The Book of Revelation begins with a blessing.
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” – Revelation 1:3
The time is near. Some may argue at the timing of the return of Jesus Christ, but as believers, we must, at minimum, acknowledge that IF the “last days” began after the Resurrection of Christ, we are surely closer 2017 years later.
Even so, witnessing the level of decline the entire world is experiencing at this moment -- the sheer wickedness that is being celebrated and promoted as “love” (“Do as thou wilt”) is soul-crushing. Every ounce of reverence for God is being wiped away. People are believing the lie of Satan: that they too may be gods.
And even if those two reasons don’t convince you that “the time is near”, take a look at the decline of the church and the lack of love demonstrated by people who proclaim to be followers of Christ.
Another indicator is the shocking number of false prophets and false teachers using social media to lead people astray.
Scripture tells us these things are indications, or "markers" to help us identify the state of the world just prior to “the end”:
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. - Matthew 24:10-14
What Jesus is describing is a self-generating machine of destruction crafted by the enemy... and the church is being crushed by it:
But even under pressure, Jesus tells us that “ the one who stands firm to the end will be saved”.
What is the key to standing firm? I believe that we have a clue in the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation.
One of the things about scripture that amazes me is how it can speak about a certain time or occasion while simultaneously speaking about future events AND about the Body of Christ.
In Revelation 2, God begins to address the churches. I believe God was speaking to churches in existence at the time while also addressing the end times churches and believers. God has praise and warnings for each church... except one:
Notice how the Church of Philadelphia (BROTHERLY LOVE) received NO Warnings from God:
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.
And God also tells Philadelphia that they will be kept from Tribulation:
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
Standing Firm means keeping God's Word (Love God, Love One Another) and not denying Jesus' name. The key to standing firm is LOVE. When we love God and He loves us - Then we are empowered to love others, we are empowered to serve, and we are empowered to minister.
There are too many ministers trying to point others to themselves, to convince you to follow THEIR teachings and agree with THEIR doctrine and beliefs... instead of getting down on their knees in humility and pointing to Christ.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.