But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Who will have the strength to escape the coming wrath of God on earth? The short answer is that everyone who confesses with their mouth that Jesus is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised Him from the dead – these will be saved. The true Church – the invisible body of Christ, all who are born again and sealed by the Holy Spirit – will escape all these things!
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believers that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:4-5
To examine this a little further, we turn to Revelation 2-3 where Jesus dictates the letters to the 7 churches. These were literal churches in John’s day, but Jesus selected them specifically because their messages are applicable to all believers throughout the church age. I encourage you to read through Revelation 2&3 and see which church you (and your church, if you attend one) most closely match up with, and then follow Jesus’ instructions to that church!
Actions of the Overcomers:
- Persist in “first love” towards God (loving Him with all your heart, soul and strength) – What does this mean exactly? Well, sound doctrine and good works are praiseworthy, but not at the expense of passion. Don’t let your service become mechanical. Religion is a set of beliefs (doctrine) and a set of actions (works/traditions). And that’s all religion can be. Jesus urges the church to repent and return to the passion they had for Him in earlier times – with Jesus it’s about RELATIONSHIP. I am reminded of Matthew 22 – 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment…”
- Persist in faith unto death – true believers will remain in the faith until the point of death. (Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell; Also Matt 10:22, 24:13; Col 1:22-23; 1 John 2:19)
- Do not deny Jesus’ Name – Matthew 10:33 – but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
- Test Everything, and Reject False Doctrine – 2 Timothy 4:3 – For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.
- Do Not Compromise With The World – Watch out for weeds and rocks in the soil of your heart! Matthew 6:24 – No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
- Repent of Idolatry – Spiritual idolatry is raising anything above God in prominence in our lives – Luke 4:8 “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
- Repent of Sexual Immorality – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Hold Fast to the Gospel – Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- Wake Up / Remain Alert Spiritually – To be awake spiritually is to have one’s spiritual eyes open. This happens at the time we are born again, when the Holy Spirit comes and indwells us, confirming to us that we are children of God. Romans 8:16 – The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
- Continue in Good Deeds with Patient Endurance – These deeds don’t maintain our salvation, but demonstrate it! Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- Endure Patiently in the Faith – Hebrews 12:1 – let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
- Hold on to What you Have – 2 John 1:8 – Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.
- Buy Gold Refined in the Fire, White Clothes, and Eye Salve – This is a reference to the priceless riches of true salvation (Matthew 16:26); being clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Rom 3:22); and removing spiritual blindness (Matt 15:14, 23:16-17)
- Open the Door to Fellowship with Jesus – This occurs at the moment of salvation, being “born again”, and continues throughout our walk with God (sanctification). John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
I want to emphasize that it is not the actions of the overcomers that save them or qualify them for the promises Jesus gives. Salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The actions of the overcomers demonstrate a true saving faith.
Promises Given to the Overcomers:
- Granted to eat from the tree of life in the Paradise of God – symbolizing eternal life, referencing the original tree of life in the garden of Eden.
- Will not be hurt by the second death- will not face the lake of fire.
- Victor’s Crown (which is the crown of life/righteousness/glory (Rev 2:10, 3:11b, 2 Tim 4:8, 1 Peter 5:4)
- Given hidden manna – the Bread of Life – Jesus – spiritual sustenance.
- Given a white stone – possibly a ticket to eternal victory celebration in heaven? Or might it represent becoming a stone in the building of the church – the cornerstone being Jesus?
- Given a new name written on the stone no one knows but the person who receives it – just as Jesus has a new name written on him in Revelation 19:12.
- Given Authority over the Nations – will rule with Christ in His Millennial Kingdom.
- The Morning Star – knowing Christ in His fullness?
- Walk with Jesus – we will enter His kingdom.
- Clothed in White Garments – the holiness/righteousness of Christ will be imputed to our account so that we are counted as holy and righteous as well.
- Name Never Blotted Out of the Book of Life -the names of the saved from the beginning of the world.
- Jesus will confess our name before His Father and the angels – saying that He knows us and we belong to Him – the opposite of the terrifying verse in Matthew 7:23.
- Kept from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world – we will be sheltered in heaven and given rest during the Day of the Lord, including the 70th week of Daniel.
- Made a pillar in the temple of God – signifying stability, permanence, honor.
- Written on them the name of God – signifying belonging/ownership to God, like being branded with a seal.
- Written on them the name of the New Jerusalem – signifying eternal citizenship in heaven’s capital city.
- Written on them the new name of Jesus – taking on His name in union, like in marriage – we take on Christ’s name as the bride of Christ.
- Sit with Jesus on His throne – reign with Him during the Millennial Kingdom.
The warnings to the 7 churches in Revelation are both stern and terrifying. However, they are also bursting with promise! We would do well to examine our hearts and repent, fully turning to the Lord. For those who do, the reward far outweighs any earthly sacrifice.
**All believers are called to be the overcomers. All believers will experience all the blessings promised to the overcomers.**
Gary wrote a great article on Unsealed about the letters to the 7 churches, and in it he summarizes that each of the letters are ultimately about the gospel:
The Greek word used for “overcome” or “conquer” in each of the aforementioned seven verses is nikaó, which means “I conquer, am victorious, overcome, prevail” and as a matter of fact this exact word is defined for us elsewhere in the Bible by the author of the book of Revelation himself and in very explicit terms. John tells us who, why, and how:
Who overcomes (nikaó) the world? Answer: Jesus.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
Why do we overcome (nikaó) the world? Answer: Jesus.
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. – 1 John 4:4
How do we overcome (nikaó) the world? Answer: Faith in Jesus.
For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. – 1 John 5:4-5
So the Scriptural answer to the question “how does someone overcome the world?” is through faith in Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel (i.e., Christianity 101; see here, here, here, here, here, and here). Notice especially the repetitious nature of 1 John 5:4-5: “overcomes…even our faith…overcomes…believes”. It couldn’t be any clearer. No amount of good deeds, law keeping, or right living will overcome the world. The only way you can overcome the world is by trusting in the efficacy of the meritorious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just to leave absolutely no doubt about the connection between overcoming and Jesus’ blood, the book of Revelation connects them directly:
And they overcame [nikaó] him because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony; and they loved not their life even unto death. – Revelation 12:11
The sevenfold repetition in Revelation 2-3 of “he who overcomes” is a clear reminder that regardless of whether or not someone identifies with the Christian religion, the only people getting in Heaven’s door are those who trust in Christ alone for salvation. The way is narrow.
Let’s examine our verse again:
But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36
Who will escape all these things and stand before the Son of Man?
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Revelation 7:9-10
All the overcomers, those who have been born again by the blood of the Lamb, will stand before the Son of Man and praise Him for their salvation!
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Letters to the 7 Churches (Unsealed)
Examine Yourself, To See if You Are in the Faith (John MacArthur)
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!