VII. THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IN GOD’S ETERNAL PLAN: God’s Future Plans for His Children

He also commands us to labor to enter into his rest.  He does not plan for us to retire, but “. . . he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his” (Heb. 4:10).  “For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works” (Heb. 4:4). Rather than retire, he plans for his servants to serve him (Rev. 22:3) and to reign with him forever and ever (Rev. 22:5).  He plans for us to reign as kings (Rev. 1:6).  There is a great deal of work in reigning as kings.  Kings need to be faithful and strong. If we suffer with him according to his will now, we will reign with him (2 Tim. 2:12).  He illustrates this point in the two parables of the talents tells what he has in mind for his children.  The conclusions were:

“His lord said unto him, Well done, 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”  (Matt 25:23).

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17).

Jesus has now received authority over the heathen and the uttermost parts of the earth, and all things in heaven as well (Matt. 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:25), to the point of working all things together for good for those who 1) love him and 2) are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).  He promises that those who overcome will be given power over the nations as he has received of his Father (Rev. 2:26,27).   This scripture is a quotation of Psalms 2:

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.  Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Psa. 2:7-9)

Our Father judges according to our faithfulness.  If we are faithful to him in the use of the unrighteous mammon here on earth, we will be faithful to reign with him in the new heaven and the new earth (Luke 16:10-12).

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1, 2).

We can not earn these things, nor do they come free.  We must win the crown by running the race according to all things he has commanded us (Matt. 28:20). “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).  God commands us to be perfect.[1]


[1] Some argue that this is not a command because this form of the Greek word is in the future tense.  This conclusion can not be substantiated.  The future is frequently used as the imperative.  Barbara and Timothy Friberg, Analytical Greek New Testament, Baker Book House, 1981, state: “The future, like the subjunctive, is frequently used as imperative. This is limited to second and third person forms of the future and thus corresponds with the imperative forms. While the subjunctive used as imperative shows a correspondence between tenses, the future indicative used as imperative does not. So for every future used imperativally, we had to determine the tense of the imperative function.  We did this item by item, deciding in each case the aspectual sense (punctiliar action, durative action, etc.) of the command.”   pp. 810, 811.

God’s Eternal Purpose Has Been the Same Since Creation

God has always had the same eternal purpose for each person.  Whether it was Noah or Abraham–many years before the Old Testament law, David under the law, or Christ, the apostles or his children under the new the law, he aimed to have his eternal love in each mind and heart.  He said: Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5), Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind (1 Pet. 4:1).

His plan is for every child to be thoroughly prepared for every good work is based in the perfection (completion) of a good heart (2 Tim. 3:17).  His plan to furnish his children unto every good work is accomplished by first purging the evil out of the inner man (2 Tim. 2:20, 21).  His plan to prepare the church as a bride for her husband (Rev. 21:2) is accomplished by taking out every spot, wrinkle and blemish (Eph. 5:26, 27).

The Power of a Good Heart

The power of God is found in our hearts.  He shows us that our mouths speak “out of the abundance of the heart” (Matt. 12:34).  Look at the power of the heart!  Most of us have much evil in our hearts.  The heart is the source of the evil and good that we do. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:18, 19).  The evil abides in the heart and is manifested when the temptation arises.  It is our responsibility to remove all of this evil out of our hearts.  He command us to: “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth (Col. 3:5, 8).

It is also our responsibility to renew the new man we put on in baptism:

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.  Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (Col. 3:10-12).

We have put on Christ (Gal. 3:27) which is our ‘new man.’  The ways he commands us to put on (above) are all part of the love of Christ, which is growing in his image.  If all of the evil is taken out of our hearts and the love of Christ is put into our hearts, our mouths will speak from the abundance of hearts like Christ’s heart.  Our actions will naturally follow our tongues, for the tongue is the bridle or rudder for the whole body (James 3:3-5).  There is great power if the perfect love is in the heart.  Those with the perfect love do not err in word (James 3:2).  His heart controls his tongue because his heart has been formed with all of the parts of Christ’s love.  That same man is  “. . . able also to bridle the whole body also” (James 3:2).  When would we not obey God if our hearts are full of Jesus love and we are able to bridle the whole body?  If we are unfaithful in the least, we will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10-12). Why?  If our heart is faithful, whether we have little or much, we will be faithful.  God’s power in our hearts is found in the love of Christ!

Consider two examples of the power of a good heart.  God testifies to David’s heart – “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will” (Acts 13:33). David’s heart was formed and thus he was able to fulfill all of God’s will.  God inspired David to write: “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart” (Psa. 101:2). David would have to have a complete heart because he was a man after God’s own heart–and God’s heart is surely complete!  We need to remember that David was not born with a complete heart.  No doubt this Psalm was written toward the end of his life.  After David died, God gave him a tremendous testimony concerning the power of his heart:

Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite (1 King 15:5).

With the one exception, David did what was right and did not turn aside from anything God commanded him all the days of his life (1 Kings 15:5).  Who could claim that sort of record but Christ himself!  Some scorn David because of the horrible sin he had, but do they have a record where they have not turned aside from any command all the days of their lives except for one lapse?  There are different degrees of temptation.  We have the promise now that we will not be tempted above what we are able.  David did not have that promise.  Peter was sifted like wheat, and Jesus knew he would fall (Luke 22:31).  The promise not to be tempted above what we are able was written after Peter was sifted like wheat.  How strong was David’s temptation?  We will not know until Judgment Day.  Others claim that God’s testimony is false,  and that David did sin more than in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.  Keep in mind the statement: David did not turn aside from “any thing that he commanded him.”  When David counted the people, his heart smote him.  This was not something God had commanded him to do or not to do.  There was no law about counting or not counting the people in the Old Law, which David was under.  Sin is transgression of law.  If there is no law, sin is not imputed (Rom. 5:13).  We must walk by faith.  God made the statement above, and we need to trust God enough to believe it.  David has a marvelous record, because he has a marvelous heart after God’s own heart.

The Lord testifies: “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (James 3:2).  This is a marvelous statement.  The phrase in this scripture, “If any man,” would include Job.  God testified that Job was a perfect man, not once but three times, and one of those was to the Devil himself (Job 1:8).  If it were not true, Satan would have contradicted God.  But he did not.  Satan knew that Job was perfect.  We would expect Job not to offend in word according to the definition in James 3:2.  God gives Job this very testimony: “In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22).  Even after Satan removed all of his possessions and flooded him with boils, God testifies: “In all this did not Job sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  Keep in mind that God said that “If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. . .” (James 3:2).  Some, like Job’s friends, would accuse Job of sinning, but there was no proof except their allegations.  In the end, Elihu was angry with the three friends because they could not answer Job (Job 32:1-3).  The worst that Job did (or came close to doing) was to condemn God and dis-annul his judgment (Job 40:8). Sin is transgression of God’s law.  Job lived long before the Old Testament law, and even if he were under the law, there is no such command not to dis-annul God’s judgment.  God did not accuse Job, but asked him if that were what he was doing (Job 40:8).  In the end, God himself justified Job:

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.  Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job (Job 42:7-8).

Truly David and Job are examples of the power of a good heart.

Look at the hope of glory!  The hope of glory is to have the eternal marvelous and beautiful love of Christ in our own hearts.  (Col. 1:26, 27)!  Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).  God is love.  God is eternal.  His love is eternal.  What is unseen is eternal.  If we grow in that love, we grow in what is unseen and thus in was is eternal (1 Cor. 4:18).  If we do not grow in that love, but keep the hatred and/or evil we have in our hearts, those unseen things will also last eternally.  If we grow in the heart of Christ, we will have that love forever and ever.  If we inherit the new body and a new mansion in heaven, and have the heart of Satan, what can God expect?  “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).  God can expect us to speak evil from the abundance of an evil heart. Heaven will not be heaven if we arrive there with an evil heart.  There is no glory to having an evil heart or even an empty heart.  If we are filled with the heart of Christ we will surely be faithful as Christ was faithful (He 3:1,2).  It is no wonder that “perfect love” gives boldness on the day of judgment and casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).  The heart of Christ is truly the hope of glory (Col. 1:26, 27).  There is a way to overcome the world!  There is a way to obey all the commands of God.

THE MARK, PURPOSE, AIM, GOAL OF THE RACE

The great commission leads us to the mark God has set out for us – if we obey it.  The method that short-circuits the great commission saying “Go, teach (first principles), baptize, and then simply teach (to teach them to teach the first principles to others)” totally misses the mark.  Teaching them to teach the first principles to others is certainly a part of the command, but it is only one part of the command.  Jesus said “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. . .” (Matt. 28:20). If we teach ‘all things,’ we will teach the mark which God sets before each child of his.  What is the mark to which we are called to run?  Unless we know the mark (Phil. 3:14), how can we know the pathway that leads to the mark?  Philip was very wise when he asked this of Christ: “We know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:4, 5).  He did not know the mark nor did he know the pathway to reach that mark and knew it.  Jesus said “. . .no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).    He was speaking of going to be with his Father in heaven.  The way to go to the Father is to follow in the steps of Christ and reach the mark which he reached. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  Jesus knew the mark and knew the way to get to the mark.  He is the author and finisher of our race.  He made it, and he ran it ahead of us (Heb. 12:1-3).  He did not run the race so we do not have to run it.  He ran it so that we would have an example to follow as we run (1 Pet. 2:21).  We need to follow him and run to the mark to which he ran.

The Lord in working all things together for good for his purpose (goal, mark).  What is this purpose?  Notice the two qualifications required before he will work all things together for good for us.  Those who qualify, 1) love him, and 2) are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).  He calls men so they will fulfill his purpose.  He tells us clearly in the next verse what he calls men to be (Rom. 8:29).  He calls men to “be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:30).    This is the same purpose, aim, goal of a disciple. “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord” (Matt. 10:25).  When the disciple is perfect, he is like his master (Luke 6:40).  We can see that the word ‘perfect’ in these verses is not used as the world commonly uses it today.  We need to explore this scriptural word ‘perfection’ as it is used in the scriptures.  What is New Testament perfection?