Do You Have Life?

Whoever has the Son has life

In the first of John’s three letters, he writes to the early followers of Jesus, reminding them of God’s essential message about Jesus, light, and life. Jesus, by the way, is the light and he gives life. So amid John’s poetic flare, his words all revolve around Jesus.

As John winds down his letter, he writes, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” He makes it so simple.

We take this word life to mean eternal life, that is, our future life in heaven.

Yes, it is that. But this future begins today, not later after we die. The life Jesus gives us is physical life, too. And this might be just as important. Really.

Too many Christians plod through this life, placing all their hopes in a future life in heaven. Their exclusive future focus robs them of what God wants to give them today.

We need to make the most of this life that Jesus gives us. Live for him. Love others as he does. Point them to Jesus, the Son of God.Seek Jesus and you will have him. It’s that simple. Click To Tweet

John makes it clear: Whoever has the Son has life.

Do you have the Son?

If so, the life he gives starts here, now.

If not, seek Jesus and you will have him. It’s that simple.

[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 John 5, and today’s post is on 1 John 5:12.]

Save

Is Being a Christian a Present Reality or a Future Hope?

Our perspective on what it means to follow Jesus shapes how we think and act

Is Being a Christian a Present Reality or a Future Hope?I’ve met people so fixated on heaven that they squander their time here on earth. Not only do they miss the opportunities before them, but they also offer a negative example to the world of what it means to be a Christian. They treat life as a burden and react to every disappointment as a stoic martyr. With long faces they measure their time on earth as an ordeal to endure, one that prevents them from obtaining heavenly bliss.

Yes, our future hope in heaven is significant, but if that’s the only reason to be a Christian, we’re missing what God wants from us and has to give us – now.

Life is a gift, an amazing gift to enjoy and to use and to share. We need to make each minute count for Jesus today, not sit in a corner and count each minute until it’s time to leave.

Years ago I largely missed the delight of my senior year in high school because I was so fixated on what was to come next. High school loomed as a time to tolerate, a hurdle to jump over, before I could move on with life. I even let relationships languish because I didn’t see them as part of my post high school reality. I lost that time and can’t reclaim it.

Yes, I can’t wait to get to heaven and enjoy eternal ecstasy, but I also can’t wait for the opportunities of each new day. In some small way I want to be the hands, the face, and the love of Jesus to those I meet. I want to encourage those who are discouraged, to help those in need, and to point those who are searching to a better way.If we don’t make the most of today we may not be fully ready for our future with Jesus in heaven Click To Tweet

When Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11), it was a reminder to take each day as it comes, one day at a time, and not rush to the next one. We need to make the most of today, whether it is our last one or we have thousands more.

God has given me my time on earth for a reason. If I don’t make the best of it, I may not be ready to fully embrace my future with him in heaven.

As the saying goes, “Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.” We need to live it to the full for Jesus.

[This is from the October issue of Peter DeHaan‘s newsletter, “Spiritually Speaking.”  Receive the complete newsletter each month.]

Train With Purpose: Pursuing the Best in What We Do

In Paul’s letter of advice to his young protégé Timothy, he acknowledges the value of physical training. Even better is training to live a godly life. Physical training has some value, but godliness has even more, both in this life and the life to come, in the physical world and also in the spiritual world.

Train With Purpose: Pursuing the Best in What We DoHe contrasts physical training, which is good, to spiritual training, which is better. How often do we pursue things that are good, while pushing aside things that are better, God’s things? The best things. Even when it comes to our faith, there are good things we can to with our time, money, and attention and there are better things we can do. May we live wisely and always focus on the best.

In other letters Paul uses the metaphor of a runner to teach about life. As people who follow Jesus we should train for our race and run our race with the purpose. We want to finish, win, and earn a prize for how well we run. We don’t want to be disqualified; we don’t want to quit before we reach the finish line. Coasting through the race – or through life – isn’t an optionTrain to run the race of life so we can finish strong and win. Click To Tweet

We must press forward with the end in mind. To do these things, we train with purpose. Our eternal future is at stake. We run to win.

What are you training for? Are you striving to finish strong and win? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[1 Timothy 4:7-8, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2, Galatians 5:7, Hebrews 12:1]

Who Did Jesus Come to Help?

Religious leaders in the Bible often criticize Jesus. It’s understandable. He and his teaching confront the comfortable sacred niche they enjoy in their society. They have a good thing going, and they want to hang on to it. Jesus threatens their status quo, so they attack him.

In one instance they censure Jesus for his choice in dinner companions. It seems quite closed-minded to us today, but to them it is a big deal. Jesus is eating with sinners (aren’t we all) and tax collectors – gasp. While Jesus models acceptance, his detractors advocate moral segregation. (They also insist on ethnic separation.)

Who Did Jesus Come to Help?Jesus defends his actions, declaring he is there to help the sick, not those who are healthy, not the righteous. Certainly the religious acting Pharisees are the most righteous (morally upright, right living) people around. Is Jesus allowing the Pharisees to remain in the old covenant, the Law of Moses, as the means for their salvation, while offering a different way for everyone else?

It could be, but I don’t think so. I see clarity in the New Living Testament (NLT) in the way it renders this passage, where Jesus says, “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners” (Mark 2:17, emphasis added).

Jesus comes only to help those people who know they have a need. The self-righteous are not ready for his help; there is nothing Jesus can give them. There’s an old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” The same is true with spiritual matters; we have nothing to give people who don’t feel a need for what we have to offer.

What do you think about how the NLT presents this verse? Do you think Jesus is allowing a different path for Jews? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Mark 2:13-17, Matthew 9:8-13, Luke 5:27-32]

What Does it Mean to Have “Fallen Asleep?”

What Does it Mean to Have “Fallen Asleep?”The Bible sometimes uses the quaint phrase “fallen asleep.” It’s a polite way to say that someone died. I smile at this ambiguous language and wonder why Bible writers used a euphemism instead of being direct.

But I think there might be more to it. To say “fallen asleep” is not merely an understated way to communicate that someone’s life is over. It’s a hint that there is another life awaiting us after death, that we will awake to a new kind of existence.

Just as natural sleep is a respite between one day and the next, so too figurative sleep is a transition from one form of life to another. While our body ceases to function, our spirit moves on to a new dimension. And we must first “fall asleep” to make that transition.

When the Bible talks about those who have “fallen asleep,” it’s more than a gracious way to say someone died, it’s the suggestion there is even more to look forward to as we move into the spiritual realm. But first we must sleep; we must die.

How do you view death? Do you have hope in what comes next? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Matthew 9:24, Mark 5:39, Luke 8:32, John 11:11, Acts 7:60, Acts 13:36, 1 Corinthians 11:30, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15]

A Hint of What is to Come

flowers-in-my-yardLast month I shared that my yard was a blank canvas, a palette of browns awaiting a fresh start. At last, that transformation has begun. Trees have been added, bushes inserted, and plants strategically placed. Grass seed sown, just now showing the fragile green tips of what is to become. Watering has begun in earnest.

My yard is in the process of change, from lifeless to life-filled. What is presently there shows promise, the promise of what is to become. Trees will grow, bushes will flourish, plants will bloom, and grass will thicken into a rich carpet of lush goodness. Change awaits.

At least that is my hope. Until then I can only anticipate what will one day be. However, I can glimpse what is to come. One plant is already displaying its glory. While it will take time to realize the overall landscaping dream for my yard, this one bush now offers a hint of what is to come: a beautiful scene.

So it is with us. Our lives possess potential; we anticipate a better tomorrow. Yet even as we envision what will one day be, if we look carefully enough we can now see hints of our future. Today’s limited beauty foreshadows tomorrow’s complete glory.

Just as I hold on to hope that my life tomorrow will be better than today, I have an ever greater expectancy in the spiritual realm, that today is but a dim reflection of the eternity that awaits.

God gives us hints today of what our future with him will be like. Do we see it?

[This is from the May 2015 issue of Peter DeHaan‘s newsletter. Sign up to receive the complete newsletter each month via email.]

Is Our Reward For Now or Later?

Some people who follow Jesus have a future focus, greatly anticipating heaven. They endure the present while waiting for what is next.

Other people who follow Jesus have a present perspective, living boldly for today as his ambassadors to the world. The afterlife is almost an afterthought.

Which is it? Is our reward for following Jesus, now or later?

The answer is “Yes!”

Jesus said that his followers will receive a reward in the present and even more in the future; he promises us something for today and something for tomorrow.

The Bible says that what we give up for Jesus now, he will replace multiple times in our present life, with eternal life as a bonus later. When we follow Jesus, we get the best of both.

[Luke 18:29-30]

How Do You Earn Eternal Life?

In the Bible it was common for Jesus to invite people to follow him. That’s simple enough; anyone can do that.

But sometimes Jesus would give a different instruction. For example, he told one very wealthy man to give away all his money and possessions, not ten percent, not half, not even 90%, but all. That’s not so simple or so easy.

Some people assume this means the man was putting his trust in his money and as long as he trusted money, he could never fully trust Jesus.

I get that and agree with that: anything that’s more important to us than Jesus, keeps us from Jesus.

But I wonder if there’s not a different explanation. The man was trying to earn eternal life. We know we can’t earn our salvation; that’s impossible. So to make his point, Jesus gave him a seemingly impossible task: give away everything.

Eternal life is a gift. We can’t earn it. All we need to do is receive it.

[Luke 18:18-29, Romans 6:23]

Is It Fair to Get What We Don’t Earn?

In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon does a lot of whining.

(Don’t get bogged down by his negativity, for he eventually provides some reliable insight in the book’s concluding verses.)

Overall I find it easy to dismiss Solomon’s complaining, but one of his laments does make sense to me. He grumbles about leaving an inheritance to someone who didn’t earn it and doesn’t deserve it.

That’s not fair! And we all want what’s fair, don’t we?

Perhaps not.

Through Jesus, we receive something we didn’t earn and don’t deserve: eternal life.

That’s not fair either, but I’m not complaining.

[Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Ecclesiastes 2:21, Romans 6:23]

What is Eternal Death?

Since eternal life is result of following Jesus, what’s the alternative? Might “eternal death” be the opposite?

If eternal life starts immediately when we begin our journey with Jesus, does eternal death start as soon as someone rejects him?

If eternal life results in heaven, doesn’t eternal death result in hell?

Some opine that eternal death is merely physical death; when the bodies dies, that person is forever gone; their spirit does not live on; it dies too. Death is the end.

However, that’s not my understanding. You can’t have the promise of heaven without the possibility of hell.

For those who follow Jesus, eternal life begins here and now when they align with him. When their body dies, their spirit continues on, enjoying eternal life in heaven.

For those who don’t follow Jesus, eternal death begins here and now when they disregard him. When their body dies, their spirit continues on, suffering eternal death in hell.

[verses about eternal death in the Amplified Bible, the Message, and the New Living Bible]