The book of Revelation is full of symbolism about the coming Kingdom of God. The book sets the stage for a battle between good and evil where Christ conquers evil and death is destroyed forever. Although John shows us that God wins, the spiritual battle is still ongoing as the Church progresses toward the eschaton. Revelation shows that the faithful participate in the struggle through cooperation with God’s plan. In the end, men will meet Christ and be judged accordingly.
In chapter 14, we learn that the saints, those who are holy, keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12). They reject the empty promises of the enemy, and although they have died, they now are blessed with rest from their labors. They imitate the Lamb in his purity, following him “as first fruits for God” (14:5). Although the enemy wages war upon them and they are slain, they endure their suffering in imitation of Jesus (13:10). Through their faithful endurance they share in his victory, and Christ “will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 21).
In the letters to the Churches, we find the works that are pleasing as well as those that fall short. He begins by lamenting that the church in Ephesus has lost their love, in contrast to Jesus “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by this blood” (1:6). He warns them that their lack of love and repentance will cause them to fall from their place. He praises the church in Thyatira because their love and faith have grown (19). The Laodiceans have grown comfortable and complacent in their wealth and so have let their zeal waver, being neither hot nor cold (3:15-17). Christ knocks at the door, seeking their love but they must choose to let him in.
Although love is the pinnacle, it must be accompanied by conversion of the heart and repentance for past wrongdoing. Those who do not repent of their idolatry, murder, sorceries, or thefts are condemned (9:20-21). In chapter 21, we see the new heaven and the new earth. Christ sits upon the throne to make all things new, but those who are unclean shall remain outside “in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (21:8). The gates of the New Jerusalem will be shut for any who do not turn away for their sinful lives.
On the contrary, the book closes with Jesus saying that his return is imminent and he will repay each one according to his deeds (22:12). This return and judgment will be to the blessing of those who wash their robes and they will have their reward. All of those who thirst for the water of life should come to him and enter into this reward. But those who reject the law of love- fornicators, murderers, idolators, and the deceitful - must remain outside of the Kingdom of God (22:15). Thus, faith in Christ must be accompanied by works of charity.
In the end, Christ conquers sin and death. He draws all men to himself so that they may believe in him and imitate him in his love, so they may love God and neighbor. Those that let God’s love grow in them are invited to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven which lasts eternally. But those whose love of self outweighs the love of others will remain outside, unable to see the light of love because they refuse to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him.