Friday, January 2, 2015

Brother and Companion:Eschatological Encouragement

Rev 1:9  I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

John in writing to the church of his day proclaims himself to be their brother and fellow participant in the tribulation, the kingdom, and the patient endurance of the saints. He also lets them know how that partnership came to be fact. He has been placed in exile on the isle of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus, i.e. the Gospel.
Now if the tribulation, the kingdom, and the call for patient endurance are only to be viewed as part of future events, then why would John make such a statement?
Let it be understood that this book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, was and is written, to a church that was and is enduring tribulation and persecution, indeed has been enduring from the very beginning.
The church had been in tribulation since before John wrote Revelation.  It was not written to foretell events 2000 years into the future, else it becomes meaningless to the 1st century saints to whom it was originally written. The entirety of the book was written as encouragement to a church that was in tribulation and being persecuted daily. The ultimate outcome being, Christ, who already has won the victory, will return in triumph to consummate all that He has fulfilled.

Rev 3:

10  Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

11  I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

Rev 6:

9  When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.

10  They cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?"

11  Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

Rev 7:

13  Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?"

14  I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the

great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Rev 13:7  Also it (the beast) was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation…….

Rev 13:10  If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Rev 14:
12  Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.

13  And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"

Acts 14:

21  When they had preached the gospel to that city (i.e. Derbe) and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,

22  strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

So, the scriptures are emphatically clear.
The saints are not going to be “raptured” out of any tribulation. If that were the case, all John would have needed to do to offer encouragement would be to assure the saints that the Lord is making a “semi-return” to whisk them away from their troubles while the world goes to hell.
The Lord is returning; not to bring the saints to heaven, but to bring that which is from heaven with Him to the new earth, “and so we shall always be with the Lord”.

Let scripture interpret scripture, and these glorious passages summarize much of the content of Revelation rather well:

John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."

2Thess 1:

4  Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.

5  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—

6  since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

7  and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels

8  in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

 1Thess 4:

16  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

17  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

18  Therefore encourage one another with these words. 

Sola Scriptura
Solus Christus
Soli Deo Gloria

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