Last time I listed and rebutted five reasons that the future has been squeezed out of much of the preaching in our generation (not in every church, but in many). One accusation is that preaching about the future isn’t worth it because it doesn’t offer any contemporary relevance. You know the idea – “pie in the sky when you die” kind of talk, “too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use” and all that. (Support that idea biblically!)
Here’s an application shotgun blast:
Biblical teaching on the future gives us encouragement in trials (John 14:1); comfort in griefs (1Thess.4:13-18); motivation for purification (1John 2:28-3:3); it moves us toward morality (Col.3:1-5ff); it drives us to diligent spotlessness (2Peter 3:14); it leads us to lay aside lusts (Rom.13:11-14); encourages exemplary living (1Thess.5:1-11); fires our faith (Heb.10:35-39); spurs us to strengthen our hearts (James 5:7-8); produces perseverance in our service (1Cor.15:58); fires us to finish well (2Tim.4:7-8); focuses our passion for preaching (2Tim.4:1-2); stirs worship as we see the sovereign plan of God (Rom.11:25-32); and offers blessing for both reading and heeding (Rev.1:3).
I could have added more, but you get the point. (1) There is a lot of biblical content that points our thinking to future things and eternity. I didn’t touch on the gospels, or the Old Testament, in that blast. Two more mega rounds of applicational value. If we are going to preach the Bible, we can’t help but point our listeners to the future.
If we are going to seek biblical transformation in the lives of our listeners, we can’t help but speak of the future. As we see in the blast above, (2) the Bible assumes that our values are shaped by the future. Where you treasure is, there your heart will be also. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. Can a follower of Christ really represent Christ in this world without having eternally shaped values?
We live in a world marked by hopelessness. Whether it is the forlorn agony of poverty, or the vain emptiness of wealth, we are surrounded by the hopeless. (3) Of all people, followers of Christ should be marked by hope, which is a biblical fruit of future focus. If we preach a Christianity bereft of future reference, we snap a leg from the stool of truth on which we sit. Sadly too many believers are trying balance on faith and love, but hope is strangely absent.
Let’s be sure to preach the Bible, shaping values and stirring hope.