“And his servants will worship him!” Reflections on our Eternal Enjoyment of God
In Revelation 22 an angel reveals to John, and John in turn reveals to us, numerous blessings that we will experience in the new heaven and new earth. One of them is found in v. 3b – “and his servants will worship him.”
Before we unpack this marvelous truth, let’s skip down to vv. 8-9 and take note of a warning from this angel concerning worship. To all of us who are tempted to worship and love and cherish anything but God, the angel declares: “You must not do that!”
“You must not do that!” (v. 9). You are tempted to worship sex. Don’t do that! You are tempted to worship success. Don’t do that! You, like John, are tempted to worship angels. Don’t do that! You are tempted to worship money and possessions. Don’t do that! You are tempted to worship some athletic hero or Hollywood star. Don’t do that! You are tempted to worship yourself. Don’t do that! You are tempted to worship peace and comfort and the security of life in the western world. Don’t do that! You are tempted to worship the earth or the sky or the oceans. Don’t do that! Worship God!
So what can we know about our worship of God in the new earth? Worship in the new heaven and new earth will be endlessly fresh. It will never grow old or boring, because God is infinitely appealing and infinitely fascinating. Think with me briefly about the infinity of God. When we say that God is infinite we mean that there is no end to what is true of him. He suffers from no boundaries. He has no limitations. He is endlessly and eternally glorious. He never runs out of characteristics or features or fascinating facts about his personality and power. When you and I worship on a Sunday, many of you struggle to endure for 30 minutes. You sing a few songs and focus on a handful of truths about God, and then you’re done. You’re ready to move on to something else. Not in the new earth! Every moment of every day we will discover new and exciting things about God. Every moment of our life throughout eternity some fresh and previously unknown thing about God will captivate us and overwhelm us.
Let me give you just one example of what I mean. Consider what Paul says in Ephesians 2:7. God made us alive together with Christ and raised us up with him “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
Making us alive in Christ and setting us free from the guilt and bondage of spiritual death was only the penultimate purpose of God. The ultimate motivation in God’s heart for saving lost souls was so that we might become, throughout all eternity, trophies on display for all to see the magnificence and the surpassing riches of God’s grace in kindness in Christ!
Paul’s language is carefully chosen. He employs the plural “ages” to accentuate the stunning reality that redeemed sinners will bear ceaseless witness to the mercy of God, both now and hereafter. Like waves incessantly crashing on the shore, one upon another, so the ages of eternity future will, in endless succession, echo the celebration of sinners saved by grace, all to the glory of God. There will not be in heaven a one-time momentary display of God’s goodness, but an everlasting, ever-increasing infusion and impartation of divine kindness that intensifies with every passing moment.
To emphasize both the extravagance and inexhaustible plenitude of God’s display of grace, Paul makes four points.
First, God is going to put on a continuing and perpetual public display of his “grace” toward us! Heaven is not one grand, momentary flash of excitement followed by an eternity of boredom. Heaven is not going to be an endless series of earthly re-runs! There will be a new episode of divine grace every day! A new revelation every moment of some heretofore unseen aspect of the unfathomable complexity of divine compassion. A new and fresh disclosure of an implication or consequence of God’s mercy, every day. A novel and stunning explanation of the meaning of what God has done for us, without end.
Second, it isn’t merely his grace, but the “wealth” or “riches” of his grace. God isn’t simply gracious: his grace is deep, wide, high, wealthy, plentiful, abounding, infinitely replenishing.
Third, as if mere grace weren’t enough, Paul refers to the “immeasurable” or “surpassing” riches of his grace! His grace cannot be quantified. His mercy exceeds calculation.
Finally, one particular aspect of God’s grace is going to be uniquely highlighted and experienced: his kindness! There is a deeply passionate and emotional dynamic in God’s gracious affection for us that entails tenderness and gentleness and longsuffering and joy and heartfelt compassion.
Will there ever be an end to this grace? Does it suffer from entropy? Will it ultimately evaporate? Is there a specified quantity to God’s kindness that will slowly diminish and someday run dry? The point of Paul’s effusive language is to emphasize that the grace of God in Christ is endlessly infinite, endlessly complex, endlessly deep, endlessly new, endlessly fresh, endlessly profound. God is infinite. Therefore, so too are his attributes. Throughout the ages to come, forever and ever, we will be the recipients each instant of an ever increasing and more stunning, more fascinating, and thus inescapably more enjoyable display of God’s grace than before.
With that unending and ever-increasing display will come an unending and ever-increasing discovery on our part of more of the depths and greatness of God’s grace. We will learn and grasp and comprehend more of the height and depth and width and breadth of his saving love. We will see ever new and always fresh displays and manifestations of his kindness. The knowledge we gain when we enter heaven will forever grow and deepen and expand and intensify and multiply.
We will constantly be more amazed with God, more in love with God, and thus ever more relishing his presence and our relationship with him. Our experience of God will never reach it consummation. We will never finally arrive, as if upon reaching a mountain peak we discover there is nothing beyond. Our experience of God will never become stale. It will deepen and develop, intensify and amplify, unfold and increase, broaden and balloon. Our relishing and rejoicing in God will sharpen and spread and extend and progress and mature and flower and blossom and widen and stretch and swell and snowball and inflate and lengthen and augment and advance and proliferate and accumulate and accelerate and multiply and heighten and reach a crescendo that will even then be only the beginning of an eternity of new and fresh insights into the majesty of who God is!
There never will come a time in heaven when we will know all that can be known or see or feel or experience or enjoy all that can be enjoyed. We will never plumb the depths of gratification in God nor reach its end. Our satisfaction and delight and joy in him are subject to incessant increase. When it comes to heavenly euphoria, words such as termination and cessation and expiration and finality are utterly inappropriate and inapplicable.
If our ideas and thoughts of God increase in heaven, then so also must the joy and delight and fascination which those ideas and thoughts generate. We enter heaven with a finite number of ideas about God, with obvious limits on what we know of him. There is no indication that everything that can be known of God will be known all at once and forever. How could a finite being ever know all there is to know of an infinite being?
With increased knowledge comes intensified love. As understanding grows, so too does affection and fascination. With each new insight comes more joy, which serves only to stoke the fires of celebration around the throne. All of this accelerates our growth in holiness. When the soul is filled with ever-increasing depths of knowledge, love, joy, and worship, the more it is conformed to the image of Christ. In other words, the more we like God the more like God we become!
New ideas, new revelation, new insights, new applications, together with new connections between one idea and another all lead to deeper appreciation for God and thus fuel the flames of worship. And just when you think you’re going to explode if you learn anything more or hear anything fresh or see anything new, God expands your heart and stretches your mind and broadens your emotions and extends every faculty to take in yet more and more and more, and so it goes forever and ever.