Life-Study of Revelationby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In verse 10 we see the promise to the overcomer—the crown of life. Eventually, life will become a crown. It will be the glory of the victorious martyrs. A crown in New Testament usage always denotes a prize in addition to salvation (3:11; James 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4; 1 Cor. 9:25). The crown of life as a prize to those who are faithful unto death in overcoming persecution denotes the overcoming strength which is the power of the resurrection life (Phil. 3:10); it also signifies that these overcomers have attained to “the out-resurrection from among the dead,” that is, the outstanding resurrection (Phil. 3:11, Gk.).
In verse 11 the Lord says, “He who overcomes shall by no means be hurt of the second death.” To overcome in this epistle means to overcome persecution by being faithful unto death. The promise to the overcomer in this epistle has both a positive side—receiving the crown of life—and a negative side—not being hurt of the second death.
Verse 11 has been a great problem to the expositors of the book of Revelation. Due to the fall and the entering in of sin, every man must die once (Heb. 9:27). This first death, however, is not the final settlement. All the dead, except those who through faith in the Lord Jesus have been recorded in the book of life, will be resurrected and pass through the judgment of the great white throne at the close of the millennium, that is, at the conclusion of the old heaven and the old earth. As a result of this judgment, they will all be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death as the final settlement (Rev. 20:11-15). The second death is God’s dealing with man after man’s death and resurrection. Since the overcomers have overcome death through their faithfulness unto death under persecution and have left nothing requiring further dealing by God after their resurrection, they will be rewarded with the crown of life and will not be touched, or “hurt,” anymore by the death after resurrection, which is the second death.
Nearly every Christian teacher has a problem here, thinking that after the believers are resurrected there will be no further settlement required of them. Let me ask you this question: If you were to die today, could you say that you have nothing which requires the Lord’s further dealing? Probably you cannot say this. This means that if you died today, you would still have something which requires the Lord’s further dealing. This does not mean that you would be lost. Nevertheless, this further dealing would not be something positive; it would surely be negative. Every negative thing comes from death. Thus, if you require a further negative dealing, it means that you can still be touched by death. This does not mean that you will perish, but it does indicate that you will suffer something. We must hear the word of the Lord. If we overcome persecution, on the positive side, we shall receive the crown of life and, on the negative side, we shall not be hurt by the second death.
We all need to be overcomers. If you are not an overcomer in this age, you will be hurt by the second death in the next age. It is difficult for anyone to say clearly what it means to be hurt by the second death. Nevertheless, one thing is clear: if you do not overcome persecution, something will hurt you. I say again that this does not mean that you will be lost, that you will suffer perdition. No, every saved one is saved for eternity. John 10:28 and 29 show that no saved one can ever perish again. However, after we have been resurrected, we may suffer some dealing from the Lord. Do not hold to the traditional theology which teaches that after you have been resurrected everything will be all right. After the unbelievers are resurrected, they will be dealt with by God regarding their eternal destiny. In the same principle, after our resurrection, there will still be some dealings from the Lord. It all depends upon how we live and walk today. If we live and walk in an overcoming way, this will indicate that we have overcome death and that nothing remains requiring a further dealing from the Lord.
We must take the Lord’s clear word. Do not accept the teaching which says that if you fail after being saved you will be lost again and perish. This is not true. At the other extreme is the teaching which says that after you have been saved you can have no problems with the Lord. However, a person who has been eternally saved may still need to be dealt with by Him. This is the full gospel. The full gospel is the whole New Testament, not just John 3:16. Here in Revelation 2:11 is a portion of the full gospel which says that we must overcome all persecution. If you do not overcome, you will not receive the crown of life; instead, you will be hurt by the second death. If you do overcome persecution and tribulation by the resurrection life within you, you will receive the crown of life positively and you will not be touched by the second death negatively. This is the Lord’s clear promise with His clear word, and we all must take it. Whether we understand it or not, we all must accept the word of the Lord. If you believe John 3:16, then you must believe Revelation 2:11. Both are the Lord’s word. I say again that this is the full gospel.
This matter has been veiled for a long time, and few Christians dare to touch it. Since they have been unable to understand it, their practice has been always to neglect it, to ignore it. But the Lord will never ignore His word. He will follow through with whatever He says. Therefore, be warned that we must overcome tribulation, suffering, and persecution, that we may receive a crown of life and not be hurt by the second death. If we overcome in this way, we shall have nothing remaining that will require the Lord’s further dealing in the future.
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