“In the Old Testament the firstfruits constituted the earliest part of the crop that was offered in thanksgiving to God. But the term signified not just that it was a gift but that it was a ‘pledge of the remainder’ a promise or ‘assurance of a full harvest.’ This means that the resurrection of Jesus points to our future resurrection. It guarantees it.”- Timothy Keller
“But Christ had indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”- 1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV)
As Timothy Keller continues in Chapter 2 of Hope in Times of Fear, he turns his focus to the already-but-not-yet kingdom of God. However, Pastor Keller notes, if we overstress the ‘already’ we soon come to expect quick solutions to problems. While suffering and tragedy dismay us. On the other hand, to overstress the ‘not yet’ creates pessimism about personal change. And we may withdraw from engaging in the world.
In addition, Pastor Keller cites John Stott, who suggests four more applications:
1. Knowledge of truth. God’s given us His Word. Yet, we must exercise humility in our ability to understand the Word perfectly. Thus, ‘not yet’ means more charity in nonessentials. More humility, tolerance, and openness in areas of disagreement. One truth – the firstfruits of Jesus point to our future resurrection.
2. Personal change and growth. The ‘already’ means showing more confidence in anyone’s ability to change. And the ‘not yet’ means treating growing persons with more patience and understanding.
3. Church change and growth. The ‘already’ means confidence in God’s ability to use the local church to bring revival and transformation. But the ‘not yet’ means it’s not possible to totally eliminate error and evil from the church.
4. Social change. Finally, the ‘already’ means Christians expect to use God’s power to change social conditions and communities. However, the ‘not yet’ means Christians must not trust any politician or social agenda to achieve full righteousness on earth.
In conclusion, Pastor Keller note that the resurrection ushers in the presence of the future. Hence, as we unite with the risen Christ through faith, that future power potent enough to remake the universe comes into us.
Today’s question: What does it mean to you that the firstfruits promised assurance of a full harvest? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Controlled by the lord of our life”