How to Take Full Advantage
of Your Great Expectations
Because Jesus Goes BEFORE You Today
Into the PROMISES of God
to Make Them Yours as Well!
Part 4 of a 5-Part Series.
[Editor’s Note: So far in this series on “Christ Going BEFORE Us Today,” we discovered how Jesus (1) travels into the future to bring a lot of it back to us right here and (2) ascends into the heavens in order to take us with him there right now. In this fourth installment, David Bryant shows us why the Christian life should be filled with experiences of God’s faithfulness and power. That’s because our Lord Jesus has secured all the promises God has made to us so that he can now activate them for us as we follow him. This truth provides another evidence of Christ’s supremacy and a further reason to call it “spectacular”!]
English literature scholars consider Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, though not as long as some of his other novels, to be the height of his literary prowess. Have you read it or seen one of the movies made from it?
The term “expectations” in 19th-century England referred to one’s anticipated inheritance. To have “great expectations,” therefore, would imply the heirs could expect a fairly significant endowment when they came of age.
In the book’s title, however, Dickens gives the phrase a double meaning: “Great expectations” includes not only a promising financial windfall but also a destiny full of promises for the main character, Pip.
Dickens’s tale illustrates, in part, the most amazing transaction our Lord Jesus Christ has carried out for us, accomplishing something for us we could never have done for ourselves. Yet, tragically, it is something many of us fail to make as fully our own as he intended.
He’s gone ahead of us into the promises of God—first to fulfill them in himself, to claim them for himself, to focus them on himself, and then ultimately, as incredible as it may sound, to make all of them as totally ours as they are totally his. Yes, in Christ we do have “great expectations!”
Drawing on this classic novel, I want to bring you into a whole dimension of life in Christ you may have never seen–what could become a new beginning for you as his follower.
Because the Document Is Signed in Blood,
the Benefits Now Go to You!
To continue with Dickens’s tale:
Pip is a young orphan temporarily befriended by a very wealthy but eccentric dowager, Miss Havisham.
Eventually, her ambitions for Pip cool and she sends him off to become a common laborer in his family’s blacksmith business.
Many years later, a London lawyer informs Pip that a secret benefactor has willed him a large fortune, which he is to receive once he turns 21 years old. Immediately, Pip assumes the mysterious source is the wealthy Miss Havisham, but he’s wrong.
One of the most dramatic moments in the story occurs when Pip learns that his “great expectations” come to him, instead, from a common criminal whom Pip tried to rescue from capture years earlier. In spite of being deported to Australia for his crimes, Magwitch ends up making a fortune there and returns to England to repay Pip for his kindnesses, determined to see him transformed into a real gentleman.
In other words, because of the one who went before him, the poor, disillusioned orphan now unexpectedly faces a future filled with “great expectations”—a life of unimagined blessings inherited from another to whom it originally belongs. And with that, Pip now has every reason to abound in hope about his future.
Here’s the application: Like Miss Havisham, the world makes us many promises that end up being fickle or false, and fading at best.
Then, to our utter amazement, from the most unlikely source (from One who was crucified as a common criminal—pictured by Magwitch), we are presented with our “great expectations—inexhaustible riches beyond belief, an inheritance that encompasses all of the promises ever made by the triune God to his people, with the entire universe thrown in as well! It’s like receiving a legal certificate signed and sealed by, in, and for the Lord Jesus!
Here’s how Paul puts it to us:
You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich (2 Corinthians 8, MSG).
Therefore, Paul can unconditionally reassure us:
My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4, NIV).
He adds further:
The Father has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1, NIV).
Christ, who has bought and paid for all of God’s promises, did so to secure them, first of all, for himself. They are his by right and by sacrifice and by position as the risen, ascended Heir of everything in heaven and on earth.
But here’s the shocker: He did this also in order to share them with all of us who belong to him and are reborn into God’s family!
In other words, he has endowed us with his very own “great expectations”! What a generous Monarch! You can’t get any richer than we are if we are his!
Let’s dig deeper into this glorious treasure chest:
20 Amazing Truths
About How Christ Goes Before You Today
to Bring You Into Great Expectations!
If you discovered a buried, sea-weathered chest overflowing with coins and jewelry left behind generations ago by an infamous but successful pirate, what would be your first act?
Once the lid was pried open, surely you would carefully dig through the dazzling fortune to calculate the extent and value of what has now become yours.
What you just discovered represents a whole new, magnificent, incomparable set of “great expectations” that were never yours prior to this moment.
In the same way, I want us to take a deep dive into an amazing sequence of 20 biblical truths about the eternal, extravagant treasure trove you already have received because you belong to Jesus who has gone before you to lay claim to all of God’s promises and then make them yours as well.
1. All the promises of God’s Word to God’s people belong to God’s Son first of all. The promises and the “Promise-er” are forged together forever. All of heaven’s riches are bound up in our Lord exclusively, and their ultimate blessings will culminate in our Lord conclusively.
2. The promises were “closed up” into Jesus so that they could be “opened up” unto us with infinite possibilities because he first made them his own. Only in him do the promises ever become ours. “Christ not only offers us something for nothing. He even offers us everything for nothing” (C. S. Lewis, emphasis added).
3. Scripture declares God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ.
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us . . . was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God . . . [He] put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1, NIV).
4. There are nearly 7,000 separate promise statements found throughout the Bible (including different ways of announcing similar prospects). But all of them are “Yes” to us in Christ. They belong to Jesus to start with. They all are summed up in him. They all are about him, embodied in him, purchased by him, inherited by him, enriched in him, guaranteed by him, fulfilled in him. Only then does the Father apply them to us—yet even then, he does it for the prime purpose of exalting his Son.
5. We have no hope beyond the person who God’s Son is. He gives us access into God’s abounding grace so that we can continually “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God,” knowing that in him our hope “will not disappoint us” because God’s love for us in Christ is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5).
6. Put simply, Jesus’ person and his position in the universe guarantee to us his promises. In Christ, the promises have been enhanced, enriched, expanded, and then endorsed over to those who belong to him.
7. In our Savior, we have become the unconditional beneficiaries of the triune God. Through him, we have inherited inexpressible provisions—given by the Father to the Son to be endowed lavishly by the Spirit on all the saints.
8. This provides additional evidence of the supremacy of Christ. In other words, when the Father’s promises are thoroughly implemented in the Son, this will make even more obvious and more wonderful—before the Church and the nations—the glorious riches of the reign of Christ.
9. Therefore, we have every reason to be at peace as we rest in Christ. Life under his scepter may not provide us with all the explanations we may want for what God is up to in our lives, our churches, our nation, our generation. But we have all the promises God’s people will ever want or need—and that should be enough for now to fill us with confidence and courage in the face of any challenges.
10. Here’s what’s new about the New Covenant we celebrate at every Lord’s Supper. As the Father’s heir, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant with God—a newly reconstituted covenant—full of far greater promises (see Hebrews 8).
11. We serve a generous Father who invites us, on the basis of the finished work of his ascended Son, to explore, share, and benefit from the “inexhaustible riches in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3). We can be sure, that having given us his Son on the cross, the Father will not withhold any good thing from us, but with Christ will freely give us all things (Romans 8).
12. So, we can boldly say that because Christ goes before us, we have been welcomed into all of heaven’s resources. They are magnificent, undefiled, never fading—laid before us in Christ himself. As a result, he has become our highest treasure. Scripture tells us that in him are:
. . . hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2, NIV).
Even so, in him there is:
. . . an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1, NIV).
Therefore, with resounding joy we shout:
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9, NIV).
13. Furthermore, because Jesus goes before us to secure the promises on behalf of all of his people, each believer receives equal rights to all of it. When an earthly inheritance is distributed, the more heirs there are, the less each person will receive. Not so with Christ! Every saint participates perfectly and to the full extent in everything each promise offers us. Not one promise is diminished for any of us.
14. This is why, in the end, Christ himself becomes the final and fullest answer to every prayer which claims God’s promises. Christ encompasses in his very person everything we long to receive from God, as well as everything we long to become for God.
15. For example, there’s not one of the six requests of “The Lord’s Prayer” that does not point us to Christ as the final answer, even if initially the Father’s response provides only preliminary installments of the promises Christ brings to us. We see:
- when Jesus is exalted, the Father’s name is exalted
- when Jesus reigns, God’s kingdom comes
- by Jesus’ work of redemption and justice, God’s eternal purposes are accomplished on earth
- Jesus is the source that supplies all the daily needs of his people
- Jesus keeps his people bound together in his circle of love and forgiveness
- Jesus rescues us to lead us in triumph over all the schemes of the Evil One
16. In other words, Christ possesses nothing that he has not fully applied to our benefit right now. As Jesus said:
And I confer [present tense] on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me (Luke 22, NIV).
Thus, the scope of this hope should fill us with boundless expectations as long and high and deep and wide as our vision of all that Jesus is. The reality of his supremacy over all things in heaven and earth should “explode” in our churches, our communities, our nation, and beyond with joyful, unstoppable confidence about the future, about all the good things Christ’s kingdom is bringing upon us.
17. Far more than Abraham who saw Jesus only “at a distance” (John 8), we who know the One who is the final heir of the promises made to Abraham (Galatians 3) should not waver in unbelief. Abraham is called the “father of all who believe” (Romans 4). How much more should we who have become “fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8) replicate his unshakeable confidence toward God’s promises! Even when fulfillments are delayed, we, like Abraham, should not grow weary in faith but increase our celebrations of what is to come, “being convinced that he who has promised is able also to perform it” (Romans 4). The whole Church is called to “hold unswervingly” to our hope in Christ, especially as we “see the Day approaching” when the promises are fulfilled dynamically, even at a cosmic level (Hebrews 10).
18. Our Lord Jesus Christ will continue to go before us into the promises throughout eternity as well.
And God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2, NIV).
Both now and in the Consummation, we can say:
The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd . . . He will lead them to springs of living water (Revelation 7, NIV).
19. In possession of all of God’s promises, Christ holds out to us the prospect of plunging ever deeper into God’s great love for us, day after day. Therefore, we should pray like Paul:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (Ephesians 3, NIV).
20. In addition, with Jesus every promise that is fulfilled actually gives birth to even greater reasons to hope! Every promise that becomes a reality encourages us to seek the Father for even more of what he offers us in his Son because the inheritance he has shared with us is never redundant or stagnant, but always bubbling with new beginnings—creative, inventive, full of adventure, and taking us from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3).
Out of His fullness [the superabundance of His grace and truth] we have all received, grace upon grace [spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift] (John 1, AMP).
How GREAT Will Your Expectations Become
From Now On?
Imagine two hardy ice fishermen, sitting side by side on up-turned buckets in the middle of a frozen lake in Wisconsin, wrapped in the clutches of a frigid January afternoon. Both have carved holes in the ice. Both hold poles with their fishing lines dropping through the openings into the water.
But look closer. One has carved a hole the size of a bass. The other has spent over an hour sawing out an opening the size of a whale—which means, of course, he’s fishing for something that makes no sense for Wisconsin! No whales there, right? Nevertheless, what does this picture tell you?
Clearly, the first sportsman is thinking only of his next meal; he’s hoping to catch something big enough to provide the main course that evening. On the other hand, his companion is focused on catching something big enough to feed himself, and his family and friends, for the next 60 days.
What faith the second fisherman displays! There he waits for this extraordinary catch! He believes something is swimming somewhere under the icy lake that’s huge, ready to be hauled in; something that’s significant enough to pursue no matter how ridiculous it seems to his buddies; something so amazing just under the surface that the promise of it has filled the bold sportsman with great expectations!
And so, in anticipation of what he yet cannot see but fully expects to capture, he’s prepared an opening enormous enough so that when the whale strikes, despite its size, the angler will be able to pull it onto the ice successfully (although he may need some assistance from his friends!).
Even so, as we follow Jesus, should not all of us believers approach each day with a similar perspective?
If we believe Christ is truly sovereign and supreme, then there’s no doubt he has every right and every capacity to go before us into God’s promises, to secure them and make them his own in order to turn around and share them with us—which is precisely what he has done! And in turn, he has given all of us “whale-sized” expectations about God’s work in our lives in Christ, prospects that he is ready to unleash in our lives right now.
Great, inexhaustible, unprecedented expectations—they are ours in Christ in whom the expansive promises of God find their grandest dimensions. As Paul prays for Christians in Ephesians 3 (from The Message paraphrase, emphasis added):
Take in with all followers of Jesus
the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.
Reach out and experience the breadth!
Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!
Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—
far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request
in your wildest dreams!
He does it not by pushing us around
but by working within us,
his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia!
Application: Take a yellow highlighting pen then comb through the book of Ephesians looking for and spotlighting every promise contained there that is yours to claim because you belong to Christ. See how much of your Bible turns yellow in those few pages.
Then, go back and turn each discovery into a prayer of thanksgiving and a request for those promises to become even more real in your own daily walk with Jesus.
Also, read the chapter on “Christ BEFORE Us Today” in my latest book, Christ Is NOW!
About the Author
Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and to Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com.