Revelation is a letter from the Apostle John, who was exiled on Patmos, to seven churches… and by extension all believers of every age. When delivered, it was read in it’s entirety… & they most certainly hung on every word. Thus the promise of Divine blessings in Revelation 1:3 must have been sweet to the hearer’s ears!
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, & blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Each of these blessings are a part of speech (Participles) that describe continuance. The message of Revelation is a way of live life. A recurring phrase in Revelation is “One who conquers” (Or overcomes). [i] God’s blessings in are for those who conquer, overcome, persevere, and finish the race by living till they die for Jesus.
Following Jesus isn’t for a week… month… or year, it is for life! It is for those who “persevere to the end.” Christianity is a lifelong lifestyle! Consider Mt 10:22…
You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. Mt 24:12 Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 1 Cor 1:7 You are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end. Heb 3:14 For we share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
Salvation is proven by perseverance. Overcomers & conquerors persevere to the end (Death). They are saved. Consider the idea of conquering since it is a recurring theme in Revelation by reading Matthew 13:20-21, 23
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word & immediately receives it w/ joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, & when tribulation or persecution arises on account of The Word, immediately he falls away. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit & yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, & in another thirty…
Only those who continue in the faith regardless of what comes their way are genuinely saved. Only those who stay devoted to Christ WHEN they are persecuted b/c of their faith are saved. Only those who give their life to Christ… to the point of literal physical death… are real Christians. Lk 14:26…
If anyone comes to me & does not hate his own father & mother & wife & children & brothers & sisters, yes, & even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross & come after me cannot be my disciple.
IF you abide (Remain, stay, continue, persevere), “IF you abide in me & I in you…” I wonder about all those who at one time were part of God’s family… a local congregation… but now are not. They used to serve God… teach… witness… give… & worship, but now they don’t. They haven’t worshipped wtih God’s people in years to decades. WHY?
Did they have a “bad experience?” Did they “get out of the habit?” Did their feelings get hurt by a thoughtless word or deed? What could have happened to make them turn their back on God’s people that He saved… just like He saved them? For some reason it got too “hard,” so they quit…
Honestly, I doubt their conversion because I’ve talked to so many who’ve had the same experiences and worse, yet they still love God and His people… they still serve… they haven’t quit or given up. They are persevering. They know the church & Christians aren’t yet perfected as they will be… so they persevere!
The thing that bothers me more as a pastor is why we aren’t doing more to find them?! Jesus said a good shepherd “Leaves the 99 to find the 1”[ii] that strays! Are we being faithful??
Consider what is written in Revelation 21:8 that describes those who don’t persevere…
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable… idolaters, & all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
The cowardly and faithless ARE detestable because they won’t live for Christ. They are idolaters because they put themselves before Jesus. They lied by saying they were believers when they weren’t. That’s why they will spend eternity in the lake of fire. That’s why they experience the second death. THOSE are the ones who didn’t/haven’t/won’t persevere.
If perseverance is the proof of salvation… what do believers persevere in?
Honoring God. Loving enemies. Suffering for Christ. Turning the other cheek. Not taking revenge. Forgiving. Being merciful. Putting others first. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked. Seeking peace. Being faithful to the death. And doing those things FOR GOD’S GLORY, not their own!
The only way anyone can BE that kind of person is through Christ. Thus… Matthew 7:13-14…
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
[i] Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 12:11; 15:2; 21:7.
[ii] Matthew 18:12.