Preparing Believers for Rulership
The faithful will be joint rulers of the kingdom
Matt. 25:34 -- "Then shall the King say unto them on his right
hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you
from the foundation of the world,."
Rev. 2:26-27 -- "And he that overcometh and keepeth my works
unto the end, to him will 1 give power over the nations: and he shall rule them
with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers:
even as I received of my Father."
Rev. 3:21 -- "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit
with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my
Father in his throne."
The descriptions of the rulership of Christ thus apply to
those who are joint rulers of the kingdom.
Isa. 11:34 -- "...he shall not judge after the sight of his
eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: but with righteousness
shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and
he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his
lips shall he slay the wicked."
Isa. 30:20 -- .. ,, thine eyes shall see thy teachers: and
thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in
it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."
Isa. 32:1 -- "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and
princes shall rule in judgment."
Integrity, compassion, justice, opposition to sin, etc. will
characterize Jesus Christ, the king, and all the saints who are ruling as joint
heirs of the kingdom.
Right spiritual attributes must be developed now
We may think that at the judgment seat, the accepted will have
these attributes injected into them. But at the judgment seat:
- the mortal will be made
- the corruptible will be made
- the cruel will not be made
- extortioners will not be made
- haters of good will not be made lovers
- liars will not be made
- the filthy minded will not be made pure
The great spiritual development into the new man in Christ
must occur now before a physical change will occur at the judgment
Consider Matt. 5:3-11:
Who is it that receives the kingdom of heaven, inherits the
earth, is comforted, filled, obtains mercy, sees God and is called the children
of God? It is the one who is already merciful, pure in heart, a peacemaker,
meek, a despiser of sin and a lover of righteousness. Now, in this time of
probation, the believer must develop into a likeness of the character of his
head, even the Lord Jesus.
Spiritual development requires experience
Prayer and the word of God help greatly to develop a likeness
of the divine character. But, like our physical and mental abilities, our
spiritual abilities will not develop without exercise. This means circumstances
must occur in our lives which require the application of integrity, forgiveness,
For example, in order to practice forgiveness, we need
situations where people have sinned against us that we might exercise
forgiveness. The same is true of other virtues:
- patience requires irritating
- longsuffering requires long-term
- integrity requires promises that are
difficult to keep,
- prudence requires
opportunities to be indiscreet,
requires exposure to the problems of others
Married life, family life, everyday life in business and
school, illness and financial circumstances all provide opportunities for
exercising godly attributes. But some characteristics needed by the rulers of
the world to come are most readily developed in the circumstances of ecclesial
Ecclesial life provides necessary experience
Saving others -- a great objective, as rulers of the
kingdom, will be to help mortals be saved.
A dominant concern we should now develop is that those in the
ecclesial family be saved. Do we really care about that? Do we seriously
consider the impact our words and example have on the spiritual welfare of
others? Would we just as soon some people would leave the ecclesia and stop
Sometimes we do not have a natural attraction to others in the
ecclesia. Their personalities may irritate us but we have to develop the
patience, perseverance and goodness to work for their eternal welfare. These
qualities will be critical in the kingdom as we work with mortals who may have
very difficult personalities.
Being empathetic -- one of the great qualities of a
godly ruler is to be able to see things from the other person's point of view.
Christ does that now with us (Heb. 4:15-16).
In ecclesial life, we are associated with people from such
varied backgrounds that often we have trouble understanding their attitudes and
reactions. To deal with them in brotherly love, we must develop an empathy for
their situations. This attribute will be essential for the saints guiding
mortals into godliness.
Applying principles to cases -- God does not work from
a rulebook. He is the God of spirit and truth. Those who rule in His name must
be like Him.
In many cases of ecclesial life, we must apply principles to
cases that come before us. We might prefer a rulebook telling us exactly how to
handle all ecclesial matters but we have not been given one. Wisdom and judgment
are required and are developed as we prayerfully consider the matter in light of
Persistence -- God worked with Israel for centuries;
Christ and the angels work with us all of our lives; rulers of the kingdom will
work with the same mortals for hundreds of years.
In our current circumstances, we leave school and may change
jobs but we are not to leave the ecclesia or our marital obligations. In both
circumstances, we have the opportunity to develop persistence. Some negate the
opportunity given in ecclesial life by moving from one ecclesia to another to
avoid people they find awkward. Such action is a mistake for one of the
advantages of ecclesial life is that we have an ideal situation to develop the
persistence we will need in the kingdom.
It is clear that the ecclesial system is not designed to
maximize administrative efficiency. That is not its objective. It is further
clear that some of the most difficult aspects of ecclesial life are the best for
our spiritual development. This is not accidental. One of the reasons for
ecclesias is to enhance the growth of spiritual attributes that are required for
those who will rule the world in righteousness with our Lord Jesus