Part 3

Co-Reigning With Christ In Heaven

Answering the concern of the Thessalonians, Paul writes in 1Thes 4:13-18, that both the living and the dead believers of this age of “the dispensation of the grace of God” will be Raptured home to heaven, but not simultaneously. The dead in Christ will rise “first” (1Thes 4:16) in their glorious new spirit-bodies. Then the living believers will be Raptured, having their corruptible bodies “changed” (1Cor 15: 52) into glorious “incorruptible” and “immortal” spirit-bodies. Both the dead believers and the living believers will then eternally dwell in the heavens to “ever be with the Lord” (v17).

Paul says he endured all things for the elect’s sake that they might obtain “salvation …WITH ETERNAL GLORY.”  “Therefore I (Paul) endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the SALVATION which is in Christ Jesus WITH ETERNAL GLORY.”(2 Tim 2:10)

Where is that “eternal glory”? It is in the place of glory, fully expressed in heaven!

Glory in practicality means the “full expression of a life,” just as the blossom of the carnation flower is the glory of, or the full expression of, the life within the carnation seed. Every believer contains the “glory of God,” in “seed” form (1Pet 1:23, Gal 3:16) when they receive Christ’s “Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2a) into their human spirit (1Cor 6:17) at the moment of their salvation. But, His glory will not be fully expressed in and through them until they are liberated from the presence of the Sin nature that is resident in their fallen Adamic human bodies (Rom 7:17-23).

Then also in glory, our soul’s “mind,” which has been tainted by “the flesh” as the “mind of the flesh” (Rom 8:6-7), will be liberated from the downward pull of “sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3). There will be no more “fiery darts” shot into our minds (Eph 6:16). We will be freed from the constant onslaught from the presence of “Sin in the flesh.” At the time of our Rapture to heaven we most certainly will initially yet have unrenewed minds. But then… after the Rapture, we will begin to enjoy the healing and enlightening that comes to us by the divine radium of the “light” and love of Christ that emanates from “the presence of the Lord.” We then will enjoy Him and our completed being; our regenerated spirit with our renewed soul and our glorious new spirit-body in “the presence of the Lord”  - “THE VERY GOD OF PEACE SANCTIFY YOU WHOLLY; and I pray god your WHOLE SPIRIT AND SOUL AND BODY …” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

The “body of Christ” and its members are dedicated to the very “presence of the Lord.”

“In Him (Christ) the WHOLE STRUCTURE (of the body of Christ) is joined (bound, welded) together harmoniously, and it continues to rise (grow, increase) into a HOLY TEMPLE IN THE LORD [a sanctuary dedicated, consecrated, and SACRED TO THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD]. (Ephesians 2:21 (AMP)

These are the blessing of our being saved to the Lord and which will be enjoyed by every genuine believer who is Raptured from planet earth to heaven. So, none of us should lose heart because of failing to endure and not gaining the reward of co-reigning with Him in heaven. We are never to be disqualified from salvation and a glorious eternal life in heaven.

Apparently only “some” of the Raptured believers will be rewarded. They will assume their spiritual status as Christ’s agents in heaven to “co-reign” with Him.

If we suffer (trustingly endure with Him), WE SHALL ALSO REIGN (Gk., simbaileuo, co-reign) WITH HIM…,” (2 Tim 2:12);

The heavens will still contain God’s created angels. Concerning the angels Paul writes; Do ye not know that the saints (sanctified believers) shall judge the world?...  3Know ye not that WE SHALL JUDGE ANGELS?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3a). All those “born of God” immediately come to possess Christ divine life in their regenerated human spirits (1Thes 6:17, Col 1:27, Col 3:4a, John 3:6), but the angels are created and thus they are not literally born of God.

Some may not reign with Christ in heaven, but all will enjoy the glorious eternal life in heaven, in the very presence of the Lord. Note that before verse 2Tim 2:12 is verse 11; “For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.” (2 Tim 2:11) This is a clear reference to every believer’s identification with Christ in his death and in His resurrection unto eternal life in heaven. Paul tells us every believer has died with Christ and that every believer, even with our imperfect lives on earth, shall live and enjoy the fruit of His eternal “Spirit of life” within them (Rom 6:3-4, 5:10, 8:2a, 9-10).

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, WE SHALL BE SAVED FROM WRATH through him. 10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, (so now) being reconciled, WE SHALL BE SAVED BY HIS LIFE.” (Romans 5:10)

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even (that is) JESUS, WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE WRATH TO COME.” (1 Thessalonians 1:10)

Here salvation is more than our initial reconciliation by His shed blood for us; full salvation is by having been a partaker of “His life” and being “saved from wrath,” delivering “us from the wrath to come” (above).

The Bible states that when we believed into Jesus, we died “with Him ( Rom. 6:3-11; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Gal. 2:20, 5:24, 6:14; Col. 2:11-13, 3:1, 3; 1 Pet. 2:24). The directly related truth brought out over and over is, if we died with him… we will also be raised with Him, which is exactly what 2Tim 2:11 says. “Trust-worthy is the word. For IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT WE DIED WITH HIM, we SHALL ALSO LIVE BY MEANS OF HIM” (Wuest). If we have believed in Jesus’ sacrifice for us, then we have died with Christ and have His eternal life in us as our new life. If we have died with Him, then it is the promise of God that we will also “live (forever) with Him.” It is impossible to die with Christ, and then not be raised to new life to live with Him.” This is the exact point of 2Tim 2:11, as a wonderful promise of our eternal security “in Christ.” Then verse 13 here adds a new dimension to our security in Christ, which covers our failing to endure, failing to consistently trust Him in our living – that element is His faithfulness toward us!

13If we BELIEVE NOT (if we don’t trustingly endure), YET HE ABIDETH FAITHFUL: he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:12-13)

So our Rapture to eternal glory and new life in Christ is certain because… He is always faithful. Our arrival in heaven is not owing to our faithfulness or lack of faithfulness, but rather to His faithfulness.

So what is the point of this statement in verse 12, If we SUFFER (ENDURE) WITH HIM WE SHALL REIGN WITH HIM? The point is not about our justification or whether we have eternal life or not. It’s not about our resurrection to heaven… these things are sure and secure. The point in verse 12 is about our conditional” REIGNING with Christ. Whereas verse 11 already said that being raised to new life was a guaranteed promise because we “died with Him,” here is something conditional based upon our enduring with Him, by trusting Christ as our life-source and Lord (Gk. kurious, our governor). ALL believers will be resurrected at the “Rapture,” which is NOT conditional; but our Co-REIGN(ING)” in heaven “with Him” is CONDITIONAL.

In the entire Bible, under both Israel’s program and also under “the dispensation of the grace of God,” we read the promises of the blessings of privilege and reward, both in this life and the life to come, for those of His children who are obedient and faithful to consistently trust Him (e.g. 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 2:10; 20:4-6). Trust has it immediate and remote rewards. If we trust Him now and we enjoy the blessings of peace and rest in our hearts… and then also a trusting walk with the Lord will bring reward later, in heaven.

I believe those who are the more faithful to endure by trusting Him in the midst of life’s trials, situations and circumstances, are not necessarily the visible church leaders and teachers of the Word. Those who are genuinely faithful to the Lord in word, deed, and life, are most often not the high profile ones, but rather the less visible believers. They live a quiet inner life of trust in the Lord.

It appears that the first thing to occur after our rapture to heaven is “The Judgment Seat of Christ,” where all believers will have their works judged and some will be “rewarded.”  We know Christ has authority over the entire universe that He created. Soon after their Rapture to heaven, Christ is going to parcel out some of His authority to those faithful Christians who have endured and walked with Him until the Rapture. Though not explicitly stated, I believe at “The Judgment Seat of Christ,” seen here below in Paul’s words, is where the reward of rank and authority necessary for reigning with Him in heaven will be parceled out.

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me (Paul), as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man (believer) take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, (or) wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try (test) every man’s work of WHAT SORT IT IS.

14 If any man’s work abide (endures the fire) which he hath built thereupon, HE SHALL RECEIVE A REWARD. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss (of reward): BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)

Are we building in our Christian life by the elements of trusting Christ as our life ( Col 3:4, 1:27), which here are likened to “gold, silver, precious stones?” Or, do we try to build by the elements of human self-effort…likened to “wood, hay, stubble” that is so easily consumed?

·         In the Bible “gold” always refers to God’s incorruptible divine LIFE; do we trust His love and life in us to carry us through our trials?

·         “Silver” is representative of our eternal redemption by the blood of Christ; do live like those who are sure and secure in what He has done for us?

·         “Precious stones” refers to the transformed lives of believers… are we being renewed in trusting Him in all that we do? Peter’s former name “Simon” means “clay or St Peter sandstone,” but “Peter” means a “large rock,” indicating the transformation that come by Peter’s faith in Christ.

If we trust the elements of God’s provision and work, which are as “gold, silver, precious stones,” then that “sort” (v13) of work will pass through the test of fire. If we persist in trusting our own self effort and in having “our own way” then that “sort” (v13) of work will be “burned up” as would “hay, wood, stubble” – yet everyone who has confessed Christ as their Savior will still be eternally saved by having received His eternal life. It’s clear that the reward of “reigning with Him” is reserved for those who have learned in this life to trust in His life and His leading, not in their own self-abilities and self-desires.

Fortunately, salvation is by grace, through faith, and we do not doubt that even in the dark ages many were saved in spite of their blind leaders and their limited knowledge. However, many of the spiritual leaders of our day will fare little better than the leaders of their day when they appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ, for they have certainly not taken heed to build according to the plans and specifications committed to Paul as God’s appointed “masterbuilder” (I Cor. 3:10) of the Church.

Just think a moment. Is the Church-at-large today mostly composed of “gold, silver and precious stones” (morally and spiritually), or of “wood, hay and stubble” (I Cor. 3:12)? Surely many a man who enjoys prominence and popularity today will weep in that day to see his works go up in flames, as it were (I Cor. 3:13). It will be a dreadful thing to “suffer loss” when the rewards for Christian service are parceled out (Ver. 15).

So yes, the reward of co-reigning with Christ in the heavens is something conditional. “… there is laid up for me a CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me (Paul) only, but UNTO ALL THEM also THAT LOVE HIS APPEARING. (2 Tim 4:8)

Yet, the “reward” of His indwelling life and “citizenship in heaven,” is forever belongs to every believer who has received Christ as Savior. Eternal salvation is sure and secure for every genuine believer. In heaven each of us will enjoy a changed, eternal, sinless, spirit-body… these are secured by His work for us.

None will suffer the loss of a sound mind ravaged by chemical imbalances in their brain as related to dementia, ADHD, or Alzheimers. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of A SOUND MIND.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Every believer will forever enjoy their home in heaven, whether that are “co-reigning with Him” or serving the Lord in whatever way He chooses for us.

“… our conversation (Gk., politeuma, community of CITIZENSHIP) is IN HEAVEN; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change (transfigure) OUR VILE (lowly) BODY, that it may be fashioned (Gk., symmorphos, jointly conformed) LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY” (Philip 3:20-21a)

In a moment (Gk., atomos, an atom of time), in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump (trumpet sound): for the trumpet shall sound, and THE DEAD (believer’s body) SHALL BE RAISED (roused) INCORRUPTIBLE (undecaying), and WE (who are alive) SHALL BE CHANGED (GK., allasso, made different). 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal (physical body) must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on IMMORTALITY, then …, death is swallowed up in victory. (1 Cor 15:52-54)