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[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
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A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.
1 John 5:4-5 & Revelation 3:21-22 by Robert Dean

Note that Dr. Dean has done a more in-depth study of “Overcomers” in his Philippians series, lessons #11–16.

Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:1 hr 2 mins 49 secs

Incentives: Co-Reigning with Christ

1 John 5:4, 5 NASB "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?"

Rev 3:21,22 NASB "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Stephen Weinberg is a professor of physics at Harvard University. In his discussion of the nature of the universe and his promotion of Darwinian evolution he examines a question of ultimate significance, that his believe in the theory of evolution has led him to the depressing conclusion that the universe is without purpose or design. We are just a cosmic accident. We are, he concludes, merely specks in an overwhelmingly hostile universe. He states: The more the universes seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.

So what solace does he offer in light of this? What is the significance of man according to Weinberg and others in our secular culture who hold to a system of origins based on evolution? What are we to make of this pointless situation in our hostile cosmos? He only has one answer. "The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lifts human life a little above the level of a farce and gives it some of the grace of tragedy." In writing about religion he states: "Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it you would have people doing good things and evil people doing evil things, but for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

What a cynical view of life! What a depressing view of life! He expresses in this quote the despair, the emptiness, the anger of modern man toward God. Modern man who is without truth, without hope and without Christ has nothing to truly live for other than the pleasure, the stimulation of the moment, or whatever he finds some little meaning in what he studies. For the Christian, though, we have purpose, meaning, a clear destiny explained in the Scripture. The Scripture teaches that not only do we have a purpose and destiny but that destiny is to rule and reign with Jesus Christ, and that today's life functions within the framework of a training ground for that future destiny. As we orient our thinking to that future destiny it gives meaning and purpose and value to even the most minute things that happen in our life. Things that seem to be pure coincidence suddenly take on new meaning and emphasis. We see this in such passages as Revelation 3:20, 21.

These letters in Revelation 2 & 3 are to challenge believers with the reality that Jesus Christ can come back today, tonight, tomorrow. The question is: Are we ready? not simply in the soteriological sense of preparing one's self by faith in Jesus Christ as to whether or not our destiny is heaven. That is important, the most important decision that we will ever make in this life. At that instant we not only have eternal life but we are adopted into the royal family of God through a process known as regeneration, and we become spiritual infants. There is a process of growth that takes place after that where we grow to spiritual maturity. But it is not just for the fact of growing to spiritual maturity, it is that we are in training for a future role and responsibility, and this is what we see emphasized in these overcomer passages at the end of each of these evaluation reports. It is indicated by the use of this word "throne" in Revelation 3:21, that if we are overcomers then we will be granted a special privilege and position to sit with the Lord Jesus Christ on His throne. As He shares that position with the Father, so we too will share in that position with the Lord Jesus Christ. So our emphasis now is to understand the emphasis of this reference to sitting "with Me on my throne."

Revelation 3:21 emphasizes two thrones. The first throne is the throne of the Lord Jesus Christ which has not yet occurred. The second throne mentioned is that of the Father, the first person of the Trinity. To understand this we have to understand the image of the throne and the reference to a throne that is used in Scripture. The image of the throne is used throughout the Scripture to denote authority, power, majesty and splendour. Biblical references to the throne commonly emphasizes not the physical throne itself but the authority and power of the king, the royal power and authority that is inherent to that position. Thus a reference to the throne is a reference to the power and authority of the one sitting on the throne to rule. So the Father sits on the throne because He is the one who has the power and the authority to rule over all creation. He is the sovereign creator of all things, there is nothing in heaven or in earth that has not been created by Him and for Him. But the Lord Jesus Christ is destined to sit on His throne. As we will see, that is a distinct throne, the Davidic throne; and He does not take His position on that throne until He returns at the Second Coming. It is at that time that he takes up the reins of power, and he has the power and authority given Him by the Father to rule on planet earth.

This throne of the Lord Jesus Christ derives from an Old Testament promise, referred to as the Davidic covenant. David was the first great king of Israel, the king over all twelve tribes, and God blessed him greatly despite his failures in life. God gave David a special covenant, a special promise, promising David that a descendant from him would sit on an eternal throne governing over the kingdom of Israel. This is emphasized in 2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16 NASB "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you [He will be true humanity], and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever [eternality]….Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever." This brings in the aspect of deity. He will come from David and be human but the only way there can be a King who can establish and eternal throne is if He is from God. So there is the inference in this passage of both the humanity and the deity of the Messiah who is the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are four eternal promises in the covenant. They are eternal in nature; they are mediated through Jesus who is the Messiah. There is the promise of an eternal dynasty, the promise of an eternal throne, the promise of an eternal kingdom, and the promise of an eternal descendant. So the foundation for talking about the throne of Jesus Christ is in 2 Samuel 7.

The next time we see this promise developed a little bit in the Old Testament is in Isaiah 9:7: NASB "There will be no end to the increase of {His} government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this." So the Messiah will establish the throne of David and reign over His kingdom. This is important because this is the backdrop for Luke 1:32, 33 where the angel Gabriel announces to Mary the birth of a son: NASB "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." The words "Son of the Most High" is an indication of His deity. The announcement to Mary cannot be understood unless we understand 2 Samuel 7 and Isaiah 9, and other Old Testament references. The Lord did not take His throne at His first coming. When he came He presented the kingdom to Israel but they rejected it. They rejected Him as King and rejected the kingdom that he offered.

So we come back to Revelation 3:21: "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne..." What throne is this? In the light of what we have seen in 2 Samuel 7, Isaiah 9 and Luke 1 it is the throne of David. That is His throne. He is not sitting on that throne now, the throne of David is going to be centered in Jerusalem in the kingdom of Israel that will be established in the Millennium.

There are numerous references to a throne in the book of Revelation. There is the throne of Satan mentioned in the letter to Pergamum which is the center of a false idolatrous system of religion in Revelation 2:13. In Revelation 13:2 there is the mention of the throne, the power, the dominion of the Antichrist which is given to him by Satan, referred to as the dragon. This is mentioned again in Revelation 16:10. Then there is the throne of God the Almighty in Revelation 3:21. It is expanded in Revelation 4:2-10, and it is always the Father's throne because the Lamb is not even present at first in Revelation chapter four. Then in Revelation 5:13: "…on the throne, and to the Lamb." See the distinction of personality: there is one who sits on the throne and then there is the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout Revelation we will see that His throne is distinct from the Father's throne. E.g. 6:16 NASB "and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Revelation 7:9-11, 15, 17 all distinguish the personage who is sitting on the throne and the Lamb. The Lamb is still seated at the right hand of the Father.

All of this is important for understanding the entire concept of our inheritance and rewards, for that is what these overcomer passages are talking about. They are emphasizing the fact that there is an incentive out there for believers.

All believer have the potential for rewards and inheritance. God set these up in eternity past. So there is a package deal of assets, blessings, rewards, and privileges that has our name on it. It was set aside by God in eternity past and as you would grow to maturity, then as a result of your growth and capacity God would begin to distribute blessings in time, and then as a result of what you did in time there would be a distribution of other blessings and rewards in the future. They are already yours, they have your name on them. You don't have to do anything to earn or deserve them, it is grace. But you have to grow to maturity or you won't get to enjoy them. It is not works. God is not rewarding us for works in that sense, it is a growth of capacity. And God is not going to bless us beyond our capacity to handle it, otherwise the distribution of these blessings would just be abused and it would ruin us. All believers have the potential for this inheritance, and that distribution of eternal rewards and inheritance occurs at the judgment seat of Christ.

Some rewards are described as crowns, Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:8; other rewards such as those mentioned in the evaluation reports of Revelation 2 & 3 have to do with privileges, responsibilities, and different things that will be provided for us in the Millennial kingdom and the eternal state. All of these come under the category of what is referred to as an inheritance, that which is a possession of ours for eternity. There are two categories of inheritance. Romans 8:16, 17 NASB "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} so that we may also be glorified with {Him.}" Suffering isn't a condition for having eternal life. We need to recognize that we have two categories of inheritance in this verse: that all believers are heirs of God based on their trust in Christ for salvation, but there is another category of inheritance, being a joint heir with Christ that is conditioned upon suffering with Him. If you really want to grow to spiritual maturity, then you are going to get a bullseye painted on your hind quarters and Satan is going to go after you. That is part of the process of spiritual growth, that we will go through adversity. So inheritance and rewards are conditioned upon the believer who is willing to go through that additional adversity that comes along with spiritual growth.

We see this exemplified in 2 Timothy 2:8-13 NASB "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen [he is not talking here about all believers], so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus {and} with {it} eternal glory. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." There are three phases to salvation, and frequently Paul uses the word "saved" or "salvation" to the culmination of the process, our future salvation. In fact, in Romans 5:9 NASB "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood [past tense], we shall be saved [future tense] from the wrath {of God} through Him." So salvation in the Bible frequently has that future orientation based on a past act of justification. So when we read Paul talking about "we may obtain salvation" he is focusing on that future realization of everything in heaven at the judgment seat of Christ, the full benefit of what began at the moment of faith alone in Christ alone.

In 2 Corinthians 11:23-28 Paul gives a grocery list of his sufferings. "Are they servants of Christ?—I speak as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine {lashes.} Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. {I have been} on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from {my} countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;{I have been} in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from {such} external things, there is the daily pressure on me {of} concern for all the churches." These are besides the other things that come upon the believer daily through living in a fallen world dealing with the angelic conflict and which he went through on a daily basis in order to proclaim the gospel throughout that first century world.

So Paul then quotes, talking about the importance of this endurance: "It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him…" This is a reference back to Romans 6:8, that at the point of faith alone in Christ alone we are identified with Christ in the justice of God is such a way that His death becomes your death and His payment for sin is your payment for sin. Then the next verse tells us about what happens after salvation. "…if we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us." Endurance isn't a condition for salvation, it is related to spiritual growth. This is the Greek word HUPOMENO [u(pomenw], meaning to remain under, top persevere, to sustain, to bear up under adversity. It is the idea of remaining in the adversity by means of the application of doctrine with the result that you have joy, stability, peace and tranquillity. If we endure we will reign with Him. That is what Revelation 3:21 is talking about.

Then we have a warning at the end of that verse: "If we deny Him, He also will deny us." Does that mean He denies us salvation? No. It means that if we deny Him He denies us rewards. Then, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." That is our promise of eternal security. Even if we fail He is faithful and can't deny Himself; you will still be saved, but we will lose rewards.

So there is this emphasis on the fact that we will reign in the future. 1 Corinthians 6:2 NASB "Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? … Do you not know that we will judge angels?"  Revelation 20:4 NASB "Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them." These thrones are the thrones that we will sit on as believers in the church age in our resurrection bodies, returning with the Lord and ruling in the kingdom. This takes place when he returns. Matthew 25:31-32 NASB "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats."

The issue for us: Are you an overcomer?