Wednesday, April 13, 2022
When I was a boy, I was fascinated with the prospect of heaven. As a young man I studied everything I could get my hands on about prophecy. My grandfather, Dr. J.A. van Gorkom, was an evangelist who spent time in churches teaching prophecy, and I still have his big banners that he hung across the front of the church to depict the timeline of God’s future work. I think it is necessary for us to keep the return of Christ in the forefront of our thinking because it is the foundation of our hope and will keep us from discouragement while we live in a world that increasingly oppresses us. Just think, someday – maybe today – we will be living with Jesus forever!
But as I was growing up I don’t remember being taught the rest of the story very well. The emphasis seemed to primarily be on heaven and what was ahead, and how we needed to live pure lives in preparation for the coming of Jesus. I know this isn’t what was intended, but it almost seemed like we were responsible for keeping ourselves worthy of heaven by how we lived our lives. Any encouragement we received to repent of sin and correct our lifestyle choices seemed to be motivated by either forced obedience or by comparison to others. I don’t remember a balanced emphasis on the fact that we are already living with Him, and He lives in us.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 – 11 “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
I wish I would have understood this incredible truth a lot earlier in my life. A significant part of Christ’s mission to the earth was to make it possible for life with Him to begin immediately. But so many of us don’t really understand this – it stays a mystery to us. The Apostle Paul said this was a mystery once, but it is not to be now. In Colossians 1:25 – 27 he writes, “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
The mission of Christ was more than to die for our sins so that someday we may live with Him. He died for us so that, whether we are alive or dead, we are living with Him because He is living in us now.
This is the sole motivator of how we live our lives. It is the basis for all encouragement and admonition as we build one another up in Christ. Our motivation for purity is not to be more spiritual than another person, nor is it to conform to a set of rules so we can be declared obedient. The only thing that makes Godly living possible is God’s living Presence. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
So as important as it is to be looking for the soon return of Jesus to take us into glory forever, it is equally important to know that Jesus lives in us already and we are able to experience His glory now. That’s why He died for us. He has appointed us to receive salvation as a present possession. Yes, it will be fully experienced when we are free from this sinful body – but it is only the body that limits the experience of the fullness of glory. Our spirits have no such limitation. So walk in the spirit, and you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh and be governed by its influence: the flesh will have no power over you, because Jesus lives in you.