Sunday, January 3, 2016

Eternity in Heaven -- Assurance Eight tells us of Rewards and Leadership Positions

Most people have the idea that Eternity in Heaven is a place where we float around on clouds doing nothing or that it is a place where we will engage in our favorite activities to our hearts content. I am not going to tell you that I know what we will be doing when we get to Heaven, but within the Biblical Scriptures God has given us some indications of what we may be doing in the Eternity of Heaven. It certainly won’t involve floating on clouds. For there will be a new Heaven and earth, and we will have responsibilities there while some will have leadership positions on the new earth. Indeed, the Scriptures tell us that we will hold different positions in Heaven depending on our abilities and what we have done here on while this earth. We will also be rewarded for our faithfulness and for the works that we have accomplished for the Lord while here as aliens in a strange land.

Yes, as children of God’s we are aliens in a strange land. Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong in this world? I think a lot of Christians have felt that way at some point in time. The reason that we may feel that way is because we are just temporary residents in this world, and someday we will go home to our permanent residence in Eternity in Heaven. In fact, the evangelist Billy Graham put those feelings into these words that he spoke: 
The Bible says that as long as we are here on earth, we are strangers in a foreign land. There are enemies to be conquered before we return home. This world is not our home; our citizenship is in Heaven.” 
– (Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011. p. 74).
It is in our home in Heaven where we will receive rewards and leadership positions for our faithfulness and servanthood here on this earth.

In the past few weeks I have been telling you about the assurances that God has given us about our Eternity in Heaven. So far we have talked about seven of the many assurances that God has given us; starting with God’s placement of Eternity within our hearts. Now, let’s take a look at assurance number eight. Assurance eight, as I have numbered them, comes from the Biblical Scriptures that God has given us about the different rewards we may receive and the leadership positions we may have opportunity to hold in the Eternity of Heaven.

Assurance Number Eight for Eternity Spent with God

Assurance number eight is found within a discussion that the disciples had with each other. The Bible tells us that one day the disciples started to argue about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus stopped their argument by telling them that “In this world, kings and great men order their people around, and yet they are called ‘friends of the people’. But among you, those who are greatest should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Normally the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For, I am your servant. … And just as My Father has granted Me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink at My table in that Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.– (Luke 22: 25-30. NLT).

The disciples already knew that they would be with Christ in His Kingdom, but they did not understand what their positions would be within the Kingdom. They also did not understand that the world’s leadership is quite different than the leadership positions that will be instituted in Heaven. At that moment in time, the disciples only reference point was the types of leadership positions they saw on earth, which are often based upon power grabbing or on what a person can do to make others recognize his/her ability or accomplishments. On the other hand, leadership positions in the Kingdom of God in Heaven would be given out by Christ.

We, today, only know about the leadership positions from what we see around us too. For example, today our nation is facing the election of a new president, and the candidates running for president are being selfish, untrustworthy, and power hungry. Humility and servanthood is really not at the foundation of their presidential campaigns. But in Eternity in Heaven those unbecoming aspects of potential leaders such as untrustworthiness and pride will not be found. This is because only those who have humbly come before the Lord and given their lives to Christ will be allowed in the Kingdom of Heaven. Certainly, there has to be a degree of humility as well as recognition of our sinful nature in order to repent of our sins and ask Christ into our hearts. So those who enter into Heaven will be worthy of being there and worthy of leadership positions.

Only after we enter into Eternity will leadership positions and/ or our rewards in Heaven be given to us. Each reward and leadership position will be based on our humility and what we have accomplished here on earth for the Lord and others. Those positions will also be based upon our ability to lead and our faithfulness to Christ. Although we may pray here on earth for a leader who can get our country turned around and back on track for the Lord, we also know that even the most worthy person to be president will not have the ability to lead us the way that Christ will lead when we are in Heaven. However, we can have confidence that those whom Christ will put in leadership positions in Heaven will be greatly qualified and will be rewarded for their faithfulness.

In the above verse in the Gospel of Luke Christ assured the disciples of their positions in Heaven. In doing so, Christ contrasted our earthly leadership to the leadership in Heaven. In this comparison Christ referred to kings and great men here on earth as being called “friends of the people.” This is because in ancient times kings and emperors often gave themselves the title of “Benefactor” or “friend of the people”. In reality, though, the kings or leaders had usually gotten their powerful positions through bribery, lying, and power grabbing. They were anything but a “friend of the people”. But, those in Eternity in Heaven will be the true friends of people. For, they will be Christians who have served humbly and who have cared about the needs of others. In other words, Kingdom leaders will be people who are rewarded for having served others the best while here on earth. They will have been “Doers of the Word”. So, as Christians here on earth, we should develop a servant’s heart, because Christ will look at our hearts when He gives us our rewards. Therefore, the focus of our Christian life here on earth should be leadership through servanthood.

In the above verse Jesus finished explaining leadership and servanthood to His disciples by telling them that they would be rewarded for their earthly servanthood. For Christ told them “I now grant you the right to eat and drink at My table in that Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Thus, the disciples would receive a special reward for their earthly leadership through servanthood. Part of their reward was occurring here on earth as they ate with Christ, the Son of God; for they had been especially chosen by Christ to be His disciples and thus eat with Him. However, they would also be rewarded in God’s Kingdom in Eternity. They would get to eat at Christ’s table in Heaven with Him.

The disciples would also get to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Obviously, eating with Christ was to be a special reward. But additionally they would get crowns or rewards for the work that they did here on earth for the Kingdom of God. They would be rewarded with leadership positions. The disciples would get to sit on thrones to judge Israel. This would be a special reward for their obedience to Christ and for their love of Christ and their love of others. To be prepared for such leadership, though, the disciples would need to take the Great Commission to heart and work at telling other people about the Gospel message and the Kingdom of Heaven in Eternity. But, in order to do so, they would need to truly love others as they loved themselves.
Only by living lives here on earth that reflected their love of others and by helping others to produce lives of Christian servanthood and leadership would the disciples be obeying Christ. Then through their sharing of the Gospel message the disciples would be rewarded with leadership positions in Eternity. They would be rewarded with Heavenly leadership for their work of servanthood and their love of others while here on earth.

The above verse in the Gospel of Luke, however, was not the only time that Christ spoke about and assured the disciples and us of the Heavenly rewards that His followers would receive. For, many times during His ministry, Jesus spoke about Eternity and the rewards that would come from following Him. Sometimes Christ spoke to the people and His disciples about what they could expect to happen in Eternity in Heaven through the use of parables. At other times, like in the above discussion with His disciples, Christ spoke directly to the people and to His disciples telling them what they could expect to happen in Eternity in Heaven.  Sometimes, too, Christ used analogies to help people understand the assurances that He was giving them about Eternity in Heaven.

Assurance Number Eight is Dependent Upon Our Heart

As we have just seen, assurance number eight comes from Christ directly telling His followers and His disciples that they would receive rewards and leadership positions for their faithfulness and leadership here on earth. But Christ also told them to “Take Care! Don’t do your good deeds publically; to be admired, because then you will lose the reward from your Father in Heaven.”  -- (Matthew 6: 1. NLT). In this statement, Jesus was telling the Pharisees and the people around Him that it is our attitude and our reason for doing something that will be seen by the Father. We cannot hide our heart from the Father even though we may be able to fool our Christian friends. Our rewards in Eternity in Heaven will not only be based on what we have done to help others, but they will also be based on our heart, i.e. the reason that we have helped someone. If we are to be Heavenly leaders we will have to have to truly care about the other person’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs.

We will also receive rewards and leadership positions in Heaven for standing up for Christ and for any persecution that we will endure for Christ’s sake. Jesus told the crowds that:
God blesses those who are persecuted because they live for God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses you when you are mocked and persecuted and lied about because you are My followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in Heaven. …– (Matthew 5:10-12. NLT).
Being persecuted or being willing to stand up for Christ means that we are being faithful to God. Those who stand for Christ should not blend into this world. Rather, we should serve others in Christ’s name. In fact, God will reward those who are faithful and those with servant’s hearts by receiving them into Eternity in Heaven.

Active Relational Christian Mentoring is just one way that we can serve others and serve God showing Him our faithfulness at the same time. Whether you hold down a job or career, or you are a stay at home mom, you can mentor another woman for the Lord. You can help someone who needs spiritual help, emotional help, or someone who has physical needs. We can all find the time to help others. It is just a matter of whether or not we are willing to help someone else. Mentoring doesn’t take a great deal of time. In fact, active relational mentoring can be accomplished in just moments of time over a coffee break or after Sunday school. But whatever you do for another, if you have done it with a loving, giving heart, you will be rewarded in Eternity in Heaven. Just remember that Active Mentoring is a great way to show you care.

Eternity in Heaven will be wonderful! Although we cannot know now what we will be doing when we get there, we know that God has a home for those who are “Saved”. We also know that our faithfulness and servanthood to the Kingdom of God will be rewarded in Heaven. What will we be doing there? I don’t know, but I know that it will be wonderful. Billy Graham, the great evangelist, put it this way:

Even when we allow our imaginations to run wild on the joys of Heaven, we find that our minds are incapable of conceiving what it will be like.– (Billy Graham in Quotes, c. 2011. p. 75).

 I cannot conceive what it will be like either. But, the most wonderful thing about Eternity in Heaven, whether I have many rewards or few, is the fact that I will get to see Jesus Christ face to face. I have seen Him in my heart, in my dreams, and in my visions, as well as in my hopes. But someday, I will get to see Him face to face in Eternity in Heaven! What a glorious day that will be!

Will you be there with me? I certainly hope so! If you want to see Eternity and spend it with God, all you have to do is repent of your sins and believe that Christ, the Son of God, died for your sins and arose from the grave. If you believe that Christ indeed arose from the grave and is now back in Heaven preparing a home for those who believe, ask Christ to forgive you of your sins. Ask Christ to come into your heart!  Tell Him you believe on Him and truly mean it. Then you will not only feel the glorious presence of Christ in your heart, but you will see Him in person someday in Eternity in Heaven.
God Bless you! 

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