Disciples & Tribulation

The New Testament exhorts followers of Jesus to expect tribulation because of their faith. While it may not be an everyday experience in the life of the church, neither is tribulation for the kingdom unexpected. And the chief cause of tribulation and persecution in the life of the disciple is his or her faithful witness of the life and teachings of Christ.

And this understanding is especially prominent in the Book of Revelation. In Chapter 7, for example, John saw countless followers of the “Lamb” exiting the “great tribulation” after persevering through it.

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Kingdom of Priests

Christ’s present reign is based on his past death and resurrection, and his disciples participate in his rule. And like him, their position is paradoxical since it is characterized by self-sacrificial service. The shedding of his lifeblood is what consecrated them as “priests” for God. And priestly service IS what it means to reign with him, and this is in fulfillment of the mission given to Israel at Sinai – “You will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

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Jesus is the Faithful Witness who summons his disciples to emulate his example by themselves bearing faithful witness in a hostile world.

Two themes are repeated in the book of Revelation – “witness” and “overcoming,” and they are closely related. Beginning with Jesus and his own witness in his death, his followers must persevere in his “testimony,” and in this way, they “overcome” and one day will emerge victorious in the city of “New Jerusalem.” They are called to “overcome, even as I overcame.”

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Through a series of seven “beatitudes,” Revelation summons believers to faithfulness despite hostility and persecution.

The book of Revelation is not a divination tool for deciphering future mysteries. Instead, it summons God’s people to vigilance, right living, and perseverance in testimony during trials and persecution. Its concern is not when certain events will occur, but how the churches must “overcome” and thus arrive at the city of “New Jerusalem.”

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The city “whose builder and founder” is God is none other than the New Jerusalem John saw “descending from heaven” Revelation 21:24-22:5.

The book of Revelation concludes with a portrait of the immense and glorious city of “New Jerusalem” populated by the “innumerable multitude” of men redeemed from every nation by the “Lamb,” the ultimate fulfillment of the covenant promises to Abraham – “land” and “blessings to all the nations of the earth.”

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