Text: Romans 8:12-30, Revelation 20:1-21:27, 1 Peter 1:3-5
For those of us who’ve come and for those of us who will, did you know that our redemption is a forever thing?
The Bible describes the hope we have in Christ as a living hope, more alive than these bodies that carry us through each day and more certain than our own death. 1 Peter chapter one says our inheritance in Christ is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for [us], who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5, emphasis added).
In other words, friends, we can’t mess this up. When we are His, we are His. Always. Period.
Our salvation – our complete trust and hope in the saving work of Jesus Christ – has been called “the already and the not yet.” It is complete and it is ongoing, all at the same time.
So, what does that mean for us who believe?
It means our pain and our trials are real, but so is our future glory that outweighs them all. (Rom. 8:18)
It means Christ’s “rightness” before God is indeed fully ours, but we are also working out our salvation with fear and trembling. (Phil 2:12-13)
It means I can and should repent of my sin each day, each moment, ever aware of my need for him while also rejoicing in faith that I am completely forgiven. (1 John 1:9)
It means God saved me before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-6), He saved me when I first called on him (John 3:16), and His salvation will endure forever when I’m home with Him in Glory.
It means the original glory God created me for in the beginning has been restored and is being restored.
It means I am a new creation, renewed daily by His grace and mercy so that I might walk in the calling to reflect Him, to bear the very image of my God. (Genesis 1:27, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18)
The living hope Peter speaks of is ours today and ours tomorrow, and then it gets even better. Revelation tells us of an indescribable, unfathomable glory that will never end.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’”
This eternal hope, too, is ours.
And the One who is the Beginning and the End, the Wiper Away of All Tears and Sadness? He is with us even now. Here, in the midst of our mess. He is making all things new, starting with our hearts. Every glimpse of wholeness of heaven we are given here on earth is only a hint of what is to come.
I’ve always loved the following scene from Tolkein’s Return of the King. The relief is almost palpable. Oh, how much more glorious the eternal glory of our God will be, and how much more beautiful is the grace and hope of Christ to our weary hearts.
“Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”
“A great Shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King