Grace Theology Press is pleased to announce a newly released resource that will help you frame and focus your life toward that which is truly important -Â Improving the Quality of Your Eternal Life:Â A Primer on New Testament Exhortations to the Believer by Thomas M. Lancaster.
Dr. Dave Anderson, President of Grace School of Theology, says concerning this book:Â â€œMost Christians think about eternal life as something that goes on forever in linear time. Of course this is true, but unbelievers also have an eternal life that continues forever. The difference between the two groups is not the quantity of existence, but the quality of existence. But thatâ€™s not all. Tom Lancaster paints a beautiful portrait showing how the quality of eternal life for the believer can get better and better. With his gift for simplicity and clarity, he unpacks passage after passage in the New Testament showing us how one can improve the quality of eternal life by improving his walk with Christ today.â€
I think you will find Tom Lancasterâ€™s new book able to provide a word of encouragement as well as a word of exhortation that will help you reorient your life toward an eternal perspective. Hear the words from the preface of the book.
â€œSome may find the title of this book intriguing, if not preposterous or incredible. Isnâ€™t life in eternity (at least once we are freed from our sin nature) supposed to beÂ perfect? How then can its quality be improved? Moreover, even if a believer could presume to effect such a change, how would he do it? As unfamiliar as this may be to some, the concept of contributing to the quality of oneâ€™s eternal life is a significant topic in the New Testament. It is repeatedly mentioned by Jesus and is a frequent concern of the writers of the epistles.
The ability to contribute to the quality of eternal life, however, must be distinguished from gaining eternal life. Gaining eternal life is acquired only by placing oneâ€™s trust in the work of Jesus on the cross, for justification is gained by faith alone. Contributing to the quality of eternal life, on the other hand, can only occur after one becomes justified; and is directly linked to paying the cost of discipleship, or ‘running the race with endurance.’
So important is the abundant aspect of eternal life that Jesus exhorts His followers to contribute towards it at any opportunity, using every worldly resource at their disposal. This is the essential meaning of the parable of the â€œunjust stewardâ€ in Luke 16:1-9. Here Jesus tells of a steward who, having just learned of his imminent firing and not wanting to be forced into manual labor, sets out to create friends in the business world by reducing their indebtedness to his master. Upon learning of his stewardâ€™s actions, the master, though still releasing his steward, commends him for his shrewdness. In applying the parable, Jesus says, â€œFor the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light. And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting kingdom.â€ Jesus points out that unbelievers (sons of this world) are quite adept and clever at using worldly resources to lay up for themselves so that they may enjoy the later years of their lives. As a mild rebuke, Jesus says that believers (sons of light) are typically far less dedicated in using their worldly resources (unrighteous mammon) to lay up for themselves so they may have an abundant eternal life. His rebuke is magnified when one realizes that the â€œsons of the worldâ€ are laying up that which will perish; while the â€œsons of lightâ€ have the opportunity to lay up what can never be destroyed! The subjects of the chapters of this book derive from Jesusâ€™ voiced concern in the parable of the unjust steward.
It seems evident from Scripture that there is a hierarchy among believers in the coming kingdom. This ranking stems from the devotedness of disciples and has application to all believers. In running our individual ‘races,’ we might ask ourselves: Are we living with the expectation that we will someday face Jesus, who will judge all that we have used in building on the foundation He has laid? (Ch. 1) Are we responding to the divine call in our lives? (Ch. 2) Do we love Christ more than all else in this world? (Ch. 3) Are we investing our lives in things of eternal value? (Ch. 4) Are we earnestly preparing to meet our groom? (Ch. 5) Do we openly confess Jesus and the gospel message by the way we live? (Ch. 6) Are we making the gospel attractive to others, or do we bring offense to the name of Jesus? (Ch. 7) Are we abiding in Jesus and bearing fruit? (Ch. 8)
The chapter titles contain the familiar terminology used in the gospels and epistles that refer to the above questions. The driving force behind the writing of this book was a desire to address the misunderstanding of these familiar terms and Bible passages.â€
If you like what you just read, let me encourage you to order a copy of Improving the Quality of Your Eternal Life.
Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Managing Editor, Grace Theology Press