Powerful Prophecies, Pt. 6
Study Guide, March 19, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
One of the most intriguing aspects of God’s prophecies concerning our future in the New Heavens and New Earth has to do with the revelation about our ‘reigning with Christ’. Actually, for those of you that have seen the Chronicles of Narnia movies, one of the themes that C.S. Lewis was stressing in these works was this theme of reigning in the new kingdom. You remember that Aslan was symbolic of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, or Jesus, and the four children that grew up were kings and queens who were intended to reign over Narnia.
This concept of reigning with Christ in the New Kingdom is a clear reality throughout the Bible and it is something that God wants us to clearly understand about our future in the coming Kingdom of our Lord. Just take a look at some of the prophetic passages that reveal this to us.
2 Tim 2:12- “If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him.” NLT
Rev 5:9-10- “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
Rev 20:6- “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
Rev 22:5- “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” NASU
One of the frequent questions people have about Heaven is; “What we will do there?” But how often have you heard other Christians answer that question with, “Well, one of the things God says we will be doing on the New Earth and in the New Heavens is that we will be ‘reigning with Christ’.”
Isn’t it strange that one of the most important things that God wants His church to know about and to be preparing for is historically one of the most neglected teachings of the church? Yes, it is strange! Harry A. Ironside was a Canadian-American Bible teacher and author who pastored the Moody Bible Church in Chicago from 1929 to 1948. One of his mantras was to remind Christians that all through life they were in ‘reigning training’. That’s right: ‘reigning training’. In this life we are to realize that we are “training for reigning”, as in, whatever else you are doing in your life, remember what your life is preparation for: ‘reigning with Christ.’
Besides wanting a family, God also wanted to create sons and daughters who would rule and reign over all He had created. Remember, all Creation is part of the inheritance of God’s children. With this in mind look carefully at what the Psalmist said about one of the purposes of mankind? Ps 8:3-6- “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands…” NASU David went on to speak of this rule over the earth, but note that he also connected it with the works of ‘the heavens’. Even the Apostle Paul reminded us that the entire creation is awaiting the final redemption in order for the children of God to be revealed or unveiled as co-heirs of God and be freed to reign over a redeemed creation. Rom 8:19-21- “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” NASU
Many of the descriptions of the redeemed, or of the renovated, and then even the resurrected new kingdom are focused on the Earth, as in the Apostle John seeing the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven to become the capitol city of Earth and the Universe. But the redemption of creation extends to the entire creation, as we see the Apostle Peter describing in 2 Peter 3:10-13- “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” NASU
That’s pretty intense, to say the least! Now, the timing of this prophecy is at the conclusion of the Millennial Kingdom, which is why we say that the Millennial Kingdom is a renovation of the Earth, but the Eternal Kingdom is a resurrection of the Earth and the Heavens as well. And we say, ‘resurrection’ of the Earth and Heavens, because they were created to be eternal, thus, the destruction spoken of here is not their annihilation, but of their purification and complete renewal; a completely renewed or resurrected Earth and Heavens. Plus, catch this: God’s reign and rule extends over all creation; the Heavens and the Earth. And since God’s sons and daughters were created to reign with Christ, that means whatever rule God extends to us also extends to the Heavens as well as the Earth, for that is just what the Psalmist said: “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands.”
In a terrific book by Joseph Dillow called, The Reign of the Servant Kings, he points out that it is evident that this future kingdom embraces the entire created order. He said that while it is true that one purpose of the heavens was to ‘declare the glory of God’, it seems that they were also created to be placed in subjection to man (for man to rule and reign over the galaxies). He spoke about how when people began to discover the enormity of the universe, such as finding out that the universe was at least 20 billion light years in diameter, that it made the scientists feel rather insignificant. However, when you begin to factor in this plan of God for man to ‘rule over the works of God’s hands’, it has just the opposite effect: It expands man’s significance, or we should say, it expands God’s children’s significance to be as high as the heavens are above the earth! To realize that God’s plan for man was to rule and reign with Him over all creation, from the Earth to the unimaginable wonders of the entire created order of the universe is to magnify the significance of the sons and daughters of God beyond description.1
Think about it: Where did that desire that is deep within man to gaze into and to explore the wonders of the stars and galaxies come from anyway? It sheds a whole new light on that statement by the Apostle Paul about “What do you have that has not been given to you by God”? (1 Cor. 4:7) That not only includes our gifts for service and our talents for accomplishments, but it’s a reference to any noble intention or desire that rests in the heart of man. The source of all that is noble and good is God. There’s a God-given reason that man longs to explore the wonders of the Heavens, for God created man to one day rule and reign over all the created works of His hands.
We might wonder why God didn’t sort of ‘spell out’ in the Scriptures more about this plan of exactly what works and activities we will be doing in the New Heavens and New Earth. And yet, there are quite a few preview pictures. Like in the Millennial Kingdom we have descriptions of the renewed peace between people and the animal kingdom, along with the expansion of the nations and of great commerce world wide. And then we even have those great previews in the book of Revelation of the capitol city of the New Earth and New Heavens; the New Jerusalem. And we also have some Parables about the Kingdom of Heaven where Jesus taught us that there would be varying degrees of rewards and privileges of ruling in His Kingdom based upon our faithfulness to His instructions for our lives now; before His Kingdom is established.
For example: Do you remember the parables of the talents and the minas? The ‘talents’ represented differing ablilities and gifts and the ‘minas’ represented equal opportunities for service. But the Lord gave each of these parables to teach us that how we serve the Lord in our lives now will determine what rewards and ministry privileges He will give to us and assign to us when He comes to establish His millennial kingdom and then on into His eternal kingdom. But now, what’s fascinating about the parable of the minas is the identity of the rewards that the faithful servants were given. Remember that the people were thinking about the Kingdom of God and what they were going to do in the Kingdom. And Jesus chose this example to teach them something in particular about how it was going to be. Notice: Luke 19:16-19- “The first servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!’ “‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’ “The next servant reported, ‘Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.’ “‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You will be governor over five cities.’ NLT
What was the point? The point was that Jesus connected faithfulness in this world, in the use of His treasures, to ruling or reigning over some portion of His new world, or of the New Kingdom of God. Jesus revealed that this work of ‘ruling’ or ‘reigning’ over a portion of His Kingdom is a key activity in the coming Kingdom. So, although the activities and the opportunities of just what’s involved in the rewards of ‘ruling’ or ‘reigning’ are not spelled out by God in the Scriptures, the fact is that these ruling assignments will be viewed as great privileges is clearly taught over and over again by our God.
Sometimes I think that God, our Perfect Parent, deals with us in ways that parents sometimes deal with their own children, in how they promise their children that they are going to be very happy about the reward they are going to get after they complete some task or tasks, but without spelling out exactly what it is. Sometimes they do it that way because they want to teach their children to trust them and to believe that their promises are true. And then sometimes they don’t tell them exactly what the reward is in order to make sure, or at least to try to help their children come to love them, to love their parents, more than just the things that they give them. Interesting, huh? You see, our Perfect Parent wants us to trust Him, too, and to love Him even more than the good things that He gives us or even has in store for us. Still, He has told us straight out that He has wonderful plans to reward us with some amazing ruling and reigning privileges. And yet, He has informed us that, since these are rewards, that means that they are based upon us faithfully doing now what He has instructed us to do in our preparation for the New Kingdom.
The Apostle Paul had been granted a unique visitation to the third Heaven. He saw things that were beyond description. And he could have told us exactly what he saw and told us exactly the kinds of rewards and privileges that would be awaiting us, depending on our faithfulness in our worship and service for God now. But instead, and almost like being careful so that we wouldn’t love the things God had for us more than loving God Himself…instead he just left it with what the Prophet Isaiah had earlier said about it, and what Paul himself had earlier quoted about it: “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 1 Cor 2:9 NASU
It was like Paul saying: “Trust me. You are not going to want to miss out on any of these rewards or privileges. You need to be as faithful and useful to the Lord as possible now, so that you can receive a full reward and not forfeit any of the ruling and reigning experiences God wants to give to you.” Again, how we serve the Lord today, and in the days we have left days on this Earth, is going to determine our rewards and our ministry assignments when Jesus comes to establish His Kingdom on Earth, and even extending on into the regions beyond this Earth of God’s created New Heavens, planets and places that we have only caught glimpses of so far.
That brings up something else very important that we are to remember, and that is this: Our ‘eternal destination’ is one thing, but our ‘eternal destiny’ is quite another. You see, Our ‘destination’ of heaven was determined by Christ’s gift of salvation to us. But our ‘destiny’ in heaven is being determined day by day by our works of sanctification for Christ. Salvation is about Christ’s works for us. They determine our destination with our names written in Heaven, our names recorded in the Book of Life. Eternal life is Christ’s gift of His own life to us as we receive Him by grace through faith. But sanctification is about our works for Christ. Certainly, the power and sufficiency to do these works are by Christ’s Spirit as well, but we are choosing day by day if we will put God first in our life, if we will surrender to His Lordship, if we will seek to grow in the understanding of His Word and His Will, and if we will deny our self for His sake and try to offer Him the gifts of an obedient Christ-centered life. And, you see, the sum total of our works for Christ’s sake are what Christ will evaluate, like in the parables that He taught us, to determine what our destiny will be in serving and ruling and reigning with Christ in all those privileges and activities in His coming Kingdom. And remember, He told us that these future rewards for our present service are more wondrous than what any eye has seen or any ear has heard or beyond anything that we could even imagine.
Just like in the parable of the Land Owner, God has things that He has set aside for you in your inheritance that He wants to give you. God has a destiny of ruling and reigning with Him over all His created order of the New Heavens and the New Earth. But this inheritance and this destiny is based upon what you have done, and are doing, and will do in your faithfulness to Him with the time and the talents and the treasures that He has given you to serve Him now, before He returns, or before you go to Him.
What we call responsibilities and duties now will be called privileges and rewards in Heaven or the in the New Kingdom. In the New Kingdom we will want to serve and reign with the King as much as possible. But we are determining what these possibilities will be by how we are serving the King now as much as we possibly can.
Sometimes you hear it said of sports teams or individual athletes that ‘they are in charge of their own destiny now’. Well, for the Christian, each Christian is actually in charge of his or her own destiny now, in the sense that how we are using the things which God has entrusted to us to serve God and to bless others and to fulfill the duties of our discipleship, is what God will evaluate as He reveals to us what our destiny is going to be in our ruling and reigning assignments and privileges in the New Heavens and New Earth.
So what do you say? We probably ought to each step up our service and worship of the King, because the thing is: You and I are ‘in training for reigning’!
1. Joseph Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings, pp 562, 563