings” gifted to us from our heavenly Father (Eph. 1:3).   But even with God’s commitment to be in and among us, we as believers have a responsibility to draw “near to God” (James 4:8) by entering into intentional fellowship with Him.  God will not force His presence upon us.  God is daily inviting us into the joy of fellowship.

What is Fellowship?

What does “fellowship with God” look like in the life of the believer?  Fellowship has been described as the sharing of experiences with likeminded people.  However, fellowship with God is much more, for “who has known the mind of God (Romans 11:34)?” Through Jesus Christ, believers are able to “know by experience” God’s heart and mind.  Such was the case with the Apostle John.  John and the disciples were uniquely privileged to witness, firsthand, the person and works of Christ.

    • “That which was heard” were truths that Christ declared concerning the kingdom of God and His offer of eternal life (Luke 4:43; 9:11).
    • “That which was seen” included the many miracles of Christ; miracles that would attest to the coming of the promised Messiah (Matt. 11:2-5).
    • “That which was looked upon and our hands handled” recounted the disciples’ examination of Christ’s glorified body after the resurrection (John 20:27).  All of the disciple’s senses were engaged as Christ manifested (revealed) Himself and the Father.  

Get up close and personal!

The disciple’s experience with Christ was not viewed from a distance but “up close and personal”.   Since Father and Son were one (John 17:11, 22), the disciples concurrently experienced fellowship with the Father (v. 3).  Fellowship is translated as “communion” and “participation in a common life.”

John’s personal witness was an invitation to the early church to participate through a common lifestyle that was centered on relationship—unending communion with God the Father and the Son.    Therein is the basis for John’s statement that their “joy may be full” (v.4).

Fellowship with God is a lifestyle.

Though John’s letter was written thousands of years ago, its message is still relevant for today.  Fellowship with God begins with a lifestyle that seeks to draw near with faith (Heb. 10:22) and learn of Him (Matt. 11:29).

It includes our living by “that which we have heard”—the truth found in God’s Word and the counsel of the Holy Spirit.  It involves our personal witness to “that which we’ve seen”—God’s unconditional love and salvation in exchange for our sin and brokenness (1 John 1:3-4).

Are we experiencing fellowship with God?   We must daily ask the Holy Spirit to show us those things that stand in the way of being in fellowship with God and how we can draw closer to Him.

In Search of Peace: When will we find it?

In Search of Peace: When will we find it?

We seek peace.

What peace are we seeking and when will we find it?  Because of God’s grace and mercy, we experience various degrees of peace even in this fallen world.  We are no longer in enmity with God because of Jesus’ gift of life (2 Cor. 5:18).  We on occasion see glimpses of peace between nations and groups divided because of preference, politics, or social agendas.  However, even that peace is tenuous and subject to change with the next difference of opinion.

The search for peace is a pursuit that will continue until we transition to eternity.  So why are we trying so hard to achieve it now?  Because it is God’s desire that we live in peace with each other and experience peace within.  Without peace we will be hindered from accomplishing our divine purpose which includes glorifying God.

Peace was God’s First Choice

When God and man lived in the Garden of Eden, their world was designed to accomplish a specific purpose.  God would provide for His creation—food, clothing, shelter.  Man in turn would be obedient to his Creator and reverence God.  They would enjoy an intimate and harmonious relationship. There was peace.   Of course, we know what happened to the plan of creation.

Although many attempts have been made through the institution of covenants and laws, man has always been troubled with contention, strife, and war (Hab. 1:3; James 4:1; Rom. 2:8).  The biblical text relates attempts by God’s prophets and priests to bring peace, but none could be found—externally nor within.

Only Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah, could bring the “peace” that would reverse the ravages of sin that resulted in broken relationships and shattered hearts (Isa. 9:6-7; Mic. 5:4-5).

Peace is a hard issue.

Early in our study we defined peace as a stress-free state of security and calmness, everything co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom.  Let’s be real.  Man cannot orchestrate this kind of peace while we live in this fallen world.   And this is the world we must live in right now.   The peace described in this definition will be possible when Jesus Christ returns and rules physically during the Millennial Age.

However, right now God’s peace is guaranteed by His unchanging promises and can be found through faith in Jesus Christ.  It is possible spiritually through the Holy Spirit living within us. The Holy Spirit fortifies us as we live in this fallen world.  He sustains us even in the most desperate of circumstances (Gal. 5:22).

Peace that passes all understanding.

The Apostle Paul, while imprisoned in Rome, appealed to the church in Phillipi, to “rejoice in the Lord”.  Strange message considering Paul’s situation.  But while experiencing the backlash of living in a fallen world, he found peace in his situation.  He offered the same to them (Phil. 4:6-7, NLT).

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Chrysostom, Eastern church father and archbishop of Constantinople wrote these words on “how this peace—God’s peace—passes all understanding”.

The peace of God, which He imparts to us, passes all understanding. For who could have expected and who could have hoped for such benefits? It transcends every human intellect and all speech. For His enemies, for those who hate Him, for the apostates—for all these He did not refuse to give his only begotten Son, so as to make peace with them. The peace which will preserve us is the one of which Christ says, “My peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.”  For this peace passes all human understanding. How? When He sees that we should be at peace with enemies, with the unrighteous, with those who display contentiousness and hostility toward us, how does this not pass human understanding?[1]

God’s peace is what we need for 21st century living.  Peace that will not only exceed our expectations but also guard our hearts and minds, from fear, anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.  Our “call to action” as believers is to, like Jesus’ Disciples and the Apostle Paul, become agents of peace and ministers of reconciliation to a “peaceless” world.  In the world’s search for peace, let us be the light to show them where they can find it (Matt. 5:9).

[1]  Ancient Christian Commentary of Scripture, New Testament VIII, Mark J. Edwards

In Search of Peace: Perfect Peace or Peacelessness?

Perfect peace or peacelessness?

Peace Recap

We closed last week’s session by putting forth the truth that true peace can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.

Through Christ’s sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, we as believers have peace with God (Rom. 5:10), the peace of God (2 Peter 1:3-4), and peace from God (2 Cor. 4:8-9).    God’s peace is underwritten by His unchanging promises and experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.   So why is there so much peacelessness?

What causes “peacelessness”?

Is there such a word?  I don’t know but, for me, it is the perfect description of what we are experiencing while living in this fallen world. Increases in depression, anxieties, and mental distress.  Conflict and violence in our world, in our nation, in our communities and our families.

Even nature is experiencing peacelessness as we adjust to the effects of global warming and climatic changes.  Peacelessness (no peace) is one thing we can all agree is going to be difficult to attain in our immediate future!

Why peacelessness?

For both believers and nonbelievers, the difficulty in finding peace lies in where we are looking for it.  Unfortunately, we most often look for peace in the wrong place and from the wrong source.   We place our dependency on the world and on self.

    • The world offers a false sense of security and hope that it cannot produce. Its knowledge and technology are God’s gifts of wisdom, but it cannot replace our all-knowing, all-seeing, and everywhere present God.  The world’s “fallenness” makes it neither trustworthy nor truthful (1 Cor. 7:31).
    • Our flesh, our pride, and our disobedience often lead us down the wrong paths for our life. When we lean on our own understanding, we are placing our trust in the fragility and the weakness that is innate in humanity (Prov. 3:5-7).

We must also consider the influence of Satan’s lies and deception. All these factors result in the same outcome which is the failure to hear and accept God’s offer of peace.

God, however, offers a solution to the peacelessness (lack of peace) in our life.  The God of hope wants to fill us with joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope, through the   power of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 15:13).  How can we access this joy and peace?  By believing in God and in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.  By faith, God offers “shalom shalom”—perfect peace.

Perfect Peace

The prophet Isaiah gives us both the outcome and the pathway to God’s peace (Isa. 26:3).

You (God) will keep him in perfect peace,

Whose mind is stayed on You,

Because he trusts in You.

    • “God will keep”. God will guard and watch over us.  Just as a watchman in a high tower of an ancient city continually surveyed the terrain for potential problems.  God watches over us.  If there is a problem, the watchman will defend and protect.  So will our God.
    • “our mind”. Our intellectual framework “continually processes” the daily trauma we’re exposed to.  It guides our decisions as to the best solutions for the problems we face.  It holds our thoughts and our imagination.  It also houses our fears and brokenness.
    • “in perfect peace” (shalom shalom). Why is it perfect?  Because God is its source.  God commands the “right resources” we need to address life’s situations.  His peace is underwritten by His promises, His presence, and His power.  He is the Great I Am (Exod. 3:14).
    • “he trusts”. Trust, translated, means “to have confidence; to make secure”. This is our part to perform.  Our trust is reflected in our obedience to God’s Word and in our allegiance to Him.  Trusting in God is a non-negotiable.  Rather we are “abound or abase” (Phil.4:12-13) or “pressed on every side” (2 Cor. 4:8-10), we trust God!  (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
The Final Peace

God alone can give us the peace we so desperately need in our life and in this world.  I leave you with these words from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  While He shared them with His Disciples in the moments prior to His crucifixion, He speaks to us today.   Read them; meditate on them.  God is our peace (Eph. 2:14).  He is our “Shalom Shalom”.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NLT)

In Search of Peace: Whose peace do we want?

In Search of Peace: Whose Peace do we Want?

In Search of peace.

As we learned last week, peace can be defined in many ways. From a world perspective, peace is a stress-free state where there is perfect harmony and freedom. However, peace from a biblical perspective provides us with more precise descriptions on which to focus our attention.

Both the Old and New Testaments use the root word, salom or shalom to capture the meaning of peace as “completeness, contentment, rest, and harmony”.

Peace by any definition can be very elusive and subject to change because of external influences.  That’s why we need to be clear as to what we’re looking for and where we think we may find it.

Loss of our Peace.

At one time man experienced “perfect peace”.  That peace was found in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve.   There was completeness, contentment, rest, and harmony.  On Maslow’s Hierarchy they were “at the top” of the pyramid.  Their peace, however, ended with the entrance of sin.

In the beginning, all creation was in a state of shalom, and this is the environment that Adam and Eve entered into. This Shalom was a perfect peace, where the infinite Creator of all things was in complete communion with his created beings Adam and Eve. Yet sin destroyed that shalom and cast the world into a place of brokenness. The fallen world we live in, with its violence, heartache, pain, and death are very visible results of the Shalom that was lost so very long ago.[1]

As we view the challenges of living in the 21st century with its social challenges, spiritual deficits, and moral vice, we might ask if peace can become a reality in our lifetime.  Peace can be achieved but it must begin with an understanding of the true source of peace.

Man-made peace.

There are two types of peace we can experience.  The first is man-made peace which is based on the creation of external systems to ensure safety and security.  It also includes safeguards to support peaceful interactions between individuals, groups, and communities (relationships).  On a large scale we see governments (local, state, or national) serving in these roles.   Our best efforts in fabricating peace will only leave us in disappointment and despair because our skewed understanding of peace is dependent upon things outside our control![2]

God-given peace.

The other option we have is God-given peace. The pursuit of God-given peace begins with being spiritually reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10).  Because of our sin nature, our relationship is estranged.  The way back to God is only possible through acceptance of Jesus Christ, who paid the price for our sin (Rom. 5:8-9).  Once reconciled to God, we are no longer in enmity with each other.  We have peace with God.

Once we have peace with God, we become heirs of salvation and part of God’s Kingdom (Rom. 8:17).  As children of God, we receive the Holy Spirit who dwells within us to comfort and strengthen us during difficult times. The Holy Spirit brings peace by reminding us of the faithfulness of God.  The Spirit speaks to the promises and blessings that are ours because of our righteous standing made possible through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Peter 1:3-4).   We have the peace of God.

As we daily walk in newness of life with the Holy Spirit as our guide, we begin to act like Jesus.  We are told to be conformed to the image of Christ who provides us with the model of how we act and react while living in this fallen world.  We have escaped the corruption that is in the world through our knowledge of God—His power, His purpose, and His presence.  This provides us with great confidence even when pressed on every side (2 Cor. 4:8-9).  We have peace from God.

True Peace

Jesus promised to give His Disciples peace.  Jesus’ peace quiets the inner turmoil that comes with danger.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you: I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled, or fearful.” (John 14:27, CSB)

The Apostle Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians that God’s peace is true peace.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7, Living Bible)

Whose peace do we desire?  True peace can only be found in God through Jesus Christ.  God’s peace is underwritten by His unchanging promises and experienced through the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.   God’s peace meets the perfect biblical standards.  It is complete, leading to contentment, giving us rest (from worry), and creating harmony in our relationships.

[1] Jason Soroski, “What does shalom mean and why is it important?”, Crosswalk.com.   

[2] Samuel Stephens, “The Pursuit of Peace”, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

In Search of Peace: What is Peace?

 

In Search of Peace: What is Peace?

The Pursuit of Peace

With all the chaos in the world, contention in our country, and personal stress in our life, it is no surprise that one of the things people want most but can’t seem to find is peace.  Whether we’re talking about world peace, peaceful relationships, or peace-of-mind, there just never seems to be enough peace.

What is peace?  A biblical counselor asked their patients to work through an exercise which has them lists the qualities and characteristics of peace.  The results with both Christian and non-Christians are to help people understand that, many times, the peace they seek is “situational, temporary, and experiential”.

It (peace) is seen as the absence of conflict or the removal of hinderance to personal happiness. “When I’m not fighting, when I’m appreciated, when I’m happy, when I’m financially secure.”[1]   

What does OUR list look like?  Take a minute and write down what you think peace looks like.

Do we want peace?

Silly question!  Who doesn’t want peace?  Well, of course, Satan doesn’t want it.  Whether it’s peace in the world or peace of mind, Satan loves confusion, conflict, and division.  So do Satan’s followers: “principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness of this world” and “spiritual wickedness in high places”, i.e., political, commercial, social, religious (Eph.6:12).   Before we answer the question of do we want peace, let’s agree on what it is.

What is peace?

A general definition of peace is a stress-free state of security and calmness that comes when there is no fighting or war, everything co-existing in perfect harmony and freedom.[2]  Is peace a feeling?

Webster adds to this definition by highlighting the “freedom” aspect of peace: “freedom from disturbance, from war, from civil disorder, and even freedom from disputes and dissension between people.”  Is peace based on our circumstances?

I am enjoying this study on peace.  From a biblical perspective, it gives me an opportunity to closely examine the words that were “carefully” chosen by the Holy Spirit to best represent God’s intended meaning of peace.  It becomes a point of spiritual clarity for me.  Whether it is Greek or Hebrew, the word meaning adds to the “precision” I need to know what peace really looks like.

Peace by any other name!

The biblical concept of peace is larger than what we might read in our modern dictionaries. It rests heavily on the Hebrew word root (slm) which means “to be complete” or “to be sound”.  The verb peace conveys the meaning—”to be complete or whole” or “to live well”.  It is from this root that we get the more familiar word, salom or shalom. 

In the Old Testament, this fine distinction of peace can be grouped into four general categories of shalom:

  1. Wholeness of life or body, i.e., health. (Ps. 34:18; 147:3; Jer. 33:6)
  2. Right relationship or harmony between two parties or people, often established by a covenant. (Numbers 25:12-13; Ezek. 34:25-26)
  3. Prosperity, success, or fulfillment (Lev. 26:3-9)
  4. Victory over one’s enemies or absence of war (Isa. 9:6-7)

The New Testament word for peace, eirene, has been greatly influenced by the Hebrew use of shalom.  It occurs in each book of the New Testament.  Eirene originally referred to the orderly, prosperous life that is possible if there is no war.  Only much later did philosophers begin to apply the concept to an inner, personal peace.

In many ways, the two renderings of peace overlap, especially regarding relationships and harmony between people and nations.   It describes:

  1. Harmonious relationships (Luke 14:32)
  2. Freedom from harassment (rest from war) (Luke 11:21; Acts 9:31)
  3. Order, rest, and contentment (Matt.10:13, John 14:27)
  4. Harmonized relationship between God and man (Acts 10:36; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14-17)

Shalom is still used in both greetings and farewells.  It is meant to act as a blessing to the one to whom it is spoken.

Where is my peace?

In answer to my earlier question, “do we want peace?”  Of course, we do! So, if we all want peace, why don’t we have it and why is it so elusive?  As stated earlier, many times the peace we seek is situational, temporary, and experiential.  If we base our peace on the things of “this world, our peace is tied to an unstable, ever-changing world (1 John 2: 15-17).

Unfortunately, we often allow this type of peace to dictate our feelings and our emotions.  We may feel safe, secure, and calm; that is until there is a change in circumstances.

Peace may appear to elude us because we don’t know what REAL PEACE looks like.  That is the purpose of this series to better understand what real peace looks like.  Once we have a clear understanding of what it looks like and its true source, we will find shalom as we navigate the tumultuous waters of 21st century living.

May your life be filled with health, prosperity, and victory.

May it be filled with God’s shalom.

[1] The Pursuit of Peace, Samuel Stephens, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, April, 2020

[2] Vocabulary.com

With Eternity in Mind: Eternal Life

Eternal Life

 

Divinely Bestowed

Last week we defined eternal or everlasting life as the divinely bestowed gift of blessedness in God’s presence that endures without end.   It is noteworthy to see that eternal life is something that is gifted by God alone.

Eternal life is a “divinely bestowed gift” (John 3:16). It is not something we can earn, mandate nor make happen.  It is a gift of God.  Imagine if man could wield that kind of power.  We catch a glimpse of the desire to live forever “on this side” by our continual search for ways to reverse the effects of aging or increase the number of our days.

Man is not equipped to bestow eternal life.  He is limited by time.  Only God currently lives and operates in both time and eternity (past, present, future). God alone is able through His divine attributes of goodness—His love, grace, and benevolence—to offer the extraordinary and irreversible gift of eternal life.

Divine Presence

Eternal life is about our relationship with God.  This relationship is built on the knowledge of who God is and what Jesus accomplished with His sacrificial death.  We are not only reconciled with the Father (Rom. 5:10) BUT ALSO enjoy Jesus’ divine presence through His Holy Spirit (John 16:13).  Acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior, begins eternal life.

Eternal life is lived out through our recognition and acknowledgment of God’s presence.  God’s presence provides for us the confidence we need to navigate through the challenges of living in this fallen world.

The Apostle Paul expresses this thought in his letter to faithful believers in 2 Peter 1:2-5.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Equipped with God’s divine nature and operating continuously in His presence, we are able to navigate the challenges of 21st century living.  “The life-giving knowledge of the Father and the Son is a true, personal knowledge, not just an academic awareness.”[1]

Divine Time

We often limit eternal life to life after death.  We also mistakenly view eternal life as simply an unending progression of years.  It is much more.   Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time. For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now.

We don’t have to wait for eternal life, because it is not something that starts only when we die.  Eternal life begins the moment we exercise faith in Christ.

Jesus made this clear during his ministry.  In the book of John, several indications of the “present and now” reality of eternal life is clear.

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  John 3:36

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” John 5:24

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” John 6:47

We have eternal life because of our current position in Jesus Christ and therefore, we can experience it now.

God’s presence that endures without end

A common New Testament word for eternal is aionios.  We’ve addressed its relationship to the quality of life in this age.  But it also addresses both the quality and duration of life in the age to come. 

This duration cannot be compared with the limits of time we currently operate within.  But our future eternal life will be the culmination of our existence.  It is in future eternity that we will experience the full measure of God’s glory (Rev. 5:13) and the benefits of our resurrected body.

Next week we will spend time exploring eternity—time without end, specifically, the myths, lies, and misunderstandings about eternity.

[1] Got Questions

With Eternity in Mind: Begin with the End in Mind

 

What are we looking for?

In understanding what eternity is and its importance to us, we must “begin with the end in mind”.  What do we want to know about eternity?  Why does it matter?   All of us have a differing view as to what eternity is and what it isn’t.

The reality is this, as human beings, we will continue our existence even after death in eternity. The question is, which of the eternal lives will we experience? Will we experience joy and peace forever more with Jesus or will our eternal life consist of judgment, fire, and flames.  The choice is ours to make.

That’s why it’s so important that we begin with the end in mind.  To gain a better understanding of eternity, let’s begin with some important definitions. Key to understanding the biblical meaning of these terms is the Bible’s use of the word “eternal”.

Eternity by any other name

Eternal, eternity, eternal/everlasting life.  There are many variations of the word eternal used to describe eternity.  We will begin with some basic definitions to help us with our study.

“Eternal or everlasting” is an adjective used to describe a state of being “without end”.  It is used, for example, to describe the Trinity (Ps. 90:2; Prov. 8:23; Heb. 9:14)

Eternal can be applied to God’s attributes.  For example, His power (Eccl. 12:5), His righteousness (Ps. 119:142, 144), and His love (Jer. 31:3).   They endure without end!  As long as God exists, so do His eternal attributes.

In the Bible, eternal is also used to describe both believers (John 3:15; Eph. 3:11) and the wicked (Mark 3:29; Matt. 25:46).

“Eternity” is “time without end”.  It is the duration of God’s dealings with His people in times past, now, and always.  God has always been involved in the lives of His people and reveal Himself through various means (Heb. 1:1-2).

Eternity also includes a coming age from which evil will be banished and where God will reign in glory.  Quite different from the current world order.  

“Eternal/everlasting life” has been defined as the divinely bestowed gift of blessedness in God’s presence that endures without end.[1]  This relates not only to the quality of life in this age, but also to both the quality and duration of life in the age to come.   

We often limit eternal/everlasting life to life after death and heaven.  But eternal life is much more.  We will explore this aspect of eternal life later in this series.

Eternity in our hearts

To answer the question “why do we want to know about eternity”, I offer you this answer provided by King Solomon who wrote in Ecclesiastes 3: 11, “God has set eternity in the human heart”.

In every human soul is a God-given awareness that there is something more than this transient world and with that awareness of eternity comes a hope that we will one day find a fulfillment not afforded by the vanity in this world.  

We possess an innate knowledge that there is something more to life than what we can see and experience in the here and now. Through all the abs and downs of life, we have a glimpse of stability—God has “set eternity in the human heart.”  We have a divinely implanted awareness that the soul lives forever. This world is not our home.  [2]    

Eternity and Knowing God

Eternal, eternity, everlasting life.  We have heard these words used in various contexts and in a multitude of religious venues.  However, unless we intentionally focus on its importance to our spiritual welfare, eternity will remain nothing more than theological jargon we hear on Sunday morning.

Jesus prayed in John 17:1-3 (NLT):

Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.  And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.

To know the true God and His Son Jesus Christ, it is important that we understand eternity. Next week we will continue our study by exploring eternal life.  What is it?  When does it begin?

[1] Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary

[2] Got Questions, “What does it mean that we have eternity in our hearts?”

With Eternity in Mind: What do I think?

Where are my thoughts?

When was the last time you thought about eternity?  Better yet, do you even believe in eternity?  If you do not believe in “life after death”, you may be extremely depressed with the thought of someday leaving behind your prize possessions (your favorite stuff) and relationships (your favorite people).

Even for those of us who do believe in eternity, there is a reluctance to place much time or attention on this topic unless we are forced to do so, usually as a result of losing a family member or friend.

That’s why we are going to spend time in our next few WordBytes exploring the wonders of eternity; how we can live victoriously today with eternity in mind?

Why aren’t we talking more?

Why don’t we talk more about eternity—the place where we will live out the remainder of our existence?  I can understand nonbeliever’s aversion to this topic; for them, eternity doesn’t exist.  Therefore, there is nothing to look forward to.

However, for we believers there should be more to draw our attention to eternity than helpless resolve or fear. Eternity should be the place we joyfully anticipate.

Why should we be joyful?

To whet your appetite for eternity, I’ll share a “short list” of why eternity is a place of joy.

  • Eternity is a place which Jesus Christ has prepared for us to be together. “I go to prepare a place for you…that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3) We will be in the presence of God, our Creator and Christ, our Savior. In His presence is fullness of joy and peace forevermore. (Ps. 16:11)
  • There will be no sickness and no more tears (Rev.21:4). With The Fall (Gen. 3) sin was introduced into God’s perfect world.  On its heels followed pain, sickness, and death.  As much as man tries, he can never reverse these affects.  But in Christ—in His death, burial, and resurrection from the dead, sin lost its power.  Christ replaced it with eternal life which will be fully realized in eternity.  (Rom. 5:21)

And the “short list” continues…

  • We will have glorified bodies to house our eternal spirit. Ever wonder why you don’t mentally feel your physical age? It’s because our soul doesn’t age.  If our bodies didn’t “breakdown” with disease and age, we would keep right on “ticking.”  We will have bodies built for eternity. (1 Cor. 15:54)
  • Eternity is where we will receive our reward for service done on earth. While we do not work for our salvation (Eph. 2:8), God has promised to reward us for our contribution to kingdom building and acting as His ambassadors here on earth. (Rev. 11:18; 22:12)

So, I ask you again, why don’t we have a loving eye on eternity?  Why isn’t there greater excitement at the possibility of life eternal with the Lord?  What stands in the way of our desire for eternity?  Next week, we’ll continue with our study on eternity.