Did you know that Daniel Webster, the famous 1800s statesman, was a born-again Christian? He was also known as a brilliant scholar who gave the most eloquent speeches ever delivered in Congress. One evening he was invited to lecture a group of congressmen. After dinner, the small talk didn’t interest him, so he got up and went into another room. The Chairman of the group was concerned, followed him and tried to engage him in a meaningful conversation: “Mr. Webster,” he asked, “tell me what is the greatest thought that has ever passed through your mind?” Webster immediately responded, “My accountability to God” (and he meant after he was saved!)
The most important thought that Daniel Webster ever had was “the importance of his accountability before the Lord,” as a Christian! He went on to say: “God puts us here and will someday judge us for the way we have treated Him and our fellow beings. This thought should be written in bold type on the tablets of our hearts.”1
This is really the subject of our new expanded and updated book, The Kingdom, Power and Glory, and the subject that we are going to be exploring over the next several months in our newsletter—the importance of our own accountability before God, after we are saved.
The way it all began with us is about three years ago, Chuck and I read a book called The Reign of the Servant Kings by Joseph Dillow and that experience began a series of events that totally changed the way we look at our own accountability before the Lord.
After being Christians for more than 50 years, what we learned then and what we have learned since then in our re-search for the new book has totally revolutionized our personal walks with the Lord. We consider the truths that we share in the book to be some of the most life-changing principles we’ve encountered since our new births.
We are passionate about this material because it has made the whole Bible come alive for us. Passages of Scripture that we have known for years are now taking on a new depth of understanding; passages that have stumped us are being enlightened; and passages we never saw before as millennial are now jumping off the page.
We pray that we’ll be able to adequately communicate some of what God has taught us and then you can take what you hear back to the Word of God and see if the Lord conﬁrms the same thing to your hearts.
We are going to cover some controversial issues—issues that probably will go against some of your traditional views, as they did ours—so we encourage you, first to be open and teachable like Acts 17:11 tells us, but then check out everything out in God’s Word.
If intense warfare is any indication of the importance of a spiritual message, then this message has to be one of the most important messages we have ever given! Because the warfare in preparing for this book—and the DVD & CD series that ac-companies it—has been greater than anything we’ve ever faced in preparing other studies or materials.
So, get ready for a real roller-coaster ride as we begin to explore some of these things together.
One of God’s purposes for calling us as Christians is “to be conformed to His image.” We used to believe that to be the ex-tent of our calling. But, we’ve come to understand that God’s calling is far more extensive than that.
The real reason for our calling is to rule and reign as kings and priests with Christ in the coming Millennial Kingdom and after that for eternity. Genesis 1:26-28 and Revelation 5:9-10 are two Scriptures that confirm we were created for this very purpose. Thus, everything in the universe moves toward this goal.
Being conformed into His image is critically important (being a living example of Christ is what will bring other to Him), but the real purpose for our calling is to have positions of authority alongside of Christ in the coming Millennial Kingdom, and after that, in eternity.
But, here’s the catch: Our life here on earth is the training ground, the proving ground, and the testing ground for that privilege. In other words, it’s not a shoe-in! It doesn’t happen automatically! It’s doesn’t happen with-out effort!
The Millennial Kingdom that we will be talking about is not heaven; it’s that literal, physical kingdom on earth where Jesus Christ will reign in person for a thousand years. It’s a place where we will recognize each other, where we will have intimacy with the King of kings, and where we will have a chance to rule and reign alongside of Christ. (Micah 4:1-2)
When we say “rule and reign” with Christ (which we will mention quite often) we simply mean we will hold positions of authority (or levels of responsibility) that Christ will entrust to us. It might be authority over a country, over a state, a city, a town, or simply a housing complex. It will all depend upon our faithfulness here in this life.
Most Christians acknowledge the Millennial Kingdom to some degree or another, but many have no idea as to what is required to enjoy a significant role there. We certainly didn’t. There are many Scriptures that talk about the requirements for ruling and reigning. For example: 2 Timothy 2:12 and Romans 8:17 which both tell us that only “if we suffer, will we reign with Him.”
Suffering in this context doesn’t mean being tortured in some far off prison. This type of suffering comes from denying ourselves. It comes from baring ourselves from following what we think and feel, and choosing instead to follow Christ. And, it’s true, when we deny our “flesh,” it often is painful and we do suffer.
These are only two of the many Scriptures that talk about God’s requirements for ruling and reigning, yet many of us just skip over these passages.
Another example: We asked one young believer recently, “Does what you do here on earth as a believer inﬂuence your position in the coming kingdom?” He immediately responded, “Oh yeah, we get rewards or something like that!” That was the extent of his understanding. To be honest, that was the extent of our own understanding until a few years ago. “Oh, yeah, at the Judgment Seat of Christ we get rewards or some-thing like that!”
Many of us don’t understand that not only our rewards, but also our place of responsibility in this future kingdom will ei-ther be won or lost according to our faithfulness in this life.
2 Corinthians 5:10 talks about the Judgment Seat of Christ and tells us that all Christians will be judged there according to what they have done, either for good or for bad. This judgment is a judicial evaluation not only of the good we have done; but also for the bad. It’s here that our position in the coming kingdom will be determined. So, this judgment seat is not just for rewards!
Erwin Lutzer, Pastor of Moody Church in Chicago and author of One Minute After You Die, said: “The assumption that rewards are nothing more than crowns is false in my opinion. Rewards have more to do with levels of responsibility that will be given to us. When we become more like Him we will be qualified to share with Him in the inheritance, and to work with Him in important positions of high responsibility over the whole universe.”
Colossians 3:24 calls it the “reward of inheritance.”
Consequently, there is an urgent need in the Christian body for a renewed recognition of our own personal accountability before the Lord (after we have been saved), just as Daniel Webster said. It’s essential that we have a “kingdom perspective” where we see our lives here on earth in the context of eternity. We must understand that once we are saved, we are still responsible for what we do with the rest of our lives here and now.
It isn’t “cheap grace”! Effective faith is more than just belief. It’s more than just knowing the Scriptures! And it’s more than just going to church on Sundays. Saving faith is learning how to be a partaker of Christ’s Life––which means not only receiving His Life at our new birth (being born again), but also living His Life every day!
The Bible calls these kind of sanctified Christians (those who partake of His Life) “overcomers.” And the Lord promises some incredible things to these overcomers: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be My son.” (Revelation 21:7)
Both of us have been Christians for more than 50 years and we are only just now seeing the importance not only of becoming overcomers, but also of our own personal accountability before the Lord. We don’t want other believers to have to wait 50 years in order to see and understand these things. We want to help them know now what “the hope of their calling” is and understand now what the “riches of their inheritance” are in the coming kingdom. (Ephesians 1:17, 18) We want them to see that they are deciding today what kind of Millennium they will enjoy tomorrow.
Next month we will explore exactly what an overcomer is; why it’s so important to become one; and, what the future holds for overcomers.
To be continued: Introduction Part 2. This article has been excerpted in part from Chuck and Nan’s book, The Kingdom, Power, & Glory.