The grand purpose for which God created mankind is utterly awe-inspiring. And realize that this destiny is not only for humanity in a general sense—but it is meant for you personally. God wants to exalt you to share eternal, divine life with Him and all of His children.
If God is opening your mind to the awesome potential for which He made you, then He is inviting you to be among the forerunners in His plan for mankind —to be His spiritual son or daughter now in anticipation of the full glory to be bestowed at the resurrection of the dead when Jesus Christ returns.
Who, then, are the children of God today? Who will yet become part of God’s immortal spiritual family? How can you or any of us attain that awesome destiny? And what will life be like when we are ultimately raised to glorified existence?
Entering the family
The Bible explains that those inducted into God’s immortal family must first sincerely repent of their sins, be baptized and receive the gift of God’s Spirit (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×). By receiving the Holy Spirit, they become converted members of Christ’s spiritual body (1 Corinthians 12:12-13 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 12 For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
American King James Version×), which is His Church (Colossians 1:24 Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
American King James Version×). They await the resurrection at Christ’s return, when they will be given immortality (1 Corinthians 15:51-54 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
American King James Version×).
Receiving God’s Spirit is essential to conversion. The apostle Paul makes it clear that you must receive the Holy Spirit to become a part of God’s family and Church: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
American King James Version×).
Why are those without God’s Spirit not the people of God? Because, as Paul explains, “as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
American King James Version×). Paul clarifies the relationship of God’s Spirit to salvation: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit” (Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×). Only those with God’s Spirit will inherit eternal life. Indeed, it is through the Spirit that we are begotten to spiritual life, as we earlier saw.
How, then, may you receive God’s Spirit? The apostle Peter explained that you must “repent” and “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×, NASB). (Real repentance and baptism, which open the way into God’s family, are thoroughly explained in our free booklets Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion and The Road to Eternal Life .)
God’s children, then, are those who are led by God through His Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the power and presence of God working within them (see 2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
American King James Version×; Psalms 51:11 Psalms 51:11Cast me not away from your presence; and take not your holy spirit from me.
American King James Version×; Philippians 2:13 Philippians 2:13For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
American King James Version×). Those who receive God’s Spirit are regarded as the children of God even in this life. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and … everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3 1 John 3:2-3 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.
American King James Version×).
Yet what we are now is nothing compared with what we will be like at Jesus Christ’s return. At that time the faithful children of God will be resurrected from physical flesh and blood to immortal spirit so they can share eternity with Him on His plane of existence.
A future beyond compare
Paul describes the marvelous transformation that will occur when the dead are resurrected: “There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies; and the splendour of the heavenly bodies is one thing, the splendour of the earthly another. The sun has a splendour of its own, the moon another splendour and the stars yet another; and one star differs from another in brightness.
“So it is with the resurrection of the dead: what is sown as a perishable thing is raised imperishable. Sown in humiliation, it is raised in glory; sown in weakness, it is raised in power; sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is such a thing as a physical body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:40-44 1 Corinthians 15:40-44 40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differs from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
American King James Version×, Revised English Bible).
These verses depict an awesome change indeed—to a brilliance and majesty we can barely conceive of (see “ The Likeness of God “). That is why Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 Romans 8:18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
American King James Version×; see also 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
American King James Version×).
Do you get the picture? Being resurrected into God’s family as a very child of God, a part of God’s own family, is so magnificent that it is futile to try to compare it to anything we have ever known. No amount of trials, problems and suffering in this life could ever approach the priceless gift of eternal life as glorified children of God in the full likeness of the Father and Jesus Christ. That incredible future is what life is all about. That is why you were born.
No wonder Paul exclaimed, “The created universe is waiting with eager expectation for God’s sons to be revealed” (Romans 8:19 Romans 8:19For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
American King James Version×, REB).
Our role in the Kingdom of God
The wonderful world of tomorrow will be inaugurated at the return of Jesus Christ, who will rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16 Revelation 19:16And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
American King James Version×). Every kingdom, power and government will be brought under His divine rule (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×). He will establish the Kingdom of God on earth. This was the heart of His message—the gospel, or good news, that He preached (Mark 1:14-15 Mark 1:14-15 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
American King James Version×). (Be sure to download or request your free copy of our booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom to better understand this central theme of both Christ’s message and the entire Bible.)
Those sons and daughters of God who have been faithful to Him will share in Christ’s rule. Notice Christ’s promise: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Revelation 3:21 Revelation 3:21To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
American King James Version×). Those who overcome will be given responsibility as kings and priests of God in that Kingdom (Revelation 1:5-6 Revelation 1:5-6 5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×).
This amazing future was earlier foretold in the Old Testament. For example, the prophet Daniel was given a vision of Christ receiving His Kingdom from God the Father:
“I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man [Jesus Christ], coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days [God the Father], and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed …
“Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him” (Daniel 7:13-27 Daniel 7:13-27 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the middle of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.
16 I came near to one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.
17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.
18 But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spoke very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
21 I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.
24 And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.
25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it to the end.
27 And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
American King James Version×). Again, the “saints of the Most High”—that is, those who are sanctified or set apart as holy, meaning all of God’s true followers— will be kings and rulers with Jesus Christ.
This shared divine rule over the physical nations of the earth will have a tiered structure of administration. For instance, we are told that King David will again serve as ruler over all Israel while the 12 apostles of Christ will be given rule over the 12 individual tribes of Israel (Jeremiah 30:9 Jeremiah 30:9But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up to them.
American King James Version×; Ezekiel 37:24-25 Ezekiel 37:24-25 24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelled; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.
American King James Version×; Matthew 19:28 Matthew 19:28And Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, That you which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, you also shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
American King James Version×). And there will be further gradations under these and in the governance of other nations as well.
One of Christ’s parables reveals that the further God’s servants progress in service to Him during this life in proportion to their ability, the greater will be their authority in the coming Kingdom—here represented by each being placed over a different number of cities (Luke 19:11-27 Luke 19:11-27 11 And as they heard these things, he added and spoke a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.
13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said to them, Occupy till I come.
14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.
15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called to him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.
16 Then came the first, saying, Lord, your pound has gained ten pounds.
17 And he said to him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities.
18 And the second came, saying, Lord, your pound has gained five pounds.
19 And he said likewise to him, Be you also over five cities.
20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is your pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin:
21 For I feared you, because you are an austere man: you take up that you layed not down, and reap that you did not sow.
22 And he said to him, Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant. You knew that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
23 Why then gave not you my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required my own with usury?
24 And he said to them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that has ten pounds.
25 (And they said to him, Lord, he has ten pounds.)
26 For I say to you, That to every one which has shall be given; and from him that has not, even that he has shall be taken away from him.
27 But those my enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring here, and slay them before me.
American King James Version×). Thus, while those of God’s family will share ownership of the earth and will rule it together, it is evident that they will have varying degrees of administrative responsibility under Jesus Christ. Still, every position will be filled with majesty and glory beyond imagining.
More amazing than ruling over physical nations is the fact that even the angels will be subject to the glorified children of God. As Paul wrote: “Don’t you know that someday we Christians are going to judge the world? … Don’t you realize that we Christians will judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:2-3 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 2 Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Know you not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
American King James Version×, NLT). Indeed, as Hebrews 2 says, God “has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels” (1 Corinthians 6:5 1 Corinthians 6:5I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brothers?
American King James Version×)—but rather, as the following verses make clear, to human beings exalted in the family of God, with Jesus Christ as a forerunner in this inheritance (1 Corinthians 6:6-13 1 Corinthians 6:6-13 6 But brother goes to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. 7 Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because you go to law one with another. Why do you not rather take wrong? why do you not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? 8 No, you do wrong, and defraud, and that your brothers. 9 Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 12 All things are lawful to me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.
American King James Version×; compare 1 Corinthians 1:13-14 1 Corinthians 1:13-14 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;
American King James Version×).
How can we mere human beings ever hope that God the Father and Jesus Christ would share with us such incredible responsibility? Certainly we can never do so while we are still weak, imperfect human beings. Indeed, as so many scriptures show, we must be changed.
Paul explained: “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:50-52 1 Corinthians 15:50-52 50 Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
American King James Version×).
In fact, we should recognize that the Kingdom of God is not merely the dominion of God, which human beings will one day share in. Rather, it also concerns a plane of existence— being changed to experience life with the Father and Christ on Their level.
It’s worth noting that the term kingdom is sometimes used to classify certain levels of existence. There is the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom and, at the top of the physical creation, the human kingdom.
Above these in the spirit realm is the angelic kingdom. And above all is the God Kingdom. God intends to raise man from the human kingdom, over the angelic kingdom, to the God Kingdom—the Kingdom of God. Indeed, in an ultimate sense, the Kingdom of God is synonymous with the ruling family of God, all members of which will share the full nature of God.
Perfected in loving character
The rule of Christ and His glorified followers will be vastly different from the rule this world has usually experienced. They will serve as true public servants rather than exploit humanity.
Jesus described the kind of giving, serving, loving leadership that will characterize those who rule with Him: “Among the Gentiles, kings lord it over their subjects and those in authority are given the title Benefactor. Not so with you: on the contrary, the greatest among you must bear himself like the youngest, the one who rules like one who serves” (Luke 22:25-26 Luke 22:25-26 25 And he said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority on them are called benefactors.
26 But you shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that does serve.
American King James Version×, REB).
God is creating not just a family of kings, but kings who are servants, kings who will pass on blessings to those they serve. As Proverbs 29:2 Proverbs 29:2When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked bears rule, the people mourn.
American King James Version×tells us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” The whole world will rejoice under the righteous rule of the family of God!
God’s character is based on love—outflowing concern for others—so much so that the Bible says that “God is love” (1 John 4:8-16 1 John 4:8-16 8 He that loves not knows not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12 No man has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.
13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him, and he in God.
16 And we have known and believed the love that God has to us. God is love; and he that dwells in love dwells in God, and God in him.
American King James Version×). The loving character of God is also evident in all His children. That loving character is what distinguishes the true children of God—what reveals who is really part of His family. As the apostle John wrote: “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10 1 John 3:10In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loves not his brother.
American King James Version×).
Jesus taught the same: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven … You shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-45 Matthew 5:43-45 43 You have heard that it has been said, You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.
44 But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
American King James Version×, Matthew 5:48 Matthew 5:48Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
American King James Version×).
The practice of godly love by the resurrected, immortal children of God will produce the wonderful world of the future. God is perfecting the attitude of love and mercy in His sons and daughters who are the firstfruits of His spiritual harvest of humanity (James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
American King James Version×). They will be children befitting His family, children who will demonstrate to the remainder of mankind that obedience to God’s law is the right way of life.
God is creating in His children His holy and righteous character—the pattern of life, ingrained through habit, of choosing the right way, the way of love, even against temptation and self-desire. The present life in physical, temporary human bodies is our training ground toward this end, a time for God’s children to develop righteous character—to become like the Father and Christ in our minds and lifestyle.
Rest assured, there is no way God will imbue us with His omnipotent power and immortality unless we are thoroughly yielded to His direction, walking humbly in His way of love and service to others. Thankfully, God helps us to grow in this way throughout our lives as we submit to Him. And when we are fully transformed into His likeness at the resurrection, we will have His perfect loving character as our own.
No vestige will be left of selfish human nature—only total, selfless love and care for others just as God has. Thus there will be perfect harmony among all those of God’s family. And with total concern for the good of the governed, God’s family will reign over the angels and all human beings as yet unchanged.
Still more to come
As pointed out above, God’s converted people of this age, His saints, are the firstfruits of His spiritual harvest of mankind. They are called first fruits in recognition of the fact that more will follow. This analogy is drawn from the agricultural year of ancient Israel, wherein a spring harvest was followed by a late summer and fall harvest.
This agricultural cycle and related events are commemorated in the annual festivals God gave to Israel—as a picture of progressive steps in His great plan of salvation. (To learn about these, be sure to request or download our free booklet God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind . )
During the 1,000-year reign of Jesus Christ and His saints over all nations (Revelation 20:6 Revelation 20:6Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
American King James Version×), represented by the great fall harvest festival, the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Ingathering, the people of the earth will be taught the way of salvation and nearly all will ultimately embrace it—so as to later join the saints in being glorified and added to God’s family.
Following this period is the time of the last judgment, when all who have ever lived without a proper understanding of God’s truth will be given their only real opportunity for salvation and glorification (compare Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
American King James Version×, Revelation 20:11-12 Revelation 20:11-12 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
American King James Version×; Matthew 11:21-24 Matthew 11:21-24 21 Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in you, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.
American King James Version×; Ezekiel 37:1-14 Ezekiel 37:1-14 1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the middle of the valley which was full of bones, 2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, see, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know. 4 Again he said to me, Prophesy on these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. 5 Thus said the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live: 6 And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD. 7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. 8 And when I beheld, see, the sinews and the flesh came up on them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. 9 Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus said the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live. 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army. 11 Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
American King James Version×).
God’s plan is all-encompassing. During this time the vast majority of human beings will receive the opportunity for everlasting life. Remember, God “desires all men to be saved” and is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (1 Timothy 2:4 1 Timothy 2:4Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
American King James Version×; 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
American King James Version×). Through His wondrous plan, all of humanity will be given the opportunity to learn God’s truth, come to repentance and receive salvation. (This wonderful truth is thoroughly explained in our free booklets What Happens After Death? and Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach? )
Then, as Revelation 21 reveals, there will be a new heaven and new earth—and the city of New Jerusalem will descend to the earth from heaven as the capital of the universe and the eternal dwelling of God. At last God the Father as well as Jesus Christ will live with humanity, now glorified as God’s divine children. Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
American King James Version×encourages us with these awesome words: “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”
As we saw at the outset, “all things” means the entire universe and spirit realm. We will have a permanent dwelling with God in the New Jerusalem, but we will not be confined there or to the earth—or even to this galaxy. Rather, we will have the freedom to enjoy the entire cosmos, which we will then possess along with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the rest of the divine family.
Of course it may be that, just as there will be different levels of administrative responsibility over the nations during the 1,000-year rule of Christ and His saints, so the glorified members of God’s family may likewise have different regions of oversight throughout the universe. With more than 100 billion galaxies of 100 billion stars, there will be plenty of responsibility to go around!
In any case, we will be able to travel anywhere within the universe instantaneously—at the speed of thought—just as God can, and beautify and expand on it under the direction of the Father and Christ. For we will share Their infinite power and mind. To quote the words of the apostle Paul again, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 1 Corinthians 2:9But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.
American King James Version×, NLT).
Joy and pleasures forevermore
This future is so transcendent in its magnitude and meaning that it is impossible to really get our minds around it! The truth is that we don’t know all that we will experience when we at last dwell in resplendent glory with God and all repentant humanity in the age to come, as God has not revealed it and we probably would not be able to comprehend it with our finite minds.
But we can rest assured that life then will never be dull and uninteresting. It will always be filled with new opportunities and joyful living. In Psalms 16:11 Psalms 16:11You will show me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand there are pleasures for ever more.
American King James Version×King David prayed to God, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore .”
Mention of David again brings us back to where we began, with his reflections in Psalms 8:3-4 Psalms 8:3-4 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
4 What is man, that you are mindful of him? and the son of man, that you visit him?
American King James Version×: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?”
The Bible has shown us why God is mindful of mankind: He has planned for us an astounding future. We have seen that our ultimate destiny, the purpose of our existence, is to become the divine children of God, who is our Father. He wants to share His very life with us—desiring that we ultimately inherit not only all that He has, but even what He is. Could anything be greater than that? What more could anyone possibly wish for?
Never underestimate the value of your life. You were born to become one of God’s divine children. You were born to receive His very nature and character and, eventually, eternal life on His level of existence. You were born to become a glorified, immortal member of the God family— to live and reign with the Father and Christ in joy without ending, to shine as the stars forever and ever.
This is your incredible destiny! May God grant you a heart willing to surrender your life to Him so that you may receive His incomparable gift!