Future-Focused Faith.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? – Romans 8:31-35 ESV

There is no longer any condemnation hanging over the heads of those who are in Christ. We now live according to the law of the Spirit, not the law of sin and death. As a result, we are free to say no to sin and walk according to the Spirit, in newness of life. We our now sons and daughters of God, who have an inheritance awaiting us in heaven. And speaking of heaven, we have our future glorification awaiting us, which makes any suffering we go through in this life pale in comparison. So, Paul asks, “What then shall we say to these things?” What should be our response to these marvelous truths? If God is the one who called us, justified us and will one day glorify us, what do we have to fear? If He refused to spare His own Son, but sent Him to die on the cross in our place, why would we ever think He would abandon us or turn His back on us. We must constantly remind ourselves that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 ESV). We didn’t earn God’s love and we cannot behave our way out of it. We can’t lose it or have it taken away from us. Our circumstances, no matter how bad, are never an indication that God has fallen out of love with us. God has already justified us, declared us as righteous before Him, because of what Christ has done, not because of anything we have or have not done. So if someone brings a charge against us, God’s response will always be, “They’re righteous!” If anyone attempts to condemn us, God will simply respond, “Their debt has been paid!”

And the most amazing aspect of what Paul is trying to teach us is that nothing and no one can ever separate us from the love of God. No one can do anything to diminish or negate the love that Christ showed us by dying on the cross for us. There is nothing we will ever go through in this life that will ever diminish God’s love for us. And we should never let anything that happens in this life cause us to doubt God’s love for us. Paul asks the rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” The New Living Translation puts verse 35 in words we can understand: “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” When we view our lives from a temporal perspective, we run the risk of misinterpreting God’s actions and involvement in our lives, which can lead us down the path of doubting His love for us. “After all,” we surmise, “if God really loved me, He would not have let this happen to me.” But if we keep out faith future-focused, and recognize that God’s will for our lives culminates on our future glorification, we will realize that His love for us is unstoppable. Present problems are no match for future-focused faith. Which is exactly what Paul meant when he wrote, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NLT).

Paul said, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Philippians 3:14 NLT). He lived his life with the attitude, “I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me” (Philippians 3:12 NLT). So should we. Jesus died so that we might be saved, but also that we might be glorified. That is the culmination of God’s glorious plan for us. We should not spend out lives seeking to experience our best life now, but with our eyes set on the future reward that God has promised for us. God’s best is yet to come. And any pain and suffering we experience in this life only enhances the glory of what is waiting for us in the future. God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us. And one day He is sending His Son back to get us. His work is not yet done. God’s plan is not yet complete. Our glorification has not yet happened. But it will.