August Sermon Series: “An Eternal Perspective: How the Final Hope of the Gospel Changes Everything”
by Nathan Parker, Senior Pastor
August 7 – “All Things Done Decently and in Order” (1 Corinthians 14:26-40)
August 14 – “Of First Importance” (1 Corinthians 15:1-15:11)
August 21 – “The Last Enemy to be Destroyed is Death” (1 Corinthians 15:12-34)
August 28 – “O Death, Where is Your Sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:35-58)
If you have been part of Woodmont Baptist Church for a while, then you have probably heard me refer to a certain quote at some point. It’s one of my all-time favorites. It comes from an early 1700s American Puritan preacher who had just taken on his first pastorate at the age of 18. He hadn’t finished his thesis for his coursework at Yale, and he was overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to shepherd a flock. So Jonathan Edwards sat down and wrote down 70 resolutions to guide his disciplines as he began his ministry, including this gem:
Where will all of our worldly enjoyments be, when we are laid in the silent grave?
Resolved, to live as I shall wish I had done, when I come to die.
Resolved, to live as I shall wish I had done, ten thousand ages hence.
Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!
We tend to fall into the trap of “time myopia.” We become short-sighted in how we view the days, months, and years that we’ve been given. One of the great gifts that our senior adults bring to our church is a material knowledge of the brevity of life. In a way that is different from how young Jonathan Edwards saw things, these saints understand that our earthly lives are just “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The rest of us, like Edwards, would do well to seek after this kind of wisdom now.
This kind of wisdom naturally comes with age and makes sense of our allotted time. But it can also be gained super-naturally through faith. The psalmist asks of the Lord, “Teach us to number our days, that we might get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). If we are going to live well, if we are going to flourish in this life and the next, then we must learn to take the long view. In an “on-demand” culture that prioritizes instant gratification, keeping an eternal perspective becomes a discipline that must be trained.
In our sermon texts for the month of August, we will be challenged to adopt an eternal perspective. In these closing statements of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul is hammering home the foundational truths of Christianity. At the end of chapter 14, he pleads with the young church in Corinth to conduct everything they do “decently and in order” (v.40). Then in chapter 15 he turns his attention to the heart of the gospel, things “of first importance” (v.3).
Paul tells the church that the gospel isn’t the gospel (good news) without the resurrection. If Jesus died and stayed dead, then we’re all just wasting our time, and “our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (v.14). But since Christ has indeed been raised, our faith leads to a future that is glorious and secure. The resurrection of the Son of God means that death has been defeated, and that life – real, physical life – is ours forever.
When we remember that all of this world is heading towards the conclusion that God has prepared for it, it enables us and empowers us to live differently. We can live, as the old song says, with “a blessed assurance … a foretaste of glory divine.” Some of us have forgotten how this Story ends. Others have never been told of that glorious day when our faith will be made sight, when every tear will be wiped away, when all of God’s enemies will be put away forever. Our prayer is that we may learn to live into this reality by embracing the hope that is found in the gospel. Then we can live with an eternal perspective, realizing what’s important and what’s not. We can know in our hearts that whatever happens in this life or the next, “We will always be with the Lord. Therefore, encourage one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:17b-18).
Grace and peace,