By W.G. Guy
This question refers to what the future holds for true believers in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose again after the third day, and is coming again to receive us unto himself, to be kings and priests with Him in His coming Kingdom. Many refer to this as “the afterlife”. Jesus said He personally is preparing a place for those who trust in Him.
John 14:1-3 – Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Most believers are preoccupied with making a living and surviving in this life while giving little thought of what lies ahead for all eternity. Actually the life we are living now is to prepare us for that eternal life with Christ. Eternity with Christ will not be spent riding on clouds and playing harps as is pictured by this secular world. After the resurrection and rapture, true believers will be with Christ where He is, and He is coming back to earth to establish His Kingdom here where we will rule and reign with Him.
God has a plan and a purpose for all of His children. That plan and purpose is to serve in His Kingdom to administer control and influence over His creation under the direction of Jesus Christ the King of Glory. In part, this is what the twelve apostles were looking for:
Acts 1:6 – When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
However, these apostles did not fully understand what Jesus had promised them about the Kingdom. What Jesus has planned for them transcends and is far greater than what they comprehended in this present earthly realm.
Matthew 19:27-28 – Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
His plan also covers all that trust in Him and live obedient to Him. That plan is for His faithful to rule with Him over all in His domain.
Revelation 5:10 – and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 1:5-6 – and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Most believers fail to recognize that there is a screening process that they must go through to determine their eligibility and qualifications to rule and reign with Him. Jesus declared, in parable form, that there are varying levels and ranks of rulership in His Kingdom; and it is He who determines who is appointed to what rank or level as a reward for faithfulness and obedience. This is likely accomplished at the Judgment Seat of Christ where rewards are given to the saints. Rewards are in the form of “crowns” issued, and positions that are assigned, all in recognition of faithfulness, obedience and service.
1 Corinthians 3:13-14 – every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
Please understand that upon Christ’s return to earth He will set up His kingdom, a form of government that will be a theocratic monarchy – where Christ is absolute King and places kings and lords under Him to rule with Him over all the earth for a thousand years.
Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
At the Judgment Seat of Christ is likely where He assigns rewards and positions in His monarchy. Jesus gave us a parable to illustrate this in both the Gospel of Matthew 25:14-30 and in Luke 19:11-25. Note the rewards varied based on their level of obedience and faithfulness to assignments given.
Luke 19:17 – And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.
Matthew 25:21 – His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
In Luke the positions of rulership were given over cities or territories, while in Matthew they were to rule over “many things”. The illustration here shows the king setting up an administration over all that was under his domain.
Please note the reward was ascribed for faithfulness which implies obedience to instructions. The Bible is God’s instruction manual, and the Holy Spirit is God’s personal guide to lead His faithful ones according to Romans Chapter 8; (to be led of the Spirit).
Now for two warnings! First warning is that not everyone will receive a reward. They made it into the Kingdom but have no crowns or positions.
1 Corinthians 3:14-15 – If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The second warning is far more serious and this warning applies to many who are in “the ministry”, the prophets/preachers/teachers.
Matthew 7:21-23 – Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
First of all note that in verse 22 that “many” are to be identified in this category. This indicates that there will be a prevalence of these kind of preachers/teachers in the church. Second, notice that this event is referred to as “in that day”, which is obviously that day where Christ the Judge passes judgment on all their works as listed in 1 Corinthians 3:13 – the Judgment Seat of Christ. Also notice that they are before Christ and make their claims for ministry directly to Him who is judging them.
Their works are not recognized by Christ even though they boast of many marvelous accomplishments. Why is this? Two reasons: first is covered in verses 15-20 of this same chapter which is summed up in verse 20, which says, “wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”. It appears that many in ministry prefer to be known by their “gifts” and not their fruits.
Please understand that “fruit” does not refer to their works or accomplishments. The fruit that is to be recognized is “the fruit of the Spirit” which is the character and nature of God, also referred to as the “glory of God” in Romans 3:23.
This fruit is identified in:
Galatians 5:21-22 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
This fruit is the “life of the vine”, or the life of Christ flowing through the believer, as listed in John 15:1-8. This vitality can only flow out through the believer when he is intimately united with the vine – Jesus Christ.
Such prophets/preachers/teachers actually come and preach in His name but are not doing it as the Lord directs; they are disobedient and are “doing their own thing”. They may even personally benefit from what they are doing and are not doing it for the benefit of Christ, or for the benefit of those being ministered or preached to.
These preachers are also referred to by Jesus later on in His warning to His disciples saying they would deceive many, not a few.
Matthew 24:4-5, 24 - And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. … For there shall arise false Christs (anointed ones), and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Such preachers are deceivers by either what they preach/teach or by their counterfeit gifts of healing and miracles. (Note: the reason Jesus told to know them by their fruit and not their gifts is that Satan can counterfeit the gifts but he can’t counterfeit the fruit of the spirit which is the character and nature of God. Satan’ own nature eventually comes out in those who operate as ministers under his influence.)
Please also note that the phrase “I am Christ” should be understood from the original language in which Christ is translated from Messiah, and Messiah means “anointed one”. Thus they are not claiming “I am Christ” but instead claiming, “I am anointed”.
Now back to Matthew 7 where Jesus responds to these kind of preachers when He says, “I never knew you”. Please understand that the word “knew” is the same word as when a husband knows his wife in the most physical intimacy possible. Jesus tells them that they were never intimately close to Jesus so as to know His plan and His will for them. As a result they were not doing what Christ wanted them to do, but they were doing their own thing. This could refer to those trained by men in their denominational schools and seminaries on how to do the work of the ministry. As stated in the same verse, “Depart from me ye that work iniquity”. Iniquity means rebellion and rebellion is “doing your own thing”.
Then as we read further in Matthew 7 it goes on to describe their iniquity as disobedience as opposed to obedience. Note also that this discourse has to do with building a house either on rock or on sand. Jesus in these verses is referring to His house, the body of Christ composed of believers who are to be built up in their faith upon the rock – Jesus Christ, and nothing else. Those built on sand refers to those whose faith is based especially on false doctrines. When the storms of life hit believers lives, (which they will), those whose faith is built on the rock will stand strong, while those built on the sand of false doctrines and beliefs of men will collapse.
Another difference between the obedient and disobedient prophets/preachers or teachers is that the disobedient ones are working FOR Christ having their own ideas and methods of building, while the obedient ones wait on the Lord for His instruction and directions of where to go, what to do and how to do it; they are being led of the Spirit and not of man.
There is a right way and a wrong way to do the work of the ministry. The problem with the wrong way is that those not led by the Spirit of God can be easily misled by the spirit of antichrist and become servants of Satan – wolves in sheep’s clothing.
It is also important to recognize that God honors His Word; it makes no difference who proclaims it or where it is proclaimed. God even exalts His Word above His own name:
Psalm 138:2 – I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
This means that even the disobedient and sinners can preach His word and get positive results; not because of the one who preached it, but because of the Word that was preached to those who accepted that word and put their trust in that word.
God is not a respecter of persons, their titles or positions.
Acts 10:34 – Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
Therefore, one identifying himself as a prophet/preacher/teacher before men has no significance before God. God recognizes faithfulness in a person, not the title or position of the person. Thus the reward for your future position in the Kingdom of God is based on faithfulness and obedience, not on who you are.
As we approach that Judgment Day we must recognize that our rewards are based on our faithfulness and obedience to God’s Word and His Spirit as we walk through this life. This is so that He can accomplish what He wants and knows is best in the building of His house – the church which He builds, not the one man builds. This may go contrary to the accepted and established norm as far as man’s efforts are concerned. Remember that Jesus said He would build His house, and it is built upon the Rock that Peter identified as, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” – Matthew 16:17.
Here is a paradox concerning believers. True ministers labor to build people up in their faith to trust God in all things. This is actually falling short of the complete work of the ministry which should be to get believers to the point to where God can trust us to be obedient and to do His will.
Do you trust God and His Word?
Can God trust you to be faithful and obedient.
Can God trust you with His Word to be a witness, a living testimony of Him.
Can God trust you with His power and authority.
Can God trust you enough to rule with Him in His kingdom.
Those God and Christ can trust with His authority and power are the ones who are prepared to rule and reign with Christ in His Kingdom. Are you prepared? If not there is but a short time to work on it!
Selah: think on that.