Thursday September 24, 2020
“Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the Divine.” [Ludwig van Beethoven]
He is referring to composing, but it is a truth concerning anything that is profitable to understand deeply, and nothing is more profitable than the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Jesus is the mystery from long ages past revealed. We could be content with living as we ought, somewhat blindly, or we can seek God with all our heart and find the secret, the mystery of that life. Certainly, it is better to blindly live as you ought than not, if you are searching and groping in your relationship with God for the understanding of that mystery. It may be worse for someone to just go through the motions of what is perceived as the Christian life and do so without a care to know God. A person going to church because he should, without a desire for knowing the Lord, would perhaps be closer to the kingdom of God if he was honest and stopped going (perhaps).
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
The motivation for living the life of God’s will is that you were elected to it by the grace of God through the death and resurrection of Christ. Understanding = love for God and His election.
I have been stating that the blessing to the believer who seeks God is that he will find Him. I have been also emphasizing that we are not looking to get more reward from God, but I mean this in terms of some material reward, i.e. something that we could use selfishly on ourselves.
No reward from God can possibly be used selfishly for self. God’s rewards or blessings (unconditional and conditional) are all linked to Himself.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
This is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing for those who study it. This is a conditional blessing. Yet the understanding of the Book of Revelation is based on an understanding of the OT, since so much of it is based on the OT. This is a part of the blessing.
A thorough understanding of prophecy and the promises of the future will enrich a believer’s spiritual life. It is important to desire the return of Christ, not simply for a personal escape from hardship, but for His glory and the beginning of the end of the suffering of the world. We are in the world but not of the world. We must not be distracted by the world, as so many are, either by its pleasures, which we may enjoy to a point, or its tribulations. One writer puts it: “They [the saints of old] would teach us that the world we live in is to be viewed as a battleground and not a playground.” [Paul Benware]
There are many blessings of God which are unconditional, and the believer is entitled to them simply by virtue of the fact that he is a believer. However, some blessings are conditional, as here in studying this book. Studying Revelation will give the believer a longing for the return of his Messiah. Those believers who love and look for His return are promised a special crown, the crown of righteousness. Believers often rob themselves of certain blessings available to them because they fail to take God’s conditional aspects seriously.
I have been deemphasizing conditional rewards out of my desire to get us to see that we walk in a manner worthy because of the fact that we are called.
There are unconditional and conditional blessings. Believers can easily get distracted with rewards when they view them incorrectly.
Take the crown for instance. It isn’t hard for a believer to focus more on the crown, a material image in his mind of gold and diadems, and neglect the word “righteousness.” The actual reward here is a love and longing of Christ’s return. That love removes the worries and tribulations of this world from our conscience, which instead is filled with dreams of eternity, in which justice and peace will rule supreme. Laid up for such people is the crown of righteousness.
What would therefore have to be true, is that the crown of righteousness, as also the crown of life (endurance through tribulation), the crown of glory (proving to be an example to the flock) can only be accomplished in time.
Yet still, I caution all of us. We must not let the truth of conditional blessing make us competitive with other believers, for that would exclude love, and also, subsequently, the crowns. We also must not let rewards from God turn into some mental image of a thing that can be selfishly used, like a commodity, or a source of admiration from others, like an office, which also would exclude love. The rewards from God, both the many unconditional ones and conditional ones are all of God Himself. The conditional blessings or rewards are in essence more of God Himself. We would also add that a believer cannot endure and resist under pressure, suffering, and tribulation in heaven. So, it is promised that all believers will be conformed to the image of Christ, but in some manner, those who learned and loved and walked in a manner worthy of the calling with which they have been called, will be more blessed - in some manner difficult to define.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.
False doctrines have clouded the issue of God’s election. Who is elected and how do they know? False teachers, ignorant of truth and bent on pride, wanting followers, wanting to be the great spiritual leader that everyone needs, confused and clouded by pride, distort the scripture to their own opinion and their own ends.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
False doctrines have clouded the issue of God’s election.
Golden Rule of Interpretation:
When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, literal, usual meaning, unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.