Caterpillars

The other morning, there was a caterpillar crawling on the floor of the bathroom.  Unless it hitched a ride on someone, I have no idea how it got there.  It’s a long way to the front door for a caterpillar.

There was some cardboard nearby, so I put the creature on it and carried it outside to a luscious green plant.  I put the thing down there and hoped the chickens wouldn’t get it.

Why didn’t I kill it, or just dispose of it?  I don’t know; it never occurred to me.  I guess I felt a kind of sympathy for a fellow creature, who was just in the wrong place.

Now we know that a caterpillar isn’t the final product, so to speak.  Even though some of them are beautiful in themselves, they all turn into something beautiful, something not limited to crawling on the floor, but able to fly.

There’s a lesson here.

Too many of us are like that caterpillar, crawling around on the floor, with little idea of anything else beyond the immediate environment.  And little or no thought for our future.

The New Testament actually has a great deal to say about the future.  For the believer, it will be a far greater change than it could ever be for a caterpillar.

Romans 8:18 says, For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us, NKJV.  Not just – “to us,” but, “in us.”

Here is just a sampling of other verses about the believer’s future, not necessarily in order:

Romans 8:29, For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

1 John 3:2, Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

2 Corinthians 5:4, For we who are in this tent [this body] groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life.

1 Corinthians 15:52-54, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written:  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Then, of course, there are the descriptions of a future city with its street of gold, etc, Revelation 21:9-21.

The thing I look forward to, though – not the new body or the new environment – but what I long for, is that I will be able to serve and honor and glorify God as He deserves, without the distractions and difficulties of the sinful nature we all inherited from Adam.  If I could just do that, I’d be content with this old body, minus the sin nature, even with its hearing aid and glasses and creaks and groans.  Just to be able to serve Him.

But there’s also a future for the unbeliever.  The devil has a lot of them convinced that death is the end, and there’s nothing else, or that everyone is on their way to “a better place” or that there are other ways and other names by which one may prepare for the future.  Different futures, too.  But Revelation 21 has a word for them, as well, But there shall by no means enter into [the New Jerusalem] anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie,… 

No, no, their destination is described in Revelation 20:15 as the lake of fire.

I don’t know really what to say about that, except maybe to liken it to the lava of a volcano, and to be thrown into something like that….

Forever….

Oh, listen, without the Lord Jesus, there is no future, only a past that will finally catch up.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.

“The Ages To Come”

Our last post was about “heart trouble.”  In that post, we made the statement that, just as our heart pumps blood to every cell of our being, so our human nature affects every minute of our lives, concluding, “And this isn’t just for the few minutes of this life, but of all that follows.”

Many Christians know Ephesians 2:8, 9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  Verse 10 really can’t be left out:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  However, the verses in the earlier part of the chapter lay the foundation for all these verses:

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in [“energizes”] the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:1-7 emphasis added, NKJV.

“The ages to come….”

Not just the “threescore and ten” of this earthly life, but a span of existence we can’t even begin to imagine. We have no experience of a life w/o temporal boundaries.  We have no experience with perfection.  It isn’t to be lost in some “collective,” like the Borg in “Star Trek,” where the individual is “lost in the crowd,” so to speak.  Nor is it to be found in an excessive individualism, in which “I” am the only one who really matters.  This was the error of the “hippie” or “beatnik” of earlier generations, or “the flapper” of even earlier generations.

And it’s a lot of our trouble today, too much “I” disease.

We forget that the few minutes of this life are nothing as compared to what is waiting for us on the other side. 

And it isn’t just a matter of more “time.”  There will be a whole new experience, starting with our physical bodies.  For you youngsters out there, that doesn’t mean much.  But to the hearing aid crowd, the walkers, the canes, the various “transplants” medical science has figured out, the aches and pains of bodies lived under Adam’s curse, to say nothing of current social and economic ills, – for us, it’s something to look forward to.

Then there are the sins and the failings of “the flesh,” our fallen Adamic nature, that plague some of us.  l say, “some,” because it really seems that the majority of folks couldn’t care less about their spiritual condition.  They seem to be quite content “fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” as Paul wrote.  This is nothing for the “some of us” to brag about; it’s only because of the grace of God that He’s shown us what we’re like left to ourselves.  He’s been pleased to show us “mercy,” as in Romans 9:15-18.  It seems, at least in our culture, where anything that doesn’t bow down to the depravity of the times is scorned and hated, that the “hardening” mentioned in those same verses has also happened.  The last part of Romans 1 seems to be happening all over again. 

There is one caveat to all this.  “Something to look forward to” only applies to those to whom the grace of God has come and they have seen their need of a Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ, as Ephesians 2:1-7 tells us.  “The grace of God” makes all the difference, and it’s the only thing that can make the difference.  Left to ourselves, we might be out there with the worst of them, Isaiah 1:9, Romans 9:29.  And God would be perfectly just if He left us there.  It is, after all, His grace that saves us through faith.  We don’t deserve it; we can’t earn it; we can’t obligate God to give it to us.  It all comes to us because of and through His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  And only because of and through His grace.

In Christ Jesus.

That’s the only place.

It isn’t in ‘”church,” although COVID-19 has taken care of that.  There are no “church services,” at least for a while.  It isn’t in the sacraments or in some other ritual or ceremony.  Not in the waters or drops of baptism. 

Only in the Lord Jesus.

“Neither is there any other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.