reward
Scheduled for study December 23-29, 2019. The subject this week has to do with the reward for the wicked and the reward for the righteous. We also look at the deceptions of the world.

Day 1

Revelation 12:7–17 – The War in Heaven continues on earth.

As you read Revelation 12-22, look for parallels between what John saw and what you see in today’s world. Seek spiritual guidance to help you find personal lessons as you immerse yourself in John’s symbolic language.

What do you think of when you think about the War in Heaven? Were there weapons, animals (like horses), artillery? Was it a shouting match between good and evil? Is it possible there was violence involved? What made it a war?

Today’s verses state that this was more of an ideological war – a war of words and ideas. Here is how John puts it.

10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

It says that “the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Whatever the argument was about, Lucifer and his followers were persistent in their accusations and wouldn’t let it drop. But those who were faithful to Christ and our Father “overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.” Interesting description. The atoning sacrifice had not been made yet, which is when the blood of the lamb was shed. But look at the next part. Those who were faithful to God’s plan overcame lucifer and his followers by the “word of their testimony.”

Lucifer and his followers were cast down from heaven to the earth where they continue to fight against God to this day. And how is it they continue to fight Him? They do it by seeking to destroy each person as an individual. They try to get us to be unfaithful to our covenants, to be unkind, to embrace any kind of wickedness they can convince us to think about. Their methods haven’t changed, just the venue. Instead of seeking to sway us to their way of thinking, like they did in the premortal world, now they seek to destroy us because they want to accomplish two things. The first is to deprive our Father of any children they can take away from Him. Their goal for each of us is to keep us far enough away from a spiritual life that we will all qualify for the second death, which is permanent separation from God for eternity.

The second goal in Satan’s fight is to individually destroy each of us for not siding with them in the first place. For this perceived betrayal they will do all in their power to get us to be as deserving of God’s wrath as they can convince us to become.

In the premortal world it was a war or contest of ideas. We beat Lucifer and his followers not by violence, blood, superior forces, armor, or any other type of battle equipment known to man, but by our testimony and faith in God and Christ. Those of us who could not be swayed to believe and accept Lucifer’s arguments are the ones who were permitted to come to earth. Every soul who survived that test of faithfulness to our Father and to Christ earned the right to eternal glory with a resurrected body. These are they who kept their first estate. So no matter what they do in this life, they have earned the right to some degree of glory for eternity with a resurrected body. Even the most evil mortals to ever live have earned this much from God, our Father for their obedience.

That was the first step. Now that we are in mortality, we must prove ourselves faithful to all of God’s commandments, without being able to see God. In this life we must prove ourselves by faith, and that is done through our individual testimonies, the same way it was done in the premortal world. This time the numbers who will be successful will be much smaller, and those who are successful will be exalted in the celestial kingdom. Satan is still doing his best to sidetrack us, to break us, to get us to embrace any form of wickedness he can. But those who remain faithful to what they have received will be claimed by Christ’s atoning sacrifice and given a celestial body in the day of resurrection.

The war was not a war of masses, but of individual choice and accountability. That war of ideas has followed us to earth. We conquered Lucifer once, but we must do it again, this time when we are working strictly by faith. Before, the reward was a physical body, with the promise of a resurrected body of some glory for eternity. But now, if we are successful, the promise is godhood and eternal increase, to become like Christ, Himself, and to live in the presence of God, our Father for eternity. There is no middle ground. Either we are successful in this endeavor or we are not. Either we will be crowned with eternal glory in the presence of God, or we will suffer the second death and live forever separate from Him. The War started in Heaven is an ongoing endeavor for each of us. And its consequences will be decided on a person by person basis according to our individual choices.

Day 2

Revelation 17-18 – The Lord invites me to flee Babylon and her sins.

As you read Revelation 12-22, look for parallels between what John saw and what you see in today’s world. Seek spiritual guidance to help you find personal lessons as you immerse yourself in John’s symbolic language.

We have all read John’s description of the whore of all the earth, who sits upon the many waters, dressed in her finery. Though we may not recognize her by this description, I believe we have all seen her in one guise or another. She represents the power and influence of Satan and all that he represents. If you have enough money in this world, almost anything can be yours for the taking, including, in many instances, justice, and the judgment of nations. Money is powerful, and it rules the world. She also represents all the vices known to mankind, greed, glutton, excess, and so forth. We have all seen her in one form or another.

And it doesn’t matter how she is dressed, what form she comes in, in any form she hates the things of God. She fights against the saints of God and everything that is good. The whore of all the earth represents all that Satan is and stands for. It doesn’t matter what religion she is masquerading in, what philosophical ideology, what government, or what secret combination is the flavor of the week. All of them are part and parcel of the great whore. And those who have tasted of her works have participated in her many forms of wickedness, for she knows no good thing.

The city of Babylon is a representation of the whore of all the earth. It represents the excesses and wickedness of the world. Members of the Lord’s Church would know Babylon by another name, “the great and spacious building.” The Lord pleads with us to come out from such places and to refrain from their sins. They will be punished for those sins, and the Lord doesn’t want to punish us, so He invites us to leave Babylon and come to Zion to live with the pure in heart.

As always, it is our choice. Satan and those who embrace the ways of the world will seek to convince us that their lifestyle is what we really want, for theirs is a life of instant gratification, physical pleasures, and indulgences. But the commandments offer us peace and security for eternity, something the world simply cannot comprehend.

Day 3

Revelation 20:12–15 – All of God’s children will be judged out of the book of life.

As you read Revelation 12-22, look for parallels between what John saw and what you see in today’s world. Seek spiritual guidance to help you find personal lessons as you immerse yourself in John’s symbolic language.

One of the great lessons in these verses is that God is a universal record keeper. There is nothing that happens here on earth that is truly secret and escapes God’s view. He sees it all, and understands why we do what we do at the time that we do it. There is nothing we do, say, or think that escapes His judgment. We will all be weighed in the balance for everything we do. That includes all of our leisure pursuits, as well as all of our times of great work and industry. Every minute of every day is accounted for in God’s books.

It appears that only those things that are of a worthy nature get entered into His book of life. Everything else is recorded elsewhere. If we get through this life without our name being considered worthy of being placed in the Lamb’s book of life then we will not be His in the last day when He makes up His jewels and rewards His faithful followers with crowns of glory. And if we are not in the book of life then we must be somewhere other than with Christ, and to be somewhere else means to suffer the second death, to be separated from God for eternity.

This separating of righteous and worthy from the unrighteous and unworthy is known by several different metaphors. Sometimes we hear of the separation of the sheep and the goats, of being on God’s right hand or on His left hand, and so forth. These are all basically the same description of judging people to either be worthy to stand with Christ or not worthy to stand with Christ.

Day 4

Revelation 21: 22:1-5 – If I am faithful, I will receive celestial glory.

As you read Revelation 12-22, look for parallels between what John saw and what you see in today’s world. Seek spiritual guidance to help you find personal lessons as you immerse yourself in John’s symbolic language.

When you read these chapters, try to see in your mind’s eye the celestial city, the sea of glass outside the city, and the river of pure water with the trees of life bearing 12 kinds of fruits lining its banks. Imagine the felicity, the enjoyments of those who will live in God’s presence, and have the company of others who proved themselves faithful. You will live among angels who serve your needs. You will be given crowns of glory, administrative responsibilities, and will have the companionship of a spouse, which no one outside the celestial kingdom can have. This kingdom is the highest life to be desired by anyone who can conceive of a life full of enjoyments and lasting happiness.

One of the interesting details of the celestial city is that the city is a cube. The length, width, and height are equal (Revelation 21:16). There are three gates to the city on each side of the base of the city, and above each of the gates is the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. And as there are twelve gates, each for one of the twelve tribes, so too are there twelve decorative foundations to the city, each one adorned with a different precious stone representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Hmmm. Are you sensing a theme? This is, indeed, a most unique place to live. By the way, the fourth level of the foundation is emerald, as specified by God. Emeralds are green and represent life. Earlier in Revelation it stated that Christ had a halo or rainbow of green around him as he sat upon his throne. Green is for the giving of life, which is what Christ does. It was assigned to the tribe of Judah, through which Christ’s lineage is traced. In Judaic custom, each precious stone represents a specific trait.

Note that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will be allowed into the city. This means there will never be anything evil that will ever enter the city or mar its peace. When the Lord comes again he will bring his reward with him. Those who are righteous and holy will remain as such, and those who have defiled themselves with the things of this world will also remain as such. This is why the final judgment is referred to as the restoration of all things. Those who are evil will have evil restored to them again, and those who are righteous will have righteousness restored to them again.

The takeaway for me in all of this is that there is really only one decision to be made: am I worthy of living with Christ and our Father, or am I not? If I spend my life trying to only be just a little better than my neighbor then I will be with my neighbor in the Terrestrial kingdom, away from God forever. If I want to live with God, I must commit myself and my life to full and unadulterated obedience and service. I must seek to become like Christ in all earnestness. Living with God again must be my only goal. All worldly concerns must take a backseat to any concern that would affect my standing before God.

Day 5

Revelation 22:18–19 – Do these verses mean that there cannot be any additional scripture besides the Bible?

As you read Revelation 12-22, look for parallels between what John saw and what you see in today’s world. Seek spiritual guidance to help you find personal lessons as you immerse yourself in John’s symbolic language.

If you have spoken much at all with those Christians who are concerned that we are adding to the word of God by including the Book of Mormon then you have probably had these verses from Revelation quoted to you. But look at this verse in Deuteronomy 4:2.

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.

It is worded very closely to the verses in Revelation. This makes it clear that the prophets were only referring to their specific revelation, not to the whole canon of scripture, otherwise everything past the first four books of the Old Testament would be false and not worthy of being scripture. And we know that is not true.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

Revelation 13:11–14 – Deceptions in the world today.

Let’s address deceptions in general here. Yes, this passage talks specifically about a beast that rises from hell in the last days and is miraculously healed from a wound that couldn’t possibly be survived by any standard of healing. Yet it is, and it is given such power that people will worship it and make images of it and follow it. But there are more pressing concerns before this great deception comes upon us.

As parents, are you aware that anything you allow your children to see on television and in movies and listen to in music, if they go unchallenged, your children will believe it is approved and okay? Anything our parents expose us to is adopted by our children as what is supposed to be normal. They don’t question it. They trust us and there is an unspoken acceptance that everything you do for them is for their good.

This means that when we watch television programs and there is a “fantasy suite” where the couple is expected to “kick the tires” of their relationship, what do we expressly teach our children? Isn’t the show supposed to be family faire? What about those comic programs where the humor is crude and their treatment of the parents makes adults all look like fools? And there are plenty of shows that show that the only leaders in a family are the children, because it is the children who solve the mysteries and who save the family from their troubles. Their parents are just loving, but bumbling fools.

Finally, there are the shows that simply must have a gay couple, and that couple is always portrayed as the epitome of social correctness. When we let our children watch most anything on television or in movies, we are teaching our children that these things are not only acceptable, but right. And if we think to say anything other than that to them, which do you think they will believe, your one comment about living an alternative lifestyle or the hundreds of examples they have seen by your consent of the social appropriateness of being a gay couple? This is the kind of deception that is all around us today. When my children were younger, I found I had to interrupt the television program when someone would say something that went against the gospel teachings and correct what was being said. I felt it was important they know the difference between what the gospel teaches and what the world teaches. And since the gospel was not being taught in these shows, I had to give equal time to the teachings of Christ if we were to watch those shows at all.

Almost everything the world currently teaches goes against the teachings of Christ. This means we are left with little choice. We must either accept those subtle teachings in the ads and programming around us or we must turn them off unless we have previewed them for content and then teach our children how to determine the difference between what the world wants us to believe and what Christ wants for us. As children, most of us were taught that someday we would be so different from the world that such measures would have to be taken. Well, those days are here. We must be willing to recognize the need for our intervention, and be willing to do it for the safety of our children. The craftiness and subtlety of the world increases all the time. Only plain teaching and living the gospel lifestyle will show our children the difference between what the world has to offer and what Christ has to offer.

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 52