If we don’t think about heaven rightly, we won’t think about it at all. (Mike Bickle)
Many Christians who are my age are pulling the plug and slowing down, taking it easy, enjoying their silver-haired years, resting on what they have done with their lives, and hoping that’s good enough. They believe it’s too late to put the pedal to the metal and keep charging forward in seeking the kingdom of God.
That’s not my thinking!
Yes, my 72-year old knees may be creaky and other parts may take a while to warm up in the mornings, but I still have breath in my lungs and a beating heart. So, instead of slowing down, I plan on picking up the pace because I’m not satisfied with what I have done with my life so far.
Over the last eight to nine months, I have devoted most of my time to studying the End-Times, the Great Tribulation, and the upcoming thousand-year (Millennium) reign of Christ here on earth.
This studying has opened my eyes to the realization that our 70 to 80 years of life here on the earth in our physical bodies are basically internships, preparing us for our roles in the Millennium with Christ and for His eternal kingdom afterward.
How many of us would advise our children or grandchildren to slack off before a final examination? None of us, right? We would urge them to work hard right up to the last moment.
Do you realize we have a final examination date awaiting us sometime in the future? It’s called the Judgment Seat of Christ. This is where we’ll learn how our qualifications stack up in His eyes and what roles we’ll have in Christ’s reign on earth.
Maybe you don’t care because you think you’ll just be sitting on a cloud strumming a harp and praising the Lord for billions of years.
If this is your thinking, you need to read the upcoming parts to at least consider that you might be wrong.
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
If we take a step in obedience, God will reward us with a mile of blessings. (Mike Bickel)
Jesus spoke a parable about a nobleman who was traveling to a far country.Before leaving, the nobleman called ten of his servants into his office. There he gave each a bag of silver worth about a hundred days of wages for a common laborer.
He told the ten men, “Do business with this money until I return.”
After a period of time, the nobleman returned. The man called for his ten servants to give an accounting of their business transactions.
The first servant had earned ten more bags of money for a 1000% return.
Yes, Luke 19:11-27 is a parable, but Jesus used it to explain a truth, one that I overlooked for years.
In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus told a similar parable about three servants who were given various amounts of money by a master while he went on a trip. One was given five 75-lb. bags of silver, another two 75-lb. bags of silver, and a third received one 75-lb. bag of silver.
Upon returning, the master settled accounts with the three men. The first man doubled the master’s investment by earning five more 75-lb. bags of silver for the master.
The master said to the servant, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Matthew 25:21)
Once again, this is a parable, which Jesus used to explain a truth to us.
In the Book of Revelation, we read two interesting verses in the King James or the New King James translations that tie into the above parables:
And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6 NKJ)
How can we be kings and rulers, right?
When the Apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation, he was instructed to send special messages to seven churches in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
Most of us know that two churches – Smyrna and Philadelphia – received no corrections while the other five did, with Laodicea receiving the harshest rebukes of all.
“I know your [Laodicean Church] works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16)
How many times have we heard these two verses spoken about the American church and its members? Probably, more than enough. It always sounds so bleak for us when the words are voiced, right?
Jesus next gave the Laodicean Church specific instructions on what they needed to do to turn themselves around, but I’m sure most of the members were limp rags by then. How could they possibly pick themselves off the floor and attempt to make changes to please Jesus?
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:20-21)
Jesus offered the Laodicean Church and its members the greatest promises, as compared to the promises given to the other churches in Asia, if they would overcome their faults. They were offered intimacy and a chance to sit on Jesus throne with Him – even the apostles James and John were not offered that position.
So, what happened to the Laodicean Church?
The Laodicean Church became the most dynamic and vibrant of all of the Asia churches. A bishop was martyred there seventy years later. An important Christian council was held there over two hundred years later. Archaeologists have discovered over twenty chapels and churches near the Laodicean Church, which took up a whole city block. The church continued into the fourth century.
The testimony of the Laodicean Church shows us what believers must do:
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
If we want to rule and reign with Jesus, we need to repent and change.
Did the thief who died on the cross next to Jesus and who asked to be remembered by our Lord receive the same eternal rewards as the Apostle Paul? If your answer is “maybe” or “I don’t know,” then you probably should study your Bible a little more.
But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6 Amplified Bible)
Whether it was the thief on the cross or me on the bathroom floor or anyone else, salvation is a one-time act that secures our entrance into the Kingdom of God. But we are no more than little babies, standing at the starting line, when we are saved. None of us are born again in one moment and then walk straight into maturity the next. It’s a process —
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. (Romans 6:22)
Sanctification is the life-long process between salvation and our death (or glorification). It’s a day-by-day, step-by-step journey of consecrating ourselves to our Lord Jesus Christ and being purified by the Holy Spirit.
How are we sanctified?
By prayer. By studying His Word. By grace. By faith. By the Holy Spirit. By staying faithful in trials. And more. It basically comes down to following the Apostle Paul’s words —
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
If the Apostle Paul had to keep pressing forward in his quest of being all he could be in Christ, then shouldn’t we do the same?
I am not belittling last second or deathbed salvations because spending eternity in heaven is far, far, far better than being tormented forever in Hell. But those of us who can choose to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith all the way to our deaths, I believe it’s a no-brainer!
Let’s go for it!
Why is endurance so important?
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26)
From the beginning, God’s plan was that Adam, and all of mankind after him, would rule and reign on earth. But Adam threw a wrench into God’s plans by sinning and handing over his position of earthly rulership to Satan.
Then, in the fullness of time, God sent His Son to redeem mankind at the cross. So, after the Son of God’s death, resurrection, and ascension, there are now sons of God on the earth once again.
But something is missing. What is it?
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. (Hebrews 2:5)
At creation, God placed mankind under an angelic form of government. His angels were supposed to serve and minister to mankind, but because of Adam’s sin, Satan and his demonic angels became our adversaries. Now, Satan and his demonic horde sit in the governmental positions created by God as principalities, powers, rulers of darkness of this age, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places ruling over mankind.
Even though the church has authority to make known the wisdom of God to the demonic governing powers in the heavenly places, we haven’t really walked in that authority as yet. Hopefully, we will soon do that.
Here’s an important fact to remember: God never rescinded His words about mankind having dominion on earth. Thus, it’s still His plan for us.
What must we do to prepare ourselves to rule and reign with Christ?
(Continued in Part 6)