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A pleasant surprise arrived on my now-defunct-tech iPod the other day. I was listening to a message by Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Dallas, Texas. Here’s a transcript of the part that made me happy (I edited it a bit for clarity):

This is the world to come. But here’s the question. Who rules it? Now, don’t let Sunday School bust outta ya. ‘Cause you can always answer, “Jesus,” and you’re somewhat right. You can, “Yeah, somehow Jesus can empower that,” but that’s not where the author of Hebrews goes. As much as our heart goes, “Jesus rules the world to come. Jesus does,” that’s not what the writer of Hebrews says. The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm Eight. Do you know who Psalm Eight’s about? Psalm Eight’s about you. Psalm Eight’s about me. Who rules the world to come? We do. Put your pitchfork away. Let me do some work. This is not the first time this idea is present in Scripture. Here’s the Apostle Paul writing to the church at Ephesus through his disciple, Timothy: “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also”—what with Him? “Reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us…” And one of my favorite phrases: “…if we are faithless,” He remains what? “Faithful” (2 Timothy 2:11–12) 1

Do you see it? This is not the only place. The apostle Paul writing to the church at Corinth: “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). By what criteria? Here’s my theologically informed answer: I have no idea. But here’s what I know: that glory is not me on a cloud playing a harp, singing forever. That glory is me in the full faith in Jesus Christ ruling and reigning alongside of Him forever. This is the dynasty that we’ve been talking about. This is the ammunition we have against the shallow, vain promises of this present world. Right. You want me to trade that for what? This dirt?2

I am glad Matt addressed this truth. And here are few more scriptures which deserve our consideration, that will add to our wondrous bewilderment:

“When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?” (1 Corinthians 6:1–2).

I think Matt Chandler would have the same theologically informed answer for this one, too—“I have no idea”—and I have no idea, either; nor does anyone else. This is wondrous bafflement—but it seems to me that, somehow, saints will be functioning in the full, sinless mind of Jesus then, unlike the cloudy condition in which we find ourselves today: “The spiritual person judges all things but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:15–16). In addition, we won’t be reigning alone, but with Him, as Paul told Timothy in the scripture Chandler quoted from 2 Timothy.

To continue the divine perplexity, we should consider these verses: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Romans 8:16–17).

What will it mean in eternity to be an heir of Christ? Again, scriptural information is sparse. However, we should ask, “Are we heirs with God, fellow heirs with Jesus, if we suffer with Him?” The passage from 2 Timothy says, “…if we endure, we will also reign with Him.”

Do these verses indicate that our reigning with Jesus is conditional?

Other puzzling passages exist, two of them from the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

These two verses seem to me to be a corollary to Jesus saying, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Endurance. Steadfastness. Meekness. Poverty of spirit. Powerless, like children.

I wish I had greater understanding of this, but Scripture is not as defining as we would like it to be. That should be no surprise. Jesus said many things that, after centuries, cause the studying saints to scratch their heads and question—much as His disciples did. However, these truths are in Scripture, the very words of God. We know that, somehow, we will be judges, reigning with Jesus, and those eternal realities are connected to suffering, enduring with Him, humility, and powerlessness. These are all good things. We should take heed, consider, and obey.

 

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

2The Entry and Death of Jesus, March 28, 2018. The Village Church.

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