We believe in God, looking forward to eternal life in heaven. However, we cannot acquire eternal life without laboring for it; the crown of eternal life cannot be given to us without effort. With the earnest resolution to remain faithful to God until the end, we should keep the faith, that we can receive the crown of life.
Many people in the world have a form of godliness but deny its power. They hold to a form of religion, but actually they have no faith and fall easily. When the rain comes down and the streams rise and the winds blow—when trials come, they fall easily like a house built on sand.
However, those who build their faith firmly on the rock, always resolve to “remain faithful to God until the end.” Though the winds of trials blow against them, their faith does not waver because they depend only on God. The more they are troubled and afflicted, the stronger their faith will become; they will receive the crown of life and their names will shine forever.
Through revelation God tells us what His will is and what He earnestly wants from us who are living in these last days.
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. . . . Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”Rev 2:10
The above words are spoken by the archangel Michael, who drove the devil our enemy out of heaven; He encourages us to fight the battle against the devil and win the victory over him in this earth, so that we may reach our heavenly home. This is a command given by the archangel Michael, commander of the heavenly host, to the armies of heaven.
If a commander of an army gives an order to attack, his soldiers have to attack; and if he orders to retreat, they have to retreat in perfect order. We are soldiers of Jesus, the archangel Michael, Commander-in-chief of myriads of angels.
On the night before Jesus was crucified, Peter saw that people were intending to take Him by force and he became angry and cut off the ear of one of them, in an effort to defend Him. Jesus immediately stopped him and said to him, “Do you think I cannot call on more than twelve legions of angels to come?” (Mt 26:53).
A legion was the largest unit of the Roman army; it consisted of one thousand men at least. So twelve legions would be more than 12,000. The above verse shows that once Jesus orders, such great armies of heavenly angels come and defend Him.
In the Old Testament times, Elisha saw the armies of angels surround him. When the army of the king of Aram surrounded the city of Dothan, where Elisha was staying, his servant Gehazi was terrified and reported what he had seen. Then Elisha said to him, “Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (2 Ki 6:16), and he prayed to God, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.”
After Elisha prayed, the eyes of Gehazi were opened and he saw the armies of heaven protecting them. The great armies of heaven are constantly following Jesus, ready to carry out His decrees. Jesus, the great Archangel Michael, now gives us the order to “be faithful, even to the point of death.”
What is the way to be faithful, even to the point of death? Let’s find out what kind of faithfulness God wants from us.
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. . . . After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ . . . Then the man who had received the one talent came. . . . ‘So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.’ . . . His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!’ ”Mt 25:14–30
God commended the man, who had received the five talents and brought the other five, and the man who had received two talents and gained two more, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” However, the man who had the one talent was rebuked by God, “You wicked, lazy servant!” because he did nothing with what he had but buried it. God made a distinction between the faithful servant and the wicked servant.
The man with the one talent brought nothing back with it; when God settled spiritual accounts with him, he was deprived of the talent he was given and cast into exterior darkness. We must not be like the wicked servant, who hid the talent he had received and was unfortunately deprived of it.
Those who are faithful even unto death are those who participate in the gospel like the man who received the five talents. All who preach the gospel, both directly and indirectly, are participating in the work of bearing fruit; they support the gospel in various ways. As faithful children of God, they always pray and work diligently to bear fruit that pleases God. This is commendable in the sight of God, who will allow them to bear more fruit.
“So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces . . .”Mt 24:45–51
When God finds His children giving His word to people with great enthusiasm at His coming, He will put them in charge of all His possessions and comfort them in all their troubles; each of them will receive his praise and reward from God.
How about a wicked servant then? He neglects what his master has entrusted to him, indulging in worldly pleasures such as eating and drinking; he despises God’s word and prophecy. He does not accept encouraging words from his brothers and sisters who want to help him preach the gospel. Rather, he scoffs at them, not deserving to be forgiven. Indulging in the temporary pleasures of this life, he cannot realize the value of the gospel and does not care about his soul that will be tormented in the fiery lake of burning sulfur forever.
God gives us this parable of warning because He does not really want us to be like that wicked servant. He earnestly encourages us to be wise and faithful servants who will be commended when He comes: “My children, wise and faithful! You are worthy to be the heavenly royal priests.”
The goal of our preaching is to save souls by proclaiming the word of life. It is not done only by delivering a message from God. When we spread the aroma of Christ, even before we deliver a message, some recognize us as the ones sent from God and follow us. We are all looking forward to heaven. Now we need to seek wisdom to bear much fruit, so that we may quickly go back to the kingdom of heaven by finding all of our lost brothers and sisters.
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”Pr 9:10
Here are two practical ways to be a wise and faithful servant: One is preaching the gospel diligently to bear much fruit, and the other is fearing God and worshiping Him correctly. The former is the way to be faithful, and the latter is the way to be wise. Wisdom is a precious gift from God, not a human product.
It was not just after Solomon became king that he got wisdom. His wisdom was an ability he received from God after offering a thousand burnt offerings unto Him. He asked God for wisdom to lead His people rightly, not for his own blessings—health, power and long life. God was pleased with Solomon’s request, and He gave him riches and honor as well as wisdom. Thus Solomon, known as the wisest man who ever lived, gained all his wisdom from God.
Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, “. . . So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. . . .” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “. . . I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”1 Ki 3:4–14
As stated above, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. ‘What is the way to remain faithful to God, the Church and the gospel?’ If we earnestly pray to God for this, He will give us the wisdom we need.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”Rev 3:15–16
He who is lukewarm has no enthusiasm in his faith and deeds. If he shows no eagerness to bear fruit, he is in a danger of losing his soul. All children of Zion must seek God’s wisdom to bear fruit with great enthusiasm.
Especially leaders including pastors, elders, and deacons (deaconesses) need to have more enthusiasm for the gospel and bear much fruit. They are to take care of brothers and sisters; and they are also required to bear their own fruit. It may make them depressed to bear no fruit even though they continue caring for brothers and sisters. They may become complacent and neglect to bear fruit if they only look after brothers and sisters who have already come into Zion. When all leaders in the church set a good example of bearing fruit, God will be pleased and pour out His abundant blessing upon them all.
The man with five talents gained five more. If he had just kept the talent, he would have gained nothing. But he knew his master’s will, and so he worked hard to please him. As he had such a burning passion to please his master, he was called a “wise and faithful” servant and got a great blessing and reward.
Both the faithful servant and the wicked one were God’s called workers for the gospel. But each of them had a different attitude of thinking with a different way of working; the faithful servant worked so devotedly and fervently, but the wicked one idled away his days in laziness and finally suffered a miserable end.
It’s almost time for our Master’s return. Let’s devote ourselves more intensely to the gospel in accordance with God’s pleasure and will. God’s pleasure is our own pleasure, isn’t it? Is there anyone who is somewhat depressed? Once again, let’s burn the fire of the gospel in our hearts.
Let’s set a good example for others by burning ourselves first, not waiting for them to take the lead in preaching. If we are kindled by God’s fire, all around us will be kindled, too. Let the flame of our passion for the gospel blaze in all the Churches of God throughout the world, and remain faithful to God until the end, bearing much fruit.
Let us not lose our fervor. Nothing can be accomplished without enthusiasm. Let us not complain about unfavorable external conditions. “We have a small number of members,” or “We have only a few evangelists,” or “We have a regional problem.” These conditions cannot obstruct the gospel at all.
If one’s heart is burning with fire, the heat burns into another and nearby churches and all the churches. The problem is a negative thought—“That’s impossible.” This negative thinking cools not only our enthusiasm, but also others’ eagerness.
The Apostle John saw in a vision the 144,000 standing on Mount Zion. God prophesied this and showed the vision of its fulfillment. It can never fail. God has promised that He will make us the head, not the tail. So let’s have pride and confidence in God. The negative thoughts of one person make many wicked servants. Zion is a place for training good and faithful servants.
All of us are to participate in the gospel of the heavenly kingdom in any and all ways. As priests of the gospel, we should be faithful even unto death, doing our part with burning enthusiasm. Let’s glorify God by bearing much good fruit as His true, wise and faithful sons and daughters.