Promises Relating to Joys Beyond the Veil
“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9,10).
As we study the many promises God has made we find extraordinary words that relate to the future prospects for the consecrated of this Gospel Age. These thrilling promises describe new and wonderful privileges God has in store for those willing to be conformed to the image of Christ in this life. The above text shows that these things have not been revealed to the natural man, but are especially reserved for those who love God and desire to search out these gems of truth. And yet, even with the assistance of God’s Spirit it is difficult to comprehend the depth of meaning for what lies ahead.
Selection of a Bride
“Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him” (Psalm 45:10,11).
The selection of a bride for our Lord is not a random choice by God. There are certain qualities He is looking for that are compatible with His son. Character traits matching the goodness and purity of Jesus are at the center of this Gospel Age calling. The prospective bride inclines her ear. She listens and hears the call. The Psalmist reveals there is a beauty in the hearts and minds of these chosen ones that He greatly desires, knowing they can be developed into New Creatures.
As described in the text, these are ones willing to leave familiar earthly ties for a higher and more meaningful relationship as the bride of Christ. When a bride and groom are thus likeminded, they are well-matched as they work together, forming a deep and lasting bond.
Fullness of Joy
“Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).
Even the most mature Christian cannot fully comprehend what it means to have fullness of joy. When God promises to show us the path of life, it is reasonable to assume that as He guides us we are drawn closer to the things that bring Him joy. The tabernacle picture comes to mind here. When living out in the camp, a picture of the world, one cannot have the fullness of God’s joy. The world’s standards are not conducive in developing this deeply spiritual trait. As one enters the court condition and observes the sacrifices being offered, there is a measure of appreciation for those sacrifices. This in turn brings a corresponding measure of joy as the work of atonement comes into focus. Upon entering the Holy, the condition of full consecration, the Christian experiences the light and nourishment of a special relationship with God. This brings knowledge and growth to the New Creature. These benefits are represented in the candlestick and the shewbread. A true sense of joy begins to fill the heart and the incense of true worship ascends to God. With continued growth, the principles of God become more meaningful and deeply rooted. It is these principles that form the basis of God’s joy.
As Christians approach the second veil they draw even nearer to the presence of God and upon entering the Most Holy they are in His actual presence. There, the full measure of joy can be attained. So from this lovely picture we see that the process of joy begins in this life, as we come to know God and the principles for which He stands.
The text also says at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore.” The Hebrew word for “pleasures” can also be translated “delights.” He delights in showing mercy (Psalm 147:11). He delights in the humility of His people (Psalm 149:4). He delights in the repentance of the wicked and in giving them life (Ezekiel 18:23). He takes great pleasure in giving the kingdom to His little flock (Luke 12:32). The adoption of His children through Christ is the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). These are some of the pleasures God shares with His people, the delight of living by good and noble principles and the heart expanding joy of blessing others through them.
What will it be like to come into the actual the presence of God? We cannot know that now. But when one enters the room of their natural father, who they know loves them, there is a warm and welcome feeling. And even though we will have never been in the actual presence of God, that entrance will be like coming home, home to a place where we know we are loved and wanted, and where a place has been prepared for us.
A New Name
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12).
This precious promise is somewhat overwhelming. A life fully lived for the Lord will be granted tremendous responsibilities in the kingdom. It will be given a permanent place in the temple of God and the New Jerusalem. We sometimes hear an individual described as “a pillar in their community.” This indicates that such a person is well-known, respected, and contributes to the welfare of the community. For a Christian to be considered a pillar in the temple of God speaks of similar characteristics. They too will be known and respected and bring a great contribution to the work of God. God acknowledges these individuals by having His name written upon them as well as the name of the New Jerusalem. What an awesome responsibility and privilege lies before those running for the prize of this high calling. To have the name of God written upon them indicates that they will fully represent God in all their dealings. This will require that they be fully developed in the image of Christ.
The Revelator then says the Lord will write upon them “my new name.” Brother Russell suggests this to mean “the name of the bridegroom is given to his bride” (R3970). As a bride takes on the name of her betrothed bridegroom, so the heavenly bride will take on the name of her beloved. This prospect should inspire each of us to greater faithfulness as we anticipate the honor of being united with our Lord.
A Crown of Life
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
The Saints down through the Gospel Age have suffered greatly for their devotion to God.The promise at the end of this verse is particularly meaningful when we realize that, for many, their faith in Christ made martyrdom a real possibility. It is likely that many individuals left the faith because of their inability to deal with such persecution, while others, stronger in faith, were able to overcome the fear of death. Though the promise of a crown of life may have been specifically relevant to these saints, it is also applicable to all the overcomers of this age. This crown is scripturally described in various ways. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8). “When the chief Shepherd shall appear he shall receive a crown of glory that faded not away” (1 Peter 5:4). This crown then is characterized by righteousness, glory, and life.
The Apostle Paul describes the criteria God uses in granting such a high reward. He says, “Who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:6,7). Service, and patient continuance in well-doing, are the outward expressions of what is in the heart of the truly consecrated. As a result of this Christ-like behavior they are rewarded with glory, honor, and immortality.
We cannot comprehend the magnitude of this reward. We often define immortality as life that is death proof and needs no external sustenance. But this is, undoubtedly, a very inadequate description of an immortal being. When the Apostle Paul connects glory, honor, and eternal life with immortality, it again becomes an overwhelming proposition. These words describe the very nature of God, and yet these are the things being offered to the bride of Christ. God would not grant these things without having specific goals and work in mind for this honored class. And so, as representatives of God’s dominion, these will be necessary qualities for the full accomplishment of His will.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). God’s predestined role for the bride of Christ has many aspects to it. She is His workmanship. Once properly prepared she will be ready for the great work that God has ordained for her. In this present age, the emphasis is on faith and character growth. We must believe in things that we cannot see (1 Corinthians 13:12). But in the future, when we are face to face with God, we will see all things clearly. Faith will no longer be necessary. And so the emphasis for the church will shift to the monumental work set before her.
“And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). The Abrahamic promise has, in general terms, defined the work of Jesus and his bride. They are to bless all the families of the earth. When implemented, this general statement will have very specific applications in the training and education of mankind. Race barriers will be removed. Hatred will be rooted out. The destructive aspects of competition will be eliminated and the brotherhood of man will become a universal theme. This is a work that will require the great wisdom that Jesus and his bride will have gleaned through personal experience and divine help. Holy principles will become planted in the hearts of man as they are given a “heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). The great Mediator will bring the human creation to the glory of its intended design. People will then honor the great principles of God out of free and willing hearts. When that work is completed, the dominion of man will be subjected to the higher dominion of God, and God will be “all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:28).
Ages to Come
“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6,7).
After the work of the Millennium is finished there will be a new emphasis for Jesus and his bride. This passage suggests that, even then, the church class will not have experienced the full riches of God’s grace. It is interesting to note the word “ages” is in the plural form. This suggests there will be multiple ages following the plan of God as we know it today. As these ages progress the church will continue to experience the depths of God’s grace. When God’s “rest” (Genesis 2:2) is over He will un- doubtedly expand His creative efforts beyond this earth. The church’s role thereafter is unknown to us at this time. However, we can be sure it will be a glorious work for God is a great Creator. His future plans will bring life and joy throughout the universe.
As our meager attempts to understand what the future experience of the bride will be like, we can, at least, say to ourselves, “The prospect of being with God and part of the bride to His great son is worth every effort we can make to be faithful. The hope of sharing in their plans and new projects is so thrilling that we should bend every effort in making it possible.”
“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” (Revelation 3:21).
Categories: 2016 Issues, 2016-September/October