In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus Christ tells each of the seven Church eras that true Christians must overcome if we are to receive eternal life. We hear that admonition so often that we may never stop to consider what it means. We know that we must overcome—but do we know why?
There is a definite, awe-inspiring purpose behind God requiring us to overcome and build character in this life.
Christ tells us that we must overcome like He overcame (Revelation 3:21). Romans 8:16-17 show that we are “joint-heirs with Christ,” destined to inherit all things and help Him rule the universe. But in order to qualify for this great position, we must overcome!
The short answer to the question of why we must overcome is so we can qualify to rule!
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in Human Nature: Did God Create It?: “Those who are to rule with and under Christ when He restores the government to the Earth must qualify—must turn from Satan’s way to God’s way, that is, to the government of God.”
Salvation is a free gift—we cannot earn it (Ephesians 2:8). But even though eternal life is a gift from God, we still must qualify to receive it! That doesn’t mean that we can earn salvation, but we must qualify—we must meet the conditions—to receive this free gift. We must reject Satan’s way, repent and choose God’s way. We must overcome!
Christ will need thousands of trained government officials to rule nations around the world. This is not a one-man job! Chapter 6 of Mystery of the Ages says: “… Christ must have an organized government with numerous others trained and qualified to rule under Him. … The Church was to consist of many to be called out of Satan’s world to be taught and trained for numerous governmental positions under Christ when He comes to rule over all the nations.”
Qualifying to Rule With Christ
Perhaps you have thought: I don’t want to rule in the World Tomorrow. I just want to serve God. The truth is, if you want to serve, you should want to rule! If you don’t, you misunderstand what it means to rule.
History is replete with examples of rulers who abused their power and served their own interests while pretending to be servants of the people. God’s rulers in the World Tomorrow will not be like that. A ruler is a servant. Jesus Christ said He came to Earth to be a servant, and we are to follow His example (Matthew 20:26-28). When we rule properly, we look out for other people’s welfare, not our own.
We qualify to rule by being faithful and conscientious in everything we do, even in the smallest matters (Luke 16:10). Even the person who thinks he has little natural ability and talent can qualify to rule in God’s Kingdom. We qualify by learning to manage our own affairs and responsibilities today, no matter how small. God is not a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11; Galatians 3:28). He measures us by how much we do with what we have.
God hasn’t selected us today for special favors. We have a tremendous job to do! We have a responsibility to overcome and grow in character. The Christian life today is about preparing to serve in the World Tomorrow!
Are You Qualifying?
You must analyze your own life and character. Are you obeying God? Are you growing spiritually? Are you praying and studying the Bible every day? Are you growing in self-control? Are you replacing bad habits and attitudes with right thoughts and deeds? What does your spiritual résumé look like?
If you were suddenly given a tremendous responsibility, like running an essential department in a city, would you be able to fulfill that responsibility as God would want it done?
Consider the Luke 16:10 test: If you are properly directing the little powers under your control now—your temper, your voice, your passions and emotions, your job, your family, your time and your income—then you probably could be entrusted with larger responsibilities. But if you have not yet begun to control these comparatively little powers under your care, how could God entrust you to handle greater responsibilities? If your heart is not fully behind God’s Work today, how can God be certain that you will heartily support His Work for eternity?
Strive to be faithful over what God has already given you, so that one day Christ can say to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant;you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much”(Matthew 25:21; Revised Standard Version).
This life is the training ground. We learn to rule tomorrow by performing our responsibilities faithfully today. Don’t be like the man in the parable of the pounds who lost what little he had (Luke 19:11-27). He didn’t do anything with what he was given—he wasn’t faithful in the least.
Learn to be humble and submit to God’s government. How well we submit to God’s government now indicates how well we are prepared to rule others in the future. God will not save any person He does not govern.
Prepare to Rule as Christ’s Bride
There is another dimension to this subject, and it relates to ruling with Christ as His Bride.
Hosea 2:19-20 show how Jesus Christ thinks about His wife—He has an intense love for her. Christ wants to have a deep and intimate relationship with His Bride, becoming one flesh spiritually. He gives His wife His very mind and Spirit, along with many other spiritual gifts. He wants to share His entire inheritance with her.
Speaking of the spiritual gifts Christ gives to His wife, Barnes’ Notes says: “[A]s by gifts of espousal, He makes her His own.” Jesus Christ wants to make us His own!
Ephesians 5 emphasizes that the Church is the Bride of Christ. We are made from Christ spiritually, as Eve was made from Adam physically. We are hewn, or cut, from the Rock—Jesus Christ (Isaiah 51:1). Right now, Christ lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We must let His mind reside in us today, and eventually, we will be made in His image spiritually. What a testament to the power of God! He can take a lump of clay and transform it into a perfect helpmeet for His divine and perfect Son, Jesus Christ!
We will be well suited to be Christ’s Bride if we let Him live in us today—spiritually, we will be one flesh with Christ forever! He will make us His own.
This is why we must follow Christ’s example. We must live as He lived when He walked this Earth, think as He thinks, and overcome as He overcame—so that we can qualify to rule as He did! We will be His wife, a perfect team working together as one flesh!
We must be overcoming and being led by the Spirit in everything we do because Christ is developing a wife for Himself. He needs a suitable helpmeet to bring salvation to the whole world. We can be part of that glorious Bride—if we qualify to receive that eternal inheritance.
What a breathtaking calling we have! What a glorious, wonderful future is ahead of us! This is why we must overcome—to qualify to rule the entire universe with our Husband, Jesus Christ, as His eternal wife forever and ever!