What are we going to feel when we finally stand before Him face to face?
What are we going to feel when we finally stand before Him face to face? Whether it's due to the rapture or death, all of us who are born again will experience life in heaven. We know some of what that life will be like from what scripture says, but I'd like to take a look at what our first immediate experience might be like. I think we're all familiar with the verse that tells us that there will be no more pain, death, sorrow etc. and many apply that to their entire "life to be". In fact, until recently, I did too. Lately however I've come to understand that this isn't necessarily true for the first part of our experience.
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
For one thing, what the Lord says in Rev 21:4 happens after the millennium not the second we all arrive in heaven.
The more I study the more I realize that what we do here will affect our lives there a LOT and that what we won't be able to "make up" for what we didn't do here once we get there, like so many think they'll be able to. Let's first take a look at the parable of the talents in Matthew:
Matthew 25:14-30 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.So also, the one with the two talents gained two more.But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them.The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed.So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’“His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.“ ‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents.For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
First Jesus gives us His gift of salvation, and has given us each of us abilities and talents.
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Then Jesus left for a long time. Isn’t it interesting how He has warned us in several places in His Word that once He ascended that He would be gone a long time in our way of thinking before he returned again?
Notice in the parable what the first man did when the Master left? Does it remind you of what happened when Jesus called his disciples? (Remember how when Jesus called each of them, it says in the bible that they “immediately” got up and followed Him? Like that, the first man goes “at once” and put his money to work and earned more, as did the next man. Jesus is showing us here that when we are saved, He expects us to immediately live up to what we have already attained, just as Paul said in Phil 3:16.
Philippians 3:16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
The only way we can do that is through spending time with God in prayer and studying God’s Word. The only way we can “invest” what Christ has given us is also through studying His Word, so that we can then share that knowledge with others. Therefore when we receive this wonderful gift of salvation, our very first requirement is to study!
2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
When we study and spend time in prayer, we begin on the path to spiritual maturity. The closer we become to the Lord through prayer and study, the less likely we are to be fooled by false teachers, and the more grateful we’ll be for our own salvation because we’ll actually understand it better! Because we are more grateful and more knowledgeable, our testimonies will be all the more powerful too!
Matthew 13:12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.
In the parable of the talents we see first how two different believers are rewarded. Then we discover that the final person was never saved to begin with. That person claims to be born again, but isn't.
Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
He did nothing at all with what the Lord had given him! Jesus, instead of rewarding him as he expected in his arrogance, took back what He had given him and cast him into hell. This man is an example of a false follower of Christ. He is a picture of what a “goat” would look like. We'll have to look at other verses to determine what happens to those who are born again but who choose to do nothing or practically nothing for the Lord. First let me share another verse that shows that we may very well experience shame at first if we're not careful:
1 John 2:28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
John is telling us that as long as we continue in our close fellowship (relationship) with the Lord that we will be able to be confident and unashamed when He comes for us at the rapture. Of course this means then that those who do not maintain that close personal relationship with the Lord and wind up wandering off into false teachings, those who do not take the time to become mature in Christ through studying His Word and spending time in prayer, etc, will not be confident, and will instead be ashamed of themselves when they are finally face to face with their Lord. This does NOT say they will lose their salvation, it simply says that when they face our Lord, and finally see the “real truth”, that they will be ashamed of themselves. When I say they'll see the “real truth” I mean that when we are finally with Him, we will know Him just as He knows us:
1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
So to me the question is, what are we going to feel when we finally stand before Him face to face? Will we feel confidence as John says because we have spent time growing that personal relationship with Him and our Father, because we've spent time getting to know Him through His Word which He gave us, because we've used the discernment of mature believers to avoid false teaching and stayed on the narrow path of faith, or will be we ashamed of ourselves because we haven't done these things? Let's look at 1 Cor. first.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
This passage makes it quite clear that some who are born again will only miss hell by a hair's breadth! It shows in fact that they will suffer loss! That doesn't sound at all like the description of our lives in heaven that we tend to focus on to me. So what does this mean? This takes place at the Bema judgment and is not about our eternal destiny because that is already taken care of. We already know that we are destined to live in heaven with the Lord. This is strictly to determine what rewards or our loss, and what we will be doing throughout eternity. Long ago pastors preached about the fact that there can be loss, but today we rarely hear about this. People joke about this all the time but Paul was dead serious when he wrote this. Let's see what else we can find about this:
Philippians 1:20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
Here again Paul indicates that he doesn't want to feel ashamed when he is finally face to face with his Savior. He wants to be confident instead that he is doing all he can to please the Lord.
1 Timothy 3:13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.
Prior to this statement, Paul is discussing how a deacon should serve. I think this last verse applies to us all though. When we are truly servants of Christ we gain an excellent standing here among other believers, but more importantly we gain that great assurance, that great confidence for when we come face to face with Jesus. So we will face Him with assurance, or confidence instead of being ashamed.
1 Corinthians 3:8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
Here it is only talking about rewards, but I wanted to point it out because where there are rewards there is also the possibility of losing those rewards. Plus I wanted to point out that the rewards we earn here are not like getting a new big screen TV for ourselves. These rewards we've heard so much about are all things that will glorify the Lord, that will please Him, not us. We need to remember that it's really not about us, it's all about Him. That's why those works which honor Him will remain and those that don't will be burned away.
Our world has become so selfish though that whenever we hear the word "reward" we do automatically think it's something for us. We may not literally think of a great big TV, but we generally think of a reward as though it would be something like we'd get as a birthday present from someone. In heaven however that's not how it works. Like so many other things, this too is the opposite of what the world teaches. Our "rewards" in heaven will be things that give honor and glory to the Lord, not ourselves! Hence the more rewards we earn, the more He is glorified.
About the only kind of reward that we might think of as being more for us, would be the various crowns we are promised. Such as the one in this verse:
2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
If we think it through though we will see that this too honors the Lord, not us! Are we righteous or does our righteousness come from Christ? Of course it comes from our Lord! Not one of us would be in heaven if not for Him!
Romans 3:22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
1 Corinthians 1:30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
And what will we do with those crowns?
Revelation 4:10-11 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Once again, it's all about Him! Let's look at another passage where Jesus explains what is going to happen:
Matthew 24:44-51 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus makes it pretty clear again here that there will be both rewards and loss! The last part of this passage is often thought to be referring to hell. However if you read it again you'll notice that the "wicked servant" calls Jesus "his Master". Even more importantly, when Jesus tells this parable He says "The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him", of course referring to Himself. If He is that servants master then that servant is indeed saved, he simply hasn't done anything with his salvation! (which is why he is called "wicked".) Therefore this cannot be referring to hell, because we know from scripture that he cannot lose his salvation. This scenario is exactly what is referred to in this verse:
1 Corinthians 3:15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Now that we see it in that light it doesn't sound to good does it? From what I've seen so far, I think there will be a time right at first at least when we will feel ashamed of ourselves for not doing the things the Lord asked of us while we were here, for not trying harder to please Him. I think we'll finally understand why He asks what He does of us here and we'll feel remorse for not doing what we should have been doing.
I don't think however that there will be any sort of jealousy or anything like that for those who did do what the Lord asked and because of that are given rewards and wonderful opportunities and high ranking jobs (such as ruling over nations etc) to do there.
I used to say like many do that I would only get into heaven by the skin of my teeth, meaning of course that it is only through the grace of the Lord that I'm saved. But now I cringe when I hear that. Mainly because when I look back I see that when I said that myself in the past, I was also using it as a crutch kind of because I knew I wasn't doing the things the Lord wanted me to. I wasn't studying His Word like He asks us to etc. so now I'm ashamed of myself for thinking that way and instead try to do all I can to please Him and to earn as many crowns and rewards as I can. Not to glorify me because they won't glorify me. I finally understood that every single crown, and every reward only glorifies Christ, so the more we earn the more He is glorified. Knowing that, I want to earn all there is!
Again, the bible tells us that what we do here will determine our placement in heaven. By placement I mean what types of work the Lord will have for us and what rewards He will have for us; whether or not we will be ruling nations with Him, helping others, traveling, teaching, etc or if we will be scrubbing toilets as some like to say they won't mind doing there.
The point is that if we are scrubbing toilets because the Lord couldn't trust us while we were here to spend time with Him and study His Word, then I don't think I'd be to proud of my job. Grateful yes, but not proud of it because it would mean I had failed Him.
There are many other verses that show all of this as well and many that show what some of our other "rewards" will be. I'm just going to list some here for you now so that we can discuss them if you'd like to. Keep in mind as you're reading these that they are referring to us; to all who are born again. All of us will either be rewarded or we will suffer loss. I want to be one of those who is rewarded and will do all I can to please Him now so that I can give Him the glory later too!
1 Corinthians 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
2 Timothy 2:12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us;
1 Corinthians 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
Revelation 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Matthew 25:21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
I do not think that there will be any continuous shame or any condemnation of those who do wind up scrubbing toilets so to speak though because after the Millennium the Lord says He will wipe away all our tears etc and there will be only joy and love and perfect companionship with Him and each other. So I don't think this will be at all considered "punishment" then. Then how long we will have to endure that shame of not having done even the least to please Him? That I don't know. Perhaps it will only last moments, but if that verse about wiping away all tears apply to this as well, then it may well last throughout the millennium. I haven't yet found anything in His Word to indicate for sure it going either way, except that the verse about wiping away our tears is definitely speaking of after the millennium. So to me this is a very good reason to get our bibles out and plan on spending more time with Him and studying His Word!
Let me conclude today with Johns warning to us:
2 John 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.