With Jesus Christ ruling as King over all the earth, we, as co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17), will be regarded as princes ruling under Him. He will give His true followers positions of rulership in His Kingdom, where, it is specifically stated, "we shall reign on the earth."
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Basic Doctrines: The Reward of the Saved
Consider how much the lust for power is a major motivating force in this world. It can be seen operating in families, in workplaces, in churches, and in commerce—and possibly, it is most visible in politics. We can see in all of these instances that people are doing what they can to obtain power, often by any means available, fair or foul. They are just following the influence (I John 5:19) of the one who first lusted for power: “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:13-14).
While the world is struggling to get power, God promises to give it to us as a byproduct of enduring to the end. In this life, the only power we have to strive for is power over ourselves. In the next, God will provide the rest.
Those who seek power in this world miss the fact that our life is but for a moment. Even if they do receive the power they seek, it lasts only for an instant in comparison. Consider how long our power will last if we endure to the end: “The LORD knows the days of the upright, and their inheritance shall be forever” (Psalm 37:18).
The vision Scripture provides is so all-encompassing that not one of us can truly comprehend its breadth. After all, this vision is actually God's own vision. Our minds are limited in what we can see, as Paul points out in I Corinthians 2:9: “But as it is written: eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
But with that said, God gives us the means, His Spirit (I Corinthians 2:10), to follow the example of our predecessors so that we, like them, will see a vision that ensures our enduring to the end. Part of that vision involves identifying the things we hate about this evil world around us and then finding the scriptures that illumine the vision of how God will—together with us using the power He will give us—create a new world devoid of these evils.
Each of us is unique, and what part of that vision will motivate us will likewise be unique. So, before our burdens and afflictions begin to weigh us down, we can choose to prepare now (Matthew 25:1-13) and take the time to identify the evils we hate. With that, we can begin building a vision from Scripture that, through meditation and prayer, allows God to use His Spirit to make that vision as real as the present to the effect that, in comparison, we will be able to say along with Christ and Paul, “My burden is light” and my “light affliction . . . is but for a moment.”
We can see what most concerns Christ—what is most important to Him—at the end, when the pressures will be more intense than they have ever been in the history of man, when Satan is lining up all of his forces, all of his armies, all of his weaponry. The Devil will mount a persecution against God's people to such an extent that the whole earth will be thrown into convulsions, the likes of which this world has never seen!
Christ, like any good leader who sees what is coming, will take steps to prepare His people. He will focus their attention on what is most important to survive and grow during that period. This is why He talks about what He does to the churches in the messages in Revelation 2 and 3.
The word translated as "overcomes" can just as easily and correctly be—and is perhaps better—translated "conquers." We are involved in a war against Satan and his demons, against a world he designed and built through men, and against ourselves, who carry with us the self-centered nature, habits, and attitudes of Satan and his system. Thus, Christ's concern for us as we approach the end is whether we are carrying through in the warfare, continuing in well doing, and enduring to the end, because Satan is bringing about every pressure to make us surrender.
Loyalty is not a quality that we Americans and Canadians are endowed with to any great degree. Our cultures tend to stress individuality—doing our own thing. This lack of loyalty in America and Canada perhaps shows more clearly in divorce and infidelity than anywhere else. Loyalty's synonym is "faithful." It means "faithful in allegiance to one's lawful sovereign; to be faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due; or faithful to a cause." It means to be steadfast in affection, to adhere to the performance of duty, to be conscientious, to give firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray. Can we see what the works are Christ is so concerned about?
This is why every message says, "I know your works!" (Revelation 2:2, 9, 13, 19; 3:1, 8, 15). He does not say, "I know your profession" or "I know your desires." Neither does He say, "I know your sincerity" or "I know your wishes." He says, "I know your works"! Why? Because works prove what a person is doing with his knowledge, time, and energies.
Titus 1:16 says, "They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified." Notice that they "profess" to know God. Christ says, "I see what you are doing. I know your works." Why are works so important? They prove where our heart is! They prove our loyalty! They prove whether we are conscientious and faithful. They prove whether there is fidelity to Jesus Christ—whether we are steadfast in our affection for the One we are going to marry.
Many believe that we do not have to qualify for the Kingdom of God. It is true that works cannot justify us; they cannot wipe out our sins. However, it does not follow that, because they cannot save us, they are of no importance. Recall that James uses Abraham, the father of the faithful—the father of the loyal, the conscientious—as the illustration that faith without works is dead! Living faith works! Jesus says, "I know your works"!
Revelation 2 and 3 are an examination of our works because Christ wants to see whether we believe Him! Living faith exhibits itself in works! It is a test of our faith. If we are faithful, we will be working: overcoming Satan, the world, and our self-centeredness. That is what works accomplish.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 2-3 and Works
Having been commended for their deeds, love, service, faith, and patience, those who reject Satan will be fine if they hold fast the doctrines and character they have shown. Christ lays on them no further burden beyond holding fast. He does, however, give the same admonishment to them that He gives to all the churches: Overcome and keep Christ's works to the end (Ephesians 4:13). No matter what our spiritual state is, we all must continue to grow in the stature and fullness of Christ throughout our walk to God's Kingdom (I John 2:24).
The Seven Churches: Thyatira
The church at Thyatira is guilty of fornication. Spiritually fornication is one of God's terms for being "mixed up with the world." Fornication is something that one should never do, let alone when one is supposed to be in a relationship with another. Fornication represents idolatry'faithlessness to a relationship.
John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)
Consider that this is Christ's message to His church just before the end, and this is what is most important for His people as we approach the end. Doctrine is mentioned seven times. Is that interesting in light of the times in which we live? We are seeing a major part of the church going haywire on doctrine! Is there something in the letter to Thyatira that mentions things that are happening in that group?
The letters contain at least eleven warnings to these seven churches but also at least twelve promises. Christ mentions faith, patience, conduct, and doctrine. But the two greatest, related concerns for His church at the end are works (Revelation 2:2,9,13,19; 3:1,8, 15) and overcoming (Revelation 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21).
Today, an awful lot of people are interested in church government at this time. It is not even mentioned by Christ! There are people who are interested in rituals, sacraments, and ceremonies, of which would be things like baptism or the Passover. But nothing in the seven letters alludes to these things. Nor is there anything in them about preaching the gospel around the world. These things have their place, but what we see is Christ's concern with doctrine, conduct, warnings to repent, and promises of reward.
Now these things that are not mentioned are less important than faith, repentance, and holiness, all of which directly impact on doctrine, conduct, and receiving the promises. All of these are bracketed between His statements about works and overcoming.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 2-3 and Works