Puritan Gems

Monday, December 11, 2006

Revelation: The Conquering Christ and the Overcoming Church

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’" (Matthew 28:18-20)

“When, in God's estimation, the world reaches the point of global rejection of Christ, then, as with Israel before her global deportation, God will recall His ambassador-the church-before the judgment of the tribulation.” (Tim LeHaye – Prophecy Q&A)

Will the church fail in the task that Christ has given her to do? Tim LeHaye seems to think so. His view emanates through the minds of the modern church. The world is a “sinking ship”, and the Christians only hope is to get “raptured” out of the mess. This is the clear difference between Premillennialism and Biblical Postmillennialism, which teaches that the Great Commission will be a success, not a failure, in this church age.

Having established the Date of Revelation as being prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, as well as holding to consistency in respect to the time frame references and original audience, it becomes much easier to establish this consistent theme. During the New Testament time period, the Church was being persecuted by “false Jews”, i.e. those who claimed to be heirs of God’s kingdom based on their physical lineage to Abraham. This is clear through a number of Scriptures. (For just a handful of examples, see Acts 5:18-18; Acts 6:8-7:60; Acts 9:22-23; Acts 12:1-3; Acts 13:50; Acts 14:2; Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:2-3; Rev. 2:9).

However, when John wrote what was, in essence, his version of the Olivet Discourse, a newer and greater persecution of the Church was taking place. The Great Fire of 64 AD had destroyed much of Rome. Most historians believe that the Emperor Nero, who deplored the ugliness of Rome, set the fire himself to enable him to rebuild it as he saw fit. Nero, needing a scapegoat, blamed it on those who practiced a “new sect of Judaism” called Christians. It was the first, and the worst, Imperial persecution of the church, a “great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” (Matthew 24:21). In fact, John himself was exiled to the island of Patmos as a partaker in the tribulation (Revelation 1:9).

Neither Jesus nor John promised their listeners anything resembling a “pre-trib” rapture. In fact, Jesus warned his disciples that “they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake.” (Matthew 24:9). St. John Apocalypse gave similar warnings, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10). The message of Revelation, to the Church, was not one of escape, but one of endurance, overcoming, and conquering.

“The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)

“To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17)

“Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,” (Revelation 2:25-26).

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)

“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. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Revelation 3:10-12)

“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

“And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelation 6:2)

“They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)

It was this attitude that moved the Puritans to build the London and Scottish Missionary Societies. It was this belief that enabled believers to conquer darkness in pagan worlds, preaching the gospel and smashing idols, sometimes at the cost of their own lives. Contrast this with the modern day Dispensational theology that tells is that…

1.) God’s law is no longer valid.
2.) The world belongs to antichrist and the church is helpless to do anything about it.

If Satan wanted to draw up a theology to render the church of Jesus Christ impotent, what better plan could he come up with? May the Church of Jesus Christ recapture the postmillennial theology of overcoming the evil one.

For More Information, see:

The Puritan Hope by Iain Murray
Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison

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