THE CHURCH TRIUMPHANT

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[Matthew:25:31-40]; [1 Corinthians:15:19-23]; [Ephesians:5:23-32]; [1 Thessalonians:4:13-18]; [Revelation:11:15-18]; [Revelation:12:10-11]; [Revelation:19:7-16]; [Revelation:20:4-6]; [Revelation:21:1-7].

Lesson No.: 
274
Class: 
Senior
Memory Verse: 

“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7).

Cross References: 

I The Church Triumphant’s Glorious Anticipation
1. The hope of the resurrection is the basic and most important hope of the Church, [1 Corinthians:15:19-23 [1 Thessalonians:4:13-18]; [John:6:39-40]; [John:11:24-26]; [Acts:24:14-16]; [1 Peter:1:3-5].

2. The purity and glory of the Church is shown in Scripture, [Ephesians:5:23-32].

3. The Church is to be gloriously rewarded for her faithfulness, [Matthew:25:20-23], [Matthew:25:31-40]; [Malachi:3:16-17].

4. The Church, as the Bride of Christ, will enjoy the Marriage Supper of the lamb, [Revelation:19:7-9]; [Matthew:25:10]; [Luke:12:37].

5. The Church Triumphant will be before the Throne of God during the time of this earth’s tribulation, [Revelation:4:10]; [Revelation:5:8-10]; [Revelation:7:9-17]; [Revelation:15:1-4]; [Isaiah:26:20]; [Genesis:7:1], [Genesis:7:16].

6. The Church Triumphant will be revealed in her glory at the Revelation of Christ, [Revelation:19:11-16]; [1 Thessalonians:4:14].

7. Christ will rule on the earth, assisted by the Church Triumphant, [Revelation:2:26]; [Revelation:3:21]; [Revelation:11:15-18]; [Revelation:12:10-11]; [Revelation:20:4-6].

8. The eternal state of the Church Triumphant will be one of unspeakable glories and pleasures, [Revelation:2:7], [Revelation:2:11], [Revelation:2:17]; [Revelation:21:1-7]; [Revelation:22:1-5].

Notes: 

In past centuries, one of the great theologians of the church was being disciplined, by his superior because he dared take a stand for some principle, the superior had denied. In denouncing the saint, the church officer said, in substance, “I hereby separate you from the Church Militant.” Acting in real Christian grace the saint is said to have replied: “That you may feel you can do, but one thing is sure and certain, you can never separate me from the Church Triumphant.”

The Church Militant is a glorious entity. We see it as a group of called-out individuals who fight the good fight of faith and who are busily engaged in the work of the Kingdom. But we find that the Church Triumphant is even more glorious, for it is the victorious Church Militant -– the glorified body of believers who have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb, and who will, throughout all eternity, follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. But in order to be a member of the Church Triumphant one must first be a member of the Church Militant. There is no such thing possible as being:
“... carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize,
And sailed through bloody seas.”

There are battles to be fought by us all during this life if we are going to march in the victorious grand review in the life that is to come.

The Christian’s Hope
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter tells us, that we are begotten “again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” [1 Peter:1:3]). He further describes our inheritance as “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” for us. The Apostle Paul, also, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has told us of the hope of a Christian and has said that the resurrection of Christ and the subsequent resurrection of the saints is the foundation and life of that hope.

There would be no joy if there were no resurrection of the dead. There would be no worship, no faith, no signs following the ministry of the Word of God, no salvation from sin, and no cleansing from the depravity of fallen nature, if there were no resurrection. Our faith would be vain and we would still be in our sins. Therefore, let us consider the fact and the glories of the resurrection and Rapture of the Church, for it is at the second coming of Christ that the Church Militant becomes the Church Triumphant.

The First Resurrection
Volumes have been written and countless sermons and lectures have been given both for and against the resurrection of the dead. Some of Christ’s opposers, in His days on earth, took bitter issue with Him on this subject. They dared speak disparagingly of the resurrection even to Him who is the resurrection and the life Himself! He who had power to lay down His life and to take it up again did so that we also might be raised from the dead and be able to stand before the Throne of God in glory unspeakable and in rapture beyond all comprehension.

Critics who deny the power of God and the truth of the Word of God deny this glorious truth also. But the fact remains firm and steadfast; the Rock upon which the Christian hope depends -– that there was a resurrection in which our Lord and Saviour came out of the grave and ascended on High to be our Advocate. And because He conquered death and the grave, we, too, someday will rise to met Him in the clouds of Heaven. Those who have gone on before and whose bodies are in their graves will be raised. Those who are living will be raptured from the earth and will join the resurrected saints. These all, together with those righteous dead who will be resurrected at the end of the Great Tribulation, will be members of the First Resurrection group, of which Christ is the firstfruits. We who meet Him at the Rapture can be called the main harvest, and those who are raised at the close of the Tribulation, the gleanings of the harvest [1 Corinthians:15:20-23]; [1 Thessalonians:4:13-18]).

Think what it will mean to be a partaker of the First Resurrection! These bodies, which have known all forms of sickness and infirmity, will be glorified bodies. All pain will be gone. The limitations and frustrations of our physical existences will be gone. We will be like Christ, for we will see Him as He is. This purifying process is already going on in the hearts of God’s people. They are preparing themselves for the day when He will call them. But in that glorious day He will perfect all that is lacking in us and make us like unto Himself.

We will have perfect knowledge. We will not be subject to the limitations of time or space. We will never more see death. There will be no fear in our hearts or minds. Our eternal state will be sealed, and there will be no more need to strive against sin or temptation. We will be with Jesus, our Lord, Saviour, and Bridegroom, forever and forever. All these blessings -– and many more -– are assured the one who prepares himself to have part in the First Resurrection.

We may be suffering here. Our bodies may be mutilated and crippled, directly or indirectly through the results of the fall. We may know weaknesses in our physical beings and, because of that fact, be unable to serve in the work of the Lord, as we would like. But in that glorious resurrection day the power that brought forth Jesus from the dead will also quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwells in us; and we shall be free from every pain and weakness and be able to serve Him perfectly, forever and forever.

The Preparation for Triumph
As we have seen in the former lesson, on the Church Militant, we have many spiritual battles to fight here on earth, and a great preparation is necessary if we are going to be ready to meet our Lord and Saviour. Every man who has this hope in God purifies himself even as God is pure ([1 John:3:3]). Such a person will live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” [Titus:2:12]). He will be “holy and without blemish,” a member of the “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” [Ephesians:5:27]). All this preparation must take place during our lifetime, for the Rapture of the Church will take place suddenly and without warning and there will be no opportunity then for preparation. (Read [Matthew:24:17]; [Matthew:25:1-13].) He, who “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,” and, who, “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” [Philippians:2:7-8]), did so that we might be made like Him. If it was necessary for Him to be made like us so that we could be made like Him, it is surely necessary for us to be like Him here so that we shall be like Him when we meet Him up there.

 The Rewards
Many passages of Scripture are devoted to the rewards that will be meted out to the Church Triumphant when they stand before the Throne of God. We will “shine as the brightness of the firmament” and “as the stars for ever and ever” [Daniel:12:3]). God will set us on high [Psalms:91:14]), with the Son of God, on thrones of glory and authority. God will regard us as His own precious jewels and will cause us to enjoy the unspeakable glories of the new Heaven and the new earth during the countless ages of eternity. The Millennium will be a period of service to our Lord, to whom we owe so much in love and devotion. We will administer justice then and be able to enjoy fully the privileges of that glorious time.

There will be no terrors of judgement upon us. Only the wicked dead will be resurrected to stand before the Great White Throne, to be judged for their evil deeds while on earth. The appearance of fiery indignation will be all that the wicked will see of God, but that attitude of indescribable terror will not be manifested toward the Church Triumphant for even a moment. To them, their God will be nothing but infinite love, goodness, mercy, and kindness. They will see His face and behold the light of His countenance. Not one look of displeasure will ever come to the Church Triumphant from the infinitely pure and holy God. The Church will have an eternal existence of bliss and joy that is incomparable.

The Church will assist in the judgement of sinners and will even judge angels. The assignment of their duties will be determined by the manner in which they have availed themselves of their opportunities to serve God here on earth. Theirs will not be a life of idleness or of purposeless existence, but one of joyful activity and satisfying enterprises all through eternity. They will eat of the tree of life and drink of the water of life. There will be no season in which that fruit and that purest of water cannot be had. The inconveniences of our modern, scientific conveniences will be gone. No lights will be needed because the Lamb of God is the Light. There will be no thieves, liars, profane persons, defiling influences, threatening powers, or uncertainties of the future. All will be at rest and glory forever and forever.

The Revelation
During the time of this present distress the Church is in her time of tribulation. She is going through her trials and testings. She is in her time of preparation. But there is coming a time when she will be revealed in all her glory.

The Lord has called His people to this life of holiness that they may be to Him a peculiar people, a chosen people, and a precious people. But they are not recognised as such by the world. Satan does not value the godly virtues in the people of God. Rather, he opposes the Christian and tries to destroy him. And Satan’s servants are like their master, as the servants of Christ are like their Lord and Saviour. This world is no friend to grace and the friends of the world are vigorous enemies of the servants of the Cross.

Christian virtues and graces are but lightly esteemed by the world. In a world where pride, conceit, arrogance, and human accomplishments determine the respect and recognition, which men receive, what consideration is given to the meek and humble of heart? What can a lover of his enemies expect from the world of haters of all that is good? The spirit of this age is directly adverse to long-suffering, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, love, temperance, and virtue. The world has but little honour or respect for anyone who has such virtues or who orders his life wholly according to the divine precepts.

But there is a day of glory coming for the followers of God. These dark days of oppression and strivings against sin and evil will soon be over. The day of liberation is near. We who are living in the generation that is seeing the signs take place which show the end is near must lift up our heads, for our redemption is drawing near.

The Lord will come as a thief in the night. There will be a shout, but it will not be heard by the world at large. The ears of the world of sinners are not tuned to the vibrations of the heavenly trumpet call. Sinners hear only the wishes of their master, Satan, who is bending them to do his will and to follow his wishes as he attempts to overthrow the kingdom of Heaven and take for himself the Throne of Christ. The Church Militant alone will hear the call. Each and every member, no matter how illiterate, how humble or poor, how afflicted, or how oppressed he may be – or may have been if he has already laid down his armour at his life’s end – will hear the voice of God and feel the vital overpowering force that will sweep him away from the world of sorrow to the realm of eternal glory and bliss.

The Glories of Heaven
We are not told a great deal about the glories of Heaven. Paul, the Apostle, was caught up into the glory of Heaven itself, and he said he saw things that his tongue could not express and which he could not describe. But John the Beloved has given us a picture of some of the scenes of indescribable beauty that he saw -– settings for the events which will take place on or before the Throne of God during the time of the Great Tribulation here on earth. Since the Bible has given us a somewhat detailed description of this particular Throne that John saw, the beauty of its surroundings, and the events that take place from and on it, we can well consider these things and thereby see a little of the over-all beauties and overwhelming glories that we someday will see and enjoy for ourselves.

Isaiah has told us that the Throne of God was “high and lifted up” [Isaiah:6:1]), to which is added elsewhere in Scripture the thought that it is pure in its whiteness and dazzling beauty. It is well that these descriptions be kept in mind and added to the picture which John the Beloved gives us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

John the Beloved has told us that he saw One sitting on the Throne and we know that One to be none other than the Eternal God in His Triune Being. The only words John could find to describe the appearance of this mighty Godhead were vastly inadequate, but even they in their limited scope give us a picture that is beyond our imagination.

“Like a jasper and a sardine stone” is what John has said of the appearance of the Mighty One. From that we can see that there was a brilliance emanating from the Throne that can be approximated only by the purest of these precious gems, polished to the extreme. We can visualise only a little of what John saw: a pure, purple, fiery, red, and crystalline flashing brilliance, upon a “high and lifted up” Throne that was pure in whiteness and dazzling beauty and which was encircled by a perfect green rainbow and set upon a sea of glass like unto crystal.

When Moses and the elders of Israel were in the Mount they saw “the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness” [Exodus:24:10-11]). Ezekiel has written that the place where the Throne of God was set, in the vision he saw, was “the likeness of the firmament... as the colour of the terrible crystal” [Ezekiel:1:22]). This sea of glass, like unto crystal, that John saw was, no doubt, the colour of the purest of azure and was radiant in its brilliance and transparent in its purity -– an indescribable setting for the Throne of the immaculate Godhead in all His incomparable glory.

The Glories of the Revealed Church
But this scene of absolute purity and beauty that defies the analysis or description of the best human eloquence or intellect -– to say nothing of defying the powers of our minds to comprehend that limited and inadequate description that has been given -– is not remote or separated from those who will also take part in the universe-shaking events that will proceed from it.

Before the Throne and round about the Throne John saw living creatures and elders who, we know by the songs they sing and the praise they give, are bands or throngs of redeemed ones. The Apostle did not know their exact number, for he has said that it was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. Their voices are to be raised in unison in hymns of praise for their redemption and for their deliverance from the judgements due them because of their sin. But all these form only a part of the scene that John saw, for to them is to be added still another group which no man could number who are to come out of great tribulation, to wash their robes in the Blood of the Lamb and serve God before His Throne forever [Revelation:7:9-17]).

Picture, if you can, even for a minute, this scene of eternal glory and beauty. Visualise, if you can, even for one single minute, the glories that await the true believer. Then multiply those which you have pictured and visualised by the number of minutes in eternity! Incomprehensible? Yes! Indescribable? Yes!

Impossible of attainment? No! Emphatically, and absolutely, No! The Blood of Jesus is sufficient and the pardon of God is adequate to thoroughly prepare everyone so that all who desire to do so may look on these glories. The efficacy of the perfect Sacrifice is sufficient to make everyone a member of that innumerable throng of purified ones who will fall down before the Throne and cast their crowns on that azure crystalline sea and sing:

"Thou art worthy ... for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation"[Revelation:5:9]).

Consider also the further glories that will be revealed to this group of redeemed ones. As though the scenes so far described were not enough, God gives that redeemed band the privilege of riding upon white horses, being clothed in fine linen, white and clean, and of coming back to this earth with their conquering Lord and Saviour at the end of the Tribulation. (Read [Revelation:19:11-16] and [Jude:1:14].)

Then think of the privileges given to each one during the Millennial Reign of Christ on this earth [Revelation:20:4-6]). Add to this the final consummation of all things, when the Heaven and earth that now exist will be destroyed and replaced by a new Heaven and a new earth that will never be tainted with sin or uncleanness. After you have pictured all this, stop and meditate a while on it and then add to all that you contemplate the realisation that in the midst of all these glories, near to the God who has redeemed His people and who has brought them to this place of eternal glory, will be that glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle -– a grand, victorious army -– The Church Triumphant!

Questions: 

1. What is necessary for membership in the Church Triumphant?
2. When does the Church change from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant?
3. What is a “full overcomer”?
4. Name some of the rewards to be given the Church.
5. What will Jesus do for the Church at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?
6. What official place will the Church have in the plan of eternal and millennial judgements?
7. When will the inhabitants of the earth get their first view of the Church Triumphant in her eternal glory? Describe the scene.
8. What is to be the eternal state of the Church?
9. Memorise [Ephesians:5:23-32].
10. Memorise the substance of [Matthew:25:31-40].