Clean Sheets Or Clean Robes?

Rev 12:11 (NKJ)
11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

That’s an amazing verse. Christians are all over the “overcoming” thing, and the tougher life gets, the more the Lord shakes heaven and earth, the deeper He personally takes each and every one of us along our own journey of refinement, the concept of overcoming sometimes overcomes us. But then we realize this is precisely what we are called to do. After all, consider the bleak alternative:

Heb 10:37-39 (NKJ)
37 “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

The writer of Hebrews ends this OT (Hab 2:4) quote with the faithfully optimistic statement: “…But we are not of those who draw back to the perdition…” – fully understanding that the choice remains ours every day.

In fact, one of the primary themes of the book of Hebrews is to continue, to make it, to not allow our hearts to grow hard, to not become like Esau – selling out our eternal inheritance for the “now”. It was later in the first century, the believers had believed Jesus would return soon, and He had not met their calendar expectations. They in turn were getting discouraged, and were being told to make that which was crooked straight. We would do well to look at this portion of scripture:

Heb 12:12-17 (NKJ)
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees,
13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (we’re to be doing all that. Our responsibility, and in our own power, by His great grace)
14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:
15 looking diligently lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

We need to be overcomers, indeed, and no one, no creature, no person, can pluck us out of His hands. But we can choose to exercise our God-given freewill to yank ourselves out, and we’re not to do that. We’re to overcome. John sees that in Revelation, that we can overcome even the most trying of times, the end times. The heavenly formula of us overcoming, even to not loving life, seems to war against the Western Church’s attitude of smooth sailing with Jesus.

Again: Rev 12:11 (NKJ)
11 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

BY THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB – and everyone shouts “Amen”
BY THE WORD OF THEIR TESTIMONY – and some, who live lives of light and testimony, say “Amen”.
AND THEY DID NOT LOVE THEIR LIVES TO THE DEATH – and currently there’s pretty much silence, but for the few who understand this is not a gospel that necessarily concludes on a clean bed, with clean sheets, with our grandchildren and sons and daughters around us, as we profoundly bless them and then drift off to eternity. Fade to harp music. Not.

This gospel is supposed to end with white robes, not necessarily clean white sheets. Countless saints who have said yes to the will of God have discovered that their exit strategy was not the Lord’s exit strategy for them. This is a very real gospel that may well require us to lay our lives down for the One who laid His down for us. It’s good to practice surrender during our living days, so if/when the Lord calls us to the big surrender, we’ve have some practice.

I know of a praying family who were called by the Lord to Sendai Japan only a few days prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They did not miss the will of God. They found the will of God. Lights in a dark place. Salt of the earth. Those saints were invited into tribulation, not scooped up out of tribulation. The purposeful troubling of “tribulation” is for the Lord to get the unsaved saved, that they would cry out in their distress. He wants His people around to offer that salvation rescue. Troubling is part of God’s plan, you ask? Read Ps 107. His verse 43 mercy and lovingkindness often begins with His troubling of folks’ status quo, way prior to the deliverance. That is the wisdom of that psalm.

Do we realize what we are saying to our Lord when we pray “Your will be done”? It might mean more than we bargained for. It likely will. It will.

Not all praying folks are called to martyrdom. But we’re all called to obedience, to faithfully fulfill our destiny on earth. If we seek to save our lives, we’re guaranteed of one thing:

Matt 16:25-28 (NKJ)
25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
26 “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.
28 “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

This is a great and wonderful gospel, designed by a great and wonderful God.
Clean sheets or clean robes? What is your end-game perspective?

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About ez3728

I am a believer in Jesus - that He is the One and Only Messiah of the world. I believe the Bible is the perfect and complete Word of God, and that God is absolutely competent and capable of keeping His Word perfect, undefiled, and uncorrupted. Jesus was born Jewish. So was I. He lived a perfect life, and is worshiped. I live an imperfect life, and I worship Him.
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