Cultivate an Eternal Perspective

Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne

Our perspective, how we see things determines how we behave. What we view determines what we do. We have been studying heaven, and if the promises of God are yes and amen, this should change how we live right now in our world. Having an eternal perspective changes how we live in this life.

Today I want to talk about having an eternal world view, how we view this life in light of the future to come, and the great comfort and encouragement in the fact that we will live forever with God.

HOW YOU VIEW DETERMINES WHAT YOU DO

Colossians 3:1-2 (ESV)
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (heaven). Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Bible writers point to an eternal perspective because it changes how we live now. They were always writing while looking ahead to Jesus’ return and heaven.

Did you know that the second coming of Christ is the most talked about doctrine in the entire Bible? In the 260 chapters of the New Testament there are some 318 references to the return of Jesus. That’s one out of every thirteen verses in the New Testament talking about His return! Across the whole Bible, for every prophecy about the first coming of Christ there are eight prophecies concerning His second advent. Every moral command in the New Testament is at some point tied to Jesus’ return. Parables like the wicked servants, the ten virgins, the rich man Jesus calls a fool because he never considered his own death.

Luke 12:19-20 (ESV)
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

UNDERSTANDING HOW TO LIVE

In the Old Testament, Moses, who wrote Psalm 90, urged the people to carefully live with wisdom on a daily basis…

Psalms 90:12 (ESV)
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Martin Luther translated this verse, “teach us to think more about death that we might understand how to live.” Once we understand the brevity of life, once we comprehend the fragility of this life, we currently live, and the enormity of what is to come, only then will we live this life to the full serving Jesus properly, without fear and without agenda. We can say no to ungodliness, we can refuse to be upset by things that happen, because we have eternity in focus, not just what we can or do get today.

THE WALK OF FAITH INTO ETERNITY

Paul says, if our only hope is to be rewarded in this life, we are pitiable…

1 Corinthians 15:19 (ESV)
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Paul had an eternal perspective. He knew that there is far more than this life coming after we die. Hebrews 11 lists the hall of fame for faith. But notice two different groups…

Hebrews 11:32-34 (ESV)
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

A group of winners, high achievers by faith. But here’s another group, also commended for their faith…

Hebrews 11:36-37 (ESV)
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated –

A TRUE REWARD

OK, sign me up for group A, but not group B. But the Bible said that both, the successful looking and the failure looking, the great and the tragic, both never truly fulfilled their faith. Why? Because in eternity, whether you live what the world considers a successful life or an ordinary life, there is much more to come for us in heaven.

Hebrews 11:39-40 (ESV)
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

The writer to the Hebrews is telling us that the true reward for faith might be partly fulfilled in this life, but will ultimately be fulfilled in the next, eternal life. So, God’s blessings and favour and prosperity is not quite as cut and dried as we might think!

WHAT IS AN ETERNAL WORLDVIEW?

Hebrews 10:31
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We have learned about heaven and hell, about how we go to one or the other after we die, but that both are temporary, pending either the Lake of Fire, eternal death, and endless misery for those who refuse Christ, or the new, perfected earth for those who accept Him. As Christians, we know that our works will be judged not for salvation but for rewards. With this in mind, it changes our view of this life, because we want to please Him and serve Him.

Here are four things we should do so that the right perspective changes our lives right now. Don’t just sit here and listen and say, that’s nice. Let’s do something, let’s change something. Let’s be doers, not just hearers.

James 1:22-24 (ESV)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

1. KICK THE BUCKET LIST MENTALITY

In 2007 a movie called The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson popularised the term “bucket list”, and told the story of old men, facing a terminal diagnosis, so they had a list of crazy things they wanted to do before they die.

Most people today have a bucket list. I want to do this, see this, experience this before I die. The underlying assumption is, after I die, it will be too late. They say YOLO, “you only live once.”

But as Christians, such a list makes no sense. The Bible teaches that heaven is real, and our ultimate destination is a renewed earth. When we die, we don’t sit around on clouds strumming harps until our fingers bleed or sing ancient hymns with 87,000 verses in an endless church service. We get to experience everything we love about earth on steroids, the best bits, in an even better way in heaven, without the curse.

So, you may not get the chance to climb Everest, but you will one day be able to fly around an even bigger mountain. There is nothing we experience here that we won’t experience in abundance in heaven…nothing!

With heaven in your heart and eternity with God awaiting, why do you need a bucket list? You will experience everything you could possibly want one day in heaven! YOLO is a myth, it’s YALF, you actually live forever.

Hebrews 11:16 (ESV)
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

AN ETERNAL BOOK

This life we experience now is just chapter one in an eternal book, and every chapter gets better! In this life you might sacrifice, you might miss a few things, but that’s nothing compared to future glory. As C.T. Studd said, “only one life, twill soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.” An eternal worldview changes everything.

John Piper preached an incredible message on a wasted life. In it, he told of two single elderly ladies, Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards. Both around 80 years of age, single, having lived a faithful and long life, followed the calling of God to Cameroon, but were killed in a car crash. Everyone called it a tragedy. He contrasted this with a Reader’s Digest article on a couple known as Rob and Penny, who worked hard and retired early, moved to Florida, bought a boat, and started a seashell collection. That’s a tragedy! Spending the last twenty or thirty years of your life satisfying yourself and your desires!

A WASTED LIFE

This world will try and sell you a dream. Nice house, nice car, nice job, nice family, nice retirement. Then collect seashells and live out your life indulging yourself. When you stand before Christ it’s like, here’s my seashells. That, my friends, is a tragedy. Years wasted, serving yourself and your own interests. And most of us fall for it!

I urge you, don’t buy into that dream. Give your life totally to Jesus, live for Him, and eternity awaits. The one thing you won’t be able to do in heaven is share the gospel with people and see them saved. Do it down here while you still can!

A wasted life is a life lived without thinking about eternity. So, kick the bucket list, and take up the serving list for Jesus! Only what’s done for Christ will last.

2. DISCOVER YOUR CALLING

Hebrews 11 shows us that God has a unique calling for every believer in the story of faith. There’s a myth that God only calls super spiritual people, and He does so supernaturally. A few might experience sensational calls, but most of us are guided by the gentle leading of God. Remember Elijah’s experience…

1 Kings 19:11-12 (ESV)
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

Many of you sitting here are not sure that God has called you to minister. Not sure of God’s plan for your life? Did God save you so that the only thing you do with your life is sit in church, be a good person and tithe? Or does He desire more for you? Are you called to minister for Jesus?

News flash…don’t wait for a specific call, the Calling for you to serve and reach people with the gospel was included in your calling to be saved. If you’re a believer, guess what? You’re called. Don’t wait for a neon sign in the sky, if you are a Christian, you’re called to ministry.

Matthew 4:19 (ESV)
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

ACCEPTING THE CALL

When you accepted Jesus, you accepted the call to mission. The only question is, where and how will you serve Jesus? Having an eternal perspective means that you can leverage your life for the service of the Kingdom. You don’t have to be spectacularly called, you don’t have to be an apostle, or a pastor, you can have the great privilege to serve Jesus, starting right here and now. Don’t wait for a sign, start now with what you’ve got and let God direct you. You cannot steer a stationary ship, but you can steer it when it’s moving, so step out and do something, anything for Christ.

In Acts, Stephen was an ordinary guy, but he became the first martyr of the church. Philip wasn’t an apostle, but he led an unnamed eunuch to the Lord, and this Eunuch went back to his native Ethiopia and founded a church movement, still in existence today.

God is not interested in your ability; He’s interested in your availability! I urge you, whatever your background, however old you are, don’t eke out your life, live life to the full by engaging and serving the Lord. This church is a perfect vehicle to serve Jesus, so talk to someone today. A heavenly perspective should change how you live right now, and what’s important to you.

3. REJOICE IN SUFFERING

In you have an eternal worldview, it changes how you see suffering. You can rejoice in it…

Romans 5:3-4 (ESV)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

Modern Christianity tries to tell us that God rewards and validates our faith by success. If you pray this, believe that, do this and that right, if you have enough faith, this is how God will reward you. Some say God is bound by the Bible and therefore must reward you. The implication is that if you believe hard enough, if you can find a verse, you can force God to do what you want.

According to this doctrine, God will never let anything bad happen to you. This is not true in life, and it’s certainly not true in the Bible. The Bible is full of stories about people who suffered, people like Joseph, Daniel, Peter, Paul, even Jesus, yet they brought God glory by triumphing. Becoming a Christian doesn’t see Christ removing trouble from your life, but He provides a way through life’s troubles.

James 1:2-4 (ESV)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

MATURE AND COMPLETE

God wants you mature and complete! In Hebrews 11 it says these all died in faith, without receiving what was promised…

Hebrews 11:36-38 (ESV)
Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated – of whom the world was not worthy -wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

The deepest faith is grown not in times of prosperity but in times of suffering. Some of the best things about God are only revealed in suffering. The symbol for Christianity is cross, not a cushion. God’s power might be revealed in our prospering, or our healing, but when we rejoice in our suffering, that’s next level faith, and it show just how much we value God, not just what He does for us. That we cherish our relationship with God more than life itself.

Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

In this life, Jesus tells us we will suffer, but it’s how we respond to suffering that reveals how much faith we truly have in God. An eternal perspective gives us the supernatural ability to rejoice in suffering, not whine and complain and get mad at God for not doing what we want.

AN UNCOMFORTABLE LIFE

Prosperity preachers say, give us your money, call this 1800 number and God will bless you and make you rich and prosperous. Will God? Is that what God is about? Did Jesus suffer and die to give you a comfortable life? Question…to people who aren’t Christians, is being rich as impressive as someone who, when everything goes wrong, still has joy in the Holy Spirit? Does someone driving a Tesla really impress unsaved people as much as a faith filled person rejoicing even though their life is a struggle, and they might be suffering?

When you have an eternal worldview, you rejoice in suffering because your eyes are on eternity, and God, believe it or not, has no problem using suffering to produce character. You see, it doesn’t matter what we endure on earth for Christ, because the best is yet to come…

Romans 8:18 (ESV)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

I remember being away from home on tour in India. It was hot, dirty, uncomfortable and I was quite miserable. But I knew I had one week and then I would board a plane that would take me home to Fiona and my family. It made the few days of suffering worth it! I knew I was destined for another place. If you keep your eyes on your destination, you can endure anything!

4. FORSAKE THE IDEA OF BEING CREDITED

We love people praising us, giving awards and compliments. But Harry Truman said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” An eternal perspective means you don’t care who knows what you have accomplished, as long as God knows. You can happily serve in obscurity.

1 Peter 4:11 (ESV)
whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.

HEROES OF FAITH

Most of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, we never know about. Their names are unknown to us. Most of us think that we should be acknowledged or remembered by people, but when you have an eternal perspective, you don’t have to receive accolades on earth. We don’t have to be remembered on earth to make an impact on eternity. Or even on earth.

In 1989, the democracy movement in China was gathering momentum, and the government at the time cracked down on protesters in Tiananmen Square, killing an estimated 10,000 students. One loan protester, whose name no one can remember, stood before the tanks, and the impact of what he did was heard around the world.

When you have an eternal view, you don’t care what people say or think, you don’t care whether they think you’re amazing or not, and you don’t care what legacy you leave behind as long as it’s godly, your eyes are on eternity, and that is the only reward that matters to you.

COUNT NICOLAS VON ZINZENDORF

Count Nicolas Von Zinzendorf was a German nobleman in the 1700s. You probably have never heard of him. He is described as the rich young ruler who said yes. He could have led the life of a nobleman, rich and leisurely, but he saw a painting entitled “Ecce homo,” behold the man by Domenico Fetti. This painting depicts Jesus just before His crucifixion, beaten and bloodied. Below was the inscription. “All this I’ve done for you, what have you done for me?” This cut the heart of the young man, and it changed everything. He realised that he must devote his life not to pleasure or leisure, but to service for the King of Kings.

He devoted his large estate to be a haven for persecuted believers, and soon 300 Moravian refugees joined him at his estate at Hernnhut. Zinzendorf could have relaxed and had a great life as a nobleman, but he gathered these hurting people together, taught them the Bible, and on August 12, 1727, started a prayer vigil with around the clock, 24-hour prayer. This prayer meeting lasted 110 years, 168 slots a week! He then encouraged the Moravian young people, not pastors and teachers, just normal, common folk, to evangelise and he started the greatest modern missionary movement. Much of the south of the US was impacted, and in England one young man felt his heart strangely warmed at a Moravian prayer meeting in Aldersgate St in London. His name was John Wesley, father of the Methodist Church.

Zinzendorf said, “I have but one passion. It is He; it is He alone? I desire only to preach the gospel, to die and to be forgotten.” That is an eternal perspective.

You may have never heard of Nicolas Von Zinzendorf but he doesn’t care, because Heaven knows about him! He did great things for God because he had his eyes on eternity, not on his reputation or legacy.

EYES UP!

What do you concentrate on? What’s your perspective? Can you say with Isaac Watts, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!”

Are you looking at the world, at your troubles, and what you endure, at what you want to do before you die? I say this with love…eyes up! If you have an eternal perspective, then no matter what you face, no matter what you suffer, no matter what someone else says about you, you can decide today to invest your one life for God. Only one life, only what’s done for Christ will last into eternity.

So, eyes up. Every believer is called, so please don’t waste your life collecting seashells, or satisfying yourself. Let Ignite help you invest your life into eternal things. Are you retired? Invest you time and money into the Kingdom. Are you working, invest your spare time into the Kingdom. All of us can be a part of the Kingdom of God, starting right here at Ignite!

Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

WHY HAVE AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE?

Because we know that where we are going to heaven, and it is going to be sensational. Anything, any suffering, any loss of credit on earth, any time or effort we invest is worth it because our eyes are looking up to heaven.

Mark 10:29-30 (ESV)
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.

What is God calling you to do? Please don’t eke your life away doing nothing of eternal substance, satisfying only yourself and your family!

How can we as a church help you realise the calling God has on your life?

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