The opinion of possessing life to the world is one dimensional. Whenever people speak of life and its entities, it is always related to the life they can achieve and take pleasure in. Man sees life from his perspective. For him to have a good life or a true life is to possess all the things he needs and desires for a successful time on this earth. Everything he assumes of life is one dimensional. Though there are those who believe in life after life as in reincarnation, it too stems from the one dimensional view of life. From the one dimensional view of life appeared the idea, struggle for existence. Men and women began to struggle in the flesh to adapt, survive and complete the life on this earth as they assumed it to be. This struggle is not new to man. It took its form, since the time sin entered him. At this point, he inherently lost all wisdom concerning the purpose of life and even of his creation, except when some began receiving help to seek the wisdom that is not their own. Sin corrupted man with the assumption of functioning and prospering in life by assuming full authority over his life. He began to think for himself, speak for himself and achieve for himself. However, those who received help understood that the present life has more than one dimension to it. They are able to find out that the present life is the perishable dimension in comparison to the life they must possess. Therefore, they began the journey toward a distant land, which is heaven.
While many with a one dimensional view of life have assumed for life to end on this earth only to later realize their assumption as false, those who obtained the perspective of God on life know that their life continues in heaven. Abraham was able to obtain the perspective of God on life, having received help (the call with promise). He received help as one who would keep God’s call for a very important purpose. And, Abraham looked for a place that has foundations, whose builder is God. Those who have obtained the perspective of God are of faith and sons of Abraham. When some choose to disregard this perspective of God, they will not be called; others who disown the call of God fall away. Whether it was Abraham or those that came before and after him, all were called with a promise for eternal life. They received it with the belief that the one who is to come from them shall fulfill the promise. And so, it is through that one man, Jesus Christ, that life for all mankind has become possible. God through His servant has made it known. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:1).
It is well noted by Christians that the promise of life is in Christ Jesus alone, especially if one has received the promise by the working of faith in him. For there are Christians and there are Christians of faith. The latter has the two dimensional view of life i.e. that in order to receive eternal life they must make full use of the present life according to the will of God. This protects their promise of life in Jesus. This is the advantage revealed to the faithful Christians. Though like all men born in the flesh they too go to the dust irrespective of circumstances, they shall rise again to eternal life through the promise received in their Savior. This advantage is worked out in them by the faith that works to produce results for them. And, Paul became the apostle of such message by the will of God. All who preached the gospel from the time of Paul must preach the same message in the same manner, if the promise of life in Christ Jesus is to be obtained. If they obtained the promise of life by what Paul spoke and demonstrated by the will of God, so too must we obtain the promise, because of those who now speak and demonstrate. The reason the promise of life became the common denominator for all who believe is because of the Christ who availed it to all alike. This Christ, the source of faith, demonstrates in the believers immeasurably to produce results. For this reason also, Paul did not cease preaching the gospel. “When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece” (Acts 20:2).
By what Paul believed and received according to the will of God, he not only possessed the promise of life, but also began facilitating and demonstrating it to those who were eager to believe. However, when some who did not have the essence of the will of God began preaching the gospel, its power toward them to save and be saved greatly diminished. They declared Christ as the true God and the Savior of the world, but their assertion provided support for faith only from the peripheral. In pretense they proclaimed Christ. What did it profit God? Nothing! Even so is the profit of God from the present day churches of Christ and of God. What exhortation can they give when they preach Christ in pretense? Certainly not that which relates to the promise of life! Their preaching of the gospel must supply the promise of life in Christ that helps men to keep away from all forms of immorality, greed and false teaching besides facilitating them with the means for the provisions from God. Unless the gospel is preached according to the intent of God, Christ is of no advantage to them.
The single reason for Christ to be able to provide imperishable life is because he came with the anointing of God. “Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah” (Matt. 1:16). When God sent Christ to this earth, He fashioned in Him the promise of life. What God anointed Him with He carried to people, and those who believed received it. As Christ rose from the dead the promise of life stood perpetually. Not only did this promise of life provide men with salvation, but the power it contained enabled them to continue in salvation by demonstrating for them the works of faith. Therefore, to whatever times the faithful belong, they are able to journey toward eternal life. However, when churches do not desire the demonstrations of God by faith, they are not carrying out their salvation. In other words, they did not allow Christ to facilitate them to complete their life on this earth for eternal life. The result is thinking for themselves, speaking for themselves and achieving for themselves just like those with one dimensional view toward life. Therefore, in truth, they never received the promise of life.
Great is the power and expectation of the promise of life in Christ. It provides everything and anything necessary for eternal life. What the churches must understand is that God provides to believers the promise of life in Jesus to give them His tutelage, and therefore, takes the responsibility of leading them to eternity. By undertaking such responsibility, He insists to demonstrate in them the works of faith. Had these works not been present, believers will have to seek the works of the flesh to uphold the promise of life. This will certainly lead to death. Then, the life that comes through Christ has become meaningless and powerless. The reaction that God desires to achieve in all believers ought to be likened to this – “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!’” (John 20:28).
We all know how Thomas reacted after Christ appeared to the disciples in his absence. He expressed his unbelief, which by no means was offensive, since the astonishment of the news of Christ’s appearance produced in him a great desire to see Him. When Christ indeed appeared to him, he expressed his astonishment with the satisfaction that he too saw Christ like the rest. The effect this produced in him was irrevocable in that he powerfully continued his journey toward eternal life and in the proclamation of the kingdom of God for the rest of his days. Had not God demonstrated His work for Thomas, He would have fallen short of His responsibility toward him that desired to believe. Herein is the assurance about God – He cannot fall short nor fail. God through Christ always works in different ways for the well being of His believers. When men and women can iterate the astonishment of Thomas, because of what the Lord performed and continues to perform for them, they shall be made the stewards of His gospel. Experiences with the Lord are valuable, if you are to receive the delegation from God to proclaim the gospel. For “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Cor. 3:13).
Many of you will surely fail the test on that day, unless you now take an intense decision to rectify your position regarding the promise of life in Christ Jesus. Many have already failed and some by not heeding the instruction of the Lord are on course to failing. God will not relent, but will surely judge. Then, they will surely realize the manner in which they preached the gospel i.e. in pretense. Listen to the stern warning of the Spirit to those who indeed understood the power and expectation of the promise of life in Jesus and are pressing forward for the sake of the kingdom of God. “Say to Archippus, ‘Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it’” (Col. 4:17). They are indeed given such warning, since the ministry they possess is not their own, but of the Lord. Know that not every man who preaches the gospel has received his ministry from the Lord. The one who received from the Lord is the one who acknowledged and demonstrated the power and expectation of the promise of life in Him. All faithful ministers receive such warning from time to time, because of the corrupt world they live in. Such warnings come from God through His word, because He undertook the responsibility to lead them to eternal life.
If those who are ministering to the Lord are further warned to fulfill it, it is because God deeply desires that they fulfill it. On the contrary, what warning will those preachers heed when they do not desire the power and expectation of the promise of life in Christ? For this reason, they will not even be warned. The time of judgment will fall upon them like labor pains upon a woman with child. They are as if marked beforehand for condemnation. When these are not warned or guided by God, what would be the fate of those churches? It is foreseeable! But, this is the message to those willing to heed – “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues’” (Rev. 18:4). Will the churches of Christ heed His voice? How time only reveals!