Too Good to Be True?
November 19, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
John’s gospel is chock-full of glorious promises. Ponder some of these:
“the right to become children of God” 1:12
“should not perish but have eternal life” 3:16
“will never be thirsty again” 4:14
“has passed from death to life” 5:24
“shall not hunger…shall never thirst” 6:35
“out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” 7:38
“will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” 8:12
We could keep going, but this suffices to illustrate how wonderful the promise of the Gospel is. Whoever believes in Jesus, receives him, follows him, will “have life and have it abundantly” (10:10).
Perhaps you feel, at times, a dissonance when you hear such glorious promises. You believe in Jesus and you long for the promises, but you see in your own life and in the world emptiness and disappointment. Why is this? Are the promises of Jesus empty? Are they too good to be true?
There are several ways to address this dissonance. They all relate to the “already-but-not-yet” dynamic of Christ’s fulfillment of the promises. Jesus has already fulfilled and secured all the promises of the gospel through his atoning sacrifice on the cross; nothing more needs to be accomplished for these promises to be unleashed for people of faith. But the consummation of the promises does not yet come until Christ returns.
This works out practically in several ways.
- As followers of Christ, we presently have new life with God and yet still bear the burden of the corruption of sin. We are conflicted people. We have hope and joy and peace in communion with God. And we are broken, despairing, even miserable, because of the ongoing corruption of sin in our lives.
- Our experience of the Gospel promises grows incrementally as our faith in Christ grows incrementally. Jesus says that “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (8:12). Before the return of Christ, there is no black and white distinction between walking in darkness and walking in light. We will have moments of walking in darkness and moments of walking in the light. That’s why John reminds his followers, “If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father” (1 Jn. 2:1). As we grow in faith (following, resting, trusting, etc.) in Christ, we will walk less and less in darkness. This is true with all of the promises.
- We have assurance that all the promises are “yes” in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20). The fullness of the promises of Christ are ours by faith alone. That’s why they read so definitively in John’s gospel. There is no other condition than believe in Jesus. Our experience of the promises ebbs and flows as we muddle along in our process of sanctification by faith.
- The invitation is the same whether you are just beginning to follow Jesus, or you have been following Jesus for decades: come and believe (Jn. 6:35). There is no magical, second tier of Christians who have found some “greater work” to unlock second level blessings. Come to Jesus. Believe in Jesus. And the promises are yours. As you continually come and believe in Jesus, the promises become richer and clearer in your life. You will be renewed more and more.