The Remnant of God is Rising
A remnant of faithful followers of Christ is rising throughout the world. I believe chapter 14 of Revelation describes this remnant:
No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless (Rev. 14:3–5).
There is much disagreement among Christians as to who this remnant of 144,000 who are redeemed from the earth, but it is my firm belief that this passage refers to the end time remnant of faithful followers who join the many faithful believers through the years who courageously stood their ground in the spiritual battle for planet earth. These are people who follow the Lamb wherever He goes meaning they are completely given over to Him.
They understand what Jesus meant when He said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matt. 16:24, 25). Following Christ fully means giving up selfish goals and taking up His cross, to suffer with Him for His kingdom. Many Christians, perhaps most, have done what it takes to be born again and enter heaven but then slowly fade away when they realize the cost of truly following Christ. He often leads where we don’t want to go. Jesus warns here that “whoever would save his life will lose it.” The word life here is “soul” in the original language which is our mind, emotions and will, our human personality with all of its desires. Jesus said we must lose that in order to truly follow Him. Losing it means finding the soul life that God intended for us. He was not talking about heaven or hell but choosing between self and Christ.
The overcomers are a remnant within the church
We often ignore the passages of scripture that point out that reigning with Christ has conditions. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 contains letters sent from Christ to various churches. Each one ends with a special reward for the overcomer within the church (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). In verse 2:26 we read “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.” Here the remnant within the church is promised that they will be given authority over the nations and will rule over them for their faithfulness to keep His “works until the end.”
Not all Christians will reign with Christ. Consider these passages:
“… if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12).
Someone has said that “if” is the biggest word in our language. Behind the word “if” in this verse is the condition for reigning with Christ. That condition is endurance, or staying the course until the end. Some Christians give up when the going gets hard. Endurance is necessary to mature us as believers as shown by James 1:3, 4: “… the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (WEB). Endurance in the midst of testing produces mature believers.
Paul tells us who the heirs of God are:
“… and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom. 8:17).
Notice the word “provided” which sets the condition for being a fellow heir. The heirs of God are those who suffer with Him through the trials of the age. Paul said “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). “All” is a big word. If we desire to live a godly life, we become a target for the enemy and will be persecuted. If we bail on Christ, the enemy will often leave us alone.
Who are the real followers of Christ?
“Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:28, 20).
Notice here that the ones who will judge Israel are those who have “followed Me” Jesus said. He clarifies that later saying that to follow Him means giving up the things of this world by not letting them capture us away from Him.
The overcomers have a special place in God’s heart.
“The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne” (Rev. 3:21). The ones who conquer, the overcomers, will have the privilege of sitting with the Father on His throne.
Will all rewards be the same?
There are also many passages which speak of varying rewards that believers will receive depending on their faithfulness. One of the strongest is 1 Cor. 3:12–15:
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw — each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Gold, silver and precious stones or wood, hay and straw. Some believers will build their lives and contribute to the church with material that adds the holy presence of God and others will build with the worthless, selfish materials of the flesh. They will all be rewarded accordingly.
God has always had a remnant in each generation. The Bible is really the story of God’s remnant people through history. Noah and his family of eight were the remnant God used to restart the human race after the flood. Abraham and his family believed God which led to the forming of the Jewish people. Joseph and his brothers and their families were the remnant that gave birth to Israel. Joshua and Caleb were a faithful remnant that made possible the possession of the promised land. God narrowed Gideon’s army down from 22,000 to 300 faithful, fearless warriors who were vigilant and not afraid. David’s ragtag crew of fighters stood firm as the army of God. Twelve men and some others became remnant followers of Jesus who changed the world. E.H. Broadbent in his book The Pilgrim Church chronicles the development of the remnant church down through the centuries in the Christian era. It’s an excellent read.
Some will see this message as legalistic because it centers on our works of righteousness that develop from knowing and walking with Christ. Christ forgives our sins and welcomes us into presence when we receive Him by faith. But He expects obedience that flows from life with Him and the guidance of His Spirit. This remnant is rising today. God is calling His people out of the world and into something quite special. Just before his death Joshua charged Israel saying “choose this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). The time is here when God’s people must make a choice. We must choose between the god of this world and the Lord Himself. Let us choose wisely.