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Faith: Future-Oriented and Present-Shaping

• Daniel Baker

Posted in Books, Grace

As Christians we often stress the now-ness of our faith, what it brings to us in the moment. That is right. But there is another dimension of faith which is unavoidably future-oriented. It deals with grace and blessing and riches and treasure and wonders that have yet to come. The culmination of faith is not in the present; it is in what has yet to come. Yet, these glories that await us in the future have a way of breaking into our present. The NOT YET becomes ALREADY for the people of God.

John Piper has famously dealt with this in his book Future Grace. The concept he is dealing with is profound and paradigm shaping. Here is a taste of the substance of the book:

    When I say that faith is profoundly and pervasively future-oriented, I don't mean that it is experienced in the future. Faith is always experienced in the present. In fact, that is how I am defining the present. It is the instant of experience. Faith is always experienced now. When I say it is profoundly and pervasively future-oriented, I mean that deep inside this present experience of faith, the heart is picturing a future. When faith is in fullest operation, it pictures a future with a God who is so powerful and so loving and so wise and so satisfying that this future-picturing faith experiences assurance. Now.
    The closest thing we have to a definition of faith in the New Testament is in Hebrews 11:1, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for." That word assurance can mean "substance" or "nature" as in Hebrews 1:3, "[Christ] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature." Therefore, it seems to me, that the point of Hebrews 11:1 is this: When faith pictures the future which God promises, it experiences, as it were, a present "substantiation" of the future. The substance of the future, the nature of it, is, in a way, present in the experience of faith. Faith realizes the future. It has, so to speak, a foretaste of it—as when we are so excited about something and so expectant of it, we say, "I can already taste it!"

May the glories of your future give you strength for the hardships of your present.


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