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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Editor’s Note: Pastor Scott Peterson is sharing daily devotions written by some of his favorite authors. These current devotions are written by Arndt Halvorson on the writings of P.T. Forsyth. Their biographies and any notes by Pastor Scott are listed at the end of the devotion.

Eternal Life Is Now

by Arndt Halvorson

“Immortality is really a destiny pressing on us by Christ in us. Our immortality lies on us with that kindling weight, that weight of glory, that weight of wings. Weight but not pressure. The wings that add to our weight, yet lift us from the ground. Ask – am I living as an immortal–not as one who will be immortal?”

–P.T. Forsyth

As Christians we have the best of two worlds. As Mr. Forsyth writes elsewhere, “To live is Christ. To die is more Christ.”

“What is heaven like?” the girl asked her mother.

“I’m not sure of the details,” her mother answered, “but if it is better than this life, and it is, it must be glorious.”

We have been side-swiped by eternity. In Baptism we were given God’s promise to never leave us. He keeps his promise. We may, to be sure, forget this many times. Life may seem empty and purposeless. We often feel frighteningly alone. Yet, something intrudes, often at strange times, like the call of a bird for its mate, reminding us that there is another dimension to life than this seemingly endless round of going to work, cashing the pay check, and paying bills.

This call of God strengthens us to do more than “grin and bear it.” We respond to something which causes us to help someone else, to pray for and reach out to someone else, to notice the flowers and the birds and the beauty of people. We dare to be concerned with issues and causes which cannot be really called “profitable”–but which are the essence of life.

This is poetry, to be sure, but the poet does see reality which is not visible to the earthbound. “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” asks the poet. The day is coming, yes is here even now, when we can see and know God face to face, and strangely, his face seems to be that of my neighbor!

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:21,23)

Peter Taylor Forsyth was a theologian, pastor, and educator whose fiery preaching and provocative writing stirred Great Britain from 1874 until his death in 1921. For a number of years after his death he was forgotten, but since 1940 he has been “rediscovered” and has been studied by many of today’s church leaders and theologians. Born and educated in Scotland, he combines Scottish toughness and gentleness, practicality and mysticism, with an openness to the world outside–mainly German, Scandinavian and French thought. Since he was a pastor for 25 years, he does not write to systematize his thought, but to apply it to our daily lives. Thus, his theology has a personal “bite” which gets us involved as participants, not spectators. His writings seem current, addressing the great questions of our time–such issues as authority, how to read the Bible, prayer, the cross and its significance and the call to holiness by a Holy God.

Arndt L. Halvorson (1915 – 2006) was my preaching professor at Luther Seminary where he taught homiletics (preaching) for 24 years.  When Arndt dressed-up he wore cowboy cut suits, with a string tie and cowboy boots.  He had a passion for the gospel and his bluntness in communication was engaging.  One day in my preaching lab Arndt said, “Some of the best sermons I ever heard were preached without notes.  And, all of the worst sermons I ever heard were preached without notes.”  –Pastor Scott