Christians Shouldn't Just Be Waiting for the Afterlife
Your faith should extend to your life now.
At salvation, when a person believes in Christ, their eternal destiny is sealed for heaven. We rejoice in knowing where we are going when we die because our hope as Christians is that when we leave this earth we will go to heaven to be with Him.
I had been taught these truths all my life, but by the time I was in my early 20s I was frustrated. I wasn’t experiencing the peace and joy I felt the Bible promised me and focusing my attention on my heavenly home did not give me the strength I needed to face my daily struggles. As I wrote in my book Beyond Head Knowledge, I became desperate for answers. I wondered what our hope is for this present world. Is it that we wait for heaven to be free from the troubles of this world? Accepting everything that comes our way as part of our lot in life? Believing that we will not see the promises of God in this life? If that is the case, how then are we to embrace the faith of Hebrews 11 which encourages us to have faith even though we don’t see the result of it?
In his book When Heaven Invades Earth, Bill Johnson points out that salvation is the immediate goal of faith, but God’s ultimate goal is for the fullness of the Spirit to be evidenced and experienced in the believer. It is the Spirit of God within us that births the hope we need to be able to respond in faith.
By God’s spirit we are able to have faith which is sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). Hope is the confident expectation that God will do what He has said. When we step out in obedience to the hope the Spirit has stirred in our hearts, this is considered living out our faith. Jesus is a prime example of someone who had confident hope in what the Spirit had shown Him and lived out that hope in faith. Jesus was convinced that He was the Son of God sent to save the world even during His childhood when He was living in an ordinary family.
As the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), Jesus lived by faith while He was on Earth. Reverend James Campbell writes that “Jesus is not here represented as the author of faith in the sense that He is the originator of it; He is rather the leader of faith; going before us in the way of faith; teaching us and showing us how to live the life of faith.” Therefore, the life of faith that Jesus had was an example for us to follow. His faith was demonstrated by His obedience to doing the Father’s will.
The Scriptures clearly teach that faith is a gift from God (Romans 12:3, Ephesians 2:8,9). At the moment of salvation God gives us the faith to believe what we can’t see—faith to say in our hearts that we believe Jesus is the Son of God who died to take away our sins. But faith only begins there and continues to grow through our obedience. As we read every Scripture our hearts should say, “Yes Lord, I believe. I believe that You will do as you have promised.”
This conforming of our will to God’s Word is obedience. For example, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” There are many times I am fearful, whether it be concerning finances, the future of my children or the health of family members. However, the Bible says God has not given me this fear. Instead, I must focus with confident hope on the promise that I have been given a sound mind. I pray, “Lord, even though I feel fearful, I choose to reject the spirit of fear and thank you for the sound mind that You have given me.” This turns my attention toward that which I hope for (a sound mind) even though I may not feel like I possess it. This practice of choosing the truth of Scripture over our feelings will foster faith.
If we do not actively train our minds to obey God’s Word, but simply wait until we get to heaven to believe God’s promises, we would be like the servant who was given one talent and buried it in the ground because he was afraid (Matthew 25:14-30). Instead faith is like a mustard seed that needs to be planted and cultivated in our own lives.
According to Strong’s Concordance, “In Scripture, faith is God’s warranty, certifying that the revelation He [birthed] will come to pass.” Jesus had to be divinely persuaded that He was who God said He was. For Him to walk on Earth and continually do the will of His father He had to believe the revelation of His identity which God planted in His heart. For us to do the will of the Father we each need a heart revelation of who God has created us to be as His servants on Earth with a mission to accomplish. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has work for us to do here which we were specifically created to do.
When God began to birth in me a vision of what He wanted to do in me through my home-based sewing business and writing, the focus of my hope changed. I no longer spent so much time wanting to be done with the troubles of this life, dreaming of being free from the struggle. Instead I became excited about the purpose God has for me now. If the focus of hope remains only on heaven we will miss the work God has called us to on Earth.
When Jesus was in the wilderness tempted by the devil He had to have faith that He was truly the Son of God. The devil came to Him at a time of great weakness, wanting Him to believe that He could have something available to Him now. Jesus relied instead on the revelation that God had given Him (that He was the Son of God who was the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world). This required that Jesus be certain of what He hoped for, even though He didn’t see it.
Faith is an act of obedience based on our hope. If our hope related only to heaven, there would be no action required for this life. Abraham moved from Hebron to the land God was leading him to because he had a confident hope that it was God who was leading him. Noah had an expectant hope that God would send the flood. This confidence in God’s Word caused him to spend many years building the ark. Neither Jesus, nor Abraham, nor Noah saw what they hoped for at the time. Hebrews 11 calls these acts of obedience “faith.”
Jesus lived this life of faith because of His relationship with the Father. It is called abiding—the continual bringing of our soul to the presence of God. In this position, faith is given for all the moments of life. In that secret place where we connect with God, faith grows strong. As we say, “Lord, I believe what You have said,” it is like watering the mustard seed of faith we have planted in the ground. Over time as we do this, faith grows into a mighty thing that can move mountains.
The Christian’s hope is not simply for a perfect afterlife. Looking forward to heaven focuses on being with God in eternity forever. However, we have been given the Spirit of God who lives on the inside of us. We have access to God for all the power, wisdom and direction that we need for this life. I had known this truth all my life but when I truly began to know this hope from my heart, my life was changed. I could move forward with confidence, knowing that by His Spirit God will give me all that I need to fulfill His will for me in this life.
God placed us here, in our communities, families, churches and circumstances, for a purpose. When we are led by His Spirit, choosing to believe His Word and obey He will lead us in victory. This faith is the hope that anchors the soul—the solid rock on which I stand.