It is not surprising that we live in a world that has a defective view of God. Even those who believe a Creator exists do not understand the extent of His promises, as well as His ability to accomplish them, as found in the Bible. For example, for many people, the concept of heaven is one in which disembodied souls float around in a misty and boring eternity.
The cults also have a defective view of the power of God. They cannot comprehend the greatness of God’s grace, as they teach a false gospel of salvation by works. Not only do they limit the extent of God’s grace, but their message is one that cannot save anybody from the lake of fire.
But it involves more than that. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, say that only a select number of people, specifically 144,000, will be able to rule with Christ in the heavenly kingdom. All other faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses will live on earth. God, then, is limited to the number of people He can reward.
We would expect a cult like the Jehovah’s Witnesses to have a defective view of the power of God. But we also see a limiting of God in more mainstream teachings and even in Free Grace circles.
In Calvinism, the work of Christ is limited to “the elect.” In fact, it’s in the very name of this doctrine—limited atonement. The Calvinist argues that Christ didn’t die for the sins of everyone. His death wasn’t that great. Instead, His work on the cross was for only those people He chose. If you are not a part of that group, you are out of luck. But the Bible tells us that Christ’s death was not limited to a select few. The apostle John, for example, tells us that Christ died for the sins of the “whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). Therefore, anybody who believes in Him for eternal life receives it.
However, restricting Christ’s offer of salvation as well as His work on the cross to a select few are not the only forms of limitation that people have placed on Christ’s Word. Another example is how they see the coming kingdom. Many believers even have a limited view of that kingdom. In the minds of many, it will be a place of music and choirs. There won’t be any pain, and it will be better than the alternative! But there is nothing particularly exciting about it. In fact, when things are going well in this world, it is more appealing than what it will be like in eternity. This is part of the reason many believers often do not long for the coming of that kingdom.
Basically, these believers do not understand the power of the Lord to reward His people. They do not understand what Christ has in store for His children. He will create a new heaven and earth in which believers will have exciting responsibilities and work to do for Him and others. They will have new adventures, new places to visit, people to meet, and new things to learn. Everything that we do for Him now will result in a greater experience of all that His power will bring about. It will result in greater intimacy with Him.
But most people in our churches today say, “No, it won’t be like that.” They even say that none of that is important to them. What they mean is that the kingdom can’t be that great and that exciting. What they are really saying is that God would never do anything like that.
Of course, we cannot fully know what that future will hold in store for all believers. We cannot know in all their details what the rewards He gives for faithfulness to Him will involve. But I think we need to consider such things in a different way. Instead of our natural tendency to limit the power of the Lord, maybe we should think that His power will make it even greater than we can imagine.
Paul takes that attitude in 1 Cor 2:9. In describing what God will do and what it will be like, he writes: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
This is a far cry from the usual way people describe the Lord’s promises. Far from limiting God, Paul takes it a step further and adds we don’t even know how great it’s going to be. We can’t even imagine all the things the Lord has in store for the believer who faithfully serves Him now. When it comes to rewards and the coming kingdom, there are many things we don’t know. We only know it will be grander than we even think.
The implication is that when it comes to the greatness of the Lord and the promises He has made—when in doubt, go big! For not only are our Savior and His promises true, but He is also greater than we can ever imagine.