“Everything God has promised is already completed as far as God's book in heaven is concerned.” -- Roland Buck, Angels on Assignment. Indeed, for those who are in Christ, there are many things that have been given to us now, and are already accomplished. Yet they are not yet fully manifested. It's like time travel. In fictional stories where a person can get into a time machine and go into the future, they are able to experience things that haven't happened yet. Then they return back to the present life.
Likewise, we are connected to eternity, which we will call our "future," even while we are here in time. Although in eternity, there is no future or past. Those are aspects of time, which only exists on earth.
Since we are in Christ, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, we are connected with eternity. He is in us by His Eternal Spirit, and through our relationship with Him, we get to experience eternity now. In eternity there is no time. So we experience those realities now in this present age. Here are some examples.
We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8)
We have to work out our salvation until our life on earth ends (Phil 2:12)
We have been sanctified once for all (He 10:10)
We are still being sanctified (Heb 10:14, NIV)
We have been made perfect forever (Heb 10:14)
We are not yet made perfect (Phil 3:12)
We have entered God’s rest (Heb 4:3; Mt 11:28)
We must make every effort to enter that rest or we could fall short of entering through our disobedience, just as the Israelites (Heb 4:11)
Death to Sin
We have been crucified with Christ and have died to sin (Gal 2:20)
We must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily, and crucify the flesh (Eph 2:6; Lk 9:23)
We are seated in heavenly realms with Christ (Eph 2:6)
Only after this life ends will we one day live in heaven with Jesus and be seated there (Jn 14:1-3; Rev 22:3-5)
Mind of Christ
We have received a new mind (2 Cor 5:17)
We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom 12:2)
We are already glorified by God's reckoning. (Rom 8:30)
We will be glorified in Christ at His coming (2 Thes 1:12)
We are called (Rom 8:30)
We must be counted worthy of our calling in Christ (2 Thes 1:11)
RedemptionWe were redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 1 Pe 1:18,19; Gal 3:13)
We wait for the redemption of our bodies (Ro 8:23)
AdoptionWe are already adopted as children of God (1 Jn 3:2; Gal 3:26; Ro 8:15)
We wait for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies (Ro 8:23)
Knowledge of the LordWe know the Lord now (1 Co 13:12; 1 Jn 2:14)
We shall know the Lord fully, even as we are known (1 Jn 2:3-4; 1 Co 13:12)
Putting it All TogetherSo as you can see, almost every single aspect of our relationship with the Lord is "now but not yet."
In John Bunyan's account of his vision of heaven, the prophet Elijah spoke to him and said, “Below the saints enjoy God in a measure, but here we enjoy Him without measure. There they have some sips of His goodness, but here we drink largely and swim in the boundless ocean of happiness. Below the saints have their communion with God broken off many times, but here it is uninterrupted. Below love is mixed with fear, and fear has torment; but here love is perfect, and perfect love casts out fear. In heaven we love God more than ourselves, and one another like ourselves. Here we enjoy the perfection of all grace.”
In fact, the apostle Paul expressed the same thing to the Corinthian church, when he wrote, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1Co 13:9-12)
We possess these things now in part. These realities are established in heaven. But we do not yet experience the fullness of what we possess. As long as we are still in our probationary state – while we live in time and walk upon the earth -- we must produce the fruit of repentance. It is required that we endure to the end, and keep until the end the faith we first professed. Only then will we enter into the fullness of these realities.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.
Author's note: You can access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.