The Christian experience is both wonderful and challenging.
We have received forgiveness. We’re adopted into God’s family. We enjoy a fellowship with one another that runs deeper than natural affinity. We possess a sure hope of heaven, which brings about eager anticipation. We have the Spirit, God Himself, dwelling within us. We are not removed, though, from the realities of life in this fallen world. We know frustration, we know heartache, we know disappointment, and we know groaning.
While we live here on earth, we have a little taste of heaven, but we are not there yet.
Christianity does not make us immune to decay or sin. We get sick, and our bodies fail. We continue to struggle with sin and encounter opposition to our faith. Indeed, as the Westminster theologians put it back in the 17th century, the Christian is involved in “a continual and irreconcilable war” against sin.
It is possible to tie ourselves in all kinds of spiritual and theological knots over our ongoing battle with sin. We may wonder, “Why is it that I still disobey?” In those moments, you and I need to remember the “three tenses” of salvation, which summarize God’s work in the life of the Christian.
If we are hidden in Christ, then we have been saved from the penalty of sin. We have nothing to fear on the day of judgment because Jesus, by His death on the cross, bore our sins and faced punishment in our place. In the present tense, we are being saved from the power of sin. It’s an ongoing divine ministry; none of us will ever be sinless this side of heaven, but God is at work within us, enabling us to say no to what is wrong and yes to what is right. And finally, there will be a day, when Christ returns, when we will be saved from sin’s very presence.
Every so often we get a little taste of heaven that makes us long for what’s to come. This is why Paul says that we “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for … the redemption of our bodies.” We should look forward to Christ’s return with zealous expectation!
As Christians, we go out into the world as citizens of heaven, living for the time being as strangers and foreigners. But we’re not going to have to live away from home forever. One day, Jesus will return—and when He does, He will take us to join Him, in our resurrected bodies, in His perfected kingdom. Today, do not live as though this is all there is. Lean forwards, for your best days are still to come. You are not there yet—but most assuredly you one day will be.
The River of Life
1Then the angel1 showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life2 with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants3 will worship him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Jesus Is Coming
6And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
7“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, 9but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant4 with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
10And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. 11Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
12“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
14Blessed are those who wash their robes,5 so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. 15Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
16“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
17The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
20He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.6 Amen.
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