See How Jesus Goes Before Us
Into the Future
to Bring It Back to Us Today!
Part 2 of a 5-Part Series
[Editor’s Note: In last week’s blog post, David Bryant began his five-part series on how Jesus transforms our lives by going BEFORE us—moving out ahead of us, preceding us—so that in everything Jesus is always prior. In the remaining four posts, he expands on the major directions in which Jesus takes us as he goes before us:
• into the FUTURE (blog post 2)
• into the HEAVENS (blog post 3)
• into the PROMISES (blog post 4)
• into the WORLD (blog post 5)
The adventure continues below.]
One of the brightest lights in Princeton University’s historic constellation of scholars was Albert Einstein, who taught at their Institute for Advanced Studies until his death in 1955. Regarded by many as “the father of modern physics” and a Nobel Prize winner in 1921, he is best known for this equation:
This “general theory of relativity” redefined our understanding of time and space and the very structure of the universe. What the genius was able to demonstrate is that space and time are relative and flexible rather than absolute concepts. Time and space bend, wave, curve. For Einstein, incidentally, this reality inferred a creator because time and space find their very state of being in God, who alone transcends space and time.
With both divinity and infinity in view, the renowned scientist concluded that events which seem simultaneous might not be. It all depends on the observer’s frame of reference.
For example, he proved that time passes slightly faster for a climber at the top of a 12,000-foot mountain compared to its speed for those standing at its base. Thus, the climber slightly precedes his friends into the future.
Therefore, Einstein argued, someone traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), conceivably could find himself in an entirely different point of history than another person who is standing still. They could end up years apart, in fact.
This means that even based on these limited discoveries of Einstein and quantum physicists, it is not a stretch for us to speak of our Lord Jesus going before us into the future and then turning around to bring splendid aspects of that future back into our walk with him right here and now. Regardless, totally apart from anything scientists may discover or theorize about God’s creation, there is nothing impossible for God!
In fact, the Bible teaches that Jesus’ going before us into the future is one of the major displays of his spectacular supremacy today as he reigns at God’s right hand.
In this blog post, I want to dig into this exciting dimension of Jesus’ lordship and uncover manifold blessings it holds for every Christian disciple.
Jesus Can Dwell
in the Future and the Present
Geographically speaking, we know Jesus’ reign can be fully but simultaneously present in cities or lives on opposite sides of the globe. Even so, chronologically speaking, his reign can be fully engaged now and later—in the present and in the future—simultaneously. In other words, Jesus’ spectacular supremacy extends over and outside of time just as it does over space.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Jesus has gone ahead of us into God’s future on our behalf to bring vital facets of it—preliminary measures of the fullness of the life that awaits us—back to us for us to enjoy here and now.
Consider the following fundamental biblical truths—twenty-two of them!—about how Jesus goes before us into the future in order to bring facets of it into our daily walk with him.
Insights About Jesus as the “Presence of the Future”
1. By his resurrection and ascension, God’s Son preceded us into the future of the whole universe, thus becoming humankind’s one and only hope. In 1 Peter 1 we read: (NIRV, emphasis added):
In his great mercy God has given us a new birth and a hope that is alive. This hope is living because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He has given us new birth so that we might share in what belongs to him . . . . Even though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not see him now, you believe in him. You are filled with a glorious joy that can’t be put into words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls. It is the result of your faith.
2. Who holds the future? Jesus claims he does:
I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the First and the Last. I am the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22, NIRV).
At the opening of Revelation, not only is our Savior honored as the one who “is and was” but also is declared to be the one “who is to come.” In other words, he has reached the grand climax of history ahead of us. But even now the grand themes of our future can be seen in who he is, where he is headed, what he is doing, and how he is being exalted at this very moment—with dramatic specificity.
3. Our Lord Jesus provides the WAY to reach our ultimate destination because he precedes us into that future and by the Spirit comes to us to lead us there.
In contrast, even at their best, other religious founders and teachers who try to provide their followers a path to some ultimate destiny continually fail because like us, they are corralled by the present, confined one moment after the next in the vortex of time.
In John 14, Jesus reassured his disciples about this dimension of his current activity in an exchange with Thomas. We read:
“[W]ould I have told you that I would prepare a place for you there? If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way . . . No one comes to the Father except through me” (NIRV, emphasis added).
4. Creation’s future will not be defined and decided, first of all, through apocalyptic interventions but rather through a Person.
Not only is Christ leading us to the end, he is waiting for us at the end because he himself is the end. Not only does he call his disciples to follow him to the end, but he also brings back to us foretastes of the end as he reigns among us right now the way he will rule among us then.
5. Christ fulfills in himself our grandest expectations about what eternity holds for us.
All of God’s promises are defined by him and consummated in him. Therefore, today those in union with him already are enjoying delights of the life destined eventually to saturate the new heavens and earth.
He’s been there before us. Therefore, at this very moment, right where we live, he is able to bring his indestructible life back to us as he shares its blessings with us, doing so not superficially but substantively.
6. As the “firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1), Jesus has become for us the vanguard for our coming day of resurrection.
It has already arrived—in him! Therefore, we are walking in resurrection today because we are walking united with him!
Furthermore, because he was designated the firstborn of creation and firstborn of the resurrection, and in keeping with the custom of the Hebrews’ firstborn sons, Jesus has been designated and ordained to be the solitary heir of everything created and recreated. He inherits everything that is delivered from the curse of death—all that comes “alive in Christ” both now and later.
7. Similarly, the ascended Jesus presents himself before the eyes of the universe as the firstfruits of the greater harvest yet to come (1 Corinthians 15).
In a profound sense, our death already has been swallowed up in victory. That happened when the long-anticipated day of resurrection broke in upon our fallen world that first Easter Sunday.
Now, in his continuing incarnation, in his glorified humanity, Jesus is “Exhibit A” of what all of his followers soon shall become—in body, soul, and spirit—at the hour of his glorious re-appearing.
8. We might say that as the “Son of Man,” the Son of God defines God’s people “eschatologically.”
In Jesus, as the “Son of Man,” we see how humankind one day will be reconstituted. We see humanity as our Creator intended all along.
In fact, who Jesus is right now is what all of God’s redeemed one day will become when we are fully conformed to Jesus’ image.
God planned that those he had chosen would become like his Son. In that way, Christ will be the first and most honored among many brothers (Romans 8, NIRV).
9. Because Christ has gone ahead of us into the Consummation, we can look at him right now and say with the reformer John Calvin:
Although I am weak, there is Jesus—already powerful enough to make me stand straight. Although I am feeble, there is Jesus—already living in immortal glory and what he has right now will be given to me, and I will partake of all his benefits (emphasis added).
10. Jesus has gone ahead of us into the future to prepare our dwelling place in his approaching kingdom. Compare these two statements Jesus made in the upper room:
There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, would I have told you that I am going there? Would I have told you that I would prepare a place for you there? If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am (John 14, NIRV).
Then, a few minutes later he prayed:
So now, Father, give glory to me in heaven where your throne is . . . . Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, the glory you have given me (John 17, NIRV).
11. Primarily, it is through the Holy Spirit that Jesus brings the future to us. As he promised in the upper room:
[The Spirit] will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me (John 16, NLT, emphasis added).
Although we may not experience the quantity of the Consummation that remains in the future, Christ by the Holy Spirit pours into us the quality of our coming life with him.
12. Specifically, we have been sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit as a down payment on all that is waiting for us from our Lord in the coming ages.
The Spirit’s presence among God’s people guarantees to us the total fulfillment of the future toward which Christ currently is leading us (2 Corinthians 1).
13. His Spirit abiding within us, in fact, creates a deeply intimate experience of the “presence of the future”—a daily, personal foretaste of the life we one day will share under Christ’s reign.
Already through the Spirit’s activity among us, we have been allowed to “taste of the powers of the age to come,” according to Hebrews 6.
14. Now, as we follow Jesus, we are invited to present ourselves to God as if we already were raised from the dead, as we walk in the newness of his risen life.
[W]e were buried with Christ into his death. Christ has been raised from the dead by the Father’s glory. And like Christ we also can live a new life . . . we have been joined with him in a death like his. So we will certainly also be joined with him in a resurrection like his . . . . We died with Christ. So we believe that we will also live with him . . . . When he died, he died once and for all time. He did this to break the power of sin. Now that he lives, he lives in the power of God. In the same way, consider yourselves to be dead as far as sin is concerned. Now you believe in Christ Jesus. So consider yourselves to be alive as far as God is concerned (Romans 6, NIRV, emphasis added)
15. Outside of Christ, we once were “dead men walking.” In union with Christ, who has gone before us into eternity and brought that future back to us, we have become “risen men and women reigning.” Just as Paul reminds us:
For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! (Romans 5, NIV).
16. Right now Jesus puts us on the resurrection ground of the future so that we may present ourselves to the Father as those whom he regards as having passed from death into life through our Savior (Romans 6; John 5).
Participating by faith in Jesus’ end-times resurrection, we are treated by God as if we currently were standing on the other side of judgment day and walking in the new heaven and earth.
17. We have been forged so thoroughly to a destiny that’s inseparable from the destiny of God’s Son that we are reckoned by the Father as if already we’ve been glorified. Note how all the verbs in Romans 8:30, including “glorified,” are written in the past tense:
And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8, NIV, emphasis added).
Our Father receives us and treasures us as if we are living with Christ at the Consummation, already enjoying many of the universal displays of his cosmic reign, already “glorified” with him and all who belong to him.
18. Therefore, abiding in Jesus, we too should follow him daily as if Jesus in his second coming already had arrived and gathered us to himself.
In a very real sense, through our union with the one who has gone before us into the future, it has!
We are receiving a kingdom that can’t be shaken. So let us be thankful. Then we can worship God in a way that pleases him. We will worship him with deep respect and wonder (Hebrews 12, NIV).
19. In Christ we should live each day as if we already had stepped into the City of God that someday soon, at the end, will descend out of heaven (see Revelation 21-22). That’s precisely how Hebrews 12 describes Jesus followers at this very moment:
You HAVE come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You HAVE come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. (Hebrews 12, MSG, emphasis added).
20. United to Christ, believers around the globe are abiding daily in the coming age because all of us are abiding daily in the Ruler of that coming age.
He is for us, here and now, the substance and source of the new creation that one day soon will engulf all things, especially the saints from all the ages.
21. So, as we saw previously, we might say that even if the end is not yet chronologically near, it is always Christologically near.
It resides in him, while at the same time he resides among us. What a marvelous transaction that is! In Christ the future remains forever “at hand.” It is always impending, always imminent. That’s because at every moment “the Judge is standing at the door” (James 4).
22. Therefore, we should live daily in unceasing anticipation of how Jesus will bring to us what we might call “approximations of the Consummation.”
We should expect to experience such foretastes in very practical ways as Christ brings the future back to us and includes us in “previews” of its promises—doing so within us and through us moment by moment.
“I Feel Like Jesus Is Resurrecting Me!”
The riches of the gospel (as Paul terms it) come down to this:
Christ is in you! Yes, Christ is in you bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come. So, naturally, we proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ. This is what I am working at all the time, with all the strength that God gives me (Colossians 1, PHILLIPS).
Recently, an Iraq war veteran suffering major disability from the impact of a terrorist’s IED, testified to his personal experience of the extraordinary liberation in Christ when Jesus invaded his life with the “presence of the future.” Even though confined for life to a wheelchair, he exclaimed to his friends: “I’m beginning to feel like Christ is resurrecting me.”
In other words, he sensed God’s Son was infusing him with a substantial sampling of the coming day of resurrection—which is what Romans 8 teaches all of us to expect:
But your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. So the God who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your bodies, which are going to die. He will do this by the power of his Spirit, who lives in you” (NIRV).
Or as the New Living Translation puts the passage:
And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Someone has said: “Hope is the music of the future in Christ. Faith is hearing it and joining with Christ to dance to that music right now. Love is inviting others to dance with you as together you both join Jesus in the song of salvation that will last forever.”
In other words, starting today:
(1) LISTEN to the music. Get to know from Scripture, as much as possible, what the future holds for you because of Christ and begin to “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5).
(2) DANCE every day to the music. Start living a daily discipleship full of obedience to him in anticipation of the many “approximations of the Consummation” he is ready to bring into your life today.
(3) BRING others with you into the music. Share with believers and unbelievers all that the future holds for you because of Christ and urge them to join you in the grand adventure of walking in his resurrection power.
Explore more about Christ going BEFORE us by viewing Session 5 of The Christ Institutes Video Series. It’s free!
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