On this episode of The Disciple-Making Parent Podcast, we have a thought-provoking conversation about the concept of heaven and its significance in our lives. We are joined by special guest Dr. Andy Davis, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Durham, North Carolina, and author of the book “The Glory Now Revealed.”
We discuss the transformative power of remembering and learning about God’s glory, the impact of rewards in shaping our eternal perspective, and the profound connection between our past experiences and the fullness of God’s redemptive story. Discover how this understanding can bring hope, joy, and a renewed sense of purpose to our daily lives. Don’t miss this enlightening and inspiring conversation.
Resources From This Podcast
The Glory Now Revealed, by Andrew M. Davis
The Gospel Coalition
An Infinite Journey: Growing Toward Christlikeness, by Andrew M. Davis
Revitalize: Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again, by Andrew M. Davis
Heaven, by Randy Alcorn
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
Topics Covered In This Week’s Podcast
03:10 Motivation to write about heaven
06:21 Dynamic vs static heaven
11:15 What we’ll remember in heaven
18:45 No fear of judgment in heaven
20:35 The Christian’s judgment in heaven
26:37 No shame in eternity
38:29 Rewards as encouragement for those who serve in obscurity
44:54 Communicating rewards to our children
50:09 Our focus as parents
Chap Bettis: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children. Heaven. I want to go there, just not today. Do you feel that way? If we’re really honest with ourselves, do we find the idea of heaven rather uninteresting? It doesn’t excite you like, say, a trip to the Caribbean would.
You know, in our churches, we talk very little about heaven. As a result, we can have a wrong view or just complete ignorance of heaven. Could it be that recovering this doctrine would enrich our own walks with Christ? And could it enrich your parenting or grandparenting? Well, I think this conversation is going to whet your appetite for even more knowledge. I recently had the privilege of hearing Dr. Andy Davis talk about heaven, and as a result, I was so encouraged and so challenged, I asked him to be on the podcast to talk about the subject. I asked him to come on the podcast to talk about his book, The Glory Now Revealed: What We’ll Discover About God in Heaven.
Well, Dr. Davis is the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Durham, North Carolina, and he’s the founder of Two Journeys Ministries. He holds a bachelor’s degree from MIT, a Master’s in Divinity from Gordon Conwell. and a PhD from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s also a council member of the Gospel Coalition. In addition to his preaching and teaching, he’s the author of several books, including An Infinite Journey: Growing Towards Christlikeness, and Revitalize: Biblical Keys to Helping Your Church Come Alive Again. Andy and his wife Christy have five children.
Well, before we start, though, I want to remind you that we have a second podcast, my audio blog. This is a short form podcast where I read my blog posts in audio format for your convenience. You can consume good content while on the go or doing chores. So, simply search and subscribe to The Disciple-Making Parent Audio Blog. That’s different than this podcast. It’s the Disciple-Making Parent Audio Blog. Or you can go to our website and find it there. In addition, we give away the audiobook of The Disciple-Making Parent Absolutely free. It’s been endorsed by Al Mohler and Tim Challies, and it’s the premier book on discipling your children. Simply visit thedisciplemakingparent.com/freeaudiobook. So there are two resources that can to equip you: our audio blog and our free audiobook. But for now, let’s think about heaven and the exciting things awaiting us.
Well, it’s a delight to have Dr. Andy Davis on The Disciple-Making Parent podcast.
Andy Davis: I’m delighted to be with you. I can’t wait to talk about what we’re going to talk about.
Chap: Yeah, and we’re going to talk about your newest book, The Glory Now Revealed: What We’ll Discover About God in Heaven. And I had the privilege of hearing you speak up here in New England and just thought the truths you had to share were paradigm-shifting. And I thought, man, we need to talk about this more. So let’s start out with what motivated you to write the book.
Andy: For many years, I’ve been thinking about the topic of heaven. I think fundamental to my calling as a pastor is to give people hope. Romans 15:13 talks about overflowing with hope. The Greek word there, elpizo, it gives a sense of a fountain springing out, and when you’re a Christian leader, hope should just flow from you. People should come to you and drink and get hope from you. More than anything, lost people who are without hope and without God in the world should find hope of eternal salvation because they’re hearing the gospel from you.
But even people who have been Christians for many years- You know, Jesus said in John 7, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” And then he said, “Whoever believes in me, as the scriptures said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” So when we’re connected to Christ become a source of hope to other people.
And what is hope but fundamentally a hope of heaven, of our time, our eternity with God in heaven? And then in the course of time, I came across the book by Randy Alcorn, Heaven, it’s called. And though I think there are certain aspects of the book that are speculative and I wouldn’t have gone that direction and my book on heaven is much more exegetical and theological, it was still paradigm shifting like you said. I love that expression. Speaking of a dynamic, not a static heaven, and that’s really what that book did for me. It’s like, heaven’s going to be dynamic, but how will it be dynamic? That’s what I started thinking about. And so the concept, for me, of a dynamic heaven in which we are developing and growing became pretty awesome.
And then the idea of growing in what way, reading Revelation 21 and 22, knowing that the New Jerusalem is illuminated with nothing but the glory of God, and trying to understand what that meant, the glory of God. I believe in a God-centered universe and a God-centered heaven. That God is at the center of everything. He is heaven to me. The triune God- Father, Son, and Spirit- that is what heaven is.
And then the signal concept, the new concept for me, was the insight that even in a glorified, a perfected state, we will never be omniscient. There’s always going to be more to life. And God is that infinite topic. And so therefore the idea of a heaven in which we are forever learning more about God became exciting to me, even electric. So that’s what the book’s about.
Chap: Well, and that’s so helpful. I want to go back: You mentioned hope. And when I heard you speak, you made this statement, I wrote it down: “Hope is feeling in our heart that the future is bright based on the promises of God.” And I just think more than ever, as we have conflict in the United States here, what you’re talking about is that we as Christians and Christian parents and pastors ought to be filled with hope, feeling in our heart, not just in our head, but in our heart that our future is bright based on the promises of God. So that’s really good. Well, let’s talk about that concept. And I think the dynamic versus static is really helpful because I think if we’re honest- I won’t put that on anybody else. I’ll put it on myself. If I’m honest. The great, great, great hymn, Amazing Grace, it talks about when we’ve been there 10,000 years, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise. Something about that feels static. It feels uninteresting.
And I hate to say that, that’s heretical for a pastor to say that. But I think what you have hit upon is there is that learning, there is that growing. You talk about how we’ll be learning and growing and thinking about the glory of God, the present glory of God, the future glory of God, and then we’ll get into understanding the past glory of God.
Andy: Absolutely. Yeah. So it’s very important. We use this term a lot: the glory of God. What is that? What is that? And trying to understand what that means. And so I would say a good definition of the glory of God is the radiant display of the perfections of God or the attributes of God. Theologians speak of attributes, others like the word perfections. There is no physical description of Almighty God. God cannot be reduced to any kind of physical representation. We’re forbidden in the Ten Commandments from trying: we cannot make any representation of God, of anything we see in the heavens above, the earth below, or the waters beneath, or any of that, because any representation would be an artistic rendition. It is the essence of idolatry.
Instead, what God has done is he’s given us words. A very good example of this is the incredibly intimate and powerful encounter that Moses had with God when he said, “Show me your glory.” And God caused some of his, he said, goodness to pass before him. Goodness is an attribute of God. But then he said, “The Lord, the Lord, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness,” et cetera. So that’s a listing of attributes. It’s a description of what God is like. God uses words to describe himself. He is patient. He is compassionate. He is powerful. He is just.
And so theologians have gone through the Bible and have called out a list of attributes or perfections and have done a good job in that. And then you can fill them in with scripture references to that. There are many verses about the love of God. Many verses about the mercy of God or the compassion of God. But the listing of attributes is pretty limited. Maybe as many as 30, probably not more than 35 attributes at most. I know this because I’ve looked through some really good systematic theologies and compared them.
So that’s the list, and they organize them in different ways, but those are the attributes. So here’s the idea. The idea is when we get to heaven, we will be able to see displayed in radiant beauty the perfections, the majesty of God. Now, many of these attributes cannot be known apart from God’s works. You can’t look at a bright cloud, like a glory cloud, and discern that God is just or merciful or wrath-filled toward wickedness or whatever. Those things are displayed in history. They’re displayed in God’s great and mighty works in history. And so that’s what turned me around kind of backward: when we get to heaven and say, some of what we’ll do in heaven is to study the great works of God throughout history. So that’s kind of how, little by little, I got into it.
Chap: So you’re saying that that part of the way we grow and learn is by learning about God’s glory and specifically, and I remember as I heard you talk, you talk about the Bible doesn’t reveal how we’ll learn about God’s future glory, but his present, but then especially the past as we’re thinking about how has God displayed His attributes, his perfection in history, and we’ll be studying those. So let’s talk about that a little bit. One of the mind paradigm-shifting ways you talked about is that we will not have a mind wipe. I think that was your terminology.
A good pastor or preacher I think helps you see blind spots you didn’t really even know you had. And so by saying that we’re actually going to remember things in heaven- we’re going to remember our life, and see other people’s life again, I had never really thought about it that way. So talk a little bit about that and then we’ll get into the implication that has for rewards and that type of thing.
Andy: Well, Chap, I would say I want to do good workmanship, good craftsmanship, like a finished carpenter who does crown molding. He’s just really good at the miter saw and puts and fits everything together. I think we are called on, as it says in 2 Timothy 2:15, to “study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” So let’s cut it straight. Let’s cut it accurately. Let’s get it right. So if I’m going to make an assertion about heaven, I want to be able to prove it from Scripture or from sound theology derived from Scripture, which I think is completely valid. It is the work of theology to say if A is true and if B is true, then A plus B are true as well. And we just put it together. That’s what we do with the doctrine of the Trinity. There’s no really one great Trinity verse. I think the Great Commission is the closest. Baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, but the doctrine of the Trinity fully orbed is put together by a series of other doctrines, mostly starting with the deity of Christ.
And so you put it together. So here’s my conception. I had to be able to prove that when we get to heaven, we will remember anything at all from the past. I mean, there are really, logically, three options. Either we’ll remember everything from the past, some things from the past, or nothing from the past. So the memory wipe would be that we remember nothing from the past. Our minds are cleared entirely. The problem with that is we are thereby stripped of our personality and stripped of our humanity. We really are. And also, history itself is stripped of meaning. What was the point of all of it? I mean, what was the point of going through 6,000 years of redemptive history if we don’t remember any of it when we get to heaven? It just doesn’t make much sense.
Some people, I think, practically would like a partial memory wipe because they don’t want to remember certain things. Let’s be honest, we don’t want to go back over stuff we’re ashamed of. But I believe that we will remember everything. But have no shame, no death, mourning, crying, or pain. It says in Revelation 21:4, there is no need for shame in heaven anymore. There’s nothing more to learn from sin, we’ll be done with sin forever. And therefore, I believe in a complete memory of the past, but without shame.
But remembering is only one of the two verbs. I would also use learning. Remember means it’s something you knew in life, and you continue to know in heaven. But learning is something you never knew in life. And I would say 99.9999% of what we will learn about God in heaven, we never knew. There were whole peoples and eras of history and whole things that we never were educated about. We never knew. We think about how many of our brothers and sisters in Christ live in poverty-stricken areas, have not had the advantage that you and I have had of, of education, maybe even illiterate. They live good lives serving Christ. And they go to heaven, and they didn’t know hardly anything about church history. They didn’t know hardly anything about missions or whatever. They just knew the gospel. They knew Christ. So, the fact is, we are going to be learning a lot of things we never knew in heaven.
The question is, can I prove that from scripture? And I think I can. I think it’s actually not all that hard to prove from Scripture, all right? So that’s the workmanship I was seeking to do in my book was, can I establish from Scripture that when we are in heaven, we will remember the past or know the past? And I think absolutely. I have like 12 or 14 biblical proofs. Simply, Jesus’ assertion, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away,” is a simple, clear proof. That in heaven we’ll know things that came from this present evil age, alright? Because Jesus’ words are intimately wrapped up with sin: like saying to Peter, “This very night before the rooster crows twice, you will disown me three times.” That will never pass away. That’s part of the eternal record.
But for me, I would say one of the clearest proofs is the doctrine of rewards, and that’s something you and I have talked about as we were discussing this podcast, and I’d love to talk more about it. So I know that your desire as you’re speaking to pastors and parents is to raise up the next generation of Christians, and that the themes that I’m giving about heaven really ties in very much to how we live our daily lives. And the idea of rewards is probably the clearest proof that our works on earth will be remembered for all eternity. Because what are rewards but specific commendations and crowns and other aspects of our heavenly joy that are tied to what we did here on earth? The clearest example of this is in Matthew chapter 5. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before them.” Now if you get a reward for being slandered or reviled or persecuted or even martyred, it must be tied in heaven to what happened, or it’s meaningless.
Chap: Yeah. I found that in your talk and in your book, so persuasive. So it’s like a medal of honor recipient who receives the medal of honor can’t remember why he’s getting that medal.
Andy: We know that a soldier that got a congressional medal of honor risked his life. It’s amazing that you’re even talking to the man, I mean, how he survived that. One time in that battle is amazing, but the ribbon and the metal that the medal is made out of, it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point. The words on it, like for valor, that’s not it. What matters is the narrative. What matters is the story of what the person did. That’s what you want to know. And so it is with our brothers and sisters in heaven. We will want to know what they did. And this is so exciting chap, when we think about it, we are going to be so one with each other. We will not lose our individuality, but we will absolutely care what our brothers and sisters did in service to Christ and will delight in their honors, honors and rewards as if they were our own, even though they’re not, which is pretty cool.
Chap: Yeah, I love that idea that we will obey the second command perfectly. And so we will fully rejoice in their reward, and feel no envy or no jealousy. So yeah, I love that. And the other thing I remember you saying that just stuck with me was the fact that- just as you mentioned, Peter, but even our own lives- so much of our own godliness or someone like my spouse’s godliness is in reaction to my sin. So, how can you tell her story of godliness without understanding the sin in the world? We’re in the world that we’re experiencing. So that’s very, very helpful.
Andy: No fear. Let me say that one thing. Just first, first John says perfect love drives out fear. There is no fear in love, you know, perfect love dries out fear, because fear has to do with judgment. And, and here’s the thing, when we get to the new heaven and new earth, the new Jerusalem, judgment day will be behind us. We won’t need to fear any judgment. We’ll have no fear in the matter at all. We will want the full story to be told, because God was glorified in transforming us out of it. You think about an addict that kicks the habit, for example. His story has to be told fully so that God gets the glory for the transformation that happened in his life.
And then that same thing happens with a veteran Christian, somebody who’s been a Christian for many years, but struggled with anger, let’s say, or procrastination or harshness to his wife or something like that. And then little by little was able to put that sin to death and become kinder, more loving, more patient. God gets the glory for that. And so all of that story is going to be told.
Chap: Well, another helpful concept that you spelled out is this idea of a painful or a searing or a clear judgment day, that even Christians who are under the blood of Christ will stand. And as 1 Corinthians 3 says, some things will be burned up. So can you unpack that a little bit? Because I think sometimes as Christians, we have this idea, like, I’m just going to skate through the judgment day, and yet something in me knows that my sin, I should fight that and I’m going to give an account to that. So walk us through this idea of a judgment day for the Christian. And then when we get on the other side of that, we’re going to talk about rewards and how they should motivate us.
Andy: Absolutely. So, I think it’s vital for me as a pastor, as a clear preacher of the Word, to make invisible spiritual realities vivid to my hearers, vivid to my people, and Judgment Day is one of them. We can’t see it. But we need to understand that it is coming, and there are many passages of scripture that talk about this. Romans 14:12, “We must all stand before God’s judgment seat.” But the strongest statement on this, and what I would call a difficult judgment day, comes from 2 Corinthians 5, which says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.”
Now, the phrase, “or bad” is what leads to a difficult Judgment Day. To have to talk to Jesus about the bad things that we did is very uncomfortable. And some people think it’s inconsistent with their understanding of certain verses like Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.“ But I believe that’s a misuse of the word condemnation. I believe condemnation has to do with being consigned to hell. It’s to be condemned to hell by a righteous judge for our sins, such as Matthew 25, “Depart from me you who are cursed and to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” For those who are in Christ Jesus, we will never hear those words spoken about us. Never. And that’s infinitely valuable, that there is no condemnation.
But knowing that there’s no condemnation doesn’t mean there’s no accountability. There is, in fact, accountability. And if we look at many of the stewardship parables, or any of the parables, for example, the five talents, the two talents, and the one talent, or the ten minas. Or some of these other stewardship type parables, a recurring theme is an absentee landowner or master or king who later wants to settle accounts with his steward servants. It’s repeated. It’s regular. It’s not just one parable like this. There’s many. And the idea is, I gave you these things. What did you do with them? Tell me what you did with them. It’s accountability. And what are we accountable for? I think we’re accountable for everything. Everything that God ever gave to us. As Paul says in one place, “What do you have that you did not receive?”
So everything that was ever given to us, and I’m not saying this in any disrespectful way, but I think it’s true, is given to us with a string attached. And the string is attached back to the giver. It’s back to God. And so he gives you this advantage, this blessing, this privilege, and he wants to know what you did with it. He has the right to ask. And so we will give him an account on Judgment Day for every careless word spoken, for everything that we ever did. We’ll give him an account. The beauty of the gospel is we will not be condemned for any of our sins, but that doesn’t mean we won’t experience Jesus’s disapproval or his disappointment with our sins. It says we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them.
But Chap, how many did we actually walk in? Dude, do you think we batted a thousand? Are we going to be able to say what Jesus said to the Father? I have brought you glory on earth by completing hundred percent all of the works you gave me to do. He’s the only one that will ever be able to say that. Now the beauty of the gospel is his perfect record is entrusted to me as my righteousness and yours too. By imputation, by faith in Christ, I am seen to be righteous positionally, but judgment day is not about that. A judgment day for me, for the Christian, is let’s talk about the works. Let’s talk about what you actually did.
And that’s 1 Corinthians 3, as you acknowledge. You got the gold, silver, costly stones, you got the wood, hay, and straw. And it’s just going to be tested. It’s going to be tested. And even the gold and the silver and the stones have to be purified. Nothing we do is pure. But it’s going to be purified. But the wood, hay, and straw? It’s going to get burned up. And so, and it says right in that passage, we will suffer loss. There is a sense of loss, a sense of that was a missed opportunity. Like you could imagine alternate reality, God saying, I want you to know I set up that witnessing opportunity for you on that airplane that one time and you were self-focused. And you missed it. I want you to know who that person was that was sitting next to you and what would have happened if you had been faithful. I mean, imagine having that conversation. So anyway, that’s what I mean by difficult judgment day, but here’s the point. It ends, it ends. And at the end of that evaluation of our lives, he will wipe every tear from our eyes and we will never, ever grieve again, ever for all eternity.
Chap: And that’s pretty encouraging. Keep teasing that out because we’re, we’re sort of taking at this point where we’re moving from the, the judgment day and things we regret. We’re going to talk just a little bit about when we were faithful, but tease that out into eternity. So you’re saying no more shame. So even if we remember those things, even if in heaven where those things are talked about, tease that out sort of for the rest of eternity.
Andy: Absolutely no shame. And why is that? Here’s the thing. Because he who began a good work in us will at that point have perfected it. And there is a decisive severing or break between me and my sin that happened at justification when I was born again so that I’m able with Paul in Romans 7 to say, it is no longer I who does it- sins- but it is sin living in me that does it. In other words, that’s Paul’s way of saying, yeah, I did it. I said something mean. I was unkind to John Mark. Barnabas tried to tell me, look, he’s fine. He’s good. Give him another chance. But I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t listen. I was too prideful. I was too focused on my views and missions. I should have listened to my good brother Barnabas when he’s just the kind of man that puts an arm around somebody and says, Hey, give him another chance. But I didn’t listen. All right.
But what Paul says in Romans 7 is “As it is, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” That’s an amazing denial there. I don’t do it, but it’s sin living in me that does it. Well, whatever that break is between me and my sin is consummated and perfected in heaven. I will be able to say that is true, that that is who I was, but it is not true that it is who I am. And therefore, I have no fear in the story being told of the man I was. Because I want that story told for the glory of God. I want it to be seen that the things He did through me were done through an imperfect, sinful, flawed person that somehow God used for His glory and to Him alone be the glory. So, I think that’s what I mean by there’s no fear in heaven.
I will have no problem with that story being told. Now, beyond that, it’s just a simple fact. Jesus said there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. There are no secrets. Not on judgment day and not for all eternity. So that’s why Paul says, I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man. I try to not do anything that would violate my conscience. I think it leads to a holy life. It leads to a pure life. It leads to a righteous and upright life in light of eternity. We live well, and then we also can store up treasure in heaven and that’s rewards.
Chap: Yeah. Let’s talk about that. But before we do, I appreciate you understanding and saying, yeah, we will give an account for every word. There are so many passages. I was just looking them up, probably 10 or 12 in the New Testament, like that passage in Matthew, that is aimed at the believer and says, you and I will face that judgment. And so rightly, this doctrine puts the fear of God in us and it should to say, okay, this is the blood of Christ covers my sins, but yet this sin, I want to please my Savior. But also concealed sin will come out.
So let’s talk about rewards and how they should motivate us. And what is a reward? I feel like for Christians, this doctrine is lost, and I would love to recover it again. I think it goes with recovering a doctrine of heaven. I am doing these things to be rewarded and scripture’s just full of all the different things that will be rewarded by the Lord. So, what are rewards? What will we What will we be rewarded for?
Andy: Well, I’ve thought a lot about this doctrine. You’re right, it is underdeveloped. And people are squeamish. I taught on all of these things on heaven at UNC Charlotte at my son’s ministry- he’s got a campus ministry there- this past Thursday evening, a young woman came up and asked a very thoughtful question: “How is it not selfish for me to be living for rewards all the time?” and I openly say you should live for rewards, you should think about it all the time, you should every day say, Boy, today, I want what I do to be maximally rewardable. I say, Well, it’s a very good question, but I think the tendency is that we have a materialistic or almost a godless view of the rewards, like it’s some trinket or bauble or pile of gold or something like that. No, it’s absolutely centered on God. It’s a God-centered thing, just like heaven itself. And so fundamentally, the rewards are God expressing pleasure and honor to one of his servants for what was done. God express expressing that he was pleased with it, saying that it brought him pleasure. And then, in some way, honoring the servant for that deed. That’s what the reward is. And then, to say, I want as much of that as possible.
The way I explained it to this young woman, I said, “Look, fundamentally, it comes down to this. It is God expressing pleasure for a work done according to his word, that he delighted in. He is a good father who tells his children, Well done, good and faithful servant. You’ve been faithful with a few things. I’ll put you in charge of many things. And then he says, Enter into the joy of your master. And what that means is not just come to heaven now, but I think even with the well done, he’s saying, I want to draw you in relationally into how I felt when you did that good work. I want to share with you how much it pleased me.
Now, here’s the thing. The Bible makes it plain, Ephesians makes it plain, we should live a life pleasing to the Lord. “We instructed you how to live in order to please the Lord,” he says in another epistle. We should find out what pleases the Lord. Pleasing, pleasing, pleasing to the Lord. All right. So for me to say, and I said this to this young woman, “Do you think it’s a good goal that I would have when I wake up in the morning to say to God, I want everything I do today to please you?” She said, “Absolutely.” I said, “Secondly, do you think it’s okay for me to say, I also would like you to express your pleasure to me?” She said, “Yeah, that makes sense. I’d like you to tell me that you were pleased with me.” “And how about that for all eternity?” She said, “That sounds really good.” I said, “Then you should live for awards. You should live for it every day.”
Now, the best chapter on this by far is Matthew chapter 6, verses 1- 21. We’ll commend that section of Scripture. And there, Jesus is very clear, and His goal is He wants to protect His disciples from losing their rewards. And the way they would lose their rewards is by seeking horizontal approval from other people in this world for the good things they did. Doing their good works on display as a show, like the Pharisees did, saying, Look at me. Look at the good thing I did. Jesus says, If you do that, you have received your award in full. Now you got it. You’re not going to get anything in heaven. But if you go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father who is unseen, or if you don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing when you give to the poor and needy, your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Now there are secret good works, that’s different than the secret sins. Secret good works are things that we did privately just for the glory of God and for the benefit of others. God doesn’t miss anything. He sees it all, and He will, Jesus said, reward you. Then He sums it all up in Matthew 6:19-21. He says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy. And where thieves do not break it in steel, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
If you put all that together, he’s saying you should become richer and richer and richer in heavenly rewards every day, and you should think about it. Because where your treasure is, that’s where your heart will be. And given that it all is God expressing His pleasure to you, I am pleased with what you did. That’s what the rewards are all about.
Now, Chap, I, I’ve summed it up in three C’s. I would commend the, the three C’s for rewards. And they are crowns, commendations, and capacity. All right, crowns are emblems of honor. We know what crowns look like, and the 24 elders have crowns that they’re always casting down before the throne. So the casting of their crowns is their way of saying, These crowns that I have are subservient to your crown. And I got them because you were gracious to me. That’s the crown. But there are crowns. The New Testament speaks often of crowns. Paul says, the Philippians, the church he planted, What is my hope, my joy, and the crown in which I will glory? It is you. You are my crown. All right.
So there’s crowns. So that’s emblems of honor. Again, we go to the book of Esther, where it was asked, what should be done for the man whom the king delights to honor? He said, Well, you should put one of the king’s robes on him and let him wear, let him ride a horse, you know, all this. I remember telling that to my kids, because I taught these things to my kids when they were growing up. It’s like, Dad, I don’t want somebody to walk me around on a horseback and in the city square saying this is what’s done for the servant whom the king delights to honor. But anyway, back then in the Persian empire, that would have been a big deal. So it’s honor. It’s a crown’s emblem.
Secondly, It is commendation, as we’ve already noted, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” It is God praising you. Heaven will be filled with us praising God, as well it should be. But it is also God praising us, such as “Well done,” or 1 Corinthians 4 says at that time each will receive his praise from God, praise from God. Or again, John 12:26, “My father will honor the one who serves me.” So, the honoring that God does. Also, Jesus said that the Pharisees sought praise from men and did not seek the praise that comes from the only God. So we should seek praise from God.
Third is capacity. Hardest to understand, but this has to do with the fact that God is an infinite being. None of us will ever completely comprehend him. But capacity is the ability we will have in heaven to take God into ourselves and to delight in him. I got this from Luke 6, where he says, “Give, and it will be given to you, a full measure, pressed down, poured into your lap, for the measure you use is the measure you will receive.” Also in Luke 14, you’ll be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. And so the idea is, the measure or the size, the capacity of your generosity, is the size that you will get in reward. And given that, as we’ve been saying, heaven is about God and about the glory of God, then I conceive of it of an infinite ocean of the greatness of God and his glory and submerged. Vessels of different diameters, all right? So a bucket, a vat, a super tanker, all of them submerged in the Pacific Ocean, all of them 100 percent full, but they have different capacities. So God always has more to show, but imagine having an increased capacity for the glory of God in heaven.
That’s what’s at stake in how we live our lives here on earth.
Chap: Wow. That’s great. And you haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the material in just the chapter on the rewards. That’s just really helpful. Let’s apply that, as you did, to pastors in obscurity, moms in obscurity, dads in obscurity. I’m really burdened for this because I think as church leaders, I have had the age, I would say, of obscurity before social media and before internet and Facebook and how many Twitter followers do you have. And so those can be things that can be seen as, Well, you have an important life. People think you’re important. They follow you on Instagram. You’re a mommy influencer. So let’s talk about the, just the value and how those who live an obscure life, which most of us do, should be motivated by rewards. Pleasing the Lord.
Andy: Yeah. Let me say this one thing. I hope this is okay. I’m going to put in a plug for my web ministry because all of my sermons, all of my things are available for free. It’s on twojourneys.org. And you can hear a sermon I preached recently, as I’m preaching through the gospel of Mark. And at the end of Mark 12, there’s the account of the poor widow that put in two copper coins and Jesus said that she put in more than anyone else, right? So here’s an obscure woman, we don’t even know her name. If Jesus hadn’t commented on what she did, she would have come and gone that day and no one would have noticed or cared. But Jesus did see, he sat down opposite the treasury where the gifts were being put in and watched what was going on.
So that’s a picture of Judgment Day. He is seated on a throne of judgment, evaluating our giving practices.And here’s this woman and he says, she put in more than anyone else. So that led me to talk about obscure servants of God who Jesus notices and who will surprise everyone on Judgment Day and in heaven as having been more maximally honored than we could ever have known. So the concept of obscurity then is well established in 1 Chronicles 1:10, the genealogies, 90% of the people in there we don’t know anything about.And yet they made it into the Bible, so we know their names. God delights in obscure people.
So let me go right to what you said in your compassion and care for pastors who labor in obscurity and mothers, let’s talk about mothers for a minute. Here’s this woman, the widow who put in the two copper coins.And she, as a woman, represents a whole category of people that are underreported in the history books. History books are dominated by the movers and shakers, the movement leaders, the theologians, the kings, the generals, and they have an important story to tell. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a lot of people that never make it into the books and many of them are women, and their stories are not recorded.
So I believe categorically: the most significant category of person in redemptive history is a Christian mother. I don’t think anyone has had as great an impact over the last two millennia, more than pastors, missionaries, evangelists, theologians, political leaders, scientists, any category you give. Who has done the most for the kingdom of God, it’s got to be Christian mothers who taught their children their mother tongue and spoke the gospel into their hearts from infancy, like Lois and Eunice in 2 Timothy 1. His grandmother Lois, mother Eunice, they shaped Timothy’s soul. When we find out in heaven, all the elect chosen before the foundation of the world who crossed over from death to life, how many of them was their mother a significant factor in that? Not the only one, maybe, but a significant factor. I would say well over 50%, probably more like three quarters. So there you go. There’s a bunch of servants of God who will be rewarded for all eternity for what they did in shaping history. So that’s what I mean. I think obscure heroes, people that we never knew about, people who labor in obscurity and do great things, we’ll find it out in heaven.
Chap: Well, I really, really appreciate that. You know, every time you go to the Google search and it’s highlighting someone who’s done something famous and you will never see Christian mother up there. But exactly to your point that these are the grandmothers, mothers who have influenced the ones that perhaps we celebrate or more well-known. That’s certainly true in my life.
Andy: Let me say one more thing about that real quick. And that is when people were bringing little children to Jesus for him to pray for them and bless them, the disciples rebuked that. And Jesus said famously, let the little children come to me. But here’s the thing. He was indignant with his disciples. Indignant with them. Why? Because of their attitude. What was wrong with their attitude? They thought children aren’t important. Jesus is too busy. He’s too busy a man for children. Now, why would they say that? It has to do with the nature of childhood. Children are disorderly. They’re messy. They’re self-focused. They’re hard to get through a day. I have five kids and four grandkids. I frequently babysit, all right? So you got like a three-year-old and a one-year-old, and you’re going to be going from station to station to station doing toys for about a minute and a half to three minutes. And then you look at the place, the house is trashed. It’s absolutely trashed. And as a Christian mom, that’s your day. And you’re going through that day after day after day, right? And it’s like, is there any worth or value of this? It’s unspeakably valuable, but it is disheartening. It can be disheartening, because it seems so pedantic. It seems so unimportant, but Jesus fiercely defended the importance of bringing children to him. And the mothers do that more than anyone else.
Chap: I appreciate that encouragement. That’s really good. Let’s just finish up with a couple of questions. Any ways that you can think of to communicate this to our children as we try and live out pleasing the Lord and living for eternal, eternal rewards to honor Him? Any ways that you would think about communicating this to a younger child or a teenager? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Andy: Absolutely. Well, I think first let’s start with scripture. Let’s give them a good solid foundation in the doctrine of heaven. So reading Revelation 21 and 22 frequently, helping them to visualize, to see the new heaven and new earth, what that means. The new Jerusalem and its radiant display of the glory of God. And then just going back to that again and again, so that those words are extremely familiar to them, they know what that’s about. And they’re reading about that consistently. And then talking about, obviously, the gospel. It’s the power of God to get you there, to deliver you safely to an eternity in the presence of God. And then the older they get and the more sound your theology is, you’re able to speak in more and more adult terms about what that’s like. But from infancy, from childhood, talk to them much about heaven.
Let me tell you a very moving story from my own parenting. I have five kids. My fourth is a son, Calvin. And I mentioned him earlier in this podcast, he’s doing a fruitful ministry now at UNC Charlotte. He just graduated from there the last spring and now he’s working with a good church doing campus ministry. Anyway, he was a little boy and he was crying out in anguish in the middle of the night, 2 or 3 in the morning. My wife and I hurried in to his bedside, and he wasn’t awake. But he was having a terrible nightmare, and his face was covered with tears, his pillow was wet with tears. And then I woke him up, and he grabbed hold of me and held on, and I came to find out that he had dreamed that I had died. And he was having a nightmare about me, his dad, dying. I was able to comfort him, to talk to him, but then, because he was so alert at this point and awake and troubled, and my wife and I both prayed for him, then my wife went back to bed and I kept sitting there talking to him. And I said, “Calvin, I can’t tell you when I’m going to die, I can’t make you promises that I can’t keep, that’s not up to me when I die, that’s in God’s hands. So I can’t promise you that I’ll always be with you, I’ll see you grow up, I don’t know. I want to, and I know that God is good. But here’s the thing, if I should die, I want you to remember three things. Number one, I will be perfectly happy where I am. Perfectly happy because I will be with Jesus and I will be delighted to be in his presence. So number one, think about that. Number two, number two, you’re going to have a very hard time, but God will be faithful and get you through that. He will help you. And number three, We’ll see each other again.”
So I think those are three important things to teach kids about death. That death is a doorway for the Christian, a doorway into the presence of God. And yes, if we lose a loved one, a mother, a father, a friend, we do have a hard time. That’s reality. We do grieve, but we don’t grieve like those who have no hope. And what is that hope? It’s a hope of heaven. And our relationships will continue in heaven. They’re just beginning here on earth. So I think those are some ways that we can saturate our kids with this doctrine of heaven.
Chap: I appreciate that. And you know, as you were talking, I was thinking of another quotation you referenced from C. S. Lewis, where he says, “I haven’t longed for heaven.” And then he said, this is my paraphrase, “But you know, after thinking about it, I have longed for nothing else.” And so I think about perhaps apologetically with teenagers who see the brokenness of the world and perhaps are attracted to philosophies, that promised utopia saying, that longing is good. That’s a God-given longing. You’re right. Seeing the brokenness and yet man, man cannot bring that in.
Andy: You know, C. S. Lewis probably gives me the best visual picture of what my studies on heaven were like. And that’s in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. So the wardrobe’s a closet and it becomes a portal into another world. And so for me, that’s what it was like. I don’t know who it was that pushed Lucy further and further deep in the closet and felt coats and then suddenly she felt branches and she’s in a snowy world, she’s in Narnia now. She’s passed through. Well, that’s what it was like for me. When I was pondering heaven based on scripture, scripture was the portal, the doorway into a world that isn’t here yet. And Lewis does a good job of making it real. He’s like everything you’ve ever longed for in this world has its perfection in heaven.
Chap: That’s good. Well, you have five children, and let me just ask you, just as a closing question here. The purpose of this ministry is to help parents and grandparents pass the gospel to their kids. What would you say you tried to focus on? And I know that’s a broad open question. You haven’t read The Disciple-Making Parent, and so hopefully you’ll reinforce some of the things I say. The five children now are adults. If you were just talking really quickly to somebody at the back of the church, what would you say?
Andy: Jesus Christ, Christ is the gospel. He is the good news. He’s he is the Savior, his blood shed on the cross is the atonement and the only atonement for sins. He is the shepherd that goes and seeks for us. He is the image of the invisible God. He is the radiance of God’s glory. He is not the father, but he is the perfect display of the father’s perfection to us. So that I would say the most important thing a Christian parent can do is to give Christ to the children. Read the stories, read the gospels, the miracles, the healings, parables, read the story again and again in the life of Christ, and then say, it’s Christmas time now, so say This is why Jesus came. He came as savior to save us. He is heaven. He is what we get. He is the glory of God.
I mean, you think about one statement, Colossians 2:3, I think it is- “In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” That’s mind-blowing. Anything that can be known, Christ knows, and it’s in him in some sense. So I think from infancy, they know the scriptures that teach Christ. Christ is the center of the Bible. Christ is what Spurgeon calls the great metropolis of scripture. It’s everything, all roads lead to Jesus.
Another answer I would give to your question is, as they are able and as they get older, get them into memorization of Scripture. It’s a big part of my ministry. All the Scripture I’ve quoted in this podcast has been from memory. I don’t have anything in front of me. Anything I’ve quoted has come from Scripture memory. And it was in memorizing that I meditated on these verses and thought deeper thoughts about them and asked questions about the verses and just kept going.
And so, kids have amazing minds, and they are much better at memorizing than adults are. They are really amazing at it. And so, my son Calvin that I mentioned, memorized five or six books of the Bible before he graduated from high school, including the book of Romans, the whole book of Romans. And so I would say get your kids from an early age into memorizing individual verses and then little by little into extended portions of scripture, maybe even whole books. So those are the two things. But the most important thing is Christ-centered parenting. Center everything you do on the person of Christ.
Chap: That’s great. I really, really appreciate your insights. So the book we’ve been talking about is The Glory Now Revealed by Andrew Davis, published by Baker Books. And your website is twojourneys.org, where we can find more resources. Andy, thank you for taking the time and Lord bless your ministry.
Andy: Amen. Thank you, Chap, for inviting me. It’s been a delight to meet you and to see your heart for parents and kids.