Spirit-Empowered Eternity: The Implications of the New Covenant on the Eternal State

All of the church’s service flows from the fountain of Spirit-empowered worship, adoration, and passion for the glory of the Triune God to be known by others in the face of Christ (Rom 12:1; Heb 13:15; Eph 5:18–20). Because this world’s service is given over to idolatry, the Father sent his Son to be the true worshipping king-priest who would bring in an eternal kingdom (Dan 2:44; 4:3, 34; 6:26–27; 7:14). Furthermore, just as the Holy Spirit empowers the Son to be a king-priest, he also empowers the saints to live forever as king-priests who worship the Triune God by serving the Father. As those united to Christ, the Spirit empowers New Covenant saints to be king-priests (1 Pet 2:9; Heb 10:19, 22; Rev 1:6), and as such, they share in the kingly reign of Jesus (Heb 2:5–8; Jas 2:5), since they have been raised with him in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6; cf. Rev 22:5). Moreover, God the Father, through the agency of his Son (John 14:2), and by the power of his Spirit (Rom 8:20–23) is the creator of the new heavens and new earth, and he makes it a place fit for his presence (Rev 21:3; cf. 7:14–17). There will no longer be the need for a temple, because the new creation becomes the temple (Rev 21:22), and there his children will see the Father’s face (Rev 22:4) and worship him with priestly service (Rev 22:3).

This paper will argue, then, that priesthood is the best imagery for understanding a Spirit-empowered eternity. This means that priestly service goes beyond the scope of this age and is part of the future inheritance, so that for all eternity the people of God will be with the Father and serve him (Rev 7:15–17). The Spirit is the “living water” (John 4:14; 7:38–39), “who gives life” (John 6:63), flowing from throne of God and of the Lamb (Rev 22:1). Just as the Spirit is the author and giver of life in the first creation, he too is the author and giver of eternal life in the new heavens and new earth. Therefore, Spirit-empowered eternity is service to the Triune God in a relationship where all three persons of the Godhead will manifest their love and life to the saints: “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water [the holy Spirit], and God [the Father] will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev 7:17). Thus, life in the new creation will be more like what we experience now in the New Covenant than unlike what we experience in the New Covenant.

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