The first entry in this study can be found here.
In Christian circles it is common to hear talk of Joel Osteen’s book, Your Best Life Now. In some circles it’s looked at as a good book, in other circles it is treated like it’s got the power to curse people to hell, and in other circles people don’t really care about it. For me, I fall into the third category much more than the first or second categories, though I do believe it is a dangerous, deceptive book.
My reason for this is simple. The Bible is clear that this life is not supposed to be your best life. As rapper Shai Linne stated clearly, “If you’re living your best life now you’re headed for hell.” And that’s not even necessarily a jab at the book; it’s simple logic. If you’re living your best life now, then the next life will be worse, and it will be in hell. Heaven will be eternally better than this life.
In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul explains that believers who want to live godly in this world will be–should expect to be–persecuted. There is nothing in that about this being a comfortable, carefree life. And the book of Revelation will clearly show the same as we move through it.
But at this point, right at the outset, John wants to convince us of a glorious truth, a truth that will help us keep going in this life even when persecution is bitter. Revelation 1:3 says:
“The one who reads this is blessed, and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it are blessed, because the time is near!”
There is a blessing involved in the book of Revelation. In fact, as we will quickly see as we go through this study, numbers play a huge role, and the pattern “the one who x is blessed” occurs seven times in the book. This means that Revelation reveals complete blessing. When Revelation describes those who are blessed, it is nothing less than eternal life being depicted. Those who do what the book encourages its readers to do are those who are blessed with eternal life.
The first two pictures of the possessors of eternal life are described in this verse. Note that the verse does not say, “will be blessed,” but rather, “is blessed.” This is a present reality.
The first picture of a possessor of eternal life is the one who reads this book. However, it is not merely the reading of Revelation that proves someone has eternal life. The phrase, “and keep what is written in it,” describes both groups of people: reader and hearer.
The second picture of a possessor of eternal life is the person who hears the words of Revelation and keeps them. This goes back to a common phrase of Jesus in the gospels: “he who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:9). This refers not to auditory powers, but rather to comprehension and obedience. It is one thing to hear something; it is another thing to do what you heard. The one who possesses eternal life is the one who hears and acts.
The reader is expected to act as well because a reader is also a hearer. Literally so if he/she is reading aloud, but also technically so if reading silently. The information is going in, and the book’s goal is to have it transform the readers’ hearts so that they will act on the “prophecy.”
My question for you today: Do you hear Jesus in the Word of God? Do you really listen to Him? He calls you to follow Him, even though it might cost you friends, family, or finances. The book of Revelation minces no words when it comes to the difficulty of this life, but this verse is clear that only those who act on Jesus’ words will be saved.
I mentioned several paragraphs earlier that the blessing is in the present tense. Those who hear and obey are blessed now. This is why I called the post, “Your Blessed Life Now,” because those who hear and act on Jesus’ words have eternal life today. There is no more blessing you need in this life than the eternal life and salvation that He offers. Externally, life might look like hell, but if you believe and follow (obey) Jesus, you have eternal life, and that is a blessing no one can snatch from you.
If you have never believed in Christ, I plead with you to place your trust in Him. His sacrifice will be the topic of next Wednesday’s entry, but the fact of the matter is that He died on the cross to redeem people from their futile way of life. Apart from Him, there is no blessing. Believe in Him and start obeying Him today!
In this with you.
Soli Deo Gloria
The next entry can be found here.