[Jesus] told them many things in parables. (Matthew 13:3)
C.S. Lewis was one of the greatest Christian apologists of the 20th century. But up until his early thirties, he was an ardent atheist.
How did God bring about Lewis’s radical transformation? By appealing first to his heart and then to his mind.
It all started when a 17-year-old Lewis was waiting for a train in England. To pass the time, he purchased a novel titled Phantastes, and as he began to read, something remarkable happened. As one of Lewis’s biographers explains, “everything was changed for Lewis as a result of reading the book. He had discovered a ‘new quality,’ a ‘bright shadow,’ which seemed to him like a voice calling him from the ends of the earth.”
Lewis had no idea at the time that the book’s author, George MacDonald, was a Christian pastor. Because the novel was no sermon. It was a parable written to awaken desire in the soul...
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
I hope this series has inspired you to chase hard after the remarkable reward of your work physically lasting into eternity. But you may be thinking, Jordan, it doesn’t feel quite right to be motivated by these eternal rewards.
I know I felt that way for years. Before I address this feeling of guilt, I want to make it crystal clear that Jesus is the ultimate treasure of heaven—not our work being considered “the glory of the nations.” That said, there are at least three reasons why we should be comfortable unashamedly chasing after the rewards God promises us.
First, God encourages us to. If God didn’t want us to be motivated by eternal rewards, then why did Jesus spend so much time talking about them? In Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus mentioned three rewards in just six...
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)
We’re in a 5-week series exploring this wild idea that some of the work has the chance of literally, physically lasting into eternity. The question, of course, is which work? Scripture doesn’t tell us explicitly. But it does give us some clues.
As we saw last week, it appears that some acts of evil will carry on, so long as in their redeemed state...
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created. (Revelation 4:11)
Last week, we saw evidence from Revelation 21 and Isaiah 60 that some of our work has a shot at physically lasting into eternity. But since that idea seems too good to be true, today I want to look at three other pieces of evidence for this idea.
First, it’s simply not in God’s nature to ask his children to create things only to destroy them. In Genesis 1:28, God issued the First Commission to humankind: to fill the earth. Pastor Timothy Keller points out that this is a call to “not just procreation, but also cultural creation.” And it’s simply not in God’s character to watch his children obey that command by making bicycles, software, and Nutella only to throw those creations away. Good earthly fathers don’t do that. Do we really think our...
The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into [the New Jerusalem]. (Revelation 21:26)
To quote a fictionalized Alexander Hamilton, I think we all “wanna build something that’s gonna outlive [us].” Today, we’ll begin to see the biblical evidence that that longing is shockingly, miraculously true.
In Revelation 21, John is sharing his glimpse of heaven on the New Earth when he says this about the New Jerusalem: “On no day will its gates ever be shut…The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” (Revelation 21:25-26).
What is John talking about? Thankfully, we don’t have to wonder, because Isaiah answers that question for us in Isaiah 60. And even though Isaiah wrote some 600 years before John, theologians such as Dr. Richard Mouw agree that “both men were working with the same material.” And so, as Dr. Randy Alcorn points out, “Isaiah 60 serves as the best biblical commentary on...
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Before we can appreciate how some of our work might physically last into eternity, we need to first grasp what God’s Word says about our pending judgment.
Because today’s passage and others make it clear that it’s not just our souls that God will judge. He will also weigh every person’s actions, thoughts, and words—including those of believers! And since we spend such a huge portion of our lives working, we can assume that much of our accounting to the Lord will focus on our vocations.
To be clear, the judgment today’s passage is referring to has zero bearing on our admission into the Kingdom of Heaven (see Romans 8:38-39). But it does influence our eternal rewards—a fact Jesus made clear to his disciples when he said...
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)
In this series, I’ve sketched out what I believe to be a biblical, God-honoring approach to planning. First, we saw that we are called to “Commit to the LORD whatever [we] do,” including our planning (see Proverbs 16:3). Second, we’re called to “listen to advice” from others (see Proverbs 12:15). Third, we’re commanded to recognize our ultimate lack of control over our plans (see James 4:13-16). And today’s passage shares the fourth and final principle of this series: As we plan, we’d be wise to remember that regardless of the outcome of our plans, “it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”
This truth enables us to do two things.
First, it allows us to plan more confidently. The nature of planning is that it is risky. Whether you’re planning a budget,...
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
As we’ve seen throughout this series, planning is a good, God-honoring thing to do. But today’s passage reminds us that planning without recognizing our ultimate lack of control over our plans is arrogant and “evil.”
I’ve had to repent of this sin recently. A friend of mine was asking me what I’ve been working on and I said, “I’m working on a new book that will come out in October of next year.” This is a textbook example of the evil planning James is...
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. (Proverbs 12:15)
I’ve been the fool in this Proverb more than once. One example, in particular, comes to mind. A few years ago, I was running a rapidly growing tech startup and planning to hire our first full-time sales rep. Like any good entrepreneur, I took the time to draft a document detailing the type of person I thought we needed for the position. And with that plan in hand, I went out and hired someone we’ll call Michael who perfectly fit my description.
The only problem was that I neglected to ask my existing team what they thought about my job description. Shortly after Michael started, members of my team came to me asking why I hired someone with Michael’s experience when what we needed most was someone with an entirely different background. They were right, of course, and eventually, we had to let Michael go. If I had simply asked for input on my hiring plan on the front end, I could...
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
You and I are always planning something at work: projects, marketing campaigns, hiring strategies, budgets, goals—the list goes on and on. God’s Word frequently extols the wisdom of planning (see Proverbs 21:5; Proverbs 24:27; Luke 14:28). But it also gives us a lot of instruction for how to plan in a God-honoring way.
Today’s passage is a great example: You and I are called to commit our work and our planning to God. To ask him to lead and guide us as we make decisions about the future.
Why is this so important? Beyond the fact that God commands it, let me share two reasons.
First, committing our planning to the Lord is wise because he knows the future and you and I don’t. As God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you.” Now, this was spoken specifically to the Jews living in exile, but it is also true for us. We...