Before dealing further with this verse, and its present applications, it is necessary to give warning to all who have ears to hear of impending events. I have become aware of dire warnings, from several sources, regarding impending peril for America and Americans. Following is one quote, from a highly respected source:
Retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney: “On the 7th of September 2014, a major news network and publishing network are going to put out a book. It is going to be earth-shattering of what’s happening and what happened. The fact is, we may even see a 9/11/14 MH-370[the Malaysian airline that disappeared March 8, 2014]surface again. We should go to DEFCON 1—our highest state of readiness—and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11,” McInerney said. “I can't give you anymore than what I've just said, but it is going to be extremely important and America should take notice. We are less safe today than we were 6 years ago.”
We are indeed living in perilous times. I would urge one and all to stay away from all malls, gatherings or other crowded venues for the near future. With that said, we can now move on to our text, which relates specifically to these times.
A Quick Review
From my previous posts on this passage, we should keep the following facts in mind:
The “hour of trial” is not the Tribulation period, but rather a relatively short span of time leading up to it.
The deliverance promised is not the Rapture of the Church. While the Rapture will include all believers, this promise is given to specific believers.
The phrase “because you have kept My command to persevere,” which occurs in most translations, is not accurately translated. Rather it should read, “because you have kept the message of My perseverance.” In other words, it is Christ-centered, not performance-centered.
With these important points in mind, we can now delve deeper into this very relevant passage and promise, which in days ahead will be worth everything!
Defending the Defenders
The protasis (the condition) of the promise is “because you have kept,” followed by the apodosis (the reward), “I also will keep you.” In other words, in order to receive the Lord’s protection, a condition must be met up to that point. What, then, is the condition?
The word “kept” is used twice, once for faithful believers’ actions, then for the resulting action by our Lord and Savior during a fearful time of history (which we are now entering).
In the original language, “kept,” in both instances, is the word tereo, which means, “to watch over, preserve, keep, watch,” in essence, “to guard.” The promise is to believers who have guarded the truth of Christ’s sufferings for the salvation of men. They have not compromised the Gospel message as is so common today. They have protected the truth about Jesus Christ from all modern attempts to make salvation an issue of human effort or works. It is all about the finished work of Christ on the cross.
All through the ages, various assaults have been made against the truth of the message of salvation. Today, every form of modernist teaching undermines the biblical truth of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Philadelphian believers, however, continue to guard this central truth of all Scripture. Not only have they guarded the truth of the Gospel message, they have also lived by and propagated it. Paul makes it very clear that to “[keep] the faith” (2TI 4:7) means both to obey it and to declare it.
To those believers of the Philadelphian model, in the closing moments of the Church Age, the Lord Jesus promises that as they have guarded His truth, so He will now guard them.
No Suffering for Us?
Many conclude from this passage that faithful believers are promised escape from suffering. Taking the little preposition “from” to mean “away from,” they draw the conclusion that the promise is escape or removal from suffering. This is not what the text says. In 2TI 3:10-12, the Apostle Paul gives a list of his persecutions and sufferings, then says, “And out of them all the Lord delivered me.” He uses exactly the same preposition found in REV 3:10. His deliverance was not “away from” those afflictions, but rather “through” them—to come out the other side without compromising his faith.
In essence, what our Lord promises to defend is exactly what He expects us to defend—the Truth. As those faithful believers have guarded His truth, so He will guard His truth in them. Note that this “hour” will “test those who dwell on the earth,” that is, those who are “at home in the world.” What is the test? It will be a test of the ability to discern “good and evil” (HEB 5:14), which those who have not been faithful will not be equipped to pass.
The Great Deception
Paul tells us that the coming of antichrist will be “according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all [unrighteousness] …” (2TH 2:9-10). This deception will not just begin with antichrist’s appearance, but will actually prepare the way for his coming. Hence, the “hour of trial,” preceding the Rapture, in which the majority of believers will “depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1TI 4:1-2).
We are already seeing the plight of Christians being persecuted, crucified, and beheaded around the world, while America yawns and gets back to its self-indulgence. Faced with those kinds of torture, how strong will you be to refuse to compromise? This text tells us all that we will not be delivered unless we have a personal history of guarding the truth.
The Agony and the Ecstasy
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”REV 3:11
In light of understanding the promise correctly, the next verse now makes sense. Here Christ speaks to the Philadelphian believers in the closing moments of the Church Age. It is a time of unprecedented testing, designed by Satan to deceive believers from the truth. The price of faithfulness will be high, and cannot be manufactured in the moment. It will need to be a living reality of one’s personal history over time.
This is why even those who have been faithful are both encouraged, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” and at the same time warned, “Hold fast what you have, that no one take your crown.” Even a history of faithfulness will not guarantee standing firm to the end. What they are to “hold fast” is the same thing as what they have “kept” before. It implies an unshakeable devotion to the truth of “the mystery of godliness” (1TI 3:16), the incarnation by virgin birth, sinless life, death on the cross, burial, and resurrection—all “to seek and to save that which was lost” (LUK 19:10).
The crown of the overcomer (REV 3:11-13) is reserved for those who “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (HEB 12:1). This is possible only as we are “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (HEB 12:2). Those who will stand on the victors’ stand are not sinless. Rather, they will be those who fall and rise again, refusing to be stopped, laying aside all weights and entangling sins, and holding fast to the eternal truth that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” to which each of us can add along with Paul, “of whom I am chief” (1TI 1:15).
Put on the full armor of God! Strengthen your souls, harden your resolve—for the time is short!