The Christian life is a life of true expectancy. The corporate Christian life—life together in the church—is a life of corporate expectancy. It does not yet appear what we will be, but we know that it will be glorious and good. Even prior to the last day, the day of resurrection, we expect to see stupendous realities unfold in this world because of the impact of the gospel. Paul tells us that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man, what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:9).
When it comes to what God is “up to,” we have to come to grips with the fact that we are not capable of getting our expectations too high. We are capable of getting them too high too soon, which is the problem of an over-realized eschatology. This is the problem of premature grabbing—reaching into the future and demanding that all the benefits that Isaiah gloriously saw be our present possession now. Another phrase that describes this temptation to rush things is immanetizing the eschaton. This is the special province of cranks and utopians, and so we must be on guard against it. Friends don’t let friends immanetize the eschaton.
Because we are postmillennial in our outlook, we are optimistic about history long term. That means we will face temptations in this area—the temptation to regard every stretch of good news as the advent of the golden era.
Ironically, this is the same temptation that Adam and Eve succumbed to. God had not prohibited the tree of the knowledge of good and evil forever. That tree would provide them with the ability to rule—which is what the phrase refers to throughout Scripture. Note that after they had eaten from it, God says that “they have become like us, knowing good and evil.” Their problem was that they grabbed for their responsibilities prematurely, and they disobeyed in order to do so.
The very best way to be given new and marvelous responsibilities is to be diligent and hardworking with the old, duddy ones.