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From the Spring 2015 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Two Final Things, Then Home at Last

by Thomas A. Tarrants, III, D.Min.
City Director, C.S. Lewis Institute - Washington, D.C.

 
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  Amid the apocalyptic visions and symbolism of Revelation, we are given a vivid description of this glorious homecoming. Chapter 21 opens with judgment day now past, evil vanquished, and those whose names are written in the book of life entering into the joy of their Master:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (vv. 1–4)

  The former things have passed away, and the future things lie ahead. This is not the end, but the beginning. And the future things beckon us to a life that is richer and fuller and more glorious than anything that we can even think or imagine. This is the inheritance and great hope of all God’s children. All the sacrifices we ever made for our Lord in this earthly pilgrimage, even to the giving up of our lives, will then seem as nothing in comparison. In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis paints a deeply moving picture of this through the image of the lion, Aslan (Christ):

And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.10

  Frequent contemplation of this vision will fuel our zeal for God and His kingdom. And periodic reflection on the brevity of our life, the certainty of our death, and the judgment seat of Christ will loosen the world’s grip on our lives and strengthen us to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Let us then seek to live such a life and to bear as much fruit as we can in the days that remain to us. For as Amy Carmichael said, “We shall have all eternity to celebrate the victories, but we have only the few hours before sunset in which to win them.”



Notes:
1. Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version. Any added emphases are mine.
2. Differences of opinion exist among equally serious believers about certain aspects of these topics and are too complicated to address in an article of this size.
3. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of St. Benedict, Ch. 4, vs. 47-49.
4.  Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ 1.23.
5. In Matthew’s gospel, “little ones” are disciples of Jesus (Mt. 10:42). In John’s gospel, receiving those who are sent by Jesus is actually receiving Jesus himself (Jn. 13:20).
6. C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (1946; rprt. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), 75.
7.  Paul Barnett, The Message of Second Corinthians (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), s.v. 2 Cor. 5:10.
8. Ibid.
9. John Calvin, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), s.v. 2 Cor. 5:10.
10. C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (1956; rprt: New York: HarperCollins, 1994), 211.

Tom Tarrants has lived in the Washington, D.C. area since 1978 and served as President of the C.S. Lewis Institute from 1998 to April 2010. He is currently City Director, C.S. Lewis Institute – Washington, D.C. Prior to coming to the Institute, he served as co-pastor of Christ Our Shepherd Church and Director of The School for Urban Mission, both based in Washington, D.C. He is the author of two books, and consults with churches and organizations seeking to develop discipleship programs and materials to strengthen the local church. Tom holds a Master of Divinity Degree, as well as a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Christian Spirituality. He is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Church Alliance.

 


Recommended Reading:
John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Crossway 2003)

A passionate call for this generation to make their lives count for eternity. Piper discusses the risks for those who seek to accomplish something in life for the sake of Christ.

 

 
COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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