Don't Waste Your Trials
We continue our study with Revelation 1:8:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. An alphabet is the basis of a language, and Jesus is the basis of the language of God—He is the Word of God. He is the whole Word of God, from the beginning to the end. The Book of Revelation continually reminds us of this because it is a revelation of Him. When we stray from the revelation and purpose of God, we stray from the centrality of Christ in all things. We continue with Revelation 1:9:
I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
First, John begins with how he is a fellow partaker in the tribulation, kingdom, and perseverance that are in Jesus. These three are connected. When we commit ourselves to following the Lord, we should expect tribulation to come. Tribulation comes with every life on earth, but in Christ, we can expect more because we live a life contrary to the age and the will of the prince of this present age, the devil.
Even so, as Christians, our trials have a purpose. God causes all things to benefit us, not to mention the comfort of the Holy Spirit that He has given to us. Consider how difficult this life would be without our hope and comfort in Him and the meaning that He gives to every trial.
A teaching contrary to Scripture implies that our lives will be easy, or our trials will be over, when we come to Jesus. This false teaching has caused many to backslide when this turns out to be untrue.
This causes those who came to the Lord on such premises to doubt the rest of what they have been taught about Christ. From the beginning, when someone came to Christ, they knew that they may have to forfeit their life for identifying with Him. Throughout the age, many have.
Persecution was a great filter and tended to weed out those with selfish ambition who would have been toxic members of the body. Identifying with Christ was not a pathway to advancement but an almost sure path to oppression and attacks. When this changed in the fourth century A.D., and being a Christian became an asset for political, social, and business advancement, the worst corruption of the faith came with it—as we will see later in this study.
Persecution is the normal state of Christianity, attracting only the greatest souls—those who love God and His truth more than their own lives. Basic discipleship requires that we not only love not our lives even to death, but that we take up our crosses and die daily to this world. True Christianity is a life of sacrifice, not a basis for attaining the things of this age. Rather, it is for the ultimate attainment in the age to come. If we live for the Lord’s sake, and not just for the benefits we might get, we will find true life and the kingdom.
Trials come upon everyone who lives. Without Christ, these trials can turn a castle into a dungeon of misery. When we learn to live in the kingdom, as John did, we can live in a dungeon but still experience unfathomable glory and wonder. Even so, abiding in the kingdom takes perseverance, just as John wrote. Perseverance is one of the greatest treasures we can possess, and it leads to the greatest spiritual treasures, as is testified throughout the Scriptures. The following are a few examples: "But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word with an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance (Luke 8:15).
to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life (Romans 2:7).
we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint… (see Romans 5:3-5).
The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles (II Corinthians 12:12).
Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions that you endure. This is a plain indication of God's righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering (II Thessalonians 1:4-5).