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•NUMBER OF THE FIRST FRUITS-144,000• Brethren, I have written about the first fruits of the kingdom of heaven, and the three qualities that make a believer among the first fruits. Namely, they are being unworldly, being a faithful Christ’s follower, and being a believer in Christ’s saving grace (REV. 14:4-5). They all seem simple; they all seem like what we exercise, but brethren, they are actually not. For according to the revelational vision of Apostle John, those who will attain the landmark faith of being first fruits are just 144,000! (REV. 14:1) Out of million of people that have been in continual existence since time immemorial. Brethren, when I learnt about this, it was astonishing, that out of all human beings-the dead, the ones alive, and the ones that are yet to be born-few will attain the great faith. Remember, God’s words are never inaccurate, if it is 144,000 that will be the first fruits of resurrection, then 144,000 it is, without any addition or subtraction to it (ECCL. 3:14). How then is the number so small compared to the overall number of all human beings which is well over trillions? Brethren, the answer is simple but not easy to exercise or put to work. When Apostle John, in his vision, saw those that have attained the great faith, one of the heavenly hosts told him about them (the first fruits): ‘ “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Christ)” ‘ REV. 7:14. That is, those who are considered the first fruits; those who attain the great faith, are those who experience great suffering, and yet remain in Christ, unwavering in their faith. Summarily, those whose faith are tested in different ways, and yet remain faithful. Take note, it is not petty or mild sufferings being talked about, but life-threatening, callous sufferings-not that any suffering is pleasant, but still, there are some sufferings that are obviously more burdensome than others. In other words, those who are considered worthy of great faith are those who put their faith before their lives; those who consider that their lives are insignificant compared to defending their faith (REV. 12:11). It is a great responsibility brethren, which many cannot carry its burden. But, as exemplars of great faith, some have; the ones we refer to as great men and women of faith, talked about in the Bible. Apostle Paul wrote about them: ‘…Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life (being first fruits). Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn into two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated…’ HEB. 11:35-38. All because they were faithful and in defence of their faith. That was the reason Apostle Paul wrote that God was not ashamed to be called their God; thereby, He has prepared wonderful things for them as first fruits (HEB. 11:16). Brethren, not only these men and women of the Old Testament, but also the ones who served Christ with their lives, enduring severe persecutions, keeping themselves unstained, going about preaching the faith in Christ, while they kept being confronted by severe problems; many of them later were killed, all in the name of their faith.
John the Baptists was beheaded, Stephen was stoned to death, James, the brother of John was killed by the sword; in fact, almost all the apostles, I learnt, were killed in one brutal way or the other; more so, before their deaths, they suffered monumentally in kings’ hands, in prisons, in the hands of crowds, et cetera. And never for once, did they forsake their faith. Among all these first fruits, is the Leader Himself. He suffered mockery, scourge, whip, injustice, pain, denigration, crucifixion, and then finally death; yet, He never forsook His Father-God. And for this, He sits at the right hand of the throne of God (HEB.12:2). Brethren, can you now see why the number is so small? God’s choicest of saints, who have monumentally suffered for Him will be among the first fruits that are to enjoy the first resurrection (REV. 20:5); those who would have proved themselves, time and again, of having great faith in the face of suffering. This is a challenge for you and me as believers. Will we just stand complacently in ordinary faith when there are higher level of great faith to be desired and attained? For all those who have qualified for the great faith did not stand stagnantly; they yearned and chased after higher levels of faith, putting on the great responsibility of enduring every afflictions, so as to earn the privileges of being first fruits and being priests of God in the world to come (REV. 20:6). They were examples of great faith, and we must follow their footsteps to be like them. It is hard, but not impossible, to be a first fruit. Thereby, Apostle Paul exhorted: ‘…let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith (by focusing on Him, following Him faithfully, and believing in His saving grace)’ HEB. 12:1&2. THE GRACE OF THE LORD IN CHRIST BE WITH YOU (AMEN)

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•NUMBER OF THE FIRST FRUITS-144,000•

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