“Eternity in Our Hearts”, by John W. Tweeddale (Hope, Betrothal to Christ, Beloveds)

Eternity in Our Hearts by John W. Tweeddale

Few things better capture the anticipation of seeing Christ face-to-face than a wedding. On January 14, 1632, the Scottish Presbyterian pastor and theologian Samuel Rutherford wrote a letter drawing attention to this phenomenon. He states, “Our love to [Christ] should begin on earth, as it shall be in heaven; for the bride taketh not by a thousand degrees so much delight in her wedding garment, as she doth in her bridegroom.”

If you have ever been to a wedding, you will appreciate Rutherford’s observation. No matter how beautiful her dress, the bride never walks down the aisle with her gaze on her gown. Her focus is on her soon-to-be husband. Rutherford extends the illustration to help us see more clearly the real wonder of heaven.

He continues, “So we, in the life to come, howbeit clothed with glory as with a robe, shall not be so much affected with the glory that goeth about us, as with the bridegroom’s joyful face and presence.” Under the surface of Rutherford’s old-fashioned prose is a profound illustration. As stunning as heaven will be, what makes it so marvelous is that we will finally see our Savior’s face. The church as the bride will be with Jesus as the groom, and they will live happily ever after.

Nearly two centuries after Rutherford wrote his famous letters, an English poet named Anne Cousin penned the well-known hymn “The Sands of Time Are Sinking” based on Rutherford’s “sweet sayings.” One stanza in particular encapsulates the drama of beholding Christ in glory:

The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face;
I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand;
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

This side of eternity, the Christian life is like an engagement. It is lived in anticipation of the wedding day. As Christians, we live in between the already of our betrothal to Christ and the not-yet of the wedding feast of the lamb. We are to be like the bride-to-be who takes every occasion to prepare for life with her beloved. The expectation of seeing Christ by sight in heaven must therefore inform how we live by faith here on earth. The expectation of seeing Christ by sight in heaven must inform how we live by faith here on earth.

On a more basic level, the eagerness felt by engaged couples exposes a fundamental desire that all people share: a longing for eternity. This point is well made by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 3:9–11:

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Let’s consider two ways this text teaches us about our longing for eternity. First, we are told that God “has made everything beautiful in its time” (v. 11). One modern commentator has called this verse “the greatest statement of divine providence in the whole of Scripture.” What makes this biblical text so striking is that there is much in life that is far from beautiful. But the Preacher isn’t unaware of the ugliness that pervades the world. His question in verse 9 echoes the curse pronouncement in the garden of Eden: “What gain has the worker from his toil?” This is not merely a rhetorical question that is detached from the pressures of real life experience (see 1:3). The apparent futility of hard work with little gain is something he has witnessed firsthand. “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with” (3:10).

To be clear, the biblical record affirms the dignity of work. Before the fall, Adam and Eve were commanded to execute their duties with the promise of being fruitful (Gen. 1:28–31; 2:15–17; see Eccl. 3:13). But after the fall, work is toilsome (Gen. 3:17–19). We no longer perform our tasks in the lush environs of a garden but in the harsh conditions of a wilderness filled with thorns and thistles, failure and frustration.

As the Preacher laments in Ecclesiastes 2:23, “Work is a vexation.” When we face hardship in our careers, injustice in the workplace, and defeat in completing assignments, we are confronted with the painful truth that this fallen world will never yield lasting gain. Vocational dissatisfaction reminds us that we were made for something greater than that which our hobbies and careers can offer.

But there is hope. We are told that God has made everything beautiful in its time. The “everything” in Ecclesiastes 3:11 harks back to the “everything” in verse 1: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” That life is lived under the watchful care of a sovereign Creator illumines our understanding of everything. In light of His providence, we learn that there is a time for birth and death, for planting and gathering, for mourning and dancing, for war and peace. Over all these things, God is in control. The beauty is found in the discovery that God orchestrates every last detail according to His perfect design.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 is the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament. In Romans 8:28, the Apostle Paul states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Notice that Paul does not say that all things are good but that all things work together for good. And what is the good? It is being conformed into the likeness of Christ (v. 29). As Christians experience the seasons of life, we can be comforted in knowing that God uses every circumstance to shape us more and more into the image of His Son.

On August 24, 1662, more than two thousand ministers were ejected from the Church of England for not conforming to the Book of Common Prayer. The day was known as Black Bartholomew’s Day, a solemn reference to when thousands of French Huguenots were massacred on the same day in 1572. One of the ejected ministers was a Puritan named Thomas Watson. In response to the Great Ejection, he wrote a short book titled A Divine Cordial, based on Romans 8:28, in order to comfort Christians undergoing suffering.

He observed that “the best things and the worst things, by the overruling hand of the great God, do work together for the good of the saints.” It is undeniable that this world is often grim and filled with heartache. But God beautifully uses both joys and sorrows to transform us as Christians into the likeness of Christ. Disappointments have a way of making us long even more to be with Him.


Second, we are told that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Eccl. 3:11). These words anticipate the opening of Augustine’s Confessions, where he states: “To praise You is the desire of man, a little piece of Your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” Both the ancient Preacher and the church father affirm that we are created with a knowledge of God and a longing for eternity.

Whereas Augustine draws attention to the restlessness we experience apart from knowing God in Christ, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes makes a slightly different point. By emphasizing the futility of life under the sun, he pushes us to recognize our innate awareness of eternity.

Notice how much the Preacher says he perceives about the ways of God. He understands that God gives work to men as a gift (Eccl. 3:10, 13), that God makes everything beautiful in its time (v. 11a), that God puts eternity into man’s hearts (v. 11b), that God’s purposes are inscrutable (v. 11c), that God’s plans endure forever (vv. 14–15), and that God will judge the righteous and the wicked (vv. 16–22).

In short, the Preacher knows that God’s ways are beautiful, incomprehensible, and eternal. Although we are finite and fallen creatures, God has given us the capacity to discern that history has a purpose, even if we are unable to understand fully “what God has done from the beginning to the end” (v. 11). Being confronted with our finitude should increase our dependence on God. We are to live our lives from the vantage point of eternity.

Sin, however, distorts this perspective. We no longer treat work as a gift from God but as a platform for personal greatness. Time is seen not as something beautiful that should be redeemed but as something inconsequential that can be squandered. History is understood not as the arena of God’s providential rule but as the playground for the powerful to prey on the weak. And eternal life is not to be desired but to be mocked by those who only live for the moment. Ecclesiastes teaches us that such fatalism is futile. We are made to know God. Nothing apart from eternity with Him will satisfy our deepest longings.

The good news is that Christ provides the way for sinful people to dwell in the presence of God forever. As the Apostle Peter states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This eternal hope is what we live for. As pilgrims who are traveling from this world to the next, we wake up each morning eagerly awaiting the return of our King. We recognize that every Lord’s Day is a foretaste of eternity. And for the rest of the week, we punch our time clocks knowing that even our toils are being used by God to prepare us for Immanuel’s Land.

On the morning of Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1683, William Payne went to bid his longtime friend John Owen farewell. Payne also brought news that Owen’s last book was soon to be published. Owen memorably replied:

I am glad to hear that that performance is put to the press; but, O brother Payne, the long looked for day is come at last, in which I shall see that glory in another manner than I have ever done yet or was capable of doing in this world!

Owen’s dying testimony was to remind his congregation of eternity. He wanted them to know that the only way to see Christ by sight in heaven is to first behold Him by faith here on earth.

Dr. John W. Tweeddale is academic dean and professor of theology at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Fla., and a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. He is author of John Owen and Hebrews.

Source: Tabletalk Magazine

“Our Peace, Our Hearts, All with God”, from Precept Austin (One Heart, the Person of Christ, Joined Together)

BIBLICAL PEACE

Webster defines PEACE as a “state (not an attitude but a condition of one’s heart) of stillness and serenity, of freedom from disquieting, agitating, anxious thoughts and a condition of harmony in relationships.” The Greek word for PEACE is EIRENE from the verb EIRO which means to join or bind together that which has been broken, divided or separated! Eirene is the root of our English word “serene” (free of storms or disturbance, marked by utter calm). EIRENE literally pictures the binding or joining together again of that which has been separated, the result being that the separated parts are set at one again. Our common English expression “having it all together” speaks of everything in place and as it ought to be, a good description of BIBLICAL PEACE. When things (or people) are disjointed, there is lack of harmony and absence of an inner sense of well-being.

When things (or people) are joined together, there is a sense of harmony, well-being and freedom from inner turmoil. PEACE can also describe cessation of war – “war” describes the state of all mankind in Adam (Ro 5:12note) because before salvation we were enemies of God (Ro 5:10-note) and our peace with Him was broken.

When we believed in Jesus by grace thru faith we were transferred from our old position in Adam to our new, eternal position of peace with God in Christ (1Cor 15:22-sermon). As Paul explained “having been justified by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro 5:1note)

Matthew Henry once asked “What peace can they have who are not at peace with God?” answering that “Peace is such a precious jewel, that I would give anything for it but truth.” Amen! 

ONE HEART

One of the best illustrations of BIBLICAL PEACE I have ever encountered is from missionary Jim Walton who was translating the New Testament for the Muinane people of La Sabana in the jungles of Colombia. However, Jim was having trouble translating the word PEACE. About this same time (don’t you love the PROVIDENCE of God!), Fernando, the village chief, was promised a 20-minute plane ride to a location that would have taken him 3 days to travel by walking. The plane was delayed in arriving at La Sabana, so Fernando departed on foot. When the plane finally came, a runner took off to bring Fernando back. But by the time he had returned, the plane had left. Fernando was furious (loss of peace) because of the mix-up. He went to Jim and launched into an angry tirade. Fortunately, Walton taped the chief’s diatribe and later when he translated it, he discovered that the chief kept repeating the phrase, “I don’t have ONE HEART.” Jim asked other villagers what having “ONE HEART” meant, and he found that it was like saying, “There is nothing between you and the other person.” Walton realized that God had just given him the picture he needed to translate the word PEACE into their language!

To have peace with God means that there is nothing–no sin, no guilt, no condemnation–that separates us from God, PEACE possible only through Christ, Paul writing “having been justified (declared eternally in right standing before God) by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ro 5:1note).

Do you have “ONE HEART” with God today?

Outside of Christ there is no peace.

Only those in Christ know peace!

Amy Carmichael, missionary to India wrote, “Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall enjoy much peace…If you refuse to be hurried and pressed, if you stay your soul on God, nothing can keep you from that clearness of spirit which is life and peace. In that stillness you know what His will is.”

Indeed as Thomas Watson said “The seeming PEACE a sinner has is not from the knowledge of his happiness but the ignorance of his danger.” D L Moody adds that “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.”

BIBLICAL PEACE describes that state of inner repose and quietness, even (especially) in adverse circumstances, which indicates that this peace is not natural but must be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, a truth that Paul affirms writing that “the fruit of the Spirit is…PEACE” (Gal 5:22-note) It follows that we can possess “ONE HEART” because God is able to give us His peace even when our lives seem to be “falling to pieces.” Have you experienced His supernatural peace that surpasses all human understanding (Php 4:7note)? How can we experience this glorious peace? We experience this peace by learning to surrender to the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.

As Kenneth Wuest explains this blessed “state of untroubled, undisturbed tranquility and well being is produced in the heart of the yielded saint by the Holy Spirit. We have this peace to the extent that we are yielded to the Spirit and are intelligently conscious of and dependent upon His ministry for us.” (Wuest, K. S. Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Alexander Maclaren adds that this “PEACE comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of Christ.

Jesus promised His fearful little flock

PEACE I leave with you. MY PEACE (“the imperturbable, inviolable peace of Jesus imparted to us in every detail of our lives”-Oswald Chambers) I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (Note that Jesus is saying that His peace is the “divine balm” for a troubled and fearful heart!) (John 14:27)

Comment: See 3 Spurgeon sermons on this passage – Spiritual PeaceThe Best of MastersThe Cause and Effect of Heart Trouble

As Amy Carmichael (who lived in the midst of troubling circumstances as a woman missionary in India) testified, “The PEACE of Jesus stood every sort of test, every strain, and it never broke. It is this, His very own PEACE, which He says ‘I give.’”

And so we see that the peace that Jesus gives is not a guarantee of the absence of trouble, but instead is the promise that He is there with us in and thru the storm (Cf “The waves were breaking over the boat…and HE HIMSELF was in the stern”-Mk 4:37-38-sermon). While sometimes Jesus chooses to calm the storm as when He declared “PEACE, BE STILL” (Mk 4:39KJV), at other times He lets the storm rage and calms His child by giving His peace that transcends human understanding.

Regardless, as Oswald Chambers says “No matter how complicated the circumstances may be, one moment of contact with Jesus and the fuss is gone, the panic is gone, all the shallow emptiness is gone, and His PEACE is put in, absolute tranquility, because of what He says—“All power is given unto Me.”

Jesus again repeated the truth about His peace to His fearful disciples declaring “These things (John 13-16) I have spoken to you, that IN ME you may have PEACE. In the world you have tribulation (affliction, trouble), but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33-Spurgeon sermon) Observe the phrase “IN ME” which signifies that Jesus’ peace is not just His PROMISE (which it is) but even better, PEACE is the PERSON of Christ Himself! (cf Eph 2:14-noteMicah 5:5-note)

Now may the LORD OF PEACE HIMSELF continually grant you PEACE in EVERY (Greek means “all” w/o exception!) circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” (2Th 3:16Spurgeon sermon). Indeed “Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace.” Pause and meditate a few moments on God’s perfect peace in Christ as you sing this great hymn to Him…

Like a river glorious, is God’s perfect peace,
Over all victorious, in its bright increase;
Perfect, yet it floweth, fuller every day,
Perfect, yet it groweth, deeper all the way.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand,
Never foe can follow, never traitor stand;
Not a surge of worry, not a shade of care,
Not a blast of hurry touch the spirit there.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Every joy or trial falleth from above,
Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love;
We may trust Him fully all for us to do.
They who trust Him wholly find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.

Francis Havergal

When we keep our MIND fixed (stayed) on the LORD OF PEACE, He gives us His PEACE OF MIND for as a man or woman thinks in their heart so they are (Pr 23:7a).

Great GOD OF PEACE by Your Spirit cause our hearts to BE STILL, and grant us Your grace to understand BIBLICAL PEACE so that we might know the blessedness of this peace by personal possession and practice, in the Name of Christ Jesus our Peace, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6sermon) and the God of Peace Who will soon crush Satan under His feet. (Ro 16:20note) Amen

Dearly beloved, is your SOUL troubled (lacking His peace)? After you have meditated on the truth about God’s Peace, take a moment to sing prayerfully to your SOUL (cf similar exhortation in Ps 42:5-note) the beautiful Selah hymn medley

Be Still” and “What a Friend we Have in Jesus

BE STILL, MY SOUL: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
BE STILL, MY SOUL: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
BE STILL MY SOUL the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below
Oh what PEACE we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.

BE STILL MY SOUL

Source- Precept Austin

“The Nests of Red Barn”, a worship poem from L.Willows (Blessing, God’s Peace, Trusting God)

Winter’s green fields come round full of grace.
Valleys run deep to catch the sun’s lace.
Hills and mountains run full yonder cast
a lavender grey mist woes deep from the vast.

Nearby farmhouse stand upright, straight and red
held generations are warm, bred and well-fed.
And as the horses, goats, cows all graze in the fields,
it seems that they know of a treasure there sealed.

Peace lies in the whispers and the hallows of red Barn;
In the huddle of chickens and cat nesting in hay yarn.
Here is the core of all life on the farm,
All rest on the eve of a home next to each,
each creature sweet nested, with Farmer in reach.

© 2016 Linda Willows

Isaiah 12:2 — “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 26:3 –“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

2 Thessalonians 3:16 –“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”