"Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
give thee a Crown of Life."—Rev. 2:10 .
THESE are the words of our glorified Lord, given through St. John the Revelator on the Island of Patmos. This thrilling exhortation is given to the Church, to those who have entered into a special contract, a special covenant with the Lord. The invitation of the present time, to suffer with Jesus that we may reign with Him, implies the attainment of membership in His Body. His members are His disciples; they have been invited to walk in His steps.
It is required of these that they continue to hold fast the faith that first led them to make a consecration. They are to continue in this attitude through evil report and through good report, to follow their Leader "whithersoever He goeth." They must not faint before they reach the end of the journey. The world, the flesh and the Adversary will try to dissuade them and turn them back—try to cause them to think that the invitation they have received is an intangible, impossible thing.
A faithful servant is one who demonstrates himself worthy of his master's confidence, one who can always be relied upon. Daily we are proving our loyalty or our disloyalty. "The Lord your God doth prove you." He proves us to see if we are worthy—to see whether we love Him best or love self best, to see if our confidence in Him is such that we will lay aside everything else to win this great Prize which He has offered, to see whether we are following a mere temporary impulse, whether we are trying to grasp this beautiful thing, this Crown of Life, without appreciation of its cost.
In one of His parables, our Lord represents some who, when the sun of persecution arises, are not sufficiently loyal to the principles of righteousness to stand. They become offended. They wither away. So this word faithful seems particularly to signify loyalty, including also the thought of being full of faith. God's children are to be full of faith, and those in whom God can have faith—those proving worthy of His entire confidence.
Our Lord will say to such as are wholly faithful to the end of the race, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!" These shall have "a Crown of Life." Their loyalty must be proved even unto death. This does not mean merely that they shall die as a consequence of their consecration to the Lord; for there will be two classes of those who thus die—the Little Flock will die sacrificially, and the Great Company will die through "the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus."
"Unto death," therefore, would in this text mean a faithfulness which would persist until the sacrifice is finished in death, a faithfulness ready to encounter death at any moment, which would lead to the performance of the Covenant of Sacrifice even unto its consummation.
The thought in respect to the receiving of the Crown is that it confers great honor. In the Olympian games of olden time a crown was given which was usually of laurel leaves; and great victors on battle-fields received crowns of laurel—the laurel being an evergreen shrub or tree, symbolizing that which endures. The Apostle used this illustration as picturing the high honor to be bestowed upon the faithful Church. There is a great Prize to be given. There is an election going on. It is for each individual to make his calling and election sure.—2 Peter 1:10,11.
Each one who is victorious will receive a Crown of Life. It will not be a crown that will soon fade, or one that will last only a certain number of years, but a crown of everlasting life. And not only so, but the Lord shows us that this crown of everlasting life will be a crown of superior life—life on the very highest plane. Those who attain Restitution during the Millennial Age will have everlasting life on the human plane. The angels will have everlasting life on the spirit plane. But this Crown of Life given to the "more than conquerors" will be the very highest form of spirit life—immortality—far above all other planes of life, as the special reward for being victors in this race. "Let us so run that we may obtain." The goal is near!
"Run on, my soul, undaunted,
Where duty shines before,
Though deserts blaze around thee
And Jordans surge and roar;
The land on this side Jordan
Is not thy birthright blest;
Speed on, and find thy Canaan
And enter into rest."