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).

“WE WILL ALWAYS SIN FROM TIME TO TIME AS LONG AS WE ARE ON EARTH”

Christians are called to battle against Satan and sin. Satan is the captain of the army of spiritual wickedness.  We are called to fight him and his angels.  The Lord reveals that  “. . . we wrestle . . . against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).  Jesus is our captain in this fight (Heb. 2:10).  Some so-called soldiers of Christ’s army have the heart of a traitor, who has already made peace with the enemy.  Their excuse is that ‘we are human’ and therefore as long as we live we will always sin.  For them, Satan is a stronger captain than Jesus Christ as long as we are on earth.  Satan wins a simple ‘word battle.’  There is no genuine fight.  Their half-hearted ‘battle’ is a mockery of Christ, for they believe that Satan will always win some of the battles.  Why wage a war against sin when the battle will be lost anyway?  Is this the kind of Captain that Christians have?  Is our Captain a sure loser?  Why not at least put up some kind of battle?  Surely something is wrong with this attitude!

Some interpret 1 John 1:8 to say “we will always sin as long as we are on earth.” The Greek language in this verse is in the indicative present active tense.  Thus, to them, 1 John 1:8 says: “If we say that we have no sin (now, present tense), we deceive ourselves.”  According to this interpretation, when we come out of the waters of baptism and say that we have no sin (now, indicative present active tense), we deceive ourselves.  Who would believe that?  According to this argument, when we confess our sins, then God is not faithful and just to forgive us our sins, because we can never say we do not have (now, indicative present active tense) sin, for if we do, we are deceivers.  Who will believe that?  After rising from the waters of baptism we can say we have (indicative present active tense) no sin.  When we confess our sins to our Father and he forgives, we can say we have no sin.  Not even the traitors would accept their own argument on these points.  The present active tense argument does not teach what they want it to teach.

To fit their doctrine they must restate the scripture to read: If we say (or think) that we will not sin from time to time we deceive ourselves.  This would clearly teach their doctrine but that is not what 1 John 1:8 says.  He states that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.”  We have already showed that the scriptures teach that there are times when we can say that we have no sin  in the sense of sin on God’s record.  God does forgive and it is possible to state that we have no sin (on God’s record) most of the time.  Second, the scriptures do not say that we will always be sinning in the sense that there will never be a time on earth that we will not be committing sins.  We know that we are not always sinning.  Third, to teach their doctrine we would have to change the scripture as stated above.  This is simply not what God says.  What is the Lord saying when he states that we can not “say that we have no sin?”

The only way this scripture makes sense is in the context of verse 10. God said “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10).  The expressions in verses 8 and 10 are almost synonymous.  Some in New Testament times were saying they had not sinned.  They were also stating that Jesus did not come in the flesh (1 John 4:3).  This was the doctrine of the antichrist, of which there were many in John’s lifetime (1 John 2:18).  Today we call them “Docetics,” forerunners to the Gnostics.  To them, the flesh was not real.  Thus anything done in the flesh was not real.  If what was done in the flesh were not real, then their sin was not real, and they claimed to have no sin.  If they had no sin, then they did not need a Savior to save them from sin.  This is the context of verse 8: if we say we have no sin – that is – if we say that we have not sinned (in our lifetime) we deceive ourselves, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

The purpose for John writing this book is in direct opposition to their interpretation of 1 John 1: 8.  Immediately in 1 John 2:1, he shows us he is not saying that we will always sin from time to time. He said  “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not” (1 John 2:1). How could he teach that it is not possible to come to the point where we do not sin, and then immediately state that he is writing so we will not sin? John did not waste his time writing that book.  His purpose is possible.  It is possible that we will come to the point where we will not sin.  Look at Zacharias and Elisabeth who lived under the old law.  They grew in heart to the point that when John the Baptist was born, the Lord says: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” (Luke 1:6).  If Zacharias and Elisabeth could walk in all the commandments and Old Testament ordinances of the Lord blamelessly, surely God has power to help us to walk in the same steps of faith, under a far better law, with far better promises. We can come to the point where we are “walking in all the (New Testament) commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”  Jesus overcame the world (John 16:33) and he can show us how to gain the victory over the same world (1 John 5:4).  As these lessons progress we will see God’s plan or pathway to overcome the world.

DOES PERFECT LOVE CAST OUT THE OLD TESTAMENT “Fear of the Lord?”

“The fear of Lord” in the old Testament is in distinct contrast to the trembling fear of the New Testamant, which can be cast out (1 John 4:18).  Many have given their own definitions of “the fear of the Lord” in the Old Testament as reverence, etc.  Not just anyone can understand the “Fear of the Lord.”  Solomon describes how men can understand the Fear of the Lord.  After giving several requirements and conditions, he says “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Pro. 2:5).  God gives his own definition of what he means by the “Fear of the Lord”

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.  What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?  Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guileDepart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. (Psa. 34:11-14).

This is the Lord’s own definition of “the fear of the Lord.”  He states that this fear includes 1)  seeing good, 2)  not speaking evil or guile, 3)  departing from evil, 4)  doing good and 5)  seeking and pursuing peace. Many in the New Testament time had the Old Testament fear of the Lord. For example, the churches in Judaea and Galilee and Samaria “. . . were “walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 9:31). Cornelius was described as a “just man, and one that feareth God” (Acts 10:22). Paul addressed his audience saying: “Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience” (Acts 13:16).  This fear, “The fear of the Lord,” should never be cast out by perfect love or anything else.

In contrast to the fear in Psalms 34 is the fear that “hath torment” (1 John 4:18).  “There is no fear (which has torment) in love, for perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).  This fear  needs to be cast out.  However it can not rightly be cast our prematurely.  We are commanded to have fear throughout the time of our exile (1 Pet. 1:17).  We must obey the command to fear God until we grow to the perfect love which will cast that fear out (1 John 4:18).

Some see where this pathway is leading and counter by saying, “Though we try to obey all the commands of God, and thus do not need to fear His wrath, the scriptures teach that as long as we are on earth, we will always sin.”

Is this true?  Let us pursue this thought.

Great Commission: First Command Reviewed

The first step in the great commission is to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19) – disciples who are determined to grow to become like their master (Luke 6:40) in mind (Phil. 2:5) and heart (Matt. 11:28-30).  Our Father is satisfied if we become like Christ in mind and heart (Matt. 10:24,25), because having the mind and heart of Christ is to have the complete love with all of its parts (1 Cor. 13:4-8), which surely will cause the mouth (Matt. 12:34) and the body (James 3:2-5) to speak and do all of the will of God (Acts 13:22).  The first step in the great commission will turn us toward the purpose of God.  After we are turned to do the purpose of God we must have help and direction to fulfill that purpose. This is the reason for the second command of the Great Commission.