Meditations on ‘Focusing Faith’ : 49. Faith For Eternity
Titus 1:2 a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time,
I suspect that if we are honest, the truth is that most of us do not, on a day by day basis, ponder on the reality of eternity, or of eternal life. It tends to be older people with their aches and pains and even life-threatening disabilities who find themselves wondering about a better world free from pain and suffering. For the rest of us (as I said, if we are honest) we get taken up with just coping with the material world in which we have lived for so long and which is so familiar. In fact it may be the fact that we do not have a very clear picture about that life in eternity that means we speculate about it only a little.
“Before the beginning of time.”: Yes, this is the truth, that before God even started creating this world, He looked into the future, saw Sin and saw what needed to be done to redeem us, and finally saw the wonder of an eternity filled with redeemed beings, those who have been through this world, lived in sin, came to the end of themselves and when confronted with that which Jesus the Son would do at a specific point in time-space history, would turn to Him and receive all His love and goodness with the end game being living with Him in heaven in eternity. All of that God saw before He decided to make this world that would be perfect to start with, yet soon marred by Sin and the only reason He continued with it was because of what He saw could be achieved by the end, a redeemed people with Him there in eternity. Have you ever seen this before? You have been designed for eternity!
As Paul said to Titus, his calling was to bring faith to those God knew from the beginning would turn to Him, His ‘elect’. It is a case of faith responding to knowledge – the news of the Gospel that opens up salvation to us, and the possibility of lives revealing godliness, and just in case we think this was God’s list ditch stand, Paul reminds us of that which we have just been considering – that it was all part of God’s plan formulated before He created anything. This all comes to light when we hear the preaching of the Gospel and that knowledge stimulates faith which ends up bringing us into God’s kingdom now on this earth and in eternity with Him in heaven. Let’s just see those verses again but in their completeness: “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ for the faith of God’s elect and the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness– a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour,” (Titus 1:1-3)
Yesterday we finished with some words from 1 Peter. We focused on the fact that Peter spoke about us at the present having to “suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1Pet 1:6) but let’s finish by looking at the words that went before that: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet 1:3-5) Note how much of this has a future element to it: “living hope” and “an inheritance” and “kept in heaven” and “until the coming” and “to be revealed in the last time.” All of that points forward. We have a hope of something yet to come which has been revealed to us when we have been born again through the new birth, confirmed by the resurrection of Jesus, a future inheritance waiting for us in heaven for all of us faith people that will be revealed to everyone in the last time.
Talk to your unsaved neighbour about this and it will appear pie in the sky to them, an unreality on the same plane as fairy tales but one day the reality will strike home – this world wasn’t all there is. Have you ever seen the film ‘Men in Black’ where we are eventually shown an entire tiny, tiny universe in a small glass ball around the neck of a cat – and then we are left wondering if this world that we inhabit is yet just another tiny existence inside another larger but still tiny ball. The writers of that film were wondering about the existence of reality and that leaves us wondering, I wonder if this present existence is like that first tiny universe in a glass ball in comparison to heaven, and on comparison to eternity?
The Bible keep on giving us hints about what is yet to come and the doorway to that future eternity is Jesus Christ (who did actually say “I am the door”). We may not have many insights about what it will be like, but we have sufficient to say there is another very real world, more real than this one even. As we suggested earlier the presence of this material world is so strong that that is so often all we can see. To believe in this future is an act of faith. Remember we considered the truth that faith can be strong or weak and that we can do things to strengthen it. As we read our Bibles, as we pray and worship, we will constantly be reminded of this greater reality to which we are coming closer day by day, and be reminded that this isn’t all there is. This should enable us to hold this present existence lightly and when loved ones pass out of this existence and into the next, we can be glad for them even if we mourn their loss. May the reality of the next world grow stronger and stronger in us day by day.
Well, we have come to the end of this series on focusing faith and I hope it will have left something substantial with you. Dare I even suggest you go back through the series and reread five a day, for it is, I believe one of the most significant that I have ever written. I intend to go back though it and let it impact my life more and more for we are called to be a people of faith, and faith, we have seen can grow stronger. May it be so.