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 Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 15) (The Overcomers Part 1)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 15) (The Overcomers Part 1)   Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 15) (The Overcomers Part 1) EmptyTue Nov 11, 2014 9:57 pm

Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 15) (The Overcomers Part 1)

We are at the first mention of the overcomer. I would like to group these and talk about them all at once. There is an immediate application for each of the overcomer statements. Overcome what? Overcome the sins (or suffering) just mentioned for that particular church. For the Ephesus church we are studying, the reference is: to he or she who overcomes the things that compete in your heart for Jesus to remain your first love; and to the one who overcomes by obeying Jesus’ commands, which reveals you love Him. And since each church represents a particular prophetic age in time, then the overcomer statement to each church also means: to he or she who overcomes whatever the prevalent sin that the church of the day is collectively struggling with and guilty of. The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia do not get any rebuke from Jesus. The church of Smyrna, as we will see, was a persecuted church. The church at large, during this period (AD 100 – AD 300) was severely persecuted. Their overcoming statement is simply: “He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” The overcomer rewards are for all Christians in every church age—there is no restriction for the period to receive whatever overcomer reward that He offers to any particular church.

All of the overcomer statements pertain to the afterlife. The most important point is that these are not promises to all Christians. These are promises to all Christian overcomers! These are the rewards for the overcoming Christian. It is possible to be a Christian and to miss these rewards in the afterlife. Many Christian readers believe they are entitled to these promises just because they are saved. That is not what the text says. But such Christians who believe that reason that Jesus made them overcomers by default. They say Jesus overcame for them. But “To him who overcomes” is not a label, rather a verbal phrase as a command or imperative. We must do something to become an overcomer. To be saved, one needs only to believe that Jesus is Lord and died to pay for your sin and resurrected from the dead to raise you to new life in righteousness. There is nothing to do to be saved except to believe that Jesus paid it all. But to become an overcomer, you have to actually do something. To have access to each of these promises requires arduous effort on behalf of the Christian. A Christian who just lives life unto him or herself is not an overcomer and will not be rewarded these promises.

Revelation 2:7 gives us our first overcomer statement from Jesus, which says, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.” We are told the location that this tree resides at: in the paradise of God. This is the same Tree of Life Adam and Eve had access to in the Garden of Eden. God moves it to this place called Paradise in the future Kingdom of Heaven. God never commanded Adam and Eve to not eat from the Tree of Life. His command was for them to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Had they left the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil alone, and eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have been locked into a righteous obedient state like the good angels and there would have been no need for the cross. The whole spiritual battle would have been over before it began. But once they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God did them a big favor by kicking them out of the Garden of Eden. Because had they eaten from the Tree of Life after having eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve would have been locked into their rebellious, sinful state like the bad angels, and with no hope for spiritual renewal, damned to eternal darkness. So God kicks Adam and Eve out the garden and then posts an angel with a flaming sword at the gate of the garden to keep them out until He removes the garden from planet Earth. He couldn’t remove the garden from the planet Earth until He first kicked them out or they would have went with it.

We see this same tree later show up again in the Kingdom of Heaven on the New Earth. Revelation 22:2 says, “On each side of the river stood the Tree of Life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Most Christian readers believe that they are entitled to this tree simply because they are a Christian, and because this tree is located in the Kingdom of Heaven. But its location is exactly why not all Christians will be able to eat from this tree. Not all Christians will have access to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is a reward for Christians who live out godly lives without flagrant rebellion. It is for overcomers only. It is for those who take up their crosses (refers to death and suffering for Jesus) and follow Jesus. It is for those who do not hold to idols (anything that comes before Jesus Christ (money, self, etc.)). We must die to self to be an overcomer.

Revelation 22:14-15 follows:
“Blessed are those who wash their robes that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

Notice that the gates of the Kingdom city will always be open (with an angel posted at each gate as we will learn later on). Anyone can step outside the city and come back in, but not just anyone can step into the city from the outside. Concerning the Kingdom city itself, Revelation 21:27 reads, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” If your name is not in the book of life, you will not be able to enter the Kingdom city because your residence will be in Hell. If your name is in the book of life, but you continued to do what is shameful or deceitful, you will still not be able to enter the Kingdom city, but you will still be saved. Outside the Kingdom city gates is not Hell. (We will learn where Hell is in a later series.) Outside the Kingdom city gates is where the saved disobedient are, including those who converted to Christianity during the Tribulation and Millennium periods. There will be an angel guard posted at each of the 12 gates of the city to make sure that no one who is disqualified enters it.

So to eat from the Tree of Life is a reward for the disciplined Christian. Access to even enter the Kingdom in which the Tree of Life sits is a reward for the disciplined Christian. Heaven extends beyond the gates of the Kingdom. All who believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are saved forever and will live forever at least in Heaven. The eternal “Heaven” is the New Earth. They are saved from the lake of fire. But it takes more than just faith to be able to enter the Kingdom City: that is, the New Jerusalem, a precise location on the New Earth. Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” It is not for the rich in spirit. We have to do more than simply believe in the finished work of Christ to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And in Matthew 5:10 Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” It takes righteous acts to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. In the bible, whenever works is tied to having or not having access to Heaven, it never says just “Heaven.” It always, consistently, says “Kingdom of Heaven” whenever it speaks of works as being the condition for access or lack of. Whenever the bible speaks of just having access to “Heaven” and leaving off the word “Kingdom” it always, consistently, refers to salvation without works, just faith alone. So Matthew 5:3 does not read, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is Heaven.” Becoming poor in spirit is not a requirement for Heaven—only faith in the finished work of Jesus is the only requirement for Heaven.

To refrain from sin is a work. To walk righteously is a work. Works are not required for Heaven, but are required for access to the Kingdom. Galatians 5:19-21 reads as follows:

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

It is always consistent. Note that it does not say that you will not inherit “Heaven.” It says that you will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. If you live like this verse says, you will still go to Heaven and escape Hell so long as you believe in Christ because the gift of salvation through grace is not predicated at all on what one does but rather on what He did for us on the Cross. If a Christian does live like this passage, there is a lot of judgement that he or she will receive from God, but it does not include withdrawing our salvation. A person who lives like this passage will not be in fellowship with God. To not be in His fellowship means that one is no longer under His protection or close presence. When God’s close presence is removed from a person such a Christian will be susceptible to life’s disasters and tribulations and everything will go wrong for the person because God is angry with them and they are under His judgement. To lose fellowship with God is to lose His favor. The other thing that happens is that such a Christian loses his or her eternal reward including having access to the Kingdom of Heaven and to the Tree of Life. One loses his or her eternal crowns as well. Let’s take a closer look at this list. A similar list can also be found in Ephesians 5:5 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. In fact, to have a more complete list, I’ll quote the latter here:

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

So by examining these verses we see that gays will not have access to the Kingdom city. I believe that gays can be saved—in fact, I know that gays can be saved because the requirement is to only believe in Jesus. But by no means will they have access to the Kingdom of Heaven. They will just be able to roam the New Earth. By faith we are saved not by works; not by becoming better; not by putting off our sin. Reader, please don’t feel too content just because you might not be a homosexual offender. There is a lot more on this list depicting others who will be barred from the Kingdom of Heaven. Examining this list even closer we see things that all of us are guilty of in some form or fashion. The key is that this is not your bend. This is not your norm. This does not describe who you are. It is just a rare occurrence for you. Note that “fits of rage” is on the list. Are you an irascible person? People who frequently have fits of rage think only of themselves. It is not surprising therefore that greed is on the list. Do you push others aside so that you can fill your plate first? Are you selfish? All about yourself and your career and paychecks? Not about helping others? No care or concern for those less blessed than you are? Are you prone to drunkenness? Are you often jealous of the material things that others have? Your mind should be set on building up spiritual rewards in Heaven that will last forever by doing good works here on Earth, not setting your heart on material things here. Are you a thief? Do you have the company’s pens and pencils at your house? Do you cheat on your taxes? Do you cheat God on His tithe? Do you have idols? Idols include loving self and money above the Lord. Which comes first in your life? Have you murdered? Do you hate anyone? Jesus said wishing someone were dead is the same as murdering them. Are you a slanderer and talk about people, defame others and put them down? Are you sexually impure? Do you live with your boyfriend or girlfriend as if you are married? Do you look at porn magazines and the like? If any of these is your bend, then you and I need to repent, tell God that you cannot overcome this in your own strength and ask Him to provide you with Jesus’ strength so that you can put away that sin forever. Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. And pray that we be granted access to enter His Kingdom, the Holy City of Jerusalem because that is an eternal pass that you will regret not having if you don’t.

We will talk more about this Tree of Life later when we come to it again in Revelation 22.
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Revelation Chapter 2 (Part 15) (The Overcomers Part 1)
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