The book of Revelation contains many stark contrasts. There is much that is dark and tragic, yet there is also great light and victory. While one group of men are judged by God for receiving the mark of the beast, another group is rewarded for achieving victory over the beast, his image and the number of his name. The book of Revelation speaks of saints who are overcome by the beast, as well as those who are overcomers, being marked in their foreheads with the names of the Father and the Son.
I would imagine that all who read this book aspire to be numbered among the overcomers. Great promises are spoken to the overcomers. These promises do not belong to all those who name the name of Christ. Many saints have fallen short of these things, and great numbers in this hour are in peril of forfeiting things that are impossible to value. To the overcomers is promised the following:
To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.
He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death [which is the lake of fire].
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.
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.
He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.
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 upon 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.
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.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.” He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
A great deception has fallen upon the church, for a vast number of saints have received the lie that all that is required to inherit all of the things listed as the inheritance of the overcomers is that they maintain their confession of Yahshua the Messiah. Yet the Scriptures reveal that believing in Christ, and confessing Christ as Savior and Lord, is not sufficient to receive these promises. One must also be conformed to Christ, being sealed in their foreheads with the names of the Father and the Son. One must triumph over the beast, his image and the number of his name. The professing Christian must manifest the fruit of a transformed life by turning from sin and exhibiting righteousness.
Yahshua was very plain in revealing the fact that it was not enough to merely be a confessor of Christ, or to even offer up many good works to God. There is only one thing that satisfies the righteous requirements of God, and that is to know His will and do it.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
These words of Christ reveal that mere confession falls far short of God’s will for the saints. Even doing good and miraculous works falls short, for one can still be self-directed in doing such things. Only this one will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, he who does the will of the Father. And what is His will? That mankind should bear His image and His likeness, subduing and ruling over the beasts. This was God’s first command to man, and His will in this matter has not changed. The saint must come to a perfect resignation to the will of God in every area of his life. He must lose his soul life that he might gain the divine life.
There is much symbolic language used in Revelation that speaks of the overcomers. Most prophecy teachers have focused only upon the physical, or carnal, sense of the words, and they have stopped short of looking at the spiritual understanding that is most important. Following is one such passage that relates to the overcomers in Christ.
And they overcame [the devil] by of the blood of the Lamb and by of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.
Many prophecy teachers today understand this verse to be one more evidence that a great martyrdom will take place in the last days, and that many Christians will be killed for their faith. Yet not all overcomers die as martyrs. The apostle John who penned these words did not die as a martyr, but he will surely be found among the overcomers. There is something more than a natural death being spoken of here, and Yahshua revealed to His disciples what it is.
“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
Losing one’s life is clearly linked here to taking up the cross. Taking up the cross is not speaking of outsiders killing the saints, but rather it speaks of the saints putting to death their own flesh with all of its carnal desires. Not all believers have, or will, face persecution from without to the extent that they are killed for their testimony, yet ALL saints are called to take up the cross and put the flesh to death.
Now those who belong to Christ Yahshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Is it not clear that when the Spirit reveals to John an image of a great harlot riding upon a beast, that this harlot has not crucified the flesh? This is why John wrote that the beast would eventually turn on her and consume her with fire and eat her flesh. The death that all overcomers must die is not physical martyrdom, but a daily dying to the desires of the flesh and to the willfulness of man’s soul. Yahshua brings further insight to this matter with the following words:
Then Yahshua said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds. Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”
I would like to point out a great deceit that has occurred in this hour, for I have never heard a single preacher or prophecy teacher share what I will share here. There has been much wrangling over what the last sentence here means. What did Christ intend when He said, “there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom”? I have heard many theories, and all of them have spoken of this as being a positive statement that some would not experience a natural death before they saw Christ revealed in glory. Some have suggested that this was fulfilled when Christ was transfigured upon the mount in the presence of Peter and James and John.
Let me suggest to you another interpretation that is in keeping with the context of the passage. Yahshua had just declared that all who seek to save their natural, fleshly and soulish lives would lose them, and only those who died to their natural life by taking up the cross would know true life, the divine life of God. He then says that some of those to whom He is speaking will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. What death has He been talking about? Has He been speaking of the physical death of men’s bodies? No! He has been speaking of the death that is defined as taking up the cross. Yahshua was declaring that among those He spoke to, some would not know this death to the soulish nature of man until they saw Him coming in His kingdom.
These are not positive words He is speaking. They are words of great sorrow and calamity. Christ was declaring that many men would wait too long to experience the death that they were called to embrace. A death to the natural life of Adam. Some would not taste of this death until they saw the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. This is why we read of such a grievous response from mankind when the sign of Christ’s coming occurs.
And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Do you know who will be mourning the most? It will be those who have been confessors of Christ, but who have avoided the working of the cross in their lives. These will have avoided tasting of death to their fallen nature until it is too late. They will not be counted among the elect, the overcomers, and they will have their names blotted out of the Lamb’s book of life. The Lamb’s book of life has recorded in it the names of all those who have embraced the working of the cross, who have allowed God to bring them to a conformity to Christ in this life, that they might not have to experience the purging of the Lake of Fire.
Saints, listen to the words of Scripture:
May they be blotted out of the book of life and may they not be recorded with the righteous.
But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 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 before My Father and before His angels.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
All those who are called as children of God have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yet of those who are called, few are chosen. Many will have their names blotted out of the book of life because they have refused to take up the disciple’s cross and crucify their flesh with its affections and desires. They have retained control over their lives and have lived according to their own direction and initiative. They have sought the things that will perish instead of that which is eternal.
All Christians are invited to present their bodies as a living sacrifice upon the altar of God now in this age that their flesh might be consumed and that they might come forth as gold that has been tried in the fire. Yet a vast number of saints have protected their flesh and have lived to fulfill the desire of their souls. They have loved their lives and they will lose them. Only those who have hated their lives will keep them.
Can you see the plain language that Christ is employing? He is not speaking about a physical death to the body, but rather a subduing and ruling over all that is of the flesh and of the beast nature. Some saints will wait too long to subdue and rule over that which God commanded them. When they see Christ appearing it will be too late. Some will not taste of death until Christ appears, and the death they will then taste will be the second death which is reserved for all those who have avoided the working of the cross.
[For a fuller explanation of the purpose of the Lake of Fire, and the understanding that many saints will share a place with the unbelievers there, see the book “God’s Plan of the Ages.” The Lake of fire is not for eternity as the church teaches today, for this “second death” must come to an end, for the last enemy to be destroyed is death. The lake of Fire shall pass away when its purpose is fulfilled.]
Let us return now to that which is written of the overcomers. John records that “they loved not their lives even to death.” Is it not plain now that he is not speaking of physical martyrdom, but of the working of the cross in their lives? The overcomers are overcomers because they have attained the victory over their own bodies and the beast nature that resides in the flesh. That John is using symbolic language to speak of spiritual matters is further revealed as we look at another Scripture relating to the overcomers.
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Yahshua and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
The word beheaded here comes from a Greek word that occurs nowhere else in Scripture. It denotes having one’s head cut off with an axe, which was a common enough type of capital punishment in Roman days. We read in the gospels where Herod beheaded John the Baptist in this way. But this was not the only method employed to martyr the saints. Many of the early saints in Roman times were crucified. Some were stoned to death. Many were taken to the forums and given to wild beasts such as lions. Others were burned to death as “Roman Candles,” and there were many other such ways in which the saints have suffered death at the hands of their persecutors.
We have to conclude that the Holy Spirit is not seeking to convey with these words that only those who are physically beheaded are numbered among the overcomers and will be given the honor of reigning with Christ during the Millennial period of the Kingdom of God. Rather, the words used to describe this beheading are filled with symbolism and are intended to be understood figuratively.
In an earlier chapter we read of the overcomers being sealed in their foreheads with the names of the Father and the Son. This typifies one who has taken Christ as their Head, and they have no head of their own. These overcomers have the mind of Christ, and they live no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. In I Corinthians Paul employs symbolism of one’s head being related to authority and submission. He writes:
I Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
If a man has Christ as his Head, then this indicates that a man has no head of his own. He must figuratively cut off his head in order to take Christ as his Head. A man must die to his own will, initiative and desires that are found in his head, and he must take Christ’s head as his own. Man must live for the will of Christ, not only calling Him Lord, but living as if He is Lord. He must take Christ’s desires for his own, buffeting his body and keeping it in subjection when he should find desires arising which are contrary to the desire of Christ.
No man can take Christ as Head and keep his own head at the same time. God does not desire two-headed monsters. So all those who are overcomers must lose their own heads. This is the spiritual understanding of John’s words in Revelation. He is not indicating that the guillotine will be brought back into fashion in the last days, which is an idea many prophecy teachers are promoting. He is saying that the overcomers will be beheaded by receiving Christ as their Head in place of their own head. They will be perfectly resigned to the will of God in their lives, not pursuing their own agenda and goals, but living to do the will of God.
Many foolish things are being taught as truth in this day. Satan is pouring forth a flood of deception to sweep the saints away. The hugely popular books in the “Left Behind” series are promoting many erroneous interpretations of the words of Daniel and John. Tragically, they are encouraging many saints to focus upon a battle that will come from outside of their bodies, when the true battle lies within.
The overcomers will not attain victory by forming some political opposition group to withstand an evil world ruler, nor by employing carnal means to resist his domination. Such speculations are worse than folly, they are damnable lies and deceit, for they lead the saints away from the mind of God, and they inoculate them against the truth.
The overcomers in Christ will attain victory through embracing the cross of Christ. The blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and loving not their fleshly and soulish lives will bring the victory.
May many have ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking!
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