With flashing lights, the usual signs of wealth, power, and popularity, presidential hopeful Donald Trump made his grand entrance this week into the Republican National Convention! All eyes fixed on Donald as he entered the room, trying to imagine what surprises were in store as for the coming days and what he could do for the nation with his expertise at making money. As I thought about this, it reminded me of the words of Peter to the churches in Asia Minor as he advised them where the focus of their Life’s Work should be:
2 Peter 1:11
for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Many of those Peter wrote to were poor and some were even slaves. Those who had wealth still had to deal with the reality that they couldn’t take it with them. Peter reminded them that Jesus encouraged all believers not to store of treasures here but to store them up in Heaven. Many people think of Heaven as our final destination. However, the Bible reminds us over and over again that it is just a storage facility for souls and treasures right now, all of which Jesus will bring with Him when he comes.
Imagine the day Jesus sets up His table and begins to hand out the rewards! Just like a beautiful bride with all eyes on her, many believers will enter the Kingdom of Heaven with a grand entrance!
Thank God our salvation is not dependent upon righteous deeds that we do! That said, the Bible plainly shows that God has purposed in His own heart to reward our deeds of righteousness with Kingdom Treasures.
My old pastor James Haynes used to frighten me, not with tales of the horrors of Hell, but with thoughts of the possibility of a life wasted on trying to find temporary gratification only to wind up marching into the Kingdom of Heaven, “with a thimble full of treasure.” I envisioned myself there in the presence of the Lord with a little sewing thimble, filled with a tiny diamond or two from a couple of rare moments when I made some small effort to further the Kingdom. Maybe there would be some tiny gold piece like the gold dollar they minted out west in the gold rush days that was no bigger than the head on a thumb tack. Maybe there would be nothing!
Granted, if we don’t live a life of service to Jesus and miss out on the treasures of the Kingdom, by the end of the Millennial Reign we will still have grown a good bit more mature through our service and experience by the end and perhaps will be ready to move on to the next level of our spiritual experience and then get a chance to rule. But to be honest I don’t want to miss out on anything I could have enjoyed in that reign! I don’t want to be like the person who has nothing but ash-covered garments as he or she enters the Kingdom ashamed:
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
There are two amazing fires we believers will witness: one at the beginning of the First Celestial Kingdom or Kingdom of Heaven and one at the end of that thousand years’ Kingdom. The last one will consume all that remains in the Earth that doesn’t fit into the Eternal Kingdom. The first one will consume anything in our Life’s Work that did not bring glory to Jesus Christ!
I was thankful during Hurricane Katrina for three things. The first was that I stayed behind rather than fleeing so I was able to see the waters as they began to flood my house and move some things to safety.
Secondly, I am thankful that I had an upstairs to rush many irreplaceable things like photos and books to in order to save them.
Thirdly, I’m thankful that my house was full of people who helped me move these important keepsakes to safety. However, many of my friends found themselves with just the clothes they were wearing.
That experience helps me to imagine the person who watches their Life’s Work go up in smoke and even their own white garment stained by a life that may have been good and clean by the world’s standards but was just wood, hay, and straw by the Lord’s standards. As the refining fire sweeps over the Life’s Work of some, nothing will left but ashes. But how can we be sure we won’t be standing empty handed before our Lord? Interestingly enough, Peter answers this question with a priceless guide of “How to be sure you are producing Eternal Treasures”:
2 Peter 1:2-4
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Peter says we have obtained precious faith…the amount of faith that is enough to become saved…by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. We could never get our faith to the level necessary to become born spiritually (saved) without the intervention of God to help us. But now that we have obtained this precious Faith and the salvation that comes as a result of it, we need to go to take the NEXT STEP…without which we won’t enjoy the rewards of the Kingdom of Heaven.
That next step is accomplished “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” and only by pursuing that knowledge will our “Grace and peace” in our account become multiplied. The word translated “knowledge” here refers to the ability to recognize or discern God and what is of God versus the things of the world.
Peter promises we have been given divine supernatural power to live life and do it in godliness and because this power is in us God insists we pursue a life that brings glory to Him and shows virtue. Virtue is when the characteristics of a genuine Christian (fruit bearing or mining) show through in our thinking, actions, and speech (notice the order of the three).
When we are pleasing to God in those areas, we can expect Kingdom Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones to go clinking into our account and crowns to be set aside for us. First we must put our Faith in Him. More to the point, we must invest our Faith in Him. Because without putting our Faith/Trust/Expectations in Him, there is no way we can be pleasing to Him. And if we are not pleasing to Him, neither will He give us payments in Kingdom Rewards (Hebrews 11:6).
2 Peter 1:5-11
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Then Peter shows us seven steps that guarantee an “abundant” or rich entrance into the Everlasting Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. Having established our Faith/Trust/Expectation in the Lord Jesus Christ, our first step is to pursue Virtue—“moral excellence, integrity of character, purity of soul, performance of duty.”
As we add this character to our Faith, we move on to add step two which is Knowledge—“scientific or comprehension of absolute truth.” Knowing the truth, we act on that truth with step three which is Self-control—“being alcohol free or free of other mind-altering drugs, able to deny the selfish nature anything that might over stimulate it to sinful levels.” The Greek word egkrateia means not only to gain control of our Body and its appetites but to be “temperate” or free of alcohol. Of course, we could substitute for alcohol any other substance that impairs our thinking so that our selfish cravings take over or our judgment is impaired.
Having learned to control our selfish nature, we add step four which is Perseverance (hupomoné)—“cheerful endurance of trials knowing the trial produces rewards greater than the trial.”
Having learned to Persevere, we add step five which is Godliness—“holiness, Christ-likeness.”
Our Godliness leads us naturally toward step six which is Brotherly Kindness—“an affectionate love for others and a sense of desire for their company and well being.”
From Brotherly Kindness, which has a middle form of love in it (phileo), we move to step seven and develop the ultimate Fruit of the Spirit, which Love (agape)—“self-sacrificing love that is duty bound and not feelings based.”
Peter assures us that if we obtain these we will not be barren nor unfruitful in being able to recognize God and His will in every situation…we will know exactly how to obey Him and do His will. This is the same thing Paul is telling us in Romans 12:2: that if we transform our thought life by renewing our thoughts into focusing on Heavenly Fruit bearing we will know the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. However,
Peter warns that those who don’t make the effort to pursue these things are very shortsighted—thinking only of their selfish gratification now rather than eternal treasures: “For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” Peter says we need to be farsighted, looking to Heavenly Treasures, not nearsighted, looking only at present gratification. Some believe here Peter even questions the salvation of those who have no interest in pursuing these things. Sure, salvation is by a grace-gift from God alone and does not involve works, but Peter questions why someone who has been called by God and even elected by God would not want to pursue these things to please God and gain Eternal Treasures:
2 Peter 1:10
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
Now for the exciting part! Peter says if you do pursue these things, it is a sure sign that your call and you election are both sure (meaning you will be certain that you are saved because there is proof in your life) and if you are pursuing these things you will never stumble! To commit an error again you will have to take your eye off the prize, ignore the Holy Spirit, or try to pursue things in your own strength. Otherwise you will be victorious in every race, conquer in every battle, and win the prizes. What’s more, you will have a grand entrance when you enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
In ancient times a wealthy ruler arriving at his destination would strive to impress all by bringing much of his wealth to display. He would often have that wealth paraded ahead of him. Those awaiting his arrival in the city where he was going would be so amazed by all of his treasures they would be even more impressed with him when he finally arrived. This is called a “grand entrance.” You can just imagine camels, horses, chariots, or other transports carrying gold, silver, jewels, servants, and other luxuries in load after load.
Finally the great individual arrives to a cheering audience. This is exactly the picture Peter is trying to portray to the people of God in verse 11:
2 Peter 1:11
for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Just imagine that the angels who have been assigned to minister to you, keep you alive, and have worked with you since you were a baby are now with you at the Believer’s Judgment as you prepare to come before the Lord. You will surely stand before Him alone and answer for how you used the only two things that were truly yours—your words and your time. However, before your moment alone, just imagine that they have gone to the Heavenly Treasury and gotten out all the chests of treasures stored with your name on them: each diamond or ruby from when you held your tongue or controlled your body, each piece of gold and silver from when you shared the Gospel or spent time in worship and prayer before the Lord. Imagine what an entrance it would supply to you if it took a long time for those angels to haul in the treasure chests stored up there with what you earned from your trials, sacrifices, and labors because there were so many of them. By the time the last chest rests at the feet of your Lord’s throne it has become a great pile and the Earth’s inhabitants are straining their necks to see who this person is who could have earned so many victories in so short a life as this age has to offer. Then “lo-and-be-mammy-hold” little ole you walks in! As you fall on your face before the Lord of Glory, He extends His hand for you to approach. Then He says it…”Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.”
2 Peter 3:11-12
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Peter thus shows us a simple strategy for ensuring Heavenly Treasures are accumulating in Present Heaven under our name. He reminds us again in chapter 3 above that we should be pursing holy conduct and godliness in our daily lives because it accrues treasures to our account—but especially because we realize that everything on Earth that does not bring glory to God will one day be completely dissolved as its matter is recycled into the New Earth. Then he says we should be eagerly “hastening” or speeding up “the coming of the day of God.” Indeed, it is said that early believers would close their meetings by saying “maranatha” or “Lord Come!” meaning “Speed the day of Your coming Lord!” Those who know they have treasures awaiting them should have the same attitude!