Thought for the Week - 3rd AprilPastor Gareth Watkins
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.
We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair;
we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed,
always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.
For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body.
As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak.
We do so because we know that the one who raised up Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence.
For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.
For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison
because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Today, I want to discuss eternity. There are two roads to eternity… one road takes you to heaven, the other road takes you to hell. One is God’s way, the other is not. Either way, we go to eternity. And it’s up to us whether we choose God’s way or not. There is no middle ground.
Eternity is a subject that we should be more excited about – we have this wonderful eternity in heaven which God laid out in front of us! We will be risen with Him together! That’s why Christ died. God raised Christ to be with God forever.
Other influences come into our life makes us think about eternity – whether it’s Star Trek, book writers, educationalists, theologians etc. We are influenced by those sources that and forget the basic truth that God has for us – that we will be with Him for eternity! Our theology is affected by other sources, whether we like it or not.
Think of a grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. But then when it comes through, it bears some sort of plant. That’s much like us… this body will die, it isn’t what God has in mind for us. We’ll become totally different to what we are now – we’ll be gaining a heavenly body! This body and person we have today isn’t our final resting place, and isn’t what God has in mind for us. The resurrected body in Christ will have an eternal quality and eternal depth to it! Think about what we are going towards and get excited about it! Easter is about the new life in Christ and the life ahead.
“For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal”.
The trouble with us today is that we lose a sense of proportion of the fact that Christ has come, that we’re eternal beings and right now isn’t forever. There are things within us – if we believe in Christ – that are eternal. They’re not to be despised…. but to be encouraged, that we would see those eternal things brought forward in a person’s life. Life as we see it will pass, but there is an eternity lies ahead of each one of us.
Unfortunately, our thoughts these days are often governed by our time, our sins, ideas of God, and our own ideas which aren’t always based in the truth of God. Our ideas of time affect everything – we live in a world regulated and measured by time. But eternity is a different concepts… it has no beginning or end. It doesn’t function in the confines of our mind! Time controls our thinking about what we accept and what we reject. Our thinking is governed by our sin, and the motivation to remove it can be weakened by our failure to understand the fact that eternity lies ahead. But think back to that grain… it will die. But that plant that emerges is the person that will live with Christ forever! It should motivate you to question whether the things of the day matter and have consequences. How silly is it to be wrapped up in time when you have eternity with Christ! This part is temporal and will finished.
Paul tells us that we have treasures in earthen vessels. That is you and me, for we house a precious thing – Jesus Christ! That treasure is the Lord Jesus Christ and the gift of eternity that is with Him. Our human form is that of earthen vessel… so weak! Paul says that we are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, because God gives us protection! The world wants us to be compromised, captivated by sin, Godlessness and time. But we are free! We are not bound by those things anymore!
Paul says “we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed”. Our eternity is secure and we will go on, because Christ went there first to lead the way for us! Something of the life of Christ comes to live within the life of a believer! The Lord Jesus Christ is manifest in our mortal flesh. This no longer about the here and now… we don’t need to be bound up in the difficulties, stresses, strains, emotions and conflicts of this world! It’s something that should lift us! Something that we should be excited about! He is in us, and just like him when we die, we will be lifted up… Because he is within us!
In verse 12 we read “As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you”. A seed has to die, but from that comes the plant. Like us, we will die, but from that will come a new life… a life that is eternal! That’s a miracle. Be excited that you will be raised up with Him! What a wonderful thought – we are not bound to time or sin! It makes everything more bearable – Paul was able to bear the persecution of stoning and loneliness of prison; he knew he was going to be raised up with Christ. He’s not in despair and he is not destroyed!
There’s a hope and an excitement! Eternal matters do carry a weight. It’s not all about the here and now, my sins now, my comfort now, my feelings now, and my enjoyment now etc. In verse 4 we read that “people’s minds the God of this age has blinded”. Is there something that’s blinding us today? Are we too worried, too anxious, need constant reassurance of your faith etc.? The effect it has is stopping you seeing the God of eternity.
See today that we live in a fallen world. But we are marked out through time and eternity to be different. We’re people of eternity with Christ – not bound into this fallen world. The sins of this life shouldn’t be allowed to rob us! So be excited about the eternity God has for those who believe in him!