THE LAST DAYS
Anita Clark – Pastor
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" I Thessalonians 4: 16-17.
Apostle Paul warns us and gives us the signs of Christ’s soon appearing. II Timothy 3:1-5 states "This know also that is the last days perilous times shall come." I Timothy 4:1 says, Now the Spirit speaks expressly: that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils."
CROWNS PROMISED TO THE FAITHFUL IN THE NEW TESTAMENT – Apostle Paul and other writers of the New Testament speak of "crowns" being given to those who fully walk with God. These are rewards for those who yield to God, who walk according to the will of God. In II Timothy 4:6 Paul speaks of his departure from this life, "For I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge will give me at that day, and not to me only but to all them also that love His appearing."
In I Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul speaks of the believers running a race to win the prize. In verse 25 he says, "And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown (lit. a laurel wreath), but we an incorruptible." The believer’s race is his lifetime after he comes to know Jesus Christ as his Saviour. Salvation is by believing upon the Lord Jesus Christ by faith through grace alone. We run the race to win the rewards of being a Christian and the blessings of God upon our yielded lives. This will end ultimately with the yielded ones reigning with the Lord Jesus and wearing crowns. Paul also speaks of the "prize" in Philippians 3:14, where he says, I press toward the mark (goal) for the prize (award) of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
James, the Apostle says "Blessed is the man that endureth [to stay under, perseveres] temptation for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life., which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." And Apostle Peter says (I Pet. 5:4) - "And when the Chief shepherd [the head Shepherd] shall appear, ye shall receive [carry off, obtain] a crown of glory which fadeth not away."
TWO CHURCHES OF ASIA PROMISED CROWNS – Revelation 2-3 relates the letters to the seven churches of Asia. These churches represent conditions seen in the churches through out the time since Jesus was here on the earth and until right now. Only two of these churches were found blameless - walking in the light and being faithful to the Lord and His word. Not one word of blame was spoken by Jesus Christ the Judge against them. They are the Church of Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11) and Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13). To the Smyrna Church (Rev. 2:10) the Lord says, "... Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life." These people represent the overcomers mentioned of in I Thessalonians 4:13-18, who will rise up from death, when Jesus sounds that trumpet call. To the church of Philadelphia the Lord says (Rev. 3:10-11), "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of tribulation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold I come quickly, hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." These Philadelphia believers represent those believers, who are alive and remaining, awaiting the coming of Jesus, who are faithful and standing on the Word of God, who have run the race with patience.
Further down in Revelation 3:21 the Lord says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne."
THE THRONE ROOM – Immediately, John is caught up to view the throne room of the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse one is very reminiscent of the call of I Thessalonians 4:16-17, where Jesus raises the dead in Christ first, then those who are alive and remain. Here John hears the voice of the Lord, "as a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither." Immediately, John sees the glorified Christ seated on His beautiful, dazzling throne. This is at the beginning of the seven years of tribulation. Christ is ruling in heaven. In verse 4 we see twenty-four thrones with twenty-four elders. "An round about the throne were four and twenty thrones and upon the thrones I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment and they had on their heads crowns of gold."
Here we see the fulfillment of all the Scriptures we have brought in this lesson about the believers having crowns and ruling with Christ. Note again Revelation 3:10,11 and 21. These twenty-four elders are not Old Testament saints or angelic beings, but representative of the overcomers of this Church Age. Further in the chapter, John saw Four Living Creatures who also represent the same group. Consider what the Scripture says in further verses.
THESE ARE BELIEVERS – Revelation 5:8-9 tells us that the Four Living Creatures and the Twenty-four Elders sing a new song, "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue and people and nation." Isn’t that plain enough. Only humans are redeemed from their sins by the blood of Jesus. Angels are never said to be redeemed.
SECOND – Revelation 5:8, They are holding "bowls full of prayers." In Verse 10, You [speaking of Christ] "... have made us unto our God kings and priests and we shall reign over the earth." The twenty-four elder side of these beings shows their reigning on thrones in chapter 4, while the Living Creature side of them shows the priestly side of their nature. Thus KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God.
THIRD – Twenty-four elders have crowns on their heads, which in Ch. 4:9 they cast down at Jesus feet. No where in Scripture, is there ever seen an angelic being with a crown, but in several places it states that believers will reign with Christ over the earth, and be given crowns.
FOURTH – they are called "Elders." No where in the Bible are angels called "elders." The Greek word for ELDER is pres-boo’-ter-os - this is a word used by Apostle Paul and other apostles as regards the church leaders or pastors - mature ones who stand fast and are rulers in the church. The promise to believers in the new Testament is "If we suffer with Him, we shall reign with Him" II Timothy 2:12.
FIFTH – "Clothed in white raiment." The angels who appeared at Jesus tomb when He was resurrected were arrayed with white garments, but also believers, when they received the Lord as their Saviour, are said to be clothed in white garments by the Lord. In the book of Revelation, it is recorded eleven times that believers in Christ are "clothed in white garments." These citations are Rev. 3:4,5,18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13,14; 15:6; 19:8,11 & 14. The white robes speak of the righteousness which is imputed to us when we are born of the Spirit. The Twenty-Four Elders clothed thus show that they are born again believers, as II Corinthians 5:21 states, "For He hath made Him (Jesus) to be sin for us, He who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
These believers are not just any believers, as some are only babes in the Lord. Some are carnal and walk after their flesh. But these are those who by the grace of God give their all in consecration as the saints in the Philadelphia and Smyrna assemblies - who had no fault found in them. They have run the race and won the prize of the high calling (Phil. 4:14). Christ means everything to them, and they are rewarded by the Lord, who will say, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant." Would you like to be one of this group in heaven. Yield now! He will do a work in you. He will keep His promise if you let Him have His way in your life.