(Read Part 1)
Each of us is moving through this mysterious continuum called “time.” While we do not know exactly what time is, we know that it is transporting us, like it or not, into the future. Try as we may to hold onto yesterday or even today, still the past is taken from us, forcing us constantly to look ahead. It is impossible for us to steer the speeding craft of our lives except by looking ahead. The reality of life allows us no other possibility. This being the case, we must learn how to face this challenging thing called “the future.” The fact is that the future is a friend to all of those who prepare for it. It is the enemy of all who would take their eyes off the path ahead.
But this whole matter of facing the future is viewed with increasing apprehension by the hapless worldlings of our time. They see the present generation as filled with peril and therefore their lives increasingly beset by unprecedented and unmanageable forms of danger. This attitude is understandable for the person of the world, for indeed the Bible says, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Tim. 3:1).
Facing the future is not the same thing, however, for the child of God. This because he knows many things which the world does not know and these things become principles by which life can be lived successfully. In fact, the perceptive Christian is filled with anticipation about the exciting path that lies ahead. Facing the future, how may I do this successfully? In answer to that question, we have a number of principles made clear in the Bible which we do well to keep in mind.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. (Phil. 3:12)
Upon reading this, along with checking the lessons of life already, we see clearly that there is never a time when we can safely rest on our laurels. Every new day that we live brings a package of unanticipated events including new opportunities and new dangers. Never, therefore, are we wise to say, “Now I know it all. I have established a course of action that will never fail, and I have learned all the lessons which I need to learn.”
If we hold this static point of view, we may be sure that God will drop into our life a new consideration, a gain, a loss, a twist in our circumstances for which we are very ill prepared. We may plan life as we will, but we will never be delivered from those things which are not included in the plan. Yes, life is a very dynamic thing. Therefore, the just must live by faith.
A second principle concerning this matter of facing the future is to remember that the past should not unduly influence our anticipation of the days to come. Paul puts it, “forgetting those things which are behind” (Phil. 3:13). The past contains the remembrance of many things that perhaps can be boiled down into two departments. The first is “past failures.” Past failures should not cast a pall over the events of today and especially tomorrow.
We must remember that God has made provision in the life of every Christian to wipe away the failures of the past. He has said,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
A great deliverance from the cloying weights of the past can come to every Christian by invoking this promise in the Word of God. To be cleansed from all unrighteousness is a great present gift from God. Indeed, it is one of the derivative benefits of the finished work of Christ on Calvary’s cross.
A second department of the past is “past successes.” It is one of the mysteries of life that often our successes do us more harm than our failures. The reason is that we learn much from failure, but more than often success merely produces pride. Most honest people will quickly confess that their successes came mostly by accident. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time rather than great cleverness on their part. Thank God for success; but if the result is sinful pride, success is worse than failure.
A third principle to keep in mind as we look to the future is that life must be lived with intensity. Paul put it best by saying,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)
The apostle did not say “I drift toward the mark,” “I meander toward the mark,” “I float toward the mark.” Not at all! There is no worthy success in life except that which comes from a degree of personal intensity.
In fact, it can surely be said that one of the strangest contradictions on earth is that of casual Christianity. It is a breathless anomaly for Christians to profess to believe that there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun and then be relaxed and casual about bringing that message to the world. C. T. Studd spoke well when he said, “If Jesus be God and He died for me, then no sacrifice is too great for me to make for Him.” We have talked entirely too much about relaxation and stress reduction. To an army marching into battle, these expressions are incomprehensible.
Finally, we must remember the fourth principle that there is a great prize at the end of the course. Paul called this “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). “The upward call,” what an expression! The trajectory of the life of a Christian leads to the broad vistas of heaven. There we shall know even as we are known and therefore rejoice with joy unspeakable in what we may have accomplished for Christ.
Facing the future is therefore done by realizing that life is a vastly important thing with its consequences in eternity. Our plans for the future, therefore, should not be made simply to steer us along the path of convenience. They should rather be based on the question, “What can I do with the one life I will live in this world which I can then present to my Lord before His judgment seat?”
Yes, each one of us shall give an account of himself to God. Nothing will be more important in the initial stages of heaven than to hear Jesus say,
Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matt. 25:21)
The real future is not merely the year to come, it is the eternity that is before us.
Dr. Dave Breese (1926-2002) was an internationally known speaker, teacher and author. He founded the ministry of Christian Destiny in 1963, and through it proclaimed the gospel on weekly radio and television programs and in numerous books and booklets. In 1987, he also became the president and Bible teacher on The King Is Coming telecast, a role that he filled until his death in 2002. Other organizations that Dr. Breese served during his distinguished ministry career included Youth For Christ, Awana, Back to the Bible, National Religious Broadcasters and National Association of Evangelicals. A frequent conference speaker and a master at explaining the relevance of Bible prophecy, he was also known for his wisdom and wit. It is a great honor to include him as part of the inaugural class of Revived Classics authors for Dispensational Publishing House.
This article originally appeared in the January 2006 issue of Destiny Newsletter.
Copyright © 2006 Christian Destiny, Inc. All rights reserved.
The article is reprinted here by permission of Christian Destiny.
For more information regarding Christian Destiny, go to www.ChristianDestiny.org.
Other material copyright © 2017 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
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