A Victorious Church Will Arise
Most evangelical Christians are now waiting for the rapture to take place so they will not have to go through the tribulation. In most cases they are also not expecting the rising up of a victorious church in the end times. I have checked the commentaries of many respected evangelical teachers and I find many of their comments on the victorious end time church to be quite lacking in support from God’s word.
Yes, the world is going to hell in a handbasket, so to speak, because Satan is the god of this world system, but Jesus has declared “but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We, the ekklesia of God, are in this world but we are not part of it (John 15:19) and do not allow it to lure us away from Christ and His truth. We are ambassadors of Christ stationed in this cosmos as the representatives of The Most High God (2 Cor. 5:20).
Many passages of scripture declare boldly that there will be an actual, on-this-planet, real life restoration of a victorious church before the coming of the Lord in the last day. Let’s look at a few.
Paul speaks prophetically about a time when the body of Christ will mature to the point that “We all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). Most commentators just ignore passages like this because they seem too idealistic to share with most skeptical Christians today. Notice that Paul says “We will all attain to the unity of the faith.” Christians is more divided today than ever before.
This destiny of unity was prayed for by Jesus in John 17 where He prayed “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20, 21). Some will sell Jesus short by saying that this is a unity of spirit, not an actual on-the-earth unity for all to see. That rejects His words, “. . . so that the world may believe that You sent Me” which obviously refers to a future time when a state of unity will be arrived at on earth as a supernatural testimony to the world that Jesus was sent by the Father. Impossible? Yes, if you think the body of Christ will unite through human effort and cleverness. But in Christ all things that He has declared and prayed for will come to pass in His supernatural power.
So, in Paul’s expression in Ephesians 4:13, He is referring to that time of the church’s corporate maturity at some future time, perhaps soon. The Greek uses the word teleos which we translate “mature.” It is often translated “perfect” but it has nothing to do with the idea of sinless perfection. The word teleos refers to the point where an organic living thing reaches the state it was destined by its nature to attain. Trees, for example, have a built in DNA that determines when they will reach maturity and bear their fruit. Our DNA is Christ Himself and we will know we are mature when we reach “. . . the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” This is speaking of the point when the corporate church reaches its destined point of teleos, maturity. That point is measured by the “. . . stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” This declaration should blow our minds but it doesn’t because we often water it down with vague, compromising, theological, unbelieving nonsense.
The results of that supernatural unity will be that we will
. . . no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:14–16).
Anyone who can say that these words of Paul have been fulfilled or will be fulfilled in the Millennium, or some other idea are just not believing what the word plainly says. Today the body of Christ is bounced around like a beach ball in the wind and deceived by every charlatan preacher that comes along. We will grow up into Christ, the Head, at some glorious point in the future. A victorious church will arise on earth and we hope to be part of it.
Later in this epistle Paul speaks of a future date when he says of His bride:
. . so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless (Eph. 5:26, 27).
Keep in mind that this promise is only a chapter away from chapter 4 which speaks of the coming corporate, spiritual unity of the faith. Here, Paul is emphasizing the importance of marriage and how husbands and wives are to treat one another considering the Father’s plan for the bride of His Son. He is going to come down the aisle, so to speak, to present a bride in all her glory without any blemishes or wrinkles. She will be “holy and blameless.” This will happen when the bride has made herself ready, which according to the book of Revelation takes place when Christ returns right after the tribulation that will end this age (Prev. 19:7).
It is true that we are “holy and blameless” through the blood of Christ and the work of the cross but I’m afraid that many of us are falling for the “hyper grace” tendency in today’s church that teaches that God only sees us through the lens of the cross and that our behavior does not matter. What matters, they say, is how God sees us. This is a false idea and it is lending itself to the idea that believers are not expected to live real holy and unblemished lives in this age. To the contrary, we are declared holy and blameless by the Lord so that we are able to live real, on-the-earth holy and blameless lives. Realizing how God sees us frees us to live righteously before Him.
Romans 8:1 tells us that “there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” but the rest of the chapter tells us how to live in that freedom from condemnation for sin. A key verse in the chapter is 8:14 which says, “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” He says in 8:10: “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” Our spirit begins to live in the power of the Holy Spirit when we realize our righteousness in Christ. We are set free to live holy lives when we are declared faultless in God’s eyes, free from the accusations of the enemy.
In Revelation 19 the time for the marriage of the Lamb arrives and it is said, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready” (v. 7). Notice, the bride made herself ready through her obedience to follow the Lord and live in righteousness. She was ready not only because of her standing in Christ but because of her obedience to Him. Paul alludes to this when speaking of presenting the Corinthians “as a pure virgin” to Christ as His bride (2 Cor. 11:2). But then later he reminds the Corinthians of the danger of being “led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Our purity is based not just on our justification but on the life we live as a result of our redemption.
The next verse in Revelation 19 makes it clear that the bride did not earn this standing but “It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” The glorious gown will be “the righteous acts of the saints” not just her righteous standing before God. She lived a righteous life.
James 1:2–4 tells us the process God uses to ready us for the marriage of the Lamb:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
There’s that word perfect (teleos) again. We will reach a point through trials as our faith is tested and we will develop endurance. Then we are to allow this endurance to have its perfect result so that we may be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Again, the word perfect here is teleos. We will grow through the testing of our faith to where we have the endurance to stand in faith and eventually become mature and complete, “lacking in nothing.” Amazingly, if you aren’t lacking in anything you are complete because your assigned destiny has been reached.
Endurance to the end is a major quality of the victorious church. Here is one example: “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Heb. 10:36). There are many other passages connecting our endurance to our reward: (for example: Heb. 12:1–3, 7; James 5:11; Matt. 10:22).
God’s word is clear that believers will be judged according to how they respond to the works God has assigned to them. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We were assigned works by God in the eternal past to accomplish. We are to “walk in them.” We don’t get to choose to do as we please but must submit to the One who created us as His workmanship before the foundation of the world. We are not saying that we are saved by our works. Our justification is based on the grace of God through our faith but God promises us a reward for our obedience to complete the works He assigned to us.
Paul then tells us that this work has to do with how we contribute to the temple of God which in this passage is the body of Christ (1 Cor. 3:16, 17). About our work in connection with the body of Christ he wrote “Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. . . If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward” (1 Cor. 3:8, 14). Those works will be tested (judged) one day and we will either be rewarded or suffer loss according to our contributions to the temple Christ is building out of His people. We either contribute valuable gold, silver and precious stones or worthless wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor. 3:12).
Many believe the church will avoid the tribulation of the end times but I believe those troubles will produce the victorious ekklesia of God. Paul put it this way: “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12). We must not deny what He calls us to accomplish or He will have to deny us the reward He promises to those who endure. In the first century the Lord used the persecutions from Rome and the Jews to produce a victorious church that would result in the spreading of the Gospel and a victorious church throughout the known world. We believe that He will do the same in the end times. As the enemy comes against the body of Christ in the last days, his persecution will produce a victorious church for the last days of this age.
The end times will be a last ditch effort by Satan to destroy the people of God and declare his victory over Christ. It will be the worst of times unlike anything the world has ever known. There will be a great falling away from the faith as genuine faith is tested producing endurance in the true church while false believers and imitators fall away in unbelief (1 Tim. 4:1). False teachers will arise and people will gather around the ones that tell them what they want to hear instead of the truth (2 Tim. 4:3, 4; 2 Thess. 2:3).
It’s not popular for some reason to believe that Christ will get the last laugh through His people just before He splits the sky on His dramatic return to receive His victorious people to Himself. Many Christians and teachers believe that the end time prophecies of sinful degradation of the human race will be the reason Christ will come before the tribulation to rapture His people (2Tim. 3:1–9).
We believe that a victorious remnant will be in the world but not of it during those last years. They will hear the voice from heaven saying “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities” (Rev. 18:4, 5). They will ride with Christ in victory and it will be said of them in the annals of heaven “”And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Rev. 12:11).