Without question the great joy of immortality is to see God. Not just to see God but the perfect pleasure of unity with Yahweh Himself. All around us we see men and women striving; striving for riches, striving to improve the quality of their short fragile lives, striving to win the approval of the fickle and fallible. To what end? They will not remember the pride of achievement, they cannot savour the pleasures of wealth or summon the memory of sweet friendship. For where all men go, there is no love, no hatred, no envy, but the very memory of them is forgotten. There is one thing better than life itself, to experience the lovingkindness of Yahweh, as David declared. Life, even eternal life, would be empty and desolate without that relationship.

Our relationship to God is the purpose of our existence. It is inconceivable to imagine living forever without Him. In effect David is saying in Psalm 63:1–3 that nothing else in life matters outside of His love.

To Behold the Beauty of Yahweh

Yahweh is the most desirable and interesting of all. It is not that He simply is good to men. He actually defines all that is good, all that is beautiful, all that is strong, all that is lovely. “Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary”, writes the psalmist (96:6). His is the majesty of a starry spiral, sweeping across an endless sky. His is the irresistible strength of the towering wave that carries all before it, lifting great ships like matchsticks. The equally irresistible beauty of the fragrant rose is His. To we fickle mortals He is overpoweringly fascinating, not least because of His inscrutability. Yahweh is a God that hides Himself (Isa 45:15), and challenges us to seek Him out, or more precisely, to try and know His mind. His presence is evident everywhere, yet He is elusive and unobtrusive. “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, Yahweh, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding” (Isa 40:28). He is often subtle and restrained in expressing His feelings; yet there is none more sensitive and intense. The Scriptures reveals Him to be exceedingly jealous of the love of His children.

He is holy and cannot look upon sin. He is gracious and beneficent. He has given His own son to win our devotion. He has borne the ultimate pain a Father can to persuade us to accept His plan of reconciliation and rescue us from our own failings.

The inconceivable wealth of a Universe is at His disposal and He has proposed to use it in the interests of those whom He loves. We go about our daily lives almost totally unconscious of the thought that Yahweh is constantly giving to our development as His future immortal companions. “Many, O Yahweh my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered” (Psa 40:5).

He is wise and cannot tolerate fools. Although infinitely intelligent and utterly self-sufficient yet God delights in stimulating the intellect of His children, even inviting them into His counsel, to share things the angels themselves desire to look into. “The secret of Yahweh is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant” (Psa 25:14). The Hebrew word translated counsel means a session; a company of persons in close deliberation, intimacy or consultation. To enter this kind of understanding with the Creator of the universe is elation not possible for a man to utter. Our Lord has already known that joy anticipated in the Psalm, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore” (16:11).

What a privilege to be identified with such Immeasurable Power! What transcending joy and peace will be ours, to be within the embrace of such constant love and share the intimate counsel of the Eternal Spirit. How His infinite intelligence will constantly engage and challenge our highest faculties, and His endlessly varied interests capture our imagination. How His beauty will hold our constant admiration and the wisdom of His ways command our adoration! (Psa 27:4; 90:17).

Boredom in Immortality?

The never-ending possibilities of life with God means there is never a likelihood of boredom in living forever. Yahweh has furnished this present life with an almost unlimited variety of interests; even the vast tapestry of life on this planet has not yet been fully discovered, much less understood. Brilliant men as great as Solomon, DaVinci and Newton never came near exhausting the possibilities for discovery and creativity this present life provides. In this present world the work of God is of three kinds. He, or His elohim, Create, Form and Make. He is said to have created, formed and made the earth (Isa 45:18), Man (Gen 1 and 2) and Israel (Isa 43:7). Man is said by Scripture to form and make things, but God alone creates the elements which man merely manipulates. Doubtless the future elohim, the mighty or powerful ones of the age to come, will also have the opportunity to create as the angels have. This will provide challenges and scope for exercise of abilities that we have barely begun to exploit. This is but the beginning of creativity. For unto the angels hath God not put into subjection the world to come, but the saints. Above and beyond creation of the physical world, the development of the characters of men and women belongs to the saints. This will involve real engagement in mortal people’s lives, visibly and invisibly—a vicarious pleasure which the world today aspires to, but can only play at in so-called ‘reality’ shows and virtual identity websites.

Freewill Retained

In the execution of this work, Yahweh’s immortal agents exercise their own judgment and discretionary powers as much as is consistent with His grand plan. This is clear from the discussion between Abraham and the angel representing Yahweh concerning the fate of Sodom in Genesis 18. It would make no sense for the reward of immortality to signal the surrender of freewill. The joy for Yahweh is that His people have always cooperated with Him of their freewill even at the cost of their own comfort and convenience.

No sin—why?

Have you ever wondered why immortal angels and saints do not sin?

The answers are suggested in scripture and are quite logical.

First, physically or more strictly physiologically, angels do not sin because the impulse to sin has gone. The sole prompting to sin arises because of our enslavement to imperative propensities—our lusts, drives and needs. In immortality we are completely free of these persistent needs. “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Rev 7:15–17).

Because the saints do not have to eat, have to drink, and have to attend to their own comfort, have to satisfy their own lust for approbation and a thousand other obsessions, they are free from the imperative forces that urge mortals to sin. At the same time we can say with certainty that immortal angels do eat and do drink and enjoy it, but they are utterly impervious to what the Scriptures call the deceitful lusts that war against the soul. Thus in the children of the resurrection, a complete reversal of the human condition is accomplished and the Divine instruction to “have dominion” is finally attained. Nothing is done at the prompting of the propensities, therefore they cannot be tempted. The propensities are totally governed by the intellect and the intellect by the nobler sentiments, foremost of which is a love of Yahweh.

The second reason immortals do not sin is because they do not want to. They don’t want to because of the overwhelming sense of gratitude they feel. This gratitude is an important outcome of the experience of standing before the judgment seat of Christ.

The most powerful sensation one is aware of in contemplating the judgment, as men like Daniel did, is that of utter unworthiness. Some have gone so far as to say that we will ‘loathe ourselves’. What overwhelming relief and gratitude will sweep over us if, by the grace of God, we receive an answer of peace in that day! That memory of undeserved grace will never leave the saints but will render them the utterly untiring devotees of a loving and merciful Father. They will be ever praising Him. The praise of Yahweh is eternal; therefore those who praise Him must live forever. “The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” (Psa 111:10).

The third reason the immort-alised saints do not sin is their complete harmony with the mind of God. This is something Christ enjoyed from the first, but which we can only aspire to. In immortality this will become a reality. This harmony is represented as being sealed in the forehead—the sign of one who has tried to develop the mind of the Father.

“Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” We have this sealing now, but it is only complete in the Kingdom. “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” (Rev 14:1–5).

The saints are free from guile and without sin because the Father’s Name—that is, His identity and character —are stamped in their foreheads or minds.

The fourth reason the immortal saints do not sin is simply because they have found complete satisfaction in God. Ecclesiastes attributes the constant frustration of this present existence to our unrelenting thirst for satisfaction or fulfilment. “All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (Eccl 1:8,15). However for the immortal saints, as with Christ himself, this is banished with our glorification. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness” (Psa 17:15).

Sorrow but no despair

Like their heavenly Father the immortals can feel sorrow but not despair.

We know that Yahweh is said to sorrow over the fall of His children, the indifference of ungodly men and the ingratitude of His people. However although Yahweh sorrows He never despairs. Yahweh’s angel shared the afflictions of His people in the wilderness, “in all their affliction He was afflicted and the angel of His presence saved them.” Whilst angels and saints can feel distress for the weakness of others, and as the elohim observed in Eden, they know what it is to have experienced good and evil, they are free from the feelings of anxiety and fear presently associated with those experiences. Never again will tears fill their eyes, anguish or pain darken their brow. The saints will meet their work with an equanimity and self-possession born of the knowledge that for them nothing is beyond retrieval, nothing is hopeless, nothing is ruin, but Yahweh will always be true and His goodness never fail.

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:3–4).

Angels are not rocks however. They are fully capable of compassion and sympathy, patience and understanding. The angel that awoke Daniel from the deep sleep he experienced in Daniel 10, greeted him, “O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee”. This reminds us that angels are capable of love and affection not only for each other, but even their frail mortal fellow servants. This warm relationship may seem unusual and remarkable but perhaps it is more common than we realise.

Personality Retained

Yahweh has determined that those whom He calls, justifies and glorifies must be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. These are declared to be the sons of God because they are led by the Spirit of God (Rom 8:28–30; 9:11).

It is the image of God’s character as revealed in Christ, stamped upon them, which is the distinguishing family trait. Whilst the saints then will be the same in character, since all conform to Christ, their personalities will still vary. Personality is an inherited attribute, whereas character can be shaped by external factors. That is not to say that all personality traits are all good. However, since the expression of personality is controlled by character, eccentricities can be brought into check by the character acquired from Yahweh. Personality traits such as energy, intensity, persistence and persuasiveness can be harnessed and employed by the character in either good or bad directions. The possession of the character of Christ will ensure that these traits will always be guided in a positive direction. In this way in the Kingdom a diversity in unity will be achieved. Personality distinguishes the individual, while character unites the Divine Family. This only enhances the glory of the Kingdom and enriches the communion of immortal beings with one another, the different personalities bringing colour and interest to their encounters.

Brother Roberts wrote,

“‘They that turn many to righteousness” shall specially shine in the Kingdom (Dan 12:3). What this involves as regards the actual arrangements of the Kingdom is hinted at in the clustered gems that bedeck the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem. Those who bring men and women to the truth and help to keep them there, may find that these will be given to them in the Kingdom in a special way, while they themselves will belong to those above them, to whose instrumentality they may owe their own standing in the One Body. All will reign: all will exercise authority, but in various positions and relations and in different degrees of glory and honour. The lowest will not envy the highest, but will find themselves exactly suited to the places assigned them; and the highest will not exercise their power with arrogance, but will exhibit the pure and loving condescension of the highest of them all, who humbled himself even unto death. There will be no schism in the body of Christ. It will be an absolute unity, like the human body to which it is compared, yet exhibiting the diversity of organization and function which is the highest glory of that wonderful work of God.

The twelve foundations had not only each a different name, but each was of a different material. Whether there will prove to be any exactness of correspondence between the nature of these precious stones and the apostles they represent, we cannot know beforehand; but it must be manifest that one thing is distinctly signified by this classification, and that is that diversity of excellence will characterize the spirit state. The saints will not be all to one pattern. They will be all of a sort in one way. They will all be precious stones: but each with a preciousness of his own which gains by comparison with the preciousness of his neighbour. We see the principle faintly at work now. Brethren, resembling each other closely in their love of God and their affection for all spiritual things, and their fruitfulness in every good word and work, may yet differ entirely in their intellectual and moral characteristics. The difference, so far from being a defect, is an excellence, giving zest to their interaction and their love one for another. We shall see this law in perfection in the supernal state to which the truth in its obedience will finally introduce men and women who please God through Christ” (R Roberts, Thirteen Lectures, p185–6).