The Cost and Rewards of Obedience
by Ed Arcton
After we were baptized with the Holy Spirit we were told that if we were doing God’s will, everything would flow smoothly. We did not realize that this was also a baptism of fire that consumes all our dross. So when we encountered difficulties it left us in a state of confusion. Where had we missed the boat? How we longed for the gentle flow of the stream in which there were no obstructions to cause any ripples!
As we searched the scriptures we saw a different picture. The men of God who were obedient to God’s directives were often misunderstood, ridiculed and persecuted. For example, when Noah was building the ark he had to endure mockery and rejection from those who did not believe the message he preached. Moses also had to constantly endure complaints against his leadership! Look at all the rejection, and even torture, that the prophets had to endure because they spoke the words God had given them! Even Jesus, the perfect One, had to endure rejection and the cruelest death on the cross because of His obedience to the Father! The list goes on; Paul and the apostles, as well as Christians throughout the centuries have experienced the antagonism, ridicule, persecution, torture and death because of their faith! Both unbelievers and the carnally-minded Christians join forces in their hatred of those who have an ear to hear the Spirit.
At the present time pastors, teachers, tele-evangelists and the organized church world place great emphasis on the importance of making a right decision. They say that God has given us a free will, and since God is such a gentleman. He will not override that will. They say that with our free will we have to choose to believe God.
At this time we want to emphasize the fact that there is a difference between choice and obedience. Even though the popular belief is, that humanity has a free will (a will that cannot be influenced), this assertion has no scriptural foundation. Yet this fallacy is preached with great fervency. We do have a will, but since our will can be influenced, it is not a free will, for it is subject to whatever looks best to us at the moment. Choice comes from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – the tree that is rooted in disobedience. The evil of that tree is dressed in deception; it looks desirable to our senses, but it is rooted in disobedience. This is exemplified in the first temptation. Eve was definitely influenced by the serpent’s words. She looked at the beautiful fruit and desired it, even though she knew God had said that eating it would result in death. The serpent persuaded her that he was right and God was wrong.
In contrast to that tree, there is no choice in the tree of life because it has no evil. There is only obedience! Jesus said, “Why do you call Me Lord, and do not do the things that I tell you?” Living in God’s kingdom requires a life of obedience! He has chosen us, and He also chooses the way we are to go. Jesus did not choose for Himself; He only did what the Father showed Him to do! He is the pattern Son, and we need to follow His example. We can make choices, and pride ourselves with having made a right choice when all goes well, and blame others when it doesn’t.
Most Christians do not recognize that SELF sits on the throne in the doctrine of FREE CHOICE. It is the principle doctrine in the kingdom of the knowledge of good and evil. When we insist that we have to choose to obey, the source of that decision is self, and self is still on the throne. Can you picture the state of an army where the general gives a command, and the soldiers sit down to discuss the pros and cons of that command? Then, after a lengthy debate, they choose whether or not to obey the command. When Christ is Lord in our life, He is on the throne! He gives the orders and we follow those orders! This is OBEDIENCE!
Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. (Heb. 5:8) Sufferings test our obedience! Will we remain forgiving and loving when we are treated with contempt, when we are despitefully used, or when we are tortured mentally and/or physically? Christ’s devotion to obedience was so great and complete that He passed every test with glowing colors. He learned that obedience is costly! He exhibited the humility and faith that was needed to pass every test. It will also cost us our pride and selfhood! It will cost us our own agenda! It will cost us money! It will cost us our rights, reputation, relationships, and everything that is dear to self!
Paul called this the obedience of faith! (Rom. 1:5) We need to have faith in God’s word to us even when it opposes human wisdom. Moses had to learn this. In his 40 years of desert training he had learned that you don’t catch a poisonous serpent by the tail -you get hold of his head. After his staff had become a serpent, and he had run away from it, God told him to catch it by the tail! This was totally against human wisdom; a poisonous snake is always caught by the head! However, in obedience to God’s instruction, he caught the serpent by the tail! God’s instructions often override human wisdom! For this reason it has to be the obedience of faith! It is faith in the very essence of God and in His declaration of love for us! Everything He says is truth, and therefore reliable! He cannot err; if we do not understand His ways, it is because His ways are higher than our ways! We cannot understand His ways with our natural thinking because the spiritual is higher than the natural.
Without the knowledge of the very essence of God and His love for us, we will doubt His ability and judgment, and wonder if we have the strength to pass the test. We will view ourselves as grasshoppers in comparison with the giant difficulties confronting us, just like the Israelites did when they saw the giants that occupied the land God had promised them. Their focus shifted from the power of God to their limited ability. They forgot that it was God who said that He would give them the land! We too need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! Obedience will cost us everything that is of self – all our rebellion, all our natural understanding of spiritual realities and every thought that is against the rule of Christ.
Now let’s look at the rewards. God always gives us something better than the things He takes from us! He takes away the worhless to give us the priceless! In God’s perfect love for us, He wants to shower us with rewards! His rewards are for overcomers. To be an overcomer we have to learn obedience, for only in obedience can we walk in agreement with God. We have to believe that God’s will for us is better than our own will. Only in submission to God can we rule with Him over our own lustful desires. As we feed on Christ we will learn to be obedient to the Lord of lords, whose word is a sword that cuts off all our fleshly desires.
Hearing ears are necessary for learning obedience. These are not physical ears that pick up physical vibrations, but inside ears that can hear the Spirit! Not everyone has them. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice.” Only the sheep in the Shepherd’s flock have spiritual ears. We received them when we were born again, so let’s use them. The mark of a born-again Christian is the ability to hear what the Spirit is saying. He always conveys true spiritual messages that are customized to fit our need! If we do not hear the Spirit, we will hear lies and follow them. It requires humility of heart to hear Him; those who are full of pride consider themselves to be self-sufficient and in need of nothing. Hearing implies obedience. Children may hear what their parents have said, but when they do not obey, we say that they did not hear them. To hear what the Spirit says means we are obedient to His instructions.
Obedience has great rewards! Our measure of obedience is revealed in the depth of the difficulties, adversity, and the allurements of the flesh that need to be overcome. Obedience activates our death to sin! It brings death to our self-will and our selfhood. It is the only way in which we can experience the power of the life we have in Christ and thus grow spiritually.
In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we find some of the great rewards God has for us. These rewards are for us while we are still living on planet earth! Look at the wonderful promise in v.7, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.” Here is a beautiful promise or blessing limited to overcomers – those who are obedient. We can never be overcomers in disobedience. Therefore it is not for those who desire to escape tribulation, nor for those who depend upon their own ability to make right choices. Overcoming is not always a popular word because it carries with it the knowledge that there will be testings and trials. Obstacles will be placed in one’s way, and they will have to be overcome by faith in obedience to what the Spirit is saying. Listening to the Spirit does away with carnal thinking, for carnal thinking is always against the Spirit. We have been called out of carnal thinking into spiritual thinking. God has purposed that His ecclesia (His called-out ones) shall become overcomers, for they have received the mind of Christ, and Christ is their strength and victory.
Overcomers let Christ rule them; they do not obey their carnal thinking. Christ is the Captain of our salvation. He is the Firstborn; He is the first to triumph over all the lusts of the flesh! By His Spirit He comes to live in us and to rule us until our every thought and action are under His control. The Christ in us is the power, the dynamo that overcomes every lie, every deception, and every obstacle that the enemy would hurl at us. This is the omnipotence of Christ! In His strength there is power and victory! Overcomers, like Moses, proclaim the deliverance of God when everything around them in the natural proclaims gloom and doom! These can eat of the tree of life that is in the Paradise of God.
To eat of this tree, we have to be in Paradise, because that is where this tree is found. Paradise is the place where God rules. It is one with the kingdom of God! Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within us! God rules us by His Spirit who has been poured into our hearts! So Paradise is not a place we go to after we die; it is the place we are in when we are ruled by God! The tree of life is Jesus Christ – He is the life! His words are spirit and are life! Since Jesus is life and truth, eating of Him means we are receiving life and truth. Truth does away with the lies and deception of darkness! It brings us into who Christ is!
Another promise is found in v. 10. “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Faithfulness implies continual obedience. This death does not refer to our physical body, but to the death that the carnal mind is. When its allurements no longer attract us, we have recognized its deadness. A crown symbolizes authority or victory. It is worn on the head – the highest place of our body. That is also where our thinking takes place. The crown of life symbolizes our victory over our old thinking. Our old mind has been replaced with a new mind – the mind of Christ! Notice that it does not say “a crown”, but “the crown”. There is only one mind of Christ, one crown of life!
The next promise is found in v.11.. ” He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” We are all born into this world, dead in our trespasses and sins. Our new birth brings us into life. Being raised from death into life is resurrection. This is the first resurrection, and it has been going on ever since Christ’s resurrection and the pouring out of His Spirit into our hearts. We need to understand that resurrection has nothing to do with our physical body, for Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”(John 11:25) We need to remember that God’s seconds are never a repeat of His firsts.
Let’s look at some verses that deal with the second death. “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire…But for the cowardly and unbelieving…their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Rev. 20:6,14; 21:8)
Notice that it says that overcomers will not be hurt by the second death – it does not say they will not encounter it. In death we pass from one form into another form. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit he left the realm of righteousness and life, and entered the realm of self-will, the realm of death. So in Adam we have all been cast into the first death – the realm of self-will. The degeneration and decay at the death of our physical body symbolize the corruption, lies and deception that are in the mind of the flesh.
The second death is not a repetition of the first death, just as the new covenant is not a repetition of the old covenant. God’s seconds are always in a higher realm – in a spiritual realm. Sin brought us into the first death, and God in his wisdom, then uses death to bring us into the higher realm of life. Let me explain.
The second death takes us back into the realm of righteousness. Our second death is our death to sin. Christ’s whole life was a death to sin. (Rom. 6:10) His death to sin (our second death) consisted of the temptation of listening to the needs of His body and responding to them in His own ability instead of trusting God to be His provision. In the midst of rejection, false accusations, loneliness, persecution, and the horrible death on the cross, He never yielded to the temptation of listening to the thinking of the carnal mind and thus receiving a wrong attitude. He passed through this death realm, but it had no power over Him, neither did it hurt Him, for He did not yield to unforgiveness and disobedience. He went through this death, and came forth victoriously!
We too have to pass through this death process. A planted seed has to die in order to produce a harvest. In order to grow into the image of Christ we need to pass through the second death. This is not a pleasant experience, but God has given us this precious promise that it won’t hurt us. Our God is a consuming fire, and He burns away everything in us that is not of Him!
The lake of fire has no power over those who have participated in the first resurrection. Our first resurrection took place when we were raised with Christ – symbolized by our water baptism. “Having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” (Col. 2:12) We have been raised with Christ, and have been made a new creation. This new creation has a new mind – the mind of Christ! His mind does not need to be purified; it is pure and holy. It already is in life; it does not need a second death to bring it into life. But we need to appropriate it in every aspect of our life experiences. For this to materialize, we need to be cleansed of all our wrong thinking. This cleansing by the fire of the Holy Spirit brings us into truth and the freedom that truth brings. God’s fire is a spiritual fire. The trials we face give us an opportunity to grow in faith. The temptation is to function in the mind of the flesh rather than in the mind of Christ. An overcomer is not ruled by the mind of the flesh but by the mind of Christ.
Overcomers will not be hurt by the second death because their deeds have their source in Him. But those who did all their good deeds for self-exaltation or for self-gratification will not receive a reward. Our encounter with truth is painful at first, for it shows us the areas which have not yet been submitted to Christ – the areas in which we are still functioning in self-will and unbelief.
Another promise to overcomers is found in v. 17. “To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” (v.17) What is the hidden manna, why is it a blessing, and what does a white stone symbolize?
The Israelites received manna from heaven that sustained their natural bodies. They could see that manna. Hidden manna is spiritual food, and therefore it is in the unseen realm. It sustains spiritual life. Jesus said that His words are spirit and are life. Spiritual words have to be received spiritually. Receiving the revelation of what His words mean spiritually, feeds us and brings us into a greater dimension of His life. Jesus said, “If any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever.” Christ (the truth) is the living bread that came down from heaven. Eating Christ’s flesh means that we are receiving and assimilating truth; this brings us His nature.
“And I will give him a white stone.” A white stone was the pebble of acquittal in the Greek courts. In the Greek judicial system, if an individual was handed a black stone, it meant condemnation, and if the word “theta” was engraved on it, it meant he was guilty and condemned to die. But if he was handed a white stone, he was judged not guilty, and declared to be free of the sin he had been charged with.
We have been justified by faith! (Rom. 5:1) The meaning of the Greek word for justified means “not guilty, never been guilty.” How can God say that we are not guilty and have never been guilty when He knows that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”? It is because we have been made a new creation in Christ. This new creation has no past. Christ has never sinned and He now dwells in us and we dwell in Him. His life has become our life!! The old I no longer lives in us; it has been replaced by Christ! His righteousness has become our righteousness! Our identification with the old man who sins, is completely gone!
The Greeks also used the white stone in casting lots in elections. The black stone indicated nay, and the white stone yea. In giving us the white stone, Christ is saying that He has chosen us! We are His, not because we chose Him, but because He chose us! A white stone was also given to the victors of a race. Christ ran the race and overcame the death of the carnal mind as well as the corruption that is in the physical body. In union with Him, we too are overcomers and share His victory!
Sometimes a white stone was handed to a guest as a sign of welcome. This meant that the guest had the right to everything that was in the house. Similarly, when Christ gives the white stone to us, it means that all that is His is ours. God has given us the Holy Spirit, and in Him we have everything God is!
White stones were also used in the allotting of an inheritance. We receive an inheritance that is imperishable and undefiled; it does not fade away, and it is reserved in heaven for us. (1 Pe. 1:4) He also gives us a new name! In this stone there is a new name, a new nature. Notice that this white stone is Christ! Everything is in Him! The Greek word for name is ONOMA, and it covers everything a person is – character, power, excellence, rank, majesty, and personal attributes. To qualify for receiving a new name, we too have to submit to the Father’s purpose for us, even as Jesus did. As we live out of His life and nature, we will progressively grow to be like Him.
The next promise is found in verses 26-28. “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.”
Only those who have overcome the enticements of the natural mind are able to follow the Spirit’s directives and keep Christ’s deeds. They do not do their own will, even as Christ did not do His own will! Like Moses, they do everything according to the pattern that was shown him on the Mount when he was in communion with God and receiving instruction. Those who have learned obedience will be given authority, for they can be trusted to carry out the Father’s wishes! God gives those who hear His voice and have learned to obey His voice, the right to act on His behalf.
They shall rule over the nations with a rod of iron. A rod of iron symbolizes inflexibility. It is rigid; it cannot be bent. This rod of iron is the scepter of truth. Truth cannot be bent; it cannot be changed in any way, for then it is no longer truth. When truth rules, there can be no corruption, no bribery, no dishonesty, no compromise and no scandals. Strict adherence to the Spirit’s teaching is the norm.
At this point we need to recognize the difference between a legalistic approach to the word of God and a spiritual approach. Keeping the letter of the law differs greatly from keeping the spirit of the law. Lawyers can always find loopholes in laws because of their legalistic adherence to the wording of the laws. They are not interested in the spirit or intent of the law. Those who can hear the Spirit, will speak words of edification. The sword, or word of the Lord, cuts off the fleshly desires in order that spiritual growth can take place! God’s purpose is always redemptive!
“As the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces.” As a potter works with clay, he has power and authority over the vessels he makes. He can crush or break a vessel as he sees fit. God sent Jesus and crushed Him in order to bring us life! Since He did that to Jesus, don’t you think He will also raise us up to be a sacrifice? He will do things His way, and He won’t ask for our opinion. Our natural way of thinking of spiritual realities has to be completely eradicated so that we will do things God’s way! Just as Jesus received everything from the Father, so we receive everything from Him. Whatever comes our way comes from His heart of love. All our rejections and all our crushings help us to mature in Christ. The more we mature, the more we will be a blessing to others.
“And I will give him the morning star.” In Rev. 22:16 Jesus said, “.I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The morning star gives light and direction to mankind. It is the first to announce the coming of a new day! Christ is the morning star! His coming to earth announced the coming of a new day. This new day came to us in the Holy Spirit! This great light of God is spreading over the earth. We too have been called to be light-bearers – what a glorious calling! This is not a message of gloom and doom, but one of victory, proclaiming that Christ is the true light, and He brings light to the world through His sons! In Daniel 12:3 we read, “Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
Now we come to chapter 3. “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name (or nature) before My Father and before His angels (messengers).” (v.5) White always symbolizes purity. Our new birth brings us into the spiritual realm, and we become a new creation! We receive the righteousness of Christ. This is wonderful, but it is not maturity. Christ’s righteousness has to be worked into the very fabric of our being. This occurs when we overcome the various hardships and difficulties in life in obedience to the Holy Spirit and in His power. In every interplay of good and evil in our life, Christ’s nature of love, faith and humility becomes our nature. This is the white garment of the overcomers!
The book of life is not a literal book. Paul wrote, “You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.” (2 Cor. 3:2-3) So this book is actually a people who have the Spirit of the living God within them, leading and directing them. They live out of the Christ who is within them, and He has become their life. Carnally minded people do not do that, so they have no place in this book.
“I will not erase his name from the book of life.” Since it says that God will not erase our name from the book of life, it follows that our name can be erased. At the same time it gives us the assurance that overcomers will not have their names erased. What does this mean? An overcomer has overcome the desires of the flesh and the lustful pride of life. He has overcome his natural thinking and has received the thinking of the mind of Christ. He will always reveal the nature of Christ to the world. Those who reveal the life of Christ in their daily walk will not have their name erased from the book of life. So this does not refer to our salvation, but to our maturity.
“I will confess his name (or nature) before My Father and before His angels (messengers).” Name and nature go hand in hand. In the scriptures, the nature of someone is proclaimed by his name. Those who live in life have a new nature. They no longer live in the self-life of Adam (which is actually death) but in the love of Christ! The Father knows His sons and acknowledges them. When parents brag about their children, they are acknowledging them! Just as God boasted about righteous Job, so He also boasts about all who walk in His nature!
In verse 10 we have a promise for all who have been obedient and persevered. “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (v.10) Although the church in Philadelphia was quivering under heavy persecution, they did not get off track. They patiently endured it! Christ guards us and makes sure that no test is too hard for us.
God has a promise for everyone who perseveres in obedience. He will keep us out of or from the hour of testing that comes on all those who dwell on the earth, symbolically meaning Christians who are still dwelling in their carnal thinking. An hour of testing is a period of testing. This testing does not come to everyone at the same time. However, each person’s faith has to be tested to see whether his faith is in self-reliance or in God. Testing also reveals our weaknesses and strengths. Adversity tests our faith and confidence in God. The carnality and deception in the natural mind will always test those who are living in the earth realm. As long as their faith is only in external things, it is not real faith.
This testing is not for those who dwell in the heavenlies – in the mind of Christ! They see the promises of God that are in the unseen realm, and declare them to be true. They are kept out of the hour of testing because they have died to that beastly nature. They have ascended into the heavenlies and are seated with Christ in heavenly places. (Eph. 2:6) Christ is our refuge – our place of safety! Living in the heavenlies does not eliminate the pain we feel when our bones are broken, but pain and difficulties won’t get us off course.
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; 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 out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” (v.12) Those who overcome will be made pillars in the temple of God. A pillar symbolizes permanency, strength, and the ability to carry weight. God has said that He dwells in His people. (2 Cor. 6:16) This is a permanent union. He completely satisfies; He takes away all our restlessness and all our selfish desires! It is not an on-again and off-again possession. It remains in place!
Pillars are load-tested. Overcomers have faced many trials; obstacles have been placed in their pathway, and they have withstood the many darts of the enemy. Instead of becoming weary and discouraged, they have continued in their acts of obedience, and become strong in the process of overcoming. This strength is not for the purpose of boasting and display, but for burden-bearing. They lift up the weary, encourage them, and build them up in the Lord. Overcomers fulfill these requirements in obedience to the Spirit’s teaching!
These pillars are in the temple. They are not Christians who think of themselves as pillars – legalistically spewing out rules and doctrines, and being offended when others do not conform – like the Pharisees of old. Overcomers have been placed in the temple by God. They know how to communicate with God and intercede for others. Pillars are not moved or shaken by every wind of doctrine. They know Him who is their life!
“And he will not go out from it anymore,” that is, he lives in Christ continually! Christ is the vine, we are the branches. Once we have experienced how wonderful life in Christ is, we will never leave it! We won’t depart from life and go back into the death-realm of legalistic carnal thinking. We remain in life as we go out to minister to humanity. Jesus left the heavenly glory to minister to humanity, but He always remained in life! We also have to leave the glory we feel and enjoy in the presence of our Lord, and go out to lift up the weary, heal the broken-hearted and impart life to them! This is the ministry of those who are in life!
“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 out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” (v. 12) This is really exciting! In the scriptures, a name denotes the nature of that person. Receiving the name of God means that we receive the very nature of God! Christ overcame every trial the devil could throw at Him physically, mentally and spiritually! Because He overcame He was given a name that is above every name. Now He shares that name (nature) with the overcomers! He has given us a new nature, a new heart. The city of God is the new Jerusalem (the bride of Christ, the perfected church) that comes down out of heaven. So this new nature comes to us from heaven. Therefore it has to come to us spiritually! This nature has nothing to do with the old nature that came from Adam who was formed of earth! It is entirely new!
A city is filled with people living together in a designated area that is called by a certain name. So the new Jerusalem is actually a people who have been born from above and who are living in Christ. They are overcomers, and Christ writes on them the name “New Jerusalem”. The new Jerusalem is the bride of Christ and the overcomers are the bride of Christ. They are one!
Before Jesus died on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” What was finished? His work on earth as a physical man was finished. He is not coming back in a physical body to finish some unfinished business. His work on earth now takes place by His Spirit and through His body – His called-out ones. He has put His nature within us so that His work on earth can continue! Let’s remember that we have a new nature; the old nature no longer belongs to us!
This new nature was promised in Eze. 36:26. “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” That which is new is not a revision or transformation of the old. Our new birth brings us into a new realm, and this is a spiritual realm! This spiritual new creation that we are, has a new heart and a new spirit! Out of the old heart came evil thoughts and words; out of our new heart come the things that are of God! If we don’t have “ears to hear what the Spirit is saying,” our natural mind will overrule the Spirit’s teaching. However, if we have “ears to hear what the Spirit is saying,” the spiritual mind will rule over the carnal mind. The “greater works” can only take place through those who hear the Spirit.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (v.20) This is a message to the church that is blind to its true condition. The church is busy with its programs and Bible studies, and it does not realize that often Christ is not a part of them. But those who have hearing ears (are obedient) will open the door. Jesus said, “I am the door.” He is the door that is open to us – the door to our understanding. As long as we cling to our natural ideas of spiritual realities we are not letting Christ in! When we receive Him, He dines with us! That means we eat the same food Christ eats. Christ only dines on truth, so together with Him we will dine on truth! Anything that is not truth will be rejected.
“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (v.21) What a glorious promise to the overcomers (those who are obedient)! Everything the Father has given to the Son, He shares with the overcomers! Notice the oneness! In John 17:22 Jesus prayed, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as we are one.” Here we see the answer to that prayer!
The throne symbolizes authority; a king’s authority is manifested when he sits down on his throne. God’s rule is one of righteousness. In Ps. 89:14 we read, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You.” To share the honor of sitting on the throne with Christ, we need to be able to have correct judgment. Dining with Christ brings us righteousness and truth, and hearing Christ’s judgment enables us to judge rightly! Lovingkindess (mercy) and truth are incorporated in His righteousness! We are to be merciful even as our Father in heaven is merciful. Overcomers are given the honor of sharing Christ’s authority because they have learned to submit to His authority! They do not do their own will, even as Christ did not do His own will! Authority is ours only in union with Him and in submission and obedience to His authority!
The rewards of obedience are so much greater than the difficulties that we have to endure. Obedience takes us out of our death, lies and deception, and brings us into life! It is the solution to every spiritual problem. It brings us into an intimate relationship with our Lord, so we can dine together on truth and drink in His nature. He clothes us with white garments. Obedience puts us on the throne together with Christ and we can rule in His power and authority! To share His throne and His glory does not rob Christ of any glory; in fact it intensifies it!
Since we are children of God, “we are fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:17-18) Our difficulties and sufferings are short-lived, but the rewards of obedience are eternal!
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