There will be two kinds of churches in the end times, and we are already seeing the divisions now.
The first is the self-preserving church, and the second is the victorious church.
The Self-Preserving Church
The self-preserving church has one main goal: to preserve Christianity in the form it has accepted.
It also has a secondary goal: survival.
Unfortunately for the self-preserving church, its more important goal – self-preservation – is directly at odds with its desire to stay alive.
Self-preservation inevitably leads to extinction.
If you don’t believe I’m being biblical here, you can see what Jesus has to say about it:
Jesus never practiced self-preservation. He gave Himself fully to the ministry and willingly laid down His life. When He sent His followers out to do His work, He never advocated self-preservation. He taught them to have faith and express love.
Self-preservation is a lack of faith that God will give you what you need.
Self-preserving churches don’t trust God to provide for them or keep His promises Himself. Instead they trust themselves to “do God’s work” and keep themselves alive.
They don’t have love for others; they have love for themselves. They don’t want to see what God is doing; they want to protect the traditions of men.
Many of them think they are doing right by God by protecting His ways. But let me tell you something.
God’s ways don’t need to be protected by people. God’s ways are higher than people.
The Victorious Church
I won’t presume to know beyond a shadow of a doubt what the symbols in the book of Revelation mean, but I’ve heard a lot of theories over the years and find some arguments compelling. One idea I’ve heard is that the woman in Revelation 12 symbolizes God’s people, whom He loves and will protect, but who have rejected His offer to live victoriously. The child, however, represents the victorious church.
Like I said, I can’t say for certain one way or the other if this is an accurate interpretation or not. (I do believe, however, that God has layered the Bible so well with so much meaning that it’s very possible for multiple interpretations to be true at the same time, even if they seem to be conflicting.)
The woman is protected – but she is protected in the wilderness. She suffers and strives, just like the self-preserving church. The church that chooses to preserve itself rejects the peace, joy, and freedom that come with trusting God.
The child, however, is snatched away. I don’t think that’s related to escapism. I don’t believe God advocates escaping.
God advocates victory.
Notice where the child is snatched up to in verse 5.
And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne.
The victorious church doesn’t escape. The victorious church places a priority on spending time in the Lord’s presence.
The Lord’s presence is a hiding place. It is a refuge and a stronghold. It is our safety and security in times of trouble.
The self-preserving church attempts to save itself, something only God can do. The victorious church acknowledges that only God can save and doesn’t strive because it trusts in Him.
The victorious church reigns.
To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end,
To them I will give authority over all the nations.
They will rule the nations with an iron rod
and smash them like clay pots.
They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!
Why the two kinds of churches matter
Christians are destined to rule and to reign with Christ.
People whose main focus is on self-preservation will never make good leaders.
Their inability to trust God and their focus on themselves eradicate all love from them. They cannot lead because they cannot love.
The victorious church, however, will love because it has experienced God’s love and – this is the important part – believed it.
The victorious church will rule all nations, seated with Christ in the heavenlies.
They will have victory and they will overcome the evil dragon (Satan).
Revelation 12:11 says,
And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
and by their testimony.
And they did not love their lives so much
that they were afraid to die.
The victorious church defeats the dragon by acknowledging that victory can come from Christ alone, and from speaking in agreement with His word.
The victorious church doesn’t cling to their lives and, as a result, is fearless. Death has no hold over them. They, like Christ, are empowered to defeat the grave.
But what happens to those whose focus is on self-preservation? What happens to those who love themselves and don’t trust God?
Revelation 12:12 says,
But terror will come on the earth and the sea,
for the devil has come down to you in great anger,
knowing that he has little time.
Terror is the natural result of failing to trust God and trying to preserve yourself. And, ultimately, it will lead to the self-preserving church’s extinction.
Join the Discussion
Which church are you a member of? What will you lay down to be victorious? Share your responses in the comments!