MY REWARD IS WITH ME

MY REWARD IS WITH ME Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

When the Lord returns He will bring our rewards with Him. He will give to every person according to what he or she has done. What a time of rejoicing this will be for those who have placed all of their treasures in Heaven! But what a time of anguish and despair for those who have disobeyed Christ by clutching to themselves the things of the present world!

Table of Contents

The Exercise of Our Will The Kind of Person We Are The Use of Our Body Our Moral Behavior Life Authority and Power Relationships Status Opportunities for Service Joy Abilities

MY REWARD IS WITH ME

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Revelation 22:12—NIV)

When the Lord returns He will bring our rewards with Him. He will give to every person according to what he or she has done. What a time of rejoicing this will be for those who have placed all of their treasures in Heaven! But what a time of anguish and despair for those who have disobeyed Christ by clutching to themselves the things of the present world!

We understand that each one of us, Christian and non-Christian, will receive, when Jesus returns, the results of what he or she has practiced on the earth.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (II Corinthians 5:10—NIV)

I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:23—NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Revelation 6:7,8—NIV)

I realize it is taught among us Christians that grace prevents our reaping what we sow and that we will not be repaid according to our deeds. This is our tradition but the New Testament says otherwise—and that with utmost clarity!

The Lord Jesus commanded us to lay up our treasures in the bank of Heaven. If we do this, the Lord will bring our treasures to us when He appears. If we do not do this, He will bring only sorrow to us when He appears.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19,20—NIV)

Every one of our treasures has an earthly counterpart and a heavenly counterpart. If we grasp to ourselves the earthly, the heavenly will not be given to us when the Lord returns. He will give to every one of us according to what we have done.

Some of the treasures we can grasp to ourselves, or lay up in Heaven, are as follows:

The exercise of our will.

The kind of person we are.

The use of our body.

Our moral behavior.

Life.

Authority and power.

Relationships

Status.

Opportunities for service.

Joy.

Abilities.

The Exercise of Our Will

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1,2—NIV)

There is only one legitimate will in the universe, and that is the will of the Father.

The Lord Jesus Christ while He was on the earth learned, through suffering, obedience to the will of the Father. The greatest lesson we can learn during our sojourn on the earth is stern obedience to the Father.

As in the verse above, we must present our body a living sacrifice to God, turning away from the images and philosophies of the world-spirit. We must be transformed by the renewing of our mind.

When we are transformed by the renewing of our mind we are able to determine the will of God and to do it.

Our will should be able to govern the choices we make. When we lose control of our choices, being driven by the passions and appetites of our body, we are on a path that leads to destruction. If we are to serve the Lord our will must be kept razor sharp.

If we will allow Him to do so, God shall work in us such that His will and desires are performed in us.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13—NIV)

Humanism and Democracy teach us that man is his own god, that is, that he should think and act independently of any other god. This is the spirit of Antichrist. The spirit of Antichrist is very strong in America today. The founding of America occurred in part as a reaction against tyrannical forces in Europe. Even though rebellion may have been necessary at that time, we have been left with an unwillingness to submit to authority.

The idea that we are to be the slaves or servants of the Lord Jesus Christ is not acceptable to Americans—even to many of us who are Christians. It appears that self-will often governs Christian activities.

We absolutely must die to self-will if we are to please God.

God has given us the cross to destroy our self-will. We are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus wherever He may lead.

If we are to enter the Kingdom of God we must suffer much tribulation. We must be chastised again and again that our mind, flesh, and soul may come under the will of God.

The Jewish Christians to whom the Book of Hebrews was addressed had been saved and filled with God’s Spirit. We know this from statements made in the book itself.

But then they stopped in their pursuit of the Kingdom of God. They were not pressing into the rest of God.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. (Hebrews 4:1—NIV)

The rest of God is the position in the Lord where we cease from our own works and do what God desires at every moment of every day. We do not seek our own pleasure but God’s pleasure. We do not exercise our own judgment but look to God for every decision we make.

We continually are moving toward that place in Christ in God where we are dwelling in untroubled rest in God’s will. It is not that we lose our will. Our will must be kept strong and decisive if we are to serve the Lord. But the goal is union with God through Jesus Christ so that the will of the Father prevails at all times.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe you have sent me. (John 17:21—NIV)

We are never to stop in our pursuit of Christ until we are one with all saints in Christ in God. This is the rest of God, a major part of our land of promise.

Right now, during our present life, we are to seek to live in God’s will. If we do so, then, when the Lord returns, we will be an integral part of God through Christ. We will be a pillar in the temple of God forever. We have put the "treasure" of our will in Heaven, so to speak, and now it has been returned to us in the Day of Christ. We are in perfect peace at last.

But if we do not obey Christ by putting the treasure of our will in Heaven, insisting on preserving our right to exercise our own will, when the Lord returns He will leave us bound in our self-will. We will be in the state of torment that is true of Satan, who is hideously bound in his self-will.

We will not be a part of Christ in that day. We have chosen to be a self-willed creature, another god in the universe. This is exactly how we shall be treated—as a little god in rebellion against the Father. We shall walk through dry places indeed.

We may never get another chance to be God’s servant. Think of it!

"If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; But if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:19,20—NIV)

If you are having trouble putting your will in the bank of Heaven as a treasure to be given to you at the coming of the Lord, ask God for help. He has fires hot enough to burn the self-will out of you and me. Stay in the prison where the Lord places you. Remain faithful to death, and you will be given that greatest of all gifts—the ability to be at peace in the center of God’s Person and will.

The Kind of Person We Are

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29—NIV)

It is fashionable today to say "I want to be me."

Pray to God earnestly that this fate does not happen to you—that you do not remain "me" when the Lord returns.

Our life as an adamic soul was not meant to be an eternal state. Rather our life today is an arena of testing. We are brought through a wilderness of problems and temptations that God might know what we will do when we are brought into our inheritance as sons of God.

God foreknew every person that has been called to be a member of the royal priesthood, the Israel of God. The Lord predestined us to be changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ—not to remain what we are but to be radically changed until it can be said of us that we are a new creation in Christ, all of our old personality having passed away and all the new being of God.

This does not mean we lose our uniqueness as a person. It means rather that the part of us God wants to keep is submitted to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ until God can say of us: "Behold! I have made all things new."

Much of our life as a Christian is spent resisting the changes God desires to make. We fight like a cornered rat to keep the filthy rags of our sinful, fleshly nature. God patiently leads us into change.

The Personality of the Lord Jesus Christ consists in part of the following attributes.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, Gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22,23—NIV)

None of this is true of the adamic nature. Certainly it is a fact that some people are more loving, more joyful, more peaceful than others. But if their love, joy, and peace are not coming from the Spirit of God in them but from their adamic personality, then these attributes will fail when brought under enough pressure.

Their adamic love will turn to hate. But Divine love is stronger than all other forces.

Their adamic joy will turn to misery. But Divine joy flourishes in the most difficult circumstances.

Their adamic peace will turn to fear and unrest. But the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated Divine peace while surrounded with total wickedness, malice, perversion, and envy.

We do not want to remain "me." For if we remain "me" during this life we shall not be changed into His likeness when He appears.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know when he appears,~ we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2—NIV)

If we place in Heaven the "treasure" of the kind of person we want to be, when the Lord returns we shall be just like Him.

But if we insist on being "me," not permitting the Lord to change us today, then we shall continue to be "me" when the Lord returns, an object of reproach as the Lord’s people see the meanness and selfishness of our personality.

Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2—NIV)

Everlasting contempt! Do you really want to remain as you are now throughout eternity? If not, let God change you now, even though the process sometimes is painful and frightening. Then when the Lord comes you will be pleased at the new creation He has made of you.

The Use of Our Body

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:23—NIV)

So much of our life revolves around our body—more than we realize, perhaps!

When we are small children just about all we are is a body. As we grow to maturity we ought to begin to realize our body is a vehicle that carries around who we truly are. Isn’t that so?

Although we are children of God, destined some day to govern the angels and the rest of the creation, we have been put in animal bodies to humble us. The human body is a very effective prison and instrument whereby God can test us.

The Lord said to place all of our treasures in Heaven, including our body. We are not to yield to the continual insistence of our body that we follow its lusts and desires. We are to determine in Christ that the body shall not be able to dictate to us but we, as Paul said, shall beat our body into submission and make it serve the Lord.

I do not mean by this that we are to whip ourselves physically. I mean, rather, that by prayer and the exercise of our will in Christ we are to force our body to do what is scriptural and reasonable.

We are to maintain self-control over our body at all times. When we feel our body gaining the upper hand we are to pray desperately until our will regains control. We are never, never, never to be led about by the lusts of our flesh! To do so is to invite years of anguish, or even sickness and death.

The Apostle Paul was grieved over the sin dwelling in his flesh and groaned for a new body.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4—NIV)

The "heavenly dwelling" mentioned above is a robe of righteousness that is created by our conduct on the earth. When we do the Lord’s will, confessing our sins and turning away from them, our heavenly robe is kept white and shining with righteousness.

If we are not serving the Lord in our present body, our robe is dirty, or it may even be true there is no robe in Heaven that belongs to us.

When the Lord returns He will raise our flesh and bones from wherever they have been interred. Then our resurrected flesh and bones will be clothed with our robe from Heaven. In other words, we shall be clothed with our own conduct.

Here is the perfect Kingdom law of sowing and reaping.

"Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:8—NIV)

One of the most marvelous of the rewards to be given to us at the appearing of the Lord is an immortal body that has no compulsion to sin dwelling in it.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (I Corinthians 15:53—NIV)

The power of the Lord Jesus Christ will transform our humble body until it is like His body.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20,21—NIV)

But if we are to have a wonderful new body we must place our present body in Heaven, so to speak. We must offer our body as a living sacrifice to God, not obeying its lusts and appetites but keeping it under the strict control of our will. We must never let our body dictate our choices. We can overcome our body if we will pray continually, meditate in the Scriptures, assemble with fervent saints, seek the gifts of God so we can build up the Body of Christ, serve, give, and do all else consistent with wholesome Christian living.

Such domination of the body is exceedingly difficult in the United States of America because of the emphasis given to material wealth and enjoyment. We are coaxed continually to yield to the desires of the flesh.

But if we do not keep our body as a sacrifice before God in Heaven, if we choose instead to surrender to the insatiable lusts of our flesh, then, when the Lord returns and our flesh and bones are resurrected, we shall be clothed in the corruption of the flesh. I am not certain what this shall entail, but it is what the Scripture says. If we sow to the flesh we will reap corruption and not eternal life.

Isaiah speaks of those who have not obeyed the commandments of Christ.

"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:24—NIV)

Notice, in the above verse, the emphasis on the body. Of course we cannot go out and look upon the inward spiritual nature of those who rebelled against Christ. Nevertheless, it is not often contemplated that the punishment of the rebels will be endless torment in a body that continually is eaten by worms. Maybe this is what it means to reap corruption.

You know, the Bible is much more severe in its statements than is true in American preaching and teaching today. It appears that among us Christians there is a feeling the Bible is more severe than Christ intends; that all really harsh judgments of people belong to the Old Testament. We feel "It just couldn’t be true that a nice member of a Christian church could actually end up as the point of interest of a field trip, laying in a pit somewhere with worms eternally feeding on his flesh."

Whoever would preach such a thing in America today had better be prepared to be resisted and scorned.

Yet, if the severe statements of the Bible are not true, then the promises are not true either. The Bible is the Word of God or it isn’t. If it indeed is the unchangeable Word of the Almighty God of Heaven, and if the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, stated that not the smallest part of the Word will pass away—even when the heavens and the earth pass away, then something is wrong with the "feelings" we Christians have concerning the Gospel of the Kingdom.

For my part, I was taught in the beginning by the Navigators to treat every word of the Bible as the eternal Word of God. I still feel this way after fifty-four years as a Christian. All of my experience testifies that the Bible actually is God’s Word in its entirety and can be counted on.

If this is the case, we Christians are in trouble. We are not presenting the severity of the Gospel, only the goodness of God. Thus we are the blind leading the blind. Shall we escape in the Day of Christ? Is it not true that the Lord shall return and reward every individual according to his or her work? And if this is true, what will happen to the majority of Christian believers in America in the present time?

I am convinced that God is going to bring very severe judgments on the United States so that many Christians will turn away from their fleshly pursuits and begin to serve God. I don’t enjoy the thought of trouble, but if this is what it takes, better to suffer now than in the Day of Christ.

Our Moral Behavior

Most of us Christians are Gentiles. For this reason we do not really hear what the Apostle Paul is saying, in many instances.

We do not view the Gospel as Paul did. Paul was a righteous Jew who saw the Gospel as a means of forgiveness, and finally of the redemption of his body so he would be delivered from his sinful flesh.

We Gentiles did not come to Christ to gain righteousness. We came because someone told us if we didn’t accept Christ we would go to Hell. This is why we overemphasize imputed righteousness. We are not greatly interested in behaving righteously, and, in fact, teach that righteous behavior is not an essential aspect of our salvation. We just want to go to Heaven. Whether or not we ever become righteous in behavior is not an important question to us—not nearly as important as gaining our "mansion" in Heaven.

Paul knew nothing about mansions in Heaven. If he did he never mentioned them. Paul wanted to be righteous!

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (Romans 7:24—NIV)

Paul stated on more than one occasion that he was seeking the redemption of his body. We of today might desire a redeemed body so we would feel better—have a more enjoyable time. Paul was seeking a redeemed body that he might be able to behave righteously.

We have been commanded to put to death, through the Holy Spirit, the lustful, sinful actions of our body. After we confess and renounce our sins we still may have areas in our life that Satan is interested in, but we keep an upper hand on them by praying continually and serving the Lord as a disciple should.

As we refuse to live in our sinful nature, the Nature of Christ is formed in us. The new nature that is being created in us does not sin because it has been born of God. By confessing our sins and turning away from them, and by nourishing the new Life being formed in us, we are able to overcome the deceits and temptations of the enemy.

Then, when the Lord returns, we will be delivered from sin for all time.

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28—NIV)

How wonderful it will be to be free from sin in spirit, soul, and body! How absolutely marvelous! And this is the promise of God.

Paul struggled against sin all his life. He fought the good fight of faith.

No, I beat my body and make it my slave so after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (I Corinthians 9:27—NIV)

What will Paul’s reward be, for having placed his moral behavior as a treasure in Heaven?

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (II Timothy 4:8—NIV)

The crown of righteousness. This is the reward for overcoming, through Jesus Christ, the sin which so easily can take control of us if we are not utterly vigilant.

But what of those Christians who do not gain the victory over sin?

They will not be delivered from sin when the Lord returns. They will not receive the crown of righteousness. They have not been faithful in the lesser and so they will not be entrusted with the greater.

They will not receive the rewards assigned to the victorious saint. They have not overcome the spiritual death that presses against them, and so those rewards we associate with the Christian salvation will not be theirs.

Some shall be saved by fire, meaning they will be stripped of all rewards and subjected to intense suffering until they are ready to enter the righteous Kingdom of God. No immoral individual ever will inherit the Kingdom of God, not by grace, mercy, or any other means. The Kingdom is a righteous Kingdom, and all who are part of it are filled with iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father.

Among the prophets there has not arisen a greater than John the Baptist. Yet he who is least in the Kingdom is greater than he.

Do not let my words discourage you. They are true. But it also is true that the Lord Jesus will work with endless patience with the weakest of believers, if that person really desires to be in the righteous kingdom of Christ.

But those of today who are haughty, arrogant, smug in their assurance that since they have taken "the four steps of salvation" they cannot possibly experience anything except the most wonderful reception when they go to Heaven or when the Lord returns, are in for a very rude awakening. Unless they humble themselves, pray, and turn from their wicked ways, they are facing Divine fire even though they have taken the four steps of salvation.

There is no need for any sincere person to be discouraged because, as I said, Christ will deal with the weakest of believers until He brings forth victory. But those who are filled with their own ways, even "Christian" ways, have much to fear if they do not repent and turn to the Lord.

God is not pleased that the United States and England, ostensibly Christian countries, are centers of immorality—misrepresentations of the Person and will of God to the Muslims, Jews, and other major groups of mankind. I think God is ready to do something about this!

Let us not be so deluded that we believe when Christ returns He will shower with Divine blessings those who have not fought the good fight of faith, who have not taken hold of the provisions He has given us and by which we are able to overcome involvement in the Antichrist world-spirit, the lusts and unrighteousness of our fleshly nature, and our self-will and rebellion against God. He shall reward us just as we have behaved in the world.

Life

The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:8—NIV)

We don’t usually think of eternal life as something that must be reaped. In fact, I think we view eternal life as a legal state that accrues to us when we put our trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.

However, eternal life actually is a form of life. When Adam and Eve sinned they lost access to the Tree of Life. Mankind has continued in its spiritually dead state ever since. But God so loved the world He gave His Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life.

This does not mean that upon accepting Christ we go to Heaven instead of Hell. It means rather that we who are spiritually dead might, by putting our faith in Christ, have access to the Tree of Life. We can gain a measure of spiritual life now, but much more is to be had when the Lord returns.

"I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God Will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." (Luke 18:29,30—NIV)

He shall receive eternal life "in the age to come." We don’t usually regard eternal life as being Divine Life that will be given to us when the Lord returns. However, in terms of the New Testament, we will not be made actually alive until eternal life fills our spirit, soul, and body. Notice this fact in the following verse:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. (I Corinthians 15:22,23—NIV)

We shall be made alive when the Lord returns, that is, if we have placed the treasure of our life in Heaven in obedience to Jesus Christ.

We have to fight to take hold of eternal life. Eternal life is not a ticket we receive when we believe in Christ.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12—NIV)

Right now we live by the life of flesh and blood. But the life of flesh and blood is temporary and corruptible. What we desire is Divine Life, Divine energy so we can live and move and have our being without sickness, weariness, or any other disabling force.

We want to be filled with life; to be crowned with life.

But if we would receive the reward of eternal life at the hand of Jesus Christ when He returns we must be willing to give up our life now.

Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33—NIV)

Our life has been given to us to do with as we will. If we choose to save our life by ignoring the demands of Jesus Christ, then, when He comes, we will not receive eternal life.

But if we surrender our life to Christ, giving over completely to His will so He may use us and do with us as He will, when He returns He will fill us with incorruptible Divine Life. We shall have life more abundantly if we are willing to place our present life in the bank of Heaven.

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10—NIV)

Remaining patiently in the prison where we have been placed means to us a loss of life—loss of the ability to go where we desire; to do what we desire.

When we are placed in prison we are not to break out, if doing so requires that we lose our integrity; that we break God’s laws; that we betray those who trust in us.

And so we stay here in our prison, like Christ hanging on the cross, our fervent desires withheld from us, year after year, life passing us by. Yet we stay here out of faithfulness toward God.

If we are willing thus to lose our life on the cross with Christ, when He returns He will fill us with His Life. Then we shall be truly alive forever!

Those who are part of the new Jerusalem are so filled with the Life of God that they have no need of sun or moon to give them light—no need even of sleep. They are totally alive in the Presence of God just as the Lord Jesus is. What a glorious prospect this is!

When we are young we are not as aware of the value of life. We are filled with energy—more than we need, actually. But when we are elderly we have just enough strength from the Lord to do what must be done. It is then we can appreciate what it will mean to be so gloriously alive we have no need of sleep.

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (Revelation 21:3—NIV)

If we lose our life now for Christ’s sake and the Gospel’s, when He returns we shall receive the fullness of eternal life.

But if we choose to save our life now, and do not put it in the bank of Heaven, when the Lord returns we will not be given eternal life. What it will be like to be raised from the dead and not given eternal life I do not know. To tell you the truth, I do not care to find out! How about you?

Authority and Power

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:20,21—NIV)

The history of the world has been largely that of ambitious men and women who have sought power. Even today the ambitious, while sometimes working for the betterment of others, leave tremendous sorrow and agony in their wake. They are responsible for wars, famine, and the beating down of the rights of the poor.

When Christ returns it will be with saints who will govern the saved nations with justice and mercy. The rulers will be the servants of all.

Since we have been created to govern the works of God’s hands, it is of supreme importance that we permit God to make of us the kind of ruler He desires.

To sit with Christ on His throne is one of the greatest of the Bible promises. But before this is possible we must overcome as He overcame.

That Christ had to overcome in order to sit down with His Father on the Father’s throne may be a new thought to us. But it is a fact! Christ was tempted and buffeted all of His brief earthly life, beginning with the three great temptations in the wilderness and ending with Gethsemane and Calvary.

Christ had to overcome in order to govern. We also have to overcome the world, Satan, and our own lusts and self-will if we would be fit to govern with Jesus Christ.

Only those who have overcome as Christ overcame will be members of the Bride of the Lamb. The Lamb will not make an eternal part of Himself those who were unable to pass the test. Otherwise the marriage would be doomed to failure because His Bride would not be dwelling where He dwells, that is, in the fiery Presence of the Father.

Referring to the passage above, we note that before we are invited to sit with Christ on His throne we first must open the door of our personality to Him. We must live by eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood, just as He is nourished by the love and worship we offer in return.

As we thus live by Him as He lives by the Father, the Father and He take their place on the throne of our personality. They will not do this until we are joyously willing to have them assume the center of our will where our decisions are made.

If we continue to live as the Father and Christ govern in us, when the Lord returns we will be invited to sit with them on the throne of our personality. From this vantage point the creation shall be governed.

"To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father." (Revelation 2:26,27—NIV)

You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:7—NIV)

God created man to be God’s throne. But before man can be God’s throne he has many things to learn; many things to become. The learning and the becoming can take place only as he surrenders his right to control his own life and destiny and gives himself over to Christ, who alone possesses, under God, all authority and power in the heavens and upon the earth.

Antichrist is the attempt of man to be like Christ without becoming part of Christ. Many Christian believers of today are in danger of becoming Antichrist. They are seeking to be like Christ, to have His power, His authority, without yielding their will to Him. They are seeking power, fame, and success, not that they may glorify Christ by their life or by their death.

America is a notoriously self-centered nation. The Christian churches of America are affected by this intense interest in the right of people to be their own god. It is significant that the request to open the door of our personality to the Lord is made to the church in Laodicea.

The meaning of the word "Laodicea" may be related to the idea of democracy. The citizens of America of today are attempting to govern themselves by their polls, their word, their will, whereas America originally was conceived as a republic, not a democracy. It is not surprising, then, that the Christian churches in America partake of this self-centeredness, this overemphasis on the rights of people.

If we would receive the crown and scepter that Christians often regard as the reward of every believer, we need to understand that those who have not learned to govern in God in this present world will never be given such irresistible authority and power at His coming. It simply is not going to happen!

As long as we insist of thinking, speaking, and acting according to our own desires we will be governed by those who have surrendered themselves to Jesus—that is, if we are permitted into the Kingdom at all!

Relationships

Love, joy, and peace, three of the highest of the rewards that Christ can bring to any individual, come only through a correct relationship to God and a correct relationship to people. Relationships are the most important of all considerations. No aspect of life can be conducted in a satisfactory manner if our relationships are not as they should be.

When we think about the world of today we can see that the main problem is one of relationships. Wars and violence come about because of destroyed relationships. Crime results from improper relationships. Divorce proceeds from broken relationships.

What kind of world would this be if everyone was related properly to God and to other people? It would be paradise!

The only way by which any human being can be related properly to God and to other people is through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Whether man to God, wife to husband, parent to child, employee to employer, pastor to congregation, doctor to patient, no relationship will be constructive and edifying if the relationship is not appropriate. Only through Christ can relationships exist that bring about the desired result. As long as we are the captain of our own ship, so to speak, the best of relationships will crumble at last.

Sometimes Heaven is pictured as mansions, backyards filled with diamonds, streets of gold. Such things could never bring lasting happiness. Only the love, joy, and peace that come through satisfactory relationships are of true value. All the rest is only window dressing.

Some have exulted in the idea of visiting other planets after we die. This is unrealistic. There is more love, joy, and peace in being at home with those you love than there is in exploring other planets.

If we finally succeed in colonizing the moon or Mars we will find there is no true joy there. We will bring our wars, hatred, jealousy, slander along with us. In fact, there will be bitterness on the space ship as we head toward the colony because of the adulterous flirtations taking place.

We are greatly deceived when we believe love, joy, and peace are found in things or places. They are found only in relationships that are established in the Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the greatest of all rewards that will be given to us at the return of the Lord is that of people to love. To inherit one person is better than to be given ten thousand heavens.

"Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm." (Isaiah 60:4—NIV)

As I have said many times, "I will trade my mansions for your people."

Actually, I wouldn’t do that because I know the great loss you would suffer by trading your people for anything.

Just think! During the ages to come the saved nations will bring their families to us to be loved and blessed. The wealth of the nations, that is, their people, will come to us. There is no other wealth worth mentioning.

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. (Revelation 21:24—NIV)

But there is another set of relationships of even greater value, and that has to do with the oneness of the members of the Body of Christ with one another and with the Lord God.

That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe you have sent me. (John 17:21—NIV)

The whole Church is destined to become a part of God through Jesus Christ. Perhaps we experience one millionth part of such unity when we have fellowship with other true disciples of the Lord. But the fullness of such relationships will not be realized until the Lord returns and we all are filled with the same Glory that God has given Jesus Christ. Christ has given us that Glory that we all may be one as He and the Father are One.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (John 17:22—NIV)

If we go through life, even as a Christian, maintaining our own way, not making the effort to become one with Christ as He is One with the Father, when the Lord returns we will not be brought into the Oneness of the Body of Christ. We would not fit. We would rip the seamless robe of Christ.

If we do not have untroubled relationships with fervent disciples now we shall not be forced into such relationships at the coming of the Lord. We shall remain alone, not rightly related to God, Christ, or the saints. This is what we have chosen, and this is what shall be given to us when the Lord returns.

"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done." (Revelation 22:12—NIV)

Status

To some people, importance and prominence are of great worth. Perhaps this is why people enter politics or seek to become head of this organization or that enterprise. Often they have to work harder than anyone else and are buried under responsibilities and worries of all kinds.

One wonders: "Why are they so desperate to carry such a load?" They may give as the reason that they are trying to accomplish some righteous purpose. And perhaps in some cases this is the truth. But how often the real reason is that they want to be important and prominent.

What a bondage!—but so much a part of those who are ambitious.

The Lord Jesus Christ is King of all kings and Lord of all lords. But look at how He humbled Himself while He was on the earth.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, But made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8—NIV)

Because of His willingness to take the lowest place, God has exalted Christ above every other ruler in the universe.

Until we are joyously willing to sweep up behind the horses in the royal parade we have no business riding in the head chariot.

The disciples actually argued about who among them would be the greatest in the Kingdom. Jesus told them they needed to be converted.

But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (Luke 22:26—NIV)

Because He was willing to humble Himself under the mighty hand of God, the Lord Jesus Christ has been exalted beyond our comprehension.

If we choose to exalt ourselves in this life, we shall be brought low when the Lord returns. But if we are willing to take the lowly place today, winning others to righteous behavior by our example of good works, then, when the Lord returns, we will be exalted to a degree no emperor on the earth has ever approached or even imagined.

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:3—NIV)

Opportunities for Service

And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29,30—NIV)

One of the rewards the Lord will bring with Him is opportunities for service in the ages to come.

So often Heaven is pictured as the great retirement home in the sky. When we are tired or sick the idea of doing nothing more than lying on a couch in our mansion with no responsibilities is very appealing. But when we are well and full of energy we want something to do.

For many of us, the idea of doing nothing for eternity is hardly a promise of joy.

No, we want a task or responsibility to put our hand to that will result in something of value for those we love.

But work that is not founded in Christ will produce only temporary good. The results will not bring the lasting satisfaction we hope for—especially if we have broken God’s laws or harmed other people in our rush toward achievement.

One of the curses of an industrial society is the amount of time we spend on matters of no lasting value. Many of us work so hard we lose our family or bring on a heart attack or stroke. This is hardly sensible and God does not reward us for killing ourselves to please the gods of our culture.

How many people in the Western nations are too busy to spend time in prayer and meditating in the Scriptures? They may respond that they are "making a living." This may be true. But are they praying that God will give them time to spend with Him in prayer and studying His Word? Probably not! But this is a good prayer for all of us.

To go through life busily taking care of the incessant demands and enticements of a wealthy society is to miss everything of value. When the Lord returns He will say, "You did not have time for Me and now I do not have time for you. Go busy yourself in the outer darkness." What we sow we shall reap in the Day of the Lord!

But to those who have taken the time to wait patiently on the Lord, even though they are managing to survive in a pressured, whirlwind society, there shall be given for eternity delightful opportunities to serve God and people in every beneficial way imaginable.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4—NIV)

When the Lord returns, the institutions of the world will be in a state of desolation. Whenever man is in the ascendancy there is religious, educational, financial, military, social, artistic desolation. Self-centered man is forever striving but never able to arrive at lasting solutions. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are contained in Jesus Christ, from algebra to zoology.

Many of the problems facing the society of today, such as famine and flooding, for example, could be solved readily if those in charge would ask God for the solution. God is more than willing to provide the wisdom we need for every situation.

But at the appearing of the Lord another destruction, another desolation, shall take place. The saints of the Lord shall go through the earth burning up all of civilization that is not pleasing to God.

Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. (Joel 2:3—NIV)

It shall be the same fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha, and vaporized the sacrifices and the water at the prayer of Elijah on Mount Carmel.

Jude refers to it as "eternal fire."

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7—NIV)

Picture New York City (and the same could be said for any of the major cities of the world). It is not a fit place for people to live or work in. It is a hideous jungle filled with frantic people, rushing about, accomplishing little of eternal value. One walks through the streets at night at the peril of his life.

You can buy any kind of sin there. You can rent a sex slave, male or female. Those afflicted with AIDS cry out for help. Those who live in the dark places of the subway system are going blind from lack of light—some of them from trying to read a Bible.

The United Nations is nearby—the blind leading the blind, followers of false gods.

New York City shall be destroyed by fire—now, or at the coming of the Lord. It is not a suitable environment for human beings. The same is true, as I said, of Paris, London, San Francisco, and other large cities. They are not what God has in mind as a habitation for people. They all shall suffer the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Antichrist already shall have corrupted the social institutions, just as human life is being ruined in New York City. But when the sons of God go through the earth, at the coming of the Lord, they shall destroy the impressive structures as well as the dens of pornography and sadomasochism.

The asphalt jungles in which people are born, live, and die like rats in a cage, shall be destroyed. These are not examples of how God desires that His children live on the earth.

The wild screams of people driven by demons shall be silenced, as though the ocean came and covered the land, and then withdrew, leaving quietness and peace—as must have been true in the days of Noah.

Then the Lord’s people shall begin to rebuild. The practice of agriculture will fill the world in place of factories so there is abundance of food for everyone. No more little African children dying from lack of protein—a continual reminder of the wickedness of self-seeking man.

But there shall be cities—marvels of architecture and technology. In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, which He shall give liberally to His saints in order that they may construct a marvelous civilization. The secrets of light and gravity will be revealed so that the cities may ascend many miles into the air. The people will not be crushed to the ground, being able to rise only by the burning of massive amounts of fuel, the expenditure of tremendous energy.

All kinds of scholarship shall be encouraged. There will be vast libraries. Art and music studios will abound. Every good and worthwhile activity shall prosper under the rule of the Christ and His brothers.

The curse shall be lifted and the whole earth shall break forth into praise to God.

Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. Let the desert and its towns raise their voices; let the settlements where Kedar lives rejoice. Let the people of Sela sing for joy; let them shout from the mountaintops. Let them give glory to the LORD and proclaim his praise in the islands. (Isaiah 42:10-12—NIV)

If we spend our days working busily, but do not take time to pray and meditate in the Lord’s Word, we will be of little or no use during the glorious Kingdom Age to come. Those who spend their time and strength now in seeking the Lord, while attending to their necessary tasks in the world, will have an eternity to serve the Lord and other people. Each will be busily engaged in his appointed task—that for which he has been created.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9—NIV)

If the saved nations of the earth are to experience justice and prosperity there must be a governing priesthood—saints who can rule and also bring the Presence of God to people. This is why God called out the Church from the members of mankind.

Paradise was on the earth at one time, but soon was lost because of the inability of the first people to occupy it in obedience to the Lord. When Paradise is restored on the earth it will not be lost a second time. The reason is, it will be governed by people whom the Lord has tested and approved during their discipleship on the earth.

And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. (Isaiah 61:6—NIV)

Joy

As we stated previously, love, joy, and peace are among the highest goods that people can experience. When Jesus returns He will bring love, joy, and peace to every person who has diligently performed His will. But those who have not obeyed His commandments, even though they have professed faith in Him, will not be given love, joy, and peace. They shall receive from Christ exactly according to what they have done during their lifetime. To teach or believe otherwise is to lead one's self and others to certain prolonged suffering.

"His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’" (Matthew 25:21—NIV)

God has called us to joy. God desires that all the sons of God shout for joy continually. The creation is made for joy. It is sin that brings misery.

The reason we Christians who are seeking the Lord experience many tribulations, many chastisements, is that we might receive greater joy. If we are to have the marvelous, unhindered joy that God wishes us to have, the idols that bind our personality must be removed from us until all things are beneath us and only Christ is our Head.

The pursuit of joy, or pleasure, is one of the principal sources of our motivation. Some believers will not choose to become disciples of Christ because they fear such a commitment will cause them to lose their pleasures. Others will not enter the life of victory for the same reason.

This is true of so many churchgoers of our day. We in America are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Therefore we are to be chastened severely.

We cannot possibly receive the rewards we are hoping for until we are ready to postpone our pleasures, according to the will of Christ. There is no way in which self-will can be destroyed in us other than by prolonged imprisonment. We simply must deny ourselves and place our treasures in Heaven. If we do not deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, we will not receive love, joy, and peace when the Lord returns.

There is false preaching in America today. It is that being saved by grace means we do not have to do anything but believe in order to receive the rewards assigned to the overcomer. If this were true it would mean numerous statements in the New Testament are false.

The Lord Jesus commanded us to put our treasures in Heaven. If we disobey the Lord, we will receive the reward of disobedience when He returns, even though we have taken "the four steps of salvation."

We have been promised joy.

Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. (Isaiah 61:7—NIV)

If we have borne the reproach of Christ in this world we shall receive everlasting joy at the coming of the Lord. If we have chosen instead to hold onto our present pleasures, not denying ourselves, not taking up our cross and following the Lord, we will not be filled with joy when the Lord returns. We shall not enter His joy because we have not been a good and faithful servant.

Our goal is eternal joy. This we shall have if we are willing to serve Christ in the present world—not just believe in Him but serve Him faithfully until the day we die.

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalms 16:11—NIV)

Abilities

The last treasure we will mention is abilities, although there undoubtedly are many more treasures and rewards if we gave the matter more thought.

We cannot do the work of Christ except as He provides the ability. Our own talents and abilities may be pressed into service by the Lord, but the Body of Christ is built by the endowments from the ascended Christ.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, To prepare God’s people for works of service, so the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11,12—NIV)

Christ gives gifts and ministries to people that they may be prepared to build the Body of Christ.

God gave Paul the gift of the apostleship so he would be prepared to build the Body of Christ.

God has given other men and women various ministries and gifts so they may be prepared to build the Body of Christ.

The eternal Scripture states that the ministries and gifts of the Body of Christ must operate until we all come to maturity as measured by the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:13—NIV)

Since not many people reach this standard during their lifetime on the earth we may assume various abilities and gifts will be given to us when the Lord returns so we can continue with the work of the ministry.

But we know from the parable of the talents that if we do not profitably use what God has given to us now (and the Bible teaches that the Spirit of God has given gifts to every believer), then our abilities will be taken from us, given to another, and we will find ourselves in the outer darkness.

The punishment of those who have done nothing worse than neglect to use what the Lord has given them in the building of His Kingdom is very harsh—much harsher than we would suppose. Sometimes the Bible makes statements that are contrary to what we assume to be true. This is why we need to meditate in the Bible at all times.

If we are to rebuild a destroyed earth, and serve as a governing priesthood, then we are going to need wisdom and abilities from the Lord. Isn’t this a fact?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:4—NIV)

"So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the LORD has commanded." (Exodus 36:1—NIV)

If the Lord gave skill and ability to prepare those responsible for building the Tabernacle of the Congregation, how much more will we need special abilities from the Lord if we are to serve Him in the installation of His Kingdom on the earth!

The parable of the talents warns us clearly of the danger of neglecting to serve the Lord with the abilities, great or small, that we have now. If we say we have no abilities, then the Apostle Paul tells us to fervently desire the gifts needed to build the Body of Christ.

Look at what will take place at His return if we are not diligent in the matter of using our abilities:

"His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so when I returned I would have received it back with interest. "‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:26-30—NIV)

But what about "grace"? Aren’t we saved by grace?

The grace of forgiveness will not help us if we have buried our talent. Through Divine grace we are forgiven our sins and then through Divine grace we are enabled to serve the Lord. Grace is not an alternative to keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. Grace is the Person of God through Jesus Christ enabling us to be conformed to the moral image—and ultimately the bodily image—of Christ, and bringing us into untroubled rest in the Person of God through Christ. This is what grace is. It is not an excuse for failing to do God’s will!

I do not believe there is a scriptural basis for hoping we can neglect to use the abilities we have today and then be treated as a good and faithful servant when the Lord returns.

How do you feel about this?

I don’t know how you view the coming of the Lord. As for me, I believe the Lord meant exactly what He said when He declared that His reward is with Him to give every person as his or her work has been.

With this in mind, I prefer to put all my treasures in Heaven where they won’t rust and no one can steal them. Then when the Lord returns I expect He will return to me those treasures that will really bring me love joy and peace. I don’t want the rest.

I don’t really trust the current teaching about grace, the rapture, and all that. I know the Bible is right but I’m not so sure about our Christian traditions!

How about you?

In conclusion, let me remind the reader that the first resurrection itself, the resurrection that will take place when Jesus returns, is a reward for living the victorious life. If we would be raised to assume the thrones that govern the earth, thrones that in the present hour are occupied by Satan and his followers, we must have pursued the overcoming life. The first resurrection is for the royal priesthood, not for those who have not followed Christ diligently during their lifetime.

As Paul said, "If we as a Christian choose to live in the perverted desires of our flesh, we shall die." Paul is not speaking of dying physically. We die physically whether or not we live in the desires of our flesh and soul.

Rather, Paul means if we do not nourish the resurrection life given to us when we received Christ, but choose instead to place our emphasis on the life of our flesh and soul, when the Lord comes there will be no "oil," no resurrection life, that will raise us to meet Him in the air. This is the meaning of the parable of the wise and foolish virgins.

I know it is commonly believed that professing belief in Christ qualifies us to participate in the first resurrection. I do not believe this is true. Participation in the first resurrection is a reward that will be given to us because we have chosen to put to death the deeds of our body, placing our joys and hopes in the great bank of Heaven.

Please give my words your careful attention. It is your future that we are discussing. I already have chosen to lay aside all else in order to attain to the resurrection from the dead