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Both the Old Testament and the New Testament Scriptures teach us by statement and example that God will allow us to be exposed to trials, and also, if we meet His conditions, that He will protect us so we are not harmed spiritually, so we are never separated from His love. Our responsibility is to carefully guard and obey the word of Christ’s patience.
The idea of patience is that of steadfast endurance while we are under pressure, continuing to abide in Christ and to do His will until release and joy are brought to us. The Kingdom of God and patience go together.
We Christians are to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit with patience. We possess our souls as we wait patiently for the Lord. Christ carefully watches over each person who carefully watches over the word of His patience and promises to guard him during the hour of temptation.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
The above verse is interpreted today as follows: “Everyone who is saved will be caught up to Heaven so he will not suffer because of Antichrist or the great tribulation.”
This interpretation does not even resemble the verse. It is not what the verse states. It is not what the verse means.
The promise is not directed toward those who are “saved” but those who guard the word of Christ’s patience.
The Lord does not promise to remove us to Heaven but to guard us. The same Greek term (“kept”; “keep”) is used both in the condition and the promise. The verb means to guard.
The promise is not that Christ will guard us from the great tribulation but from the “hour of temptation.”
The word “temptation” is the same Greek term used in the Lord’s prayer, “lead us not into temptation.” It has to do with our being tested, being put to the proof to find out what is in us, what we will do under various pressures.
The enemy of the Christian is not tribulation but sin—the temptation to sin, to fall away from God’s Presence and will. The love of the majority will not grow cold in the last days because of the abundance of tribulation but because of the abundance of sin.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. (Matthew 24:12)
Tribulation is the chastening of the Lord and is to be desired for that reason. Tribulation teaches us righteousness. We enter the Kingdom of God through much tribulation. Tribulation perfects our faith and patience.
Tribulation becomes a source of evil only when we permit the various pains and pressures to cause us to sin, to be harmed spiritually.
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
When ministers promise escape from tribulation by a flight to Heaven they are appealing to those who are living in the flesh, not to saints who are learning to live in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The true saints know the value of tribulation and are not seeking to fly away from it. They have learned by experience that God will bring them victoriously through tribulation and by tribulation the gold of their faith will be refined.
As we have said, the terms “kept” and “keep” mean watched over; kept in a safe place; protected; guarded from loss or injury by keeping the eye on. The idea is to protect by preventing the hour of testing from harming us.
John uses the same expression in his Gospel. He employs the word to mean to protect, to guard. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). John, the writer of Revelation 3:10, uses the term “keep out of the evil” in contrast to taking them “out of the world.” “I am not asking you to remove them out of the world but to keep them out of Satan.”
Notice also, “And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold…” (Acts 4:3). “They cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely” (Acts 16:23). “Put them in hold” and “keep them safely” are from the same Greek term translated “keep,” in Revelation 3:10.
In his Gospel, John uses the term keep to mean holding fast to every word that Christ spoke to us. “If a man love me, he will keep my words:…” (John 14:23).
Thus, Revelation 3:10 may be translated as follows:
Because you have guarded and watched over the word of my patience, I also will guard and watch over you, keeping you safe from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to test those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:10).
The Lord keeps us by warning us when we are being enticed to sin and gives us the strength to resist the devil, to not become involved with Satan in any manner. The Lord keeps us by giving us strength to keep serving Him when we are in great trouble. Neither sin nor trouble nor pressure nor pain can cause us to fall away from God’s Presence when the Lord Jesus is keeping us by His power and love.
The last days will offer unparalleled opportunities for people to indulge in immoral behavior. Bodily lusts and appetites will become so strong that only the consecrated believers will be able to resist the temptations. The worldly “believers” will be deceived into thinking the Lord is accepting their behavior even though it is against the Scriptures. The Christians will fall into sin unless Christ keeps them from being deceived and from sinning.
The phrase keep them out of the hour of temptation indicates that we are exposed to the hour of testing but shielded from the harmful effects of it.
God Himself is our Shield.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. (Psalms 3:3)
God did not keep Daniel from being exposed to the lions but He did protect Daniel from the lions. God carefully guarded and watched over Daniel, keeping him from being harmed by the lions.
We will go through the fire and we will go through the water, but the fire will not burn us and the water will not overflow us.
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. (Isaiah 43:2)
It is not if we go through the waters but when we go through the waters.
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament Scriptures teach us by statement and example that God allows us to be exposed to trials, but He protects us so we are not harmed spiritually; so we are never separated from His Presence and will.
Our responsibility is to carefully guard and watch over the word of Christ’s patience, making sure no part of it is injured or lost.
The idea of patience is that of stedfast endurance while we are under pressure, continuing to abide in Christ and to do His will until release and joy are brought to us. Patience, as used here, refers to faithfully following Christ through every disappointment and frustration, as well as through every blessing and joy, until He brings us into the fullness of liberty and glory in the Kingdom of God.
The Kingdom of God and patience go together.
I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 1:9)
The Apostle John had been exiled to Patmos because he preached the Word of God, because he bore testimony to the death, resurrection, and return to earth of Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. God greatly enlarged John’s testimony by giving to him the Book of Revelation.
John had to wait patiently on the Lord. He, as a disciple of Christ, was obliged to endure his exile as cheerfully as possible, abiding in Christ, not attempting to deliver himself, not blaming people for his suffering. John was living under conditions of tribulation, of testing and trial.
John guarded and cherished the word of Christ’s patience, not becoming impatient and attempting to force better circumstances for himself. As a result he was given the marvelous Revelation of Christ.
When we commit our safety and welfare to Jesus in the hour of testing, keeping the word of His patience, Christ not only shields us from all real and eternal harm, He also blesses us abundantly so we emerge from the arena of testing with an enlarged understanding and possession of Himself.
It is the believer who patiently endures to the end of his trials who will be kept from being injured spiritually by the hour of temptation. We Christians are to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit with patience. We possess our souls as we wait patiently for the Lord.
The tribulations we experience develop patience in us. Patient endurance develops mature character, character that abounds in confidence and hope. Hope never brings us to disappointment because Christ carefully watches over each person who carefully watches over the word of His patience.
It is through faith and patience that we inherit the promises of God. After we do all we know to do in the Lord, we are to stand in patience, knowing the fulfillment of all the promises of Christ is more certain than the dawn.
The Christian race must be run with patience. If we guard our patience in Christ, not allowing it to slip in any manner, not losing our patience, then the Lord Jesus will keep us closely guarded and no distressing circumstance can possibly enter our soul and spirit and cause us to be damaged spiritually.
James speaks to us of patient endurance in the will of Christ:
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. (James 5:10)
When we think about the experiences of the prophets we can see they were required to endure many tribulations. Yet, they always were guarded carefully by the Lord so no spiritual (and sometimes no physical) harm came to them. They were kept throughout their lifetime and brought safely into the Presence of the Lord.
Daniel comes to mind. Although Daniel easily could have avoided trouble by praying in secret instead of openly, he did not do so. His faithfulness to God would not permit such a denial of God’s right to be worshiped publicly. Daniel was highly placed in the government of Babylon but he chose to patiently suffer affliction rather than deny God. Daniel was looking forward toward a glorious resurrection.
Because Daniel guarded the word of Christ’s patience, Christ guarded Daniel so the lions were not able to injure him. Daniel was “kept out of the lions,” so to speak.
We think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They could have delivered themselves from harm by praying insincerely to the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar. Instead they chose the way of patient endurance in the Lord.
This was their hour of testing, of trial, of temptation. Would they deliver themselves by cooperating with the world? Or would they keep the word of Christ’s patience?
Because these three young Hebrew men chose to wait patiently for God, the Lord Jesus blessed and enlarged their understanding and possession of Himself by walking with them in the flames, keeping them from being burned.
Our mind goes back to the patient, suffering Jeremiah. He endured many years of persecution at the hands of those who claimed to be the Lord’s people, who believed they were the seed of Abraham but who actually were of the “synagogue of Satan” (compare Jeremiah, Chapters 20 and 28; Revelation 3:9).
But Jeremiah kept the word of Christ’s patience. Therefore the Lord watched over him to protect him when the Babylonians entered Jerusalem.
The same patient keeping of God’s Word has been true of Abraham, of Joseph, of David, of Ezekiel, of the Apostle Paul, and of all the other prophets and apostles of the Lord. They are to us an example of the patient suffering of affliction. But they abode safely “under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Keeping the word of Christ’s patience means we hold steady day after day, week after week, year after year in circumstances that are not always desirable and pleasant.
We are to stand firmly and cheerfully (as we are able) in Christ’s way of discipline and patience. If we seek to live in pleasure on the earth we must move away from the will of Christ, away from the word of His patience.
If we become weary of patiently waiting on the will of the Lord, then we leave Christ and attempt to bring about what we desire by means of our own self-seeking, our own wisdom and strength. If we become impatient and take matters into our own hands we become ineligible for the protection of Christ when the hour of testing comes “upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
Patient endurance in the will of Christ is one of the major aspects of the Christian discipleship.
But how are we kept out of the hour of testing?
Notice the following:
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: (Luke 22:31)
The Lord Jesus did not promise Peter that Satan would not be permitted to have him, to sift him.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:32)
The Lord prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail in the hour of testing. And so with all of us. We are protected from the hour of testing by the intercession Christ makes for us before the Throne of God.
We are kept by the power of almighty God. He gives His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways. Because we fear Him He sends His angel to stand between us and the enemy.
More than that, the Lord uses the trouble, the affliction, the persecution, for our good. God turns every obstacle into a stepping stone for each person who places his faith in God’s Word, in God’s faithfulness.
Christ makes our bed in our sickness and affliction. Sometimes we miss a major opportunity to increase our understanding and possession of Christ because we fight against what He is doing in our life.
We become so intent on being delivered, on being healed, on bringing our circumstances into line with what we believe to be God’s will for us, that we do not profit from the hour of testing. We do not observe or understand the Lord as He “makes our bed.” We are so busy saving ourselves with our religious formulas that we cannot see what Christ is doing.
God is the God of the mountains and also of the valleys. There are blessings on the mountains and also in the valleys, if we will watch for them.
The troubles and calamities that come upon the world, as well as the immorality, violence, perversion, drunkenness, and sorcery turn out to be our greatest opportunities for turning men and women, boys and girls, toward Christ. We are to watch in prayer for the open doors that continually are being placed before us.
There is no water that Christ cannot turn into wine, into joy, into blessing. There is no suffering that Christ cannot use as a means for expressing His eternal, incorruptible resurrection life.
There is no persecution, no affliction, that He cannot transform into a revelation of glory.
There is no temptation to sin that the Lord cannot employ to strengthen our armor against sin, to teach us warfare, and to give us insight into our own personality. All things work for good for us, all things conform us to Christ’s moral image, all things make us the brothers of Christ, when we keep the word of His patience.
Enormous and terrible uproars are coming upon the earth in association with the increase of lawlessness. These will increase in violence, fierceness, and intensity as we approach the coming of Christ. But Christ walks on all of these commotions as on solid ground. He always sits as King of the flood. If we choose to place our faith in Him, patiently keeping His word, we too will be enabled to walk on all of the waters of testing and tribulation.
How wonderful and glorious it is to realize we always are kept by the power of God. Let famine, war, persecution come as they will. The saints are kept under Divine guard so none of these troubles can harm or move them in any manner whatever.
The angel of the Lord is encamped around every person who fears God. We continually are being delivered from all that would separate us from Christ’s love. We shall not fear though the mountains should be removed and cast into the sea; though all law and order be destroyed and self-seeking mankind take over the rule of the world.
Throughout the history of the world the Lord has been a wall of protection around His people. He delivers us from all evil. He delivers us from the hour of temptation, of testing.
We are not to fear the spiritual darkness and wickedness that rapidly is filling the earth. The Scripture teaches us to not fear even though a multitude of adversaries should rise against us.
A thousand shall fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand but we shall not be harmed. We are perfectly safe as long as we continue to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, guarding the word of His patience.
How does Christ keep us from the hour of testing? In the same manner He keeps us from the devil (John 17:15). Christ keeps us so the devil cannot harm us, and Christ will keep us so the hour of testing cannot harm us. Not a hair of our head shall perish (Luke 21:18).
We know that the saints suffer every kind of problem and suffering imaginable. But no enticement, no problem, no suffering, no persecution, no affliction will ever be able to separate us from God’s love in Christ as long as we endure patiently, carrying our cross behind the Master.
The believer who endures patiently, following Christ throughout his life, will be kept by Christ. He will fear no evil because Christ will be with him continually, guarding and protecting him from evil through to the conclusion of the present wicked age.
If we are abiding in Christ’s patience we will see the reward of the wicked with our eyes but we ourselves will have complete confidence in the Day of Judgment.
Christ keeps us singing as we go, even through the darkest night. We can dance with Him on the waters of testing and tribulation if we will allow Him to do the leading. This is the consistent testimony of suffering saints throughout the history of the Christian Church. Christ was with them in the flames, in the stocks, in prison, in the bed of affliction.
No matter what the problem may be, Christ will keep us safe and bring us joyfully to Glory to be with Him where He is.
What particular problem was requiring patience and faithful discipleship on the part of the saints in Philadelphia?
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie, behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9)
Paul spoke of “perils among false brothers,” those who say they are “Jews” but are not.
Throughout every age the true prophets and remnant of the Lord have been persecuted by those who claim to be the Lord’s people.
As Jesus pointed out, many of the Israelites of His day were not “Jews.” They were not truly children of Abraham. Their behavior revealed that Satan was their father. Christ was murdered by such “Jews.” The Romans merely were the instrument of murder employed by Satan working through the envy of the leaders of Israel.
The same Satan, gaining entrance through the envy and lust for power of the leaders of the Christian organizations, has tortured and slain the true believers who were faithfully keeping the word of Christ’s patience.
These torturers and murderers consistently have claimed they are “Jews,” that is, the people of the Lord. But they are the synagogue of Satan, not members of Christ.
During the “age of Philadelphia” multitudes will be led away from the truth, for Philadelphia symbolizes the era of great deception. This is why Christ is coming to us as “he that is true.” Uncounted thousands—perhaps hundreds of thousands—are persuaded they are the Lord’s people. But they do not know the Lord.
The word Philadelphia means “brotherly love.” The Philadelphian age is characterized by a continual emphasis on how much people should love one another. The stress on “love” is found both in the world and in the churches. It often is not true love but a love that proceeds from the adamic soul. Adamic love is self-centered and can turn in a moment from passionate “love” to murderous hatred. Today the most perverse, destructive acts of lust are termed “love.”
We are heaping to ourselves teachers who are willing, for a price, to scratch our itching ears. If someone teaches us that Christian people should enjoy all of the material comforts of the world, we believe him. If someone teaches us being saved by grace means it is not crucially important how we behave ourselves, we believe him.
If someone teaches us that Jesus would never allow His own to suffer tribulation, we believe him even though such a doctrine is contrary to the Scriptures and to the experiences of God’s people of all ages.
But if someone teaches us that in order to be a Christian, a disciple of Christ, we must forsake everything in this life, take up our cross, and follow Jesus as a dedicated soldier follows his commander in chief, then we will not heed that teacher. We prefer to be deluded. Christ understands we prefer to be deceived and therefore deceives us (II Thessalonians 2:11).
We shall not continue in our delusion for long. The hour is at hand when the Lord Jesus Christ will come and make us worship God at the feet of the believers who have patiently guarded the word of Christ’s endurance. Then we shall understand that Jesus loves the despised few who have gone outside the camp of popularity in order to share His reproach.
The “Christians” who are living in pleasure today do not enjoy being with Christ’s true saints. They do not understand why the true saint keeps himself from the world and the lusts of the flesh with such diligence. But the lovers of pleasure, Christian or not, will fail in the hour of testing that even now is upon us. The true saints will be preserved by the Lord Jesus.
The Lord Jesus advised us:
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36)
If we will continue in prayer, faithfully keeping the word of Christ’s patience, we will be kept from spiritual harm no matter what takes place upon the earth. In due time we will be brought into the Presence of Christ with exceedingly great joy.
To the elect:
“The Lord Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. His eye is on you continually. There is not a thought in your mind, a motive in your heart that does not interest your Lord.
“He will bring you through the waters of tribulation but they will not go over your head. He will guide you through the flames of persecution but the fire will destroy nothing except your bondages.
“Look only to your Lord. Do not fret yourself because of those who are practicing wickedness. Do not be anxious when you see the judgment of God fall on every side. Do not for one moment remove your eyes from Christ.
“Patiently bear your cross as Christ bore His. Keep your eyes stedfastly on the joy that has been set before you, on the eternal pleasures at the Father’s right hand. This is how Jesus endured the cross.
“The enemy was defeated on the cross of Calvary. Only a few more hours, a few more patient steps, and you will be in the Presence of the Lord with joy and glory you could not even understand in the present hour. If you will fight the battle alongside Him now, you will dine at His table when He comes in His Kingdom.
“Be of good cheer. Jesus is coming soon!”
(“Revelation 3:10”, 3905-1)