Faithlife Sermons

"Staying Faithful to the End"

The Heart of Revelation  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:38
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The first church had no idea as they faced persecution that there would come a time and day when Christianity would actually be legal. By A. D. 350 the Roman Empire would claim Christ as King and Christians would live for the most part in freedom. Every now and then persecution has come and we see this often in other countries. However, it almost seems as if we have come back to the time of the early church. A dark time where we find ourselves living in an age of unbelief.
Mark Sayers calls this a “non-place” a culture with no sense of true meaningful morals, relationships, or identity.
But God’s people are still called to live by faith not by sight as 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us. We are called to stay faithful to the end. So, how can we do this in a culture of unbelief and perhaps persecution? John reminds us as his readers of several huge things to keep in mind as we come to a close. Here is what we need to know.
Revelation 13:10 ESV
If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
John also reminds his readers of the judgment to come for those who have not lived for God and have followed the Devil. He talks about the wrath of God that will come and the final judgment for all unbelievers, but for us as Christians we must continue to persevere. Here is how John describes this to us.
Revelation 14:9–12 ESV
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “endurance” as the ability to withstand hardship or adversity. Also the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.

1. Watch out for the Temptation to Compromise.

Revelation 17:14 ESV
They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”
As believers and God’s children we understand that we belong to Christ. We see here in verse 14 that we are called and chosen and faithful. In Revelation 16:15 we are called to say morally awake and alert until the end and then we will receive the garments of salvation. But, as believers in the early church and even for us today it can be hard for us to stay awake and be on guard against temptation. The early church dealt with the struggle of persecution, imprisonment, and even death. The struggle was real for them to just give in and deny Christ. As we take a look around our world taking a stand for the Lord is no longer the norm. It seems as if Christians are now on the hot seat for standing on what is right and wrong.
But even more tempting is the very real struggle to compromise with the society around us. The early church dealt with many compromising things that were creeping in to the church and their lives. Here are just a few things that we see in Revelation that the church and it’s people were facing.
-False Teaching and False Teachers. (2:14-15) Pergamum
-Immoral ways. (2:20) Thyatira
-Idolatry and the things of this world. (Chapter 2 and 3)
When we take a look around us there is a very real war going on for our lives. Satan and his demons are doing everything they can to deceive believers into compromising with this world so let’s be on guard and remember these words from
Revelation 18:4 ESV
Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;

2. Stand Firm in the Victory of Christ.

One of the things through our time in Revelation that we have tried to emphasize is the reminder that God through His Son Jesus has already won the victory. Jesus defeated sin and death on the cross and through His resurrection. Someday He will return and defeat Satan and his followers once and for all. We need to remember this in our journey through life because it can help us to stay faithful to the end. Here is how John explains this in Revelation 12:11.
Revelation 12:11 ESV
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
When I take a moment to think about what Christ has done for me it helps me to be reminded that He has made a great sacrifice for me and because of that I should live for Him. I can stand firm in my faith and overcome the difficult things in this life. In fact, that is what Christ has called us to do to be conquerors or overcomers. In Revelation chapter 2 and 3 we see these letters to the churches and in every letter to each individual church there is this challenge to keep going for the long haul to be conquerors with Christ’s help. We say no to the sinful temptations around us and we say yes to the things God tells us to do.
Scott Duvall reminds us in his book on the Heart of Revelation, “In God’s Kingdom, He fights for us. He defeats our enemies. So, our main task is to endure, to keep standing, too persevere, to stay the course, to remain faithful, and keep following the Lord.”
Here is how the Apostle Paul put it for us in Ephesians 6:13.
Ephesians 6:13 ESV
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
When things become tough and it is hard to stand firm Pray. Ask God for strength and be reminded of what He has already done for you.

3. Run to Obedience.

I am a runner, and I typically run long distances. I have been running since I was a kid and it is something that I have been good at. However running even for me is not always easy. There are a lot of early mornings and late nights. Running is tough because it means many times you run alone and it takes work and time. Running to do the right thing and keep God’s Word can be tough for us a believers. There may come times where we become weary and tired, where we are running alone and struggling to be obedient. We have already seen in Revelation 18:4 that God calls us to run out of or away from the sins of this world and run to the Lord for safety and shelter. God’s Word tells us over and over again that we as Believers should look different and live different because we are new creatures in Christ. Listen to just a few verses from Revelation that point us to being obedient and following what God’s Word tells us to do.
Revelation 1:3 ESV
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Revelation 2:26 ESV
The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Revelation 3:10 ESV
Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
Revelation 12:17 ESV
Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
Revelation 22:7 ESV
“And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
In order for us to run to obedience there has to be a real change in our lives. This change only comes about through real repentance. Repentance is confessing our sin to Christ which means to change. It is a change of mind, will, emotions, and life. (Prodigal Son) Luke 15:17 tells us, “when he came to himself.” When this type of change happens in our lives we will be able through the help of Christ to say no to sinful things that would normally drag us down and get us off course.
(Jim Walmsley in the Western States 100 mile run)
Has there come a time in your life where you have repented of the sin in your life? Have you confessed that to Jesus? More than anything the Lord wants us to follow Him. In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” If we have a desire to stay faithful to the end we need to run to obedience. (Quick Disclaimer here, please hear me when I say that Christianity is not based on works or what we can do for God, but because we love the Lord we should have a desire to please Him and be obedient to His Word.)

4. Continue to Remain Patient.

Being patient for me has never come easy. It is something I have to work at and pray through. And yet I am reminded that when we are patient God shows up in ways I could never imagine. Can you imagine what this first church was struggling with? Everyday they were wondering if it would be their last day. I am sure that waiting on the Lord and being patient was sometimes very difficult. I’m sure there were days they were wondering if the Lord would just return everything would be so much easier. What is so amazing is that they endured through persecution and suffering, they remained faithful to the end.
Revelation 13:10 ESV
If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.
Revelation uses the Greek word (hypomone) which is translated “patient endurance.” I think one of the most important things we must do as Christians as we wait on the the Lord is to remain patient. When we face times of uncertainty or fear and even persecution and trials it is hard to wait on the Lord. We often wonder what God is doing or if He is in control and if He does have a plan why does He not do something about this crazy world we live in???
Scott Duvall tells us in his book on Revelation, “When culture becomes strongly anti-Christian, persecution is inevitable for faithful followers. And as a result of this we are told to have patient endurance even though it may be tremendously tough.”
(I was sharing earlier about the difficulties of running. Training for a race is difficult. So, for me the fun part is the actual race. I look forward to races because I know that I am not running alone. There will be other runners with me. We encourage each other, people watching the race encourage us, and we come to aid stations along the miles to get fueled and stay hydrated. We remind each other not to start off too fast because we might get weary along the way and because the race is long. We must continue to keep going until we cross the finish line.)
As we continue to move forward in these every crazy daysI want to encourage you to stay the course and be reminded that God goes with us and has already won the battle. God has remained faithful down through the ages and he will continue to remain faithful. Someday He will return for his bride but until that time we must remain patient as we live and wait for our Warrior King.
(Close and Lead into Communion)
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