Podcast: Living the Presence of the Future... Now- #44Jan 08, 2018
If it seems that you sometimes "don't fit in," that's probably a good sign, right? Follow me here...
One one extreme, a lot of people believe that this world is winding down, that the earth may actually be burned up by fire, and that the only hope we have is for God to start over. It sounds bleak, apocalyptic, and it creates a mindset that detaches us from the present in such a way that we no longer live like salt and light but live like an irritant- often by expressing our irritation with how things are going…
The reality IS that our world has a way of doing things, a blueprint that seems to be its norm. That’s true for the “big issues” (wars, political nonsense, etc.), but it’s true for small things, as well (the stuff of everyday life). But that doesn’t mean the planet is about to be judged, destroyed, or that it will even simply vanish…
On the other end of the spectrum, there's grace...
Grace isn't just an "eject button" or an escape from the world in which we live. Rather, grace offers an invitation to live here now with a different way of life, expressing the values of a future time & place… in the present...
It creates a new vantage point that doesn't simply "agree" with everything that's happening- nor does it walk in agitation or frustration with it, either... because grace understands that there's something bigger and better on the way, something that we have full access to right now.
What the Bible says about this “world”
There are two “Bible words” I’d like to show you about that are translated as “world” in your New Testament- because they really help us understand what it means to be redeemed “out of” the world in which we live.
Here are the words: cosmos and aeon. As we discuss them you’ll recognize both of them.
Again, both words are translated as “world” the majority of the time we see them used throughout the New Testament (and in ancient literature from that time period). Although related to each other, they are very different.
The first word… and what it means to be redeemed from a “fallen” cosmos
Paul says the world has been crucified to him (Galatians 6:14):
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world [cosmos] has been crucified to me, and I to the world [cosmos].
Notice that Paul is pretty clear that the world doesn’t have a hold on him. He’s dead to the world; the world is dead to him. Sounds a bit negative, doesn’t it?
But what does this really mean? Is Paul “over it” with the chaos around him? Is he ready to just hit the “eject” button and move on to a better time and place?
Let’s unpack the actual word and see what Paul’s saying…
The word which Paul uses for world is cosmos. I bracketed it in the verse above so you can see it...
Cosmos is a “sociological term.” It, in a sense, describes how people do things. It’s almost a cultural reference. Cosmos means that “our world has its own way of doing things.”
You’ve heard expressions like:
- All teenagers rebel
- Half of marriages end in divorce- you’re playing against the odds
- Once an addict, always an addict
- That homeless person wants to be homeless…
- People don’t change
- You won’t get ahead without going into debt
- There’s not enough to go around- if someone else go it, there won’t be enough for me
If you recognize these as lies instead of truths, you understand cosmos. Once your eyes are open to it, you’ll see cosmos in other places, too.
For instance, there is a prevailing cosmos that suggests multiple sex partners are best (gain experience and make sure you’re sexually compatible before you get married), certain races shouldn’t be trusted, and children are one huge hassle.
(That last one is personal to us- because we have a lot of kids. People always assume we have “our hands full” with the extra little people- they rarely assume that the “many hands make light work.” What's going on here? They're living with a different blueprint.)
Anyway, cosmos can be a pit- a pit we can gravitate towards (many people have been slipping into it since the Fall). Cosmos can be a downhill slide.
Cosmos can be soul decomposition…
The refrigerator is the modern solution for food decomposition. You know exactly how it works…
We place cheese inside and the molding process slows, the spoiling of the meat slows, the rotting of the eggs delays. But all of those things still deteriorate. In fact, every week or two I toss a trash can full of left-overs and random items that deteriorated while in the fridge! You probably do the same thing.
Again, the fridge doesn’t stop these items from heading to destruction, it merely slows the process. In like fashion, apart from a Kingdom pattern for life, we slide into cosmos…
And we slide into decay…
We inevitably feel this. So, to stop it, we go into “preservation mode.” This scenario manifests itself in many ways:
- Self-help books
- Repeated counseling sessions
- Therapies of various kinds
- Conventions, workshops, and seminars
- Podcasts, online courses, media consumption
- Stress releasers- like hobbies, exercise, and other activities
- 12-step groups, support groups, etc.
None of these items I’ve listed are evil. I mean, wow, let’s call them what they can be- incredible opportunities for growth! I read self-help books, I regularly speak to a counselor, I lead workshops, I host a podcast, I exercise daily, and interact with a few guys regularly. I’m grateful for each of these blessings I just listed.
But they aren't redeemers, are they? They work as long as they’re used to enhance and further the work that the true Redeemer is doing in our lives.
On their own, they’re simply spiritual refrigerators. They’re conveniences that simply delay the inevitable, even as the process of entropy still runs its course. Though none of the things above are by themselves wrong (again, I find each of them helpful), Jesus must stand in the center. We must be re-created anew. We need a different blueprint entirely.
Ever ridden a waterslide and decided to try to go back up? It’s virtually impossible. Regardless of how desperately you want to- and despite how hard you physically try- once you step into a waterslide, you’re going to the bottom. Every single time.
Our self-help attempts to overcome the cosmos apart from grace are simply “refrigerators.” They just delay the inevitable.
Again, we need a different pattern- a pattern of life that restores and breathes hope rather than one that decomposes…
Living a different pattern
Here are a few ways in which cosmos is used in the Bible. Remember, the word cosmos doesn’t refer to the physical planet itself. Rather, it refers to the prevailing consensus of how people on that planet do things.
- 2 Peter 3:5 says this world/cosmos is passing away- meaning “it’s way of doing things,” not the physical planet.
- James 4:4 tells us not to make ourselves a friend of the world/cosmos. James isn’t suggesting we should be friends with people “of the world,” but that we shouldn’t live the cosmos blueprint for life. Quite simply, it doesn’t work. You’ve been redeemed from that to better.
- John 15:18-19 says the world/cosmos may hate you because you are not of the world/cosmos. Interestingly enough, the word cosmos appears five times in this passage! John is not telling us that the people will hate us; he’s telling us that the prevailing ideology will… that’s different than how this verse is often taught, isn’t it?
- Revelation 12:9 reveals that Satan deceives the entire world/cosmos. In other words, he architected the pattern we see.
Notice how understanding the actual word being used in Scripture is helpful...
If we misread Peter, we’ll believe that this planet is going to be destroyed- and overlook that fact that Jesus is reconciling and restoring all things (including this actual world).
If we misread James or John we’ll look at other people with an “Us vs. Them” mentality with anyone who ascribes to any belief or thought pattern you deem to be cosmos instead of Kingdom.
The presence of the future, now
There's a second word translated as “world” I'd like to share with you as well. Different than cosmos, the Greek aeon is the second word translated as “world” in English.
Aeon literally means “an extended period of time, a period of undetermined length.” We use the word era or generation as synonyms. Sometimes, sci-fi movies use the word eon, which means “a long period of time.”
The Biblical inference is that each era- or generation- has its own way of doing things, a way that sometimes runs counter to the plans and purposes of God. (That is, each aeon has a unique cosmos- or, each period of time has a unique way of doing things.)
Aeon appears in the following verses:
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 tells us that Satan is the god of this world/age/aeon. That is, he has influence for a limited amount of time. His run at calamity expires.
Romans 12:1-2 instructs us, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world/age/aeon.” In other words, you’re from a different time and place. Live the values of the Kingdom to which you belong.
Matthew 13:39 encourages us with the promise that this age/aeon will end- and a great harvest will come. The current aeon is coming to a close.
Putting the words together = a different way of doing things that has no expiration date
The incredible news is that as this aeon is winding down, we have been redeemed out of the pit from it and redeemed back to the path that Jesus has planned for us to walk. We become a snapshot of the future. We, in effect, live the future now. Jesus desires that we not only taste the powers of the age (aeon) to come, but that we walk in it continually (see Hebrews 6:4-6).
During His first sermon, Jesus exclaimed, “I’ve come to declare the age of jubilee” (Luke 4:19).
When Jesus pronounced this, it wasn’t actually the year of Jubilee- which was a time in the Hebrew world in which people celebrated things like:
- Freedom from oppression (slaves were released)
- Freedom from the daily grind of work (they took off work for an entire year)
- Freedom from debt (all debts were dismissed)
Jesus said Jubilee wasn’t a time reserved for once every 50 years, it was a time we could enter into now. That is, He called forth a permanent Jubilee- freedom, hope, and restoration- bringing the future into the present.
Pastor Derek Prince writes, “God’s grace wants us to sample something so different and so utterly superior that we are never again enamored of the powers of this age.”
He offered an invitation, even amidst this time period (aeon) and pattern of living (cosmos), for us to live the presence of the future.
Links mentioned in this talk
Download the free Redemption eBook at https://www.overflowfaith.com/p/redemption-e-book to learn more about this concept and other facets of your freedom.
The men’s Advance happens every February and September. Go to https://www.eatsleepadvance.com to learn more about the next event.
Listening + subscribing options
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