There has been much to say in books and blog posts about sanctification. This is a doctrine that is both important and practical for every Christian. As I’ve been listening to G.K. Beale’s lectures “Biblical Theology of the Gospels” on ITunes U, something he said in his first talk, and has been essentially expanding upon in all of them, connected once again while I sat under the preached Word last Sunday. Here is what Beale said:
“Eschatology is the key to your sanctification in the Christian life.”
He continued, “The better you understand eschatology, the better you are going to be able to live your spiritual life…The better you’ll understand God, and yourself, and your relationship to him, and what your purpose is.”
I was immediately drawn in when he said this because although it is good, true, and important to discuss Christ’s work on the cross and how that applies to our sanctification, the believer also needs to hold fast to where Christ is now, interceding on our behalf at the right hand of the Father, and what he is going to do, return for his bride and reign with her on the new heavens and the new earth. All of this is good news, and helps us to strive for that eternal Sunday.
In preaching on the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:7-15, my pastor opened up saying that Christ completely reorients our lives. He pointed out that from the beginning of the Lord’s prayer we see that we are to be zealous for God’s glory and honor. We are to have a zeal for his name, for who God is. We bear that name! So this zeal for God’s name affects our lives and witness.
Continuing in the prayer, we learn that we are to have a zeal for God’s power and his purposes. We pray for his kingdom to come and for it to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
And here we are confronted again with the tension of the already and the not yet. Our new lives in Christ have begun, we are new creations. But as we are in the process of sanctification longing to rid ourselves from sin and death and to be glorified with our great Savior, we are completely dependent upon God’s grace. He is glorified in that. Are we zealous to go to him acknowledging our dependence for our sustenance or are we living in our own strength? My pastor pushed us to examine whether God’s great forgiveness is reflected in us, and if we glorify his name even when we are tested.
And then he said something that brought me right back to Beale’s statement again—this prayer reminds us to live in the reality of who we are. My world can become so small as I get caught up in all of my own drama. I may begin thinking my spiritual growth is also that small and insignificant. Or my small world and its problems seem big to me and I become overwhelmed as I try to pull everything off in my own strength. But this prayer does reorient, or recalibrate me to remember who I am—a Christian. I am in Christ. I bear his name. And he is transforming me into his likeness, using all the circumstances in my insignificant life for his glory, his purposes, and my good.
We are moving towards something that is almost indescribable. I can barely imagine what it will be like before the face of God, in a resurrected body, with his church, to serve him in joy for eternity on the new heavens and the new earth.
My pastor closed his sermon on the Lord’s prayer reminding us of something very important: Jesus prays now for you too. Beale keeps talking about how our battle with sin is not private. It is eschatological, and the key is the be loyal to Christ. He who promised is faithful, and that motivates me to live a life of faith and obedience and to finish strong. Christ does reorient our lives. And the end game is to enter into his joy.
*Originally published on June 18, 2015.