img_0410

We have come to the last two verses of Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” Revelation 3:21-22).1

Before we dive in, it should be clear that Jesus is not talking about one’s salvation in this passage. We know that Christians are saved by grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone, not by their works. However, these verses should give us pause. This conquering, this sitting with Jesus on His throne, is significant. Why? The Lord doesn’t speak just to hear Himself talk. If this conquering and sitting with Him on His throne had no substance, He wouldn’t have brought it up in the first place. Jesus brings up conquering to each of the churches in His seven letters. It must be important. And remember that in Laodicea, He is actually standing outside the church. Jesus was not part of what they were doing. This was a frightening situation. It would be impossible to conquer in Christ if He weren’t even involved.

But what does this conquering mean? Well, it’s safe to assume that unless the believers there did the things He outlined in His letter, they would not conquer. Jesus wouldn’t tell this church about conquering, out of the blue, without telling them how to do that. So, according to what He has just taught, how will these believers conquer? First, by buying from Him gold tried with fire: prayerfully and purposefully giving up earthly wealth, power, and security. Conquering kings of this world don’t do this. The conquering Jesus speaks of has no resemblance whatsoever to what conquering in the world means. A powerless and poor king is an anomaly, and such a monarch would not be a conqueror and would not rule for long. Not so in Jesus’ kingdom.

Second, the Laodiceans must be sure, in that process of self-denial, about the source of their salvation: the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for their sins. The Lord gave us a definition of conquering in Romans 8:35–39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” It is vitally important that we know that we conquer through Him who loved us, not by attainment of a list of laws. Doing the things that Jesus told the Laodiceans would be difficult and sacrificially self-denying. If they weren’t careful, they would fall in to destructive legalism. However, Jesus told them that He loved them. That’s why He was exposing their sin and disciplining them. They would need to hang onto this rock-solid truth about His love as they walked through this difficult process of prayerfully buying from Him gold tried with fire and living as soldiers and not be entangled with the things of the world.

Finally, the Laodiceans would conquer by asking the Lord to help them see with “good eyes,” so that their greed may be exposed and that they would therefore zealously repent. They would need help to see Him, and the truth about Him and themselves in His Word. They were blind without Him.

The reward for this humbling conquering would be sitting with Jesus on His throne with the Father. What does that mean? I must confess ignorance here. I have very little idea, except it must and will be glorious. Again, this must be important. We should acknowledge, however, that we in the Church today have not considered it be of much consequence at all. How much time do we spend talking about these heavenly things?

If you are part of a wealthy church—which you probably are if you live in the West—please join me in praying that all of us will obey Jesus’ admonitions in His letter to the Laodiceans, so that we may reign with Him in His kingdom for eternity. What are the practical, eternally negative consequences of not reigning with Him? Scripture is unclear, but they are negative. We have been warned, more than once, and we are to believe these biblical truths in faith. The days are short and getting shorter. You are now ten minutes or so closer to His return than you were when you started reading. When He returns, there will be no opportunity to turn back and make things right.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advertisements