Don Styles
Principles of Ecclesial Life

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 great spiritual development into the new man in Christ must occur now before a physical change will occur at the judgment seat.

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, longsuffering, etc.

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:

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 life.

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 bothering us?

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 divine principles.

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 Christ.

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