Living in Light of the Future

by Derek Gentle

Many times I have heard a new believer in Christ comment that he had begun reading "Revelations." Perhaps he had read a book on the subject of Christ's return. Some got so busy finding Russian attack helicopters in the Bible, they didn't get around to learning the basics of Christian living. The second coming is an exciting subject, but I encourage new Christians to start with other books of the Bible like First John and the Gospels to help them get grounded.

Other Christians, sometimes preachers, are hesitant to touch the book of Revelation or the subject of the Lord's return. They consider it too speculative and esoteric. I have always found that to be a bit of a dodge; it is after all, in the Bible. Certainly, if God didn't want us to know or say anything about it, He would have known better than to hide it there. In fact, contrary to being abstract, I find the doctrine of the second coming to be most practical. Let me suggest a few reasons why.

Death is the inescapable fact of life. If it is the end, then it makes a difference in how I live my life. Remember the beer commercial? "You only go around once in life, go for the gusto." Paul plainly declared that if the premise of that slogan is true then its conclusion is correct also:

"If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied... If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."

(1st Corinthians 15:19, 32)

On the other hand, imagine that you are a spy sent deep inside enemy lines. You have your training and your weapons, but your country has a new capability: if you are killed, they can bring you back to life. Bullet wounds, poison, whatever the cause; if the agency can recover your body within twenty-four hours, they can bring you back to life. How would that change your approach to your work? Would you be more aggressive? Would you be more willing to take chances? One can almost imagine the terminology which would arise within the agency. They might even begin calling the boldness flowing from the new capability the resurrection attitude.

I once heard someone on radio time telling about his experiences helping demon possessed people. He told how spirits would speak through the person and growlingly threaten to kill him. He said he would reply, "Are you threatening me with eternal life?" Obviously, he intended that to be a witty remark in the safety of a worship service, but it makes the point.

And what about the difference day to day? How does the second coming make a real difference in the Christian? The Bible teaches that Christians are people who live in light of the future.

People who live in light of the future invest in eternity instead of merely spending their lives.
When Christ returns, He will reward faithful service. "For the Son of Man will come... and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). Even a hedonist can do the arithmetic. A short lifetime of benefit compared to an eternity.

People who live in light of the future can stand their ground here and now because vindication is coming later.
"When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:4). There will be no mockery on that day. Just the sight of the glorified Christ and of Christians sharing in the glory and reign of Christ will be enough to silence every critic.

People who live in light of the future are enabled to grow in holiness.
John Piper has written a wonderful book on the transforming power of this Future Grace. So did John:

"We know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure"

(1st John 3:2-3)

When people live in light of the future, moral choices are not made in the vacuum of the present moment or in terms of instant gratification.

People who live in light of the future have a quiet confidence in coming administration of justice.
There is coming a day when the wrongs will be righted and the hurts will be healed and when there will be true justice. We can leave vengeance to the Lord where it belongs "When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2nd Thessalonians 1:7-8). Anarchy will not have the day. "When the Son of Man comes in His glory... then He will sit on the throne of His glory (Matthew 25:31).

People who live in light of the future don't get disappointed in this life.
They know better than to have unrealistic expectations, than to think that their dreams will all come true on earth. They live in the awareness that even when things are good, that "this too shall pass." It is not that they are cynical or bitter. They are not disillusioned by the failure of this world to be what they want it to be. They are concerned with the world to come; they are "Eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1st Corinthians 1:7).

It was the sixties when Mamma Cass Elliot who used to sing the song,

There's a new world coming
This one's just about to end
There's a new world coming
This one's coming to an end
There's a new world coming
the one we've been waiting for
Coming with peace
Coming with joy
Coming with love.
There is a new world coming and Jesus Christ is bringing it. Christians can live in light of the future.