for the Saints
Testimonial & Didactic
Misunderstanding & Explanation
Ministry & Exhortations
Apostle's Solicitation for
Ephesus to Macedonia:
Change of Itinerary
Macedonia: Preparation for Visit to Corinth
Certainty and Imminence
of the Visit
Jensen's Survey of the New
Wilkinson's Talk Thru the
WHILE WE LOOK NOT
AT THE THINGS WHICH ARE SEEN, BUT AT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN: me
skopounton (PAPMPG) hemon ta blepomena (PPPNPA) alla ta me blepomena (PPPNPN)
: (we: 2Co 5:7 Ro 8:24,25 Heb 11:1,25 26 27 12:2,3)
WHERE ARE YOU
How important it is that we look in the
right direction! The Scriptures frequently speak of the "direction"
believers are to focus their attention...
If (since) then you have been raised up
with Christ, keep seeking
command to make this your habitual practice to seek) the things above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on (present
the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Col 3:1-note,
but anticipate heaven!
And there was a man in Jerusalem whose
name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout,
= not just occasionally but as your
lifestyle, looking daily for)
the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. (Luke 2:25)
At that very moment she came up and began
giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who
were looking for
= not just occasionally but as your
lifestyle, looking daily for)
the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38)
For those who are according to the flesh
set their minds on
the things of the flesh (~visible, temporal), but those who are
according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit (~invisible,
eternal). (Ro 8:5-note)
command to make this your habitual practice to seek) first His kingdom and
His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. (Mt 6:33-note)
= not just occasionally but as your
lifestyle, looking daily for) the blessed hope and the appearing of the
glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13-note).
Is the "Antidote" for
= not just occasionally but as your
lifestyle, looking daily for)
and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens
will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
Comment: Joni Eareckson Tada asks "Why all the verbs in the present
tense? Because God wants to get your heart beating with a
present-tense excitement, a right-around-the-corner anticipation of Heaven.
Isn’t that the way strangers on foreign soil are supposed to feel about
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, Who for
the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat
down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2-note)
Comment: Our eyes gaze at that which captivates our heart. If
worldly, fleshly desires creep into our heart, they will obscure our moral
vision and our ability to see Jesus as we should. Keeping our eyes fixed on
Jesus and the invisible things of eternity is the best way to live in a
visible world which is passing away.
will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life's trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.
— Esther Kerr Rusthoi
As Johann Bengel rightly stated
Whatever a man's aim is,
that he follows. (The
Critical English Testament)
When the heart has lost interest in the
memory is brittle relative to things spiritual.
Corrie Ten Boom said it this
Look around and be
Look inside and be depressed.
Look at Jesus and be at rest.
The principle is clear that the more the
heavenly engages our heart, the less will the passing
shadows of the earthly seduce our heart. What you are looking for will
determine what you are living for -- are you looking for the visible and
temporal or the invisible and eternal?
Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
We have seen that Paul does not lose
heart because his inner man in being renewed (2Co 4:16). The present passage
helps us understand in part how this inner renewal takes place -- from
looking at what he cannot see!
We look not at the things which are
seen "for we
faith, not by sight" (2Co 5:7), remembering
that "faith is the
things hoped for, the
conviction of things not seen" (He 11:1-note) and that it is "in
have been saved,
that is seen is not hope; for
why does one also
hope for what he sees? But if we (as we actually do)
hope for what we do not see, with
we wait eagerly"
(Ro 8:24, 25-note),
for "the hope laid up for (us) in heaven" (Col 1:5-note),
which motivates us to choose "rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of
God, than to enjoy the passing
sin, considering the
Christ greater riches than the treasures of (this passing world) for (we
are) looking to the reward". And so "by faith (we have) left (this
visible world), not fearing the wrath of the (world); for (we) endure, as
seeing Him who is unseen." (He 11:25, 26, 27-note), "fixing our eyes on
Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith." (He 12:2-note)
martyred missionary to the Auca Indians of South America, had a proper
perspective regarding the invisible eternal world declaring that
He is no fool who gives what he cannot
keep to gain what he cannot lose.
[word study] from
skopos = distant mark looked at, goal or
end one has in view; English "scope" as in microscope or
telescope) means to "spy out", to look at, to observe, to contemplate, to
mark ( to fix or trace out the bounds or limits of). Contemplate, look
into, examine, inspect, continue to regard closely, to notice
carefully, pay attention to, keep one's attention on.
Skopeo in 2Cor 4:18 refers to
mental consideration of our future home and conveys the picture of
attentively fixing our attention upon something with desire for and/or
interest in the future reality in glory. Skopeo can also convey the
sense of to "aim at", which is what we should be doing regarding heaven.
This "look" does not merely describe human vision but instead conveys the
idea of regarding a thing as important. The things seen on earth are not to be the
goal of a believer's existence. Believers are to continually "scope out" the
invisible things of eternity.
Skopos, the root of skopeo,
describes a look at a distant mark or goal, which is a perfect parallel with
2Co 4:18 which is calling for believers to look not at the passing
afflictions of the present life but at the eternal glory of the future life,
the goal for which we have been redeemed. Throughout eternity every believer
will give clear, indisputable testimony that they are a "trophy" of the
glory of God's grace which is our ultimate purpose for existence.
Think of yourself as a runner in a race.
What does the runner do, especially as they approach the end of the race?
Obviously they keep their eye on the goal, which is exactly the idea of
skopeo. In this passage skopeo is in the
which calls for the
Christian runner to continually fix his or her attention on the goal set
before them - Jesus, eternity, heaven!
(quoting Schmidt) adds that skopeo means...
To direct one’s attention upon a thing,
either in order to obtain it, or because one has a peculiar interest in it,
or a duty to fulfil toward it. Also to have an eye to with a view of forming
a right judgment. (Ed: Each of these nuances of meaning are readily
Skopeo - 6x in 6v in NAS -
Luke 11:35; Ro 16:17; 2Cor 4:18; Gal 6:1; Php 2:4; 3:17. NAS = keep
your eye on(1), look(2), looking(1), observe(1), watch(1).
THE PARADOX OF
LOOK AT THE INVISIBLE
In the introduction to his sermon on 2Cor
4:18 C H Spurgeon asks...
How was it that when cast down Paul was
not destroyed-that when troubled he was not distressed? What sustained him?
He gives us the key to this fortitude by telling us that he counted his
afflictions light because they were, in his estimation, but for a moment ;
and they were working out for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of
glory. He was calm and happy midst rage and tumult, violent prejudice, and
adverse, and even disastrous, circumstances, because, in the language of the
text, he looked not at the things which are seen, but at the things which
are unseen, reckoning that the things which are seen are not worth looking
at, so transient are they, while the things unseen are of priceless worth,
because they are eternal. That is our subject at this time: Firstly, things
not to be looked at; and, secondly, things to be looked at. The text wears
the shape of a double paradox. Things that can be seen are, naturally, the
things to be looked at. What should a man look at but what he can see? And
yet the apostle tells us not to look at the things which are seen, but at
the things which are not seen. How can things invisible be looked at? That
again is a paradox. How can you look at what you cannot see? This is only
one paradox of the Christian life, which is all paradox, and the riddle lies
rather in the words than in the sense. We shall soon discover that there is
no Contradiction or incongruity, no difficulty whatever....
The word "look"...means, first,
lightly esteeming both present joy and present sorrow, as if they were not
worth looking at. The present is so soon to be over that Paul does not care
to look at it. There is so little of it, and it lasts such a brief time,
that he does not even deign to give it a glance, he looks not at it. Here he
is persecuted, despised, forsaken. "It will not last long," saith he. "It is
but a pin's prick; it will soon be over, and I shall be with the goodly
fellowship above, and behold my Master's face." He will not look at it. He
ignores it. Thus it behoves us to do if surrounded with trials, troubles,
present sorrows; we should not think so much of them as to fix our
attention, or rivet our gaze on them. Rather let us treat them with
indifference and say, "It is really a very small matter whether I am in
wealth or in poverty, in health or in sickness; whether I am enjoying
comforts or whether I am robbed of them. The present will be so soon gone
that I do not care to look at it. I am like a man who stays at an hostelry
for a night whilst he is on a journey. Is the room uncomfortable? When the
morning breaks it is of no use making a complaint, and so he merely
chronicles the fact, and hastens on. He says to himself, "Never mind, I am
up and away directly; it is of no use fretting about trifles." If a person
is going a long distance in a railway carriage, he may be a little
particular as to where he shall sit to see the country, and as to which way
he likes to ride; but if it is only a short stage- between, say, the Borough
Road and the Elephant and Castle-he does not think about it. He does not
care in whose company he may be, it is only for a few minutes; he is hardly
in before he is out again, it is a matter not worth thinking about. That is
how the apostle regarded it. He reckoned that his present joys and present
sorrows were so soon to be over that they were to him a matter of
indifference, not even worth casting his eye that way to see what they were.
"Doth Jesus bid me go to Rome?" says the apostle. "Then I do not look to see
whether I shall be housed in Nero's hail or caged in Nero's dungeon. It is
for so short a while that if I can serve my Master better in the dungeon
than I can in the palace, so let it be. My casual lot shall be my
well-contented choice. It shall be a matter, if not of cool indifference,
yet still of calm serenity, for it will be soon over, and gone into history.
A whole eternity lies beyond, and therefore a short temporality dwindles
into an insignificant trifle." What a blessed philosophy this is which
teaches us not even to look at passing, transient troubles, but to fix our
gaze on eternal triumphs. (This excerpt is just to give you a sample of
Spurgeon's sermon - I encourage you to read the entire encouraging message
Vanities and Verities)
basically means to have sight, to see, to look at, then to observe, to
discern, to perceive with the eye, and frequently implies special
contemplation (e.g., often in the sense of “keep your eyes open,” or
“beware” [see #6 below]).
Blepo indicates greater vividness
than horao, a similar verb meaning "to see", for according to W E
Vine blepo expresses
a more intentional, earnest
contemplation. in Luke 6:41, of beholding the mote in a brother’s eye; Luke
24:12, of beholding the linen clothes in the empty tomb; Acts 1:9, of the
gaze of the disciples when the Lord ascended. The greater earnestness is
sometimes brought out by the rendering “regardest,” Mt. 22:16.
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
TDNT says that like horao...
blepo also means “to see” with a
stronger emphasis on the function of the eye, so that it serves as the
opposite of “to be blind.” It can also be used for intellectual or spiritual
perception, and in the absolute for insight.... (another word for
seeing is) theáomai suggests spectators and denotes attentive seeing,
i.e., “to behold.” Having a certain solemnity, it is used for visionary
seeing and the apprehension of higher realities...
(Blepo) first denotes ability to
see as distinct from blindness (Mt 12:22; 15:31; Mk 8:23-24; Lk. 7:21; Jn.
9). Seeing the book in Rev. 5:3, 4 includes reading. Scrutiny is implied in
Mt. 22:16. God’s seeing in Mt. 6:4 is a secret one. Jesus sees the Father’s
works in Jn. 5:19 (cf. Jn 8:38). Angels see the face of God in Mt 18:10.
Empirical seeing is the point in Ro 8:24, 25; 2Co 4:18; He 11:1ff.
Figuratively blepo can mean “to note,” “to perceive” (Ro 7:23; Col
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
Vine adds that blepo means
“to look,” see, usually implying more
especially an intent, earnest contemplation. Blepo is also used of (a)
bodily and (b) mental vision, (i.) “to perceive,” e.g., Mt. 13:13; (ii.) “to
Blepo It especially stresses the
thought of the person who sees.
Blepo primarily, “to have sight,
to see,” then, “observe, discern, perceive,” frequently implying special
contemplation, is rendered by the verb “to look” in Luke 9:62
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
Some uses of blepo are rendered
showing "regard" (KJV) or "partiality" (NASB) (Mt 22:16, Mk
12:14). The idea of "regard" is to observe or to notice with some
particularity, to attend to with respect and estimation.
Mounce writes that blepo...
is a general word meaning “to see.” It
commonly refers to seeing physical objects (Mt 15:31; Lk 7:21; Jn 9:7). It
can also mean “to look at, watch” such as watching a woman with lustful
intent (Mt 5:28) or looking at the “speck” in someone else’s eye (Mt 7:3).
In Rev 5:3, 4, no one is able “to looking into” the scroll (Rev 5:3, 4)
except the Lamb.
Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan or
In secular Greek blepo was
commonly used of bringing a ship to land...think of our life as a "ship of
faith" moving through the fog, avoiding the dangerous reefs by keeping our
focus on the Lighthouse on the shore.
The idiom blepo eis prosopon
= literally to see into the face = to judge on the basis of external
Below are the various nuances of blepo
- note that there definitions often overlap making the following
distinctions somewhat arbitrary.
(1) To have sight, see with the
eye - simple vision (Mt 11:4, 12:22, 14:30 15:31 24:2 Mk 5:31 13:2 Lk
Lk 10:23 And turning to the disciples, He
said privately, "Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see,
24 for I say to you, that many prophets and kings wished to see (eido) the
things which you see, and did not see (eido) them, and to hear the
things which you hear, and did not hear them. "
Jn 1:29 The next day he saw
Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away
the sin of the world!
(2) Seeing as opposed to literal
blindness (This meaning clearly overlaps with #1) (Mt 12:22, 13:16, 15:31,
Mk 8:23, 24 Lk 7:21 Jn 9:7, 15, 19, 25, Acts 9:9, Ro 11:8, 10, Re 3:18)
(3) Figuratively of spiritual
perception (and spiritual blindness) - to understand, be aware of (Mk 8:18
Lk 8:10 Jn 9:39, Ro 11:8)
Mt 13:13 (also Mk 4:12) Therefore I speak
to them in parables; because while seeing (simple vision) they do not
see (describes seeing without spiritual perception), and while
hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Mt 13:16 (also Mt 13:17) "But blessed are
your eyes, because they see (Blepo ~ not just physically see but see
with spiritual understanding); and your ears, because they hear.
Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of
things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Comment: True faith is NOT based
on empirical evidence but on divine assurance, and is a gift of God. Our
goal, then, as George MacDonald once said, is to "grow eyes" to see the
(4) Of careful observing - to look
at, to observe (Lk 9:62 Acts 1:11 Jn 13:22)
Mt 5:28 but I say to you, that everyone
who looks (
= continually, not a glance but a gaze!) on a woman to lust for her has
committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Comment: The “look” that Jesus
mentioned was not a casual glance, but a constant stare with the purpose of
lusting. (Job31:1) It is possible for a man to glance at a beautiful woman
and know that she is beautiful, but not lust after her. The man Jesus
described looked at the woman for the purpose of feeding his inner sensual
appetites as a substitute for the act. It was not accidental; it was
This use of blepo combines the ideas
seeing and perceiving. To perceive means to attain
awareness or understanding of. Webster's 1828 says perceive means "To
have knowledge or receive impressions of external objects through the medium
or instrumentality of the senses or bodily organs; as, to perceive light or
color; to perceive the cold of ice or the taste of honey."
(5) Directing one's attention to
something - to take notice, regard, consider (Lk 6:41 1Co 1:26)
Lk 6:41 "And why do you look (Blepo
used figuratively in the context of not just seeing but of passing judgment)
at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that
is in your own eye? 42 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Brother,
let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not
see (Blepo - figurative sense here of spiritual discernment) the log
that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own
eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your
Lk 9:62 But Jesus said to him, "No one,
after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the
kingdom of God."
(6) Seeing with the idea of
"seeing to" something =
Have your eye on so as to beware of.
- to watch, to
take heed, to take care. To see with the mind’s eye, to discern mentally, to
turn the thoughts or direct the mind to a thing.
Mt 24:4 (similar uses in Mk 13:5, 9, 23,
33, Lk 21:8) And Jesus answered and said to them, “See
to it (present
= command calling for continual
attention. Calls for constant vigil.) that no one misleads you (Context =
the last days, the days preceding the Messiah's return. Deception will be
Mk 4:24 (similar use in Lk 8:18) And He
was saying to them, “Take care
= command calling for continual
attention) what you listen to. By your standard of measure it will
be measured to you; and more will be given you besides.
Mk 8:15 (see also Mk 12:38) And He was
giving orders to them, saying, “Watch
= command calling for continual
attention) of the leaven of the Pharisees (= hypocrisy Lk 12:1) and the
leaven of Herod (secularism and worldliness).”
Ac 13:40 Therefore
take heed (present
= command calling for continual
attention), so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon
1Co 3:10 According to the grace of God
which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and
another is building on it. But each man must
he builds on it.
1Co 8:9 But
this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the
1Co 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks
he stands take heed
= command calling for continual
attention) that he does not fall.
Gal 5:15 But if you bite and devour one
another, take care
= command calling for continual
attention) that you are not consumed by one another.
Eph 5:15 - Therefore be
= command calling for continual
attention. Why? see v16) how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16
making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
= command calling for continual
attention) of the dogs,
= command calling for continual
attention) of the evil workers,
the false circumcision
Col 2:8 -
See to it
= command calling for continual
attention) that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty
deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary
principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
Col 4:17 Say to Archippus, “take
= command calling for continual
attention) to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you
may fulfill it.”
Comment: A good warning for all
who are in active ministry (we should all be involved in some way!)
2 Jn 1:8
(Keep a watchful eye on yourselves; "Look out") (present
= command calling for continual attention
- why? see Mt 26:41-note)
yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you
may receive a full reward.
All believers will receive praise at the
seat of Christ according to
1Cor 4:5, but some believers shall suffer loss of their rewards as described
in 1Cor 3:11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
Heb 3:12 Take
= command calling for continual
attention), brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil,
unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.
Comment: “Be seeing to it
constantly, keep a watchful eye ever open,” is the idea. Be on your guard
against enemies both within and without.The ruin of others should be a
warning to us to take heed.
See to it
= command calling for continual
attention) that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if
those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth,
much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
(7) Looking with the sense of to
discover, to find, to become aware of (Mt 7:3, Mt 13:13 Lk 8:10 Ro 7:23 He
Mt 7:3 "Why do you look (blepo) at
the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log
that is in your own eye?
Blepo - 132x in 116v in NAS
(Note: Most of the uses of blepo are in the
More than half of uses of blepo are in the Gospels = 72x)- Mt 5:28-note;
11:4; 12:22; 13:13, 14, 16, 17; 14:30; 15:31; 18:10; 22:16; 24:2, 4; Mk
4:12, 24; 5:31; 8:15, 18, 23, 24; 12:14, 38; 13:2, 5, 9, 23, 33; Lk 6:41,
42; 7:21, 44; 8:10, 16, 18; 9:62; 10:23, 24; 11:33; 21:8, 30; 24:12; Jn
1:29; 5:19; 9:7, 15, 19, 21, 25, 39, 41; 11:9; 13:22; 20:1, 5; 21:9, 20;
Acts 1:9; 2:33; 3:4; 4:14; 8:6; 9:8, 9; 12:9; 13:11, 40; 27:12; 28:26; Ro
Ro 8:24, 25-note;
1Co 1:26; 3:10; 8:9; 10:12, 18; 13:12; 16:10; 2Co 4:18; 7:8; 10:7; 12:6; Gal
5:15; Ep 5:15-note;
Jas 2:22; 2Jn 1:8; Rev 1:11-note,
Re 5:3, 4-note;
NAS translates blepo -
beware(5), careful(1), careful*(1), consider(1), facing(1), guard(1), keep
on seeing(2), look(7), looking(5), looks(1), partial*(2), saw(12), see(54),
seeing(8), seen(8), sees(8), sight(2), take care(5), take heed(5), watch(1).
Blepo - 109x in 98v in the
non-apocryphal Septuagint - Gen 45:12; 48:10; Exod 4:11; 23:8; Num 21:20;
Deut 4:34; 28:32, 34; 29:3; Josh 18:14; Judg 9:36; 13:19f; 19:30; 1 Sam 3:2;
4:15; 9:9, 11, 18; 16:4; 25:35; 26:12; 2 Sam 14:24; 1 Kgs 1:48; 12:24;
17:23; 2 Kgs 2:19; 9:17; 1 Chr 9:22; 21:3; 29:29; 2 Chr 4:4; 5:9; 10:16; Neh
2:17; Esth 2:15; 5:1; Ps 9:32, 35; 39:13; 68:24; Prov 4:25; 12:13; 16:25;
Eccl 8:16; 11:4, 7; 12:3; Song 1:6; Job 10:4; Amos 8:2; Hag 2:3; Zech 4:2;
5:2; Isa 6:9; 8:22; 21:3; 29:18; 38:14; 44:18; Jer 5:21; 20:18; 49:2; Lam
3:1; Ezek 8:3, 14; 9:2; 11:1; 12:2; 13:3, 6; 40:6, 19ff, 32, 40, 44ff;
42:7f, 15f; 43:1f, 4, 17; 44:1; 46:1, 12, 19; 47:1f; Dan 3:55.
TDNT comments on the use of blepo
in the Septuagint...
In the main the Hebrew original is the
same as for horáō. Ability to see is mostly in view, including ability to
perceive. God is the subject in Ps. 10:11. Prophetic vision is at issue in
Am. 8:2; Zech. 4:2; 5:2. (Kittel,
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
Riches Obscure Need of Heaven -
For his first sermon in an elementary preaching class, Lawrence, an African
student, chose a text describing the joys we'll share when Christ returns
and ushers us to our heavenly home. "I've been in the United States for
several months now," he began. "I've seen the great wealth that is here—the
fine homes and cars and clothes. I've listened to many sermons in churches
here, too. But I've yet to hear one sermon about heaven. Because everyone
has so much in this country, no one preaches about heaven. People here don't
seem to need it. In my country most people have very little, so we preach on
heaven all the time. We know how much we need it."
Worldliness, Distraction Of
Worldliness (Or Looking at the Things Which are Visible) - SOME time
ago, I was on Fifth Avenue walking and paused to look at a lifelike
mannequin in a store window. I quickly realized that she wasn't a mannequin
because she blinked. She almost fooled me though because everything else
about her was stationary. Other people began gathering in front of the
window and they attempted to get her to break her concentration. People were
making faces, making fun of her, knocking on the window, and just doing
everything they could to get her to move. But she held her ground. There was
something more important than pleasing folk on the other side of the glass.
What was more important was pleasing her employer, who was paying her to
stand at that window. For you to live a focused life, a life untouched by
worldliness, you are going to have to ignore the folks on the other side of
the glass. (Tony
Evans' Book of Illustrations).
Homily from Pulpit Commentary -
Observe: 1. That there are things invisible to the bodily eye that can be
seen by the soul. There are two classes of invisible things: (1) those that
are essentially invisible, such as thoughts, spirits, God; and (2) those
that are contingently invisible, such as those things that are visible in
their nature, but, through minuteness, distance, or some other cause, are at
present invisible. It is to the first of these that the apostle
refers—things that are essentially invisible to the bodily eye. The soul can
see thoughts, moral intelligences, and the great God. 2. That the things
that can be seen only by the soul are not temporal, but eternal. We talk
about the everlasting mountains, eternal sun, etc.; but there is nothing
that is seen is lasting—all is passing away. Moral truths are imperishable;
spiritual existences are immortal; God is eternal; these are things
belonging to a kingdom that cannot be moved. 3. That the things that are
seen only by the soul are the things that, if realized, will make this
mortal life issue in transcendent good. (The
pulpit commentary - Homily)
Another Homily - Be not much
concerned about the things of this life. (2Co 4:18.) These are perishing.
The imperishable are our better portion. Look not at the things which are
seen; they are not worth looking at. “Set your affection on things above”
(Col. 3:2.) 3. Look at things unseen by the carnal sense, but clear to
faith’s vision. (2Co 4:18.) God, Christ, holiness, usefulness, spiritual
joys, the new Paradise,—these are “eternal.”—H.
"Seeing the unseen"
I. The habit of mind here described.
The apostle speaks, not of an act or
effort, but of a steady mental habit which he had formed—an intentness of
regard in a particular direction (Ed: As emphasized by "look" is in
= continuous action). He describes it in a form that sounds
paradoxical, but the thing meant is well known to all experimental
Christians. The things seen and not seen in this passage are not the visible
and invisible by mortal eyes, as in Ro 1:20. The things not seen in the
verse before us are so, not because they cannot be seen, but because the
time has not yet come for their manifestation. The things seen, from which
Paul turned away his eyes, were the toils and afflictions endured by him as
a servant of Christ. The things not seen were the rewards of faithful
service at the coming of the Lord—the “weight of glory.”
And the habit here indicated is that of
looking off from labours and sufferings to the glorious appearing of the
Lord, and the bright “recompense of reward.” It is the highest form of
looking on the cheerful side of things. As this is a habit, it must be
formed by degrees and by reiterated efforts. By bending the mind as much as
we can towards the future with Christ, we must train it to habitual
expectation and desire. (Ed: Note that 1 in 20 verses in the NT
speaks directly or indirectly of the
Second Coming, so clearly God
seeks to continually draw out attention to the unseen eternity which will be
culminate in Christ's return).
II. The reason assigned for forming this
“For the things which are seen are,” etc.
Paul reflected that “the sufferings of the present time” were, after all, of
short continuance. The affliction he endured was only for a moment as
compared with the eternity before him. So he felt that he would outlive and
triumph over all his trials. They were temporal, and so could not reach into
the life beyond or mar the hope laid up for him in heaven. Was not this the
way with the Divine Master himself? For the joy set before him, he endured
the cross, despising the shame. And so should all who are his bear the cross
and endure patiently, because the time will not be long and the things not
seen are eternal.
III. The benefits which accompany or flow from this habit when formed.
Elevation of the tone of life.
Life is as its motives are; and the motives
come from the convictions, fears, and hopes that are strongest in the mind.
A superficial religion has not power enough to cleanse the heart or ennoble
the principles of conduct. But a formed habit of regarding the things
eternal as those to which we hasten must raise and refine the character.
“Every one who has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.”
And this is no selfish hope, no egotistical ambition. It is the hope of
being crowned along with all who love his appearing (2Ti 4:8), and of being rewarded
along with all the faithful servants of the King.
2. Consolation in hardship
Even when a lamp is not near enough to cast a clear light on
our path, it is cheering to see it in a murky night; and so are we comforted
as we look for the glory with Christ. We move towards it over ever so rugged
a path. We steer towards it over ever so restless a sea. If we look at the
things which are seen, the waves and the threatening rocks, we lose strength
and courage; but with the eye fixed on the light of that blessed hope, we
make straight for the harbor.
3. Preparation for departure hence.
It is appointed to men to die. To take no
thought about this appointment, and to occupy the mind with only the things
that are seen, forgetting their transience, is to play the part of a fool.
The wise man is he who, while fulfilling the duties of the passing time,
looks much and steadily into the future, and so, when he departs, goes, not
into regions unknown, but to the Saviour, whom he has loved and served, to
wait with him and with all the saints for the resurrection and the glory.—F.
FOR THE THINGS
WHICH ARE SEEN ARE TEMPORAL, BUT THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN ARE ETERNAL:
ta gar blepomena (PPPNPN) proskaira, ta de me blepomena (PPPNPN) aionia:
(for: Mt 25:46 Lev 16:25,26 2Th 2:16 1Jn 2:16,17,25)
Things which are seen are temporal
- temporary, transitory, phantasmal, passing
from pros = for, toward +
= an opportune time) means literally
for a season and just like a season comes and goes, so
proskairos conveys that sense (of that which is passing, temporary). The
idea pf proskairos is that which lasts for only for a short or
limited time (= temporary, transient). It follows that proskairos is
the direct opposite of that which is eternal or everlasting.
is the exact antithesis of aionios
used only 3 other times in the NT (no uses in the non-apocryphal
Matthew 13:21 (20 "And the one
on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the
word, and immediately receives it with joy) yet he has no firm root in
himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution
arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
Comment: How tragic to have such a
seemingly positive reception, which proves to be only emotional and not
volitional (a choice of the will). This individual hears what seems to be a
happy release from his troubles and fears, and so receives Christ
immediately and joyfully. But there is no root and no foundation, for his
purely experiential faith (profession but not "possession"). This individual
feels good about it for a while, but salvation does not come through
feelings. Note that the unbelieving world does not persecute the believer
because of his or her joyful feelings but because of the Living Word
and Christ in them. Emotional professors who have no grounding in the solid
truth of the Word, cannot resist attacks by unbelievers.
Mark 4:17 (Context = Mk 4:16) and they have no firm root in themselves, but
are only temporary (quick to sprout, quick to stumble); then, when
affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall
A T Robertson comments:
What a picture of some converts in our modern revivals. They drop away
overnight because they did not have the root of the matter in them. This man
does not last or hold out.
Hebrews 11:25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of
God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin
Comment: Oh, how we need to
meditate on this truth, that we might pass over the temptation to
gratify ourselves with passing pleasure. How easily we give in to the
temporal to the decrement of the eternal!
secular Greek religious writing we read
"behold, all the property of my father P.
is transitory and evanescent (tending to vanish like vapor =
proskairos), but the bounties of your inheritance, Lord, are
incorruptible and eternal’"
In the letter of Diogenes, proskairos is
used to described the fire of persecution as proskairos or only for a
short time (unlike Jesus' description in Mt 25:41, 46). In another secular use
proskairos described a person as one who "lasts only a little while
A worldly person lives for the passing,
of the flesh, but a dedicated Christian lives for the present and eternal joys of the Spirit. A
worldly believer lives for what he can see, the lust of the eyes, but a
spiritual believer lives for the unseen realities of God (2 Cor. 4:8-18)
Father, please give every saint
reading this note Spirit enabled eternal vision for the sake of the glory of
Your great Name in Christ. Amen.
Things not seen are eternal -
The underscores the fact that eternity is not a mere extension of time, but
a condition qualitatively different from time. The “things...eternal”
exist as much now as they will ever do. The implication is that while
we cannot see the invisible with our physical eye, the eye of faith (2Co
5:7) allows us to see what the physical eye is incapable of seeing.
All believers need to seek to maintain
the holy heavenly attitude that Moses possessed (and which
Choosing rather to endure ill-treatment
with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin;
considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of
Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:26-note)
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured
(remained strong, steadfast, firm, able to endure, hold out and bear the
burden), as seeing Him who is unseen. (Hebrews 11:27-note)
Comment: Moses did not fear the
visible king because he saw the Invisible One. This verse also provides a
nice segue to the writer's exhortation in Hebrews 12 to fix our eyes on
Jesus (Who we have not seen with physical eyes but with spiritual eyes
as we read of Him in the Word - see Heb 12:2-note)
(See Ro 1:20-note
for an interesting aspect of seeing the invisible - men saw the
attributes of God in creation but refused to "accept" them, instead
rejecting and even exchanging truth for a lie Ro 1:25-note) - Moses saw He Who is unseen and unknowable apart from His gracious
revelation (believers today have His full written revelation) because Moses was obedient to His call...he was pure in
heart and thus he saw God.
Faith leaves Egypt (the things which are
seen are temporal), does not fear the wrath of the prince of the power of
the air and demonstrates the reality of this conviction by holding out
against afflictions and persecutions for His Name's sake, enabled to do so
because He has given that person a vision of eternity and the Eternal One
(the things which are not seen are eternal).
As believers we need to remember that
according to Paul in a mystical way I cannot fully comprehend we as
believers are already seated in heaven, a position which should facilitate
our vision of the invisible eternal things...
and raised us up with Him, and seated
us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus (Ep 2:6-note)
John Piper emphasizes the
importance of the Gospel in "seeing the unseen" writing that...
The parallels between this text (2Co
4:16-18) and 2Corinthians 3:18 are instructive. Being “renewed day by day”
(2Co 4:16) is part of being “transformed … from one degree of glory to
another.” And looking “to the things that are unseen” includes “beholding
the glory of the Lord”—because “the glory of the Lord” in Paul’s
mind is in the category of “things that are not seen” by the ordinary
physical eye. Seeing the unseen glory of Christ in the Gospel is the key
to inner transformation from day to day and from glory to glory. (Excerpts
from Chapter 6 on page 87 - read the entire chapter for an insightful
discussion of sanctification -
God Is the Gospel Meditations on God's Love as the
Gift of Himself - download)
The need for eternal vision -
Often when people get a little discouraged about what they are getting done,
it helps them to step back and get a broader perspective. We have become too
spiritually nearsighted, and living in a world of “instant everything” has
robbed us of the perspective of time. Time has a way of reversing judgments,
and eternity has a way of telling us what was valuable and what was
permanent and exposing that which was temporary and useless. (K
L Chafin - The Preacher's Commentary Volume 30- 1, 2 Corinthians)
Andrew Murray contrasts vision of
the visible and invisible - And these three are one in root and essence. The
spirit of this world is, that man makes himself his own end: he makes
himself the central point of the world: all creation, so far as he has power
over it, must serve him; he seeks his life in the visible. This is the
spirit of the world: to seek one’s self and the visible. (John 5:44) And the
Spirit of Jesus: to live not for one’s self and not for the visible, but for
God and the things that are invisible. (2Cor. 4:18; 5:7, 15) (The
New Life - Chapter 40 = Conformity to the World)
Clear Vision - A MAN was getting
his windshield washed and wiped at the filling station. When the attendant
finished doing his windshield, the man said, "Terrible job! Redo my
windshield. That windshield's as dirty as when you started."
The filling station attendant wiped it
The man in the car looked it over, and
then in frustration said, "My goodness! Can't you even clean a windshield?
This window has not changed."
The attendant did it again.
The man's wife was sitting next to him in
the car, fuming. She reached over, pulled off his glasses, wiped them, and
gave them back to him. The attendant had been doing his job correctly. The
man himself was the problem all along. (Tony
Evans' Book of Illustrations).
Charles Simeon (biography)
describes the spiritually minded (in Ro 8:6)...
Happy they who are of this description!
Let such adore the grace that has caused them to differ from others. Let
them endeavor to improve in spirituality of mind; let them guard against
relapses, which will destroy their peace (Ed: and joy); and let their
eyes be fixed upon the eternal state, where their present bliss shall be
consummated in glory. (Ed: Hallelujah! Amen!) (from
Romans 8:6 The Carnal and Spiritual Mind Contrasted)
Charles Simeon speaks of eternal
To a man who has heaven in
nothing is impossible.
Behold Moses, when at the summit of human
grandeur and power: an alternative was before him, “to suffer affliction
with the people of God, or to enjoy the pleasures” and honours of the court
of Pharaoh: and which did he prefer? He chose “the reproach of Christ,
esteeming it to be greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt.” And what
guided him to this strange decision? it was hope; “he had respect unto the
recompense of the reward.” (He 11:24, 25, 26-note)
In like manner St. Paul “pressed forward with incessant ardour in his
heavenly course, forgetting what was behind, and reaching forward to what
was before.” (Php 3:13-note)
And, if we inquire into the principle which animated him to such exertions,
we shall find that it was precisely that which is mentioned in our text,—the
hope and prospect of securing “the prize of his high calling.” (Php 3:14-note)
We may even say that our blessed Lord himself, as a man, was actuated by the
same divine principle; since it was “for the joy that was set before him,
that he endured the cross and despised the shame, and rested not till he sat
down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (He 12:2-note)
And we too, if we would “run our race with patience,” (He 12:1-note)
must imitate him in this respect; we must keep our eye steadily fixed on
him, and continue without intermission “looking for that blessed hope, and
the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
Then shall we “be steadfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of
the Lord,” when we are convinced in our mind, “that our labour shall not be
in vain in the Lord.” (Romans
8:24, 25 The Office of Hope)
Keep your eye fixed on
as your home
What would ever divert your steps, or
retard them for an instant, if you contemplated, as you ought, the
blessedness that awaits you at the close of your journey? To be in your
Father’s house, in the very mansion prepared for you; yea, and in the very
bosom of that Saviour, who went, as your forerunner, to prepare it—to have
all your trials for ever terminated, and all your dangers for ever past, and
all your labours for ever closed; and to have nothing but an eternity of
bliss, such as no words can express, no imagination can conceive—what joy
will you feel in the retrospect, what exultation in the prospect, and, above
all, what recollections as arising from the stupendous mystery of
redemption, whereby the whole has been accomplished for you! Set before you
this prize; and then tell me, whether you will ever need any thing to carry
you forward in your heavenly course. Truly, the contemplation of that glory
will swallow up every thing else, even as the stars of heaven are eclipsed
by the meridian sun. Joys will be no joys, and sorrows no sorrows—I mean,
not worth being so accounted—if only you keep heaven in your view: for
neither the comforts “nor the sufferings of this present life are worthy to
be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” (Ro 8:18-note)
Moses (He 11:24, 25, 26-note),
and Paul (Acts 20:24), and all the saints (He 11:35-note),
yea, and even the Lord Jesus Christ himself, were animated by this
thought: and, if it fully possess your mind, you can never faint, nor ever
come short of the rest that remains for you (2Pe 1:10,11-note).
Strangers on Earth)
Charles Simeon has some thoughts
about whether we are looking for the visible temporal or the invisible
The thoughts will naturally be fixed on
the objects that are best suited to the reigning principle: to these
objects they recur with frequency, fervor, and complacency. If we be under
the dominion of a carnal principle, we shall be thinking of some pleasure,
profit, honour, or other worldly vanity: if we be led by a spiritual
principle, God, and Christ, and the concerns of the soul, will occupy the
mind. Whatever we most esteem, we desire it when absent, hope for if it be
attainable, love the means of attaining it, and rejoice in it when secured.
If there be danger of losing it, we fear; we hate the means that would
deprive us of it; and if it be lost, we grieve. The carnal mind is thus
exercised about carnal objects: the spiritual mind is thus exercised about
spiritual objects. Hence that caution given us with respect to the
affections—The principles will yet further influence our aims and ends of
action—A carnal man can only act from carnal motives: he will have carnal
aims even in spiritual employments. A spiritual man, on the contrary, will
act from spiritual motives: he will act with spiritual views even in his
temporal concerns. The one will seek his own interest or honour, and the
other God’s glory. (The
Carnal and Spiritual Mind Contrasted)
Keep your eyes steadily fixed on your
eternal inheritance—The man who is in a race keeps his mind fixed, as it
were, upon the prize; which he is determined, if possible, to obtain. Do ye
in like manner keep in view the prize of your high calling; and “have
respect, even as Moses had, to the recompense of the reward.” In the
prospect of heaven, every trial will appear light, every effort be accounted
easy. What we may meet with in life, or whether we shall ever behold each
other’s face again in this world, God alone knows. But let us live for God,
and for eternity: let us live, as we shall wish we had lived, when we shall
stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to receive our eternal doom. Let us
go forward in the path of duty, assured, that the rest which awaits us will
richly repay our labours, and the crown of righteousness our conflicts. (A
A W Pink
Faith overcomes the world thirdly, by
occupying the soul with more glorious, soul-delighting and satisfying
objects. We often hear and see 2 Corinthians 4:16 or 17 quoted—but rarely
the explanatory words which follow. The daily renewing of the inner man and
our afflictions working for us an eternal weight of glory are qualified by:
"While we look not at the things which are seen—but at the things which are
not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which
are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18). The more the substance of
the heavenly world engages the heart, the less hold will the shadows of this
earthly world have upon it. Thus, faith wrought in the saints of old: "You
accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you
yourselves had better and lasting possessions" (Hebrews 10:34). "By faith he
made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he
lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same
promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose
architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:9-10). (Faith
as an Overcomer)
Faith looks within the veil, and so has a
mighty influence to support the soul in time of trial. He who walks in
the light of Eternity goes calmly and happily along through the mists
and fogs of time; neither the frowns of men nor the blandishments of the
world affect him, for he has a ravishing and affecting sight of the glorious
Inheritance to which he is journeying. (An exposition of The Faith of
Abraham Hebrews 11:17).
while we look not at the things which are
seen, but at the things which are unseen” (2 Cor. 4:17, 18)...is the
language of joyous anticipation. No matter how dark may the clouds which now
cover thy horizon, ere long the Sun of righteousness shall arise with
healing in His wings. (An exposition of Hebrews - Divine Chastisement
Faith is a looking not at the
things which are seen, but a looking “at the things which are not seen” (2
Cor. 4:18)—strange paradox to the natural man! (Gleanings in Exodus -
Crossing the Red Sea)
The principle of grace received at the
new birth not only inclines its possessor to love God and to act in faith
upon His Word, but it also disposes him to “look not at the things which are
seen, but at the things which are not seen” (2Co 4:17, 18), inclining
his aspirations away from the present toward his glorious future. Thomas
Manton aptly declares, “The new nature was made for another world: it came
from thence, and it carrieth the soul thither.” Hope is an assured
expectation of future good. While faith is in exercise, a vista of unclouded
bliss is set before the heart, and hope enters into the enjoyment of the
same. It is a living hope exercised within a dying environment, and it both
supports and invigorates all of us who believe. While in healthy activity,
hope not only sustains amid the trials of this life but lifts us above them.
Oh, for hearts to be more engaged in joyous anticipations of the future! For
such hopeful hearts will quicken us to duty and stimulate us to
perseverance. In proportion to the intelligence and strength of our hope
will we be delivered from the fear of death. (A guide to fervent prayer -
The Great Interests of the Regenerate Soul)
aion) means existing at all times,
perpetual, pertaining to an unlimited duration of time (Ro 1:20 - God's
power, Mt 18:8 - God's place of judgment, Ro 16:26 - God's attribute).
Thayer summarizes ...
Without end, never to cease,
everlasting: Eternal describes a number of entities in the NT -- kingdom = 2Pe 1:11,
glory = 2Co 4:17 2Ti
2:10, 1Pe 5:10; inheritance = He 9:15; redemption = He 9:12;
comfort = 2Th 2:16; dwelling places = Lk 16:9, 2Co 5:1;
salvation = He 5:9; punishment = Mt 25:46; destruction =
2Th 1:9; judgment = He 6:2; sin = Mk 3:29).
A W Pink on aionios...
The connections in which the Holy Spirit
has employed the word aionios leave no room whatever for any uncertainty of
its meaning in the mind of an impartial investigator. That word occurs not
only in such expressions as “eternal destruction” “everlasting fire,”
“everlasting punishment,” but also in “life eternal” (Mt. 25:46), “eternal
salvation” (He. 5:9), “eternal glory” (1Pe 5:10); and most assuredly they
are timeless. Still more decisively, it is linked with the subsistence of
Deity: “the everlasting God” (Rom. 16:26). Again, the force and scope of the
word are clearly seen in the fact that it is antithetical to what is of
limited duration: “the things which are seen are temporal; but the
things which are not seen are eternal” (2Cor. 4:18). Now it is
obvious that if the temporal things lasted forever there could be no
contrast between them and the things which are eternal. Equally certain is
it that if eternal things be only “age long” they differ not essentially
from temporal ones. The contrast between the temporal and the eternal is as
real and as great as between the things “seen and unseen.” (interpretation
of the scriptures)
Omega—our God we proclaim,
Eternal, unchanging, always the same;
He's the beginning and He is the end,
He is our Savior, our Lord, and our Friend. —Fitzhugh
For time and for eternity,
Jesus is all we need.
Illustration - Over the triple
doorways of the Cathedral of Milan there are three inscriptions spanning the
splendid arches. Over one is carved a beautiful wreath of roses, and
underneath is the legend, “All that which pleases is but for a moment.” Over
the other is sculptured a cross, and there are the words, “All that which
troubles us is but for a moment.” But underneath the great central entrance
to the main aisle is the inscription, “That only is important which is
eternal.” If we realize these three truths, we will not let trifles trouble
us, nor be interested so much in the passing pageants of the hour. We would
live, as we do not now, for the permanent and eternal (2Corinthians
Illustration - Over the entrance
of Thornburty Castle there is a scroll upon which is inscribed "Doresenevant."
This is an old French word which means "Henceforward," or "Hereafter."
The builder was Duke of Buckingham, who in this manner expressed his hopes
with regard to the English crown. As believers we may truly joyously say "Hereafter,"
and it should be our watch word which energizes and encourages us to endure
the period of waiting for His kingdom to come and the day when we too shall
be crowned but not with a temporal earthly crown but with an eternal
the business of the Bible is to assert
the reality of the unseen. Not only that, the Bible asserts the
primacy, the all–importance, of the unseen. (Courageous Christianity)
MacDonald comments that the things
might include the glory of Christ, the
blessing of one’s fellow men, and the reward that awaits the faithful
servant of Christ at the Judgment Seat. Jowett comments:
To be able to see the first is sight; to
be able to see the second is insight. The first mode of vision is natural,
the second mode is spiritual. The primary organ in the first discernment is
intellect; the primary organ in the second discernment is faith … All
through the Scriptures this contrast between sight and insight is being
continually presented to us, and everywhere we are taught to measure the
meagerness and stinginess of the one, and set it over the fulness and
expansiveness of the other.
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
Illustration - In old age, Pierre
Auguste, the great French painter, suffered from arthritis, which twisted
and cramped his hand. Henri Matise, his artists friend, watched sadly while
Renoir, grasping a brush with only his fingertips, continued to paint, even
though each movement caused stabbing pain. One day, Matise asked
Renoir why he persisted in painting at the expense of such torture. Renoir
replied, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains." - He had his eyes on
something other than his pain. He saw the goal.
Those who fix their
eyes on heaven
will not be distracted by the things of earth.
Charles Simeon on looking at
"things which are seen" versus looking at "things which are not seen"...
It was by faith that he attained this
blessed state: and if, like him, we cultivate that heavenly principle, and
take it as the spring and source of all our conduct, we shall find it
productive of similar blessedness in our souls. It is, in truth, this
principle, which above all others distinguishes the true Christian from
every other person under heaven....
He fixes his eye, not on things
visible and temporal,
but on things invisible and eternal
...Faith is opposed to sight, and has
respect entirely to things which are beyond the reach of mortal eyes.
It looks upon an unseen God; even
as Moses did, who feared not the wrath of Pharaoh, because “he saw him that
is invisible.” This great and adorable Being it beholds, and contemplates
all his glorious perfections. It sees all his mind and will in the book of
revelation: it recognizes his superintending providence in all events: it
regards him as inspecting continually the most hidden recesses of our souls,
and noting every thing in the book of his remembrance in order to a future
Faith also views an unseen Saviour
as the supreme object of his people’s love, and the only foundation of all
their hopes. It beholds him dying for their sins, and rising again for
their justification: yea, it sees him interceding for them at the right hand
of God, and preserving for them that peace which by their sins and
infirmities they would soon forfeit. It enters into the whole of the
Saviour’s work and offices, surveying them in all their extent and variety;
and particularly regards him as the fountain of life to all his people; as
having in himself all fulness of spiritual blessings treasured up for them,
and imparting to them continually out of that fulness according to their
Faith views an unseen heaven also.
It soars and penetrates into the very paradise of God, and surveys the
crowns and kingdoms which God has there prepared for all that love him.
There it beholds that glorious tabernacle which the soul shall inhabit as
soon as this earthly house shall be dissolved: and in the promises recorded
in the written word, it sees the possession of that glory assured to every
believing soul, assured by an everlasting covenant, and by the oath of a
“God that cannot lie.”
Such are the objects of faith! and such
the objects on which the Christian’s eye is continually fixed!
By these he regulates the whole of his
life and conversation—These are the things which draw forth his regards; and
in comparison of these all earthly things are but as dung and dross. For
these he sighs, and groans, and weeps, and strives: to obtain an interest in
them is more to him than ten thousand worlds. Whatever will endanger the
loss of these, he flees from, as from the face of a serpent: and whatever
has a tendency to secure his interest in them, he labours incessantly to
perform. In these all his affections centre: his hopes and fears, his joys
and sorrows, all terminate in these: and, in exact proportion as he is
enabled by faith to realize and apprehend these, he is happy. In a word, “he
walks by faith:” and every step he takes is under the influence of that
Faith is to the Christian what the
compass is to the mariner in the trackless ocean: under all circumstances he
consults its testimony, and follows its directions: and, in so doing, he
fears not but that in due time he shall arrive at his destined haven.
This was the character of the Apostle
Paul: and it is the character of every true Christian under heaven: “the
life which he now lives in the flesh, he lives by the faith of the Son of
God, who loved him, and gave himself for him?” ...there is no comparison
between the wisdom of walking by faith or of being actuated by sight.
The principle of faith is, More exalted
in its objects—The objects of sense are all poor, and mean, and worthless.
Take all that eye ever saw, or ear heard, or heart conceived; and it would
not weigh against one glimpse of the Saviour’s glory, or one taste of his
love. Besides, it is all transient and of very short duration. But think of
Almighty God and his covenant of grace; think of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
all the wonders of redeeming love; think of heaven, and all its glory and
blessedness; and then say, which are most deserving of our regard? In
attaching ourselves to the one, we degrade ourselves to the state of
unenlightened heathens...but by living wholly with a reference to the
latter, we emulate, as it were, the glorified saints and angels. The one is
as high above the other, as the heavens are above the earth....
A SHADOW, A DELUSION
Earthly things may dazzle us with their
glare and glitter: but they are all a lie, a cheat, a shadow, a delusion:
there is no substance in them. With whatever confidence we press forward for
the attainment of them, the more they disappoint our endeavours: and, when
we think we have secured thee prize, we no sooner stretch out our hands to
lay hold on it, than it eludes our grasp: or, if we apprehend the object of
our desires, it proves to us no better than vanity and vexation of spirit.
But was ever any one deceived in
apprehending the realities of the eternal world? Did ever any one who
sought them by faith, fail in the pursuit of them, or find them, when
attained, below his expectation? No truly: it is justly said by the Lord
Jesus Christ under the character of wisdom, “I cause them that love me to
inherit substance:” and every promise that makes over these things to the
believing soul, is as immutable as God himself....
The tendency of visible things is to
sensualize and debase the soul: but the effect of heavenly things is to
purify and exalt it. The more we contemplate the Divine Being, the more
shall we be transformed into his blessed image (cp 2Co 3:18). The more we
exercise faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, the more will grace, and mercy, and
peace be multiplied unto us. The more we breathe the atmosphere of heaven,
the more shall we be fitted for the everlasting enjoyment of it. “Every man
that has such hopes in him, purifies himself just as He is pure” (1Jn 3:3)
and the very promises by which he apprehends them, lead him to “cleanse
himself from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and to perfect
holiness in the fear of God.” (2Co 7:1) Truly “by these he becomes a
partaker of the divine nature,” (2Pe 1:4) and is progressively “changed
into the divine image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of our
God.” (2Co 3:18)
THE WHOLE WORLD...
A MERE PHANTOM
What does he possess who has the whole
world at his command? A mere phantom: and, if he look for any solid
happiness from it, he will find, that he has only “filled his belly with the
east wind.” But who can describe the happiness of him, who, by faith, has
already in his soul “the substance of things hoped for, as well as the
evidence of things not seen?” (He 11:1) Who can declare the blessedness of
him, who has God for his Father, Christ for his Saviour, the Holy Spirit for
his Comforter, and heaven for his home? This man lives on “angels’ food.” He
has grapes of Eshcol already by the way: he stands on Pisgah’s top,
surveying in all its length and breadth the land of promise: he has already
an earnest and foretaste of the heavenly bliss: and, when he goes hence, he
will change neither his company nor his employment: he is already dwelling
in, and with, his God; and tuning his harp ready to join the choirs above,
as soon as ever his attendant angels shall have received their commission to
bear him hence....
We thank our God that there are a goodly
number of you who have learned to estimate things by their relation to
eternity. O beg of God to “turn off your eyes from beholding vanity, and to
quicken your souls in his way.”
Pray to him to “increase your faith,”
that your discernment of unseen things may be more clear, your enjoyment of
them more rich, your improvement of them more uniform and abiding.
Pray that your faith may be more and more
influential on the whole of your life and conversation: and strive, in
dependence on the Spirit of God, to walk more and more “worthy of your high
calling.” Paul, in his most assured prospects of glory, “laboured, that,
whether present in the body, or absent from it, he might be accepted of the
Lord.” Do ye in this respect follow his example: “not setting your
affections on any thing here below,” but “having your citizenship altogether
in heaven, from whence you look for the Lord Jesus Christ” “to come and take
you to Himself,” that you may “be with him, and like him “for ever. (The
Christian Walking by Faith)
Eternal life is that prize which is set
before (the Christian runner in 1Ti 6:12). The conquerors in the Grecian
games had only a corruptible crown for their reward; but the victorious
Christian has “a crown of glory, that fadeth not away.” (1Co 9:25-note)
Yes, “this is the promise that God has promised us, even eternal life.”
(1Jn 2:25) To this “he is called;” and with nothing short of this should he
be content. Let us, then, ever keep this in view—The sight of the prize held
out to them (the runners in the earthly games), animated, no doubt, the
people that were engaged in the various contests. And shall not the
of eternal life encourage us? What could withstand us, if we
kept that steadily in view? What could for a moment fascinate our minds, or
what prevail to damp our ardour in the pursuit of it? In vain would the
world offer its delights, or menace us with its displeasure: in vain would
our corrupt appetites plead for a momentary indulgence, or Satan endeavour
to beguile us with any promises whatever. If our eyes were only fixed
habitually on the glory of heaven, we should prove as victorious as Moses
himself, when “he refused to become the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; and chose
to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the
pleasures of sin, because he had respect unto the recompense of the
Thomas Doolittle (1630-1707)
wisely warns us...
How we eye eternity—which makes men
eternally miserable or everlastingly blessed, should have a powerful
influence upon every step we take in our daily travels to the unseen,
eternal world—to look at unseen, eternal evil things, that we might not fall
into them—to look at unseen, eternal good things, that we might not fall
short of them. Which is the design of the question propounded from this
text; namely, How we should eye eternity, that it may have its due influence
upon us in all we do. We must look at eternal things that are unseen with an
eye that also is unseen; namely, with an eye of knowledge, faith, love,
desire, hope. While we have a certain knowledge of unseen, eternal things, a
firm belief of them, fervent love unto them, ardent desires after them,
lively hope and patient expectation of them—we faint not in all our
Dr. A.W. Tozer used to remind us that the
invisible world described in the Bible was the only “real world.” If we
would only see the visible world the way God wants us to see it, we would
never be attracted by what it offers (1Jn 2:15-note ,
The great men and women of faith, mentioned in Hebrews 11, achieved what
they did because they “saw the invisible” (He 11:10, 13, 14-note,
things of this world seem so real because we can see them and feel them; but
they are all temporal and destined to pass away. Only the eternal things of
the spiritual life will last. Again, we must not press this truth into
extremes and think that “material” and “spiritual” oppose each other. When
we use the material in God’s will, He transforms it into the spiritual, and
this becomes a part of our treasure in heaven. (More on this in 2Co 8–9.) We
value the material because it can be used to promote the spiritual, and not
for what it is in itself. How can you look at things that are invisible? By
faith, when you read the Word of God. We have never seen Christ or heaven,
yet we know they are real because the Word of God tells us so. Faith is “the
evidence of things not seen” (He 11:1-note).
Because Abraham looked for the heavenly city, he separated himself from
Sodom; but Lot chose Sodom because he walked by sight and not by faith (Gen.
13; He 11:10-note).
Of course, the unsaved world thinks we are odd—perhaps even crazy—because we
insist on the reality of the invisible world of spiritual blessing. Yet
Christians are content to govern their lives by eternal values, not temporal
W: Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament. 1989. Victor
Robert Morgan adds that...
We are inwardly renewed because we are upwardly focused. We see that which
is invisible. What is Paul referring to?
Paul is thinking about our everlasting life. Let’s read verse 18 again, then
keep going, remembering that the chapter divisions were not in the original.
…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which
are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things
which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this
tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with
hands, eternal in the heavens.
He’s talking about our resurrection bodies, about our eternal life, about
the New Jerusalem with its streets of gold and shining crystal river, which
we looked at a few months ago.
Paul was saying this especially about his own life and ministry. In the
world's eyes, Paul's life was an incredible failure. At the height of a
career that would reach much higher, he left it all for a life of hardship,
suffering and persecution, with eventual martyrdom. But Paul recognized that
the world only sees the outward, not the unseen eternal things. When we look
at the things which are seen, all we see is our light affliction, and it
doesn't look very light then! But when we look at the things which are not
seen, then we see and appreciate the eternal weight of glory. Paul isn't
saying that all afflictions automatically produce glory. It is possible to
allow suffering to destroy us, and to let affliction make us bitter,
miserable, and self-focused. But if we will look to the things which are not
seen, then our affliction will work in us an eternal weight of glory. (2 Corinthians
4 - David Guzik Commentary)
James Lias (Cambridge Bible
The Christian habitually views all
that comes before him from the standpoint of the invisible world, which is
revealed to him by the Spirit from within. See 1Co 2:9, 10, 13; 1Jn 4:5, 6.
Also He 11:1. (Seen...temporal) Rather, temporary, i. e.
they last, and are intended to last, but a season. (Not seen...eternal) Here was the secret of
the Apostle's confidence. The invisible truths of which he was persuaded,
which lay at the root of the Resurrection of Christ, and therefore of the
moral strength he felt within him and was enabled to impart to others,
rested upon no uncertain basis, but upon the unchangeable Will of the
Eternal God. See notes on 2Co 1:19, 10. (The
Second Epistle to the Corinthians)
The things of this world,
have their day and cease to be; the things that are unseen, the things of
heaven, last forever.
A T Robertson commenting on Heb
11:27 writes that...
seeing him who is invisible...is the
secret of his choice and of his loyalty to God and to God's people. This is
the secret of loyalty in any minister today who is the interpreter of God to
There are two ways of looking at life. We
can look at it as a slow but inexorable journey away from God. Wordsworth in
his Ode on the Intimations of Immortality had the idea that when a child
came into this world he had some memory of heaven which the years slowly
took away from him.
“Trailing clouds of glory do we come,”
“Shades of the prison house begin to close
About the growing boy.”
And in the end the man is earthbound and heaven is forgotten. Thomas Hood
wrote with wistful pathos:
“I remember, I remember
The fir-trees dark and high.
I used to think their slender spires
Were close against the sky.
It was a childish ignorance
But now ‘tis little joy
To know, I’m farther off from heaven
Than when I was a boy.”
If we think only of the things that
are visible we are bound to see life that way. But there is another way. The
writer to the Hebrews said of Moses: “He endured as seeing him who is
invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27). Robert Louis Stevenson tells of an old byreman. Someone was sympathizing with him about his daily work amidst the
muck of the byre and asking him how he could go on doing it day in and day
out, and the old man answered, “He that has something ayont (beyond) need
The good things in this world which are
seen—such as riches, pleasures, honors—are things of time, and only for
time; therefore we Christians are not much concerned whether we win or lose
them. And the bad things in this life which are seen—such as poverty,
imprisonment, persecution—are at longest but for a short space; and
therefore we are not much concerned whether we endure them, or are freed
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is
seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18
That which adds weight to the things in the other world, which draws our
eyes toward them, and keeps them fixed thereon—is the eternity of them. It
is the observation which believers make—that all seen things are temporal;
while unseen things are eternal; and this influences them in what they do.
They realize that all worldly things are but temporary toys and trifles!
We seriously consider and weigh in our minds—the vanity, insufficiency, and
short continuance of all visible things, both good and bad, whether profit
or poverty, honor or disgrace; and the fullness, excellency, and everlasting
nature of things unseen; and therefore prefer these eternal realities.
Believers are lowly in heart; but they look high. The men of this world are
of a haughty spirit; but they aim at low things.
Take, then, a summary account of all that wicked, worldly men have—all is
"but for a while." See what the richest among them have: their grandeur
endures "but a short time;" and then is past and gone, and has no more
existence. See what the merriest among them have—pleasures, mirth, carnal
delights and joy: and this is "but for a season;" their merry bouts will be
quickly over—and then follows weeping and wailing forever! Upon all they
have, you may write, "All is temporal!" They had riches—but they are gone.
They had honors and pleasures—but they are gone. They had many good things
in time—but, at the end of time, all have an end! And then, when their
endless misery comes, this will be their doleful tune, "All our good is past
It would make a man to tremble, to think what a sight these sinners shall
have, after death has closed their eyes; when their soul shall see an angry
God, a condemning Judge, the gates of heaven shut against it, and itself in
everlasting misery! (How
we should eye eternity, that it may have its due influence upon us in all
Among all the causes of the stupid
unconcernedness of sinners about true religion, and the feeble endeavors of
saints to improve in it—there is none more common or more effectual, than
their not forming a due estimate of the things of time—in comparison to
those of eternity!
Our present affairs engross all our thoughts, and exhaust all our
activity—though they are but transitory trifles; while the solemn realities
of the future world are hid from our eyes by the veil of flesh and the
clouds of ignorance. Did these unseen eternal realities break in upon our
minds in all their tremendous importance, they would . . .
annihilate the most desired vanities of the present state, obscure the glare
of all earthly glory, render all its pleasures insipid, and give us a noble
resignation under all its sorrows.
A realizing view of these eternal
realities, would . . .shock the worldling in his thoughtless career, tear
off the hypocrite's mask, and inflame the devotion of the languishing
The concern of mankind would then be how they might make a safe exit out of
this world—and not how they may live happy in their earthly state. Present
pleasure and pain—would be swallowed up in the prospect of everlasting
happiness—or misery hereafter! Eternity, solemn eternity, would then be our
serious contemplation. The pleasures of sin would strike us with horror—as
they issue in eternal pain! And our present afflictions, however tedious and
severe, would appear but light and momentary—if they work out for us a far
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory! (Unseen
Things to Be Preferred to Seen Things)
MOTIVATION TO ANTICIPATE THE
UNSEEN AND ETERNAL - After World War II there was a sign
on the shore of New York harbor facing all incoming troop ships, which
When the Lord Jesus Christ appears in
the air, He is going to “WELCOME HOME” every saint, for at that time He
shall come to take us home to heaven. Our entrance into heaven is solely
on the basis of our faith in His shed blood and death on the cross, and
every believer shall receive the same “WELCOME HOME.” But, how many of
us will receive His “WELL DONE,” and the “crown of righteousness”? (2Ti
Mt 25:21, 23, Lk 19:17)
The greatest joy on earth is
the sure hope of heaven!
A T Pierson has a sermon
The Unseen World
We look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen—II Corinthians 4:18.
Five golden thoughts are in this
There is a world of the unseen. Here are
the highest verities and realities. Ge 1:1: “In the beginning God.” The
Invisible God, infinitely greater than all He made. The things no sense can
perceive are the great things. No force is visible. We can see phenomena,
but not their cause. Gravitation, light, and heat, electricity, and
magnetism; all these are invisible. Life no man ever saw, nor thought, nor
desire, nor love.
There is a sense of the unseen. Heb
5:14. “We look,” etc. Imagination is the sense of the invisible. Memory is
the sense of a vanished past; Hope, of an unseen future; Reason, of truth;
Conscience, of right and wrong. These senses may be cultivated and
exercised, so as to become far more acute and keen of perception; or dulled
and blunted and seared into insensibility.
There is an experience of the unseen. “We walk,” etc. Holy men and women
have lived in the unseen world and walked with the unseen God. e.g., Pastor Gossner and his mission work—“Ringing only the prayer bell”; George Muller,
Hudson Taylor, Quarrier, etc.
There is an effect of the unseen upon the
seer. “The inward man is renewed.” The tendency of things seen is to exalt
the carnal. God gives us the Sabbath to exercise our spiritual senses; so,
of the Word of God, to introduce us into hidden mysteries; Prayer, to
acquaint us with an unseen God. “Moses endured as seeing Him who is
There is an effect of the unseen upon the seen.
Our affliction, however
heavy, becomes light in comparison with the eternal weight of glory. Our
habit ought to be to weigh every experience in God’s scales, where earthly
things weigh light, and heavenly things heavy. Then we should reverse many
of our present judgments, and learn to give things their true value.
The only things in the universe that can
work harm to us or good for us are the unseen forces. Nothing material,
visible, tangible, is to be dreaded, nor can it be utilized largely. It is
the unseen forces, that lie behind phenomena, that alone represent Power.
Our most valued senses are not the five
physical, but the five spiritual: Reason, the sense of truth; Conscience,
the sense of right; Imagination, the sense of the invisible; Memory, the
sense of the past; Sensibility, the sense of the morally beautiful.
All true estimates depend on comparison.
We must learn to measure and weigh by God’s own standards. Worldly things
put in heaven’s scales weigh light; heavenly things in worldly scales weigh
light—but the latter is a false estimate.
The disciple of Christ is one who lives,
sees, walks, in the unseen world. There alone faith reaches her greatest
triumphs. And for the sake of our discipline in the power of seeing
invisible things, God often constrains us to walk by faith when sight no
Note the connection
between 2Co 4:18 and 2Co 4:16. Our "inner person" is being renewed as we look or
while we look at the unseen, eternal things of the age to come. In other
words, the process of renewal only occurs as the believer looks to things as
yet unseen. As we fix the gaze of our hearts on the glorious hope of the age
to come, God progressively renews our inner being, notwithstanding the
simultaneous decay of our outer being! Point: inner renewal does not happen
automatically or mechanically . . . it happens only as or provided that we
"look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not
seen" (v. 18).
Paul is here describing in his own terms the battle for the mind of mankind
that has been raging since the beginning. On what shall we set our sights
(cf. Col. 3:1-4)? To what shall we give our allegiance? On what shall we
meditate and ponder and focus?
One frightening statistic about this battle in our own day is the fact that
the average teenager watches 18,000 murders and 35,000 commercials before
he/she graduates from high school! Someone has calculated that by the time
one reaches the age of 65, he/she will have spent 10 years watching TV!
- Reader! let not the poor engrossments of earth eclipse the brightness
of this glorious heritage. Seek to be able to say, with one who had heaven
ever in his eye, "We look not at the things which are seen, but at the
things which are NOT seen!" (2Cor. 4:18.) He seems to say, So glorious and
out-dazzling are the prospects of coming glory, that they are like the sun
extinguishing the candle. The things of earth are not worth looking at—they
pale into nothing, when brought side by side with the grandeur of the
future. opportunities. The night of earth is "far spent," the day of
eternity is close "at hand." Do not forget, it is now or never. In most
other earthly things, there are new chances—new experiments; in familiar
language, "we can try again." But, once across yonder boundary of time, and
an irrevocable seal is stamped on the transactions of the past. The star
takes its immutable place in the spiritual skies: "Where the tree falls
there it shall be."
F B Meyer - Our Daily Homily
We are here bidden to look through the things which are seen; to consider
them as the glass window through which we pass to that which is behind and
beyond. You do not waste your time by admiring the frame or casket of some
rare jewel, but penetrate to the jewel itself; so, day by day, look through
the material and transient to the eternal purpose, the Divine idea, the deep
that lieth under.
"All visible things," said Carlyle, "are emblems. What thou seest is not
there on its own account; strictly speaking, is not there at all. Matter
exists only spiritually, and to represent some idea and body it forth." This
is an exaggerated way of stating the old saying, "Everything that is, is
double." Both, however, illustrate the affirmation of the text.
Look for God's thought in all the incidents, circumstances, and objects of
your daily life. Do not stop at the outward; penetrate to the inward and
eternal. Beneath that bitter physical suffering there are stores of Divine
fortitude and grace. Beneath that trying dispensation there are celestial
compensations. Beneath those sweet family ties there are suggestions of love
and friendship, which can never grow old or pass away. Beneath the letter of
Scripture is the spirit; beneath the ordinance, oneness with the loving
Saviour; beneath the world of nature, the processes of the eternal
When such is the attitude of the soul, afflictions, that might otherwise
have weighed as heavy, become light; and those that drag through long and
tedious years, seem but for a moment. And without exception, they all go to
produce that receptivity of character that can contain the far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
F B Meyer - Our Daily Walk-
NOTICE THE marvellous antithesis of this chapter: light and darkness; life
and death; pressure, perplexity, pursuit, and persecution; but side by side,
victory, elastic hope, and the brightness of Christian faith. The decay of
the outward man and the renewal of the inward; the light affliction and the
weight of glory; the brief moment of earth's pilgrimage contrasted with the
eternity of reality and bliss.
It is very important that we should not miss the mighty blessing which is
within the reach of every troubled soul. Of course it is quite possible to
sit down before troubles and afflictions, hopeless and despairing,
confessing that we are over-powered and defeated; it is also possible to be
hard and stoical, bearing adversity because we cannot help or avoid it, bur
the highest Christian way is to be thankful that the earthen vessel is
breaking if only the torch will shine out; to be content that the dying of
Jesus should be borne about in our mortal body, if only His life will
thereby become manifest.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go, The rivers of grief shall
not thee overflow; For I will be with thee in trouble to bless; And sanctify
to thee thy deepest distress.
PRAYER - Fix my heart, O Lord, on Thyself, that amid the changes and
chances of this mortal life I may be kept steadfast and unmoveable and ever
abounding in Thy work. AMEN.
The possibility of the return of the Lord
at any moment is to have a great influence on our daily lives. The old
saying, “he’s so heavenly minded he’s of no earthly good” is a misnomer. To
be heavenly minded in the biblical sense is to labor here on earth for the
Lord, not in our own ability, but in His, knowing that because of the
glorious future our labor is never in vain in the Lord. (Comfort
for God’s People Isaiah 40)
WHY ARE THEY CHEERING? - On a balmy October afternoon in 1982,
Badger Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, was packed. More than sixty thousand
die-hard University of Wisconsin supporters were watching their football
team take on the Michigan State Spartans. MSU had the better team. What
seemed odd, however, as the score became more lopsided, were the bursts of
applause and shouts of joy from the Wisconsin fans. How could they cheer
when their team was losing? It turned out that seventy miles away the
Milwaukee Brewers were beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the
1982 World Series. Many of the fans in the stands were listening to portable
radios and responding to something other than their immediate circumstances.
Paul encourages us to fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen (2
Cor. 4:18). When we do, we can rejoice even in hardships because we see
Christ's larger victory. Greg Asimakoupoulos (1001
Quotes, Illustrations, and Humorous Stories)
FOCUS- As it relates to renewing
Missionary pilot Bernie May writes,
One of the most difficult lessons to
teach new pilots about landing on short, hazardous airstrips is to keep
their eyes on the good part of the strip rather than on the hazard. The
natural tendency is to concentrate on the obstacle, the danger, the thing he
is trying to avoid. But experience teaches us that a pilot who keeps his eye
on the hazard will sooner or later hit it dead center.
Bernie May sums it up by saying that
experienced pilots focus their attention solidly on the track they want the
plane to follow, keeping the hazards in their peripheral vision only.When Christ and His
interests are the focus of our lives, the lure of the old life remains in
the corner of our eye, while we aim to land squarely in the center of God's
What "hazards" sometimes divert your
attention from Jesus? What positive, God-honoring actions can you
concentrate on doing instead.
Spurgeon writes that
In our Christian pilgrimage it
is well, for the most part, to be looking forward. Forward lies the crown,
and onward is the goal. Whether it be for hope, for joy, for consolation, or
for the inspiring of our love, the future must, after all, be the grand
object of the eye of faith.
Looking into the future we see sin cast out, the
body of sin and death destroyed, the soul made perfect, and fit to be a
partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Looking further yet, the
believer's enlightened eye can see death's river passed, the gloomy stream
forded, and the hills of light attained on which standeth the celestial
city; he seeth himself enter within the pearly gates, hailed as more than
conqueror, crowned by the hand of Christ, embraced in the arms of Jesus,
glorified with Him, and made to sit together with Him on his throne, even as
He has overcome and has sat down with the Father on his throne.
of this future may well relieve the darkness of the past and the gloom of
the present. The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of
earth. Hush, hush, my doubts! Death is but a narrow stream, and thou shalt
soon have forded it. Time, how short-eternity, how long! Death, how
brief-immortality, how endless! Methinks I even now eat of
clusters, and sip of the well which is within the gate. The road is so, so
short! I shall soon be there.
When the world my heart is rending
With its heaviest storm of care,
My glad thoughts to heaven ascending,
Find a refuge from despair.
Faith's bright vision shall sustain me
Till life's pilgrimage is past;
Fears may vex and troubles pain me,
I shall reach my home at last.
Bubbles On The Border - Stuck in a
long line at the US-Canada border, Joel Schoon Tanis had to do something to
lighten the mood! He reached for his bottles of bubble-making solution,
bounded out of the car, and began blowing bubbles. He handed bottles to
other drivers too, and he says that “soon there were bubbles everywhere. . .
. It’s amazing what bubbles do for people.” The line didn’t move any faster,
but “suddenly everyone was happy,” Joel says.
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for,” said British statesman
John Lubbock (1834–1913). A good attitude and the right focus help us to
handle life joyfully, even though it doesn’t change our circumstances.
Paul encouraged the Corinthians in their trials: “Do not look at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which
are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2Co
So what’s unseen and eternal that we can look at? The character of God is an
excellent place to focus. He is good (Ps 25:8), He is just (Is 30:18), He is
forgiving (1Jn 1:9), and He is faithful (Dt 7:9).
Pondering God’s character can give us joy in the midst of our struggles. —
by Anne Cetas
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
The eyes of faith when fixed on Christ
Give hope for what’s ahead;
But focus on life’s obstacles,
And faith gives way to dread. —D. De Haan
When Christ is the center of your focus,
all else will come into proper perspective.
What's Inside - A third-grader was
asked to write an essay on the subject of the human body. He submitted this
“Your head is kind of round and hard, and your brains are in it and your
hair is on it. Your face is in front of your head where you eat and make
faces. . . . Your stummick is something that if you don’t eat often enough
it hurts, and spinach don’t help none. . . . Your arms you got to have to
throw a ball with and so you can reach the butter.
“Your fingers stick out of your hands so you can throw a curve and add up
rithmatick. Your legs is what if you don’t have two of, you can’t run fast.
Your feet are what you run on, and your toes are what always get stubbed.
And that’s all there is of you, except what’s inside, and I never saw that.”
In a different sense, the rich farmer in Luke 12 also was unable to see
“what’s inside.” He thought he had “the good life.” He was dead wrong. What
we put in barns or closets or garages do nothing for the soul.
Does it take a grim funeral scene to demonstrate that “the things which are
seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal”? (2Co
4:18). Only a fool ignores “what’s inside.” — by Haddon W. Robinson
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Have you thought of where you're going
When this earthly life is past?
Will the seed that you are sowing
Bring a harvest that will last? —Jacobsen
Life is more than the stuff we store.
Temporary Or Eternal - The Seven
Wonders of the Ancient World were wonderful indeed! These impressive
creations of human genius include the Tomb of Mausolos, built in 350 bc; the
Temple of Artemis at Ephesus; the Hanging Gardens of Babylon; King Ptolemy’s
lighthouse near Alexandria; the 100-foot statue of Apollo called the
Colossus of Rhodes; the 40-foot statue of Zeus in the city of Olympia; and
the great pyramids of Egypt.
Six of these remarkable achievements have been destroyed—Ptolemy’s
lighthouse by an earthquake, and the other five demolished by plunderers.
Only the pyramids remain to fill us with awe.
We may marvel over these Seven Wonders, but we must never forget that
everything in our world is temporary. I remember looking at the skyline of
New York City from the stern of a ferryboat and recalling the lines of a
hymn: “These all shall perish, stone on stone; but not Thy kingdom nor Thy
The writer of Hebrews said, “Since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot
be shaken, let us . . . serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”
(He 12:28). These words and the words of Psalm 102 help us to keep the
temporary and the eternal in perspective.— by Vernon C. Grounds
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me! —Lyte
Hold tightly to what is eternal
and loosely to what is temporal.
What Will Last? - I have a friend
who was denied a doctorate from a prestigious West Coast university because
of his Christian worldview. As he was approaching the conclusion of his
studies, his advisor invited him to come into his office and informed him
that his dissertation had been rejected.
My friend’s first thought was of thousands of dollars and 5 years of his
life taking flight, and his heart sank. But then he thought of the words of
the hymn by Rhea Miller:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or
gold, I’d rather be His than have riches untold; . . . I’d rather have Jesus
than anything this world affords today.
And then my friend laughed—for he
realized that nothing of eternal value had been lost.
How we respond to loss is all a matter of perspective. One person is
absorbed with the permanent; the other with the passing. One stores up
treasure in heaven; the other accumulates it here on earth. One stays with a
difficult marriage because heaven is on ahead; another moves out and looks
for happiness in another mate. While one believes that happiness is found in
being rich and famous, Christ’s followers are willing to suffer poverty,
hunger, indignity, and shame because of “the glory that will be revealed”
Wouldn’t you “rather have Jesus”?— by David H. Roper
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
I'd rather have Jesus than men's
I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame,
I'd rather be true to His holy name.
Living only for temporary gain leads to eternal loss.
John Angell James, 1846 in THE
"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is
eternal." 2 Cor. 4:18
"Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Col. 3:2
My dear friends, The subject of this address is heavenly-mindedness.
It may seem, perhaps, that there is considerable sameness in these first
three letters of the series which it is my intention to lay before you. That
they are alike and related, I admit, but not that they are identical; and,
indeed, they are selected on account of their relation to each other, and
with the hope of mutually aiding to deepen, by the repetition and
concentration of one train of thought, the impression which each by itself,
and the three together, are intended to produce.
Heavenly-mindedness is an expression that explains itself, it is the minding
of heaven; or the exercise of the thoughts and affections upon those
invisible but eternal realities, which are declared by the Scriptures to
await the Christian beyond the grave. Spirituality is one branch of
holiness; and heavenly-mindedness is spirituality, exercised in reference to
one specific object—the celestial state.
Alas! how little of this is there to be found even among professing
Christians—"How low their hopes of heaven above, How few affections there."
The description given by the apostle of the predominant taste and pursuits
of the men of the world—"They mind earthly things"—too well suits a large
proportion of those who have 'professed' to come out from the world, and to
be a people separated unto God. How engrossed are they, not only in the
business, but in the cares, the love, and the enjoyment of earthly vanities.
Who would imagine, to see their conduct, to hear their conversation, to
observe their spirit—so undevout, and so worldly—that these were the men,
who have heaven in their eye, their heart, their hope? Even to them, we
would be inclined to think, that the Paradise of God is nothing more than a
name, a sublime fiction, a sacred vision, which, with all its splendor, has
scarcely power enough to engage their thoughts and fix their regards. How
little effect has it to elevate them above a predominant earthly-mindedness,
to comfort them in trouble, to minister to their happiness, or to mortify
their corruptions. Can it be that they are seeking for, and going to glory,
honor, and immortality—who think so little about it, and derive so small a
portion of their enjoyment from the expectation of it?
What is heaven? The Bible, and the Bible only, can answer this question—and
even this, though a revelation from God, but partially discloses the
infinite and eternal reality. There is enough to excite, sustain, and
animate hope—but far too little to gratify curiosity. Substantials are
revealed, circumstantials are withheld. In the Bible heaven is represented,
rather as a state of mind, than as a place. Where objects of sense and
locality are spoken of, they are to be understood, for the most part, in a
figurative, and not in a literal meaning.
The description of the celestial world, as we find it in the Word of God,
has always appeared to me one of the most striking and convincing of the
internal evidences of Christianity. The Elysium of the Greeks and Romans;
the Paradise of Mahomet, and the various fantastic ideas of the world beyond
the grave, entertained by modern pagans, are all of the earth, earthly;
nothing more or better than earthly and sensual gratifications rendered
immortal. How different the heaven of the New Testament; how pure, how
spiritual, how unearthly, how divine! How strictly in harmony with the
sublime and holy character of God! How befitting a creature, intelligent and
holy! How completely different from everything which the unholy, sensual,
and earthly mind of man would ever have devised! How far remote from the
track of all his thoughts!
Heaven is usually called eternal life, that is—eternal happy
existence—everlasting existence, with all that can render existence a
blessing. But what are the elements of its felicity? As regards our own
condition, they consist of a soul, possessed of perfect knowledge, perfect
holiness, perfect liberty, perfect love; united with a body raised from the
grave, incorruptible, immortal, and spiritual. As regards our relations to
other beings, heavenly bliss means our dwelling in the immediate presence of
Christ; the perfect vision, service, likeness, and enjoyment of God—the
society and converse of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect.
Connected with this, is the absence of everything that annoys, disturbs, or
distresses us in this life. Such is the scripture-representation of heaven,
as will be seen by consulting the following scriptures. Psalm 16:11; 17:15.
John 3:14, 15, 36; 17:24. Rom. 2:7; 8:18. 1 Cor. 15. 2 Cor. 4:17. Philip
1:21; 3:21. Heb. 4:9; 12:22-24. 1 John 3:2. Rev. 7:9-17; 21.,22.
"My chief conception of heaven," said Robert Hall to Wilberforce, "is
rest."—"Mine," replied Wilberforce, "is LOVE; love to God, and love to every
bright and holy inhabitant of that glorious place." Hall was an almost
constant sufferer from acute bodily pain; Wilberforce enjoyed life, and was
all amiability and sunshine; so that it is easy to account "for their
respective conceptions of this subject. What a mercy that both these
conceptions are true." Yes, both are true; and the union of rest and love,
perhaps, conveys, within a small compass, the most correct idea of the
Following the order of the representation given in the address on
Spirituality of Mind, I observe, that heavenly-mindedness means the
spontaneous, frequent, delightful, practical bent of our reflections toward
eternal life. A heavenly-minded man is one who, as a convinced, condemned
sinner, having obtained a title to eternal life, through faith in the blood
and righteousness of Christ, and a fitness for it, in the regenerating work
of the Holy Spirit, considers himself as a pilgrim and stranger upon
earth—regards heaven as his native country, and as instinctively turns his
thoughts to it, as he who in a distant part of the world, feels his mind and
heart attracted to his home. Scarcely a day passes during which no thought
of his mind, no glance of the eye of faith, turns to the glory to be
In his solitary musings in the house, or by the way, the object is present
to his mind to occupy his thoughts, to refresh and delight his spirit—and
when he is with others like-minded with himself, it is his delight to
converse upon the country to which they are traveling. Precious to him are
those parts of Scriptural revelation which speak of the life to come, and
exhibit to him, amid the darkness of his way, the distant lights of his
father's house. Sermons that represent the holiness and happiness of heaven
are delightful to his heart; books that describe it are congenial with his
taste; and the songs of Zion, which sounds like the echo of its divine
harmonies, excite all his hallowed sensibilities, and elevate his spirit to
catch some of the falling rays of the excellent glory. The beautiful symbols
of heavenly bliss, the city too bright with inherent splendor to need the
sun; the walls of jasper, the gates of pearl, and streets of pure gold, like
unto clear glass; the crown of life; the harp of gold; the palm of victory;
the white robe; the song of salvation sounding from the countless multitude
of the redeemed; all by turns seize and fix his imagination; while his
enlightened judgment and his holy heart, letting go these brilliant images,
repose upon the realities they are intended to portray—the presence of God,
the vision of the Lamb, the sinless purity, the eternal rest, the communion
of the blessed, the fellowship of angels.
The heavenly-minded man not only employs his thoughts, but sets his
affections on things above. His hope and his heart are there. He does not
wish it, it would not be proper that he should, instantly to dissolve his
ties with earth, and leaving his family and connections fly the next moment
to his eternal home—he is willing to wait as long as it is his heavenly
Father's will to detain him upon earth—but he is willing to leave all and go
to God, whenever it is judged proper by him to decide the matter—that he
should go up to the mount and die. His hopes of heaven do much to destroy
his love of life—and fear of death. If nature shrinks, as it sometimes will,
at the approach of dissolution, he looks beyond the gloomy passage, and
anticipates by a lively hope, the moment when "lifting his last step from
the wave, having passed the stream of death, he shall linger and look
wondrously back upon its dark waters, then gilded with the light of
immortality, and rippling peacefully on the eternal shore."
It is not in suffering only that he feels a longing after immortality, for
it is no indication of heavenly-mindedness to wish to depart in order to get
rid of trouble. Impatience to die is often felt by those who have ceased to
feel any attractions in life, and the grave is coveted as a shelter from the
'storms of earth'. There is nothing holy in such wishes; nothing heavenly in
such impatience; it is only nature groaning after rest, and not grace
longing for its perfection. Perhaps the most holy frame is to have no will
or wish about the matter—but a readiness to live or die as God shall
appoint. If, however, a preference may be cherished, and the soul rises into
a longing to depart, the only ground on which it can with propriety be
indulged is—an earnest desire to get rid of sin—to be near and like
Christ—to serve God more perfectly—and to glorify him more entirely. And
such desires after immortality, when no tie binds us to earth, are
legitimate and holy.
Happy moments there sometimes are, alas! how rare, in the experience of the
spiritual Christian, when such are his views of the desirableness of heaven,
that he feels as if he should be glad to break down the prison-walls of his
spirit, and let her go forth into the liberty of her eternal felicity. The
celebrated John Howe once had such a view of heaven, and such a desire to
depart, that he said to his wife—"Though I think I love you as well as it is
fit for one creature to love another, yet if it were put to my choice,
whether to die this moment, or live through this night; and living this
night would secure the continuance of life for seven years longer, I would
choose to die this moment." Still the glory of a Christian is to be neither
weary of the world nor fond of it; to be neither afraid of death nor
impatient after it; to be willing to go to heaven the next hour from the
greatest comforts—or to wait for it through many lingering years, amid the
greatest hardships, the most self-denying and laborious duties, and the
severest and most complicated sufferings.
The heavenly-minded man goes farther than this, and prepares for future
glory. Considering heaven not merely as an object of delightful
contemplation of devout imagination, or of holy revery—a sublime and
splendid picture for a visionary piety to gaze upon—but as a state of moral
being, action, and service, for which a fitness is required—he diligently
cultivates those dispositions which the Word of God assures him belong to,
and are to be exercised in the celestial state. He has a post to fill, a
situation to occupy, a service to perform in heaven, and for which he knows
the necessary qualifications must be acquired on earth.
Death is only a physical change, and as far as we can understand, produces
no moral effect. Grace is the preparation for glory, and he who has most
grace, is most fitted for glory. The man who is going to occupy a place in
the palace, endeavors to acquire courtly manners, and to provide himself
with a court dress. So the eminently spiritual Christian considers himself
as going in to dwell in the palace of the King of kings, and his great
business upon earth is to prepare himself with the qualifications and dress
of the celestial court. And as he clearly perceives that the prevailing
dispositions of heaven are purity and love, he labors to grow in holiness
and charity. If asked, in any situation or circumstance, or at any period,
what are you engaged in or employed about? his answer is, "I am dressing for
heaven; making myself ready to go in and dwell with Christ. Having a post to
fill in the divine palace, I am preparing for it by the mortification of
sin, and a growth in grace."
Such is heavenly-mindedness—but, alas! where is it to be found? I know where
it ought to be found—in every professing Christian. His principles demand
it, his profession requires it, his prospects justify it. "If we should give
a stranger to Christianity an account of the Christian's hopes, and tell him
what Christians are, and what they expect to enjoy before long, he would
sure promise himself to find so many 'angels' dwelling in human flesh, and
reckon when he came among them, he should be as amid the heavenly choir;
every one full of joy and praise. He would expect to find us living on earth
as the inhabitants of heaven—as so many pieces of immortal glory, lately
dropped down from above, and shortly returning there again. He would look to
find everywhere in the Christian world 'incarnate glory', sparkling through
the overshadowing veil; and wonder how this earthly sphere should be able to
contain so many great souls." And oh, how astonished, surprised, and
disgusted would he be to witness the earthly-mindedness, and to hear the
worldly conversation of the great bulk of professing Christians—as if heaven
were nothing more than a splendid painting to adorn their temples of
religion, and to be looked at once a week; but not a glorious reality to be
ever before their eyes, to form their character, to regulate their conduct,
support them in trouble, and furnish their chief happiness!
What a source of strong consolation and ineffable delight is a heavenly mind
to its possessors! This is what the apostle calls "rejoicing in hope of the
glory of God." Could we actually look into the celestial world, and see its
felicities and honors; could we hear the very sounds of paradise, and have
the songs of the redeemed continually, or at intervals, undulating on our
ear; could the rays of the excellent glory, literally fall upon our path—how
constantly would we go on our way rejoicing, as we reflected that each step
brought us nearer to this world of light and love; and of purity and
immortality! How soft would be the cares, how tolerable the sorrows, how
easy the most difficult duties, so soon to be laid aside amid such rest and
such happiness! This sight of heaven would irradiate the darkest scenes of
earth, and prevent us from being seduced by the beauties of the fairest
Who could weep while heaven was spreading out its glories to comfort us, and
opening its doors to receive us! Who could think much of that sickness—which
was sustained beneath the vision of an incorruptible inheritance; or of
those losses—which came upon them in sight of an infinite portion that never
fades away! There would need no amusement or recreation to make us happy,
while listening to the song of salvation—nor of any other pleasure to cheer
us. This mixture of the view of heaven with the scenes of earth, would
change the aspect of everything, and give truth to the expressions of the
"The men of grace have found,
Glory begun below."
And what more than a heavenly mind, a vigorous, lively, and influential
faith—is necessary to give something like a reality to this? Heaven does
exist; all these glories are above us and before us, though we see them not;
and it is only to believe them as they may be, and ought to be believed, and
we shall rejoice in them with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Vivacious
thoughts of them would, in measure, produce the same kind of happiness as
seeing them. Happy would we be amid all the cares, and labors, and sorrows,
and trials of earth, if in meditation, and by faith and hope, we could thus
dwell on the borders of the promised land. It would be to pitch our tent on
Mount Pisgah, and constantly to have the promised land spreading out in
boundless and beautiful perspective before us.
Nor is it our comfort only that would be promoted by a heavenly mind, but
our sanctity also. "Every man who has this hope in him," says the apostle,
"purifies himself even as he is pure." 1 John 3:3. Heaven, being a holy
state, yes, the very perfection of holiness; does, by a natural process,
render those holy who meditate upon it, believe it, hope for it, and long
for it. Men's hopes always affect their conduct, and transform their
characters into a likeness to the nature of the objects of their desires and
expectations. How effectually guarded from temptation to lust,
worldly-mindedness, and malice—is he whose affections are strongly fixed
upon a state of purity, spirituality, and love! Who that is drinking
happiness from the crystal river that flows from the throne of God and the
Lamb, can take up with the filthy puddle of worldly amusements? What
mortification of sin, what conquest of besetting corruption, what
eradication of evil tempers, what suppression of unholy disposition goes on,
when the soul fixes the 'eye of faith' on unseen and eternal realities!
Yes, what discoveries of hidden and unsuspected sins are made, when the
light of heavenly glory is let into the soul! In looking so much to earth,
and earthly-minded men, we become so familiarized with sin, as to lose our
clear perceptions, our accurate discrimination of its evil nature, and our
accurate sensibilities to its criminality and odiousness. We lose our
self-abhorrence for our own sins, by the view of so much evil without and
around us. And we recover our keenness of vision, and tenderness of
conscience, only by lifting up our eyes to that pure and blessed region,
where no sin dwells, and holiness is in perfection; and where,
One view of Jesus as he is,
Will strike all sin forever dead.
You will much wish to know how such a heavenly state of mind may be
You must be WILLING to have it. Willing! you exclaim, with somewhat of
surprise, "Who is not willing? Who would not enjoy such a holy and heavenly
frame?" You, perhaps, who ask the question! Comparatively few are willing to
be heavenly-minded. The great bulk even of professing Christians do not want
this state of the soul. They want to enjoy earth; they are ever seeking new
devices by which to be more and more gratified by things seen and temporal;
they are ever seeking to invest earth with new charms, and to throw greater
attractions over the scenes that surround them. They do not wish to have the
luxuriance of their earthly affections repressed, or the exuberance of their
worldly joys restrained. It is no part of their plan, or wish, or effort, or
prayer—to have one single terrestrial delight limited or displaced by such
as are heavenly! Very few are willing then, to be heavenly-minded—and if not
willing, they will never attain to it!
You must be not only willing but DESIROUS of this frame. It must appear to
you a state to be coveted and longed for; and for which you would be willing
to part with some worldly joys, and the pleasures of earth—to endure the
discipline of trial, and the influence of sorrow. Your heart must be set
upon it—your soul must pant after it.
It must appear to you not only desirable, but ATTAINABLE. No such idea must
be in your mind as that it is too high an elevation of piety for you to
reach, too difficult an acquirement for you to make. Do not imagine that it
is the devotion of the cloister and the monastery, and which can be
cultivated only by the recluse. Spiritual and heavenly Christians have been
found, too rarely I admit, amid all the cares of a large family, and all the
urgency of an extensive trade. Besides, if you cannot attain to as much of
this celestial temper as some others, may you not have much more of it than
you already possess? Do not even your circumstances allow of improvement and
Use the right means for acquiring it. BELIEVE its reality. Your faith is too
weak to be influential. It is not so much a deep conviction, a full
persuasion, a confident anticipation—but only 'a mere opinion'. You have the
name of heaven upon your lips, but not the grand idea, the glorious reality
in your mind—the infinite, the transcendent conception, does not occupy and
fill the soul. You are too much a stranger to the force of that expression,
"lay hold on eternal life."
Acquire a clear and satisfactory evidence of your personal interest in the
joys and glories of immortality. "Give all diligence to the full assurance
of hope unto the end." Unite the full assurance of hope, with the full
assurance of understanding and of faith. What is our own, more interests us,
though it be little—than what belongs to another, though it be far greater.
The heir of a small estate has his mind and heart far more occupied about
his little inheritance—than about the vast domain bordering it, of some
wealthy peer. Realize your personal interest in heaven. If you are indeed a
child of God, seek the witness of the spirit to your sonship; and if a child
of God, then you are to heir of God, and joint heir with Christ! After
reading the gracious promises, and surveying the boundless prospects of
eternal glory—indulge the thoughts that these are all yours! Yours to be
admitted to the presence of God and Christ, and to dwell there forever!
Yours to be like God and Christ in purity, love, knowledge, and immortality!
Yours to be the everlasting companion of all holy angels and blessed
spirits. Call the joys of heaven your own—and they will then be infinitely
more attractive than they now are!
Give yourselves time for reading, meditation, and prayer. You must keep the
world within due bounds—as to the time it occupies in your thoughts and
life. If you allow it to take and keep the occupancy of the whole day, from
the time you open your eyes in the morning, until you close them at
night—you cannot grow in this grace of heavenly-mindedness. If you don't
resist the world's engrossing, absorbing power—your soul must suffer, your
salvation be endangered, your heaven be lost. Oh, will you, with glory,
honor, immortality above you, and before you—allow yourselves to be so
engaged with worldly trifles—as to have no time to think of them, or to look
at them! With the splendor of heavenly and eternal glory beaming upon your
path, blazing around you, will you be so taken up with the world, as to
hurry by and not turn aside to see this great sight!
Oh, Christians, believers—at least professed believers in immortality—is it
thus you treat that heaven which occupied the thoughts of God from eternity,
which was procured by the death of Christ upon the cross, which is the
substance of revealed truth, and the end of all God's dispensations of
providence and grace to man! What! no time to retire and meditate on eternal
life! Will you—can you—dare you, bring yourself to utter such an expression
as this, "I am really so taken up with my business, that I cannot retire to
meditate and pray." Then I must tell you, you have no time to be saved;
although plenty of time to be lost!
Go into your closet, and with your Bible as the telescope that brings
eternal glories near—meditate, meditate upon heaven! Survey its glories—go
over them in detail and in succession. Dwell upon the presence of God; upon
being with Christ; upon perfect love, perfect purity, perfect liberty,
perfect knowledge, perfect bliss. Contemplate their infinity, their
immensity, their eternity. Oh, what thoughts, what topics, what sources of
delight! What sublime, elevating subjects for the child of dust, of sin, of
sorrow, of mortality—to indulge in! What a reflection upon us, that we
should need to be admonished to turn our thoughts that way; that with heaven
open before us, we should need to be reminded, "There is immortal glory,
look at it!" And yet after all, should feel that we are so preoccupied and
engaged with earthly trifles, that we have no time to survey the wondrous
Dwell much upon the nearness of heaven. What is remote has less power over
the thoughts than that which is near at hand. How near is all this glory to
your soul! Nothing separates you from it, but the thin partition of flesh
and blood—a moment of time, a point of space, may be all that intervenes
between you and immortality! When you lie down to rest any night—you know
not but that you may be in heaven before the next morning! When you rise up
in the morning—you know not but that you may be in heaven before night! If
you are true Christians, you are ever in the 'vestibule of the heavenly
temple', waiting for the opening of the door, to be admitted to the holy of
holies! The heirs of glory are every moment going in to be forever with the
Lord, and you will soon go with them. Heaven is ever as near to you as God
is—for it is the enjoyment of his presence, and he compasses you about on
every side. At any given moment of your existence, you know not but that the
next may be the commencement of your eternal career of holiness, knowledge,
and happiness. Did you realize the nearness of heaven, how would it tend to
keep up the frame of mind I am so anxious to promote.
As heaven consists of enjoying the divine presence, and of holiness and
love, together with the joy arising from them—let us seek more intimate
communion with God now, and labor after more purity, more benevolence, more
spiritual peace. This would make us think of heaven, and long for it—when we
had these, its first fruits—in our soul now. We cannot go up into heaven,
without heaven first coming down into us! Holiness in the soul of man is a
part of heaven, and the 'greater heaven above' will put forth an attraction
to draw up to itself this 'lesser heaven below'. Fire ascends to the sun;
rivers run to the ocean; matter gravitates to its center—so holiness in the
soul aspires to heaven, to which it belongs.
And withal you must be much in private, earnest, and believing prayer for
the supply of the Holy Spirit. Who is sufficient for these things, but he
whose sufficiency is of God the Spirit? To make the future predominate over
the present; the invisible over the visible; the immaterial over the
material; and heaven over earth—is an achievement of faith, to which he only
is equal, who is taught and helped of God. "He who has wrought us for this
self-same thing," says the apostle, "is God, who also has given unto us the
earnest of the Spirit." 2 Cor. 5:5.
Believers in Christ Jesus! Children of God! Heirs of immortal glory!
traveler to Zion! Possessors of eternal life! Look not at the things which
are seen and temporal, but at the things which are unseen and eternal. Think
of what is before you in the world to which you are going! Let your
character and your destiny be in harmony. Born from heaven, and bound to it,
let your thoughts and affections be in heaven! "We are citizens of heaven,
where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to
return as our Savior. He will transform our lowly bodies so that they will
be like his glorious body!"