We pick up where we left off in the last episode, talking about the four dreams of mankind. We continue exploring the dream of position. Wrapping up our series on life as an epic journey, we talk about God’s desire to have us reign with him. If we endure, we will receive crowns in heaven and be allowed to continue to participate in His Kingdom. In the end, what we really crave is royalty. And God wants that for us as well. To make our dreams come true, in the best way possible.
Let’s look at position. A great verse on position comes from Matthew, the parable of the talents, where Jesus says, “I will make you ruler. I gave you some small things to do here, now I’m going to make you ruler over many cities.” And we see this notion all through the scriptures.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6. And this is a kind of a mind-boggling one.
Verse 1: Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?
Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
See, what God is doing is he’s putting together a group of servant-kings to rule the world on his behalf.
Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:12. We looked at this before, but it bears repeating. 2 Timothy 2. This little song here, starting at 11:
This is a faithful saying:
This is a chiasm. It goes A-B-B-A.
For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him. That’s the seat belt
If we die with him, we’ll live with him. That’s an unconditional statement. If we’ve been buried in Christ, raised to walk in newness of life, we’re in him. We’re raised. We’re going to heaven. There’s no question about it.
But now a conditional thing comes, the B.
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
That’s a conditional statement. If we endure, we’ll reign.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
What will he deny us? The reign. But then we repeat A again.
If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
Because if we die with him, we will live with him. Because that’s not something that can be lost.
However, the reign is something that’s conditional. That’s why we want to divide the word of truth appropriately so that we can be approved. An approved worker, because there will be disapproved workers, still servants.
Let’s look at Revelation 2:26. And he who overcomes—again this overcomer is a reward because Jesus said, “To him who overcomes as I overcame—” and Jesus did not accept Jesus into his heart. This is a reward verse.
And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end—if we endure—to him I will give power over the nations—This is a ruling.
‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—
See there’s going to come a time where righteousness will reign, and it’s not going to be a question. We wonder sometimes if our government can maintain order, if evil’s going to break loose. In this new earth, this new heaven and new earth, there’s not going to be any question about it. And it’s this overcomer group, these servant-kings, that are going to be actually executing this on behalf of God. What an unbelievable privilege this is!
This is the kind of thing we dream about. We dream about these phenomenal possessions and these phenomenal positions.
We also talk about possessions; and, again, all these things are interrelated. We’ve got these crowns that are mentioned. Matthew 6 talks about treasure in heaven, which is a possessions type of a conversation. And these crowns are interesting because they’re interconnected with praise; and they’re interconnected with position, as all these things typically are.
Let’s look at some of the crowns. 2 Timothy 4. And I hear people say, “Well, the only reason I want a crown is so I can throw it,” and I think the notion of expressing that God is the ultimate source of all things and casting a crown is an appropriate notion, but the idea that us throwing our crown is more impactful than the King of the Universe and the creator of all things giving us one in the first place is a little bit audacious.
I can’t think of anything that’s going to be more meaningful to us than having our creator say, “You did a great job, and I want everybody to know it, and I’m telling them.” What could be better than that? What kind of fame could you have that’s better than that? 2 Timothy 4:8, here’s Paul.
The crown of righteousness
Paul doesn’t say I don’t care about these realities. He says, finally—well let’s start with 6.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering—
He was in the prison in Rome. I’ve been there; I’ve seen it. It’s a hole in the ground. He’s in this prison, and he knows he’s going to be killed.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
And he’s writing this book to Timothy and saying I’m going to be killed. Don’t wimp out because you’re watching me get killed. Follow my path, and here’s why. And the “here’s why” is so you endure to the end, so you can reign, so you can have all these blessings, these rewards. This is the fulfillment of our dreams! This is what we were made for! Don’t throw it away!
Verse 8. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge—He’s the judge, not us—the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
So there’s this crown that goes with saying, “Man I wish Jesus was here right now! I’m living as though Jesus is here right now.” You know, most of us live as though God is sort of behind the door, in the other room.
Again, you have children. Have you noticed the extent to which they think they can get away with stuff as long as they can’t see you? You can hear them in there doing whatever they’re doing. You know they’re doing whatever they’re doing, but they can’t see you; and, so, they just do whatever.
Well that’s kind of the way we behave, like God can’t see me. Well, yeah, he can.
And, so, if we live as though we wish he were here, and we’re glad he’s watching, we get this crown of righteousness. It’ll be a phenomenal possession! And the possession will have value because of who gave it.
Think about a Super Bowl ring. You could go on eBay, and buy a Super Bowl ring, I’m sure. There’s always somebody that hocked it to pay for their drug habit or something.
Or an Olympic gold medal. If you had an Olympic gold medal for being the world’s fastest human, does that make you the world’s fastest human? What if you went to somebody’s house and they said, “Let me show you my gold medal! I’m an Olympic champion!” What would you say if you knew that they had not actually earned that medal?
“That does not mean you’re an Olympic champion. It means you bought a gold medal from somebody that was.”
That’s what this means. It’s not the trinket that matters. And to that extent, saying, well, the crown won’t matter is appropriate; but the authority of the person who gave it expressing that to us—see, now, we’re talking about our deepest dreams being fulfilled. You want to be famous? You want to have a great position? You want to have great possessions? Here they are!
And the way there is to pour out our lives in obedience and serve a dwarfed humanity. That’s the way there.
The world, of course, will say we’re chumps for doing that. But this is the way dreams come true.
Well, there are more crowns. There’s the crown of life for enduring trials patiently and in a god-honoring manner.
There’s a crown of glory. Godly leaders who minister well. The chief Shepherd will give the under-shepherds the crown of glory.
And there’s a crown of rejoicing for leading people to the Lord.
And those are just the ones that he’s told us about.
The final thing that’s sort of exciting to me is—well, I’ll say the final thing I’m going to talk about—is this idea of an eternal mansion. Now Jesus said, “I’m going to prepare a place for you.” I don’t know what that’s going to mean, but I do like that song about your house is the size of the lumber that you sent ahead. You know, that notion is a pretty cool notion.
More than we can imagine
And I think that all of these things are just ways for him to express to us some semblance of the extent to which these dreams coming true can be a reality. He tells us in the scripture—let’s see what is? Is it 1 Corinthians 2. He says,
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
What I’m going to do for those who love me.”
Which I think you could paraphrase as saying I could tell you exactly what this is going to be like, but you couldn’t understand it. He does go on to say the Spirit can give us an idea, and I think that’s what we’re talking about now.
Enter into the joy of your Lord
Of course, then there’s the ultimate pleasure. And what is the ultimate pleasure? The ultimate pleasure, again, per parable of the talents is to enter into the joy of your Lord.
When we have earthly pleasures, there really is no comparison to the difference between something that’s incredibly enjoyable that you do by yourself versus something incredibly enjoyable that you share with other people. Have you ever noticed this? Have you ever been somewhere where something really cool happened, and the first thing you say is, man, I wish so-and-so was here with me to share this!
And, of course, when we have experiences, we always want to make sure that we’re with people that we love to share that experience.
This entering into the joy of the Lord is a really interesting context because it comes in the context of the parable of the talents. And, of course, you know this.
You’ve got three servants. They’re all servants. They all represent someone who’s in the family of God. And two are faithful, and one is wicked.
The wicked, lazy one says, you know, I could spend my time and energy investing my master’s money, but I know when he comes back, he’s going to do two things: he’s going to say, “Thanks, that’s mine. I’m going to take it,” number one. And, number two, he’s going to ask me to do a bunch more.
Have you noticed that God always does that? When you’re faithful in something he just doubles down and asks you to do something a lot harder next?
So the wicked, lazy servant says, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to spend my time on my stuff. I’m going to follow my own path. I’m going to follow my own way.” It’s not an irrational argument.
So when the judge comes and gives an accounting, he says, “Well, here’s what’s yours. I buried it. I didn’t squander any of it, I didn’t take any of it. I didn’t steal it. It was yours to start with, it’s yours now; so we’re good.”
And he says, “All right, well, I’m going to take this and give it to the one that was the most faithful.” (There’s your fairness thing turned on its head again.) “And then what I’m going to do is, you know, throw you out here to where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth. And what I’m going to do to these guys is I’m going to say, I am going to give you a bunch more to do. Like instead of just a little money to invest, I’m going to give you five cities to rule over.”
So the wicked and lazy servant was correct in his analysis that the master took it all and then gave much more, but I don’t think what he counted on was, “Enter into the joy of your master.”
Because see, right now, God’s presence is cloaked. It’s masked. If it weren’t, we would have no choice but for our knee to bow and our tongue to confess because his presence would be overwhelming. Right now, we actually have a choice; and, of course, as we’ve said many times, the ultimate opportunity of this life is to know God by faith. And as we know God by faith, our vessel gets bigger and bigger.
As Jonathan Edwards said, “Every vessel will be filled, but not every vessel will be the same size.” And the size of our cup is being set by how we live this life. And the wisp-of-vapor time that we have in this life, the two-minute adventure ride we have in this life to know God by faith, that’s it. There will be no knowing God by faith in the world to come. We’ll know him by sight.
To be nearer his presence is to be more immersed in his joy, and this will be the ultimate pleasure. We see a few things in Revelation about this. If we go to Revelation 3, the last three churches. And Dr. Anderson, who I think a lot of, says that with all seven of these churches, the reward gets closer to intimacy with God as you go through.
And we’ll just look at the last three.
Revelation 3:4. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white—
Here we are walking with God because of our enduring in keeping our acts righteous.
Then we go down to verse 12, and we’re talking about the next church.
He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more—
As we saw last week, in the new earth there is no physical temple. God himself is the temple.
So here we are with an image of a pillar in the temple. What is a pillar in a physical building temple? What does the pillar do? It just stays there all the time, right? So we have the idea of never leaving the intimate presence of God, in this intimacy.
And the last one, verse 21, he says,
To him who overcomes—This is Laodicea—I will grant to sit with Me on My throne—
And here’s kind of the ultimate culmination. If we go look at possessions, pleasures, praise, position, and we think of, what one word in this world encompasses all of those things being an inevitability? What one word? And what word I can think of is royalty.
If you’re royalty, you’ve got big possessions. If you’re royalty, you’ve got the ultimate position. You’ve got power and authority. If you’re royalty, you’re praised everywhere you go. You have attention. And no pleasure is withheld from you if you’re royalty.
Well here it is. Sit with me on my throne. This is the ultimate reward, to share all this with God.
I love this, G. H. Lang again, who says that what we are doing in this world is we are going through this sorting process where God is defining for himself who is qualified to share this ruling with him.
We see people in this world get all this power and authority. How does that usually turn out? How does it turn out for the subjects? Usually really poorly, right? How does it turn out for the ruler? Think about King Herod. Have you ever heard about his death? He died a lonely, maniacal, probably deranged man who was so eaten up with disease that people could hardly go into his presence because the stench was so bad.
Well, that’s what having no pleasure withheld from you gets you. And this is not unusual to see these guys turn into just the most loathsome creatures when they get all this power and abuse it.
God is not going to give this to just anyone. It ruins everyone. What he’s doing is qualifying people that learn service, sacrificial service. And once we’ve qualified ourselves to say we know how to serve sacrificially, then we qualify as ruler.
Jesus came to this earth, and all of his supporters wanted him to do what? Takeover politically. That’s what they expected.
And what Jesus said is, “My kingdom is not of this world. I came to serve. Service first, then ruling and authority.
This is where our dreams come true, but hard things have to happen first.
So we can end with Jiminy Cricket. See there’s this Island of Pleasures that we can go to. It’s very appealing. There’s people we can deceive. It’s very appealing, even though, you know, our nose grows. That happens.
It’s a difficult thing to live a righteous life. Everything around us in the world is screaming at us not to do so. And what does the world offer? A counterfeit for all these things: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, boastful pride of life. Are those not possessions, pleasures, praise, and position acquired in the wrong manner? Isn’t that all that is?
When Satan came to Jesus to tempt him, what did he tempt him with? Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, boastful pride of life. And what did Jesus do? Overcome the temptations. And that is why his name was lifted above every name because he learned obedience, learned obedience even to death on the cross.
So Philippians 2 tells us to have that same mind, to sacrificially lower ourselves to serve others so that he can lift us up in due time.
And what he wants to do is elevate us to royalty because that’s what we were originally designed to do. It just won’t be anything like our fleshly lusts, thankfully, because those eat us up.
When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true. When you follow God’s path for us, your dreams come true.