Nearly every summer, my parents loaded my siblings and me into the family car and embarked on that common vacation ritual known as “the road trip.” Years later, as the father to my own young children, I have a sense of what my parents experienced on those trips. I now often hear the question from the backseat that must have rung in my father’s ears as he drove us down the highway: “Are we there yet?” The answer, of course, is found in the asking. Yet my wife or I still reply from the front seat, “No, we are not there yet—we’ll let you know when we are.”
Unlike children’s recurring query on family road trips, the same question is one that every child of God ought to ask regarding his or her Christian life, a life that the Bible depicts as progressing toward a definite goal. For example, Scripture compares the Christian life to a race we must finish (1 Cor. 9:24; see 2 Tim. 4:7) and to a pilgrimage we must make toward the “city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14). Christians are called to take up their cross and “follow” after Christ (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34), to “walk” in fellowship with Him (Eph. 2:10), and to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
In light of that biblical guidance, the question of whether Christians living today are “there yet” seems easy to answer. We are still running, walking, pressing on, and, as we do so, we face all manner of trials and sinful inclinations. We see, and to some extent experience, decay—both physical and moral—in this fallen world. Energy yields to enervation in our bodies as the years roll by. One imagines that if these stark realities could speak, they would shout back at our inquiring hearts, “No, you are not there yet—you’ll know when you are.” And yet, the Bible tells us that there is more to the story.
In mind-boggling and mysterious fashion, even as it portrays the Christian life as one that is on the move, Scripture declares that the supernatural power of our heavenly goal has broken into this fallen world through the person and work of Jesus Christ. In His opening sermon, He proclaimed that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17), and He verified the arrival of that kingdom by healing the sick and casting out demons (Matt. 12:28; Luke 9:11). Older saints who were “waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38) understood, as Jesus declared, that His arrival fulfilled centuries of Old Testament expectations (see Luke 4:21; 24:25–27). The healing events and the displays of His power over Satan’s minions culminated in His definitive triumph over sin and death through His own death and resurrection (John 12:31–33; Heb. 2:14–15). Even now, the preaching of the gospel testifies that God’s kingdom is here now and that any human being without exception may receive it by faith (Luke 16:16; see 18:17). This is why the author of Hebrews describes those who profess faith in Christ as having “tasted … the powers of the age to come” (Heb. 6:5). From that angle, as to their salvation, Christians have already arrived at their destination.