Christ’s Challenge to the Churches

MEMORY SELECTION: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” —Revelation 3:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Revelation 1:4-6; 3:14-22

THE 21st verse of our text reads, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” This promise is held out to those who down through the Gospel Age have been endeavoring to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. The promise has nothing to do with church organizations but rather with specific individuals. The thought of “church” in our text refers to the called-out ones, individuals who have been called of God and have separated themselves from the world. The promise has its roots in the teachings of Jesus at his first advent and subsequently in the words of his inspired apostles.

Jesus said, in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” This text has many implications. What does it mean to come after Jesus? It means to endeavor to live the same kind of life that he led. The first step is to do what Jesus demonstrated at the river Jordan, that is, make a full and unreserved consecration to the Heavenly Father, as illustrated by his baptism. This means that from the moment of consecration we consider our own will as dead and that in its place we have accepted and determined to do only the will of God.

This change involves a complete renovation of our attitudes, aims, ambitions, and desires. This was implied by Jesus’ statement that a man must “deny himself.” The Diaglott translation gives the thought of “renouncing himself.” The Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:2, states, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

In Jesus’ day the cross was a symbol of suffering and death. So when Jesus said that his followers must take up their cross he meant that those endeavoring to walk in his steps must agree to suffer as he suffered and eventually surrender their human life even as he did, with the hope—based on the sure promise—of being resurrected to a position of glory, honor, and immortality in the kingdom.—Rom. 6:3-5

To do these things, and do them faithfully, is what Jesus meant in our text when he said, “To him that overcometh.” Our realization of the promise of a heavenly reward depends upon our faithful endeavor to carry out the terms of our consecration. We know, of course, that while we are in this body of flesh we will not be able to perform perfectly; but the Lord has made provision for this. Mercifully, he accepts the heart intention for the deed. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 7:24,25; 8:1, states: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” What the apostle is saying is that if we are endeavoring to carry out our consecration to the best of our ability the Lord looks at our real heart’s desire and not at the weakness of our flesh. The robe of Christ’s righteousness covers us and we are no longer under condemnation.

One of the promises that Jesus made to the faithful over-comers is recorded in Matthew 19:28,29: “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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