John Nugent’s Endangered Gospel: N. T. Wright’s Perspective, Part 2

endangered gospelWright argues that New Heaven and New Earth (NHNE) theology leads to the conclusion that every good and holy thing we do will survive into the next age. If I were to write a beautiful poem in praise of God, somehow that poem would survive the destructive fires that purge the world of all that is unworthy of God and be even improved — redeemed — to be a part of the world made new by God.

And that may be true. I just can’t find biblical support for that position. And having read too many bad Christian poems, I’m not going to miss the doggerel.

(As powerful as God is, I have trouble imagining even the Maker of the Universe redeeming some Christian poetry. I still have nightmares from a certain Advent “poem” we read about 50 times in my church. But maybe God needs to redeem my distaste for bad poetry. It’s my own fault, I’m sure. Really.)

So let’s start in 2 Pet 3 —

(2 Pet. 3:9-12 ESV)  9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.  11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,  12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!

Amazing! Peter says we can hasten the Second Coming! How? Well, why is the Second Coming being delayed? So that “all should come to repentance.” God is delaying the return of Jesus to give more people time to repent. So it would seem that we hasten the return of Jesus by bringing more people to repentance. Evangelism and missions will hasten the return of Jesus.

Notice that the redemptive work that will hasten the return of Jesus is the repentance of unbelievers. There’s not the slightest suggestion that other good works will bring about Jesus’ hastened return (except to the extent they help bring about repentance, of course).

We next consider the verse Wright himself focuses on —

(1 Cor. 15:58 ESV)  58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

“Labor” (kopos) is always used by Paul of labor as a missionary or otherwise as an evangelist. And in 1 Cor, “work” is always used of the work of a church planter (except in 5:2, which is about sin that might destroy a church). And both “work” and “labor” are used by Paul in 1 Cor 3 in his description of building a church on the foundation of Jesus. Paul’s use of the singular “work” and “labor” further suggests that he had a particular kind of work or labor in mind.

“Not in vain” is a reference back to —

(1 Cor. 15:1-2 ESV)  Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,  2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you– unless you believed in vain.

— which is a reference to the conversion of his readers. The parallel is: you Corinthians have not believed in vain, because the resurrection of Jesus assures you of your salvation, and your labor in the Kingdom is also not in vain because the resurrection of Jesus assures you that those you convert will be with you at the resurrection.

Therefore, he is not speaking of writing poems and digging wells — unless the poems are written or wells dug to help plant or build a church.

Therefore, Paul assumed that the Corinthians engaged in evangelistic efforts, just as he and Apollos had done for them. He didn’t command them to go door knocking, but as many errors and problems as the church in Corinth had going on, Paul still assumed that they were active in evangelism.

We need to take a moment to reflect on —

(1 Cor. 3:12-15 ESV)  12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 

Here Paul is speaking of the construction of a local church, as though it’s a temple. In the ancient world, the gold, silver, and jewels were used in temples. But these stand here for people. The “work” that survives the fire of God’s wrath is the people, the members of the church. Just so, the “work” that is burned up by the wrath of God would be church members who are ultimately damned.

Paul bases his metaphor on Malachi 3:2-3, where the same construction materials (gold and silver) are referenced and refer to the priests serving at the temple. So it seems clear that Paul is speaking of the salvation of people, not the redemption of good works and such like.

Now, Paul’s image of gold, silver, and jewels can’t help but bring to mind Jesus’ several sayings about our having treasures in heaven.

(Matt. 6:19-21 ESV)  19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,  20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

(Matt. 19:20-22 ESV)  20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?”  21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Wright comments,

Closely linked with the eschatological call to cut loose from family ties was the similar call to sit loose to possessions. For most people in the ancient world, the most basic possession was land; for Jews, the land was of course the holy land, promised by YHWH to his people. It was because of the Roman registration of the holy land that Judas the Galilean had started his revolt in AD 6. Just as Israel had ‘inherited’ the land in the first place, land would be the most basic inheritance that a father could leave to his children; the latter phenomenon, indeed, would be given religious depth and significance by the former. This, then, rather than an attack on the first-century equivalent of twentieth-century materialism, is what was most deeply at stake when Jesus summoned people to give up their possessions:

N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1996), 403–404.

Wright sees “treasures” on earth as land inherited by the Jews as part of God’s promise to Abraham. Give that up in order to receive the inheritance of the NHNE, that is, the cosmos. They’ll have a room in God’s mansion, a residence in the New Jerusalem.

This might be Jesus’ point in some of these sayings, but in general, I don’t buy it. Thieves don’t break in and destroy land. Moths and rust destroy personal property, clothing, furniture, that sort of thing. Not land.

So what was Jesus really talking about as treasures in heaven? It could be argued that Jesus is discussing degrees of reward. All saved people go to the NHNE, but the better you are in this life, the greater your reward. However, it’s hard for our minds to picture degrees of reward. We’re much better at imagining degrees of punishment. After all, just what would the reward consist of? Better cuts of meat at the wedding feast of the Lamb? A bigger room in God’s house? Not that it can’t be true. It really could be exactly what Jesus has in mind. I just have trouble visualizing it.

The commentators are remarkably and consistently silent on what the nature of this reward might be. But fools rush in … and I have a theory. I think it’s the same idea as we find in Paul in 1 Cor 3:12-15 and 2 Pet 3:12. I think Jesus is saying that we’ll find ourselves at Judgment Day greeted by all the men and women that we helped bring to Jesus. It will, one hopes, include our children and grandchildren, but also those converted by missionaries we helped to support, those whose hearts were opened to Jesus by wells we dug and houses we painted. Maybe even a few people touched by a poem we wrote. I think it’s in that sense that our good work survives the fires of God’s purification and so our labor is not in vain.

Now, as I’ve explained in several other posts, because God exists outside of earthly time, I believe Judgment Day exists apart from earthly time. Therefore, when we die, we pass straight to Judgment. To those who remain alive, we appear to sleep, but from the perspective of the deceased, we go straight from earthly death to the gates of the NHNE. And at those gates, we’ll meet our grandparents — who will be just then arriving — and our grandchildren — who will be just then arriving, too.

And then we’ll be greeted by people who may have died 300 years after us but who can credit their salvation to a missionary that we helped support. Some of us may be greeted by millions of both earthly and spiritual descendants — and we’ll be blessed to be thanked by countless droves of people whose lives we indirectly touched.

If I’m right, and I can’t prove it, that would be a glorious way to begin the afterlife — and give great depth to the thoughts that our labor will not be in vain and that we’re storing up treasures in heaven.

And while I usually agree with Wright, and I  have no real problem with the idea that every good thing we do for Jesus will survive into the next age, this thought is enough for me. And while evangelism is just so out of fashion, I think there is nothing more precious that a human rescued from death and gehenna and provided a room in God’s mansion. (And I’m thinking I might make more generous donations to missions.)

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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21 Responses to John Nugent’s Endangered Gospel: N. T. Wright’s Perspective, Part 2

  1. David Himes says:

    I mean no disrespect here, Jay, but this is one of those discussions where I think we’ve “made up” the topic in order to have something to talk about.

    As I am known to ask in my classes, “So what?”

    I worry Mr Wright, and others, who initiate this topic are looking for some unique theological topic they can add to their curriculum vitae, or something. Because whether Mr. Wright is correct or you are correct (and I agree more with you), it makes little, if any, discernible difference in our faith in and reliance upon God for our salvation.

  2. Dwight says:

    David, I agree with you. The focus was on resurrection and not really what we are resurrected to in terms of type, but rather quality. Things will be better than they could possibly be here on this side.

    These verses
    (Matt. 6:19-21 ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
    (Matt. 19:20-22 ESV) The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”
    present some questions for those like NT Wright in regards to the resurrection.
    If our treasure is in heaven, our heart is there also. But the alternate theory suggest a boomerang effect to where we do good and then build up treasures in heaven, which is where Jesus and God is, and then afterwards we are placed back on a NE and I suppose given our stored treasures?
    While many Jews looked towards an earthly Kingdom led by an earthly savior, they also did look forward to heaven with God.
    Even while many will argue that Matt.5:5 “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”
    we also read
    Matt.5:12 “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
    Jesus told Peter “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
    So the alternative theory would have Peter binding things in heaven, but not really, because those things are really going to be bound to a NHNE.

    A person held a meeting with us and while he suggested that God has come down (in the flesh), he also suggested when God comes down to judge that heaven will come down as well to earth. I go to a conservative congregation. I think this thinking is gaining traction.

    We are going to have to rewrite a lot of church songs to erase heaven and replace it with NHNE.

    And knowing human nature, because we think what we know is right, we will strongly suggest what others know as wrong and lines will be drawn. I hope this is not the case, but I have seen it happen before over less things.

  3. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    David,

    There is a significant movement within the evangelical Christianity (including Churches of Christ) to define as “kingdom work” all that is “redemptive,” meaning “makes the world a better place,” regardless of whether Jesus is glorified or preached.

    Hence, there are young preachers who want to do good works but not bother with mentioning repenting and following Jesus. Just do good. In fact, there are books that argue that “kingdom work” is, by definition, distinct from anything done by the church.

    This is reinforced by Hirsch’s arguments about getting away from the “attractional model” of church — as though being attractive might be a bad thing. (Hirsch says he’s been misunderstood, but the damage is done.) I’ve had preachers (whose names you’d recognize) complain that young ministers coming out of our own universities want nothing to do with the local church that pays their wages. They want to go out in city and do good separate from the church. I’ve supervised a minister who was outraged at the thought of my own church trying to be attractive to the lost. We should ONLY go out into the world and seek to be salt and light apart from the church, was his argument. He was surely influenced by this kind of thinking — and it was very damaging to my congregation.

    And Wright’s theory is part of what drives this thinking. If all good things survive the coming consuming fire, then it doesn’t matter whether I do good works in the name of Jesus — allowing me to be very inclusive and respectful of diversity in my good works. I don’t need to “judge” by telling those who don’t know Jesus that they’ll be damned if they don’t follow Jesus.

    Scot McKnight argues against this thinking in Kingdom Conspiracy and other more recent works. Nugent pushes back even harder, as does Thompson. All insist on the importance of the local congregation, the body of believers, as the centerpiece of the Kingdom.

    Wright, surely unintentionally, gives aid and comfort to those who wish to have a kingdom but no church. Wright himself is, of course, a churchman — having served as a bishop and being heavily involved in Anglican internal affairs. But his theories have led many to the opposite conclusion — and he is very well read among young ministerial students and university professors — meaning our young preachers are highly influenced by this thinking.

    This is not merely theoretical in the Churches of Christ by any means.

  4. laymond says:

    “. (And I’m thinking I might make more generous donations to missions.)” do you think you might buy a room in God’s house ?

    Share this:

  5. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I see that your delight is in relationship with other human beings.
    “And then we’ll be greeted by people who may have died 300 years after us but who can credit their salvation to a missionary that we helped support. Some of us may be greeted by millions of both earthly and spiritual descendants — and we’ll be blessed to be thanked by countless droves of people whose lives we indirectly touched.”
    It is being suggested that forgiven humans will credit some other human for being an instrumental part of the salvation they received. Did we see in the communications in scripture by the Apostles, that they would be rewarded with that kind of reward in heaven? Did they labor so intensely trying to convince lost souls that they would enjoy heaven so greatly that they should give up everything here on earth to work towards insuring that they would have a place in heaven? Did any Apostle mention to any individual or group whom they guided to Christ that he expected to reunite with them in heaven?
    Well I have a different vision about what I expect in heaven. I or we will be so overwhelmed by God that we will worship him continually without any concept of the former life that we lived. We will not even be aware of others being around us. We will be totally focused on him. There will not be any more communications between us in heaven than there is between the Angels. I don’t read of any communications between Angels in heaven, only that there is rejoicing in the salvation of one soul. This is not for themselves but because of their knowledge of what pleases God. What are some of the messages which lead me to believe this.

    Gal 3:28 ESV There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
    Why would we not expect the same to be in heaven?
    Mat 22:30 ESV For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
    Is there males and females among the Angels?
    Mar 12:25 ESV For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
    No marrying in heaven. The major reason for no marriages in heaven to me would be that our interest would be shared between a marriage partner in place of being fully focused upon God. God has even given us instructions that if a part of our physical body would cause us to be lost, it would be better to amputate it rather than allowing it to causing us to be lost. That is really a hard saying, but it expresses the amount of disdain that God has for sin. He is also so jealous that he won’t share just part of you with the his enemy.

  6. David Himes says:

    Thanks for that additional background, Jay. This is not something that has reached my “radar screen.”

    But you also make my point — which is that our pursuit of esoteric theological topics distracts from the central message.

  7. Dwight says:

    This argument of “We should ONLY go out into the world and seek to be salt and light apart from the church, was his argument.” in that the ONLY bothers me, but then again when do we see “churches” as assemblies or groups being told to go out as a “church” or an assembly or group to be a light to the world. We don’t.
    Paul wrote to the church in a city and then the next thing we see in terms of church are those who met in homes to worship and do the Lord’s Supper and in these gatherings they were told to edify one another.
    The goal of the saved were to spread the message of Jesus, which meant salvation and then out of compassion they are to help others. Jesus mission wasn’t to do good works, but the work of His Father.

  8. Dwight says:

    One thing I don’t see in the scriptures is starting from the point of the day of Pentecost the saved being protectionist of the physical realm. The Temple was destroyed forever and not protected by man or God and they had no reason to. The saints were put to death with the understanding that they would go to a better place. They, the saints, understood that they were the Temple, the priest and a living sacrifice. This means that when they died, the physical structure, what is called ” a tent” being temporary would not be needed any more since those that had God in them would then go to be with God.
    While living our good works are translated to being treasures in heaven, but not treasures on this earth.
    Jay, what I have grown up with in the conservative coC is that people wouldn’t “go out into the world and seek to be salt and light apart from the church.” If they weren’t sent by the congregation or didn’t have a task in the congregation to do, they didn’t do anything. My father was a coC preacher and really didn’t study the bible unless preparing for a lesson.
    Many have unfortunately swung the pendulum the other way to the extreme in which the congregation becomes useless. The truth is almost always in the middle.
    The church (the people in Christ). builds/edifies its own (usually in assembly), so that they can go and spread the gospel, to which God adds to the church. Rinse and repeat. While the saved intermingle with the lost and spread the message they do good as seen by the great example of Christ.

  9. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Larry,

    To be all alone in the NHNE for all eternity — even in God’s presence — seems contrary to the nature of God. He made mankind plural — in his image but male and female, and hence necessarily more than one. God himself exists as three persons, in relationship. “It’s not good for man to be alone,” God said in Gen 2:18. That will not change after God removes all fallenness from the world because it was true before the Fall — even though God himself was with Adam.

    Through Abraham, he elected a nation to be his chosen people. Not just Abraham but his descendants.

    Consider these passages from the Revelation:

    (Rev. 5:9-14 ESV) 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

    If we take Hendrickson’s More than Conquerors interpretation and see Rev as a series of visions, each ending with Jesus victorious over his foes, then this is a description of the afterlife — and every creature (created being) worships God together.

    (Rev. 21:23-26 ESV) 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day– and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.

    This is clearly the afterlife, and it speaks of the nations being in the New Jerusalem/NHNE.

    (Rev. 22:3-5 ESV) 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

    Clearly the afterlife, as well, the saints worship God and reign — but they seem to be all together. This is not entirely clear from this passage, but it’s certainly what we get from the earlier texts that build up to this passage.

    (Rev. 14:1-3 ESV) Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.

    Not the easiest passage, but likely a description of Jesus victorious — and the saved are singing a chorus together.

    (Rev. 15:2-4 ESV) 2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire– and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

    “Those who conquered … sing the song of Moses … and the song of Lamb … .” Together.

    I take the Revelation to describe the NHNE as highly social, very much a community, and much of the blessing is being with other believers and worshipers and servants.

    Like church.

  10. dwight says:

    Yes, I have always heard and still believe that we are practicing for heave when we assemble. Unfortunately this will be a stumbling block to many as they will only have accepted those they have assembled with and not those of the Kingdom who they perceive as out of the Kingdom. This should teach us to be more inclusive of those in other congregations who accept Christ from the voice of Christ.
    If the church is the people who worship God and the Kingdom is the people who worship God, why should it be any different when we are before God?
    Chances are we should be mining the book of Revelations for language and actions that we will be using in the future. I am thinking of taking up harp and trumpet lessons so I can sing and play as seen in Revelations. I mean if Revelations is imagery of spiritual beings doing spiritual things in the presence of God, then shouldn’t we be practicing right now? Just a thought.

  11. Larry Cheek says:

    Jay,
    I did not know this was going to happen, but you have done a marvelous job in the description of what we will be doing while in heaven. Your message has totally proven what I was attempting to describe. I think you had misunderstood my directive, read back and show me where I mislead you to believe that we would be alone. Alone was not in my concept. From your description it looks like we all will be conducting a concert, I mean not attending, but being the concert to God.
    What I was trying to bring to light was that there is no communication between Christians in heaven concerning their relationships between each other. That is concerning who led you to Christ or did all your family make it here? We remember your father or mother and other family members, are they here? Look over there, so and so was a member of that church which we were sure would not be in heaven. Look over there, I would never believed that the preacher who I listened to and attempted to correct some of his teaching that was in error with the scriptures would be here, because he disfellowshipped me and I know he never repented from his teaching or what he had accomplished in destroying the church at that location.
    I see no communication regarding events from our earthly life in the descriptions in heaven.

  12. Dwight says:

    I dunno Larry. I would think that any attempt to wipe out our past would wipe out who we are and why we made it there, after all God is going to bring us all before judgment so as to convict us or not. One of the things that makes me understand this differently is where we have
    Matt.17 “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.””
    1. It appears that they retained their individual identities amongst themselves
    2. They were able to be recognized by others as individual identities
    3. If they didn’t know of their past or another’s past, then what was the point of them retaining their individual identities.
    4. They were allowed to converse amongst themselves, but were not engaged in obvert worship of God (bowing down, praying, singing, etc.)
    5. If we don’t remember our past, then how does hell play into this, after all if we go to hell, we will be suffering and wont’ know why…except God wants us to.
    6. The parable, yes I think it is a parable, but parables are expressive of the truth, of Lazarus and the rich man. The rich man could identify Lazarus and even Abraham. And Abraham told the rich man to remember why he was there. While a parable, parables basically make use of truths to express a point. The parable of the unjust steward made a point from reality. The parable of the kingdom as a grain of mustard seed, makes use of what a mustard seed really does. Jesus had a habit of using real things to express a true concept.

    In reality I don’t think any of us know what the after life is going to be like, but I do think we will know who we are and know who others are. We will certainly know who God and Jesus are. Are we going to be engaged in worship to God 24/7 or in general like we are supposed to be doing now? I don’t know. But I don’t think we will have the distractions of the flesh.

  13. Larry Cheek says:

    Dwight,
    None of the men that you have mentioned has been changed into the form they will have when raised from the dead. Therefore, those comparisons are not applicable. You have hit also upon the point that we will not be distracted from worshiping God by anything from our lives in the flesh, earthly existence. The Angels in heaven are worshiping God. Can anyone determine that it is not always? There is no time. Time is a attribute applied to the earth.
    Rev 5:11-14 ESV Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, (12) saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (13) And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” (14) And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

    When would we decide that verse 13 ever stops for a moment (oops moment doesn’t exist).

    Rev 7:11-15 ESV And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” (13) Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” (14) I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.

    Verse 15 states that those who washed their robes (Christians), “serve him day and night in his temple” (oops day and night doesn’t exist). Day and night, then is a representation for continually or never ceasing.

    Rev 22:3-6 ESV No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. (4) They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (5) And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (6) And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

    “They will reign forever and ever”, never released upon their own reconnaissance. No time off. Duty continually. No time for the family reunion. No time for communication with each other. Where do we have an account of the Angels socializing with one another? The only communications we have encountered in scriptures by Angels with each other is regarding a mission they are performing for God. Even then they are as one in the mission, they do not discuss the actions to make decisions concerning the accomplishment.

    Sounds like a place we would not appreciate. That is because we cannot understand the Spirit realm. As long as we are physical we will never understand the magnitude of the Spirit World.

    Paul assures us that not all of us will understand Spirit communications.
    1Co 2:12-14 ESV Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (13) And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (14) The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

  14. When the 24 elders sang their son of praise to the Lamb, they sang:

    “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

    Will this reigning on earth be something other than the worship that they will also be offering? Or will it be true in heaven as on earth that the service we offer as the temple service worship is at least some of the worship we offer. See Romans 12:1

    I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

    It seems to me that all the service we offer to god now in the name of Messiah Jesus is worship and all the service we offer in NHNE will also be worship.

  15. In other words, why on earth should we imagine that all of our worship in the new heavens and new earth will be confined to song?

  16. JohnF says:

    Jerry (insert sarcasm font), surely you don’t mean to say that worship is something other than five acts on EVERY given Sunday? (remove sarcasm font). At least in heaven I will sing in perfect pitch 🙂

  17. Alabama John says:

    So much it is hard to imagine.
    With everyone in heaven getting a home, its hard to imagine us as spirits getting callouses on our hands building them. Be very revealing to see how that is done.

  18. AJ, don’t you know that the mansion is now empty, just waiting for you? After all, the Carpenter said he was going to prepare a place! (Written with tongue-in-cheek – for whatever god promised, he will provide.)

  19. Alabama John says:

    Jerry, LOL
    I see Jesus as the Prime Contractor and all of us as working subs. Sitting on a cloud for eternity can’t be right as that would be a waste of our various God given talents and so boring. I’ll bet we’ll be doing something worthwhile, whatever it is. Life here might of simply been an apprenticeship to prepare us for heaven.

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