Christian, you can, must, and will endure!

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 13:10)

No one is promised an easy life. Especially those who live contrary to the world system. 

In the middle section of the book of the Revelation John sees a vision of two beasts. The first beast was allowed by God to make war on the saints and to conquer them (Rev 13:7). Not only is the beast able to conquer the saints but all who dwell on the earth end up worshipping the beast. Everyone except the saints “whose names [have] been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Reve 13:8). 

True Christians cannot and will not be conquered. 

Their allegiance to King Jesus cannot be changed. They have and will continue to follow Him, even as two beast are terrorizing the world. 

A Christians assurance of eternal life with King Jesus is guaranteed but a comfortable life and escaping death in Jesus’ name is not. Those who have been destined for captivity and death will face captivity and death (Rev. 13:10)

Where is the comfort? 

The comfort comes in knowing our names have been written in the Lamb’s book of life before the foundation of the world. The comfort comes in knowing God is not only a sovereign God but a providential God. In other words, His sovereignty is purposeful and His purposes are not and cannot be hindered. Though we might be taken captive or slain, we continue to trust in the providence of God. In His purposes and will along with His ability to bring His purpose to pass. 

Knowing who our God is, what He capable of doing, and what we could possibly face, we are called to endure (Rev 13:10b). To remain steadfast in the face of whatever may come our way in the future. That is not an easy proposition because the future is unknown to us. But it is what we are called to do by the Lord God. 

We can endure! We must endure! We will endure!

You are a theologian, be a good one.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

(Heb 5:14)

You are a theologian. You may not believe yourself to be a theologian but you are one. You have an opinion about God. You believe He does and doesn’t operate in one way or another. You even tell others what you believe about God from time to time. Your belief causes you to act in a certain way. You are a theologian. 

You may not be a very good theologian, but you are one. As Christians, we should want to be good theologians. Our understanding of God should be accurate. The only way we will have an accurate understanding of God is if we are in a constant state of growth. 

When we come to faith in Christ, we have ideas about God. But those ideas need to be adjusted and shaped. Our wrong thoughts about God need to be replaced with right thoughts about Him. As well as what we don’t know needs to be sured up. 

Sadly, many Christians don’t grow in their knowledge of God. They are happy to exist with the knowledge they already possessed. Or they are happy to remain in an immature state. But remaining immature like little babes is not a mark of a good theologian. It doesn’t benefit us nor does it benefit those with whom we live in community. In the previous verse, the writer chastises those who are immature when he says, 

“for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

(Heb 5:13)

Those who are immature are unskilled. They are not able to handle the Word of God rightly, which leaves them vulnerable, unable to “distinguish good from evil.” (Heb 5:14b) and unable to accurately communicate who God is, and how they and others should live in light of who God is. 

Immaturity in the faith is not a badge of honor. It opens you and others up for harm. You are a theologian, be a good one.

Sin is deceitful. We need one another.

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13)

We need one another. Not just to help with physical matters, but to help us grow spiritually. Sin can be deceitful. It can trick us into believing that our thoughts and actions are right and good when in reality they are sinful. We need others who are willing to speak into our life to point out our wrong thinking and wrong doing.

Spiritual growth occurs in community. If we are not in community with other believers, we hinder our own spiritual growth. As believers we should want to grow to be more like Christ. He is the One who has provided us with salvation after all. He is the One who provides us with rest.

If you are not prioritizing Christian community, you need to make it a point to do so. You need to plug in with a solid Bible believing, gospel-centered church in your area and begin fostering community.

Sin is deceitful. We need one another.

We don’t have a pretty past, praise God for our present

“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:5)

We do not have a pretty past. Before Paul pens these words he paints a picture of us. Telling us we were foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to all kinds of passions and pleasures. If that wasn’t bad enough, we learn we were full of malice, envy, and hate for one another. The picture of our past is not pretty.

It is important we understand who we once were. If we forget, we might believe we were worth saving. That it was our righteousness that wooed God into giving himself for us. But then again those who are righteous don’t need saving. Those, however, who are unrighteous do — that’s you and me. We are unrighteous people who need the righteousness of Jesus. We need to be changed, to be washed, to be renewed, to be regenerated. We need saving, not because we are righteous but because we are unrighteous.

We have not gained salvation any other way and for any other reason than our God is a God of mercy who doesn’t give us what we deserve. When we think of salvation like that, we should be driven to worship and praise God for what He has done for us.

When God awakens us to our sin, we shouldn’t despair

Yes, our sin hinders our relationship with God, but we shouldn’t despair – we shouldn’t feel hopeless. In the beginning of Jonah 2:4, we learn that Jonah feels as if he has been…

“‘…driven away from [God’s] sight;’”

(Jon 2:4a)

The word Jonah uses for “driven” carries the idea of being forced out, to be forced away from. It’s what I do to our dog when he comes in the kitchen while I’m preparing food. I drive him out of the kitchen back to his bed.

As Jonah is sinking down to his watery grave, Jonah felt as if he was forced out of God’s sight. But even though Jonah felt that way, he didn’t despair. In the remainder of verse 4, he says,

“yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’”

(Jon 2:4b)

The reason Jonah didn’t despair, the reason Jonah wasn’t hopeless, even though he felt like he had been driven from the Lord, was because he knew the Lord was a God of loyal love. Because God is a God of loyal love, we can turn back to the Lord through repentance.

The same is true for us. While our sin hinders our relationship with God, we can always turn to Him because He is a God of loyal love. You haven’t messed up so big that you are driven from God’s sight forever. You can repair your relationship by repenting. That’s exactly what we should do when we discover we have sinned against God.

When God awakens us to our sin, we should repent, turning back to the Lord.

We should repent, turning back to the Lord even though we might feel as if we have been driven from God’s presence because God loves us and wants what’s best for us.

Set your mind on the things above to live out your new humanity in Christ

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2)

It is easy to focus on the here and now. What is going on around us often steals our attention. It consumes us. The thoughts, actions, ideas, philosophies of the surrounding culture presses in on us. As believers, however, those who have been raised with Christ, we are to set our minds on the things above. In other words, we are to live according to God’s will.

Where is God’s will found? It is found in His Word. We must use God’s Word as our daily guide. If you are a believer, yet you never read God’s Word, you are incapable of setting your mind on the things above and living differently than the culture.

But those who are believers, those who have been raised with Christ, whose life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3), you should set your mind on the things above. You should be motivated to do so because Jesus came to die. He didn’t come to die in order for you to continue to be influenced by the culture as you once were.

Jesus sacrificed Himself in order for you to be different. Not just live differently when you feel like, but to literally be different. If you skip down to verse 10, you discover that our self is new. In other words, in Christ, we are a new humanity. As a new humanity, we are to live differently. We are to live according to God’s original design.

The problem with living according to our new humanity is that we live in a world pressing in on us. Since we currently live in the midst of a sinful world, we must set our minds on the things above in order to live out our new humanity on a daily basis.