The Ages To Come

 

“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7

The Christian life is lived in expectation of better things to come. This has always been the character of the one who lives by faith. Hebrews 11 reminds us: “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from when they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better county, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared or them a city.”1

Salvation has made such a change in the life of the believer that we now live, not merely in the natural realm of things, but the spiritual as well. We are looking for something better than this world can offer. We have changed so that this is no longer our native home.

Notice Paul’s words from the Ephesians – ‘the ages to come’. The ages are plural. Eternity will be an unfolding of successive periods of revelation of the spiritual lessons on the inexhaustible character of God. We will not know everything on entrance to heaven, but the ages will reveal more and more for eternity.

Notice too the content of that endless revelation. It will be ‘the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness’. His grace overwhelms us now in salvation. But Paul tells us there is more – much more yet to come.

But also notice that it will be ‘toward us’. He will continue to lavish His kindness upon us for eternity!

This is why we are called to be pilgrims and strangers in this world. It can offer us nothing compared to the coming glory. The Christian life is one that rejects the world and lives in light of that eternal reality. Yet the fact remains that often as Christians the hope of heaven remains vague, distant and unreal. We naturally cling to this world and seek our happiness and security here. It should not surprise us therefore that the Lord allows things into our lives that are intended to pull us away from this realm. Trials, difficulties, and disappointments are signposts that this life and world is not our home.

Hymnwriters of a past generation captured the truth. Consider these words by John Nelson Darby:

This world is a wilderness wide,
I have nothing to seek or to choose;
I’ve no thought in the waste to abide;
I have nought to regret nor to lose.

The path where my Saviour is gone
Has led up to His Father and God,
To the place where He’s now on the throne;
And His strength shall be mine on the 
road.

With Him shall my rest be on high,
When in holiness bright I sit down,
In the joy of His love ever nigh,
In the peace that His presence shall crown.

‘Tis the treasure I’ve found in His love
That has made me a pilgrim below;
And ‘tis there, when I reach Him above As I’m known,
all His fullness I’ll know.

Or these words of Henry Francis Lyte:

My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I murmur when trials are near?
Be hushed my sad spirit, the worst that can come
But shortens the journey and hastens me home.
It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,
And building my hopes in a regions like this;
I look for a city which hands have not piled;
I pant for country by sin undefiled.
The winds of affliction around me may blow,
And dash my lone barque as I’m sailing below;
I smile at the storm as I lean on His breast,
And soon I shall land in the haven of rest
Let trial and danger my progress oppose,
They only make heaven more sweet at the close;
Come joy or come sorrow, whate’er may befall,
A home with my God will make up for it all.
With Christ in my heart, and His word in my hand,
I travel in haste through an enemy’s land;
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,
So I journey on singing the conqueror’s song.

We are looking for a city. Like Abraham they did not think about the land they came from, but thought about the one they were going to. Likewise, we too, need to lift our thinking heavenward and hold earth’s experience in light of this reality.

 

 

 

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