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I'm not aiming for Heaven!
That would be like aiming for the side of a barn. I'm not aiming for the barn, I'm aiming for the target hanging in the middle of the barn wall. I'm not aiming for Heaven - I'm aiming for the Throne. I'm aiming for the Glory of God.
Of course, if you hit the target, you've hit the wall. So, if you make it to the Throne, you've made it to Heaven. But there will be many who make Heaven that miss the Throne!
Think: hundreds of millions of people live in the United States, only a few million live in Washington, DC. Millions live in Washington, DC, but only one family lives at the White House. The President is an American, yet no other American is the President. So, no, I'm not aiming for Heaven. I'm aiming for the Throne and for the Glory of God.
You might ask me "Who do you think you are, aiming for the Throne?" That's easy, I am a child of God and I'm called to the Throne. It wasn't my idea to aim for the Throne, it was God's idea. Haven't you read the words of Jesus?
"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne." (Rev 3:21)
It can't be stated any clearer than that. Listen to some more of the Master's words:
"To everyone who overcomes and continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations; to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered - even as I also received authority from my Father." (Rev 2:26-27)
There you have it - an open invitation from Jesus Christ to come to the very throne of the Living God. But did you notice something that Jesus said? "To him who overcomes" The promise of dominion is conditional. It is not for everyone. The promise is made to "overcomers". Jesus gives a hint as to what he means by an 'overcomer' in the quote listed above: "To everyone who overcomes and continues to do my works to the end..."
You see, there is a church within the church. Don't be shocked! Don't you know there were 120 in the upper room the day the Church began, yet only 11 of them were Apostles? Don't you remember that Jesus created an inner circle of 3 Apostles - Peter, James, and John?
Each of the letters to the seven churches found in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3 has a postscript to the overcomer. Jesus writes to each church in general; encouraging, exhorting, even rebuking each one. But then he finishes each letter like this "PS. Now to the overcomers in your church..."
So, he has something to say to the church as a whole, but then something else to say to the church within the church - the overcomers. I believe he purposely puts each postscript out there for all to see. He is hoping to spark an interest, a holy jealousy, in the mere Christians of each church. He wants to rouse them to action, to the pursuit of God, as A.W. Tozier would say.
Now I have gone and said something else that might offend some. Some of you might be thinking "What does he mean by 'mere Christian'?" Well, I mean what the Bible means. Listen to Paul:
"Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him." (2Tim 2:11)
"If we died with him" refers to the born again experience. Elsewhere Paul wrote "If we have been united with him in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection." (Rom 6:5). In the born again experience, the old life must die for the new life to appear. Praise God, if we are born again we will live with Jesus in Heaven. But we won't necessarily have any authority there. Kings have children; little children are treated well in the house, but they do not exercise authority. Only mature sons exercise authority in the Kingdom of God.
But Paul goes on to say "if we endure, we will also reign". Here is another description of an overcomer - the overcomer endures to the end. I believe Paul is making a distinction between a larger group (born again Christians) and a separate sub-group (endurers). He is saying "If you accept the price Christ paid, you will live, but if you also pay a price, you'll not only gain eternal life, you will rule and reign!"
This line of reasoning is similar to the following contrast: While God "commands all people everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30), yet Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me." (Lk 9:23) Notice the difference? We "must be saved" (Acts 4:12) vs. "if anyone desires..." Notice also that Jesus implies we will need endurance, because He says we need to take up our cross "daily". Salvation can occur in one powerful moment; overcoming is a long, drawn-out process that will last right up to our dying breath.
This is why Adam was given a little garden. God meant for him to have dominion over the whole world, but Adam needed to first prove he was worthy - even though he was declared to be the "son of God" (Lk 3:38). Sadly, he failed in the garden. Therefore, he was sent out into the world more as a refugee than as a king.
"Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access by faith to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God." (Rom 5:1-2)
There is a clear contrast in this passage between what we "have obtained" and what we "hope" for. It is written, "Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." (Rom 8:24-25). Strong's Concordance states that the Greek word translated here as "patient" also means "endurance".
My point exactly.
© Matthew Schilling March 2006
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