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Future Grace

This grace gripped the heart of the apostle Peter who had been warned by the Lord Jesus: "Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish" (John 21:18).


Dr. John Woodward | IOM Blog Contributor


Over the years I've had the opportunity to take many airplane flights. One of the lingering impressions is the sight of eager faces circling the airport's doorway, waiting for those who are deplaning. As passengers come into view they are greeted with delighted shouts and joyful hugs. If parting is "such sweet sorrow," then reunion is sweet happiness. The anticipation of such reunions encourages the travelers!


Prior to a flight bound for Atlanta, I bumped into a friend at the airport terminal where passengers gathered for boarding. We had half an hour to catch up on news. I told Brian that I was looking forward to seeing my father later that morning in Atlanta. When our plane landed there, Brian deplaned before I did. As he went through the door into the terminal, he saw an older gentleman to whom I bear a noticeable resemblance. Taking a chance about his identity, he said to my dad, "are you waiting for John? He's on the plane and will be out soon." My father was a bit mystified as to how this stranger recognized him, but was glad to hear that I would eventually emerge from the jet! Our reunion was a happy one.


As I reflected on the memories of people eagerly awaiting the arrival of loved ones, I imagine the joy of true believers in Christ when they will one day see Him face to face. Oh the joy of the family reunion we will have with those who have "fallen asleep in Christ" (1 Thess. 4:14). The cluster of blessings promised to believers are aspects of "future grace."


The apostle Peter's hope


This grace gripped the heart of the apostle Peter who had been warned by the Lord Jesus: "Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish" (John 21:18). This Disciple wrote to the early church regarding his predicted martyrdom: "I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent [the mortal body], to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me" (2 Peter 1:13,14).


How would you have felt if you knew that martyrdom awaited you? Could you have maintained a joyful life and a fruitful ministry? Peter did, and he mentioned a vital resource that fortified him. Peter was assured of his destiny in heaven and focused his hope on future grace (1 Peter 1:3-5).


He instructed those who faced persecution under the infamous emperor Nero:


"Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).


To "gird up your loins" is a figure of speech meaning "prepare your minds for action" (NIV). Having done so, we are to "be sober" and grasp the implications of God's truth, including future grace. This is the "grace that is to be brought to you" (as a child of God). And when will this grace be distributed? It will be given "at the revelation of Jesus Christ"—at His Second Coming.


What are some blessings of future grace that believers can anticipate?


1. We will see the glory of heaven.


Those who die in Christ are "absent from the body and present with the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:7). Our Lord reassured the disciples the night before His crucifixion: "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you ... I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there y