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Beyond Imagination, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
December 29, 2022 12:00 am

Beyond Imagination, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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December 29, 2022 12:00 am

Hope can be a consuming thing, can’t it? Just ask the mother who is waiting for her son to come home from war or the father who is kneeling at the bedside of his sick wife. Hope drowns out trivial thoughts and focuses only on that which matters most. In this message, Stephen reminds us that the Christian life should be a life consumed by hope.

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Would you notice in that verse again the object of your imitation? He, Christ, is pure. He becomes in the pattern for our self-purification, morally blameless, uncontaminated. He is the object of our imitation.

So let's be careful. It's tempting to look around and choose someone from the royal family and say, I'm going to be just like that person. It's okay if they're following Christ, as Paul the Apostle said. Follow me, he said, as I follow Christ. Since the Christian life is filled with hope and anticipation for the future, it might be easy to forget the fact that we are God's children now. We get excited thinking about the day that we will see Jesus face-to-face. But friend, you are already in His presence.

Because if you're a son or daughter of God, His Spirit is in you. The Christian life should be a life consumed by hope for the future. But it's also a life that we live now. Today, Stephen returns to 1 John as he examines this important truth. Stay with us for a message that Stephen called Beyond Imagination. We've been told that every believer will one day have a resurrected, recognizable, perfected body.

1 Corinthians 15. We're going to retain the uniqueness of our personalities. We're not going to sort of be one big blob chanting some undiscernable whatever before the throne forever. We're going to be uniquely who we are, only perfected.

You're not going to become like me, which is good news for you, and I'm not going to become like you. We can also observe that in heaven, we retain memories on earth. We retain memories on earth, of life on earth. You're going to recognize your spouses, your children, your extended family, those that you disciple together with, those that you study with, those that you worship with. And you think, well, how could we with memories ever enjoy heaven?

Our memories will be perfected by godly wisdom and holy justice and the perspective of our sovereign, eternal Lord, whom we will talk with face to face. We know that our bodies are going to enjoy food, which you're going to be able to enjoy in about an hour and a half, just as Jesus ate fish. Remember he ate fish? I love it.

I love Luke chapter 24. They gave him fish and then he watched them. Were you going to see it go down?

No. Body, he ate. We're also informed that God will have designed the tree of life to bear different fruit along the river of life. Probably these trees are orchards. Bearing fruit, Revelation 22 says, every 30 days, which then has to restructure our rather shallow thinking of heaven. There are months.

Every 30 days, 30 years, there's the passing of time, not withstanding so many gospel songs that we sing. Even that little clue of our future home, by the way. Again, it just kind of fries our imagination, doesn't it?

Wait, what did he say? But even that idea of fruit, different fruit every month. New Testament scholars can't quite figure out what John is describing because of the language he uses. They're not exactly sure if it's the same fruit every month, a fresh crop, or if it's different fruit on the same tree every month, like some kind of glorified Harry and David system.

You get a different fruit every month. From other passages, we know we're going to communicate and learn. We're going to worship.

We're going to serve, travel, explore. Much of what we know about heaven is what isn't going to be there. Whenever we get sick, weak, we're never going to again weep in sorrow. I believe we will weep in joy.

That's a wonderful emotion. Never in sorrow. Never in guilt. Never hang our heads again in shame. Never again anguish over sin. Never again wish, I would love to talk to the Lord about that one personally, and hear his answer. Frankly, the Bible doesn't really tell us even half of the glory of our eternal state when we are in the presence of Jesus Christ.

But I love the way John puts it here in the text. Look there. It doesn't yet appear what we will be.

I love that. Doesn't yet appear. We had a little clues, but oh listen. It doesn't yet appear what we will be. Don't let appearances fool you. You see, you might think you're sitting next to just anybody.

You're not. You're sitting next to an immortal. A prince. A princess who will one day be kings and queens reigning with Christ.

Don't let appearances fool you. There will be similarities but there will be remarkable differences in who we will be. One author whose books I enjoy out of print and he's along with the Lord a generation or so ago wrote it this way when he commented on this text. From looking at an acorn, would you ever imagine the existence of a great oak tree? Doesn't yet appear what it will be. From looking at a scrawny, awkward, fuzzy eaglet, could you imagine that one day it will soar with tireless wings upon the air that it will defy the hurricane and scream at the clouds? No. It doth not yet appear what it shall be. From looking at a crawling earthbound caterpillar, can you prophesy that someday it will lift itself from the dust upon wings of beauty multicolored and make its home among the flowers? No. It doth not yet appear what it shall be.

That's good. This is the conviction of the apostle John. You and I are only shadows, we're only whispers of what we will become. The apostle Paul in fact simply describes it as going from earthy, I love that word translated literally, we're earthy, we're going to be heavenly. Our mortality will be exchanged for immortality. You have to fill in the blanks with an imagination that can't really go that far.

We haven't seen anything yet. I love the way one theologian wrote a parable from this text commenting on it, imagining a conversation between twins in a mother's womb, a boy and a girl. They're having a conversation and the sister says to her brother, I believe there is life after birth. Her brother protested, no, no, no, this is all there is.

It's a dark and cozy place, we have nothing else to do but cling to the cord that feeds us. The little girl insisted oh, there's got to be something more than this dark place, there must be something else, a place with light where there is freedom to move. She could not convince her twin brother. After some silence, the sister said, I have something else to say but I'm afraid you won't believe that either. I think there is a mother, a mother, her brother shouted. What are you talking about? I've never seen a mother, have you? You haven't. Who put that idea into your head this place is all we have, why do you always want more?

This is not such a bad place after all. The little girl said, but don't you feel those squeezes every once in a while? They're quite unpleasant and sometimes even painful.

I thought this would be a great story for Mother's Day. Yes, he answered, but what about them, these squeezes? Well, the sister said, I think these squeezes are getting us ready for some other place, much more beautiful than this where I for one believe we will see our mother face to face. Two convictions, the first is a conviction about who we are, the second is about who we will become and frankly each of these convictions rests upon the flimsiest of imaginations, conceptions and understandings, but this is what excited the Apostle John because he says now out of these convictions will come three reactions. In other words, if we truly believe that we are the children of divine royalty, if we truly believe there's more out there, the coming kingdom, the appearance of Christ, then we ought to be pursuing three ongoing reactions, so to speak. Look at verse three, everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself just as he is pure.

Now let me unpack these three reactions. First, we need to continually redefine our ambition and everyone who has this hope fixed on him, capital H, it can be translated subjectively, the hope that we have in us or in him, little h, the believer, it can be translated objectively in the hope we have placed upon him, capital H, we're not sure where John was going but both work. The word, by the way, translated hope is used by John typically in the hope of the coming of Christ, he uses that eschatologically, he uses that with the hope of these prophetic events taking place, eternal life in his presence. Who put that idea in his mind? Where did mankind have the idea placed in his mind that there's something out there, there's something more, there's something eternal? I've learned in my study that Australian aborigines pictured an eternal future as a distant island beyond the western horizon.

Early Finns thought it was also a distant island but in the far away east. Mexicans, Peruvians, Polynesians believed that they would either live forever on the sun or on the moon after death. Native Americans believed that their spirits would live forever hunting the spirits of buffalo. The Gilgamesh epic from ancient Babylon believed in a resting place at a tree, a tree of life. The pyramids of Egypt are testimonies, simply testimonials to the belief that the deceased would resurrect, they would have maps placed carefully by their sides of powerful pharaohs and politically connected families in order to guide them to their future eternal world. Romans even believed that they would one day lounge in Elysian fields with horses grazing nearby. Although these eternal places and eternal ambitions change from culture to culture, there is this unifying theme in a deeply religious world literally around the globe emanating from the heart of mankind that this world is not all there is.

And they're right. But their hope is fixed to the legends and testimonies of men long dead. Our hope is fixed on something else. Our map to a future existence is not based upon the teachings of someone occupying a grave who supposedly made it to the place and his disciples hoped he made it to the place he believed in. We're not sure we're going to believe he did. Now our map is a person who rose from the grave and validated in that resurrection his claim to be the way, the truth, and the what?

The life. John 14 6. Our hope is not fancied legend. It is confirmed in historically validated events. Witnesses more than 500 seeing the resurrected Christ and then many seeing him ascend to heaven.

First Corinthians 15. Our hope then is fixed. It's anchored upon our resurrected and ascended and soon returning sovereign. Truth of the matter is that we as believers can lose the defining objectivity of our longings though, can't we? I've never met a Christian who denied interest in heaven or the coming of Christ. But the truth is can't we as believers start longing for earth?

Earthy things. Rather than longing and looking for eternal things. Can we not easily, as one author said, start acting like settlers rather than pilgrims? Our ambitions then becoming no different or forward thinking than the ambition of earthbound pagans who simply live for the next paycheck or the next promotion or the next place or the next partner or the next party or whatever. John is using, by the way, this present tense participle here for having this hope. In other words, this hope is pictured as daily treasured. He's thinking of someone who actively treasures this hope. In other words, it matters to him. He's encouraging us based on the convictions of who you are and what you're going to become.

Daily treasure this. Does it matter to you? Man tells me it matters to him if I could see his checkbook I'd know if Jesus really mattered. If I could look at his schedule I'd find places that indicated that Jesus really mattered to him. That those who belong to Jesus mattered to him. That those who didn't belong to Jesus Christ truly mattered to him. Talk to him about his school or his career and he would tell you that his school or his job, that campus, that career is simply the place where God has appointed him for this particular point in time so that he can make sure people somehow see through him and hear from him that Jesus Christ matters. I was talking to a businessman just a couple of days ago who told me that he had this business trip and he came back and he was so excited because he had the names of four businessmen that he had met that he was not going to be in contact with for the sake of the gospel. It matters. That's having your hope truly fixed on him.

He really is your treasure. The Chicago Tribune ran an article on an author who once worked in a steel mill. This former steel worker wrote a book about his experiences and he described that scene where at times the air would be filled with those silvery dust flakes that floated to the floor in an area of the mill where steel strips rolled over pads in a tall cooling tower and for years workers would come especially at night to see them dancing and shimmering in the light and visitors would also come flocking to the side which was especially picturesque at night but then years later they discovered the danger of asbestos. Everybody had breathed those silvery dancing asbestos flakes.

Many of the employees especially like this author are now dying and he makes this telling comment in his book he says and to think we used to fight over that job. That was the job to have. That was the coveted placement in the mill. Man if I could just be there. What an illustration of deadly enchantment and I wonder what kind of silver flakes we're chasing today.

They're all the rage but they will soon be found to be dangerous destructions and even deadly. The apostle John is saying look if we are indeed royalty and the coming of Christ is ahead and with him our immortality continue to redefine your longings your ambition your true treasure. Secondly we need to continually be readdressing our purification. Look again at verse three and everyone who has this hope fixed on him does what purifies himself. Obviously this isn't a reference to the purification of regeneration or some ability to you know absolve yourself of your sins.

God never gave mankind that ability. John has already made clear also in the first chapter of this letter in verse 7 the blood of Christ is the only thing capable of daily cleansing us from every sin. So what's John talking about? John is simply referring to our responsibility to live for Christ in purity. In fact the word to purify is a word that refers to ceremonial cleanliness. It's a word used in the Septuagint or the Old Testament Greek translation of the Hebrew text for the priests who would wash their hands who would wash the utensils used in temple service. So the word originally referred to something that was ritually clean. Eventually in the New Testament it came to be understood as this ethical cleansing this daily wholehearted internal dedication to purity. Again it's present tense which means we daily regularly purify ourselves that is we seek purity. Simply the discipline of godly living.

Do you ever master that one? You get up every morning determined to start afresh with the deposit of grace given to you by our Lord. This is Paul by the way connecting the same dots for Titus that John is connecting for us here.

This is how you live because of what you're going to become for where you'll be. He writes to Titus deny ungodliness say no to ungodliness and worldly desires and live sensibly, righteously, godly in the present age looking for that blessed hope. In other words while you're doing that saying no to that you're looking for that blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus.

Titus 2 12 and 13. So purifying ourselves involves the daily battle to cleanse what we do with our minds, our thoughts, our speech, our eyes, our hands. What do we do with our disappointments, our fears, our injuries, do we purify them, our enemies, our plans and on and on. Are we going to daily wash, cleanse everything about us in purity or will we instead this day or the next day inch closer and closer and closer to impurities. That's the idea. How close to the line will we come? I came across a rather tragic illustration of this very concept inside of my files need that now would be a good time to use this there's a book that actually chronicles the nearly 700 people who have died in some accident or something related to the Grand Canyon over the past 140 years and more recent years most of the deaths are the result of an airplane or helicopter crash others have drowned while rafting the river still others have taken their own lives there but according to this author a number of people have gone over the edge and have fallen to their death through their own carelessness like just a year ago he writes of an 18 year old young lady who was hiking on the North Rim Trail and decided to venture off the beaten path ignore the warning signs to have her picture taken at a spot known as inspiration point but as she sat down on the ledge alleged that it carried hundreds of people before her the rock suddenly gave way and she plummeted to her death like the 38 year old father in 1992 who was jokingly trying to frighten his teenage daughter by leaping up onto a guardrail wall he flailed his arms as he was pretending to lose his balance he knew there was a ledge on the other side and he pretended to fall behind the wall to that ledge even though there were numerous warning signs he jumped down on the other side of the wall lost his footing and fell 400 feet to his death why in the world would a Christian royalty headed for the kingdom come up to the Grand Canyon called sin and say I wonder how many warning signs I can ignore today I wonder how close I can get to the edge without falling in why would we ever think that way when our immortality and unimaginable reign with Christ is just around the corner you see these convictions should be producing reaction continually redefining our ambition continually readdressing our purification one more continually readjusting our reflection would you notice in that verse again the object of your imitation and everyone who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself just as like he Christ is keyword pure Jesus doesn't continually purify himself he is pure he becomes in the pattern for our self purification morally blameless uncontaminated sinless he is the object of our imitation because we want to reflect him so let's be careful it's tempting to look around and choose someone from the royal family and say I'm gonna be just like that person it's okay if they're following Christ as Paul the Apostle said follow me he said as I follow whom Christ we have to continually readjust our reflection based upon the object of our imitation make sure we're reflecting Jesus Christ as we imitate him why because we are convinced with the Apostle John of who we are children of God because Christ is going to appear and like him we will become robed in holy perfection and glorious immortality we then want to react in this way let me close by telling you the man who got it right I'm enjoying a number of different commentators some with the Lord one of them in his commentary on this text probably hear him on the radio by the name of Chuck Swindoll he talked about an older man that he worked with for a few years when Swindoll was a younger man no seminary degree hanging on this elderly man's wall barely a high school education an hourly worker in the machine shop where Swindoll worked his name was George and he basically had one job and that was to sweep out the shavings that would gather that would collect underneath the huge lathes the machinery as well as sweep the debris from the floor it was a dirty it was a dusty job Swindoll remembers this man was a committed believer this elderly gentleman loved to talk about scripture especially scripture related to the coming of Christ prop his arms up on the broom and talk away he said that you could often hear this man singing hymns about the coming of Christ early on Swindoll got a lesson from this man it was Friday afternoon almost quitting time and he said and I'll read he said I looked at George and said George are you ready for tonight you ready to go and he said yep but his clothes were filthy he was obviously not ready I said look at you man you're not ready you got to go clean up no he said let me show you something and he unzipped his coveralls a few inches and underneath were the neatest cleanest clothes you can imagine he had them on already all he did when the whistle blew was unzip step out of his coverall walk up punch his clock and he was out of there but he turned to me just before I left and said something I never forgot you see he smiled I stayed ready to keep from getting ready I stayed ready to keep from getting ready that's pretty good theology that summarizes what the Apostle John has told us fairly well because of who we are because of who we're going to become this is what we ought to be doing in the meantime we're living ready in fact this elderly man said to Swindoll just before he left he said and this is just like I am ready right now for Jesus to come staying ready everybody who has this hope fixed on him purifies himself just as he is pure are you ready for Jesus to come that's an important way to live isn't it we really have no idea the day or the hour when we will see Jesus face to face because of that the wise way to live is to always be ready if you don't know Christ and if his return would bring judgment to you I hope you'll consider turning to him in faith today we have a resource that can help you understand more about the gospel it's called God's wisdom for your heart there are several ways for you to access this resource if you'd like to see it immediately visit our website at wisdom forward slash gospel once again it's wisdom forward slash gospel when you land on that page you'll see this resource called God's wisdom for your heart the other way that you can have immediate access is on our smartphone app our ministry is called wisdom international when you visit the app store for your device that's what you want to search for it's the wisdom international app and as soon as you open it up you'll see a link right on the home screen that says gospel click there and it'll take you right to it we also have this resource available in print and you'll find that in our online store tune in next time for more wisdom for the hearts you
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-29 00:21:55 / 2022-12-29 00:31:15 / 9

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