The Indestructible Kingdom

As seen from the book of Revelation, the saints in John's time were undergoing a great trial of persecution. They needed encouragement and assurance that they might face up to these trials.

The Lord gives them this encouragement when he said, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (2:10). This seems to be the purpose of the book. He expands this by showing the ultimate triumph of the Kingdom.

In 7:9, he gives us a glimpse of the Kingdom beyond the grave. A great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands. The angel said to John, "These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And he that setteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore.

John spoke of himself as being a companion of those who were undergoing tribulation in the Kingdom (1:9). With this revelation, they could look forward to victory beyond the grave. "O grave, where is thy victory?"

John said, ". . . I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season . . ." (6:9-11). These were slain, yet they lived; they were now comforted. Things were good now, but they will get better. This is why the Spirit said, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (14:13-14).

God promises that, "He that overcometh shall inherit all things" (Rev. 21:7). The souls under the alter haven't inherited all things yet. They don't have perfect peace and happiness because they haven't been avenged. But in Chapter 20, the Great Day comes when the wicked are judged, and along with Satan, are cast into the lake of fire where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Then John saw the final triumph of the faithful; the holy city coming down from God out of heaven and a great voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (21:3-4). "And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever" (21:5). "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (22:14).

So we see from this the destiny of the redeemed: perfect fellowship with God (21:1-8); perfect protection by God (21:9-27); and perfect provision from God (22:1-5).

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created" (Rev. 4:11).

God had the eternal kingdom in mind before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Instead of Satan hindering the purpose of God, he only put God's people through a refining fire to purify them for that eternal realm with God.

The wonderful thing about it all is, it is not only for the saints in the first century, but, "whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely." We, too, can overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of his testimony, if we love not our life unto death (Rev. 12:11). We are made clean by the blood of the Lamb, by being baptized into his death (Rom. 6:3-4). And his blood continues to cleanse us as we walk in the light and have fellowship one with another.

Walking in the light includes proclaiming his word (testimony). Because we are debtors (Rom. 1:14-16), we owe an eternal debt of love to our fellowman. We must show this love by telling him about the blood of the Lamb, and the word of his testimony. Then we must give our bodies as living sacrifices unto God (Rom. 12:1-2). We must crucify the old man and let Jesus live in us (Gal. 2:20).

If we are with the Lamb, victory is assured. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.

Voltaire, a French philosopher and skeptic of two centuries ago, said that he "hated life and dreaded death." How different from the Christian! Voltaire had nothing to look forward to, but the Christian everything.

Christianity spans two worlds, time and eternity. Time is needed to prepare for eternity, to know Christ, "and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). But we must keep in mind "our citizenship is in heaven." We cannot be heavenly minded unless we are conscious of our heavenly citizenship and that we are only sojourners on earth. We must not, while sojourning among the ungodly, become ungodly, but remember that we are the salt and light of the earth.

As the Christian closes the book of Revelation, he understands how he can be content with his lot in life. The words of the Spirit, "Rejoice in the Lord always and agian, I say rejoice" (Phil. 4:4) has meaning. What can he say to the ungodly? Groan, and again I say groan, for the misery that will come upon you. Why? Because they have united with Satan and "the God of peace shall bruise Satan" under the saints' feet shortly (Rom. 16:20)!

The Christian looks backward to God's promise in Eden to bruise the Serpent's head (Gen. 3:15) and forward to its perfect fulfillment in the Serpent's being "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:10), and praises Christ because he is counted worthy to suffer with him. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (Rev. 1:5).

Holy Father, we praise you and thank you for allowing us to be a part of your Son's "Indestructible Kingdom."

Roy Dunavin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Articles, 11 Jan - 1 Feb 1998

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