VERSES TWENTY-SIX TO TWENTY-EIGHT
Verses 26-28:"And he who overcomes and he who keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he will shepherd them with an iron rod, as vessels of pottery are broken in pieces, as I also have received from My Father; and to him I will give the morning star."
These overcomers in the church should bear three characteristics. First, they should hold fast to what they have and should walk a pathway that is separated from the world in the midst of various persecutions, oppositions, and corruptions. Second, they should keep the Lord’s words until the end. Jezebel has her words, and those who follow her words cannot keep the Lord’s words. In order to keep the Lord’s words, one has to repudiate the teaching of Jezebel. If these overcomers truly want to overcome, they should depart from all the teachings of Jezebel and all the traditions associated with these teachings, and should keep the Lord’s words alone. When the teachings of Jezebel are found in the church, it is easy for one to follow the church instead of following the Lord. This is why the Lord here is calling His children to follow His own words directly. Third, one has to keep His works until the end. What works are these? These are the works mentioned in verse 19, that is, the love, faith, service, endurance, and good works. These are the works that please the Lord. These are also the works that the Lord Himself did while He was on earth. They had these works at the beginning, and their latter works are more than their former works. They should hold fast to these works and should not lose these works of the Lord just because circumstances have become darker.
The phrase "My works" is a special expression. It is what Paul meant when he said: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). A Christian should be a "duplicate" of Christ in this age. We have been made alive together with Christ. As such we should express Christ in our walk. While He was on earth, He was completely blameless and absolutely faithful, serving God in everything amidst sufferings and trials. For this reason, Christians should express the life of Christ in conduct and in word amidst the present sinful, corrupt, and unfaithful church. Those who take part in the works of Jezebel will be punished, and those who hold fast to the works of Christ will be rewarded.
If believers are willing to walk on the Lord’s ordained way, to follow the Lord’s footsteps single-heartedly, to keep the Lord’s words, to do the Lord’s works, to daily be encouraged by the Lord’s second coming, and to hold fast to what they have, they will receive what the Lord promises here. These promises bear two characteristics: first, to reign with Christ, and second, to have the morning star.
In these seven letters, the Lord’s word to the overcomers divides every one of these imperfect churches into two classes of Christians. When believers accept the Lord’s substitutional death and His perfect work accomplished on the cross, they are accepted in the Beloved and are the same. Here, every Christian is joined one to another, and there is no distinction among them. Here the basis of acceptance is the work of Christ; there is no regard for the sinner’s own work. Since everyone is accepted based on the work of Christ, spontaneously everyone is the same before God. However, we have often said that salvation is one thing, and the receiving of God’s reward is another. When the Lord Jesus comes again, He will recompense the believers according to their work. Some will be rewarded, while others will suffer loss, be chastised, or be punished. Since the future reward and punishment is according to the believers’ work, there is a distinction among all the saved believers in the church. In these seven letters, we find the differences, dissimilarities, and distinctions among the saved believers. The overcomers will receive the reward. The ones who fail, of course, will not receive the reward the Lord promised to the overcomers.
"To him I will give authority over the nations." Here the Lord is comparing the attitude of the faithful believers with the works of Jezebel. It is of course wonderful to have authority over the nations, but this will happen only when the Lord comes back and not before. The saints will reign together with Christ. For Christians to reign alone is a sign of rebellion against Christ. It is true that Christ is now already reigning, but He is now reigning on the Father’s throne, which cannot be shared by His people. For this reason, Christians cannot exercise authority or reign now. In the Lord’s eyes, Satan is the prince of this age. All those who reign in this age are under his hand. Therefore, Christians should not reign in the territory of the enemy of Christ. When we consider the place Christ occupies in the world today, we will realize that Christians are not to reign now. It is when He ascends to His own throne as the Son of Man in the millennial kingdom that we will share with Him. This is His promise to the overcomers in Laodicea: "He who overcomes, to him I will give to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat with My Father on His throne" (3:21).
What kind of reward is this? If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him. At present, Jezebel and her disciples reign and are exalted in the world according to their desires. Those Christians who want to be separated from their sins must give up their position and right in the world. They will be rejected together with Christ here, but they will receive their promise, which is to be glorified with Christ in the future. They can give up all that Jezebel is acquiring because what they will gain in the future will be far beyond what they are losing today. The church’s position should be one that serves Christ faithfully and that testifies to the light expressed by God in His Son’s grace. Such a testimony can only be given by a heavenly sojourner who takes temporary lodging on earth, who seeks no power from worldly organizations but instead rescues men away from the world. How can a witness of suffering who testifies for the rejected Christ receive high places in a Christ-rejecting world? The world is still in rebellion against God. How can a Christian be a reigning one in such a world? The believers’ hope at present should not be the reformation of the world nor the revival of the church. The Lord’s promise to us is not found in the present age. It is found in the second coming of the Lord Jesus and the advent of His kingdom.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 05: The Christian (3), Chapter 1, by Watchman Nee)