New Jerusalem II

Q. Rev 22 says 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Is it not true that all the sinners have gone to hell by that time? Why would they still be outside the city? If outside the city is hell, why would those who wash their robes go in and out of the city?

Also, 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. What will they be reigning? Will everyone be a king?

A. According to Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, all unbelievers would have been cast into hell by that time.

Let’s dissect v 14-15 to see what it means. First, “wash their robes” is in reference to:
Rev 7:14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Washing their robes white in the Lamb’s blood is figurative, not literal.

Second, “tree of life” appears first in Revelation in:
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
The overcomers are those who persevere and are victorious. Eating of the tree of life means being granted eternal life. I believe it is more figurative than literal.

Third, “dogs” appears 8 times in the NT, here and in:
Mt 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
• Mt 15:26-27 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (See also Mk 7:27-28)
• Lk 16:21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
• Php 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;

Except in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, all 7 references are figurative of the unholy, the Gentiles, the evil workers, the false people of God, the sinners, not literal.

Therefore I believe “outside” does not mean physically outside the city, but figuratively, barred from entering. Rev 22:14 does not say go in and out of the city, only “enter by the gates into the city” (NASB). Nor does Rev 21.

Next, reign. Besides Rev 22:5, believers reigning is taught in:
2 Tim 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
• Rev 5:10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
• Rev 20:4, 6 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 5:10 refers to the men and women purchased for God with the Lamb’s blood from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Rev 20:4, 6 refer to those who were martyred, those who had not worshipped the Antichrist and received his mark. They will reign with Christ during the Millennium.

There are degrees of reward. In Lk 19:13 a nobleman gave 10 of his slaves 10 minas to do business. When he returned, he called them to give an account:
Lk 19:16-19 The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ 18 The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

Each slave was given 1 mina, and the reward is proportional to the results. The one who earned more was put in authority over more. I do not know what the specific duties of being “in charge” involves, only that they will reign, some with higher rank. I don’t think everyone will be a king. Some will be barely saved:
1 Co 3:14-15 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

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Cost-Effectiveness of Churches (2 of 2)

1 Sam 15 22 e

(Continued from yesterday)

Lk 13:6-9 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”

I know this parable probably refers to the Jewish nation since it follows Lk 12:1-5 where Jesus taught the Jews to repent. However, it clearly shows the owner’s expectation of fruit may also apply to individuals as well. Make no mistake about it, God expects more fruit:

Jn 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Nor is this an isolated incident, as both the parable of the Talents and the Ten Minas showed that God expects us to put what He entrusted to us to work and have fruit to show for it:
Mt 25:27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
• Lk 19:23 Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’

What am I saying? That it is neither “results alone” nor “faithful regardless of results” for all times, but being obedient to what God called you to do for that specific time. I believe I am not in a position to “judge” that senior and renowned pastor. Only he and God knew what God had called him to do, and whether he is obedient. I do not know what’s in the heart to say what he should have done. Does cost-effectiveness come into play at all? As stewards we are always accountable to God as to how we use the limited resources He entrusted to us, but pay attention to His call or special assignment which overrides the general call.

Philip the evangelist had a highly successful campaign in Samaria:

Acts 8:6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.

But an angel of the Lord pulled him out in the midst of his campaign to speak to one Ethiopian eunuch (Act 8:26-27). Not preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans (Acts 8:25), just one man. Was it cost-effective, not from our MBA mentality, but Philip was obedient and that is what counts.

If I have to make a choice, I would choose obedience over cost-effectiveness.:

1 Sam 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

God knows better. We can use the best of our knowledge to serve Him, but be prepared for His changing our plans at any time. He’s the Lord, we are only unworthy servants. He sometimes asks us to leave the 99 to find the one going astray. Just listen carefully, as He may speak in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).