In Genesis, Abraham was promised a land, and it was promised to his seed as well. The promise was repeated to Isaac, and later to Jacob. But as Stephen said in his speech to the council of the Jews, in Acts 7, Abraham did not posses or inherit the land promised to him in his lifetime. He looked for a future inheritance, a resurrection. This is also what Jesus promises his followers. In John 14, Jesus promises to "prepare a place" for his saints. He said,
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Was Jesus talking about the eternal inheritance of the saints here? Is it somehow related to the promise of land that was made to Abraham? The "preparation" that Jesus has been doing, has to do with preparing the saints for their future inheritance. What happens in our lives, affects our future and our destiny. Jesus is the giver of life, and he gives eternal life to his "sheep;" it is not something everyone has automatically, as Plato thought.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
In the message to the church of Ephesus, Jesus promised the "tree of life" to those who overcome.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
The tree of life is identified with wisdom in Proverbs 3:13-18. It is given to those who obey God; Revelation 22:14 says, "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
The message of Jesus to the church in Smyrna contrasts the previous promise, by presenting the idea of a "second death" to which the saints are exempt.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
John identified the "lake of fire" with the second death.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Since the earth will be "full of the knowledge of the LORD," the truth of the gospel will be like a "fire" that destroys false doctrines; thus John combines the idea of "fire" and a universal "sea," or lake, to get the metaphor of a "lake of fire."
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Jesus is the true manna, the bread from heaven, as he showed in his message to the church in Pergamos.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Jesus explained this in more detail, in John 6:29-35.
Jesus has obtained power over the nations, as he said in his message to the church in Thyatira:
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Paul showed that this is included as the church's role in the future.
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
In his message to the church in Sardis, Jesus showed he decides who is included in the book of life.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
The saints are given white raiment, as also shown in Revelation 19:7-9 where the church is the "bride of the Lamb," and is "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints."
Jesus is the temple of God. In the message to the church in Philadelphia he promises saints who overcome that they will be "pillars" in the temple.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Paul showed that the church is the temple of God, and the apostles and prophets are its foundation. [Ephesians 2:19-22]
Jesus reminded the church of the Laodiceans that he sits in the throne of God, and promises those who overcome that they will sit with him in his throne.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Paul also says, in Ephesians 2:4-7, that God "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."
Perhaps the most profound promise of all is this one.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Copyright © 2010, 2012, 2013 by Douglas E. Cox
All Rights Reserved.