Surely ALL of the Revelation must be future. The “letters to the churches” are just chock full of works doctrine. Can you at least entertain the idea that those letters are to believers and proselytes after the age of grace has come to an end, after the Rapture? GES is all about grace, yet you have those trying to grasp free grace, reading those letters as if they are to us, and arriving at terrible, yes terrible confusion. This was my experience for decades.
By “after the age of grace has come to an end,” I think SF means after the church age. That is, I think he understands Revelation 2-3 as being directed to believers during the Tribulation.
I could see how Revelation 2-3 might bother those who think that all believers are overcomers. You can see in Revelation 2-3 that not all believers are overcomers.i
Hence someone might wrongly think that the Lord is saying that only victorious believers will enter His kingdom.
Of course, as SF says, that is not our view. All believers will never perish, have everlasting life, will never be cast out, will never die spiritually, will never come into judgment regarding everlasting life, etc.
I’m not sure that there is a view of the Book of Revelation that sees the seven letters as being directed to people during the Tribulation. But there probably is such a view.
Some see the seven churches as representing the worldwide church of Jesus Christ during seven periods in church history. I don’t think the particulars fit. Besides, I see the outline of the book in Rev 1:19, “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” The things which you have seen is Rev 1:1-18. The things which are refers to Rev 2:1-3:22, things which were occurring when John wrote. The things which will take place after this refers to Revelation 4-22.
Whatever the correct interpretation, SF is correct that the seven letters are “chock full of works doctrine.” All seven letters have the statement, “I know your works.”
It is my contention that the entire Bible is chock full of works doctrine. From Genesis to Revelation, God calls upon believers to produce God-honoring works that reflect the image of God. The Lord Jesus spoke of good works that we should do (Matt 5:16; 26:10; Mark 14:6). Luke spoke glowingly of Tabitha who was “full of good works” (Acts 9:36). Paul said that believers should “be fruitful in every good work” (Col 1:10; compare 2 Cor 9:8; Eph 2:10; 1 Tim 2:10; 6:18). Hebrews 10:24 says that we are “to stir up love and good works” in our fellow believers.
The Free Grace position is not antithetical to an emphasis on good works. The grace of God is not a license to sin. Properly understood, the seven letters to the seven churches challenge us to be victorious Christians so that we might hear the Lord say, “Well done, good servant” (Luke 19:17), and so that we might rule with Him in the life to come (Rev 2:26). All believers will be in the kingdom. But only faithful believers will be chosen to rule with Him and to have the perseverance prizes associated with co-ruling with Christ.
Finally, 2 Tim 3:16-17 indicates that all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for believers in every age. We are to apply all of the Word of God, even texts that deal with the past or the future. If Revelation 2-3 were directed to believers during the Tribulation, we would still have to figure out the underlying principles to be found there and then apply those principles to our lives.
I appreciate the question by SF because it reminds us of what Paul told Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13).
i I recognize that some understand 1 John 5:3-5 as indicating that all believers are overcomers. I do not agree. I think those verses teach that our faith in Christ is that which overcomes the world. As long as we live by faith, then we are victorious believers. But there is no guarantee in 1 John 5:3-5 that we always live by faith. However, if I’m wrong and 1 John 5:3-5 does indicate that all believers are overcomers, then John would be referring to overcoming in our position, not in our experience. But in Revelation 2-3 the overcoming is clearly something to be done in one’s experience, not something true of believers in their position. So, if 1 John 5:3-5 says that all believers are overcomers in our position, that would not contradict Revelation 2-3 which indicates that not all believers are overcomers in their experience.