Sermon Notes for Sunday, August 27
Already and Not Yet
by Tanner Fox
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” 1 Peter 1:3-4
There is nothing about our world that fits the category of truly imperishable, unspoilable, and never fading. The curse of sin marred the world so that it is always deteriorating. Our dear brothers and sisters in Texas have come face to face with this truth in the last few days as they have endured the horrors of Hurricane Harvey. Scarlett Broughton shared with us this past Sunday about A Living Hope, the truth of the glorious future for believers because of the sacrifice of Jesus. For the time being, we live in the tension of experiencing a deteriorating world when we were built for eternity.
Theologians have used the terms Already and Not Yet to describe the two ages in which Christ reigns as King of all things. In this age, the Already, Jesus has ushered in new life characterized by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his people. Believers receive the benefits of new life in Christ here and now. We are justified by grace through faith in Jesus. We are sons and daughters of God through adoption. We are new creations, we have a new master, we are given a new identity and we are set apart for God’s distinct purposes. Here and now we have been given brand new hearts with which we seek the will of God and we actually get better. When someone knows Jesus, it shows. We begin to bear fruit. We become more loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful and gentle. All of this happens right now in the Already.
And yet, the curse of sin still rules over the earth. Our world is still characterized by brokenness and decay over and above joy and peace. The Already is not enough. You see, within our very hearts, God has planted the seed of eternal hope. Our new life in Christ is a sneak peek of what is to come when He restores all of creation! The victory of Jesus has ALREADY broken out in our hearts and one day it will break out in every field, valley, mountain range, neighborhood, suburb and city, as far as the eye can see, as far as the curse is found. This new age is called the Not Yet.
The Not Yet is characterized by Christ's future rule and reign over all things. We find a picture of the new world in Revelation 21…
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:1-5a
In the New Heavens and New Earth, Jesus dwells with his people. He wipes away every one of their tears, he casts out all of their fears, and he brings about a new order to the world. This new reality will be so foreign compared to what we experience now, but it will feel more right, and we will feel more at home than we ever did in this life. Jesus is the firstborn among the dead. HIs resurrection is the hope that sustains us every day until he returns. Because he lives, so will we.
The reminder today for each of us is to recognize our role in the Already. As we encounter trials of our own or observe the struggles of others, we can articulate the cause of the chaos. The world is not meant to be this way and yet because of sin it is broken and it affects everything. In the same way, as we experience joy, growth, success, love, and flourishing, we can reveal the source from which it comes. The Kingdom of God has broken out in our world and Christ will not stop until all is made new. Who might need this hopeful reminder today?
“The best of life on Earth is a glimpse of Heaven; the worst of life is a glimpse of Hell. For Christians, this present life is the closest they will come to Hell. For unbelievers, it is the closest they will come to Heaven.” Randy Alcorn, Heaven
Take a moment to reflect on this song…
Aaron Keyes, Sovereign Over Us
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org