“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).
John received this Revelation from Jesus Christ while exiled on Patmos. Why was he there, exiled? John says, “for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Like the Apostle Paul, the Apostle John was a slave of Christ, separated unto the gospel of God. It was his duty and his unashamed delight to bear before men the testimony of Jesus Christ, the word of God.
The word for “testimony” is the same word from which we get “martyr.” When we think of a martyr, we think of a man dying for his faith. As it goes, in a world from which evil is still being expelled, the man who stubbornly maintains the testimony of Jesus Christ will often find himself underlining his witness in red, with his own blood. He who is man enough to do so is the same man who has been bearing witness consistently over time. Doug Wilson says, on this verse, “The witness who is willing to go to the point of death begins witnessing a lot earlier than that in the course of his life.” At the testing point, for a man to show himself to be excellent, he must have a habit of excellence behind him.
Wang Yi didn’t walk up to the doors of Early Rain Covenant Church, cut the bolts that had been locked to them by the government in front of the police, walk into his pulpit, and preach against the evils of Communism in front of Communists out of nowhere. He had long borne the testimony. He did so unto a decade of imprisonment and hard labor.
John MacArthur didn’t wake up one day and decide that he would finally practice courage in the face of a California government insisting, upon threat of fine and imprisonment, that he shut the church doors. JMac had chosen courage in the face of opposition repeatedly. It was his habit to bear the testimony.
Gabriel Rench has spent years singing Psalms in the face of statists. So, when the police showed up to arrest him, all he had to do was carry on with business as usual.
For the word of God and the testimony of Christ. The apostles are not alone in being slaves of Christ, duty bound to bear his testimony and proclaim the word of God. The aforementioned officers in Christ’s church are no more duty bound than you, reader, no matter your position in the church. You, like them, as a slave of Christ, a priest in his name, are duty bound to bear the testimony, and to do so in the face of any Patmos that may be threatened.
John is our brother and companion in the patient, enduring, longsuffering of Christ. As did Christ, with firm jaw and open eyes conquer through your blood. And know that you are in his kingdom. No matter what king may oppose you, may seek to exile you, to crush you for your bearing the testimony, Christ is on the throne and is the King where you are. There is nowhere you can go outside the realm of his rule. There is no ruler that can rise up against you and in any way thwart the rule of your master, whose testimony you bear.
So, preach the gospel. Sing Psalms. Defy tyrants. Taunt 666 from Patmos. And make babies who will join you in the endeavor.