Ever Was or Will Be

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 “Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!”

Perspective can be enhanced by greater understanding. If you see something that looks complex and unique it can bring a sense of awe, if you have a greater depth of understanding through study or knowledge, your sense of appreciation only grows.

The more I understand about God’s Creation, the more I appreciate the glory of my Creator. I can look off into a sunset and be enamored by its beauty and splendor, but if I know why it looks so beautiful, it increases the depth of my appreciation.

So it is with the Lord…

We can appreciate the magnitude of God’s love as expressed in the Word of God, but it’s not until you experience a personal relationship with Christ until you begin to fully appreciate the depth of His love.

Outward Perspective

For centuries, people lacked the intimate knowledge of Creation that we have gained and are still gaining today.

They could appreciate the grandiose expanse of the heavens:

Psalm 19:1 “The heavens are recounting the honour of God, And the work of His hands The expanse is declaring.” (YLT)

But as men walked with God and knew Him, their perspective changed:

Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse.

The beauty and majesty of God is illustrated in each facet of Creation, for those who know what to look for, they see Him.

“The deepest longing of the human heart is to know and enjoy the glory of God. We were made for this.”

John Piper

Knowing and walking with God is contained within a perspective that is axiomatic, in other words, we can describe the love of God with as many superlative adjectives as possible and still fall short of doing it justice, knowing and experiencing God is self-evident.

For those who look on from a standpoint as a casual observer, the perspective is only relatable to their experiences apart from God. Whether something that is good of God is seen or something that seems bad is experienced, the way people define their experiences is independent of the knowledge of God.

Take for instance an example in health care, when we treat patients we are constantly asking them what their pain level is at the moment. The scale of 0-10 is described as 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain imaginable. People can’t imagine anything apart from their reality, everything imaginable has to be relatable. They may see someone in pain and think it looks terrible or they may experience pain, their 10 is only what they have experienced so if having a heart attack is worse than anything they have experienced they may say that their pain level is a 12. This is like saying you gave 110% effort, which is technically impossible but it indicates that whoever claims this value of effort has never tried this hard before.

Our Experiences Now

The Christian experience:

  • Everything a Christian experiences in this lifetime will be as bad as it ever gets.

If your not a christian, let me share with you how bad it is…..

Psalm 3:5 “I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me.”

Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, LORD, have me dwell in safety”

Psalm 23:4 “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

2 Samuel 22:19 “They confronted me in my day of calamity, but the LORD was my support.”

John 12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour.”

Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it!

The christian life is not easy, it wasn’t easy for the disciples and it certainly wasn’t easy for Jesus, but it isn’t for this world the christian yearns, they look forward to the Kingdom of God that is not of this world.

Until that Kingdom is fulfilled, the trials of this world will persist, the striving for righteousness in God’s people will continue as it always has, and the work of the gospel will go on until all who will respond to the call has come. Trials come and go, death is always before God’s people and threats and ridicule are common among those who profess Jesus as Lord. Through it all, the Lord never leaves His people, regardless of how bad it might seem, there is peace in the midst of the storm….

John 17:14 “I have given them Your word and the world has hated them; for they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.”

This world and all it represents is as bad as a christian will ever know. Everything that is to come is only paradise, the curse will be vanquished, sorrow and sighing will flee away, and Satan and all who follow him will be cast into the lake of fire. God’s people will dwell with the Lord and everything will be made new.

The Worlds Experience

  • Everything that the world experiences now is as good as it will ever be.

Cars, houses, food, relationships, power, prestige, knowledge, their work, literally everything that people strive for in this world is the ultimate joy they will ever know, it only gets worse from here.

Matthew 16:1-4 “Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.”

The world cannot see past their ability to reason from a godless perspective. They cannot experience joy beyond the things this world provides. They cannot know godly love nor joy, all they can do is mimic that which only God can provide.

The Call

The sign of Jonah some say is the call to repentance. As Jonah went about the city of Nineveh proclaiming the soon and coming judgement of God, we as believers are called to relate the law of God to unbelievers, helping them understand the magnitude of their sin and the only hope of restoration…Jesus Christ. Failure to repent of sin and accept the grace of God through Jesus is a sure path to Hell. The ninevites responded to the message and put on sackcloth and ashes and repented of their sins.

But the sign of Jonah is deeper yet…

Some say the sign of Jonah was his symbolic resurrection from the dead, which foreshadowed Christ’s resurrection. After all, when Jonah fled on a ship, was thrown overboard and was swallowed whole by a sea creature, he was as good as dead! We even have a record of his prayer—from inside the stomach of his captor!

Jonah 2:1-2 “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said: ‘I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice'”

The Hebrew sheol can also be translated as “the grave.” Jonah knew that without God’s dramatic intervention, his life would be over!

God freed Jonah from his horrible underwater prison! In a sense, God brought Jonah back to life! Jonah described it:

Jonah 2:3, 5-6 “For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; all Your billows and Your waves passed over me… The waters surrounded me, even to my soul; the deep closed around me; weeds were wrapped around my head. I went down to the moorings of the mountains; the earth with its bars closed behind me forever; yet You have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord, my God”

Jonah was figuratively resurrected from the dead, much as Jesus Christ was literally resurrected from the grave.

Matthew 12:39-40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”

All the world needs to know to be saved, it has been given.

Jesus’ death and resurrection was the sign of Jonah, the reality of Salvation that has been offered to all who believe.

If you are of this world, if all you have ever known is the empty promises this world continually gives, there is a hope for you, but you must accept it now. If you are a born again christian and are going through trials, there is a hope for you as well.

Romans 10:2-4 “For I testify about them that they are zealous for God, but not on the basis of knowledge. Because they were ignorant of God’s righteousness and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law, to bring righteousness to everyone who believes.”

Jesus gives hope. Hope out of a world that is perishing, is hope for a world that is yet to come. We as believers are not left as orphans, we have a Father to love and protect us, we walk in the newness of Christ, we walk in the joy of the Lord, and we sense His pleasure when we act obediently to His leading. A christian is already getting a taste of things to come, their eternity has already began. The Holy Spirit that resides within the heart of a believer is the seal of God for great things now and to come.

There is hope and peace in this world of turmoil, it is offered freely to all who would come and drink of its life giving water. We, as believers, must not grow weary sharing this hope, we must not forget and attempt to draw water from this world, all it offers is bitterness. Walk in the freedom that Jesus earned for you and be a light to those who have yet to experience it.

Just maybe we can see some saved from this hopeless world.

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