Robert Jeffress - Heaven Can't Wait
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". It's hard to imagine a world without your home or your office building or your favorite vacation spot, but the Bible teaches that one day this world and everything in it will pass away. So how should we invest our time, talent, and treasures in light of that reality? Well, today I want to share with you a spiritual investment tip that will transform your perspective on what's truly valuable and worth your time. My message is titled "Heaven Can't Wait" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
If you have your Bibles, turn to Colossians 3. Colossians 3. While you're turning there, let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard something in a sermon or read something in a Christian book that absolutely jolted you out of your spiritual complacency? I've had that happen twice in my life. I like to refer to it as my two spiritual awakenings. The first one happened when I was a student in high school. One Sunday morning, I was driving down central expressway in my Volkswagen bug on the way to church down here, I was listening to the radio and I heard a speaker make this statement. He said, "Show me your checkbook register and I can tell you what your priority in life really is".
Boy, that hit me like a thunderbolt out of heaven. At that particular time in my life as a high school student, I had several different jobs. I was working hard, I had accumulated a pretty impressive amount of money for a high school student. And I gave faithfully to the church, was a tither, gave 10% of my income to the church, but I figured the other 90% of my money was mine to do what I wanted with. Never occurred to me that how I spent that 90% revealed my real priority in life was.
So I took the speaker's challenge, and that afternoon after I got home from church I took out my checkbook register and I looked to see how I was spending my money. And quite frankly, those changes in my life spending habits were pretty easy to make compared to my next revelation. It occurred after I had gone to my first church to pastor, I'd been there for a couple of years, and I was preparing for a sermon and I came across this statement by a well-known pastor. He said, "You can tell what your real priority in life is by asking yourself this question, what three things am I most earnestly seeking in life"? And if you can't answer that question, ask yourself another question, what three things things do I love the most? And if you still can't figure it out, ask yourself this question, what three things do I think about the most? And it was that last question that, again, hit me like a thunderbolt.
Don't misunderstand. I mean, I was reading my Bible, I was praying, I was keeping my spiritual journal, but this speaker wasn't talking about activities, he was talking about affections. And he said, "What you think about most often really reveals what your priority in life is". Jesus had said the same thing in Matthew 6:19-21. Remember he said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where thieves break in and steal. But instead store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal". And then here's the kicker in verse 21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also".
Remember our study of the Hebrew Anatomy, we saw that the word heart in the Hebrew mind didn't mean the center of affections, it was the mind. Jesus is saying where your treasure is there your mind, your thoughts will be also. Your thoughts reveal your treasure. As I thought about my thoughts, it was very clear to me that I was more interested in the temporal than the eternal. And I realized that wasn't an acceptable state in which to remain. So I started asking myself, how do you change your focus in life? How do you change your affections, your pursuits, your thoughts from the temporal to the eternal? And God brought to mind a scripture passage I hadn't looked at in years, but it seemed to hold the answer to that question. And it's the chapter that we've come to in our study of the book of Colossians. Look at Colossians 3:1-2. Paul says, "Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth". And over the next several weeks, I began, while I was running, reading this passage, memorizing it, meditating on it, and I realized this chapter was the key to becoming heavenly-minded while still a resident of earth.
Now, this perhaps would be a good time to turn those questions around and ask you the question, what three things are you most earnestly pursuing in your life? What three things do you love the most? And if you still can't figure it out, what three things do you think about the most? Now your answer to that last question is God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, then you don't need this series of messages. But if you're like me and you have difficulty keeping an eternal mindset while still living here on earth, I think you're going to be encouraged and instructed as we go through this chapter of Colossians 3. Before Jesus was crucified, he prayed this prayer to God, and it was a prayer, not only for his apostles, but he said, "For all those who will come after the apostles who will be saved through their testimony". He was talking about you and me, and listen to what he prayed in John 17, beginning with verse 14. He said, "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in truth, your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I've also sent them into the world".
Notice here that twice Jesus says about us that we are not to be of the world. He says it again, we are not of the world, but then two additional times he says, but we are to be in the world. That is, God's plan was not to take us out of this world the moment we were saved. Instead, he has left us here in this world, not to become like the world, not to isolate ourselves from the world, but to influence the world. And that's hard, isn't it? To live in this world with its corrupt values and yet not be of this world, not adopt those values as your own, but instead to influence those worldly values. That's what he has asked us to do. You know, throughout scripture, you see this tension between not being of the world but being in the world. The Bible says very clearly, first of all, that we are not to love the world. By the world, he's not talking about planet earth so much as he is about the world system that is opposed to the things of God. We are not to love the world.
In Philippians 3:20, Paul says, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ". Or 2 Timothy 2:4, jot that down. "No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who has enlisted him as a soldier". Or look at 1 John 2:15-17 "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him". Look at verse 17, "The world is passing away and also its lusts, but the one who does the will of God lives forever". Don't put all your hope in the world. Don't be all caught up in the world. It is it's going to end. And if it doesn't end first you're going to end first, okay? You're not destined for this world. We are not to love the world, but secondly, and here's the corresponding tension, we have to live in the world. And that is, even though heaven is our destination, God has left us here on earth with some very definite responsibilities.
And by the way, they're responsibilities that go beyond sharing the Gospel. Now sharing the Gospel is our primary reason for being here. That's our primary mission, but it's not our only responsibility. God has told us to do some other things as well. Other things that take our energy, our time, and our focus. I've just jotted down a couple of things about six of them that God says we're to give attention to here in this world. First of all, we're to give attention to our work. Our work. God has called all of us to be workers. He's made us in his image. God is a worker, we're to be a worker. In fact, most studies show that Americans spend 60% of their waking hours at work. That's not a curse, that's a blessing from God. He created us to do that. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do," he's not just talking to pastors and missionaries. He says, "Whatever your work is, do your work heartily, enthusiastically as for the Lord, rather than man".
All work is sacred in God's eyes. It's not just pastors and missionaries. God has called you to an assignment and he wants you to devote your best attention to that assignment while you're here on earth. The second area of worldly responsibility we have is our family. Ephesians 5:25, he says to those of us who are husbands, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up her". Or Proverbs 22:6, he says to parents, "Parents, train up a child in the way he should you go".
Now look, it takes focus, it takes energy, it takes time to love our mates is we're supposed to. It takes energy, it takes time to rear our children in a way that's pleasing to God. That's not a focus that is out of the will of God. God has told us we're to devote some of our time to that. A third life area that requires our attention is money. God doesn't want us never to think about money. We're not to worry about money, we're not to worry about the future, but we are to plan for our financial future. In Proverbs 6:6-9 Solomon said, "Go to the ant, o sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer, or ruler prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provisions in the harvest". In other words, just as the ant, while the food is available, stores some of it for that future time when there will be no food, so we ought to do with our money as well. We're to give some to the Lord, we're to spend some on ourselves, but we're also to give attention to preparing for the future. A fourth area of responsibility we have here on earth is our health. You know, our bodies are a gift from God and we're to be good stewards of those bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you"? God wants us to be healthy, I believe. I believe he wants us to be in good health, so that we can fulfill the assignments that he's given us. He wants us to take care of the bodies he's entrusted to us. And that takes time. It means exercising, it means watching your diet, it means going to the physician. That's part of God's will for our life here on earth. A fifth area of life that takes some of our focus is friends. Do you realize God wants all of us to have friends? That's part of the support system that he's designed for us. You know, people say, well, I just depend on God to take care of my needs, I don't depend on other people. Well, one of the ways God takes care of your needs is through people he's placed into your life. They're the support system he's designed.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Solomon said, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up". God wants us to have somebody in our life who can reach down and lift us up when we stumble. And he wants us to be able to lift up and encourage other people when they run into hardship. And to have friends you have to spend time developing those friends, don't you? That is part of God's will for your life. A sixth area, and this is going to surprise some of you, God wants us to give some of our time, money, and attention to our own leisure, our own recreation. God meant more for this life for you than simply endure this life, you know, kind of limp through it, saying, can't wait to get to heaven, can't wait to get to heaven. That was never God's plan. He wants you to enjoy the life he's given you here on earth.
In Ecclesiastes 9:7 Solomon said, "Go then, eat your bread in happiness, and drink your wine," or grape juice, or whatever it is you want to put in there, "Drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already approved your works". Enjoy life, God says. When we enjoy life, it turns our attention to God who made our life possible. See what I'm saying here? The Bible says yes, on one hand, we're not to love the world, but we are to live in the world. Well, how do you do that? I mean, how do you maintain your focus as a citizen of heaven while you're still a resident of earth? It all comes down to understanding what Paul means when he says he wants us to be heavenly-minded. See, the problem is most of us have this line of demarcation that separates our life on earth and our life after the grave in heaven. We kind of think of our lives in two parts, don't we? Life on earth and life in heaven.
We think about the here and now, and we think about the hereafter. But when Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly," when Jesus talks about eternal life, eternal life is not a quantity of life, it's not meaning an abundance of life that goes on forever and ever. It's not talking even about a period of life that begins the moment you die and extends into eternity. Eternal life is a quality of life. It's a kind of life that begins right now, the moment we're saved, and extends beyond the grave into eternity. And that's what he's talking about when he's talking about eternal life. You don't have to wait until you die to experience the benefits of heaven. You can experience it right now by becoming like Jesus Christ. Here's what it means to be heavenly-minded. Jot it down, if you will. To be heavenly-minded means simply this. It means to conform our affections, our attitudes, and our actions to those of Jesus Christ.
Let me say it again, to be a heavenly-minded Christian means to conform our attitudes, affections, and actions to those of the Lord Jesus Christ and Colossians 3 tells us how we can conform our actions, attitudes, and affections to those of Jesus Christ so that we can enjoy the same kind of supernatural existence Jesus experienced while here on earth. That's the theme of the book. Now in Colossians 1, Christ's sufficiency is presented. Paul makes the case that Jesus is sufficient. He says, look at what he did in creation. Look at what he has done is the head of the church, the leader of the resurrection parade. We're going to talk about that tonight. Look at what he did in securing your salvation. If you ever doubt that Christ can meet your needs just look at those three central roles he has. Jesus Christ is sufficient. Secondly, Christ's sufficiency is defended in chapter two.
Remember there were some in the Colossian church who didn't believe Christ was enough? They said you need Christ and philosophy or legalism or mysticism or asceticism. And so Paul defends the sufficiency of Christ against those additions. And now that we come to chapter three, verse one, Christ's sufficiency is applied. Paul answers the so-what question. Paul always does that. When Paul presents major doctrinal truth, he always follows it with a practical application. When we get to chapter three, verse one, look at how he does that. In the first four verses there is the command to be heavenly-minded. Look at verses one and two. "Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ," as we'll see next week, the Greek really reads, "Therefore, since you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God".
We're to focus on Jesus' position and his power. "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth". And then in verse five, he begins talking about the results of being heavenly-minded. How do you know if your attitudes, affections, and actions really mirror those of Jesus Christ? Well, look at what he says in verse five. He says, "Therefore, consider the members, the parts of your earthly body as dead, unresponsive, to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, greed, which is nothing more than idolatry". He says also "Put them all away, anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive speech from your mouth". It's not just about taking away certain behavior, it's about replacing that behavior with, look at verse 12. "So as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, and kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience".
Those are the things that reflect a truly heavenly-minded Christian. Well, that's a tall order. How do you do that? How do you make yourself dead to those old desires and put on those new behaviors? Well, beginning in 15 through 17, Paul tells us the steps to becoming a heavenly-minded Christian. Paul is going to share with us four steps that will help Christians think and therefore act like kingdom citizens in the here and now. Not waiting until the hereafter, but it's for the here and now. And then finally the evidence of being heavenly-minded. In verse 18 of chapter three through chapter four, verse six, Paul says there are two specific tests to determine whether you've really become like Jesus Christ. There are two laboratories, so to speak, that test out your Christlikeness. You know where those two places are? Your home, number one. How you treat your mate, your parents, your children. That's what evidence of whether you really become like Christ or not. And the second location isn't the church, it's your workplace.
And Paul talks about how our behavior at work both as employers or employees reflects our Christlikeness. It's true, there really is a tension between trying to live in this world and be citizens of the next world at the same time. But you know, that tension is overshadowed by a corresponding joy. A joy that comes from knowing that we're not here forever, that this world is not our home, that we're really just passing through on the way to a better place. Our time here is so limited and our future is absolutely secure. That ought to liberate us. That ought to free us from the stress of this life. But he also wants us to have that same motivation, the motivation to spend these final years here developing that Christlike attitude. Because what we develop here in these final years of our life we carry with us into all eternity. That's the joy of living in two worlds.