Faith Bible Church of Lake Charles
Living in the Future Tense
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  • Living in the Future Tense

    In his book, First Things First, author Stephen Covey writes about Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist who survived the death camps of Nazi Germany. Frankl made a startling discovery about why some survived the horrible conditions and some did not.
    "He looked at several factors - health, vitality, family structure, intelligence, survival skills. Finally he concluded that none of these factors was primarily responsible. The single most significant factor, he realized, was a sense of future vision - the impelling conviction of those who were to survive that they had a mission to perform, some important work left to do.
    Survivors of POW camps in Vietnam and elsewhere have reported similar experiences: a compelling, future-oriented vision is the primary force that kept many of them alive."
    Today, if we have nothing to live for in the future, it can be hopeless. But not for the follower of Jesus. We have something for which to live. Let’s take a look
    Philippians 3:17–21 NKJV
    17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
    Paul is weeping at this point in his letter. Why? He wants the Philippians to follow after Christ, using him as their example. But not everyone was following after the truth.
    While we can’t be sure, it’s likely that Philippians 3:18–19 describe the Judaizers and their followers. Certainly Paul is writing about professed Christians and not people outside the church. The Judaizers were the “enemies of the cross of Christ” in that they added the Law of Moses to the work of redemption that Christ accomplished on the cross.
    Their obedience to the Old Testament dietary laws would make a “god” out of the belly (see Col. 2:20–23); and their emphasis on circumcision would amount to glorying in that about which they ought to be ashamed (see Gal. 6:12–15). These men were not spiritually minded; they were earthly minded. They were holding on to earthly rituals and beliefs that God had given to Israel, and they were opposing the heavenly blessings that the Christian has in Christ (Eph. 1:3; 2:6; Col. 3:1–3).
    To be “spiritually minded” simply means to look at earth from heaven’s point of view. “Give your heart to the heavenly things, not to the passing things of earth” (Col. 3:2, ph). “Practice occupying your minds with the things above, not with the things on earth” (Col. 3:2, wms).
    D.L. Moody used to scold Christians for being “so heavenly minded they were no earthly good,” and that exhortation still needs to be heeded. Christians have a dual citizenship—on earth and in heaven—and our citizenship in heaven ought to make us better people here on earth. The spiritually minded believer is not attracted by the “things” of this world. He makes his decisions on the basis of eternal values and not the passing fads of society. Lot chose the well-watered plain of Jordan because his values were worldly, and ultimately he lost everything.
    Moses refused the pleasures and treasures of Egypt because he had something infinitely more wonderful to live for (Heb. 11:24–26). “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
    “For our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20). The Greek word translated “conversation” or “citizenship” is the word from which we get the English word “politics.” It has to do with one’s behavior as a citizen of a nation. Paul is encouraging us to have the spiritual mind, and he does this by pointing out the characteristics of the Christian whose citizenship is in heaven. Just as Philippi was a colony of Rome on foreign soil, so the church is a “colony of heaven” on earth.
    We can live in the future tense because...

    Our Names Are on Heaven’s Record

    Philippians 4:3 NKJV
    3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
    The citizens of Philippi were privileged to be Roman citizens away from Rome. When a baby was born in Philippi, it was important that its name be registered on the legal records. When the lost sinner trusts Christ and becomes a citizen of heaven, his name is written in “the Book of Life” (Phil. 4:3).
    Citizenship is important. When you travel to another country, it is essential that you have a passport that proves your citizenship. None of us wants to suffer the fate of Philip Nolan in the classic tale The Man Without a Country. Because he cursed the name of his country, Nolan was sentenced to live aboard ship and never again see his native land or even hear its name or news about its progress. For fifty-six years he was on an endless journey from ship to ship and sea to sea, and finally was buried at sea. He was a “man without a country.”
    The Christian’s name is written in “the Book of Life,” and this is what determines his final entrance into the heavenly country (Rev. 20:15). When you confess Christ on earth, He confesses your name in heaven (Matt. 10:32–33). Your name is written down in heaven (Luke 10:20) and it stands written forever. (The Greek verb “written” in Luke 10:20 is in the perfect tense: “it is once-for-all written and stands written.”)
    Dr. Warren Weirsbe tells about friend in Washington, D.C. who arranged for his oldest son and him to tour the White House. She told them to be at a certain gate at 8 o’clock in the morning and to be prepared to show evidence of who they were. Dr. Weirsbe and his son walked up to the gate, and the guard politely asked their names. They told him, showing their credentials. He said, “Yes, sir! Mr. Warren Wiersbe and David! You may enter!” They got into the White House because their names were written down on the proper list, and their names got on that list through the intercession of another. So it is with our entrance into heaven: because we have trusted Christ, our names are written down, and we will enter glory on His merits and intercession alone.

    We Speak Heaven’s Language

    Those who “mind earthly things” talk about earthly things. After all, what comes out of the mouth reveals what is in the heart (Matt. 12:34–37). The unsaved person does not understand the things of God’s Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14–16), so how can he talk about them intelligently? The citizens of heaven understand spiritual things and enjoy discussing them and sharing them with one another.
    1 John 4:5–6 NKJV
    5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. 6 We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
    But speaking heaven’s language not only involves what we say, but also the way we say it. The spiritually minded Christian doesn’t go around quoting Bible verses all day! But he is careful to speak in a manner that glorifies God. “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). No believer ought ever to say, “Now take this with a grain of salt!” Put the salt into your speech! Salt prevents corruption. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).

    We Obey Heaven’s Laws

    The citizens of Philippi were governed by Roman law, not Greek law, even though they were located hundreds of miles away from Rome. In fact, it was this policy that put Paul into jail when he first visited Philippi (Acts 16:16–24). Paul himself used his Roman citizenship to guarantee his protection under Roman law (Acts 16:35–40; 21:33–40; 22:24–30).
    In Philippians 3:17, Paul warns the Philippian believers against imitating the wrong kind of citizens.
    Philippians 3:17 NKJV
    17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
    “Be followers together of me.” Of course, Paul was a follower of Christ, so his admonition is not egotistical! (1 Cor. 11:1) Paul knew himself to be an “alien” in this world, a “pilgrim and a stranger” (see 1 Peter 2:11). His life was governed by heaven’s laws, and this is what made him different. He was concerned about others, not himself. He was interested in giving, not getting. His motive was love (2 Cor. 5:14), not hatred. By faith, Paul obeyed the Word of God, knowing that one day he would be rewarded. Men might oppose him and persecute him now, but in that final day of reckoning, he would be the winner.
    Sad to say, there are those today, like the Judaizers in Paul’s day, who profess to be citizens of heaven, but whose lives do not show it. They may be zealous in their religious activities and even austere in their disciplines, but there is no evidence of the control of the Spirit of God in their lives. All that they do is energized by the flesh, and they get all the glory. It is bad enough that they are going astray, but they also lead other people astray. No wonder Paul wept over them.

    We Are Looking for Heaven’s Lord

    Philippians 3:20–21 NKJV
    20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
    The Judaizers were living in the past tense, trying to get the Philippian believers to go back to Moses and the Law; but true Christians live in the future tense, anticipating the return of their Saviour (Phil. 3:20–21). As the accountant in Philippians 3:1–11, Paul discovered new values. As the athlete in Philippians 3:12–16, he displayed new vigor. Now as the alien, he experiences a new vision: “We look for the Saviour!” It is this anticipation of the coming of Christ that motivates the believer with the spiritual mind.
    There is tremendous energy in the present power of a future hope. Because Abraham looked for a city, he was content to live in a tent (Heb. 11:13–16). Because Moses looked for the rewards of heaven, he was willing to forsake the treasures of earth (Heb. 11:24–26). Because of the “joy that was set before Him” (Heb. 12:2), Jesus was willing to endure the cross. The fact that Jesus Christ is returning is a powerful motive for dedicated living and devoted service today. “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (read 1 John 2:28–3:3).
    The citizen of heaven, living on earth, is never discouraged because he knows that his Lord is one day going to return. He faithfully keeps on doing his job lest his Lord return and find him disobedient (Luke 12:40–48). The spiritually minded believer does not live for the things of this world; he anticipates the blessings of the world to come. This does not mean that he ignores or neglects his daily obligations; but it does mean that what he does today is governed by what Christ will do in the future.
    Paul mentions particularly that the believer will receive a glorified body, like the body of Christ. Today we live in a “body of humiliation” (which is the meaning of the word translated “vile” in Phil. 3:21); but when we see Christ, we will receive a body of glory. It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye! (1 Cor. 15:42–53) At that moment, all the things of this world will be worthless to us—just as they ought to be, relatively, today! If we are living in the future tense, then we will be exercising the spiritual mind and living for the things that really matter.
    When Jesus returns, He will “subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:21b). That word “subdue” means “to arrange in ranks.” Isn’t that our problem today? We do not arrange “things” in their proper order. Our values are twisted. Consequently, our vigor is wasted on useless activities, and our vision is clouded so that the return of Christ is not a real motivating power in our lives. Living in the future tense means letting Christ arrange the “things” in life according to the proper rank. It means living “with eternity’s values in view,” and daring to believe God’s promise that “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (1 John 2:17).
      • Philippians 3:17–21NKJV

      • Philippians 4:3NKJV

      • 1 John 4:5–6NKJV

      • Philippians 3:17NKJV

      • Philippians 3:20–21NKJV

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