This is Not Your Only Life

As A Believer In Jesus, Are You Living For Eternity?

Troy Spilman
Nov 28, 2021    34m
Our culture says you only live once. But as believers in Jesus, we know that it isn't true that we only live once; we have the promise of eternal life. Knowing this promise, ask yourself, are you living for eternity? Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Troy Spilman: [00:00:18] So about 15 years ago, a movie called The Bucket List came out, and it stars Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Now, this is a story about two aging cancer patients who tried to complete a list of accomplishments before they kick the bucket and die, so hence the term the bucket list. Ever since this movie, the term of the bucket list has become a term that our culture is fully embraced, fully grabbed ahold of. People, including Christians, talk about checking items off their bucket lists, like going to see the northern lights, swim with dolphins, get a tattoo, run a marathon, go cliff diving, and the list goes on and on.

Troy Spilman: [00:01:03] Now, the mindset behind the bucket list is that you only have a short time here, you know, we're short timers, we only have a short time here, we need to make the most of the time as possible. After all, once we die, it's all over, the game's over, it's like we're in this frantic race. But is this what we believe as followers of Jesus? Do we believe that we need to fill our lives with tons of experiences before the time runs out, before the buzzer goes? It's like we're in this frantic race to get in as much as possible before we breathe our last breath.

Troy Spilman: [00:01:44] We live in a world with a YOLO mentality, YOLO is you only live once. You only live once, you only have one life to live, so make the most of it. Make the most of the present while it's still present, not worrying about the future ahead. The YOLO thought is, stop stressing out about the consequences of your decisions, throw caution to the wind, squeeze this life for every drop because it's all you have.

Troy Spilman: [00:02:16] Now, just a little disclaimer, most of these items on the bucket list, they're not wrong in themselves. Look, when I was in Thailand, I wanted to go ride the elephants. I mean, I get it. However, there is a question of motive, is this really what it's all about? As great as some of these things are, we have to come to grips that these things ultimately will not fulfill us.

Troy Spilman: [00:02:40] Now there's the cultural myth that we're going to take on today, which is YOLO, you only live once. We can't have this mentality in our culture like, hey, we only live once, so let's just go for it. YOLO is the go for it while you still can mentality, it can impact pretty much every part of our lives. It can impact our spending, and it might go something like this, us going on this vacation that we have planned, it will probably put us in debt big time, but YOLO. I found the car I really want, but it's way out of our price range, but YOLO. And besides, do our kids really need an inheritance once we're gone?

Troy Spilman: [00:03:27] It can impact our habits. I know eating at this restaurant that we love is not very good for us, actually. kind of whew, yeah, I don't feel so great afterwards, but man is so good and going down. Ok, but YOLO, and besides, it's all you can eat Friday, so let's go for it. I can renew my membership at the gym, or I can get unlimited streaming of all the latest shows, and I can't get both, so YOLO, streaming it is.

Troy Spilman: [00:04:04] It impacts our relationships. The person I'm dating is super fun and so good-looking, but it doesn't really share any of my values or faith that I do, but YOLO? I know this weekend is our anniversary, but there's this motocross race that's in our area at the same time, YOLO, and she'll get over it.

Troy Spilman: [00:04:29] It can even impact our career choices. Where I work tends to overlook and even encourage cutting corners, engaging and sketchy business practices, but it pays really well, and it's only through the commute, so YOLO.

Troy Spilman: [00:04:47] So the YOLO list goes on and on. The Bible has something to say about this, it just isn't true that we only live one life, because of Jesus, he's promised us eternal life, we can live in the hope of eternity in him. In the first week of Advent, we have hope, our hope is because of Jesus and only because of Jesus. Jesus gives us hope for here and now, but also for the future in all eternity, that there's more in store for us than what this world has to offer, a whole lot more.

Troy Spilman: [00:05:31] We're going to spend time walking through this passage, it's Second Corinthians that you just heard read, chapter 4 verses 16 to 18, so you can turn there with me, the verses will be up on the screen as well. So starting in verse 16, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." So the Apostle Paul, here, he challenges us to operate differently than the world around us. He has a different plan for us, he's asked us to view this life through the long game lens in light of eternity. In this life, there will be wonderful experiences, fulfilling relationships, memorable moments, however, Paul doesn't pull any punches, he says that followers of Jesus are not immune from the experiences of troubles in this world, from broken relationships, challenging times, physical ailments, even heartbreak.

Troy Spilman: [00:06:56] But that isn't the end of the story, so it's taking a deeper look at this passage, starting in verse 16 it says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." So we're going to see that there's a priority on spiritual renewal over physical strength. So, a priority of spiritual renewal over physical strength. The physical world and all that's attached to it has an expiration date on it, right, the spiritual does not. If the YOLO mindset could address this, it could talk, it would say here and now is what really matters, this is what really matters, if you have to choose, take care of you first. Go ahead, pamper yourself, it's been a tough last year and a half anyways, right? Yet, Paul says this physical world is wasting away, yet our spirit is being revived and renewed.

Troy Spilman: [00:08:04] There's the law of entropy in our world, right? We're in this physical universe, everything goes from order to disorder, and we know that to be true, the older we get the more we feel that right? This physical realm we live in is on a trajectory, and it's always heading downward. We know this, we kind of know this as we get older. Not too long ago, I was at Trader Joe’s, and we had very full bags, you know, after the checker kind of puts them all in and they're all bagged up. And I grabbed two of them, and I must have let out a groan that I kind of didn't really intend to when I lifted up both these bags that really weren't heavy. And I let out this groan where the checker kind of looked over like, are you OK, dude, do I need to help you? I feel like sometimes I go to the dentist and the dentist is like, I don't know where to start with you. You know, it's the older we get, you know, we realize that this law of entropy is really at work. It's like a sneezing fit can send us to the chiropractor. But Paul says, "Therefore, do not lose heart."

Troy Spilman: [00:09:13] In verse 16, what exactly is Paul pointing back to here? Why should we not lose heart? Why should we not be discouraged? Well, let's look back a couple of verses at verse 14 to give a little context. Paul says, "Because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself." So we know that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead after he was crucified, and he will breathe new life into us also, just how he did for Jesus. The story is far from being over for those that have placed their trust and lives in Christ know that he alone paid the price for our sins. He paid the price that our sins deserve, it's been paid in full, totally and completely. We have an everlasting hope because of Jesus, being welcomed into the family of God, having the hope of eternal life.

Troy Spilman: [00:10:18] So in 16, back to verse 16, we see here that Paul sets the priority of spiritual renewal over physical strength. So he says, "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." For the Christian, in this fallen world, to live the abundant life that he has for us, maintaining spiritual health is critical. We need spiritual health, faith is like a spiritual muscle, and just like a physical muscle I have to use it. It has to be used, and it becomes stronger the more I use it, and the more I can actually handle and take on, in the same way, I need to grow in this area of faith.

Troy Spilman: [00:11:08] And we're going to focus on the spiritual disciplines that help us, it's like a training ground. I need to be in prayer, seeking the Lord. I need to have my Bible time where I'm in his timeless word that gets into my heart, where I can seek to live it out. I need to worship God and carve out time just to be present with him, and acknowledge who he is, and need to be serving and using my gifts in the church and out in the world. I need to have fellowship with other believers because we're not alone in this, we need each other. These are all areas we can grow in.

Troy Spilman: [00:11:44] The physical aspect of us is continually winding down, yet, inwardly, our spirit is being revived as we trust that he'll guide us through the day. We'll look back on our lives as a follower of Christ one day and say, it was worth it. Using the best years of our lives serving Jesus, we'll look back and say, it was worth it. The monetary sacrifice to invest in the Kingdom of God, we'll look back and we'll say, it was worth it. All the time spent in prayer for the hurting, the weak, the sick, and the lost, we'll look back and we'll say, it was worth it. All the hours and days used caring for the least of these in our community and around the world as we go on go teams, yeah, you know, we'll look back and say, it was worth it, it was worth it.

Troy Spilman: [00:12:47] Paul wanted to make the most of the time that he had. He wanted to leverage the time, he wanted to squeeze as much out of it as possible, but not for himself, or for this world, or for his gain, but yet for the next, for eternity. And in Ephesians chapter 5 verses 15 and 16, he says this, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil." Of course you've got a little different version here with the New King James, but I love that phrase redeeming the time. The idea here is literally buying back, I'm buying back this time. I want to use this time in such a way, to leverage it in such a way, that the Kingdom of God goes forward, that I have the Kingdom of God purposes in mind. Make the most of the time that we have, because look, tomorrow isn't granted, we don't know if we're going to have it, we're not to be taking it for granted, let's leverage the years and months and weeks and days and hours that we have.

Troy Spilman: [00:13:52] Now, there are some interesting stats about how Americans have used their time this last year, the last 12 months or so. Here you go, are you ready for some of, these stats? Last year, Americans, on average, spent thirteen hundred hours on social media, that's over fifty-four days, and not 8-hour workdays, this is fifty-four 24-hour days, and that's on average. Sixty-five percent of YouTube views are between the hours of nine and five p.m., sixty percent of eBay and Amazon and other online purchases are made during working hours also. One study conducted last year found the average worker wastes over three hours a day.

Troy Spilman: [00:14:45] Ok, so I'm not so sure that this would qualify as redeeming the time as Paul would desire us to. How can we redeem the time? How can we make the most of it so that we can leverage it for the Kingdom of God? We've been given three hundred and sixty-five days, that's eight thousand seven hundred and sixty eight hours, five hundred and twenty five thousand minutes a year, how will you spend them? So may we choose the spiritual over the physical, choosing the things that feed our spirit that line up with a kingdom of God?

Troy Spilman: [00:15:25] Ok then, moving through this passage we have verse 17, and Paul goes on and says, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." So this leads us to our next priority here, so the priority of future hope over present suffering. So the priority of future hope over present suffering. We can endure the troubles of this world because there is hope, we have hope beyond description waiting for us, waiting around the corner for us to walk into.

Troy Spilman: [00:16:01] The YOLO mindset would say focus on the here and now, that's all that really matters. Don't worry about the future, don't worry about tomorrow, live in the moment. We realize that we live in a fallen world, life brings trials and troubles and challenges and difficulties, all that work together, at least for the believer, to develop us to be even better suited to serve the Lord. These train us, they give us the ability to have compassion, to be able to see beyond the circumstances. It builds us up and gives us courage to move forward because we see God be faithful in the midst of them.

Troy Spilman: [00:16:41] Let's check out what Paul refers to as light and momentary troubles, what does he call troubles, exactly? Well, Paul has been in prison multiple times, been flogged brutally, close to death on many occasions, he said, then on top of these, he brings out a whole bunch of additional hardships that we're going to see here. So this list that I'm actually going to give you right now, it's not a complete list. So in Second Corinthians, just a little later on in this letter to this church, chapter 11:24-28 says, "Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches."

Troy Spilman: [00:18:02] Now, did you catch that, he calls these light and momentary troubles. Five times he's whipped thirty-nine lashes because the Jews had a rule that you couldn't whip someone over 40 times. So with that, with 40 times, they didn't want to go over, so they always did thirty-nine in case someone loses track. Three times beaten with sticks, one time showered with stones, three times shipwrecked, and one time spent an entire night out in the sea under constant threat to danger, having to constantly be alert. He worked all through the night multiple times, suffered hunger and thirst on fairly regular basis. Paul didn't write as a kindergartner in the school of suffering, he had an advanced degree in this. For one of these listings, for any of these listings for that matter, any of these most of us would be writing or letter of resignation, we would be done. Yet, Paul calls these light afflictions. He had his eyes on the prize, he saw something beyond, he had a clear vision of why he was doing what he was doing.

Troy Spilman: [00:19:26] A guy I know who runs marathons has a mantra, so when things start getting difficult, he's reached his max, and he's got the last mile to go, he repeats a phrase, not dead yet, must keep going. He just says it over and over, not dead yet, must keep going. This kept my friend moving forward when every muscle was aching and being strained to its limit, every fiber was being inflamed, but yet, he had the finish line in mind, so he kept on going, he wasn't going to throw in the towel.

Troy Spilman: [00:20:02] What do you have your focus on? What do you and I focus on when things get tough, or challenges arise? Well, here's some truth, and there's a lot of truth's that you can grab ahold of. I've talked to people over the years, like what has been your focus, what do you stay on when things go hard? And here's what they say, one said the joy in the Lord is my strength, something easy and simple that you can say over and over. All things work together for the good of those who love him, not some things, all things, all things work together. Here's another one, this is the day that the Lord is made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Troy Spilman: [00:20:45] We could say that Paul is deep and rich theology, that's the founder of the many letters written to the early churches, were forged on the anvil of suffering. And he experienced a lot of troubles, he experienced a lot of pushback, he experienced persecution, and he wasn't going out looking for it, but he wasn't going to shy away from it either. In this life, we will have suffering, so often it's the fertilizer for spiritual growth.

Troy Spilman: [00:21:18] One pastor put it this way, yes, we can say with Paul, our light affliction. Our affliction is light compared to what others suffer, our affliction is light compared to what we deserve, our affliction is light compared to what Jesus suffered for us, our affliction is light compared to the blessings we enjoy, our suffering and our affliction is light compared to the experience of sustaining power of God's grace, our affliction is light when we see the glory that it leads to. I'm just saying this, we can say with Paul our light affliction, we can endure the troubles in this world because we have hope, because we have this hope in Jesus.

Troy Spilman: [00:22:07] Ok, going on in verse 18, it says, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." So we're going to see the priority of the eternal over the temporal, the priority of the eternal over the temporal. The YOLO mindset would say live for what you can touch, taste, see, and hear. There's a reality, friends, of eternity, which includes both heaven and hell.

Troy Spilman: [00:22:43] Heaven is a real place described in the Bible as the dwelling place of God. The glory of God is revealed in heaven because heaven has no nighttime, and the Lord himself is the light, and the sun and the moon are no longer needed at all. We are told by Jesus himself that there are many rooms in his father's house, and he has gone to prepare a place for us. It's been two thousand years, it's been a long time, that's a long rebuild, right? That's a long time for Jesus to be preparing this place for us, and when we get there, we're going to say this fits us just right, this is amazing. We have the assurance of his word that one day he'll come and take us to where he is in heaven. There'll be roles that each one of us will carry out, and that we'll play his roles for each of us in the next kingdom age, there will be assignments that were given. Somehow our faithfulness here will play out and greater responsibility there, so if I was faithful here in a lot of things, I will have much responsibility, and that's something that I'm going to embrace and I'm going be suited for. Like, this is a training camp for what he has in store for us beyond.

Troy Spilman: [00:24:03] I like to refer to heaven as a place of no more, no more, no more tears, no more suffering, no more pain, no more sorrow. Name your affliction, you just put it right in there, whatever the challenge is, someday those things will be no more, death will be a conquered foe. We're going to be face to face with Christ, the King who loved us and sacrificed himself so that we can join him in heaven for all eternity, we're going to be with him forever.

Troy Spilman: [00:24:38] Ok, but yet, hell is also a real place, really a place where the unbelieving and wicked are sent after death. Look, friends, we all have sinned against God and fall short of his glory, the just punishment for that sin is death. Hell is an internal death, which has been earned because of our sins. So Jesus, interestingly enough, Jesus spoke more about hell than he did heaven. He spoke about hell. Why? Why did he do that? Because he's on a rescue mission, he wants everyone to go with them to heaven, he doesn't want people to go to this eternal abyss. The punishment for those who rebel against God in hell, it actually says and describes how throughout scripture it is shame and everlasting contempt, it's the place where the fire is not quenched or put out. There's everlasting destruction at a place where the smoke of torment rises forever and ever. Those in hell will acknowledge the perfect justice of God, they will know that their punishment is just, and they alone are the ones to blame, ignoring the grace and mercy that Jesus has extended to a rebellious world.

Troy Spilman: [00:26:02] Praise God, that Jesus came to rescue us, came to rescue me, he forgives us, he makes us whole, he brings us into the eternal family of God. What will this life after this world look like? Well, that's a good question, we don't have lots of details. We know it's not going to be boring, we kind of have this image that angels are just kind of like on these clouds kind of looking down wondering, oh, I wonder what people are up to? I don't think so, I think he has a job for us, he has roles and responsibilities. We never hear of angels being born, you know, they're kind of like, well, what should I do next? You don't see that at all, these are mighty creatures, but somehow in the age to come, we will have a higher rank than the angels, which is kind of hard for us to even fathom. I get the feeling that once we get to heaven, that our adventure with God has just begun, it's just getting started, there's so much more that we get to be a part of. Everything in this physical world will disappear, yet, that which we do for the Kingdom of God, that will live on.

Troy Spilman: [00:27:12] There's a quote from CT Studd, a British Missionary in the early 1900s, he says this, "Only one life 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." Only a Brit can really say that the right way, but I gave it my best shot. "Only one life 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." How are we doing in this area? Are we making the Kingdom of God the priority?

Troy Spilman: [00:27:47] Early on in my faith journey, there was a leader that challenged me, and our college and ministry at the time, to live for eternity. And basically what he said was that we could be living for this, which is about, you know, a small piece of yarn, it's about an inch and a half, maybe two inches. We can live for this, and we do have a productive life and, in some ways, have some peace, and have some happiness in the midst of it, we can live for this. Or we can live for eternity, we can live for the long game. Where I think of this, where, you know, pretend there's no end to it. And what he did when he was at our college group, he held it this little, you know, little part right here, this little string. He says, you can live for this, or you can live for that, and what are you going to live for? I rolled that pretty good, I'm pretty happy about that, watch your step. But you get the point, like this is it, you can be living for this string, and you can get everything you can out of it, but yet God has something more for you, he wants you to be living for that, be a living for eternity.

Troy Spilman: [00:29:04] In Philippians chapter 3 verse 20, Paul says this to this church in Philippi. He says, "For our citizenship is in heaven. From which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." He tells believers in Philippi that we are citizens of heaven now, he doesn't say, someday you'll be a citizen of heaven. He says, now, this is your identity, you're a citizen of heaven. So me being a U.S. citizen, when I travel to other places, I have a U.S. passport. I go to other places, but I don't get too involved, I don't necessarily get too attached wherever I am because that's not really my home, I'm just kind of passing through. But I still am a U.S. citizen, even if I'm in different countries, right? Well, the same thing for us, we are citizens of heaven, even though we aren't there yet, we represent heaven and bring heaven with us wherever we are. And so the sense is that we are citizens of heaven here, we're passing through, and we want as many people to come with us as possible. We have our sights set beyond this Earth in heaven, he left us here for a season, for a reason, he wants to use you, he wants to use me, he wants to be involved in the eternal work that he's doing.

Troy Spilman: [00:30:25] So what do we fix our eyes upon? Verse 18, he says, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." So the YOLO mindset would say grab all you can get out of this life because it's all you got, but the Bible instructs us and says, make your focus on that which is eternal, and you will not be sorry.

Troy Spilman: [00:30:53] So I want to switch gears for a moment, introduce you to a couple that does just this, where they have an eternal mindset. Yes, they're here on this Earth and they want to be use of the Lord, but they have an eternal focus. So I'm actually going to bring up William and Michelle, so William and Michelle Kiprop, come on up and come right in front here. We're so glad that you can join us during this time, they're heading back to Africa and a couple of weeks. And so while they're here. One, I just wanted to focus a little bit, you know, and bring to your attention that we have a luncheon afterwards at noon. So after the next service, at noon, that we're going to be able to spend more time to hear more of the story of what God's doing there in Kenya through this ministry that they have. So you have William, Michelle, and Ryan, of course, so glad you're here, awesome.

Troy Spilman: [00:31:53] And so when you think about what God has done in the years, Living Word sent out Michelle, married William, and of course, you have Ryan, and family keeps growing. And so their ministry there, they take care of those that are in the community, and even farther out. They care for Africans and spiritually and physically, and so they have a clinic that's farther out in more remote regions, but they also have their hospital that's been completed. I know it's still kind of working on, it's almost like going to be with those works in progress, where we keep adding to it, adding to it. They have an off-road ambulance that's pretty awesome looking. And so of course, the Bowmans are there now as well, so you have Kurt and Jody and the boys, and they're there and he's doing his doctor work and surgeries, and he's fit in really well. And so this ministry continues to expand, continues to grow.

Troy Spilman: [00:32:44] Where they know, yes, they're helping people physically, but yet, they're also playing spiritual seeds, and they have teams of pastors that actually go and serve as chaplains whenever they do an outreach, or they have some kind of medical issue that they perform, they have pastors and prayer counselors there to kind of bring that spiritual care and talk about Jesus. So I'm so excited to see what God has done, looking forward to what he will continue to do. So at noon, don't forget at noon, come back, grab some coffee, come back at noon, we have a lunch, the food's all taken care of. You can just show up and hear more about what God is doing in them and through them, and how you could possibly be part of that story as well.

Troy Spilman: [00:33:29] So while they're here, we're going to wrap up just with a word of prayer. I'm going to pray for them, and also just for us. So, Lord, I thank you, I thank you for this family that has this eternal long game lens perspective. Lord, where they know there's a greater work that you're doing. Lord, I pray that you'll continue to open hearts and soften the hearts of those they work with. Lord, I pray you'll give them wisdom as they bring medical care and treatment. I pray that you will open doors for them, Lord, you'll give them favor with her community as a whole, with the officials, you'll expand their reach. Lord, we pray that you continue to provide for them in amazing ways, Lord, that you'd give them protection.

Troy Spilman: [00:34:11] For us a church, Lord, I pray that you would show us how we can love them and support them. Lord, give us an eternal perspective, help us to be like Paul. Lord, thank you for this example of Jesus, of living counterculturally to the YOLO mentality in our world, help us to see the big picture and say yes to you. Lord, please do a work in us. We ask all these things in Jesus' name. We all said, Amen. Amen. God bless you, thanks for being here, we'll see you next week.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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