Losing Your Priorities
February 13, 2005
The session, the seatedness of Christ, is related to two doctrines: a) the completion of the work of salvation—propitiation, reconciliation, redemption at the cross. Because it is finished He sits down. b) it is also related to His second coming. In Daniel chapter seven we have a picture of Jesus Christ waiting before His prayer of Psalm 2 and 110) that the session is related to His coming kingdom. It pictures Him related to the completed work on the cross on the one hand, and waiting for the time of the second coming when he will come in to His kingdom on the other. These are Old Testament prophecies where there is no indication anywhere that there is this parenthesis between the first advent and the second advent. Why is there no indication of this in the Old Testament? If the Jews knew this was going to be this lengthy intermediate period then they would not have had a real offer of the kingdom the first advent. They had a genuine offer at the first advent and it is because of that rejection that there is a postponement of the inauguration of the kingdom until the second coming. So to keep that offer of the kingdom genuine and legitimate there is no mention in the Old Testament of the intermediate period, any church age, and so the Lord Jesus Christ is only pictured in terms of the session in the Old Testament. Any it is only Old Testament passages that we go to for the session. With regard to the church He is active; with regard to the kingdom He is passive.
The Lord Jesus Christ, during this intercalation, is working in the church through church age believers, something unforeseen in Old Testament prophecy and He is actively involved. This is the emphasis here. Jesus Christ is walking in the midst of the churches, He is involved in the churches, He is preparing His bride for the future responsibilities to rule and reign with Him.
Revelation 2:2, "I know your works, and your labor." Labor refers to toil resulting in weariness, and this has to do with Christian service. This is not a means to spirituality, this is what it is like to be involved in Christian service. Every one of us should be involved in Christian service in some area, as we mature. This is not saying that, as in a lot of churches, we just walk through the door and are put into something. There must be some spiritual growth and understanding. We have a spiritual gift received at the instant of salvation and as you grow and mature that begins to manifest itself. Whatever the gift is we need to be involved in some sort of ministry in a local congregation. This is not always easy. Notice how Paul uses this word to describe his own ministry. 1 Corinthians 3:8, "Now he who plants and he who waters are one: and each one will receive his own reward according to his labor." So reward is related to this word KOPOS [kopoj], a word related to labor and sometimes it has to do with extremely difficult responsibilities and toil.
John 4:38, Jesus said: "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored: others have labored, and you have entered into their labor." 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul says: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your toil is not in vain in the Lord." 2 Corinthians 6:4,5, "But in all things we commend ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings [going without food or water]." 2 Corinthians 11:27, "In labor and hardships, in many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure." Living the Christian life sometimes is very tough. It is not just a matter of our own personal walk with the Lord, this is the production that is related to Christian service. Christian service is part of our responsibilities as believer priests. Where some churches get out of line is when they make that a means of spirituality or a barometer of spirituality. It is neither, but it is an outworking of our spiritual growth and spiritual life. 1 Thessalonians 1:3, "Constantly bearing in mind your work [production] of faith, and labor of love, and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the presence of God and our Father." So again and again we see the apostle Paul praising these congregations and the members of the congregations because of their intense toil for the Lord in the local church. There is no retirement in the Christian life.
"and your endurance" – this is the Greek word HUPOMONE [u(pomonh]. This is a compound word: HUPO = under; MONE = a cognate of MENO [menw] which means to remain, abide. It has the idea of remaining under a situation. This isn't patience, this is endurance. Endurance is the idea of staying in tough situations, remaining in adversity by means of application of doctrine. It is not the stoic idea of keeping a stiff upper lip and be tough when I go through a difficult time. It is staying in the pressure, remaining in fellowship, utilizing the problem-solving devices, recognizing that God in His sovereignty brought about that test. He has designed these adversities to produce maturity. Endurance is a major doctrine in the New Testament. The role of endurance is brought out fully in two passages: Romans 5:3-5; James chapter one. Romans 5:3, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations [adversity] …" We glory. As believers, when we hit tribulation, adversity and difficulty, it is not the time to moan and complain. In fact, in Paul's to the Ephesians he said, "Do all things without grumbling or murmuring." We can look at adversity and say this is something that I can glory in because we understand that this is designed by God for our life for a purpose. "…because we know that tribulation produces endurance." We can't get from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity without endurance. It is hanging in there in the midst of adversity by means of application of doctrine. Romans 5:4, "And endurance, approval [DOKIMAZO/dokimazw]—a word that is used for evaluation of the believer at the judgment seat of Christ. It is to produce character that is worthy of reward, divine good—; and character, hope [confident expectation]."
"and how you cannot bear those who are evil" – that doesn't end with a period, it is all one sentence in the Greek. They cannot tolerate those who are evil. The verb here is BASTAZO [bastazw] which means to bear up under trying or oppressive circumstances. The idea here is that you can't put up with the difficulties that come from evil men. The word translated "evil" is the Greek word KAKOS [kakoj]. It means evil in the sense of worthless, useless production that has no eternal value. It is not the other word used in Greek for evil, PONEROS [ponhroj] which is intrinsic evil, this is that which has worthless or useless production. It is the same word we find in 2 Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or evil." They couldn't put up with those men who were coming in and teaching a human good religious system. It is connected to the next phrase in the verse, "and have tested those who say they are apostles, and are not, and have found them liars." The word there for "tested" is the Greek word PEIRAZO [peirazw] which is the same word used in James 1:2-4. It was a term originally used in mining. The metal was taken and refined, put in fire to burn off impurities. It has the idea of purification in order to reveal the character of something, as opposed to DOKIMAZO which is to test something for approval. PEIRAZO focuses on the process of applying pressure, heat, fire, or something to see what it is made of. So they would test those who made various claims coming into the congregation. They exposed the claims of these men who came to teach.