Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Revelation Chapter Two, Part 9 of 9

2:25-26 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations
Verse 25 refers to a believer’s fruit-bearing; the works done in the Spirit as testimony and evidence toward men that we are Christ’s. Donald Barnhouse pointed out three signs of true discipleship:

#1: We are to abide in the word of God, John 8:31. We are to literally dwell in it, live it; not just a head knowledge that garners mental assent, but a heart-change that affects the course of our life. We are to abide in Jesus Christ’s doctrine.

#2: Christians are to demonstrate love for one another that is self-sacrificing, John 13:34-35. Our love for our fellow believers should stem from our relationship with God; brethren are brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether they hold all the same doctrines, creeds, or eschatology, if they are saved in like manner and truly a child of God, we are called upon to love them.

#3: Christians should bear fruit, John 15:8. Fruit bearing demonstrates maturity; we are walking with the Lord and allowing His Holy Spirit to empty us out and to fill us with Himself. You will note that the apostles on the day of Pentecost received the indwelling Spirit, yet numerous times thereafter they were “filled with the Spirit.” One may possess the Holy Spirit of God by virtue of the new birth and NEVER be filled with Him. Our creature reliance on God alone should remind us that true fruit bearing is this: not a demonstration of our ability to serve God, but Jesus Christ’s reflection shining through us as the Holy Spirit makes fruit to abound in our lives. Since the power and the fruit are of God, He receives the glory, and we bear fruit for eternal life. In other words, such steadfast yielding to the Holy Spirit in our walk brings reward. Jesus cautions that Christians should hold fast what we have received; indicating that backsliding and apostasy will cause a forfeiture of prior rewards.

Paul writes: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway,” 1st Corinthians 9:24-27. Paul’s inspired usage of the words “prize” and “crown” should immediately alert an astute believer that he is not presently referring to eternal life, but to rewards at Christ’s judgment seat, and acknowledging the simple fact that even he could forfeit his reward by becoming a castaway. “Castaway” in the Greek is “adokimos” and can be translated, “failing the test.” Clearly then, Paul is not speaking about one’s salvation, which is a free gift in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:15); he was talking about rewards or suffering loss when he came before Jesus at the judgment seat.

Verse 26 is interesting. Many here may reject my interpretation, and I offer it not as dogma, but as something to consider. Follow me back through chapter two, and read the three previous “overcomer” statements. You may find them in verse 7, 11, and 17. None speak about keeping works, only that one overcome by faith in Jesus Christ; in fact it is the blood of Christ that overcomes, and if we are ransomed by the blood we are overcomers, Revelation 12:11. Access to the tree of life, exemption from the second death, a new name (symbolizing our new nature in Christ; 2nd Corinthians 5:17), and the hidden manna all belong to him who overcomes. But here we find an incentive linked with overcoming: rulership. During the Millennium, when the church age is ended and the saints dwell in glorified spiritual bodies, some of the saints shall reign with Jesus Christ on David’s throne, ruling over the nations with Him. Why do I say some? The wording of the text suggests it. This promise to the overcomer is linked with a second condition: he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end.

It is my opinion as I understand Scripture that not every saint in the thousand years shall reign with Jesus Christ during this period of time. If you have not lived in submission to God’s Spirit that lives within you but instead lived to gratify the lusts or works of the flesh, you will not reign with your Lord during the thousand years when the Jews again inhabit Israel. This contingency, like the Old Testament blessings of the Law, relies on our diligence in holding fast the word of God by utter subservience to the Spirit of God. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts,” Zechariah 4:6. We have been freed from the law of sin and death to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, not to indulge our wanton lusts and seek our own good. Christians who do so shall be deprived of this great honor and privilege when Jesus returns for His thousand year reign; quite possibly just one of the things we shall suffer loss of at the judgment seat. Take heed, brethren, lest we fall.

Jesus’ rule as the Son of David from His ancestor’s throne is marked with strife, Psalm 2:8; 1st Corinthians 15:24-25; Revelation 2:27. This is not the eternal kingdom Daniel and the other prophets foresaw, the one that would have no end, usher in perfect peace, and be a paradise where sin and death no longer haunt. Christ shall rule with a rod of iron in this day, and His faithful saints shall also be blessed and honored with this heavenly prerogative.

2:28 And I will give him the morning star.
Here we have a succinct reminder to hold fast and keep Christ’s works until the end. Believers shall receive the morning star. What is this morning star? Peter says thus: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed , which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,” 2nd Peter 1:19.

Peter’s address here appeals to the fact that he had been with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, and had seen the glory and majesty of Jesus Christ; he knew beyond doubt that he (and everyone who believed by hearing) did not follow cunningly devised fables. His time spent with his Lord, and his confidence in the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit regarding Scripture, compelled him to give such a testimony. The prophetic word of His future coming is assured, and it will happen as surely as day follows night. He cautions us to heed the written word of God as a light that shines in a dark place. That light is the Bible; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path,” Psalm 119:105. The Bible is a lamp; but without the agency and teaching of the indwelling Holy Spirit, it is a lamp that will not give light to the mind blinded by Satan and this present evil world. The darkness in which that light shines forth is this world, which loves darkness and is completely blinded by it.

The light of the word of God is to be brought forth by His chosen vessels: us. We are lamps in which the Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is hidden; and our duty is to so shine this life-giving light into an unregenerate world that men may see it and glorify God, and come to Him to receive this light. To us who already believe Peter informs us that the Bible is the only light God has given; this is the book through which the Holy Spirit will shine and enlighten our minds with the knowledge and will of God, and then so enable us to be conformed to His revealed will. But we must want this conformity; we must be willing to yield to God’s Spirit.

Peter also tells us that a time is coming when the day will dawn and the morning star shall rise in our hearts. For believers over the course of the last 2,000 years the Bible has been their light and lamp until death claimed them and through that doorway the dawn broke, and the morning star eternally rose for them. They had received the victory. For us it will be death or Rapture; and for the earth it will see renewed light when the Son of Man returns in glory to set up His throne and reign in righteousness. The veiled light of the believer and the Bible will someday give way to the resplendent beauty of the glory and light of God in the person of Jesus Christ, John 1:9; Revelation 22:16. Scripture clearly tells us that in the new creation God and the Lamb are the light of this universe; there is no need for a sun or moon, Revelation 21:23.

What is the morning star? It is ultimately Jesus Himself. He is the light by which we walk as Christians, and through us He remains the light of the world, the only light that can lead men to the Father to receive eternal life and reconciliation with God. We shall, in due time, have our Lord in person, and enjoy our fellowship throughout the endless ages of eternity.

Thyatira was suffering from a deadly spiritual war, and Jesus was calling on His people to hold fast, keep His works despite the contrivances of the enemy, and look toward the consummation. What was the plotting of Jezebel and the deep things of Satan compared to the limitless wonders God has planned for those that love Him? I will leave you to provide an answer.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you again Ian for allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you and your blog. I was sort of down in the dumps this evening, but after visiting here and meditating on God's Word, the spirit has lifted me up. It is amazing that when I read your posts how much I agree with what you have to say. God bless you. Lloyd

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  2. Just as we do not make apples, but must let the apple tree produce them, we cannot make spiritual fruit. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Too often works are confused with fruit.

    Great job.

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  3. I just noticed as I was reading 2nd Timothy 2:12 how these verses in Revelation so easily and completely remove any confusion potentially engendered. This verse (among others like it) are used to preach the need to persevere to be saved or stay saved, when it says nothing of the like: it only says that we'll reign with Him.
    Thank you for your comments, and for the fellowship. I'm greatly honored that you gentlemen find my writing at all edifying.

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