Tag Archives: eternity

Trip Lee on dreaming big

Even the sun goes down, heroes die eventually
Great careers end in the industry
Empires implode; you may go down in history
But everything will go down eventually
Look, you can stack bread, but you can’t stop death
And there will be no comforter for you in that bed

We all get laid out, the games get played out
In a maze headed to the grave, and there’s no way out
You can’t outlast life, it fades out fast
Death is coming for us all, everything’s gonna pass
So look at it from that angle, dang
My dreams gotta be bigger and greater than that

Trip Lee, The Good Life

From eternity to eternity…

From eternity to eternity God has acted with the good of His people in mind.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 673.

The revealed life

Colossians 3  If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been spending a lot of time in this passage and I want to finish by looking at verse 4. This passage has covered the believer’s past (being raised with Christ), their present (being hidden with Christ), and naturally concludes with the future promise of being revealed with Christ in glory. All these verbs (being raised, hidden, and revealed) are written in the passive voice because from start to finish, our salvation is not dependent upon ourselves, but upon the perfect, completed work of Christ. This reality should shatter all pride in our accomplishments and relieve any fear of failure on our part because none of it depends upon us.

This passage concludes the same way as all human history: Christ being revealed in glory. But the unbelievable part is that we will be revealed with Him. If the reader were puzzled by the preceding description of their life being hidden with Christ for the present, this verse describes the future revelation of Christ with their life. For the Christian, their life is hidden with Christ today, and will be revealed with Christ in the future. The wording here describes a personal connection and shared destiny with Christ: “and you with Him” (Col. 3:4). If believers share Christ’s destiny through being raised with Christ and by having their lives hidden with Christ, then we finally find out what that destiny actually is: “you also will be revealed with him in glory.”

Here we have the answer to every “why” question in the Christian life. Why yearn for the things above? Why focus intently upon the things above and not the things upon the earth? Why have we died? Why does it matter that our life is hidden with Christ? And, in light of the rest of Colossians 3, why should we put to death the earthly members within us? Why should we put on the new man? Why should we strive to honor Christ in public as well as private? Not because it will be easy—quite the opposite, in fact—but because it will be worth it. Currently, Christ is seated at God’s right hand; one day, we will appear with Him in glory (see also, Romans 8:17b). The natural response to such a gracious gift is gratitude, thanksgiving, and obedience. Thus, the instructions in the rest of Colossians are not a duty, but a delight. If we understand the free gift we’ve been given—a gift that redeems our past, directs our present, and secures our future—we will strive, with every fiber of our being, to bring glory to God.

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A Simple Idea for Christian Decision Making: Up or Down?

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).

At one time or another we all face major life decisions. If you’re like me, it often feels like God directs you to a point, but then He leaves you to take that final leap of faith. I often feel like I’m brought to a ledge and told to leap. Don’t worry, just jump and trust that God will catch me. Or perhaps it feels like He leads you to an intersection, where you have two or more possible choices and it’s up to you to make the right decision.

I’m not one of those people who receives a sense of deep, unshakable peace about a decision. Instead, I often feel the opposite: nervous, excited, and perhaps more than a little curious; almost like I’ve just been strapped into a roller coaster. And so, at life’s precipices, I prayerfully leap regardless of whether or not it makes sense. I do so because I know that God has called me to be faithful to Him, not successful in this life. The last thing I want is to finish this life and show up at the next one as someone who was very successful in the eyes of the world but completely unfaithful in the eyes of my Heavenly Father; a temporary success but an eternal failure.

Recently, I’ve been studying Colossians 3:1-4 and run across a new way to make decisions. As I’ve discussed before, in this passage we’re told to set our minds on the things above and not on the things that are on the earth. While it would be easy to just casually pass over that verse without much contemplation, I have slowly realized that this is one of the most practical Bible verses I’ve ever encountered. This verse separates all things into two essential categories: things above and things upon the earth.

How easy would it be for us to make decisions if we asked this simple question: “Am I seeking the things above or am I seeking the things upon the earth?” I’m quickly realizing that this framework can apply to virtually anything from dating, to marrying, to raising children, to buying a home, to choosing a college, to determining a career path, you name it. Sure, not everything fits into a simple up or down division; sometimes both decisions are ‘upward’ options, such as buying a home. Then you can simply determine which decision takes you higher. For example, which home would put you in a better position to reach out to neighbors and share Christ? Which home would give you an extra room to allow others to stay with you if they needed? Which home would be better for practicing hospitality? Or perhaps you feel God leading you to choose a house that would be smaller, but would allow you to be more generous with your money. Perhaps, by choosing a house that has one less room, you’re able to fully fund a well to be dug in Africa every other year. When there’s not a black & white, right or wrong answer, perhaps there’s a good and a better option. Perhaps there isn’t a clear-cut right answer, but perhaps there is an option that gives you more ability to seek the things above.

From now on, I think Colossians 3:2 is going to be one of the first Bible verses I share with people who are faced with big decisions and want to know God’s will. What does God want you to do with your life? Set your minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth. While this may not tell us what to decide, it certainly tells us how to decide. Our decisions should be made in light of eternity, not in light of the next 5, 10, or 50 years. We need to see this life as a short opportunity to make an eternal difference. I challenge you need to seek counsel from fellow believers and from the Holy Spirit to ensure that you are making decisions that seek the things above and not the things upon the earth.

The most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe

The fact that the infinite, omnipotent, eternal Son of God could become man and join himself to a human nature forever, so that infinite God became one person with finite man, will remain for eternity the most profound miracle and the most profound mystery in all the universe.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), 563.

My psalm

Rise up, O Saints, and praise the Ancient of Days.
With one voice, praise the Eternal One.
With every fiber of your being, praise the Everlasting King!

I am unknown, except that He knows me.
He has called me and made me His own.
And with the Lord is all authority.
Therefore I will worship Him.

He has created the Heavens and the Earth.
Therefore I will despise all idols.
I will worship the Righteous One

The days of man are but a vapor.
Yet God sat enthroned before our beginning.
The days of man are ephemeral and fading.
Yet God is the eternal Rock.

The Lord is my God.
He is holy, holy, holy.

The Lord is my only portion.
He has redeemed me wholly.

The Lord is all I’ll ever truly have.
And He will make me holy.

Rise up, O Saints, and worship the Lord.
With one voice, give the praise due His great name.
With every fiber of your being, love the Lord your God.

God is big. Really big.

God is more massive than our wildest imagination, bigger than the biggest words we have to describe Him. And He’s doing good today—sustaining galaxies, holding every start in place, stewarding the seemingly chaotic events of earth to His conclusion within His great story.

God is constant. He blinks and a lifetime comes and goes. To Him one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day. All of human history could be written on His fingernail, with plenty of room left over for more.

And God is doing well today, thank you. He has no dilemmas. No quandaries. No counselors. No shortages. No rivals. No fears. No cracks. No worries. He is self-existent, self-contained, self-perpetuated, self-powered, and self-aware. In other words, He’s God and He knows it.

HE IS TIMELESS. AGELESS. CHANGELESS. ALWAYS.

After an eternity of being God, He shows no signs of wear and tear. He has no needs. His accounts are in the black. He’s the owner, not to mention Creator, of all of the world’s wealth and treasure. He made the gold and silver, and the trees we print our money on. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, and all the hills the cows are standing on. He holds the patent on the skies above—not to mention the earth, the seas and their depths below, the breeze, the colors of the sunset and every flowering thing. They all are His invention. His design. His idea.

God does whatever He wants. His purposes are a sure thing. There’s no stopping Him. No containing Him. No refuting Him. No cutting Him off at the pass. No short-circuiting His agenda. God is in control. He sends forth lightning from His storehouse, He breathes out the wind, waters the earth, raises up rulers, directs the course of nations, births life, ordains death, and, in the midst of it all, still has time to be intimately acquainted with the every-day affairs of everyone on the planet.

God knows everything about everything and everyone. His eyes race back and forth across the cosmos faster than we can scan the words on this page. There is not a bird flying through the air or perched on a branch that escapes His field of vision. He could start with Adam and name every man, woman, and child who has ever lived, describing every detail about each one. To Him, pitch darkness and midday are one and the same. Nothing is hidden from Him. He wrestles with no mysteries. He doesn’t need to wait for a polygraph machine to decipher the truth. He sees clearly, and comprehends all He sees. He’s never know what it is to have a  teacher, a role model, an advisor, a therapist, a loan officer, an adjuster, a doctor, or a mother.

God’s rule and reign are unrivaled in history and eternity. He sits on an everlasting throne. His Kingdom has no end. Little gods abound, but He alone made the heavens and the earth. God has never feared a power struggle or a hostile takeover. He doesn’t have to watch His back. He has no equal. No peer. No competition.

It makes perfect sense that His name should be I AM.

And even more sense that my name is I am not.

You and I are tiny. Miniscule. Transient. Microscopic. A momentary and infinitesimal blip on the timeline of the universe. A seemingly undetectable alliance of dust particles held together by the breath of God.

The sum of our days is like a vapor—our accumulated efforts life chaff in the wind. Among us, even the richest of the rich owns nothing. The strongest of the strong can be felled in one faltering heartbeat. We are fleeting mortals. Frail flesh. Little specks. Phantoms.

If this fact makes you just a tad bit uncomfortable, you’re not alone. Invariably, when I talk about the vastness of God and the cosmos, someone will say, “You’re making me feel bad about myself and making me feel really, really small,” as if that’s the worst thing that could happen. But the point is not to make you feel small, rather to help you see and embrace the reality that you are small.

Really, really small.

But that’s not where the story ends.

Though we are transient dust particles in a universe that is expanding faster than the speed of light, the unexplainable mystery of mysteries is that you and I are loved and prized by the God of all Creation.

Simply because He wanted to, He fashioned each of us in His own image, creating within us the capacity to know Him. And if that wasn’t staggering enough, in spite of our foolishness and rebellious hearts, God has pursued us with relentless passion and patience, fully expressing to us His unfathomable love through the mercy and grace of the cross of His Son, Jesus Christ.

I Am Not But I Know I Am: Welcome to the Story of God by Louie Giglio

Ask too little

Many of us—myself included—are secretly afraid that we might ask too much of God. Ask too much? We ask too little!

God is a Father willing to give us Himself and yet far too often we ask for the fleeting trinkets of this life. We spend our time and invest all our effort into building up our treasures here in this life and on this earth. We chase after the careers, houses, cars, and electronic gadgets of this ephemeral, fading vapor of a world while missing out on the opportunity to enjoy an intimate relationship with the eternal Creator of the universe.

Tis a shame; tis a shame, indeed.

Are you missing out? Am I missing out? This world, with all its temporary illusions, makes it hard for me to maintain an eternal perspective. How do you keep your perspective? How do you keep form focusing on this world and losing sight of the true, eternal Kingdom that we are citizens of? In light of eternity, this life is a mere breath… if even that.

and the life everlasting.

(This is part eighteen of a multi-entry blog series exploring the Apostles’ Creed.)

After discussing the resurrection of the body in the previous post, we’ll be looking at what the Creed says we resurrect to; namely

“the life everlasting.”

There have been entire books written about this subject, but I want to highlight a few simple aspects of the life everlasting that I find particularly encouraging.
First, there is a reason that Christians throughout the ages have endured hardships and suffering with joy that is glorious and inexpressible (1 Pt 1:8). Peter wrote that we have been born again to a “living hope” (1 Pt 1:3). He wrote that through the resurrection of Christ, we have been granted “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pt 1:9). But here’s the kicker, in the next verse Peter wrote that they were rejoicing in their future inheritance, “though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials” and that these trials serve as a test to see the genuineness of their faith (1 Pt 1:6).
It’s that “for a little while” that catches my eye. How long is “a little while”? Is it a few hours? Is it a few days? A week? A month? A year? A decade? Since Peter was just speaking about our eternal inheritance, it makes perfect sense to read the phrase “a little while” within the context of our entire lives. Eternity is a long time; our life on this earth is “a little while.” If we view our lives from an eternal perspective, we will see how short and temporary this life truly is! The brevity of life cannot be overstated.
It’s this perspective that allowed Barb to finish well. It’s this perspective that will empower you to finish well. It’s the promise of a life everlasting that gives us hope, if not for this life, then for the life to come.
This is our great hope; our great joy; and the secret of Christian contentment: the life everlasting.
Second, do you know what will be the best part about Heaven? God! We get to spend eternity with a perfect being that offers endless love and infinite joy; if that sounds boring to you then it’s only because you fail to grasp the fact that God has infinite glory. We could never get tired of worshiping Him; we could never get bored with Him. It’s like Amazing Grace says:
“When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
Than when we first begun.”
It’s an impossible concept to grasp this side of eternity, but we will never run out of reasons to worship our God. Never. We must remember this: the thing that will make Heaven so heavenly is the fact that we will be with God forever.
Third and finally, we will all experience Heaven uniquely! Consider Revelation 2:17b, which says: “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
Did you catch that? We’ll each get a name that no one else knows! C. S. Lewis, in The Problem of Pain, wrote very profoundly of this passage:

What can be more a man’s own than this new name which even in eternity remains a secret between God and him? And what shall we take this secrecy to mean? Surely, that each of the redeemed shall forever know and praise some one aspect of the divine beauty better than any other creature can. Why else were individuals created, but that God, loving all infinitely, should love each differently? And this difference, so far from impairing, floods with meaning the love of all blessed creatures for one another, the communion of the saints. If all experienced God in the same way and returned Him an identical worship, the song of the church triumphant would have no symphony, it would be like an orchestra in which all the instruments played the same note.

At the risk of sounding silly… THIS BLOWS MY MIND!! You will have a unique, intimate communion with God for all eternity. There are dozens of other facets concerning Heaven and eternity that could be explored, but those are probably my three favorite. Praise be to God for the grace He extends in His salvation!