1 Peter 5: 2-4
“… shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
This is the 32nd session of the ‘Heaven’ lecture series.
With this session, I will be talking to you about the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
I will first talk about the general environment of the 2nd kingdom of heaven and then what kind of people will receive the 2nd kingdom of heaven as their eternal dwelling place.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, have you heard the testimony of a certain person who had been to heaven, saying, he was given a hat of dog’s fur in heaven?
Oh, in heaven are there hats made from the hair of a dog?
Of course, in heaven, there is nothing made of the fur or leather from any animal.
There may be something that feels similar, but there is nothing that is really made of an animals’ skin.
Even if there were, if we were to wear a hat made of dog’s fur, it would look ridiculous and really funny!
For example, to the person who came in first in 100-meter dash in the Olympics, if we give him a hat of dog’s fur instead of the gold medal, it would be an insult to that runner and to put him into great shame.
Then, what would it mean if a person who went to heaven were to be given a hat of dog’s fur? It is just God symbolically showing him that if he went to heaven at that moment, he would receive only shameful salvation.
Of course, if you receive shameful salvation and go to Paradise, there is no reward or a crown given.
But to those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven which I am going to talk about today, God the Father gives them the crown of glory.
Additionally, there are many more rewards prepared by God the Father for the souls who are going into the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
Through this message, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will realize why God the Father gives many rewards to those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven, so that you will try to take hold of the better heavenly dwelling places more vigorously.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what kind of place is the 2nd kingdom of heaven? Just as developed countries on this earth have better living environment than less developed countries, the 2nd kingdom of heaven is better than the 1st kingdom of heaven in all aspects.
The golden light that comes out from the road is much more like the light of pure gold.
The colorful lights coming out from the buildings are also much more beautiful and lovely.
Furthermore, there are greater numbers and varieties of animals and plants than the 1st kingdom. So, we can see many more things that are not in Paradise or the 1st Kingdom.
Also, even the same kind of animal or plant will be much more beautiful in the 2nd kingdom of heaven than the 1st kingdom of heaven.
For example, let’s think about horses. There are ordinary work horses that just pull wagons and there are also specially trained horses for racing.
These racing horses are very expensive, and their appearances are also dignified.
Likewise, the animals in the 2nd kingdom of heaven are better-looking, and they have more glorious lights from their fur than those of the 1st kingdom.
It’s the same with plants. There are many more plants in the 2nd kingdom of heaven that do not exist in the 1st kingdom, and the aroma and the colors of the flowers are much better and much clearer in 2nd kingdom than the 1st kingdom.
There are big and small gardens and parks that are well planned and decorated with beautiful flowers and various trees. Why don’t you just imagine this beautiful scenery of the 2nd kingdom of heaven?
Now, what rewards are there for those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven?
In Paradise, because there are no personal rewards given, there are no personally-owned houses.
In the 1st kingdom of heaven, an imperishable crown is given and also personally-owned houses are given. And these houses are somewhat like apartments on this earth. But the houses given to those in the 2nd kingdom of heaven are completely independent and individual, one-story houses.
They are so big and magnificent that they cannot be compared with any mansion or expensive houses on this earth. The gardens of these houses are splendidly decorated with fragrant flowers and wonderful-looking trees.
To those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven, not only a big mansion will be given, but also they will personally possess one facility in their house that they like the most.
For example, if you want a swimming pool, you can have a beautiful swimming pool decorated with pure gold and other precious stones.
If you want a golfing course, you can have a big golfing course covered with the best quality turf. If you like taking a walk, you can have a promenade where pretty flowers bloom and lovely animals roam around. Also, if you want a theater to watch movies or performances, you can also have a theater in your house.
But you cannot have each of the swimming pools, golfing courses, promenades, and theaters, and so forth, but you can have only one thing that you like the most.
So, according to the taste of each one in the 2nd kingdom of heaven, each house will have a different facility.
Likewise, because people have different facilities in their houses in 2nd kingdom, they will visit each other to see other people’s facilities and to share and enjoy those facilities together.
If a person who has golfing course wants to swim, he can go to a nearby house that has a swimming pool, and enjoy swimming as much as he wants.
In heaven, because everybody serves each other, nobody dislikes or refuses a visitor to his house, but rather he will be happier to have visitors to his home.
And also, the visitors will not seek their own benefit only, so they will use other people’s facilities within the limit, not to cause any discomfort to others.
One of the characteristics of the houses in the 2nd kingdom of heaven is that they have doorplates.
Also, the name of the church the house owners were attending on this earth is inscribed on the doorplates of some of the houses.
On the doorplates from which beautiful and splendid lights flow out are written the names of the house owner and his church on earth. They are written in heavenly writings that look like italic writing of Hebrew or Arabic language.
This kind of case is for the members of churches that glorified God greatly and became great joy to God, just like the church of Philadelphia in the book of Revelation.
When other people in the 2nd kingdom of heaven see it, they will admire the house owner saying, “This person was a member of that church that glorified God so greatly.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is another special reward given to those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven, and it is the crown of glory. Today’s passage 1 Peter 5:4 has a modifier ‘unfading’ before the crown of glory.
This means the crown of glory given to those in the 2nd kingdom of heaven will not fade away.
Then, is there fading glory also? Yes, there is. The glory that you gain on this earth will fade away after time passes.
I am sure some of you here have received some kind of award in this world for various reasons.
Maybe you excelled in your studies at school, or you won some prizes in fine art or performing art, or in sports competitions. When you receive those awards in front of many people, it is often very touching and you feel greatly honored.
The higher the position of the person who is presenting the award, and the more famous and greater the organization that gives you the award, you feel more honored to receive that award. Yes, you feel honored to receive an award, but if you think of it later after some time, you feel that even that honor was meaningless.
The letter of commendation is just a piece of paper, and the medal or the plaque is also just piece of wood, glass, and metal article. The honor and emotion of that moment do not last forever, and many times, it remains only as a dismal memory.
When I graduated from the theological college, I received two awards. There are a total of three awards given to the graduates. Actually, I was supposed to receive all three awards, but I yielded one of them to another person and received two.
At that time, many of our church members came and rejoiced, but I didn’t really feel good about it. I felt only embarrassed because I wanted somebody else to receive the awards.
Now, I don’t even remember what award it was, and where I put the letter of commendation.
Likewise, the meaning of the awards that you receive on this earth will fade away soon, and the value of the award itself will disappear. It’s just like the flowers of a bouquet. They look beautiful at first, but soon, they wither and it loses the beauty of the flowers.
But the award given in heaven is given by God the Father, and the glory of it will never fade away. The light coming out from the awards will always be the same, too.
In this aspect, the crown of glory given in second kingdom of heaven is named the ‘Unfading Crown of Glory’.
And the name ‘Crown of Glory’ has a deep relation with the kind of faith of those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
Namely, whether greatly or not as much, those who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven have lived a life giving glory to God, so God the Father commends this point and named the crown given to those in the 2nd kingdom of heaven ‘Crown of Glory’.
Then, how did the people who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven give glory to God in their lives?
To go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven, you must have attained the third level of faith.
And the third level of faith is the faith to be able to practice the word of God.
The 1st level of faith is the faith right after receiving the Holy Spirit and salvation, and the 2nd level is the level to listen to the word of God and try to live by the word of God.
And because they try, they sometimes keep the word but at other times don’t, and they commit works of flesh.
But toddlers may fall many times but they still keep on trying to walk by themselves and finally come to walk. Likewise, if they keep on trying in the 2nd level of faith, their faith will keep on growing.
So, they gain increased measure of faith to practice the word of God. If they come to fully practice the word of God, it means they have reached the third level of faith.
They never do anything God prohibits, at least with their action, and they keep the Lord’s Day holy and give proper tithes all the time. This is the third level of faith.
In the 2nd level of faith, they sometimes commit the works of the flesh because they cannot fully practice the word of God yet, but in the third level of faith, they don’t have any kind of works of the flesh any more.
For example, they might have been easily getting angry with small things, but now they change into a gentle person who does not get angry even at big things. Also, those who used to speak foul language stop using foul language but only gentle words.
Then, what will their family members, friends, and people around him say? They will say, “That person has changed so much since he has accepted the Lord Jesus and begun to attend church.” This itself will become glory to God.
If our words and deeds change into the truth, this will shine the light on the people so that it will give glory to God.
Matthew 5:16 says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Our God is light, and the word of God is also light.
Therefore, those who cultivate in their heart this word of God who is the light, they become men of light to that extent, and those who practice the word of God will shine the light to the extent that they practice the word.
But even at the third level of faith, their struggle against sins are not finished yet, so they may sometimes lose the fullness of Spirit, and sometimes they cannot practice the word of God with joy. But at least, they don’t commit any works of the flesh that are sinful and against the word of God.
But actually, this is just the beginning of the third level of faith, and if you progress to attain 60% in the third level of faith, it is also different.
Because you have already and completely cultivated ‘Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances,’ you can give thanks and rejoice from the bottom of your heart even for the things that ordinary people can never give thanks.
It’s because you always receive the constant help of the Holy Spirit by praying continually, although you might not have cast off all sinful natures yet.
If you have this kind of faith, we say that you are on the ‘rock of faith’.
If you stand on the rock of faith, even though you have not become completely sanctified yet, you will set good examples to others.
Even if you have not reached the level of ‘rock of faith’ yet, once you reach the third level of faith, you don’t do anything that will bring down the name of God, and because you practice the word of God, you will give out the aroma of the Christ.
So, those who are in the third level of faith will be recognized by the people in the world, too, and they can also perform duties given in the Lord.
You can do some simple voluntary works as a new-believer also, but the God-given duties here refer to the duties of taking care of other souls.
For example, cell leaders or small group leaders and higher positions should be performed by those who are at the third level of faith, so that the members of the groups can follow their examples, and the leaders can lead the members properly.
It’s just as today’s passage 1 Peter 5:2-4 says, “shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
Everything that we do with faith on this earth will definitely be given as rewards in heaven, and especially, if we evangelize other souls, guide them to the way of salvation, and take care of them for their faith to grow up, then, we will receive great rewards.
Let’s think about it physically. To take care of little children, you must be at least somewhat older and much stronger than the younger children.
If you leave a little baby in the care of an elementary school student, you won’t feel very confident about it.
The baby-sitter has to be at least junior high or high school student, and if he/she is 20 years or older, you can be relieved though it may not be perfect.
If the babysitter herself is a mother who has experience of raising children, you can trust her.
Likewise, those who are at the 2nd level of faith, who are like elementary school kids, will have difficulties in taking care of the souls.
At least, those who are in the beginning of the third level of faith, who are like junior high or high school students, or those who are on the rock of faith, who are like young adults should take care of other souls to make it proper in God’s sight.
Likewise, if you take care of other souls well and lead them to get into better heavenly dwelling places, great will be your rewards for this.
You will receive your reward for taking care of other souls itself, and moreover, when the person whom you have guided gives glory to God, you will receive the reward for this as well.
If a person whom you have guided goes into New Jerusalem, the reward will be so great.
Therefore, I hope those who have the duty of taking care of other souls will be proud of the duty you have, and follow the pleasing will of God to take care of the souls during the remaining time of the year.
In the next session, I will tell you about the cases of people who go into the 2nd kingdom of heaven.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in this session, I talked to you about what kind of place the 2nd kingdom of heaven is, and the third level of faith to receive this dwelling place, and the rewards given there.
If you just reach the third level of faith, the purpose of your life will not be your own prosperity and honor.
It means you don’t live for yourself and your family members, for them to eat well and dwell in comfort on this earth.
Your only purpose in life will be ‘how to live by the word of God completely and become His true children.’ So, you will try to be good, truthful, honest, and faithful in all things, following the word of God.
When God the Father sees this kind of children who are living in the light, He will be so delighted and answer the desires of their hearts.
He keeps their health, and also gives them blessings in their business or workplaces.
So, the verse in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” will be realized in their daily lives.
Therefore, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will all completely practice the word of God who is light, so that God’s glory will be revealed greatly through you, and God can also give you back great glory and honor.