Living with the End in Mind
Pastor Oliver encourages us to hold on to God's promise of a heavenly homeland!
"Start with the end in mind". I've often been told this bit of conventional wisdom even as I consider starting a new project or planning for a new assignment. But for Christians, the End should not only influence how we start but also sustain us in the process. I'm talking about the End of redemptive history. The Bible gives a picture of the End of history when God restores all things, and we are ushered into God's presence. This truth should influence and motivate us in the circumstances of right now. There is a verse in Hebrews 11 that I've been thinking about that speaks into this situation.
Hebrews 11 is known to many Christians as the "hallway of faith". In this chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews, we see the lives of the "heroes" of faith. Their lives demonstrated faith in God: and what circumstances did they face! Noah was ostracised and rejected by many as he built the ark that saved his household. Abraham obeyed and left his routine (and comfortable) life in Haran and followed God into the unknown, facing many trials. Sarah trusted God's promises, though she was struggling with the pain of being childless.
Hebrews 11:13 tells us, "These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth." These heroes of faith died without seeing the promises being fully fulfilled. They acknowledged that they were but sojourners in this present world on a pilgrimage to another place. They did not turn back from their life of faith, because "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." (Heb 11:16) What motivated and sustained them as they faced often difficult circumstances of their present was this: they desire a better country—a heavenly one. They held on to God's promise of what will happen in the End—they would receive a heavenly homeland! They had great expectations of what is to come. They persisted in following God's leading by focusing on this promise.
Sam Storms, in writing of another hero of faith, advances this perspective. He writes that the glory of the final resurrection and of heaven was what sustained John Calvin in the often difficult circumstances of his life. Storms writes that "the certainty of the future impinges on and invades the circumstances of the present." A clear view of how history ends and the fulfilment of God's future promises will influence, frame, motivate and empower us to live the life of faith in the present. John Calvin had this perspective. In one of his pastoral letters to a Christian facing illness and suffering, Calvin writes:
They [that is, our physical afflictions and diseases] should, moreover, serve us for medicines to purge us from worldly affections, and retrench [i.e., remove] what is superfluous in us, and since they are to us the messengers of death, we ought to learn to have one foot raised to take our departure when it shall please God.
This view of how redemptive history will end: of Jesus Christ's return to make all things right, of when we who trust in Jesus Christ will receive the gospel promises in full, should frame and motivate our lives right now. Whether we are living in comfort or in suffering, may we desire a better country, that is, our heavenly home that is to come! And in doing so, live our lives right now with one foot raised! Students prepare for your exams with one foot raised! Parents care for your child with one foot raised! Workers, work at your job with one foot raised! May we live in the light of this glorious End, when we would be received into our heavenly home!
If you want to find out more about what the Bible say about the End, and how this truth should frame and shape our belief and living right now, do join us for the coming Equip class!
- What does the Bible teach about the last days and Christ's return? And how does that shape and direct how we as believers should live right now? Join us for the next Equip class over Zoom on Saturday 14 Nov, from 330–530pm. Zoom details can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/equip-14nov2020.
- Come join us in our Prayer Meeting on Friday 30 Oct from 8–930pm. Let's come together as we gather as a church to bring our thanksgiving and prayer requests to our heavenly Father! You can join us onsite (register here) or via Zoom: https://tinyurl.com/prayermeeting-oct30.
- Join us at 9am this Sunday for our Worship Service. If you cannot join us live (we still have a limit capped at 100 persons), do join us for our livestream on YouTube. We will look at Luke 14:1-11 "Don't Be Religious!". Pray for God's Spirit to prepare our hearts even now as we read the scripture passage a few times before Sunday.