Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
The rewards assigned to the overcomer described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are aspects of the first resurrection from the dead. They are the life, authority, power, and union with God through Christ that God’s kings and priests must possess if they are to perform their predestined roles in the Kingdom of God.
What does it mean to overcome, to conquer? Is it necessary for the Christian believer to be a conqueror in order for him to attain to the first resurrection, to rule with Christ at His appearing? If so, how does the believer become a conqueror? How can the disciple be certain he is living as one of Christ’s conquerors?
To be a conqueror does not mean we imitate Jesus successfully. Rather it requires that we begin to recognize there is only one Conqueror and His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. As He, God’s Conqueror, is formed in us by the power of God, we through Him are enabled to conquer Satan.
Table of Contents
The Way of the Cross
The Lord Jesus Christ
The Two Lampstands
The Church in Ephesus
The Church in Smyrna
The Church in Pergamos
The Church in Thyatira
The Church in Sardis
The Church in Philadelphia
The Church in Laodicea
Foreword—The First Resurrection
An important concept forms the basis of the teachings of this book. This concept is expressed briefly in Romans 8:19:
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
Our vision of the first resurrection from the dead, the resurrection that will take place when the Lord appears, has to do with the term “manifestation” (revealing; disclosing; making known).
The point is this: the Day of Christ will not change what we are as much as it will reveal what we have become.
We know that our body will be changed at the coming of the Lord. But even the change in our body will reflect what had been created previously through the working in us of the grace of God in Christ.
The picture is that of a sculptor who works in secret, preventing the gaze of the curious from beholding his masterpiece. Then the artist sets a date at which time his creation will be unveiled.
This is the true nature of the first resurrection from among the dead, of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavens with His victorious saints.
Do you grasp this concept?
If you do, allow the heavenly Artist to create a masterpiece from the clay that you are. It is not that at His appearing you suddenly will be transformed in personality, changed from what essentially you are. Rather it is true that at His appearing the change taking place in you now under the watchful eyes of the Lord will be emphasized radiantly by the garment of incorruptible resurrection life that will be handed you at that Day.
The robe of immortality and glory must be woven now as you cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the midst of the joys and sorrows of the Christian discipleship. You must overcome, through Christ’s grace, the forces that come against you.
It is our prayer that as you study this book you will understand the several factors of your personality that must be changed by the Lord as He casts down every idol and takes His rightful place on the throne of your heart. If you will obey Christ today, while you are abiding in the “secret place,” in the center of His will, tomorrow there will be disclosed to the creation the miracle of the beauty of holiness you have been made.
And—best of all—the “city” of your personality will have become the eternal dwelling place of God and of the Lamb.
Three additional concepts may be helpful to the believer who has wondered about the victorious Christian life and the rewards assigned to the overcomer.
First of all, to overcome is not to attain some marvelous spiritual stature to which only the most extraordinary individuals could aspire. Overcoming is a simple, direct, day-to-day process. It is the normal Christian experience.
The Lord Jesus advised us we should deal with the evil presented to us each day, the next day would take thought for the things of itself.
Each day, each disciple of the Lord is given a daily portion of evil to overcome. The evil is a challenge to our peace, our rest in the Lord. The challenge may be something new or surprising or it may be a constant irritation that we have dealt with for many years.
It may be a severe temptation or a blazing dart of accusation from a close friend or church member. In this case if we do not go immediately to the Lord our whole personality may be set on fire with the spirit of Hell.
God permits the evil to come against us so we may learn obedience and be transformed into the image of Christ and pressed into union with Him. If we would obtain the good that God has in mind for us we must take every such burden immediately to God in prayer, asking Him to remove it or else to give us wisdom in dealing with it.
As we attempt to give to the Lord Jesus the irritation, pain, or lust of our challenges, the adamic nature desires instead to grumble and fight or to act in some other sinful manner. When we do not yield to our animal nature and instead begin to seek the Lord’s peace, His grace enters us and we are transformed into His image and pressed into union with Him. Thus a part of us is crucified and in its place is created the resurrection Life of the Lord.
Our adamic nature much prefers to yield to unlawful desire, or to blame people, or circumstances, or even God for our discomfiture, our pain, our frustration. But when we yield to such enticement we bring the darkness of evil into our personality. When we force our way out of the prison God puts us in we destroy what God is accomplishing in us.
When we indulge in the luxury of blaming people, our husband or wife for example, or our circumstances, we do not grow in the Lord; instead we grow in bitterness and anger. We criticize others or seek revenge.
The same lust that destroys the defeated believer produces Christ in the conqueror as he overcomes the lust through Christ. The same fear and worry that drive joy from the double-minded church member create faith and power in the victorious saint. The same pain that causes the overcomer to grow in Christ results in bitterness, resentment, and hardness of heart in the nonovercomer, the defeated Christian.
God expects every Christian to be an overcomer. The rewards we normally associate with the Christian life are given to the overcomer, not to the defeated church member.
There is no authority or power in Heaven above, or on the earth, or in the dark regions beneath the surface of the earth, that can prevent the Christian from leading the overcoming life each day of his pilgrimage on the earth. We can be perfect each day although we have not as yet been perfected.
The only forces that can prevent the life of victory are our own unbelief, disobedience, and stubbornness. God has made every provision. Christ is making intercession. But we are the ones who decide each day to overcome the evil or else to give in to evil and to blame and manipulate others, seeking to force our will in order to regain our happiness.
The just live by simple faith in God in all matters. The unjust take matters into their own hands as they seek to determine their own circumstances and destiny.
A second concept is that the rewards to the overcomer are steps toward the attainment to the first resurrection from the dead. The final resurrection, the general resurrection of salvation that will occur at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, does not have to be attained. Every individual who has lived on the earth will be raised at the end of the Kingdom Age, excepting the participants in the first resurrection. This topic will be explained further in the text of the book.
The third concept is that the purpose of the first resurrection is to change the occupants of the thrones in the air above us that govern the spiritual atmosphere of the earth.
When the Lord appears, those who have attained to the first resurrection will be raised from the dead (or changed if they yet are alive) and then will ascend to meet the Lord in the air, in the region that had been occupied by the authorities and rulers that fell from God’s Presence along with Satan.
When the thrones in the air have been occupied by the overcomers, the justice, government, peace, and Glory of God will fill the whole earth. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth announced by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus, and the Apostles of the Lamb.
The purpose of the coming of the Lord is usually thought to be the removal of the Church from earth to Heaven. There is no verse in the New Testament that describes the coming of the Lord as being for the purpose of lifting the Church from earth to Heaven. We ought not to be preaching doctrine that is not found in the New Testament. The purpose of the coming of the Lord is to change the spiritual thrones in the air that govern the earth so the nations may learn to live in righteousness, holiness, and the fear of God.
It is not true that every saved individual will rise to meet the Lord in the air at His appearing. The first resurrection from the dead is for the purpose of enforcing God’s will on the saved nations of the earth. Christians who are not perfectly reconciled to the will of God are still part of the problem, still part of the original rebellion. They are not qualified to rule with Christ on the earth because they have not as yet learned the importance of, the necessity for, stern obedience to the Father.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.
This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4,5)
The Way of the Cross
The Bible teaches plainly that the way of the overcomer is the way of the cross:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him. (II Timothy 2:12)
If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
The cross of denial and pain (the Divine prison) and the overcomer’s crown go together. They can never be separated. This is God’s way.
He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
What does it mean to overcome, to conquer?
Why does Christ appear in a different manner to each of the seven churches of Asia?
What are some of the problems found in the churches that must be overcome if the saint is to rule with Christ?
Exactly what are the rewards given to those who conquer these problems? What is the relationship between the rewards given to the victorious saints and the first resurrection from the dead?
Is it necessary for the Christian believer to be a conqueror in order for him to attain the first resurrection, to rule with Christ at His appearing? If so, how does the believer become a conqueror? How can the disciple be sure he is living as one of Christ’s conquerors?
Christ spoke to the church at Sardis. The name Sardis means “remnant.”
Throughout the Old and New Testaments we find that God works with a remnant, a fragment of the mass of people who are involved in the worship of the true God and who bear the name of Israel or of Christ. How can we recognize the Lord’s “remnant”? Why is the concept of the remnant so important to the Christian who desires to be one of Christ’s conquerors?
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4)
The subject of this booklet is the victorious Christian saint, the overcomer, the conqueror. This accounts for the first passage quoted above (Revelation 21:7).
The reward assigned to the conqueror is the first resurrection from the dead and all the glory and responsibility that are part of the first resurrection. This is why the second passage is quoted above (Revelation 20:4).
There is an important idea to consider at the outset of our discussion of the conqueror, the victorious saint. It is that the several rewards blessings and privilege we normally associate with the Christian experience are given to the victorious saints. All of the promises to the overcomer, from eating of the tree of life to governing the nations with a rod of iron are aspects of what we view to be the expected Christian inheritance.
Let us consider, for example, the first consequence of living victoriously—being permitted to eat of the tree of life. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden of Eden before they could eat of the tree of life. To eat of the tree of life is to gain immortality in the body.
The Lord Jesus was then and yet is the Tree of Life. His flesh and blood are our eternal life. As we, through Christ, gain victory over the world, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will, we are given to eat of the flesh and blood of Christ. Christ dines with us on His own flesh and blood. We are to live by the Life of Christ just as Christ lives by the Life of the Father.
When the Lord returns He will be as a slain lamb. Those who live by the body and blood of the slain Lamb will be caught up to be one with the Lord for eternity. Where the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together. Those who wait on the Lord, living by His Life, shall mount up with the wings of an eagle in that Day.
Every Christian is taught that he or she is living in eternal life and will be raised to meet the Lord in His Day. The truth is, the only individual who is living in eternal life is he who is living in victory, who has been diligent in overcoming the challenges pointed out each day by the Spirit. When we are not living in victory we are not permitted to partake of eternal life and will not be raised in the Day of the Lord. We are not one of the Lord’s eagles.
There is no truth of the Scriptures more needed in our day. We must understand that when we are not living in victory we are not given the rewards designated for the victor. We cannot eat of the tree of life. We are not given a crown of life. We will not rule the nations with Christ.
Some today are claiming we are overcomers by identification with Christ. This is to say, by expressing faith in Him who is the Conqueror we automatically are a conqueror and thus are eligible for the rewards to be given to the overcomer. This concept is false.
One of the greatest challenges to the life of victory is that of forgiving those who hurt us. We are not given to eat of the tree of life when we do not forgive those who hurt us. We must, through the grace of Christ, totally forgive those who have wounded us. We must overcome the spirit of bitterness and revenge. It is a delusion to claim that because Christ forgave His enemies we automatically have forgiven our enemies even though we still are filled with bitterness; or that because Christ overcame the world and self-will we have overcome the world and self-will even though we still are entangled with the world and are disobeying God in many areas.
We will discuss antinomianism (we are saved by grace through faith apart from keeping the Lord’s commandments) a little later in our book. In the meantime, let us be aware that the current (and ancient) “faith alone” doctrine is a deadly enemy of the life of victory. Humanism, Gnosticism, antinomianism, and Dispensationalism are all enemies of the Kingdom of God.
There are two concepts discussed in the following pages. The first idea is that of the believer who pursues the life of victorious faith in Christ and the rewards assigned to him on the basis of the victory he has won. The second idea is that of the first resurrection from the dead (toward which Paul was pressing) and the rulership associated with that resurrection.
The reason we are discussing the two concepts together (the concept of the rewards to the overcomer and the concept of the first resurrection from the dead) is that we believe they are related. It is our understanding that the fruit, the outcome of the victorious life in Christ, is the first resurrection from the dead.
We believe further that the rewards assigned to the overcomer described in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation are aspects of the attainment to the first resurrection. They are the characteristics of life, authority, power, and union with God through Christ that God’s kings and priests must possess if they are to perform their predestined roles in the Kingdom of God.
Paul’s “mark,” of Philippians 3:14, is the first resurrection from the dead. Paul’s arrival at his goal will result in his possessing the increments of life and glory the Lord Jesus holds out to the overcomer.
The first resurrection from the dead is a state that must be attained to, or arrived at, as Paul exhorted us:
If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection [Greek, out-resurrection] of the dead. (Philippians 3:11)
If Paul toward the end of his pilgrimage on the earth (as evidenced by the date of the Book of Philippians) had not as yet attained to the first resurrection, we are not to be careless. We must, as did Paul, “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.”
The “prize of the high calling of God in Christ” is the first resurrection from the dead.
The first resurrection must be attained to by our continually “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.” This is the attitude of the conqueror in Christ.
Every Christian without exception can be a conqueror, because it is Christ’s virtue, wisdom, and strength—not ours—that overcome the enemy. Christ is the One who destroys the works of the devil (I John 3:8).
Christ the Lord is the Overcomer, the Conqueror. We conquer every foe as we abide in Him.
It is our understanding that salvation from Divine wrath, and the first resurrection from the dead, are not synonymous.
It certainly is true that we must be saved from wrath before we can begin to press toward the first resurrection from among the dead.
The first resurrection includes our reigning with Christ during the thousand-year Kingdom Age and then throughout the endless eons to come. This is more than salvation from Divine wrath. It is the role of the royal priesthood. The royal priests are the true Israel of God. The true Israel of God will rule the nations of saved people of the earth (see Isaiah, Chapters 60 and 61; Revelation, Chapter 21).
The first resurrection from the dead is for true Israel, for the royal priesthood. By the term “true Israel” we mean all those, whether Jewish or Gentile by physical birth, who have been called out of this world by the Lord for the purpose of showing forth His glory to mankind (Genesis 22:18; I Peter 2:9).
We can understand that salvation from wrath and the first resurrection from the dead are not identical by the fact that Paul, while imprisoned in Rome a few years before his martyrdom, made the following statement:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ. (Philippians 3:13,14)
To maintain that Paul in his last years was pressing toward salvation from wrath is not reasonable. Paul was pressing toward a specific “mark.” We know from the context of the third chapter of Philippians that Paul’s “mark” is “the resurrection from among the dead,” the exanastasin to employ the Greek term.
A principal purpose for the two thousand years of the Christian Era is the creation of the members of the Body of Christ. As soon as the Body of Christ has reached the level of maturity and unity desired by the Lord, the Lord will appear with His Body in the parousia (the coming and Presence of the Lord). This is the first resurrection from the dead.
Then will come the judgment of the nations. The nations of the saved will enter eternal life while the unrighteous will be cast into the everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41,46).
It is not permitted to those who have been called out of the world, God’s elect, to attempt to “settle” for a salvation from wrath. We have been called to the throne of Christ. We shall not be judged by the lesser standard that is applied to the world but according to the heavenly light that has been given to us. If we neglect our high calling we will be beaten with many lashes.
We must seek to attain that for which we have been chosen.
In the Scriptures the term salvation is used to refer both to the escape from wrath and also to the “rest” of God, that is, to full maturing into sonship, to dominion over all things (Hebrews, Chapter Two).
According to the latter definition, the righteous “scarcely are saved” (I Peter 4:18). The disciple of Christ must endure throughout every tribulation in order to be saved. Patience is required if we are to possess our souls and enter the Kingdom of God. For God’s elect there is a race that must be won.
God always deals with the saint according to the saint’s high calling. The saint cannot decide to lead a careless life in the hope that God in His mercy will receive him to Paradise anyway. Consider the difference in the manner in which God dealt with Jonah as compared with the sailors.
Only Jonah was thrown overboard!
There are some Christian people who will succeed in pressing through to the full achievement of the Glory of God in Christ. It is to this the saints have been predestined (Romans 8:28,29).
There are other believers in Christ who will be saved as by fire. They did not live a victorious life. They did not respond with sufficient diligence to their Divine calling (II Peter 1:10).
If any man’s work [that which he has built on Christ] shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (I Corinthians 3:15)
Then there is the believer who is in danger of the loss of his salvation:
But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:8)
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6)
The difference between being saved in the fullness of fruitfulness and inheritance, and being saved by fire in barrenness and loss of inheritance, can be observed in the examples of Noah and Lot. Noah and Lot were of God’s elect, Lot being a nephew of the patriarch, Abraham. Noah and Lot were both saved from wrath but came forth with widely differing testimonies and inheritances:
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:27)
But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and sulfur from heaven, and destroyed them all. (Luke 17:29)
Noah is an example of the conqueror who is raised from the dead, to speak symbolically, and charged with the responsibility of restoring the earth (Isaiah 61:4).
Lot is an example of the nonovercomer who is saved through the prayers of godly relatives. Lot was saved from wrath, barely escaping with his life. A part of Lot, his wife, was destroyed by the fire of God’s wrath. Lot was saved from destruction but was without fruitfulness, and without the dominion that is the result of fruitfulness, because of the loss of his wife.
Saved as by fire! All fruitfulness, dominion, reward burned away from us. Only our spirit is saved. The Divine fire has consumed all of our personality and actions that God will not accept. Being saved as by fire may prove to be an exceedingly painful and prolonged operation consisting of “many lashes.”
The overcomer, the conqueror, the victorious saint, is not saved as by fire. He hears the praise of His Lord: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
In the Day of the Lord the conqueror will be surrounded by those who have been able to possess the Kingdom of God because of his testimony and ministry. He has many friends and has gained an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.
The overcomer helps the nonovercomer avoid having his spirit cut off from God in the Day of Christ:
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (I Corinthians 5:5)
The Christian believer who is spoken of in the preceding passage was not an overcomer, a conqueror, a victorious saint. Instead he was living in gross immorality.
Many of the teachers and preachers of our day would state that the incestuous Corinthian had nothing to worry about because we are “saved by grace and not by works.”
The Apostle Paul, who knew more than today’s preachers of “grace,” advised the church elders of Corinth to turn the sinning Christian over to Satan so his spirit might be saved in “the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Jude speaks of the nonovercomer, the individual who is saved, as was Lot, by the efforts of the godly:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:23)
We see, then, there is a difference in fruit-bearing among Christian people. There are rewards that have been assigned to each individual who “overcomes,” that is, who rises up in faith and grasps the victory available to every person through Christ.
Every believer can be a conqueror. Being a conqueror requires a life of cross-carrying obedience to Christ. Christ is The Conqueror. If we will allow Him to do so, Christ will accomplish victory in our life. We will not be overcome if we abide in Christ. Rather, we will overcome our circumstances through means of His resurrection life working in us.
Noah and Lot portray by their lives the differences between the person who is saved to fruitfulness and the person who is saved by fire.
The remainder of our book is a discussion of the rewards assigned to the conqueror, of the increments of power and glory issued to those who attain to the first resurrection.
The rewards to the overcomer, which are dimensions of life, authority, holiness, and union with God, are personal characteristics of those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead. They are included in the “mark” toward which Paul was pressing throughout his Christian experience. It is not possible for any person to serve as a member of the royal priesthood if he does not possess these characteristics.
It appears likely that many of the spiritual enablements promised to the overcomer are added to us today as we press forward in Christ, while the remainder of the blessings will be given us at the time of the redemption of our body.
The saint cannot fulfill his role apart from the endowments of Divine Life and Personality set forth in the second and third chapters of the Book of Revelation. As we ponder what is declared in these two chapters, the difference between the victorious saint and the blemished believer is emphasized immediately. There are the seven “spotted and wrinkled” churches of Asia, and then there are the victorious saints, the conquerors.
The churches always are addressed as groups. The conqueror always is addressed as an individual.
A church never can be a conqueror. No matter how godly and fervent an assembling of Christians may become, it never can be a conqueror. Each of the conquerors is addressed as an individual. The conquerors taken together constitute a firstfruits of the Church, the Wife of the Lamb, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the holy city.
To become a conqueror the believer must press on past all persons, voices, and things other than the Person of Christ. The saint must give his all to Christ. There can be nothing between his or her soul and the Savior. He must be free from all people and yet be the servant of all.
The Lord Jesus Christ will present to Himself a firstfruits of His Church—a remnant without spot, wrinkle, blemish, or stain of any kind whatever.
Christ never speaks to two people about overcoming as a team. The victorious saint presses alone into the bosom of God. His Creator receives him as an individual, a separate, unique creation. The Church is the “mother,” so to speak. From the ministry and travail of the Church is born the saint, the overcomer, the conqueror. The spirit of the conqueror finds rest only in the Spirit of God. He is restless until he finds rest in the center of God’s will.
The above paragraph is not to be interpreted to mean the Christian Church is one group of people and the conquerors are another group of people born of the Church. This may be a logical conclusion but it is not the true spiritual reality. The people who are conquerors are of the Church to begin with and are for now the true expression of the Church. These same people follow the Holy Spirit in using their gifts and ministries, and through their gifts and ministries build up themselves and their hearers into the fullness of the stature of Christ.
In one role we are the mother and in another role we are the conqueror. To put it even more simply, we build up ourselves in the most holy faith.
Christ is the Conqueror. As the ministries of the Church “groan in travail,” the Conqueror is formed in the saints (Galatians 4:19, Revelation 12:5). The moment Christ is formed in us He ascends to the right hand of His Father. Each of God’s conquerors dwells in the secret place of the most High—at the right hand of the Father.
A large part of our Christian discipleship consists of the struggle to bring forth Christ in us so our reborn spiritual nature may abide at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. There are many pressures seeking to force us down to the lusts and covetousness of the world, while our new inner nature is seeking victory at the right hand of God.
If you sincerely desire to become a conqueror you can. You must give yourself wholly to Christ. He must become not only your personal Savior but your absolute Lord as well. Apart from stern obedience to Him you cannot be a victorious saint.
The glory and responsibility of ruling with Christ during the coming thousand-year Kingdom Age has been assigned to the conquerors. It is the victorious saints who will participate in the first resurrection from the dead.
The Kingdom of God is waiting to be taken by the person who cares enough to grasp it by faith, diligence, and patience. Are you such a person?
Many writers have discussed the seven churches of Asia. Some have stated that the seven churches represent seven periods of church history and that we now are in the period symbolized by the church of Laodicea. We also incline toward the view that the seven churches portray the history of the Christian churches. However, it is our understanding that historically we now are in the church of Philadelphia, and that Laodicea is at hand.
Another key to the interpretation of the seven churches in Asia is, “if the shoe fits, wear it.” At various points of your Christian experience you may find yourself in one of these churches, so to speak. The challenges and problems seem to apply to your current situation. In that case, let the Holy Spirit lead you to victory over your foe. Allow the Spirit to apply the rebukes and the promises to you as He will.
In our discussion of the conqueror we are not going to identify seven periods of church history. Rather, we are interested in describing three factors:
- The manner in which the Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to us in order to meet our present need.
- The sins, enemies, and problems the saint must overcome.
- The rewards assigned to the believer who conquers through Christ the various sins, enemies, and problems that trouble the churches.
If we would receive the rewards assigned to the conqueror we must, using the Apostle Paul as our example, leave all else so we may press onward toward the mark, toward the prize of the high calling of God in Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ
Before speaking concerning the seven churches in Asia the Holy Spirit first presents to us the Lord Jesus Christ. If we would be one of the Lord’s conquerors we must come to understand that Christ is greater than the churches and is the Lord of the churches. Christ is the Commander in Chief.
Christ is in the midst of the seven golden lampstands, the seven churches in Asia
The churches of Christ are the Divine testimony, the lampstands. Because the Lord Jesus Christ is in the midst of them, the churches are the light—the only light—of the world.
The churches are golden lampstands. They are golden because they are of God. Gold, in the Scriptures, symbolizes Divinity. The Christian churches are not social institutions. They are the Divine testimony from Heaven of righteous behavior and supernatural power.
The churches of Christ are to be lighted only by the Holy Spirit. The only testimony that has an eternal impact is that which is given by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
In Revelation 1:13 we read of “one like unto the Son of man.” Christ is like a man, but how different!—how different!
His beautiful radiantly-white priestly robe, portraying His righteous and holy Personality and conduct, covers His whole body. He is holy!
His breast is girded with the strength of God Almighty.
His head and His hair are white like snow—the purity of eternal wisdom.
His eyes are fiery judgment. They are as flames of fire.
The eyes of Christ test the motives of people. They burn away what is insincere and carnal. We cannot deceive Christ. We cannot convince Him of the correctness of our ways. Christ perceives our every motive and we are found to be connivers, self-seekers.
The feet of Christ are like pure bronze, glowing in the furnace of Divine judgment. Wherever Christ walks, Divine judgment is executed. Wherever the saint walks, Divine judgment will be executed if Christ is walking in him. Devils will be cast out. The testimony given by the saint will cause some to be saved and others to be reserved to the Day of Judgment.
The voice of Christ is as the rolling thundering of the oceans and seas of the earth, as the crashing turbulence of a waterfall. It is a vast, powerful sound reaching from eternity to eternity.
The voice of Christ is multiplied in the saints, each of whom is a fountain of living waters.
The Word of Christ is the power that upholds the stars in their courses. The material universe is controlled by the power of Christ. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in human form. He possesses the Spirit of God without measure.
In His right hand Christ holds the seven stars. The seven stars are the angels, the ruling spirits, of the seven churches. The right hand represents authority and power. The almighty Christ holds the spirits of the churches in the right hand of His majesty.
One of the most important facts the conqueror learns from the Spirit of God is that the churches do not hold up Christ. Christ holds up the churches. The churches always are weak, always imperfect, always needy. Christ never is weak, never imperfect, never needy. Christ is the Lord.
Out of the mouth of Christ proceeds the sharp two-edged sword. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. When the Word of God comes from the mouth of Christ it is the most powerful weapon in the universe. There is no other weapon in the creation as strong as the Word of God or as sharp and penetrating as the Word of God.
The Word of God is living. It is powerful. It divides asunder the soul and the spirit of men. It divides asunder the joints and marrow of the bones until all that is not of Christ is driven from our frame. Like Elisha, we are to have resurrection life in our bones. The Word of God judges the thoughts and motives of our heart.
The face of Christ is like the bright sun at noontime. It is harmful to the eyes to stare at the sun. The light is so intense the eyes are injured. So it is with the face of Christ. We cannot gaze at His face unless He veils the full intensity of the glory streaming from it.
The Apostle John, the beloved of the Lord, fell as a dead man at the feet of Christ—the One whom he thought he knew so well. Now John discovered he did not know Christ as well as he thought. Although the Scripture does not say it seems possible that the revelation of Christ John was beholding was gigantic in stature, probably as a mountain whose snow-crowned peak was partly hidden among the clouds.
None of us Christians knows Christ as well as he thinks he does. The Apostle Paul at the end of his life still was seeking to know Christ. We know Christ in a very small measure.
The Lord Jesus put His right hand on John. There is no doubt in our mind that John never again was the same after feeling the hand of the resurrected Christ, the Lord of glory.
Christ said, “Fear not.” The appearance of Christ in glory is terrible to behold. He is the image of the invisible God. John was on his face, weak from fear, having no strength left in him.
Even though we are learning in these days that our Christ is more mighty, more awesome, more powerful than we have realized, He would say to us who love Him and are serving Him with all our attention and strength, “Fear not; I am the first and the last.” This is another important truth the conqueror learns concerning his Commander in Chief, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the last as well as the first. What Christ commences He finishes.
Many would tell us today that Christ was a wonderful person and had good intentions but could not finish what he started. He was an idealist who was willing to die for his views, but he could not accomplish what he set out to perform.
What ignorance! What a lie such a viewpoint is!
Are you positive Christ can finish what He has begun in your life? Or do you believe that at some point He has or He will abandon you to the misfortunes of this world?
Christ, being the Son of God who cannot lie and who cannot fail, indeed will bring to perfection all He has begun. The only person who can hinder the work of Christ in our life is we ourselves. We possess the truly awesome power to keep the door of our personality closed against Christ.
Christ will not open the door of our heart. He will knock. Sometimes He knocks until He shakes the whole house and we begin to understand that God is speaking to us.
God will speak. We must be the one who opens the door. Otherwise, the door of our heart will remain closed to Christ throughout eternity.
“I am he that liveth.” We are not attempting to imitate a teacher who died two thousand years ago. The living Christ is among us now. If we will open the door of our heart to Him, He will come into the secret chambers of our personality and dine with us.
It is not God’s will there be many Christs in the universe. There is but the one Lord Jesus Christ. We are not to be duplicates of Him. We are called to be part of Him, the extension of Him, the fullness of Him, His complement.
If we will allow Him to do so, He—the living Christ—will become all we are, all we need, all we are called upon to achieve. He Himself is our resurrection, our life, our strength, our joy, our peace, our hope, our wisdom. He is all we ever shall need for security, for happiness, for contentment, for fruitfulness and dominion.
“Was dead.” Christ experienced sufferings and death—a hard, cruel death because He was bearing the sins of the whole world.
“And, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen.” Christ is alive. He is here now. He has been working with the churches for two thousand years.
“And have the keys of hell and of death.” No one enters into Hell or comes forth from Hell without the permission of Christ. No one enters into death or comes forth from death without the permission of Christ.
Christ holds the keys.
Let us keep in mind as we study the seven churches in Asia that they represent the imperfect churches of the earth.
Out from these imperfect churches will emerge the unblemished Wife of the Lamb.
The Two Lampstands
In Revelation, Chapter 11 the end-time witness to the nations is symbolized as “the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth.” We are persuaded that the two olive trees portray the double portion of the Holy Spirit that will be poured on the saints of the last days so they may testify to all the nations of the earth of the soon coming of the Kingdom of God.
Two lampstands also are mentioned. When we study the golden Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation we realize it can typify only the Lord Jesus Christ. The solid-gold Lampstand with its cups, fruit, and flowers, standing before God, is without any doubt Christ. So much for the one lampstand. But how about the second lampstand of Revelation, Chapter 11?
The only other possible meaning of a Lampstand is a Christian church.
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks [lampstands]. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks [lampstands] which thou sawest are the seven churches. (Revelation 1:20)
Therefore there should be eight lampstands in the eleventh chapter of Revelation: Christ plus the seven churches. Why is it there is only one lampstand to represent the seven churches?
As we study the second and third chapters of Revelation, the reason for the one lampstand (instead of seven) becomes clear.
Each of the seven churches is divided into two groups of people, the victorious saints and the nonvictorious saints. The Lord Jesus points out the various strengths and weaknesses of each of the seven churches (except Laodicea which has no strengths), and then promises the rewards of life, authority, and nearness to God to “him who overcomes.”
It seems likely that the victorious saints were (and still are) a minority in each of the churches.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
Yet the promises we ordinarily associate with being a Christian are limited to these minorities.
As we look about us today we may notice that most Christian churches include a majority of people who are not doing what the Lord commanded:
- They are not coming out of the world and walking in holy separation to the Lord.
- They are not confessing and gaining victory over the sins of the flesh.
- They are not saying “not my will but Yours be done” in every situation of life.
They are churchgoers. But according to the standard of Scripture they are not disciples of the Lord and therefore by definition not true Christians. They are not going to receive the rewards assigned to the conquerors.
It is our point of view that in the near future there will be two massive forces at work in the world. One of these forces will be an unprecedented outpouring of the Glory of God. The other force will be much trouble and persecution.
We think that the Glory and the tribulation will cause the victorious saints to come out of the worldly churches, will purify the saints, and will cause them to become one in the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we are correct, these victorious saints will prove to be a firstfruits of the Bride of the Lamb, a firstfruits without spot or wrinkle.
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. (Song of Solomon 6:9)
“My dove, my undefiled is but one.”
The Lord Jesus (the first Lampstand) and the victorious saints (the second lampstand) will, in the coming days, receive tremendous power from on high. They will go forth to every nation on earth bearing witness of the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The two Lampstands working together as one worldwide Witness will continue the testimony of the first-century Apostles. They will announce that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ; that Jesus died on the cross and rose again on the third day; that whoever believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins; that He is coming again to judge the world. Those who are wise will flee from the wrath to come. This is the apostolic message.
The Witness of God will punish the earth with plagues until the Divine testimony has been completed. Then the “end shall come”: not the end of the age but the end of the Christian testimony in the major cities of the earth. Whoever would seek God after the Divine testimony has been completed will be required to go out into the wilderness where the saints are being protected from the murderous hatred of Antichrist.
And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence. (Isaiah 4:5)
And a man [the King and His princes] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (Isaiah 32:2)
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
In that day the authority and power of Antichrist will reach into the heavens and will prevent people from reaching God through prayer.
And it waxed great, even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground, and stamped upon them. (Daniel 8:10)
Only in the remnant that God has called out will there be salvation.
The Lord Jesus is looking today for those who through Him will make the effort to conquer the world, Satan, the sins of the flesh, and their self-will. Each believer who chooses to follow the Lord with a whole heart will serve in the coming age of moral horrors as a prophet, witness, servant of God, and deliverer. When Christ comes the victorious saint will be crowned with glory and honor.
The lukewarm churchgoers will be shaken and tossed about, not being able to survive the dark pressures that God will allow to fill the environment.
Will you be one of those who chooses to overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb, by your testimony that God is faithful, and by loving not your life to the point of death?
Will you choose to be a conqueror?
The Church in Ephesus
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks [lampstands]; (Revelation 2:1)
The first manifestation of Christ is that of Him who holds the seven stars in His right hand and who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.
The “stars” are the angels of the churches. The “right hand” signifies the authority and strength of Christ.
The “golden lampstands” (not candlesticks, as in the King James translation, but lampstands, in keeping with the golden Lampstand of the Tabernacle of the Congregation) refer to the ability of the churches to testify, through means of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, of the atoning death, resurrection, return to earth, and supreme lordship of Christ.
To be a conqueror we must walk always in this vision of the almighty Christ. Christ is not limited by the limitations of His churches. Christ is Lord of the churches. Whenever it is necessary or desirable to Him, He stands aloof from the churches. He holds the governing spirits of the churches in the right hand of His authority and power.
Today men seek the approval of other men and rejoice in their positions of authority in the various religious organizations. All such positions will turn to dust at the appearing of Christ. Every individual who holds a position of leadership must keep himself instantly prepared in heart, ready to humble himself at the bronze feet of the only true Shepherd of the flock of God. The Pharisees were unable to do this.
Spiritual pride is of Satan and is a snare in which it is extraordinarily easy for a Christian leader to get caught.
The holders of positions of authority and power in the Christian churches may not be able to relinquish them at the appearing of the Lord. When the King, the Son of David, indicates that the ecclesiastical leaders are to turn over their positions to those of whom they do not approve, and to take a humble place themselves, they may not be able to do so. Although they would like to serve Christ and be in His Kingdom they may not be able to take a lowly place in the sight of those who have known them in an exalted role.
Much Christian work is performed by men and women who have good intentions and who are attempting to build the Kingdom of God. But they have not waited on the Lord until they have heard from Him. They are blind to the specific will of God. We think this group in particular will resist anything the Lord does. They do not know the Lord, only the things associated with Christian work.
The rulers of the Jews were blind to the specific will of the Lord. They had not heard from Him as did the Prophets. They were unable to conceive of fishermen as the true leaders of Israel. Yet the names of the fishermen are inscribed for eternity in the foundations of the wall of the new Jerusalem while the elders and scribes are awaiting the Day of Judgment. So will it be in the Christian churches when the Lord appears.
Christ is Lord of the churches by command of the Father. Christ never is subject to the churches or to the administrative structure of the churches. Christ does as He pleases with the churches. He is not bound to honor the efforts of those who, while of good intention, are not being directed by Him in their Christian work.
The conqueror neither worships nor adores the churches or the ways and things of the churches. The churches are the creation of Christ. To worship or adore the creation rather than the Creator is idolatry. The conqueror submits to and serves the churches out of obedience to and love for his Lord, Christ. The conqueror does what is righteous and proper in the eyes of God and men.
Christ walks in the midst of the churches and His eyes of fire search out every motive and deed.
If the believer in Christ is to grow to maturity he must partake of the ministries of the churches. He must obey the elders. He must listen to instruction and partake of the corporate life of the assembling. He must serve in the churches as the Lord provides the opportunity.
These necessary disciplines are just the beginning. In addition, the saint must see past the assembling. He must behold Christ Himself. He or she must look upon the Lord of the assembling. He must be brought before the “God of the house of God.”
Many Christian people are well acquainted with Bethel—the house of God. They understand its ways, its responsibilities, its activities, its vocabulary. But they may never have met El-Bethel—the God of the house of God.
At some point the conqueror comes face to face with the Lord of the churches. Then he or she discovers that Christ is greater than the churches and the ways and activities of the churches. Christ is Lord of all—the Son of the most high God.
The conqueror has his relationship established with the Lord of the churches as well as with the churches. He remains a servant of the churches and is subject to all authority. The victorious saint ordinarily does not withdraw from the midst of people and their many needs and frailties.
The saint does not receive his life and inspiration from people, except as the Lord imparts wisdom and strength to him through the gifts and ministries of his fellow saints. The conqueror receives his inspiration, his wisdom, his power of life from the Lord of the churches.
“Father, grant that Christ may lift our eyes past church activities until we see Him who holds the spiritual life of each church in His right hand of power, who continually judges the motives and deeds of the churches!”
I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: (Revelation 2:2)
The church of Ephesus maintained good Christian works. It labored patiently in the many tasks of the Kingdom of God. It refused to accept evildoers. It would not freely accept every preacher claiming to be an apostle but put each to the test. In doing so it found some to be liars.
We need to practice such discrimination today. It appears God’s people are far too gullible—and it is our own fault. Such gullibility proceeds from our complacency, our comfortable way of life. We are at ease in Zion.
Where are the tests we apply to someone who claims to be a representative of Christ? Are we examining those who say they have been sent by the Lord and are of Christ or are we ready to follow anyone who seems to be having “spiritual success”? We must become more mature in our ability to distinguish between what is of Christ and what is not of Christ.
Any individual who has been sent to the churches by the Lord Jesus will demonstrate in himself or herself both the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit of God. There must be signs following the preaching of the Word of God. There must be a witness of the Spirit, an awareness of the power of the Kingdom of God.
If the presentation is all mental, appealing to the mind but not accompanied by the power of the Kingdom, by the Presence of the Lord, we may be dealing with a well-intentioned person. But he or she has not been sent to us by Christ.
Any teaching contrary to the written Word of God, the holy Scriptures, is to be rejected by the churches. The Scriptures are not to be added to or subtracted from in any manner whatever. There is no need for a post-scriptural “revelation.”
The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the saints is one such post-scriptural “revelation,” coming forth through prophecy in the nineteenth century and then being carried forward by Bible teachers into the twentieth century. It is to be rejected by the churches because it is not based on the Scriptures.
It is noteworthy that some of the modern translations of the Scriptures appear, in certain instances, to be altering the sense of the original text. The term fear is being changed to reverence, for example. Also, the footnotes of some of the editions of the Scriptures do not adhere to the plain sense of the text because the editors are attempting to support current Christian ideas.
When “trying the apostles,” the moral behavior of the minister of the Gospel must be found to be above reproach. If there is questionable behavior in the areas of morality, money, self-seeking, or violence of behavior, this individual has not been sent to us by Christ. He is serving himself. He is seeking his own gain. He is more concerned about his stomach than he is about the flock of God. He is not an apostle from the Lord.
Many deceivers stand ready to lead the flock astray for the sake of their personal gain. The recent emphasis on using our “faith” to obtain money so we may be enabled to support these mercenaries is an example of a problem that always has plagued the Israel of God. Put food between the teeth of the “prophets” and they will cry peace! peace!
Christ has warned us. Paul has warned us. The other apostles have warned us. Are we really looking for the Presence of the Holy Spirit in those who claim to be ministers of Christ? Or are we heaping to ourselves teachers who tickle our ears and entertain us? If we are insisting on being amused and entertained we will be caught off guard by the destruction hovering above the world today.
And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. (Revelation 2:3,4)
The church in Ephesus maintained the good works of the Kingdom of God. It was bearing fruit patiently during seasons of distress and not fainting in the hour of adversity.
However, the church in Ephesus had left its first love.
The church in Ephesus had become so occupied with the work of the Kingdom of God it had lost sight of Him who holds the stars in His right hand. It no longer loved Christ. It was serving Him but not loving Him. It was working for Christ, but not in Him and with Him.
How easy it is to lose sight of Christ when we become involved in the many activities and responsibilities of the churches!
The conqueror does not lose sight of Christ. Whether he is busily engaged in necessary works or has been “put in prison” by the Lord, the victorious saint always keeps his eyes fastened on Christ.
The conqueror periodically is renewed and refreshed because he is not working for Christ, attempting to do the work of the Kingdom. He is working in and with Christ. What a difference there is between working for Christ and working in and with Christ!
Working for Christ can lead to spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion, to nervousness, self-pity, unbelief, bitterness, the blaming of others. Working in and with the Lord of the churches brings continual renewal, joy, peace, love of the brothers and sisters and of all people, confidence, health of mind, emotions, nerves, and body.
Best of all, working in and with the Lord is a relationship of love. The conqueror loves his Lord, and his discipleship is a romance, a mystery, an adventure. He never knows what the Lord will do next but he expects something wonderful. The saint dances on the waters at midnight, going to meet the Lord who walks on the seas of peril and tribulation.
The word Ephesus means desirable. Heaven is full of the servants of Christ—powerful angels who excel in strength, performing His will. But Christ desires a pure and beautiful bride.
Rebecca demonstrated her willingness to serve, as we read in Genesis 24:19, by watering the ten camels of the caravan of Eliezer of Damascus, the servant of Abraham. However, Isaac was the heir of hundreds of male and female servants. Isaac did not need or desire another servant. He needed and desired a pure and beautiful bride.
Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. (Song of Solomon 6:9)
Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house; So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. (Psalms 45:10,11)
It is possible Paul was meditating on Psalms 45:10 when he wrote, “forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Philippians 3:13). Forgetting the past and pressing toward the horizon of the Day of the Lord is the continuing attitude of the conqueror.
It is significant that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus more pointedly than to any other church concerning the “mystery” of Christ and His bride.
That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:27)
A Christian who spends all his effort working for the Lord and leaves little time for prayer, praise, and loving communion, is a “blemished” disciple. The Lord Jesus has “somewhat” against him.
When all has been said and done, the Christian discipleship is a romance. If we turn it into a drudgery or a business enterprise of some sort we will lose the clarity and blessing of the light of our testimony. We will be rebuked by the Lord.
Christ possesses all power, all authority, all the resources of Heaven and earth. Christ desires our undistracted love and attention. If we will give our love and attention to Him the necessary works shall be accomplished through His wisdom and power.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:5)
The golden Lampstand belongs in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. The removal of the Lampstand from its place signifies the loss of God’s Presence. The Divine Life and testimony of the church will then be absent. The holy things of God cannot be seen when the Lampstand is removed. This particular church no longer can serve as the light of the world.
If the Lampstand is removed, everything the church represents has departed: its testimony, its light, its life, its place of service to mankind.
If we spend our time and strength praising God and rejoicing in
Christ we will have “favour with all the people.” The Lord Jesus Christ Himself will add “to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).
The church of Ephesus had “fallen” from its “first works” of praise, prayer, fellowship, and intense sharing of thoughts and feelings with Christ. As a result it stood in danger of losing the brightness and power of its testimony.
How true it is that when a church becomes occupied with human-oriented tasks and forgets the first work of the Church, which is fervent prayer and praise and the ministry of the Word, the testimony of that church grows ever weaker. A return to prayer, praise, and the holding forth of the Spirit-anointed Word of God, combined with righteous, holy, and obedient conduct on the part of the worshipers, causes the light of the testimony, the light of the Lampstand of God, to shine in blazing power to the ends of the earth.
There have been many revivals throughout church history. All we know of have been characterized by repentance, confession of sin on the part of God’s people, prayer, praise, and strict obedience to the Holy Spirit. Soon there was given authority and power to testify of the death and resurrection of the Savior.
One would think that eventually we Christians would understand and respond to the desire of the Holy Spirit that we assign prayer, praise, and holy living as the first duty of the churches. But the churches will always return to the laborious task of attempting to communicate with mankind what had been given so freely when we were doing our first works of worship and obedience.
For two thousand years the Christian churches have been attempting to “save souls.” Saving souls is not the mission of the Christian Church. The mission of the Christian Church is to bear witness of Christ, to be the Lampstand of God. We are attempting to save souls when Christ has commanded us to abide in Him. When we abide in Christ souls are saved and born into the Kingdom naturally, without stress.
If we will do the first works of receiving God in Christ into our lives, the testimony will be borne by virtue of the fact God is in us. Then the world will see Jesus and will have the opportunity to receive Him or reject Him. When we attempt to “save souls” we may not give the proper testimony because of our anxiety to impress people and sell the Gospel. We leave Christ on the outside while we pursue our organizational endeavors.
The conqueror grasps this principle. He ceases attempting to perform the works of the Kingdom (the things that can be accomplished correctly only by the Spirit of God) in his own wisdom and strength. He does not look to human cooperation or money to accomplish the work of the Lord. The victorious saint learns that if He will put prayer, worship, holiness, and obedience in first place in his life the Lord will begin to work alongside him with signs following.
Christ can accomplish more in one day with a praying, praising, holy, obedient man or woman, boy or girl, than He can with the prolonged efforts of multitudes of people drawing on unlimited funds.
It is not the wealth and diligence of men that accomplishes the work of the Kingdom of God, it is the Spirit of God who performs all things.
Let us now return to Him who is our first love. Let us do the first works of holiness, prayer, and loving adoration and communion. Then let us walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit and see if Christ will not fill our lamps with the oil of the Holy Spirit.
But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (Revelation 2:6)
The church in Ephesus hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which Christ also hates. It is believed by some that the Nicolaitans were the followers of Nicholas of Antioch, who attempted to find ways in which the Christian churches could be harmonized with paganism—with the local community and the surrounding culture of the Roman Empire.
Other scholars are of the opinion that Nicolaitanism was antinomian Gnosticism, the turning of Paul’s teaching of grace into an excuse for immorality. Antinomianism, the belief that the Christians are not bound by any commandment, pervades Christian teaching. The truth is, there are numerous commandments in the New Testament that must be obeyed if we are to be found worthy of the Kingdom of God. Faith apart from works of righteousness is dead. In fact, salvation itself is the change from lawless behavior to lawful behavior.
The Lord will never accept or work with people who are not seeking after the righteousness and holiness of the Kingdom of God. “Cheap grace” is no grace at all. It is a destructive misunderstanding of Paul’s explanation of the new covenant.
A third point of view is that Nicolaitanism is the division of the Body of Christ into clergy and laity.
A fourth concept is that the deeds of the Nicolaitans have to do with involving the believer in the social life and activities of the church so that he finds his security and joy in the fellowship of the saints rather that in fellowship with the Lord Jesus. While Christian fellowship is a wonderful privilege it must never supplant our individual experience with the Lord. We must never be found worshiping the church rather than the Lord.
Concerning the first viewpoint we mentioned, the harmonizing of Christianity with paganism, there always is a temptation before us to attempt to make the church acceptable to the local citizenry, gaining members and support and avoiding the rejection and persecution that come upon any group of people who are separate and “different.”
Also, as our first love grows cold we begin to believe that Christian saints can go out and work in the world in such a way that the believers become united in purpose and activity with those who have not been called out of the world by the Lord.
The desire to win people to the church and to enable the church members to prosper in the activities of the world can be a temptation to a local assembling, therefore a possible entrance for the deceptions of the enemy of our souls. The reconciliation of the church to the world is not the way of Christ.
Making the church understandable and attractive to the unsaved community, with a view to the gaining of members and support, requires the quenching of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the compromising of the written Word of God.
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:14-18)
The Christian churches are not social institutions devoted to the betterment of mankind. A church, if it is filled with the Spirit of God, is the prophet of God among men. A church is composed of people and does improve the condition of mankind. But these aspects are secondary in consideration. The local church’s first responsibility is to reveal God’s will in Christ to mankind and to beseech all persons to be reconciled to God.
The conqueror realizes at the deepest level of his personality that the Christian church is not merely one of the social institutions of the community. The Church is not of the world. The Church has been called out of the world.
The Church is not of the world in the same way and to the same extent that Christ is not of the world. When the churches follow Christ with singleness of heart they will be hated by the world because they are a perpetual rebuke to all that the world is and practices.
We do not need the help of the worldly community. There are times when the Lord will use the people of the world to help us, and He will direct us when such is the case.
The Christian Church always declares to the world:
… I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of Heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: (Genesis 14:22,23)
We will not ask nor do we need so much as a thread from the world. We are not of the world. We are the only light of the world, the only source of Divine wisdom and knowledge in the earth. We are kings and priests of almighty God among the peoples of the earth. They perish from lack of wisdom all the day long but the saint is satisfied in the day of famine.
The Christian Church is the Body of Christ and is the source of all light, comfort, counsel, wisdom, power, blessing, preservation, and every other necessary and desirable thing and circumstance. Mankind gropes helplessly in the dark, but in the Church dwells Christ who possesses all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth.
The saints do not require the assistance of the world because God supplies all our needs through His riches in glory by Christ. We can survive well without receiving so much as a shoelace from the world. But the world perishes instantly apart from the Body of Christ.
We are not to conduct our worship services in such a manner as to make them attractive to people. Neither are we to exhibit soulish, emotional, self-seeking behavior that repulses reasonable men and women. Neither worldly attractiveness nor soulish endeavor is in order in the household of God.
The main purpose of our assemblings and Divine services is not to attract people. the main purpose of our assemblings is to worship and bless God and to obey the Holy Spirit as He builds the Church of Christ, the Body of Christ. This we are to do faithfully, precisely, thoroughly, without regard to the manner in which people are pleased or not pleased.
“The fear of man brings a snare.”
Again, we are not advocating inexperience in dealing with people, or unrestrained, impulsive, soulish actions in which self-centered ministers and people behave in an unthinking, arbitrary, insensitive manner with respect to weak Christians or the unsaved. This is not what we are suggesting. We are not speaking of carrying out our private devotions in front of the congregation of people.
What we are teaching, however, is that the Word of God and the actions of the Holy Spirit are not always understandable or acceptable to the world nor, in fact, to many professing Christians. To conduct our services so as to appeal to the sensibilities of the unsaved and the lukewarm “believers” requires that we diminish the demands of discipleship and put on a soulish performance that everyone can accept.
Such man-pleasing efforts are hated by Christ. The results of soulish attempts to build the Kingdom of God will be blown away during the age of moral horrors that is on the horizon.
Everything that is done in the assembling is to be performed for the building up of the assembled saints and also for the edifying of an unbeliever who may attend. The Spirit of God will direct us.
Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. (I Corinthians 14:16-19)
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (I Corinthians 14:23-26)
It also is true that we are to relate to people in a manner they can understand.
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (II Corinthians 9:19-22)
However we never are to become one with the members of the community in order to “win” them. Our example is the Lord Jesus. He spent all night in prayer. Then He came down and mingled with tax collectors and prostitutes. Yet He never tried to be one with them in order to gain their favor.
The Lord Jesus never attempted to “sell” the Gospel. After having gained a large following by multiplying bread and fish He then spoke to the multitude about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. He knew that most of them would leave.
So it must always be true of the Christian churches. We are to come out of the world and not touch that which is unclean. We also are to be aware of the needs of the unbeliever so that are services are not wild expressions of spiritual ecstasy. We are to speak to people in terms they can understand without at the same time compromising the words of God in order not to offend them.
It is our understanding that throughout the reign of Antichrist there will be “Christian” churches standing in every community. The testimony of Jesus, the Spirit of prophecy, the eternal rebuke to Antichrist, will be gone from those churches. The anointing of God, the Spirit of prophecy, will be resting on the saints, the remnant who have been hidden away by the Lord until His return.
Today the Spirit of prophecy abides on the true saints. The Spirit is a stern rebuke to the world and its practices. Let us not attempt to please the world. Let us return to our first works of praising God and holding forth His Word. When we do that, the Lord can and will add to the churches those who should be saved.
The Spirit of the Lord is exhorting us to cease attempting to appeal to the understanding and desires of the world and to commence seeking the mind of the Spirit concerning the building of the Body of Christ. If we have an ear to hear the Spirit of God, this is what we will be hearing.
Samson was a conqueror of Philistines by the strength of the Holy Spirit of God. Samson’s ability to conquer was based on the fact he had been separated to God as a Nazirite. The vow of a Nazirite was on him.
Samson’s dallying with Delilah was sinful. This sin did not weaken Samson, however, but it did lead to his undoing. In order to conquer Samson, the Philistines had to remove his separation to God as a Nazirite. The sign of the Nazirite separation was Samson’s uncut hair (Judges 13:5).
The moment Samson’s hair was cut, signifying he no longer was separated to God as a Nazirite, his ability to conquer was removed. Samson was as weak as any Philistine.
The moment the churches of Christ attempt to become understandable and pleasing to the world—in that moment they lose their ability to overcome the devil. The spirit of the world is an abomination to Christ. When we embrace the world we become the enemy of God. When the world comes in, Christ goes out. When Christ goes out, our ability to conquer leaves with Him. No longer are we strong enough to bear witness triumphantly of the atoning death, resurrection, and lordship of Christ.
It is impossible to be a conqueror and at the same time to be understandable and pleasing to the world.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;… (Revelation 2:7)
Now we have come to the first reward to the believer who loves and serves the Lord of the churches and who through Him conquers the desire to please the world:
… To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7)
One would suppose that every member of the church in Ephesus already had partaken of the Tree of Life. It is believed commonly that once we accept Christ as our Savior we possess eternal life and that no more is required of us concerning gaining eternal life.
It is true that we are touched with eternal life the moment we truly receive Christ, placing our faith in Him. But the Scripture teaches plainly that we are to be seeking eternal life after we are saved. The pursuit of life, of the first resurrection from the dead, is a lifelong quest.
Every day eternal death and eternal life struggle for dominion over us. The conqueror is the one who chooses life as he makes his decisions throughout each day of his discipleship.
For if ye live in the appetites of the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify [put to death] the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:13)
For he [the member of the church in Galatia] that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (Galatians 6:8)
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12)
We understand that the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to resurrection life, and few people actually find life. Christ is the Way. As we follow Him He leads us into all Truth, which is Christ Himself. As we obey the truth we partake of and grow in eternal Life, which again is Christ Himself.
The moment we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior we pass from death to life. We are forgiven our sins, through the blood of the Lamb, and we come at that moment into right standing with God. At the time of our receiving of Christ, who Himself is eternal Life and the resurrection from the dead, eternal life is born in us.
When we receive Christ we receive the authority to escape the wrath of God and to become a son of God. However, eternal life is more than escape from Divine wrath. Eternal life is Divine Substance. We receive Divine Virtue and Substance when we first accept Christ. From then one we are to be living in, acting in, speaking in, thinking in, and in every manner cultivating the eternal life that is in us.
Our fleshly nature always is competing for first place in our affections. Our sinful, self-centered nature resists being removed from the throne of our life. We conquer the world, Satan, and our sinful, self-centered nature by continuing to partake daily of the “tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” This tree is Christ Himself.
As we conquer we are brought to the Tree of Life. As we partake of the Tree of Life we are enabled to conquer yet further. As we keep the Word of God the Word of God begins to keep us. We ascend into the fullness of the power of Christ’s resurrection.
Paul was seeking to know and experience the power of Christ’s resurrection (Philippians 3:10). We are to do the same. Each day of our Christian discipleship we are to be living and acting in the Spirit of life (Romans 8:2).
Eternal life and eternal death are struggling for mastery over us. If we choose to live and act in the lusts of our flesh, in spiritual death, the Divine Life that is in us will be shoved aside. The Divine Life eventually will leave and the new creation that has been begun in us will die because of the loss of life.
The conqueror overcomes, through Christ, all opposition from the world, from his fleshly nature, and from Satan in his pursuit of eternal life. In so doing he attains the first resurrection from the dead. The Divine Life of Jesus, who Himself Is the Resurrection and the Life, is formed in him.
If we become filled with Christ, when He appears we will shine as part of the brightness of His appearing.
If we choose to live in the flesh we will succeed in slaying our resurrection.
The Church in Smyrna
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; (Revelation 2:8)
The word Smyrna means myrrh. Myrrh is a spice that was used for the embalming of the dead. When myrrh is crushed it yields its fragrance.
Each Christian personality is a “garden inclosed,” a “spring shut up,” a “fountain sealed.” The Lord understands exactly how much tribulation we need in order to bring forth to Himself the unique fragrance of our life.
Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits. (Song of Solomon 4:16)
Smyrna represents the tribulation, the fire, the deep waters, the prisons, through which every disciple of Jesus must pass. When fiery trials come your way, do not suppose some strange thing has happened to you. It is the path of the cross, the road that leads straight to the throne of glory. It is the ordinary, the expected Christian experience.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation [perplexity, weakness, threatenings, persecution, physical suffering, upsetting conditions]: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
We are able to overcome tribulations because He, the Overcomer, is in us, is with us, and is helping us in every way.
We can expect tribulation while we are pressing into the Kingdom of God:
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)
Christ appears to the church in Smyrna (that which, when it is crushed, yields its fragrance) and exhorts and comforts the saints concerning our tribulation. “The cross and the crown go together,” He informs us. If we suffer with Christ we will reign with Christ. Christ’s conquerors understand the value of tribulation and accept their necessary portion.
Christ appears to the church in Smyrna as “the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.” Two aspects of Christ that enable us to overcome tribulation are His unchanging faithfulness (“the first and the last”); and the power of His resurrection (“which was dead, and is alive”). We have the assurance that if we abide in Christ, no matter how low we are brought we shall be raised again.
When we come into a dark place our former joy and glory seem to be things of the past—gone forever. We do not understand the tunnel we are in. Then the question arises: Can Christ be defeated? We begin to wonder. Has he forgotten? Can He who began so powerfully in my life bring me from where I am now all the way to glorious victory?
Those who have walked in dark places in Christ know how desperately the soul clings to the promise that He is not only the first but also the last. Christ keeps what has been committed to Him, with the end in view of bringing us into glory in the Day of the Lord. In faithfulness He finishes what He began in our life. He is the Finisher as well as the Author of our salvation. We need to understand that when we are in one of the Lord’s prisons.
There are some today who would teach us that God’s dear saints can never be touched by tribulation. Apparently they have forgotten that God’s elect are “accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (Romans 8:36). Throughout church history the believers in Christ have suffered greatly for His name.
Let us flee, flee, flee from those who would, as did Peter to Christ, attempt to turn our eyes away from the cross! This voice is of Satan. We have been called to suffer in the name of Christ. Every conqueror understands the necessity for tribulation and prepares himself mentally and emotionally to suffer in the flesh. It is impossible to be one of the Lord’s conquerors and at the same time to be entertaining the idea that the true saint cannot be touched by tribulation.
If we will keep the word of the patience of Christ, Christ will make a way of escape for us so we may be able to survive throughout every difficulty and finally stand in triumph before the Son of Man.
As Daniel in the lion’s den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, Jeremiah in the dungeon, the Lord delivers us out of all distress. This is what it means to escape in the hour of temptation and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).
“I am the First and the Last.” Christ was wonderful at the beginning of your Christian experience. He is wonderful as you labor through the wilderness of this life. He shall be wonderful at the conclusion of your experience. Your tribulations in the wilderness are making it possible for your last to be wonderful.
Christ never fails. He is not failing with you nor is He inattentive to the details of your needs. He is allowing you to be crushed in order to bring forth the perfume of His Life in your personality.
The fragrance that comes from us before we are “crushed” by tribulation, while we still are filled with our ways, is disagreeable to the Lord and to people. The odor of our personality smells of self-seeking, personal ambition, trickery, foolishness, lust, fear, instability, and everything else that is offensive. The fragrance that comes from us when we have grown in Christ and then have been crushed by tribulation, is attractive, liberating, pure, reminding us of God, of Christ, of Heaven, of the holy angels, of Paradise, of eternal joy.
“I was dead and now am alive.” What a word to the sufferers of Smyrna!
When we are in a dark tunnel, in the valley of the shadow of death, when hope seems gone and blackness and dread appear to fill our future, the Holy Spirit leads us to the realization in our heart and mind and bones that Christ is alive. Because Christ is alive and victor over death and Hell, having led captivity captive, we have no fear. We are risen with Him. We are a part of His resurrection. Therefore we are indestructible.
In order to conquer us the enemy would have to overthrow the resurrection of Christ.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [hath made us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:4-6)
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19)
Christ was dead but now is alive. We currently may be laboring in the darkest of dungeons, as did Christ in Gethsemane and on Calvary. If we continue to abide in Him we surely will experience the power and joy of His resurrection.
We conquer tribulation through faith in Christ’s resurrection and faith in our participation in that resurrection. We are an inseparable part of His Life, His resurrection.
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)
The believers of the church in Smyrna labored in the Kingdom of God. They suffered tribulation and they were poor in the material goods of the world. But they were rich in the things of the Kingdom of Heaven.
“I know thy works.” Christ knows every effort, great and small, that we make to please Him. Other people may not understand or appreciate our sincerity. Christ knows and takes note. We may not always please people, but we can please Christ if we will be faithful in the small tasks He places before us each day.
“I know thy tribulation.” Jesus knows and feels every doubt, every fear, every pain, every dread, every anguish, every frustration, every worry. He knows! He knows! He knows in a special way because He also was a man, a person, a human being, and He was subjected to much dread and pain (Psalms 22).
“I know thy poverty (but thou art rich).” Christ knows when we are poor in the comforts of this world. Apparently the saints in Smyrna were lacking in material possessions, in the necessities of life. If we should be deprived of material needs we understand that Christ recognizes this fact.
The church in Smyrna was poor in worldly goods but rich in the treasures of Heaven. The conqueror, the victorious saint, does not consider material gain to be a form of godliness. He realizes that those who desire to be rich pierce themselves through with many sorrows. He knows that godliness with contentment is great gain. He places his treasures in Heaven and follows the Spirit of God.
Christ does not regard the conqueror as poor. No indeed! When Christ is reigning on the throne of our heart we are rich in the eternal treasures of Heaven—treasures we shall be enjoying in full one day soon. Earthly wealth brings much sorrow, anxiety, concern, distraction. Heavenly wealth brings peace, security, happiness, a bright future. Christ, the King, dispenses His wealth as He will to His conquerors.
“I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews.” There are those who “say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” This means there are people who claim to be of the Lord but who are in opposition to the Spirit of Christ.
Blasphemy is “irreverence and profanity concerning God and sacred things.” There appear to be many today who are claiming to be Christians but who are careless and presumptuous concerning the Kingdom of God. They assume they can commit fornication and partake of the gods of lust, violence, money, occult practices, drunkenness, criticism, bitterness, and revelry, and still ascend the throne of righteousness in the Day of the Lord. Such “believers” seem to think that Christ will not or cannot do anything about their wicked conduct.
These individuals claim to be Christians but instead they are the “synagogue of Satan.” Hopefully they will come to realize this before they descend to Satan’s reward.
How many today come under this category? They claim—and believe—that they are of Christ. In actual fact they are of Satan.
How can we tell if we are true worshipers of Christ? We are true worshipers of Christ, and conquerors, when we are keeping the commandments of Christ. If we are ignoring the admonitions of Revelation, Chapters Two and Three we are of the synagogue of Satan. A true Christian is revealed by the godliness of his or her personality and conduct.
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (I John 3:7)
What we believe in our heart and say with our mouth concerning Christ are important aspects of salvation. Also of importance in the Kingdom of God is the keeping of Christ’s Words—the actual doing of Christ’s works. “Faith without works is dead”.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
The true disciple of Christ will suffer as long as he is in this world. But he never is to fear. “Fear not,” the Lord commands us. Fear and faith cannot dwell in our heart at the same time. We are to fear none of the things we suffer. If fear is conquering you at this time, cry to the Lord. The Lord will hear you and deliver you from all your fears (Psalms 34:4).
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer.” Put your complete trust in the faithfulness, goodness, promises, and power of Christ and resist fear, resist dread, resist worry, resist anxiety, resist fretfulness. Open the door of your life still further and allow the Lord Jesus Christ to enter your personality. Allow Him to overcome your dread, worry, anxiety, fretting.
Because He lives you have no need to fear. Put up the shield of faith. Draw from the promises in God’s holy Word.
Satan will be given the power to cast some of us into prison so we may be tested for a season. We shall have tribulation. Peter exhorts us to “think it not strange” concerning the fiery trial that is to test us as though some strange thing has taken place in our life.
We are to “rejoice” when we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. When His glory is revealed we shall be “glad also with exceeding joy.” Our tribulations in this world increase the gladness we shall experience in the Day of the Lord (see I Peter 4:12,13).
When the Lord allows Satan to cast you into prison, into a situation in which you are denied the freedom to move about as you please, you are to be “faithful unto death.” Do not budge. Do not sin. Do not blame other people. Do not become angry with God.
In order to break out of God’s prison you have to break God’s laws. If you force your way out of your unpleasant circumstances by sinning and rebelling against God’s Word and way, no matter how attractive the future you have made for yourself may seem now it will turn out to be unpleasant and barren.
If you, as Joseph of old, will remain faithful while in the prison in which the Lord has allowed you to be placed, to the time of your death if need be, you will receive the crown of life.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12)
The second aspect of the first resurrection from the dead is the crown of life.
… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)
The believer of Ephesus who pressed past the duties of the church into a fervent love for Christ Himself, who began to perform once again the “first works” of worship and holy living, was rewarded with the opportunity to eat of the Tree of Life. We always are renewed and strengthened when we come in contact with Christ and live exactly as He wants us to live, doing what He tells us to do.
The believer in Smyrna who persevered in tribulation and remained faithful to death was rewarded with the crown of eternal resurrection life.
A crown speaks of the authority and power of rulership. Not only is the conqueror being nourished with eternal life but now he has come to the place where he is able to govern his deeds, his speech, his motives and imaginations, his circumstances and surroundings, by the power of eternal life. Everything in him, of him, and around him will begin to obey the life God is giving him through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul cried out, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings…” Paul desired with all his strength and intensity of purpose that the eternal life that is in Christ, and that Christ Is, would rule in all his affairs. Notice that the power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, His tribulations, always go together (Philippians 3:10).
He who was dead, and now is alive forever, promises each conqueror that if he will remain faithful throughout tribulation, even to death, he will receive the fullness of the power of eternal life. He will reign as a king over every circumstance by means of the unlimited eternal power that raised Christ from the dead and established Him forever at the right hand of God Almighty.
Christ has been made God’s High Priest forever by the power of an endless life [an indestructible life] (Hebrews 7:16).
That eternal resurrection life, to which we now are sowing by obeying the Spirit of God and not yielding to the desires of our soul, flesh, and human mind, will become in us the authority and power to rule the creation of God (Hebrews 2:8).
Instead of being dominated by sin, by self, by Satan, or by the world, we shall reign with Christ by the authority and power of eternal life. This is why Paul was seeking the power of Christ’s resurrection as well as the fellowship of His sufferings.
There is authority and power in Divine Life. When first we are saved, eternal life is planted in us as a seed. We are to cultivate that seed until we are filled with life. When we possess eternal life in abundance we shall be able to destroy all the works of Satan and walk in righteousness, holiness, and obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The crown of life is the authority and power to behave righteously and to bring our surroundings into obedience to Christ. This is the nature of the first resurrection from the dead. The authority and power of life that is veiled now, will be unveiled at the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus.
The most important attainment of the first resurrection, as far as we as an individual are concerned, is the occupying of the throne of our life by Christ. Sin and self-rule must be cast down and Christ must be exalted in our personality. The extent of our attainment to this change of rulership will be revealed at the appearing of the Lord.
The first resurrection includes the changing of the thrones that govern the peoples of the earth from the evil lords of darkness, who are ruling now, to the “saints of the most High” (Ephesians 6:12; Daniel 7:13-27).
Has the throne of your life been changed from the domination of sin and self to the Presence of the Lord Jesus? If not, you will not be a participant in the first resurrection. You would be of no use to the Lord or to the nations. The Day of the Lord has not commenced in you, that Day when the Lord alone will be exalted.
If you are not enthroning Christ as absolute Lord of your life now, you will be a liability rather than an asset when Jesus appears.
You are part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
There are some aspects of the resurrection from the dead with which many Christian believers are familiar. They are discussed by Paul in I Corinthians, Chapter Fifteen, I Thessalonians, Chapter Four, and in other passages.
Some of these familiar aspects of the resurrection from the dead are as follows: being with Jesus forever, seeing our loved ones again, the rejoining of our spirit with our body so we can stand on the earth once again, receiving the glorified body, ascending into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
All these blessings and endowments are ours to enjoy forever. We should be looking forward to them with joy, keeping them before us so we can escape the lust and corruption that are in the world.
None of these blessings, as precious as they are to our souls, is central to the first resurrection from the dead. The central aspect of the first resurrection, from the Divine viewpoint, is the changing of the thrones that govern the earth from the reign of the lords of darkness to the reign of the saints of the most High.
The change of administration, of management, must begin in our lives now. The first resurrection begins now in the heart of the victorious saint. Christ must be enthroned in our lives so we are living by the power of His resurrection. It is that life, that power, by which we are enabled to conquer the accuser and our own flesh and self-rule and to reign in righteousness through Christ.
If we are not submitting to Christ’s lordship today we will not participate in the first resurrection. It is as straightforward as that. The reward of the first resurrection from the dead has been assigned by the Word of God to him or her who conquers (Revelation 20:4-6).
We find in Revelation 12:11 that the accuser finally will be overcome and cast out of the heaven by those who “loved not their lives to the death.” The spiritual rulership over the earth is about to be transferred from the lords of darkness to the saints of God. This transition is in the process of preparation now as Christ, the Lord, the ruling Son, is being formed in Christian people.
In order to attain the position of conquest that is central to the first resurrection from the dead we must love not our life to the death. This is essential. If we hold back one person, one thing, one circumstance, one situation from the Lord Jesus we will come short of the Glory of God in Christ.
Christ must reign in us as absolute Lord. We will not be crowned with eternal resurrection life until we remain faithful throughout tribulation to the point of death.
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him:… (II Timothy 2:12)
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;… (Revelation 2:11)
Then comes a marvelous reward, which also is an important aspect of the first resurrection:
… He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11)
We find the same promise in Revelation 20:6, speaking of the “blessed and holy” who attain the first resurrection: “on such the second death hath no power (authority).”
As soon as you are crowned with the authority and power of eternal resurrection life you are free from the authority and power of the second death. The second death is the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14). The second death is separation from God and the Lamb and residence in a place of torment.
The first death, as we understand it, is physical death. In physical death, the soul and spirit are separated from the physical body.
The second death is spiritual death. In spiritual death, the soul and spirit are separated from God and experience torment in a lake that burns with fire and sulfur. The second death truly is a frightful destiny.
The second death has authority over all sin, including the following (Revelation 21:8):
As long as any one of these sins is part of our personality the second death has authority over us. It is only as we are delivered from them that we escape the authority of the second death.
The believer in Christ who does not press forward in resurrection life but who instead chooses to yield to sin and to his flesh, returns into that state of death from which he was saved originally (Romans 8:13). He remains subject to the authority of the second death.
God the Father has given all authority of judgment to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior He assumes the responsibility for all our sins. He forgives all our sins. As long as sin dwells in us the second death has authority over those sins, because the second death has authority over all sin whether the sin is in an unbeliever or a believer.
If sin is in us, spiritual death is abiding in us. This is true whether or not we have received Christ.
As long as we are obeying Christ the judgment is suspended. We are without condemnation. We have fellowship with God through the atoning blood of the Lamb, Christ. We remain without condemnation as long as we are abiding in Christ, cooperating with the Holy Spirit in putting to death the impulses of our adamic nature.
Christ through the Holy Spirit proceeds to deliver us from those sins over which the second death has authority.
Our task is to believe in Christ and to demonstrate our belief by obeying Him in all He requires of us. As we demonstrate faith by obeying Christ we continue in the process of deliverance. The sin over which the second death exercises authority is driven from us and we are set free. Through Christ we have conquered the enemy. As soon as the enemy is gone the second death no longer has authority over us.
The first death, physical death, is of little concern. The Scriptures sometime refer to physical death as “sleep.” While the body of the saint “sleeps” his spiritual nature continues to live and rejoice in the Presence of the Lamb. The moment the true saint is absent from the body he is present with the Lord.
The second death is separation from the Presence of Christ in the Lake of Fire. At the white throne judgment of Christ, which will take place at the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age, every one of God’s creatures will find his destiny, either in Paradise on the new earth or in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. The members of the royal priesthood stand in no danger of the white throne judgment because the sin over which the second death has authority is no longer part of their personality.
It appears from the Scriptures that the Lake of Fire is an actual lake into which all sin will be cast. Since we know from the Scriptures that Christ descended into the heart of the earth, and since the Lake of Fire is described as burning with fire and sulfur, it may be true that the Lake of Fire will be located in the depths of the earth. Anyone who ventures near water and steam issuing from the interior of the earth will notice the strong smell of sulfur.
The Lake of Fire is an area of eternal torment prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). Some people will be thrown into it (Revelation 20:15).
What an unsettling and terrifying thing it is to await a court appearance in which the maximum sentence is eternal separation from God in a lake of eternal torment and darkness! Whoever does not tremble at the thought of such a sentence is lacking in wisdom.
An important part of the reward to the conqueror is the assurance in writing from the Lord that he will not be harmed by the second death, that the second death no longer has authority over him.
We may have taken it for granted that once we have made a profession of Christ the second death no longer can threaten us as to its authority to torment. Is that what Revelation, Chapters Two and Twenty actually are declaring to us? Rather, Revelation 2:11 states it is when we receive the crown of eternal resurrection life, which constitutes dominion over sin and death, that the second death ceases to be a threat to us. Such is the Word of the Lord to us.
All of the life and glory of the Kingdom of God is the inheritance of him who overcomes (Revelation 21:7). Every person, young and old, who is reading these words is invited now to be an overcomer, a conqueror. Christ will enable you to be a conqueror if that is your desire.
You, through His help, must remain steady—faithful in tribulation. You must allow Jesus to sit on the throne of your heart. As you move along in conquest you will be crowned with the authority and power of eternal life.
Let each of us this day look to Christ so that through Him we may be a conqueror.
Those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead are no longer subject to the authority of the second death. The sin over which the second death rules is no longer a part of them.
Their position in God has been decided for eternity at the appearing of the Lord Jesus, at the beginning of the thousand-year Kingdom Age. They will reign with Christ throughout the Kingdom Age. The result of this prolonged rulership in close cooperation with the Lord Jesus will be the transforming of their whole personality such that they will be in a highly exalted state by the end of the thousand years.
When the new heaven and the new earth are brought into being, the Lord’s kings and priests will be able to behold the face of the Father—an almost incredible spiritual standing. To behold the face of the Father is a privilege so extraordinary that no person in the present hour can conceive in any manner whatever of such glory.
It is not that the Father does not permit men to behold His face; rather, it is that we cannot bear to see it. (Exodus 33:20, Revelation 22:4). Seeing the face of God in the present hour would destroy rather than bless us.
For those who attain the first resurrection the second death holds no terrors. They have been sentenced to glorification at the Lord’s coming. They have conquered every foe, through God’s grace in Christ, and now will receive their reward: everlasting rulership in association with their Lord, Christ. They will be present at the white throne judgment but never will be in jeopardy of that most terrible of sentences.
Thus far in our description the conqueror has gained access to the tree of eternal life, a crown of life, and eternal escape from the authority and power of the second death. These are three major aspects of the first resurrection from the dead.
The fullness of eternal life, rulership, and total, perpetual deliverance from the sentence of the wrath of God represent a solid grasp on the redemption that is in Christ.
The victorious saint has overcome false apostles. He has labored faithfully in the work of the Kingdom of God and yet has not lost his first love of prayer, praise, and holiness to the Lord.
He has been cast into the prison of tribulation and has been tested for a season. He has remained faithful to the point of death. He has refused to compromise with the world or to seek its support or understanding.
Let us go on and discover in what additional ways Christ will appear to us, what are some of the other pitfalls we must avoid, and what increases in life, in power, in glory, in nearness to God, in service, yet are to be attained by us.
The Church in Pergamos
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; (Revelation 2:12)
According to some scholarship, Pergamos means marriage, and elevation. The conqueror is to become united with Christ in Spirit, and to be separated from and lifted up above the life lived in the flesh and soul. He is to turn away from all relationships with demon gods, from all physical and spiritual fornication, and to live and move and have his being in Christ at the right hand of God in the highest heavens.
Because the church in Pergamos was dwelling where Satan’s throne was, at the center of Satan’s place of rulership, Christ appeared as the One having the sharp sword with two edges—the most powerful weapon in the universe.
The Word of God is living and powerful. It is so sharp it divides between the soul and spirit of the saint. The sword of the Lord penetrates the joints and marrow of the frame of the Christian person until all is re-created and is of Christ and in Christ. The thoughts and intents of the believer’s heart are discerned and judged.
I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (Revelation 2:13)
Although the believers in Pergamos were dwelling in Satan’s headquarters, yet they did not deny the faith of Christ. If we truly are walking in the Spirit of the Lord we can serve Him perfectly in the center of demon activity, if that is where Christ has placed us. There always is sufficient Divine wisdom and power to overcome the evil spirits in Jesus’ name if this is what we are determined to do.
We do not mean to imply by the previous paragraph that there are not seasons when we are so pressed that all we can do is wait patiently for the Lord to lift the darkness. There certainly are such periods of oppression during our discipleship.
Christ remains Lord of all. No matter where we find ourselves, Christ is the Conqueror. Every knee shall bow. Every tongue shall confess that Christ is Lord. Every demon power shall obey the Christian as he is enabled by the Holy Spirit to speak in the name of the Lord Jesus.
We will, in His name, trample the lion and the dragon under foot. We are more than conquerors in the name of Christ the Son of God.
Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. (Psalms 91:13,14)
God has established us on high in Christ—far above every power of darkness:
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 2:6)
We cannot be harmed by the enemy when we are abiding in Christ:
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
“All the power of the enemy”. “Nothing shall by any means hurt you.” How powerful and precious to the soldiers of Christ are these declarations of Jesus!
When the Ark of God and Dagon (a principal God of the Philistines) were brought face to face in the same building, Dagon bowed in worship. Finally Dagon’s head (his wisdom and control), and Dagon’s palms (his power and ability to act), were cut off from him. Only his mutilated trunk remained.
And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him. (I Samuel 5:4)
As we approach the “threshold” of the Day of the Lord, the enemy of God will be forced into a confrontation with the “Ark of the Covenant.” In fact, Satan’s servants will bring about the confrontation.
The Ark of the Covenant represents Christ and those in whom Christ comes to maturity. In the saints will be the three elements that were kept in the Ark of the Covenant: (1) righteous and holy personality and behavior—the Ten Commandments; (2) life lived by continual dependence on the Word of God—the memorial jar of manna; and (3) the power of the endless and indestructible resurrection life of the Holy Spirit which is given to the chosen royal priesthood of God—Aaron’s rod that budded.
When the God of this world is forced to confront Christ in the saints he will bow in worship of Christ; for every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. Then an angel will bind Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit. Finally Satan will be cast into the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
The devil will be overcome by Christ in the saints.
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. (Revelation 12:11)
And the God of peace shall bruise [crush] Satan under your feet shortly… (Romans 16:20)
The Word of God, which is the sword of the Spirit, will cut off Satan’s wisdom and control and his power and ability to act. The Word of God declares plainly that the authority and power to execute judgment on evil spirits has been assigned to the Lord Jesus and that the judgment will be exercised by Christ through His saints.
The conqueror can serve Christ even where the throne of Satan is.
The “sharp sword with two edges” is the Word of God in judgment. There is no other authority or power in the universe equal to the Word of God. When the Christian is walking in the Spirit of God and speaks the Word of God in Jesus’ name, every satanic power no matter how great must give way in obedience. The Word of God casts down every throne that is not of God.
… and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (Revelation 2:13)
The name Antipas means “against all.” One Christian walking in the Spirit of God, in Jesus’ name, wielding the Word of God, is more powerful than the forces of Hell. There is no satanic power—absolutely none—that can withstand one of God’s conquerors when he or she stands in Christ’s name and speaks the Word of God in the Spirit of God.
The faithful Antipas died as a martyr, one tradition holding that under the emperor Domitian’s persecution he was enclosed in a red-hot metal bull. Antipas never was overcome, never conquered. He loved not his life to the point of death. Therefore Antipas is one of God’s conquerors.
When the Day of the Lord comes, Satan will be cast out of Heaven into the earth. Antipas will be wielding the sword of the Spirit in that Day and will be rejoicing in Christ with the rest of the saints.
There may come a time in the life of the disciple when he or she is required to stand “against all,” to stand alone. If that situation should arise, he or she must stand in the Lord, in the power of His might.
Christ and His “Antipases” are “against all” who will not yield to Jesus as Lord. They may be against all today but they will be victorious in the end. They are the rulers of the ages to come. They are the attainers to the first resurrection. They are those who conquer in Christ.
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen [nations], and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the Lord. (Psalms 149:5-9)
Now we come to a blemish in the church in Pergamos, a problem that we may find in a church of today:
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (Revelation 2:14)
This incident is found in the Book of Numbers:
And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. (Numbers 25:2)
Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. (Numbers 31:16)
Balaam, a seer, was unable to earn his money by cursing Israel because the power and blessing of the Lord was on that nation. Therefore Balaam counseled Balak, the king of the Moabites, to provoke God’s anger against Israel by sending out the Moabite girls to lure the Israelite warriors into fornication and into the worship of the demons that the Moabites worshiped.
Balaam understood that if he could persuade Israel to sin the wrath of God would fall on the people. Balaam then could rise up and curse the Jews in his spirit of prophecy (Deuteronomy 28:15). King Balak could overcome the Israelite army and Balaam would collect his pay.
This is true of the Christian army. It is impossible for the devil to overcome the soldiers of Christ while the power and blessing of Christ is on them. If Satan can lure the Lord’s soldiers into sexual lust and into other forms of demonic activity and worship, then the judgment of God will fall on the sinners.
The wrath of God always is on lust and on all other forms of demonic activity, whether committed by Jews, Christians, or any other religion or race of people.
When the believers do not repent of their sinning the power and blessing of God lifts from them. Then they can be overcome easily by Satan.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit wields the Divine sword, the Word of God, through a sinning Christian. The Christian who ministers the Word of God while he himself is sinning will be judged by the sword that he is wielding. He is not a conqueror even though the Holy Spirit is employing him in Kingdom tasks. “The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits” (II Timothy 2:6).
Notice that Balaam, a seer of God, was brought under the curse of God by the love of money, just as were Gehazi, Judas, and Ananias and Sapphira. The love of money blinded the eye of the seer, and in his blindness he brought himself under the judgment of God. Later, Balaam was slain by the Israelite army (Joshua 13:22).
One of the temptations that face the Christian churches is that of the love of money. It is easy to fall into the snare of mixing religion and money in such a manner that monetary profit occurs.
The conqueror is to flee, flee, flee from the temptation to use the glory of Christ as a means of acquiring material gain!
If God calls us into His way we are assured He will supply our needs. He who gave us His Son certainly will furnish us with the necessities of earthly existence.
The work of the Kingdom of God is to be kept separate from the pursuit of money. The love of money is the “root of all evil.” We must never minister for money.
God warned Balaam, a true seer, to refrain from doing the bidding of Balak in the cursing of Israel. When gold was held up before Balaam’s eyes he felt there must be some way of serving both God and money. At that moment Balaam fell into deception and a snare. The moment we believe we can serve both God and money we will fall into deception and a snare.
There is no possible way in which to serve both God and money. If we bear the Spirit of the Lord on us, the anointing that is the testimony of Jesus, God will supply all our needs. This is God’s promise in His Word. We are not to become entangled in money. If we do, we will fall. We surely will fall.
Jude speaks of running “greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.” There were “certain men crept in unawares.” This is to say, people began to attend the assemblings of Christians who were ungodly, “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [immorality, lustfulness, lewdness, impurity].”
He who would be a conqueror must decide once and for all that he cannot serve God and money. God will be served or money will be served. No person can serve both. Let us cast aside the unclean money, the God of riches, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ with singleness of heart.
How many people have traded the first resurrection for money? What price do you place on your participation in the first resurrection from the dead?
When the ministry follows after money the result is chaos in the Kingdom of God. Physical and spiritual fornication abound.
Five of the chief demon gods worshiped in the wealthy nations of today are as follows: fleshly lust, murder and violence, material gain, occult practices, revelry and drunkenness.
The above five are major expressions of Satan in the earth. The unsaved devote their lives to these idols as do many of the “believers” in the Christian churches. The church people partake of these filthy spirits, worshiping them and committing fornication with them.
In many instances the Christian people, instead of cleaving to the Lord Jesus Christ, embrace the unholy spirits of the five principal manifestations of Satan.
The conqueror repudiates the idols of the world. Through the power of the Spirit of God the saint casts off fleshly lust. He casts off anger and violence. He casts off the desire for material wealth. He casts off all attempts to control or engage in the spirit realm other than in the manner assigned to him by Jesus. He casts off the practice of revelry and riotous indulgence in food, drink, and entertainment.
The conqueror keeps himself clean from idols by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of his Spirit-empowered testimony, and by loving not his life to the point of death.
The believer who follows in the way of Balaam, seeking to gain material wealth from his God-given gift, will commit fornication with worldly idols and will lead others to partake of idols and to commit fornication with them.
So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. (Revelation 2:15)
In Pergamos, the place of marriage to Christ and of elevation to a higher place in God, and also of fornication with demons and the “elevation” of the soulish life in the worship of demons, there were those who followed after the doctrine of Nicholas of Antioch.
We mentioned before the belief of some scholars that Nicolaitanism is the attempt to reconcile the worship of Christ to the world culture so one is in harmony with the other. Such reconciliation is hated by Christ because it destroys the called-out quality of the Church. The blending of a church with the world pollutes the church with soulish life and with Satan, destroys the strength of the saints, and makes it impossible for the light of the testimony of Christ to shine in this dark age.
Another school of thought holds that Nicolaitanism is the Greek form of the Hebrew Baalamism—that both refer to conquering the people through immorality. The opinion is that Nicolaitanism refers to antinomian Gnosticism, the doctrine that Divine grace continues to cover and forgive us as we keep on sinning. Our sinning amplifies the grace of God.
“Let us do evil, that good may come” (Romans 3:8).
The teaching that no matter how we behave, God’s love and forgiveness are with us because of the atonement made by the Lord Jesus, is very widely believed in Christian churches. It is one of the most poisonous lies of Christian doctrine. Perhaps this doctrine indeed is Nicolaitanism!
The command to the believer in Pergamos is, “Repent!” The conqueror is to flee from idols and fornication. The conqueror is to flee from all attempts to blend gracefully with the ways of the world. The conqueror is “against all” as he, through the Holy Spirit, fights his way into Mount Zion, into rest in the will of Christ.
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)
Christ will come quickly to those who worship material gain, who commit fornication with the demon spirits of this world, and who compromise with the philosophy of the world. He will fight against them with the sword of His mouth. The sword of Christ’s mouth is the Word of God in fiery judgment.
The result of Christ’s coming will be that those of the church in Pergamos who follow worldliness and idolatry will be stripped of all their accomplishments and be in danger of losing their souls, if they do not repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing.
Do we have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying today? Or are we seeing and hearing what the flesh is doing and saying? The servant of the Lord is blind to the deeds of the flesh and deaf to the voice of the flesh (Isaiah 42:19). He observes Christ and listens to and obeys the voice of the Holy Spirit of God.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)
The conqueror of Pergamos is rewarded with two more aspects of the first resurrection. He is fed with hidden manna and is given a white stone in which has been written a new name known only to the one receiving it.
Manna is the food from Heaven that is given us while we are making our pilgrimage through the wilderness of the world. Christ’s body and blood are our manna from Heaven. The Divine Life is hidden from many of those who attend Christian churches because they are not pursuing the victory that is in Christ.
When his followers were famished, Jesus had food of which they knew nothing. He said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (John 4:32). Christ was being nourished by “manna” that was hidden from His disciples, as He went about doing the will of the Father.
The “meat” of which Jesus spoke is not merely a figure of speech. As we faithfully perform the will of God, grace is given to us. It is the Substance of Christ that is being imparted to us. As we grow in conquest we begin to discover we no longer are living from natural food alone. We are receiving Divine nourishment that provides us with strength, rest, wisdom, comfort, and joy. An abiding peace and satisfaction are our portion.
There may be periods in the future when famine covers the earth. In that day the conquerors may find that they, like Elijah in the wilderness, are being nourished supernaturally (I Kings 17:6).
Man cannot live by natural food alone. The Word of God, Christ, is given us when we do the will of God. This is the “hidden manna” that is furnished to him or her who seeks Christ with an undivided heart.
The “hidden manna” is given to the soldier of Christ. It is hidden from those who are not fighting the Lord’s battles.
David ate of the showbread that was “hidden” in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the Lord, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away. (I Samuel 21:6)
Notice that after David had received the showbread he was handed the sword of Goliath, the Philistine. David said, “There is none like that, give it me” (I Samuel 21:9).
Truly, there is no sword like the Word of God.
Samson, after slaying the Philistines, was ready to die of thirst and fall into the “hand of the uncircumcised” (Judges 15:18). God “clave an hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout” (Judges 15:19).
The water flowing from the jawbone was “hidden manna.” Notice that God provides refreshing from the weapon we are using. As we, in the Spirit, wield the Word of God until we are physically and spiritually exhausted, the Lord causes strength to pour into us from the Word we are ministering. Such Divine strength is known only to the Lord’s warriors, His conquerors.
Again, we see Elijah, who had just destroyed nearly a thousand of Jezebel’s prophets, fleeing for his life. Elijah resigned himself to die and lay down and slept under a juniper tree.
The Lord had not forgotten His warrior. The angel awakened Elijah to the cake and water that had been prepared for him. Twice Elijah partook of that food. In the strength of such “hidden manna” Elijah traveled on foot forty days and forty nights until he came to “Horeb the mount of God” (I Kings 19:8).
… and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)
The meaning of the term stone, which is used in the above verse, is a pebble worn smooth by handling. Such pebbles were employed for voting purposes in the time of the church in Pergamos.
The same word was used by Paul in Acts 26:10: “… And when they were put to death, I gave my voice (literally, my vote, my pebble) against them.”
The giving of the white pebble appears to signify we have been voted into the elect, the chosen, the pure and spotless Bride of the Lamb.
For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:14)
The initial act of accepting Christ, of being saved, is a calling. Many are called. The net of the Kingdom of God is let down into the sea of humanity. All sorts of creatures are brought up to the surface as the net of the Gospel call is drawn to shore (Matthew 13:48).
After we have been called we enter the race for eternal life. The hurdles are set up in place. The grace of God necessary for the overcoming of every temptation, every test, is given by the Lord to each person who requests it.
God’s called start out in His holy Name to conquer all enemies, all obstacles. From these ranks are selected the “chosen.” Few are chosen. Few have the white pebble of eternal approval given to them by the Lord Jesus.
Notice that as we progress through the rewards assigned to the conquerors, the eternal standing before God of the disciple is established. Each victory in Christ brings us closer to the coveted position as a pillar in the eternal Temple of God.
Once we have become established as a pillar in the Temple of God we “shall go no more out” (Revelation 3:12). We then have become part of the “firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.” We shall “ever be with the Lord.” Christ Himself has become our eternal destiny.
From henceforth we belong to Christ alone. We never again are to commit fornication with demons.
The rewards given to the victorious saints are one way of describing our growth in grace, our coming to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, our arriving at the first resurrection from among the dead.
It is foolish to question whether or not God in His mercy will give us our inheritance in Christ if we do not live the victorious life in Christ. In the first place, the question proceeds from a disobedient, unbelieving heart. In the second place, the increments of life and glory that accrue to the conqueror are the means whereby he will be able to function as a member of the royal priesthood.
Apart from our receiving the rewards to the overcomer it is impossible for us to serve in the position of authority and power that has been assigned to the saints. The benefits that flow to the overcomer are the tools, the enablements by which the saint is able to rule in the Kingdom of God.
First, we gain access to the Tree of Life.
Second, we attain the authority and power of eternal resurrection life.
Third, the second death loses its ability to harm us. No longer can we be endangered by the judgment that separates the creature from his Creator.
Now, in Pergamos, we are nourished continually by the hidden manna. We are given the white pebble as the guarantee we have been selected as one of the chosen of the Lord (John 6:70). These are rewards worthy of our complete attention, devotion, and unreserved, unqualified dedication. Truly, there is a reward for seeking the Lord.
… and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, … (Revelation 2:17)
At the time of the conqueror’s marriage to the Lord, his union with the Lord in the oneness of the Godhead, the Lord states: “You now belong eternally to me.” Then Christ calls him by his new and eternally true name, the name that declares to the creation, this person now and forever is to be considered as part of Christ.
And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. (Isaiah 62:2)
Notice that the context of the above verse has to do with marriage.
… which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)
When God tells us a secret we are to keep it a secret. The Christian who blurts out everything God has spoken to him will not be trusted with additional knowledge. What God says to us in secret we are to reveal only as we are guided to do so by the Holy Spirit.
The Church in Thyatira
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; (Revelation 2:18)
Eyes of fire and feet like fine brass speak of judgment on sin. Thyatira was the church where Jezebel was teaching Christ’s servants, seducing them to commit fornication and to engage in idolatry.
The doctrine of Christianity is that we are saved by God’s grace alone and that good works, works of holiness and righteousness, while they may be commendable are not a critical aspect of the Christian redemption. Multitudes of believers of our day have been weakened greatly by the insidious idea that faith can be alive in us apart from a change in our behavior.
Those who associate the Divine salvation with mental assent to a theological position concerning Christ are not experiencing the power of deliverance that there is in Christ.
He whose eyes are as a flame of fire, whose feet glow like white-hot bronze, does not conceive of His grace as an excuse for immorality, as an alternative to upright and holy behavior. Those who commit fornication will be judged as fornicators whether or not they profess to be Christians.
The eyes of Christ search the heart of each believer continually, exposing his or her motives just as fire burns away what is not pure gold. Christ is looking for His moral image in us. When He does not find it He leads us to repentance. If we do not repent, we then are dealt with as sinners.
Never does the Lord Jesus tell His churches, the golden lampstands, that they should not be too concerned about their sins because they are saved by grace. This is what is being preached today in many instances but it is a misunderstanding of the writings of the Apostle Paul.
Christ’s feet of glowing bronze portray the fiery judgment of God that will fall on all wickedness, crushing it beneath the feet of Jesus and beneath the feet of those in whom Jesus is walking.
Judgment had begun in the church in Thyatira.
I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. (Revelation 2:19)
The Thyatirans were characterized by the good works of the Kingdom of God—by love, by service, by faith, by perseverance. These works are important aspects of the Kingdom of God. Love, service, faith, and perseverance are the attributes of every Christian church that is growing in the grace of Christ.
Also, the good works of the Thyatirans were abounding and increasing as the years went by. Thyatira was a living, growing church.
But, as is true so often of churches, and of us as individuals, there was a spiritual cancer in the body of Thyatira. The cancer was threatening those believers with spiritual death.
Thyatira, the church of love, service, faith, and perseverance, always abounding in good works, was allowing a teaching of worldly lusts to continue in its midst.
Is that true of any of us today?
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (Revelation 2:20)
We have discussed already the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, that is, the attempt to reconcile our life of separation to the Lord Jesus to the immoral culture of the pagans who are driven by the world spirit of Satan.
We have mentioned also the doctrine of Balaam, the leading of Christ’s soldiers into fornication with the demon spirits of this world. Satan cannot harm a soldier of Christ unless he can entice that saint to partake of the demon gods of the world and to commit fornication.
Now we come to a third evil doctrine—that of Queen Jezebel. Is the doctrine of Jezebel in our churches today along with Nicolaitanism and Balaamism?
Queen Jezebel was a remarkable woman and also a wicked person. She was married to King Ahab of Israel perhaps for political advantage, being the daughter of Ethbaal, the priest-king of Tyre and Sidon. Jezebel brought with her the worship of Baal and Asherah. She was a devotee of the demon gods of lust.
Jezebel, showing herself to be a stronger, more self-willed, more ruthless person than Ahab, set out to rule Israel with an iron hand. (When men prove too weak to rule, the women will govern.)
Jezebel wanted no part of Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews. Jezebel had her demon gods. She was to be in command over all and there was no worship to be given the Lord God of Israel. How different from King David who ruled in cooperation with the Lord, David being subject to the will of the Spirit of God!
The spirit of Jezebel has attempted to take charge of the Christian churches from the days of the first apostles. “Jezebel” is the spirit of worldly lusts. Jezebel has the “whore’s forehead” and refuses to be ashamed or to bow the knee to the lordship of Christ (Jeremiah 3:3, Proverbs 30:20).
If we will allow it to do so, the spirit of worldly lusts will take control of the churches of Christ and will rule the assemblings as Jezebel ruled Israel. It is the plan of Christ, however, that the churches be ruled by godly elders who act in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, themselves being under the discipline of the will of the Spirit of God.
We have mentioned previously the five principal demon gods of the world spirit: lust, violence, covetousness, occult practices, and riotous living (“The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play”—I Corinthians 10:7). The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life are the spirit of Jezebel (I Kings, Chapter Sixteen through II Kings, Chapter Nine).
How is it that a Christian church can be filled with righteous works, as was Thyatira, and yet allow the Jezebel spirit to teach and to seduce the servants of Christ to commit fornication with demons, partaking of the spirit of Satan that fills and drives the peoples of the world? This deplorable situation comes about because every Christian assembling is a social institution.
Let us think for a moment about why the fact that the Christian assembling is a social institution makes it possible for the Jezebel spirit to arise.
The wise pastor and his elders, recognizing that their church has needs characteristic of every social group, will make provision for wholesome social activities for every age. It is especially important that families be drawn together in suitable activities.
Social activities, however, have the potential to dominate the assembling. What started out as a healthy accommodation to human needs becomes the tail that wags the dog. The social activities may be morally pure to begin with but can lead to adultery and fornication.
Let us digress for a moment. It is proper that some activities be designed for various age levels. But there is a trap into which we can fall as we plan programs for the young. We can embrace the destructive concept of the “generation gap.” There is no need for a generation gap, for young people to be considered separately from their parents.
It is not of God that a church be built by an appeal to the sexual urge of young people, bringing together masses of young men and women. Such separation of age groups is characteristic of the American culture, for example, but it is not of God. A church that is built on the family urge of young people will not stand the Divine shaking.
God wants families to sit together in church. Appropriate activities for young people can take place without giving the young people the impression that their parents do not understand them and require a different type of Christian assembling.
One way of involving young people in a significant manner in the assembling of saints is by having them engage in various forms of pageantry and drama, including mime. Routines involving flags and banners if conducted in the Spirit of God tend to raise the intensity of the congregational worship and to give a desirable militant tone to the meeting. Dancing and the use of tambourines also can inspire the young people so they are not just sitting there doing nothing while the adults “worship” in a conservative manner. The Christian assembling should be an exciting time for all age levels!
Another valuable effort can be made in group teaching and discussions concerning conflicts in the family. Whole families should be present and think about the things the children and young people do that cause problems and the things the parents do that cause problems.
It is a time for the hearts of the parents to be turned toward the young people and the young people toward the parents. There is no place for a super-spiritual attitude in which the thinking, the questions, the pains, the confusions, and the desires of young people (and of their parents) are ignored. We know from experience that very helpful changes in family attitudes are brought about when there is open, loving discussion (sometimes including role playing) on the part of the families of the churches. Such discussion should be conducted by someone who is skilled in this type of ministry to families.
People from the ages of three or older, depending on the child, should be regarded as disciples and treated as such. God’s hand is on the young in our day. The parent or pastor who does not understand this will miss what God is doing.
Every Christian assembling is, as we have stated, a social group. The wise pastor will accommodate the needs of the people.
But what does this have to do with the Jezebel spirit? Once a church is established there has to be constant supervision by the elders so that social activities do not predominate. We mentioned previously the danger to the believers of losing sight of the Lord of the churches. Christian fellowship, the social gathering, is pleasurable. The ambitious pastor may observe that when the church has a party or other celebration there will be an increase in the attendance. Unless the pastor and elders keep pointing the believers toward Christ as being their security and focus of worship, the pleasure of fellowship will be the emphasis of that church.
The fellowship hall is never to take the place of the sanctuary.
The Jezebel spirit of partying and gaiety rises slowly and insidiously out of the overemphasis on the social gathering. The governing elders have to guard against this tendency as long as the church is in existence.
Notice that Jezebel called herself a “prophetess.” The spirit of worldly lusts pretends that it is the will of Christ for the assembling. It masks its satanic origin.
Is the Jezebel spirit at work in the churches of today? How can we recognize it? Is there pressure on the ministry to permit increased revelry, worldly gaiety, eating, drinking, sexual license? Are worldly church members seeking to “kill” the anointing so they may express their desires?
Are the Christian churches teaching it does not matter too much how we behave just as long as the assembling keeps on growing in numbers? A worldly church often will be quite popular. Jezebel was more popular than Elijah. Do we judge the worth of a church by the number of people who attend?
Are we suggesting that all believers will take part in the first resurrection and be kings and priests of God whether or not they are walking in victory in Christ, whether or not they are conquering through grace the sins and rebellions concerning which the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to the seven churches in Asia?
Let us take heed to the written Word of God. The Book of Revelation is different from all the other books of the Scriptures in that a special curse will fall on any person who adds one word to it or subtracts one word from it (Revelation 22:18,19).
What we may have taught or practiced in the past will be placed under the blood and forgiven, if we repent. Let us repent and then, as we have opportunity, warn God’s people that the Lord Jesus is walking among the lampstands in this hour. Severe judgment is near at hand.
There is just one manner in which to deal with the Jezebel spirit, and that is to throw it out of the church. Jehu demonstrated how a conqueror is to handle the spirit of worldly lusts:
And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot. (II Kings 9:33)
To her last minute Queen Jezebel attempted to attract Jehu and draw him into conversation. Christ’s conquerors do not enter discussions with the spirit of the world. They cast it down and stamp on it with the bronze feet of Divine judgment. The world spirit is a cursed spirit and it will be as “dung on the face of the field” in the day that Christ returns with His saints and the elect angels.
And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. (Revelation 2:21)
The Lord Jesus, in His everlasting love and kindness, warns Thyatira (Thyatira means sacrifice) to repent of the teaching and practice of worldly lusts. Notice that the teachings of both Balaam and Jezebel lead to demon worship, although one springs from using a spiritual gift for money while the other has to do with the worship of fleshly lust, which is the desire to practice spiritual intercourse with the filthy gods of the present world. We are making our sacrifice to the demons when we practice the lusts that reside in our flesh. He who commits sin is of the devil (I John 3:8).
If there is sincere repentance on the part of the believers, a turning away from the Jezebel spirit, the blessing of Jesus will be restored.
If the wicked spirit of worldly lusts is permitted to continue teaching, bringing the demons into the presence of the servants of Christ in order to seduce them to worship Satan in their bodies, Christ will send on those evildoers a deluding spirit and will bring them into tribulation:
Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. (Revelation 2:22)
We find in the second chapter of II Thessalonians that when we choose to persist in evil doing, having been warned by the Lord Jesus Christ, God sends on us a strong delusion such that we no longer can hear or see Christ but are chained by evil spirits. Jezebel is “cast into a bed of her own making.” She and her disciples are filled with that for which they lusted.
Then God, who always judges evil, will send on those evildoers a painful tribulation as a chastening, and as a sentence pronounced on the wickedness they have chosen—first of their free will, and later as they have walked in darkness in the grip of the delusion sent on them by the Lord (II Thessalonians 2:11).
Notice that God cast Jezebel into a bed. This is the Lord’s way. If we persist in lying, God will feed us with lying in abundance. If we choose to steal, God will satiate us with stealing. God finally will give us the desire of our heart. This is why we must be so careful to respond to God’s guidance, for if we persist in lawlessness God finally will give us what we are insisting on.
He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (Revelation 22:11)
One of the main characteristics of Hell, according to our limited understanding of the next life, is that we are thrown into the midst of those who love and practice the evil we have chosen to love and practice. (Notice the lack of opportunity for repentance, in Revelation 22:11, quoted above.)
There comes a time in every person’s life when the Father “hears” him and gives him what he desires above all else.
If we love and practice evil there will come a day when we no longer can cease loving and practicing it (unless Christ removes the spiritual chains from us). In the fires of Hell we will be loving and spiritually practicing our lusts (as we understand it). Then there may prove to be no possibility of change, no godly relative or friend to keep on praying for us and reminding us of the Person and way of God, no patient Holy Spirit to press us gently toward a holy life.
From now on we are bound in the chains of what we desire, much as a drunkard is bound today. We have loved the ways of Satan, and Satan has been given to us. We have been cast into the bed for which we forsook the Lord Jesus Christ and the righteousness, peace, and joy of God’s Kingdom.
Godliness with contentment is great gain. Let us be thankful for the blessings of life and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in absolute faithfulness and obedience. We always will have enough of the good things of earth, and yet not so much that our eyes turn away from the Lord Jesus and we begin coveting the things of the present age.
And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:23)
Unless those believers of Thyatira turn away from their worldly lusts they will be killed with death. This is a peculiar expression. Our understanding is that it is referring to spiritual death—the death that is the absence of the eternal Life of God that is in Christ.
Paul warns us that if we live in the appetites of the flesh, partaking of the Jezebel spirit, we will die (Romans 8:13).
When the Lord Jesus Christ comes, at His Presence, His appearing (His parousia), there will be light shining from the saints; although all around us will be the heaviest spiritual darkness of earth’s history. The light that will radiate from the saints is the eternal resurrection Life of Christ. The glory of the Lord will arise on the remnant, on the chosen, on those who have served the Lord faithfully and have conquered in His name.
If any person, having believed on the Lord Jesus and having been baptized in water, chooses to live his life in the impulses and lusts of his flesh, soul, and fleshly mind, the new creation that was born in him will wither and die from lack of nourishment.
At the coming of Christ he will be filled with the corruption of his flesh rather than with eternal resurrection life. He will be as the five foolish virgins of Matthew, Chapter 25 (see also Matthew 13:22).
Now—today—either we are attaining the resurrection from the dead or we are walking in the appetites and desires of the flesh and dying spiritually.
We attain the first resurrection by cultivating and nourishing the resurrection life of Christ that has been born in us. Then, when Jesus appears, calling together His elect from the farthest corner of earth to the farthest corner of Heaven, the light of Christ that has been formed in us will blaze forth in the glorious revelation of His forthshining, His Presence.
The appearing of Christ reminds us of the celebration of the feast of Tabernacles, at which time the devout Israelites brought candles to the Temple so that the area was filled with light. On one of those occasions Jesus exclaimed, “I am the light of the world.”
Indeed He is! His Divine Life and light will shine from Him and from every member of His Body.
The fullness of Divine Life and light will burst forth at the coming of the Lord. This glorious Divine light is the lightning that will shine from the east to the west in that Day. It is the revealing of the sons of God (Matthew 24:27, Romans 8:19, Colossians 3:4).
Would you like to be a part of the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ?
If any person continues to walk according to his fleshly desires the glorious resurrection life will be removed from him. His lampstand will be removed from its place. If we live in the appetites of the flesh we will die, we will not participate in the rewards to the overcomer including the first resurrection from the dead. We have not attained the resurrection by seeking to experience the fullness of the Life of Christ.
Thyatira is the church of continual offering. Every human being on the earth continually is making his or her offering to his or her god. If our god is the spirit of this present world we will act, speak, and think in the lusts of our flesh. Our end will be spiritual death.
If our God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ we will refuse to be changed into this world and we will present our body a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then we will live eternally in the Presence of the Father.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
Do you choose Jezebel or the Lord Jesus Christ?
It is not that God will restrain us, in the Day of the Lord, from participating in the glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is we ourselves who have penalized ourselves through means of our unrighteous behavior. Our light, our life, our revelation of Christ, has been withdrawn from us because we have chosen to worship the God of this present age. We have decided to walk in darkness rather than in light. Therefore we are “killed with death.”
Now, at this moment, each of us is deciding whether or not he wishes to participate in Christ’s glorious appearing. Either we are choosing life or we are choosing death. Truly it is an awesome choice. Nevertheless the choice is ours to make.
If we continue to walk in the Spirit of God we will shine with Christ in that Day. If we walk in the desires of the flesh and soul there will be darkness instead of light in us in that Day. We will be unable to shine as part of His appearing.
Can one imagine a greater tragedy than that of a person who, having received in him the Spirit of life from God, chooses to follow the worldly lusts of the Jezebel spirit to the point where he is “killed” by the removal of eternal life from him? Jezebel has taught him and seduced him into believing he can worship the demon spirits of this evil world and then reign with Christ at His appearing.
What do you think of Jezebel’s teaching?
The Lord Jesus has warned us clearly. Let us make sure we are sowing each day to the Spirit of God. If we do we will reap the harvest of eternal resurrection life.
Each of us will be rewarded according to his works, whether they are good or evil, righteous or unrighteous, holy or unholy. We shall reap exactly what we have sown whether or not we belong to one of the Christian churches, whether or not we profess the name of Christ.
“I will give to every one of you according to your works”.
Such is the message of Christ to the assembling in Thyatira.
But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. (Revelation 2:24)
Upon those of Thyatira who have not been deceived by the teaching of worldly lusts, and who have not known the “depths” of Satan, the Lord Jesus will place no additional burden. Christ charges the saints to hold fast to their righteous works, their love, their service, their faith, and their patience, until He returns.
Notice that the Lord employs the expression, “the depths of Satan, as they speak.” The Lord Jesus does not consider any sin to be a “depth of Satan” because there is no depth in Satan. Sin and rebellion may appear to possess depths and wonders. Drugs hold out the idea there are marvelous experiences to be gained if one gives himself or herself over in abandonment to what is lustful and sinful.
In reality, all the ways of Satan are shallow and possess no depth whatever. Sin is an illusion, a delusion, a bag of hot air. Whoever pursues it will end up empty and wasted having discovered no depths at all.
Christ, on the other hand, is an inexhaustible depth of wonders and delights in whom the inquiring saint will discover treasures forever.
But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. (Revelation 2:25)
Patient steadfastness in Christian faith and conduct is the mark of the conqueror. Each day he contends for the resolute obedience, courage, and determination that enable him to worship Christ and to serve Him without distraction, although the illusions of “depths” of sin are held out to him continually by the unrelenting enemy of his soul.
There are rewards for the believer who will keep the works of Christ without wavering until his life on earth is finished or until the Lord returns. One of his rewards will be to rule with Christ over the nations of the earth during the thousand-year Kingdom age known as the Millennium:
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. (Revelation 2:27)
The first resurrection has many aspects, as we have noticed in our study thus far. None of these aspects is more central to the nature and purpose of the first resurrection than that of rulership over the nations of the earth.
Resurrection includes the raising of our mortal body from the grave. It includes also the clothing of our resurrected body with our “house from heaven.” We have mentioned previously the shining of Christ through the saints in the Day of the Lord. Paul, in the fourth chapter of I Thessalonians, emphasizes our gathering together with the Lord in the clouds by means of our ascension from the earth into the air—a mighty act of Kingdom power and glory.
Each of these aspects of the first resurrection from the dead is of great importance in the Kingdom of God. The changing of the spiritual thrones that govern the earth from the control of the wicked spirits to the control of the Lord’s royal priesthood, His judges, is the event that peculiarly characterizes the first resurrection.
The attaining by the saints of the thrones of spiritual dominion will usher in the Millennium (thousand-year Kingdom Age); for then the reigning spirits that dominate the peoples of the earth, their thinking and their activities, will be the spirits of the Lord’s conquerors rather than the spirits of Satan and the rebellious angels.
The change of personages on the spiritual thrones that govern the earth will bring in the Kingdom of God—the doing of God’s will in the earth as it is in Heaven. The multitude of experiences that keep us seeking God throughout our lifetime are for the purpose of teaching us to rule correctly in Christ under God.
If we learn our lessons well we will attain to the first resurrection (Philippians 3:11). If we refuse to learn our lessons, preferring instead to pursue our way of ease and self-gratification, there is no purpose in our being raised in the first resurrection. We would be unable to serve the Lord in the designated capacity of ruler of the nations of the earth.
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron;… (Revelation 2:27)
The “rod of iron” is the irresistible strength of the Holy Spirit of God. A rod of iron is being formed now in the personality of each conqueror. A rod of iron is the strength to bring ourselves and our environment, as the Spirit of God guides and enables, under the discipline of Christ.
A wall of defense is being constructed now in each saint. There must be formed in us a terrible resistance against sin for we are being created the first line of defense of the Kingdom of God. The first line of defense is Zion—the fortress city that guards Jerusalem.
Do you possess the resistance to the world, to Satan, and to your fleshly appetites that the Spirit of God desires you to have? Develop an unchanging “no!” in your spirit when faced with sin and a powerful “yes!” when responding to the command of Christ.
Resist the devil and he shall flee from you. Take a strong stand in the Lord. Do not handle sin gently, but forcefully. Flee from the enticements and counsels of the world and the flesh.
Bring your body into subjection. Rule your desires and feelings with a hand of steel. Stand up for Christ and perform His will thoroughly and wholeheartedly. Arm yourself to suffer and to endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ. A rod of iron is to be created in you.
Only the Spirit of God can wield a rod of iron, just as is true of the two-edged sword of the Word of God in judgment. The Spirit breaks the yoke of the oppressor. We are the instrument, the weapon, the Body of Christ that the Spirit of God employs in performing the will of the Father.
Christ does not intend to gently coax the nations of the earth to do His bidding. He will fall on them suddenly, breaking them into pieces as it pleases Him (Psalms 2:9-12).
We also, if we suffer with Him, will rule the nations of the earth with a rod of iron. There will be no gainsaying, no rebellion, no dallying concerning obedience to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every knee in the creation shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord.
The first resurrection is the occasion when the saints of God take possession of the Kingdom of God and bring all persons and circumstances into subjection to Christ.
Then shall be brought to pass this verse:
And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. (Revelation 5:13)
The saints will be given into the hand of Antichrist for a season to sift as he will. Then Christ will appear and the saints will take the Kingdom and destroy sin and rebellion out of the earth.
But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:26,27)
Another reward is given to the conqueror of Thyatira who escapes the attractions of the worldly lusts of the Jezebel spirit. It is the “morning star.”
And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Morning Star who rises in our heart. We will not be given authority and power over the nations of the earth until the morning star has been created in us. The problem with the world now is that men are ruling over other men. When Christ is dwelling in the rulers, mankind is being ruled by the Lord God of Heaven. The rule of Christ always brings peace to the earth. The government always must be on His shoulders.
The Apostle Peter speaks of Christ being formed in us:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy [the Scriptures]; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (II Peter 1:19)
The day star, or morning star, is the herald of the Day of the Lord. It is the Presence of Christ in us. As we take heed to the words of the Scripture, cherishing them and obeying them to the best of our ability, Christ is formed in our heart. His Presence in us is a forerunner of His Presence that will shine from horizon to horizon.
The Prophet Hosea announces to us that the “going forth” of the Lord is “prepared as the morning” (Hosea 6:3). Before the Day of the Lord, the thousand-year Kingdom Age, comes to the earth there will be formed in each conqueror a personal day of the Lord, a personal kingdom age. The day of the Lord has its rise in us as every work of sin and self in us is cast down and the Lord alone is exalted.
When that change of dominion takes place in us the Day of the Lord has come to us. This personal day of the Kingdom in us is the necessary preparation of the victorious saint for the worldwide Day of the Lord, which is the return of Christ to the earth in the same manner in which He left (Acts 1:11).
How wonderful He becomes as we discover that the Lord Jesus Christ is rising in our heart! We have Christ in Heaven, Christ walking with us, and now Christ being formed in us and dwelling in us. Of these three expressions of Christ, the most important is that of Christ in us, because this is the clearest expression of His love for us. The mystery of the Gospel is Christ in us. This is our marriage to the Lamb and our becoming the eternal Temple of God.
If we were destined to become only the associate of Christ our training would be much less demanding than it is. The reason for the seemingly endless dealings of the Lord with us is that we are being married to the Lamb and that the Lamb intends to dwell not only with us but in us. Because of this far deeper relationship we must become unblamable in holiness. There shall be a Bride without spot or wrinkle.
We do not worry about our spots and wrinkles because we are God’s workmanship, God’s work of art, God’s masterpiece. We are not re-creating ourselves. The Lord God Almighty by His infinite wisdom and unlimited strength and resources is performing His work in each of us. Our principal responsibility and task is to obey the Lord through the help the Spirit gives us.
If we will keep the Word of Christ faithfully the day will come when the Word of Christ begins to keep us. The Father and the Son will come to us and our desires will be changed from those that are opposed to Christ’s will into those that are in harmony with Christ’s intentions. We shall begin to do the will of God by nature. This is the coming of the Kingdom of God to us and the fulfillment of the new covenant.
The transformation of our will into the will of Christ is an important aspect of the first resurrection from the dead.
We stated previously in this book that the glory set forth as rewards to the overcomer are the inheritance historically viewed as the possession of all Christians. If we would be true to the Word of God we must confess that all such glory is given to the victorious believer, not to the believer who carelessly ignores the prompting of the Holy Spirit regarding worldliness, the lusts of the flesh, or disobedience to God.
Jezebel would have us occupied with the things of the present world. The truth is, the things of the present world kill our spiritual life.
But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. (I Timothy 5:6)
As you think about the rewards to the overcomer, say firmly to yourself, “None of this, including access to the tree of life, will be given to the defeated Christian.” Stress this fact to yourself because the Christian spirit of our day is stating the opposite. It is saying “You will receive all of this by grace.” It is whispering “You shall not surely die!”
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 2:29)
The Church in Sardis
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. (Revelation 3:1)
Christ “hath the seven Spirits of God.” Christ is all-powerful. Christ always is in control of every person and every situation. Christ never is limited by the weaknesses and shortcomings of the churches.
Christ possesses the seven Spirits of God. He is the Lord of glory.
Christ holds the seven stars, the ruling spirits of the churches, in the right hand of His power. Christ never is held or controlled by the churches. He holds the churches. He remains above the churches and is Lord of the churches.
Christ is being formed in us today, it is true, and some have been so occupied with this thought they have lost sight of the Lord Jesus who is at the right hand of God in Heaven. Christ at His pleasure stands aloof from the churches. We pray to Him and look to Him always. He is the Lord. He works with us as well as in us when we are obedient to Him, taking up our cross and following wherever He leads us.
Each time Christ appears to us it is in a form that is instructive and helpful to us. The manner in which He presents Himself to each of the seven churches in Asia is corrective and helpful with regard to the weaknesses and sins of the particular church.
There were a few believers in Sardis, a remnant who had not soiled their garments with sin. They are worthy to walk as companions of Jesus.
The majority of the believers in Sardis had a serious spiritual shortcoming we shall be describing as the Holy Spirit helps us. Because of this shortcoming Christ presented Himself as the One who has the fullness of the Spirit of God, as the One who holds the seven churches in the right hand of His power.
Whoever would be a conqueror in the midst of a Sardis-type assembling of believers must come to know Christ as the One who lives in the Spirit of God and as the One who is Lord of the churches; for it is in the realm of the anointing of the Spirit, and of the lordship and power of Christ, that the Sardis-type church comes short of the Glory of God.
“I know thy works.” Christ makes this statement to each of the seven churches in Asia. Sometimes we are so busy in the ministry or in the various activities of our church that it seems the Lord Jesus is a million miles away. Let us never forget that He knows our works. Christ instantly is aware of each of our deeds, our words, our motives, and our imaginations.
“Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” What was the problem with Sardis? It appears that the church in Sardis had a reputation among Christian people for being a living, active, growing assembly. We can assume the teaching was fundamental, members were being added, and the believers were happy and prosperous.
How could a Christian assembling of believers have a reputation for being alive and yet be regarded as dead by Christ? The word dead signifies that life has gone and a corpse remains. In scriptural terminology, life is the Substance of Christ that comes to us in the Holy Spirit. The church in Sardis was dead. It possessed none of the Life of Christ in the Holy Spirit. Sardis was an active, growing corpse to which members were being added daily.
If the church in Sardis had a name that it lived, and yet the Holy Spirit was absent, then the apparent life of Sardis was the life of human endeavor. The church was being administrated with skill. There was concerted, diligent action on the part of the committees and members of the assembling. The programs of the church sparkled with talent. The church in Sardis was an attractive, exciting place to go on Sunday morning. The size of the congregation was increasing with each passing week.
There is an emphasis in our day on church growth; on adding to the number of believers who are gathering in a church, or on planting new churches. This emphasis would appear at first glance to be of the Lord. But ordinarily it is not. It is the spirit of Babylon.
Babylon is man working hand in hand to bring God down from Heaven and make Him assist man as man seeks his own way. The stress is on the seeker-friendly church. This means the assembling of believers is designed in a manner that is understandable and attractive to unbelievers, while the manifestation of the Spirit of God is shut up in a closet somewhere.
If I am hearing from the Lord correctly, this man-inspired effort to increase the number of believers is an abomination to God. It is the same spirit that caused the Lord to come down and cause confusion so the Tower of Babel could not be completed.
Doesn’t God want people to believe and be saved? Of course He does. Well then, what is the problem? The problem is that Christ is not building His Church. We are. We have our hand on the Ark, so to speak, and the result is death.
In order to make Christianity attractive so that people will join our ranks we need to present the Gospel as a method for improving their life. This may be especially true in America, where people desire to have a good, comfortable life with many advantages. If we hold out to them the idea that becoming a Christian will give them a better, more comfortable life, then they are going to join our church.
We might rationalize that once we attract people into our building we then can build them up to the stature of the fullness of Christ, which is the Lord’s goal. But it assuredly does not work out that way. Those who have been attracted by the prospect of a better life are not going to remain when we turn on them and tell them they must deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Christ each day. And so they remain immature, that is, if they are actually saved at all.
Because of the emphasis on “church growth” a great number of Christian leaders have become false prophets, false shepherds. They are not advising people that to become a Christian means renunciation of the world spirit, renunciation of sin, and renunciation of our ambitions, our self-will.
Given the popularity of the various programs that tell us how to build up a church in the number of those who attend, I cannot imagine how the Lord Jesus Christ is going to return us to the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God. But I think God will bring about the needed reversal.
In the eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ the church in Sardis was a corpse. It was a corpse propped up and animated by the wisdom and energy of human beings. Apparently it was fundamental in its attitude toward the Scriptures and Christian in experience. Otherwise it would not have had a reputation for being alive.
But its “life” was human rather than Divine.
However, there were a few believers, even in the animated corpse in Sardis, who were found worthy to walk with Christ in the white garments of righteous behavior. There was a remnant.
The name Sardis means “remnant,” or “those who have escaped.” Even in Sardis there was among the mass of believers a remnant who knew the Lord Jesus and were following Him.
The concept of the remnant, of those who have escaped the sins and corruption of the churches, appears in the writings of the Prophets of Israel and also in the New Testament. The idea is that of the “Elijah” company—faithful individuals who serve God with a pure heart during a period when the people of the Lord are cold and backslidden.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God. (Isaiah 10:21)
Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: (Romans 9:27)
Speaking of Elijah, of the remnant, and of election, Paul states:
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. (Romans 11:5)
The “remnant” are those persons, either Jewish or Gentile by natural birth, whom God has called—as Elijah—to stand before Israel and the world as the representatives of His Person, will, ways, and eternal purpose. The greater part of natural Israel have been given by the Lord “the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear” (Romans 11:8). The greater part of the Gentiles, those who have not been elected to the remnant, continue in spiritual ignorance and death.
From the days of Elijah to the present there have been a godly remnant. It is our understanding that the remnant will give an earthshaking testimony of Christ during the days of Antichrist, as symbolized by the two witnesses of Revelation, Chapter 11, and that Antichrist then will overcome the Christian testimony so wickedness and rebellion can come to maturity in the earth.
Finally the remnant, the conquerors, will be lifted up to meet Jesus in the clouds in the full view of Antichrist and his followers. As soon as the remnant have been lifted up the vials of God’s wrath will be poured on the wicked followed by the descent of the Lord Jesus and His army of conquerors from Heaven. They will return to the earth and set up the Kingdom of God, meanwhile delivering the nation of Israel (Zechariah 14:3-5).
The remnant will serve as the source of spiritual deliverance in the earth, even in the darkest hour of the tribulation. Notice the following passages:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Joel 2:32)
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:26)
We see, then, that the remnant, who are the true Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:29), those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Christ” (Revelation 12:17), are the elect who bear witness to unsaved Jewish people and to the Gentiles concerning the Person of God, His love and His wrath. They testify especially concerning the means of reconciliation and redemption God has provided for all persons through Christ, His only begotten Son. The saints advise all persons everywhere that God has appointed Christ both Savior and Judge of mankind.
Why does Christ appear to the church in Sardis as “he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars”? Christ appears this way because it is in the area of the anointing, and of the Person and majesty of Christ, that the human-oriented churches come short of God’s glory and the remnant fulfill the will of God.
The human-oriented church does not trust in the anointing of the Holy Spirit or the Person and power of Christ to accomplish its goals. The human-oriented church trusts in human wisdom, human energy and diligence, human talents, money, entertainment, and all other fleshly endeavor to built itself up. Such an organization may develop an excellent reputation in the eyes of people but it is dead in the sight of God.
The battle cry of the remnant, the Elijah-Elisha company, is: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6). This also is the war cry of the two witnesses, for they are the “two olive trees, and the two candlesticks [lampstands] standing before the God of the earth” (Revelation 11:4, referring to Zechariah, Chapter Four).
Those who walk in the anointing of the Spirit of God are the remnant. They are alive in the sight of Christ. They always are conscious of the Presence and almighty power of Christ. An expression used only by Elijah and Elisha, who are important Scriptural types of the remnant, was, “the Lord God before whom I stand.”
The remnant always live in the anointing (the seven Spirits of God) and remain conscious of the universal power of Christ (the seven stars). The seven stars speak of the power and authority of Christ in that He holds the seven stars, who are the ruling spirits of the seven churches, in His right hand.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (Revelation 3:2)
The warning to the Christians of the Sardis-type assembling is to begin watching in prayer in order to regain the mind of the Holy Spirit. Whatever remains of worship, of holiness, and of the unadulterated Word of God, strengthen this; for all that is of God will be choked out and die when the success of the assembling is being brought about by the ability and industry of human beings.
One principal difference between the human-oriented churches, and the living remnant of those churches, is the amount of prayer that is exercised. The human-oriented, Sardis-type assembling will crowd out prayer in favor of any number of religious activities. Such a church will not set aside a centrally located room for the purpose of prayer. Prayer will not be a concern of the church. Although the importance of prayer always will be mentioned, in actual practice intense prayer and praise will not predominate in the services and activities of that church.
Of late there are assemblings in which there is a great amount of praise. Such services are attractive to people and sometimes there is a large attendance. Care must be taken, however, that the worship of God does not stop at this point. The Spirit-empowered praise of our day is comparable to the hailing of the Lord as He entered through the gates into Jerusalem. Immediately He went into Herod’s Temple and cast out the moneychangers. So it is true that the blowing of trumpets heralds the solemn Day of Atonement, the period of judgment and repentance.
High praises are being restored today along with many forms of worship, including dancing and banners. In order for all things to be done decently and in order, and result in the building up of Christ in the saints, the high praises of God in our mouth must be accompanied by the two-edged sword in our hand (Psalms 149:6). If it is not, immorality will follow because of the sensuous aspects of prolonged worship.
The remnant live on their knees, so to speak. To them, prayer is everything. Prayer is the way they think and act. They have been taught by the Lord to pray over all matters great and small. The remnant are pleased when the Divine service is dominated by Holy Spirit-inspired prayer and worship. The Sardis-type church would consider such activities to be impractical and ineffective in terms of the true work of the church. Also, there would be a fear that people would be driven away by “excessive” spiritual activity.
A Sardis-type assembling would never place fervent and prolonged prayer and worship, on the part of the congregation, in the forefront of its main services. It is easy to see why the Lord Jesus (and His remnant) would consider such a large growing assembly to be dead.
There is a clear illustration in Scripture of the contrast between the anointed, praying remnant and the busy religious people of the popular churches. This illustration has to do with two people, Simeon and Anna. The story is told in the Gospel of Luke.
When the days of Mary’s purification according to the Law of Moses were accomplished, she and Joseph brought the baby Jesus into the Temple in Jerusalem in order to present Him before the Lord (Luke 2:22).
The Temple of Herod in Jerusalem was a costly structure of great strength and beauty. It was built of marble and gold. The Temple area was filled with people who were busily engaged in the statutes of Moses and in the numerous customs and practices that had grown up around the original statutes.
The most important men of Israel gathered here. The priests, scribes, and Pharisees practiced the politics and discussed the problems of their nation. Money changed hands. Younger men studied under the leading rabbis and made the important contacts that would ensure that one day they too would be distinguished as leaders of prominence in Israel.
Such is the way of the Sardis-type assembling.
Into the midst of this bustle of activity came Joseph and Mary of Nazareth holding in their arms the Word of God Incarnate.
Every mouth should have shut. Every action should have stopped. Every eye should have been fastened on Immanuel. Every knee should have bent in worship before the thundering God of Sinai now appearing as a Babe.
There should have arisen from every throat an anthem of exalted praise to the almighty God of Israel who this day had visited His people with salvation, with redemption, with eternal atonement for sin.
Men and women should have recognized that God had appeared in the flesh. All human activity should have ceased in wonder and joy at the Presence of the Divine King of kings and Lord of lords—the Heir of all God Is and possesses.
The “I Am” was now in the midst of His people.
None of them turned. None of them worshiped. The priests, scribes, and Pharisees continued to practice the politics and discuss the problems of the nation. Money continued to change hands. The young men continued their studies.
Why could they not see their Christ? Why would they not stop their religious efforts and worship God who now was among His people?
They neither could see God nor perform His works because they were putting human effort ahead of prayer and reliance on God.
There were a man and woman in Israel, a remnant of the thousands of Israelites, who were people of prayer and of the anointing. These two had “escaped” the spiritual blindness of “Babylon” (man-directed religion).
Simeon was “just and devout.” He was a man of prayer who was longing for the coming of Christ.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:26)
Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit into the Temple just in time to see Mary and Joseph come in with the Baby, Jesus.
Simeon took Jesus in his arms and began to prophesy of the Divine Glory that was at hand for the Gentiles and the nation of Israel.
At this moment the aged Anna came in. Anna was a prophetess, a woman of much prayer. She also recognized her Christ and prophesied of the redemption He would bring.
The priests, scribes, and Pharisees continued to practice the politics and discuss the problems of their nation. Money continued to change hands. The young men continued their studies. The leaders of Israel were living in the blindness of the flesh.
The common people baked their bread, worked in the fields, watered their animals. Yet the Lord God of Heaven was in their city as a Baby.
Sometimes when the Lord says a few will walk in white He means only two or three. The Scriptures teach us that God often chooses one person, or a few, to do His work.
How wretched to spend one’s life in religious activity and then to have God pass us by! To miss the Lord’s Christ!
How can we avoid having this happen to us? By watching diligently in prayer. By looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance and enablement rather than to human help. By exalting Christ in the church and worshiping Him rather than filling up the Divine service with activities operated by human skill and talent.
Now the Lord Jesus points the church in Sardis back to its place of beginning:
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. (Revelation 3:3)
Christ advises a Sardis-type, human-oriented church to “remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.” He tells the members to go back to the fire in which their church was born, to the faith in God and holy living that were passed on to them by their founders.
Go back! Go back! Go back to the fire, to prayer, to reliance on the Spirit of God! Go back and seek the old paths and inquire where the good way is! There we shall discover the wells of power and peace that have been dug by the prayer warriors of old. We do not want “success” apart from the Spirit of God.
Christ does not tell us to go back and imitate the events that transpired in former years. The Holy Spirit always has a present truth, a present burden, a present way of building the Body of Christ, of bearing witness to the nations, of preparing the way for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
We are not to go back and copy what was done before, not even by the churches of the first century, for we know from the writings of Paul that those people were as imperfect as we are.
Rather we are to return to prayer, to holy living, to the preaching and teaching of the Scriptures rather than the traditions of men, to reliance on the Person of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit of God instead of on the ideas and ambitions of human beings.
Most of the historic denominations were at one time a godly remnant. Then they had the prayer, the fire, the holiness.
At one time the Protestant Reformers were a remnant. At one time the Methodists were a fiery group of young radicals. At one time the Baptists were a remnant and bitterly persecuted. At one time the Quakers were a remnant and their leader, George Fox, was a prophet of God.
At one time the Pentecostal people were a remnant, a small group of radicals who emerged from the Christian churches. Pentecost had the fire, the prayer, the holiness. The Word of God spread in Pentecostal fire over the face of the earth.
None of these movements is a remnant now. They are large, active, well-financed denominations of Christian people who command respect from the world. Their colleges are filled with young people who are skilled in the arts and sciences of civilization, in the wisdom and knowledge of “Egypt.”
Where are the persecuted reformers, the methodical advocates of love and holiness—those who recognized that buildings are secondary to the human temples of the Holy Spirit?
Where are the poor, storefront, tongues-speaking, devil-wrestling pioneers from the humbler section of the city who were scorned as “holy rollers”?—who were dynamited out of their churches?—who labored among the uneducated, among those who trusted in God, coming to church with their Bibles under their arms, returning home late Sunday evening after praying at the altar with a seeker after the baptism with the Holy Spirit?
Holy Spirit-empowered remnants change into animated corpses because of the self-will of Christian people. The believers follow their own desires instead of waiting on the Lord for His direction. They are not willing to be crucified to their adamic impulses.
But the Lord always has His remnant—the seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. He has them today.
How can we recognize the remnant? How can a believer be sure he or she is one of the Lord’s remnant? One of the Lord’s conquerors?
The issue, at least in Sardis, is this: are we proceeding onwards with a program of human-oriented activity? Are we building the Kingdom of God by the wisdom and efforts of flesh and blood? Or are we watching faithfully in prayer, waiting on the Lord always for every detail of what we are and do?
If we do not watch and pray, looking to Jesus for His wisdom and power in every matter and small, the Lord Jesus will come upon us as a thief. One moment we shall be a fine show on the earth. The next moment we shall be spiritually naked and destitute. We shall be caught by surprise because we have not been watching carefully in prayer for the Presence and blessing of Christ.
The works of people, even religious people, are as grass that springs up in a moment and perishes in a moment.
The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. (Isaiah 40:7)
The works of Christ are eternal. They never shall pass away.
The eternal accomplishments of the Kingdom of God are not brought to pass by the strength or wisdom of the flesh but by the Spirit of God.
If we have been caught up in Sardis-type activities we are to “hold fast, and repent.” We are to press steadily forward in all good works but to repent of our employment of human talent in the attempt to build the Kingdom of God. If we do not repent of our man-centeredness we will be caught off guard one day and found penniless as to the true riches of Heaven.
There was a remnant in Sardis. There were believers who looked only to the Holy Spirit for the building of the Kingdom of God. They were the Elijah-Elisha company—those who live in the anointing even in “the days of Ahab and Jezebel,” in the midst of apostasy on the part of the majority of the Lord’s called-out people.
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Revelation 3:4)
The concept that the life of victorious living in Christ brings the believer into a condition of worthiness may be new to us because of extremism in the preaching of “grace.” The idea of being worthy to walk with Christ in white is found in the New Testament writings. We must be proven “worthy of the kingdom of God” (II Thessalonians 1:5). We must walk “worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:10).
The believer becomes worthy by the righteousness of Christ that is assigned freely to him on the basis of his confession of faith in Christ, and then by the righteousness, holiness, and obedience created in his character as the result of Christ being formed in him.
There was a remnant in Sardis, a few saints who had not “defiled their garments.” Our “garments” are our actions, our words, our motives, our thoughts, and our imaginations. The believer who is wearing “dirty clothes” is the one who is unclean in actions, words, motives, thoughts, and imaginations.
We soil our garments with hatred, with spite, with jealousy, with lust, with unforgiveness, with criticism, with impatience, with unbelief, with self-seeking, with drunkenness and revelry, with foolish behavior, with covetousness, with untruthfulness, with dabbling in the occult, with violence and anger.
The believer in Christ who is acting, speaking, or thinking in lust, hatred, violence, criticism, bitterness, covetousness, occult practices, or drunkenness and revelry is spotting his or her “robe” with the filth of the present age.
What are we to do when we get ourselves dirty? How do Christ’s conquerors keep their garments clean while walking through the filth of the world?
First we must confess our sins. We must say to God: I lied today; I stole a certain item; I spoke spitefully; I dwelled on lust in my mind; I cannot forgive him or her; I am addicted to drinking or smoking; I am eaten up with jealousy and envy; I am full of anger and hatred and cannot control myself; I am selfish and self-centered in all I do.
We must confess our sins as sin. We are not to evade the seriousness of our behavior or protect our pride. We are to denounce such behavior as sinful, as of the kingdom of Satan, as unworthy of the Kingdom of God.
In order to wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb we first must decide once and for all, clearly and decisively, that what we are doing, saying, and thinking really is sin and not some pardonable frailty God is winking at.
Second we must repent of our sins. Having denounced them as unworthy of the Kingdom of God we must resolve that by the Lord’s help we never again will practice those deeds, words, or thoughts.
Third we must believe firmly in God’s promise that when we “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).
Finally, when the same temptation returns we are to submit ourselves to God and resist the devil. Then the devil will flee from us (James 4:7).
Confession, repentance, faith in God’s forgiveness, and steadfast resistance—these are the four Scriptural steps for washing our robes and making them white in the blood of the Lamb. Every one of Christ’s conquerors keeps his robe clean by washing it regularly in the blood of Lamb. He conquers by the blood of the Lamb.
If we keep ourselves “white” through the blood of the Lamb we are worthy to walk with Christ. If we do not resist sin by the grace God has given us through Christ we are not worthy to walk with Christ.
The first reward to the conqueror in Sardis is that he or she will be “clothed in white raiment.” Being clothed in white raiment is part of the early resurrection from the dead that Paul was seeking to attain (Philippians 3:11).
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)
The white raiment with which we are to be clothed at the appearing of the Lord is the power to live righteously. Notice the following:
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness [righteous deeds] of saints. (Revelation 19:8)
The word “righteousness,” as used above, is misleading. It should be translated righteous behavior. It is not referring to the imputed (ascribed) righteousness that has been assigned to us because of our faith in the blood of Christ. Rather it is speaking of the righteousness of deed, word, and thought that proceeds from our abiding in Christ. It is the fruit of righteousness, not the imputation (assignment) of righteousness.
Paul sought the power to live righteously:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
Christ has promised us the power to live righteously:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
The “fine linen” of Revelation 19:8 is an important aspect of the resurrection from the dead, of the Day of the Lord. As we, through the Spirit, put to death the deeds of our physical body, a robe of white linen is being woven in Heaven. The robe of white linen is the power to live righteously. We shall be clothed with that robe at the coming of the Lord Jesus. The robe of righteous behavior is the garment of salvation.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. (Isaiah 61:10)
Each time we, through the Spirit, overcome the pressures of a trial or the temptations of a sin, our robe of righteousness grows more glorious. When our robe is completed it will be reserved in Heaven for us, to be presented to us at the coming of the Lord Jesus.
In that Day the saint will be clothed in his righteousness and the sinner will be clothed in his sin (II Corinthians 5:10). We shall reap what we are sowing.
Our robe of righteousness, if we have woven one from the Substance of His Life (which is imparted to whoever calls on Him in the hour of need), will clothe our spirit, soul, and body so we are righteous in our behavior just as He is righteous. No longer will we be dragging around a physical body full of sin, or attempting to pray while being opposed by our fleshly mind, which is the enemy of God.
Instead, every atom of our being will be seeking to praise God and to do His will. Can you imagine anything more wonderful than this?
Our light afflictions are creating for us a house from Heaven, an exceeding and eternal weight of glory, a crown of righteousness which will be given us when the Lord Jesus returns in His Kingdom (II Corinthians 4:17).
Truly there is a reward for serving the Lord.
Now we are weaving our robe of righteous conduct. The righteousness we are gaining now through Christ will serve us well throughout eternity. It will be a wall of defense against every sin, every rebellion. It is the wall of the new Jerusalem.
Our resurrection from the dead is being created in us and in Heaven at the same time. We shall be clothed with our deeds. Here is the justice and righteousness of the Judge of Heaven.
There is one important aspect of the appearing of Christ we always must keep in mind. The coming of the Lord from Heaven will not result principally in a change in what we are as much as it will in a revelation of what we have become during our discipleship on the earth.
The contemporary teaching is, “Christ came only to forgive our sins. If we receive the forgiveness, when we die we will go to Heaven. In Heaven we will be changed so we cannot sin and also be in an environment in which it is impossible to sin.” This teaching is not scriptural.
Christians do not speak much of the resurrection from the dead (except for a manmade “rapture” to Heaven), or of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth, because neither one of these principal doctrines of the Scripture fits into the popular scheme of dying and going to a sin-free environment in Heaven.
Much current Christian teaching is not found in the New Testament writings.
The teaching of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, is that Christ will come and redeem Israel and the world from the hand of Satan. The new covenant includes the destruction of the sinful nature of man. The new covenant has nothing to do with going to Heaven to live in a sin-free environment. There is no passage of the New Testament that teaches the Lord is coming to bring His Church to Heaven.
If we have laid hold upon that which is being offered to us in Christ, then, when He appears, we will shine in the righteousness that has been created in us. What we have become through His grace (His Divine Nature) will be revealed for all to see.
If we have not laid hold upon what is being offered to us in Christ but merely have made a profession of faith, not experiencing the painful transition from a living soul to a life-giving spirit, then, when Jesus appears, we will not be revealed in righteousness because no righteousness has been developed in us. The New Testament teaches that such fruitless members of Christ will be cut out of the Vine and burned (John 15:2,6).
The contemporary teaching is in error. Those who adhere to it rather than to the living Lord Jesus are awaiting a disappointing—if not terrifying—future. It is time now to repent and begin serving the Lord with sincerity and diligence.
The Kingdom of God is not limited to a profession of faith in Christ, although a profession of faith in Christ is the only entrance into the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is actual righteousness, actual peace, and actual joy—all in the Holy Spirit of God.
Let no man deceive you.
The conqueror in Sardis will not have his name blotted from the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5).
If we, as believers in Christ, are compromising with the demands of our fleshly nature, the world, and Satan, and are participating in a human-oriented church program that is not living and working in the Spirit of God, we are faced with the possibility of being blotted out of the Book of Life—a fearful prospect indeed!
When the Lord states that the conqueror in Sardis will not have his name blotted from the Book of Life, there is a clear inference that the defeated believers in Sardis stand in danger of this worst of all fates.
There are numerous errors in the Christian doctrine of today. One of the erroneous concepts is defended fiercely. The concept is that once an individual makes a profession of belief in Christ he or she never again can stand in danger of being lost to the Kingdom of God.
Since the Scripture clearly teaches the opposite, one wonders at the source of this error. It certainly is from Satan (“thou shalt not surely die!”) because the idea that no professing believer can ever be lost to God’s Kingdom has had a very weakening effect on the determination with which believers pursue the Christian life. The multitude of passages that warn us of the danger of not serving the Lord lose most or all of their intended impact on our sincerity and behavior.
It is commonly taught that no believer will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ. There are some who teach this who reject the doctrine of eternal security (we can never be lost), not realizing that they are being inconsistent. If we teach that no believer will be punished or could lose his salvation at the Judgment Seat of Christ, then, whether we realize it or not, we are a proponent of the doctrine of eternal security—no believer can be lost to the purposes of God.
The argument that those who are lost were never saved in the first place is neither sound nor scriptural. If this were the case, no believer could know if he were saved until he dies and goes to his destiny in the spirit realm.
The doctrine of eternal security comes from Satan. But what is Satan’s motivation? It is to keep the Christians morally weak, foolish, careless, lacking in the iron resolve necessary for gaining the rewards assigned to the conqueror. It is the warlike remnant who pose a threat to Satan’s kingdom.
Another motive of Satan is the hope that by creating resistance to the concept that God actually will punish people, he himself will escape the judgment written.
Whenever we seek to turn people away from the suffering that accompanies entrance into the Kingdom of God, the suffering that humbles us under the hand of God, we are speaking with the voice of Satan. Whenever we insist that God will not punish the wicked with extreme severity, that we ought to reverence God but not fear the punishments described in His Word, we are speaking with the voice of Satan.
Whenever we seek to make the Gospel of the Kingdom a plan for improving the earthly life of people we are speaking with the voice of Satan. Whenever we strive to say only that which is positive and not put forth the commandments to refrain from sin, we are speaking with the voice of Satan. This is the influence of humanism on Christian thinking. Whenever we refuse to warn people to flee from the wrath to come we are speaking with the voice of Satan.
The Christian churches of our day are speaking with the voice of Satan. Without realizing it they are taking the side of people instead of the side of God.
When Israel was sinning, Moses asked, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” The people of Levi responded. Moses then commanded, “Go kill your brothers.” This the descendants of Levi did and in so doing became the keepers of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
There were two sides. The side of the Lord and the side of the Lord’s people. It always has been this way and remains so today. The Lord’s people usually hate the prophets of God! The writings of the Hebrew Prophets seldom had anything good to say about Israel. It is so today. The remnant appear as the enemy of the churches.
Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. (Exodus 32:26,27)
Phinehas received the blessing of the Lord because he acted sternly and decisively in killing a sinning Israelite.
Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: (Numbers 25:11,12)
Whoever would be in the army of the Lord must be ready to take God’s side against Satan, against worldly believers, and, in the Day of the Lord, against wicked people.
There is a great need for repentance on the part of the Christian in the United States of America. But true, deep, lasting repentance is impossible while the believers have the false sense of safety and blessing so widespread in our day and are filled with the spirit of humanism—a false, fleshly love for humanity.
The simple truth is, the Christian churches are in a sinful condition and the judgment of God is upon them. “The Book of the Law has been found in the Temple,” so to speak, and the prophets are warning us that the judgment of God is ready to fall upon the churches unless there is through repentance, a turning away from sin and a running into the Presence of God. We have been burned and we do not realize it. We are living in deception, in a false sense of security.
Fiery judgment is facing Christian believers. Their pastors rush to assure them that no harm will come to them from the hand of the Lord, that the Christian life is an easy way, filled with delight and prosperity. This is not true. The churchgoers shall suffer unbearable remorse when they discover what they have lost (while they were waiting to be raptured into Heaven!)
We of today do not know the fiery God of Israel!
Let us turn again to the Scriptures and note the exhortations of the Apostles of the Lamb. Then let us get on our face before God and repent of our lust, covetousness, love of pleasure, lying, unfaithfulness, stealing, self-will, sorcery, bitterness, rebellion against authority, the criticizing of those whom God has placed over us, and all of the other sins with which the churches are filled. No person who practices these shall inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
The Scriptures can never be changed—not one particle of them. Especially the Book of Revelation. The Christian who does not overcome is in danger of having his or her name blotted from the Book of Life!
As soon as we make up our mind to be one of the remnant, one of those believers who press forward in the Spirit of God when the majority of the church people are living and working in the strength and wisdom of the flesh, the Lord assists us by clothing us each day with increased ability to embrace godliness and shun sin and rebellion. The end result of such walking with Christ is that our name is engraved for eternity in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Truly, there is a reward for seeking the Lord. There is a reward for righteous behavior. Truly we are rewarded in terms of our deeds and we shall reap, when Jesus comes, what we are sowing now.
The third reward assigned to the conqueror in Sardis is that Christ will confess his name before the Father and the holy angels.
The remnant always are a testimony of the Person of God and of Christ, of Christ’s ways, of His will, of His love, of His wrath. The Sardis-type assembling does not give a clear testimony, either in word or in deed, of the Person, way, and will of Christ or of the true nature of His love and His wrath.
In the human-oriented church there is shame and embarrassment associated with the manifestation of the Holy Spirit and with the Presence of Christ in the midst. Instead, there is a tendency to exalt Christ in the abstract—Christ of the past and of the future—and to elevate talented men and women. People seek the glory that comes from other people rather than the approval that comes from God alone.
Because of the willingness of the remnant to flow with the Spirit of God, to point to the immediate Presence of Christ among us, and to seek the approval of Christ whether or not people also give their approval, Christ confesses the name of each member of the remnant in the Presence of the Father and of the holy angels.
First, Christ knows each conqueror by name. Notice that Jesus says, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis.” As the name of Jesus is the sweetest of all sounds to each true Christian on the earth, so the name of each true Christian becomes exceedingly precious to Christ in Heaven.
Christ never will allow the name of one of His true saints to be blotted out of the Book of Life. Instead, the name of each overcomer will be announced before the Throne of God in the presence of the holy angels who excel in strength.
The Father, God Almighty, pays careful attention to each name proclaimed in His Presence. The attention of God is drawn to that individual saint because he or she has lifted up the name of God’s beloved Son in the midst of human beings who are determined to seek their own welfare, who scorn the thought of laying aside their interests in favor of exalting the Lord Jesus.
The overcomer, having been announced in the Divine courtroom, is well on his way toward becoming a pillar in the Temple of God, toward being seated with Christ on His throne.
The holy angels who perform God’s will take special note of each name confessed by Christ in the Presence of the Almighty for the elect angels are spirits who minister to the heirs of salvation. They have been charged with the welfare of the sons of God (I Timothy 5:21).
The elect angels are careful observers of all that takes place on the earth. They know the name of each of Christ’s conquerors. But all who choose to worship and serve Antichrist will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels (Revelation 14:10).
Ours may be the greatest period of all, in the Kingdom of God, because it appears that the Lord is emphasizing the forming of the firstfruits of the Bride. As we understand the Scriptures, the Church is the Bride of the Lamb. God’s elect, including first Jews, and then Gentiles, are the Church, the Body of Christ.
There are several types and statements, both in the New Testament and the Old, that indicate there will be a firstfruits of the Church, a Gideon’s army. The firstfruits stand on Mount Zion. It is our point of view that it is the firstfruits, not the entire Bride, that will appear with the Lord at His coming.
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
The task at hand is the overcoming of the accuser. He can be overcome only by those who are willing to die to their bodily lusts, their desire for the world, and their longing for importance and achievement. It seems that only a small part of the Church is willing to submit to such thorough pruning.
A work of Divine judgment is necessary, and only those who have been purged of all lawlessness will be able to follow Christ into the tearing down of the kingdom of darkness.
From the days of Samuel to the time of Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant was separated from the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
During the reign of King David the Ark was kept in Zion, a part of the city of Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Tabernacle was located on a hill in the city of Gibeon.
This separation continued until the building of Solomon’s Temple. As long as the Ark of the Covenant was not in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle, the Day of Atonement, the work of Divine judgment, could not be conducted in the Tabernacle. The ceremony of the Day of Atonement included the sprinkling of blood upon and before the Mercy Seat.
We see in the removal of the Ark from the Tabernacle a separation of a warrior-remnant from the remainder of the Church. God will use the warrior-remnant to judge and destroy the enemy. After that, all Israel (all of God’s elect) will be able to join in the destroying of Satan and his followers, similar to what took place after Gideon’s three hundred men had taken the lead in driving out the Midianites.
If this is true, the remnant being called out today will be subjected to intense dealings of God. Every aspect of their personality will be tested again and again as the Lord judges them. They will be brought to the point of despair as the Spirit of God uncovers every trace of bodily lusts, every trace of love for the world system, every trace of a desire for personal achievement apart from the Lord.
Those who follow the Lord through the wilderness of judgment, allowing God to wound and then heal them, will emerge from the fire as new creatures. They will be dead-living people in that all they are will have been brought through death and resurrection.
The remainder of the elect will be participating in the customary works of salvation: evangelizing, baptizing believers, assisting people with the new birth and the baptism with the Holy Spirit, encouraging them to consecrate themselves to the Lord. These aspects of redemption are typified by the remaining five furnishings of the Tabernacle: the Bronze Altar, the Laver, the Table of Showbread, the Lampstand, and the Altar of Incense.
As we have stated, the Ark no longer was in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle but in a tent in Zion.
The Ark was called the Ark of the Covenant because it contained the tables of stone on which were inscribed the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments were God’s covenant with Israel.
The Ten Commandments are God’s judgment on Satan and his followers. The remnant portrayed by the Ark bring God’s holy judgment upon the enemy.
God will work with both companies—those symbolized by the Tabernacle of the Congregation at Gibeon and those symbolized by the Ark of the Covenant in Zion in the city of Jerusalem.
No doubt an opportunity to be a part of the heart of the Bride (for that is what is being formed as a holy remnant) will never again be given to mankind. While all of the Bride eventually will be brought to a state of spotless perfection, the remnant forever will possess an inner steel, a warlike character, a soul that is well acquainted with the fiery judgments of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and is sternly obedient to the Father.
They will have an iron, warlike soul because they were perfected by the Lord during an hour of great spiritual darkness. They came forth from great distress and pressure into the light of God. Righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God were created in them at a time when Antichrist was being given authority that reached to the heavens (Daniel 8:10).
Let each reader of this book decide now to become a member of the remnant. We become a member of the remnant by making up our mind that the Holy Spirit is the One who establishes all things in the Kingdom of God. We make up our mind also that Christ is Lord of the churches and that the churches are not humanly-conceived, humanly-operated institutions.
We become as Simeon and Anna, growing each day in strength in prayer, and in willingness to wait on God instead of pursuing our own desires. As we wait on the Spirit of God, looking always to Christ, the Spirit of prophecy comes upon us. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).
The hour in which we are living is the time of the harvest (latter) rain. To each individual who turns to Christ there will be given bright clouds, showers of rain, “to every one grass in the field” (Zechariah 10:1).
The time is at hand for the coming to maturity of both the wheat and the tares. Men’s hearts will fail them as they see the shaking of the heavens and the earth. Sin and deception will attain unprecedented, monumental proportions.
Religious people will be brought to despair in our day. The remnant whom the Lord has chosen will come to know the Lord Jesus. They will keep on growing in strength and the glory of the Lord will flow through them.
… but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. (Daniel 11:32)
During earth’s darkest hour the light and Glory of God will arise on the Lord’s conquerors (Isaiah 60:1,2).
You can be one of Christ’s victorious saints. Look to Jesus and ask Him to make you an overcomer. He shall hear you. He shall remove your chains and fill you with love, joy, and peace.
A period of terrible destruction and spiritual oppression is just ahead for the world. Human wisdom and energy will fail utterly but God will take care of His saints.
Now is the time of revival. The power of the revival will increase; and the revival itself will be extended if God’s people will pray. It is God’s will that every man, woman, boy, and girl on earth receive Christ and enter joyous spiritual liberty in the Kingdom of God.
The windows of Heaven are open. God is attentive to each plea for His grace and mercy to be given to men. Now is the hour for all the gifts and ministries to be restored to the churches. Now is the time in which Christ will pour out the Holy Spirit on each seeker.
The prayers of one person will make a difference in the great revival that is upon us. Whatever we are planning to do in Christ we are to do now. The hour quickly is approaching in which no man can work.
Every reward assigned to Christ’s conquerors can be yours. Your part is to pray, read the Scriptures, believe what they state, and by the Lord’s help seek the will of the Spirit for your life and do what He directs you to do—now!
The Lord’s part is to provide every resource, every circumstance, thing, and relationship necessary for your complete and perfect victory in Him. Christ will conquer in you if you will open every door of your life and allow Him to dwell in you and express Himself to you and through you.
The Church in Philadelphia
The seven churches symbolize, among other things, the historical development of the Christian churches. If such is the case, we believe that in the present hour we are “in” the church in Philadelphia. For this reason the church in Philadelphia is of special interest to us. We think we can see some of these aspects around us today.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (Revelation 3:7)
The name Philadelphia means “brotherly love.” For hundreds of years the Catholic Church included many—perhaps most—of the believers in Christ, although it appears there has existed from time to time some smaller sects.
Then came the Protestant Reformation and the development of the Protestant denominations.
Denominationalism has been in evidence for such a long time we have come to accept it as the normal state for the Christian church. Yet the slightest knowledge of Scripture indicates to us that denominationalism is alien to the concept of the Body of Christ.
Will the denominational divisions of the Christian churches be in existence when Jesus appears? Our belief is they no longer will be in existence by that time. At least, there will be no member of the Wife of the Lamb in any of their churches (Revelation 18:23).
Our understanding is that from the present hour forward there will be a uniting of Christians. The majority of the churchgoers will be found in Babylon while the remnant, the true saints, after they have experienced the latter-rain revival (that which is symbolized by the two witnesses), will be forced to flee into the wilderness (Revelation 12:14).
The division into two camps, Babylon and the warrior-remnant, neither camp being divided by denominationalism, will be brought about by many forces operating on the earth. One of the forces will be the Spirit of God. Another force will be the persecution of Christian worshipers. A third force will be the rise of lawlessness—the revolt against authority (apostasy) that the Scriptures inform us will take place before the Lord returns.
Many earnest Christians of today are demonstrating a desire, a willingness, to set aside the foolishness, wastefulness, and sinfulness of stressing doctrinal and organizational divisions. There is a recognition of the need for living in the Spirit and worshiping God in the good will of Christian brotherly love.
The intensity of the spirit of sectarianism seems to be abating in favor of a working together in the Gospel. There still is the strong tendency to take spiritual concepts, whether of God or not, and consolidate them into a “new movement.” But there also is a widespread recognition that the fencing off of God’s work is an expression of spiritual immaturity. There is a feeling of revulsion against it, particularly among the young people.
A current phenomenon is the building of little kingdoms in which talented ministers are emphasized. Hopefully this personality cult, the monuments to gifted men and women, soon will be a thing of the past.
We believe the willingness on the part of God’s people, even administrators of denominations in some instances, to minimize the role of the denomination in favor of working together to bring Christ to the masses, sometimes may be of Philadelphia and of the Lord.
However, the desire to unify, to work together, is not necessarily of the Lord. In fact, the desire for group interaction and oneness is, on some occasions, of Antichrist. It is an attempt to dominate people by interesting them in one another instead of in the Lord.
The genuine unity of the Body of Christ cannot be gained by human effort because unity is a fruit of the forming of Christ in us. The fruit of perfect unity is borne when two believers are filled with the Lord Jesus and are at rest in Him. First we are to become one in Christ in the Father. Then we automatically are one with each other. We are one in Christ.
We do not come into union with Christ by becoming one with each other. We become one with each other by first coming into union with Christ.
Of late there has arisen among Christian believers efforts to unite people for the purpose of exercising political power. It is an attempt to force the values of Christian believers on the civil community. From our point of view these efforts are the beginning of the False Prophet, the spirit of religious delusion that will guide Christian people into efforts to promote a one-world democratic government. The final result of such efforts will be Antichrist, and the False Prophet giving life to Antichrist.
The first word to the spirit of the church in Philadelphia is, “holy.”
… These things saith he that is holy, … (Revelation 3:7)
The Holy Spirit is emphasizing holiness today. In time past, and continuing to the present, the accent among devout Christians often has been on the grace of God in Christ, meaning, almost exclusively, the assignment of forgiveness and righteousness through the atoning blood of the Lord Jesus. A minimal attention has been paid to actual holiness of behavior and attitude. The Christian covenant, a covenant of transformation into a new creation, has been changed into a covenant of forgiveness with the end in view of escaping to Paradise to live in a mansion of gold.
However we now are coming to understand that the Apostles wrote a great deal concerning holiness of behavior. It is not enough to claim to be “saved by grace” and then continue in unrighteous conduct. This is not the teaching of the Apostles, as the hastiest review of the New Testament writings will reveal.
Apart from holiness of life we cannot walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as simple and straightforward as that. Without holiness no person ever will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
We are saved from wrath by believing in the gift of God—the atoning blood of God’s Son.
After we have been received of God we are to begin bearing the fruit of holy behavior. If instead we continue in the ways of the flesh, the world, and Satan, we have received the grace of God in vain and are in danger of being burned. There is abundant Scripture to this effect. In fact, righteousness and holiness of conduct probably is the major emphasis of the apostolic writings if not of the entire Scriptures.
“He that is holy” has come to the church in Philadelphia. He requires of His conquerors that they learn from Him to walk in holiness.
“He that is true.” As we draw near to the coming of the Lord the battle will rage around truth. Antichrist possesses no authority, no power, except what is assigned to him on particular occasions by the Lord Jesus Christ. The authority and power of Satan were demolished on Calvary.
Satan has no power at all over the saint who is walking in the Spirit of God.
Antichrist cannot overcome us, nor can Satan, unless we can be persuaded to believe a lie. As long as we walk in truth we are unconquerable! invincible! indestructible!
By walking in truth we do not mean we are continuing to believe correct doctrine. To walk in truth is to walk in the Lord Jesus, in the light of His will; to have daily fellowship with God. The only time correctness of doctrine is important is when our relationship with the Lord or our behavior is at issue. Theological knowledge of itself is of little value in the Kingdom of God except as it leads us to the Lord Jesus and to a life of righteousness, holiness, and obedience to God.
As Christ is formed in us the Truth is formed in us. The most essential aspect of remaining in the truth is to have Christ formed in us. It is also of utmost importance that we accept the sufferings and prisons that come our way. Believers who refuse to share the sufferings of Christ will be deceived. They have not loved the truth.
Many of the past revivals have been based, to a certain extent, on an experience rather than on the Scripture. There have been blessing and glory on the people even when some error was believed by them. If God were waiting until perfect doctrine is believed by the churches before He would bless them, the Christian churches still would be awaiting the first revival of their history.
Fortunately for us, God blesses us many time when we are not perfect and our doctrine is not perfect. Sometimes devout teachers of the Scriptures have been quite mistaken in areas of their teaching. We all are susceptible at times to mistaken beliefs. We see in a mirror dimly and we pray Christ will help us and cover our mistakes and continue to bless and strengthen the saints.
Now we are drawing near to the full revelation of Antichrist, of the man of sin. There is an accompanying spirit of rebellion and revolution sweeping the earth, which is the surest sign we are near to the revolt against authority predicted by the Scriptures.
In order to succeed, Antichrist must be able to persuade people to believe a lie. Antichrist has no power over the saints unless he can deceive us—even during the interval when he is allowed to overcome the anointed testimony (Revelation 13:7). Satan cannot separate us from Christ when we are walking in truth. This is why the Lord Jesus warned us again and again to take heed to ourselves, to be watchful in prayer. The strongest of us can be deceived if he does not remain in an attitude of prayerful watchfulness.
It is imperative in the hour in which we are living that we read the Scriptures, meditate in the Scriptures, dwell in the Scriptures.
Many of God’s saints have only one or two verses of Scriptures memorized. We ought to be reading the Scriptures constantly so we can turn immediately to a passage on any given topic that bears on our redemption in Christ. The Scriptures must become totally familiar to us.
The Scriptures are the mind of Christ, the thinking of Christ, concerning the judgments of God. The knowledge of the Scriptures enables us to discern between good and evil, between what is holy and what is not holy, between what is of God and what is of Satan.
No longer can we stand on past experiences. Today it is “Thus saith the Lord.” We must live according to what the Scriptures state. No feeling can take the place of the Word of God. Delusion will soon come upon the believer who chooses to think and act in terms of feelings that appear to come to him from the Lord.
Many contemporary doctrines, such as the employing of Divine grace as a substitute for godly living, the pre-tribulation “rapture,” the concept that no Christian will be punished at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and so forth are not Scriptural. The doctrine that there is a Gentile church that will dwell in Heaven while a Jewish Kingdom of God reigns on the earth is unsound. It is without foundation in the Scriptures. The dividing of Christ into Gentiles and Jews, after all Paul expressly stated to the contrary, is clearly unscriptural.
The recent Charismatic (Full Gospel; Pentecostal) errors, such as the faith-prosperity teaching, and the concept that the saints are not to suffer, are contrary to the Scriptures and are of the False Prophet.
These deceptions are signs of the last days. Belief in them erodes the godliness of the saints and steers the believers away from the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth and the resurrection of the dead. Christians swallow these camels whole while they are busily engaged in straining out gnats. The Christians go by their traditions and their feelings. They are too busy to search the Scriptures and see if what they believe corresponds to what God has stated.
The New Testament is filled with exhortations to godly living and contains many serious warnings to the believers who continue to walk in the appetites and desires of the flesh. Yet numerous Christians are persuaded that once we make a profession of belief in Christ we are saved, meaning we shall go to Heaven when we die regardless of how we behave. However, the New Testament never holds out eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of salvation or belief in doctrine as the means of getting to Heaven. God’s people are basing their lives on unscriptural fables.
The Christian Gospel is that the Kingdom of God, the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Holy Spirit, is coming to the earth. Did you know that? If we continue in sin after receiving Christ we are denying the Gospel. We are rejecting the Kingdom of God. This is what the Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, state (Psalms 1:5; Isaiah 61:11; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5).
Please keep in mind that it is easy for strong desires and other emotions to masquerade as directions from the Lord. We cannot go by our feelings or by what we think. Only the Scriptures are reliable.
The battle between Christ and Antichrist is not a battle of power. Christ possesses all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. The battle is between truth and deception. Christ is Truth. Antichrist is a lie and a deception. If we choose to walk in God’s truth we abide in Christ. If we choose instead to walk in the lusts of the flesh, the world, and Satan, we are dwelling in a lie and are the servants of Antichrist.
We increasingly are becoming able to distinguish between those who are of Christ and those who are of Antichrist. Those who are of Christ are walking in righteousness and holiness. They are obedient to Christ and are not seeking to accomplish their own will.
Those who are of Antichrist are continuing in the lusts of the flesh. They are self-willed, self-centered, self-ruled. They are not cross-carrying disciples.
Our life reveals either Christ or Antichrist.
If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. (I John 2:29)
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (I John 3:7,8)
If we possessed no New Testament writings other than the Book of I John we would know that the doctrine that Divine grace has little to do with righteousness and holiness of behavior is a deception and is of Antichrist.
The battle today is that of truth against error. He who preaches righteous living in Christ is preaching the truth. He who is preaching that the grace of Christ primarily is an overlooking of our continued sinful behavior is not of truth nor of Christ but is of the spirit of error.
The truth of Christ sets us free from the bondage of sin. As we are redeemed from the bondage of sin we are brought into eternal life. This is the manner in which the redemption that is in Christ operates. The truth that Christ is destroys the works of the devil in our life, including sin, sickness, and every other evil.
We receive the Spirit of truth when we take up our personal cross and follow the Lord Jesus. We receive the spirit of delusion when we seek to avoid suffering.
The issue of suffering and of judgment on the sinful behavior of Christians is the issue that will divide between Babylon and the warlike remnant. The believers who will accept the true, fiery Nature of the God of Israel will be of the remnant. Those who choose the modern God of security, ease, pleasure, and success are deluded and will continue to be deluded until they find themselves in tormenting fires.
… These things saith… he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; (Revelation 3:7)
The key of David represents the keys of the Kingdom of God. When we come to the church in Philadelphia there is an emphasis on the building of the Kingdom of God.
From the time of Moses to the days of Samuel, Israel was governed and led by prophets—by men and women who went to the Lord repeatedly for instructions as to what Israel should do. The people of God were ruled by the Lord Himself through a mediator, the prophet.
The rule of the prophets ended with Samuel. The people asked for a king and the Lord directed Samuel to anoint Saul. If the people had been patient the Lord in His time would have given them a king after His own heart.
King Saul won some battles and lost others. But his heart never was right with the Lord. Saul feared the people more than he did God. As a result the Kingdom of Israel did not prosper under his rulership. Finally Saul and his three sons were killed on Mount Gilboa in a battle with the Philistines (I Samuel 31:8).
Saul represents the fleshly self-will of human leadership. Human leadership never will make a success of building the Kingdom of God.
After the death of Saul, David ascended to the throne of Judah, and then of all Israel. David’s heart was right with God and he followed the Lord all his days. The Holy Spirit rested on David and gave the greater part of the Book of Psalms through him.
Because David loved the Lord and obeyed the Lord, the Lord was with him and enabled him to defeat all his enemies. Soon the Kingdom of Israel was established as one of the major nations on the earth. Although David sinned on occasion, he repented sincerely and diligently. His heart was right with God. The Lord loved King David and gave him the wisdom and power to build the Kingdom of Israel.
So it is in the church in Philadelphia. Throughout the Christian Era men have attempted to build the Kingdom of God. Now the Church of Christ is to follow the Lord and trust in Him to build the Kingdom. This is why Christ appears to the church in Philadelphia as the One who holds the key of David.
The key of David is the key to the Kingdom of God. It is given to the saint who does not seek his own glory but permits the Holy Spirit to build the Kingdom through him. It is the authority and power to open and to shut, to bind and to loose, to forgive sins and to retain sins.
When we, as members of the Body of Christ, are walking in the Spirit of God, bearing the name of Christ on us, we possess the authority and power that opens and no man shuts, that shuts and no man opens.
Some nations and political organizations have closed off their people from the Gospel of Christ. When the saints truly are ready to bear the witness of the last days, when they are not walking in their own ideas but in the Spirit of God, God will command the necessary doors to open.
There is no authority or power in the heavens or on the earth that can resist a member of the Body of Christ when Christ Himself is working with him or her. The Christian Church has failed to make disciples of the nations of the earth because it has labored under the misconception that Christ has left it up to us to build His Church, His Kingdom. It is time for the saints to turn away from their schemes and to look only to Jesus for His will in the present hour.
We have been attempting to use the name of Jesus in order to accomplish our own goals, including our own goals that have to do with getting people saved and building churches. But we are not to attempt to use the name of Jesus (except as He directs). Rather it is that Jesus Himself is to use us to perform His will.
The God of Heaven is ready to walk hand in hand with the dust of the earth just as soon as the dust is willing to cease from its own works and walk with its Creator.
It is time to stop relying on man “whose breath is in his nostrils.”
As we learn to walk in the Spirit of God, following Jesus in simple, childlike obedience, we shall be given the faith to speak the Word of Christ. We are to heal the sick, command the demons to leave, direct the mountains to move—all in Jesus’ name as He commands us to speak and act.
Christ holds the key of David, the authority and power to build the Kingdom of God. Christ will use that key in the hand of the victorious saint as soon as the saint ceases from his own works and enters into rest in the Spirit of God, into the rest that is an abiding in God’s rest—God having finished all things from the creation of the world.
The conqueror learns to act only in the Lord Jesus Christ, never according to his own desires and self-will. The sons of God have Christ in them and they are guided by the Holy Spirit. In Christ is the fullness of the power of the Father. The saints do not belong to themselves, they belong to Christ.
Each conqueror is an expression of Christ when Christ has been formed in him and is dwelling in him, and he is living in Christ and by Christ rather than by his own religious efforts.
Such is the Word of God to the conqueror in Philadelphia.
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8)
When compared with the other six churches of Asia, Philadelphia was one of the more favored. The Lord’s comments were not as severe as in some of the other instances. It is our understanding that this favor is reflected in the churches of today. We see revival springing up on every side. The Gospel is going forth by radio, by television, by books, by translation of the Scriptures into the more remote languages of the world.
There appears to be a turning to the Lord in several different countries. It is our sincere conviction that we are in the early stages of the greatest outpouring of God’s Spirit in the history of the earth, and that signs and wonders of unprecedented authority and power will follow the preaching of the Gospel of Christ to every nation under the heaven.
What an hour in which we have been selected to live! Let us take full advantage of the spiritual opportunities, the “open door,” that have been placed before us by the Lord Jesus.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:14)
Christ knows our works, our prayers, our return to the Scriptures, our confessing of our sins and self-centeredness, our desire to turn many to righteousness, our heartfelt yearning to please Him. It is a period of revival.
Christ has set before us an open door leading into the fullness of the Kingdom of God. No man can shut it. We can choose to press into the riches of Christ. This is the hour in which to seek God for the latter rain, for the gifts of the Spirit, for miracle-working power, for the opportunity to go forth to every nation under the heaven with the good news of the soon coming to earth of the Kingdom of God.
The door of spiritual authority and power in Jesus’ name is open today. Let us use every opportunity to the full. In due time the door will be closed. Once it has been shut the darkest hour ever known to mankind will come upon the earth. When that door has been shut, no man can open it. Then no person can work, just as the Lord warned us. The spiritual darkness and oppression will be such that flesh and blood will be helpless.
We have a “little strength” today; not great strength, but a little strength. We are learning to keep Christ’s Word and to lift up His name. Let us take that little strength and use it to press forward until we become strong in the Lord and in the power of His strength.
The time for the worldwide witness is now. Let us call on God until our little strength grows into great strength in the Lord and we become one of God’s conquerors.
Christ has advised us concerning the end-time, saying, “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16). The Spirit of Christ in Daniel stated, “but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits “ (Daniel 11:32).
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9)
To this day there are people who claim to be Christians, to be followers of Christ, but who actually are of the synagogue of Satan. They will mock our attempts to return to the discipleship of Christ, to patient waiting on the Holy Spirit, claiming their success is so obvious it is apparent they are doing God’s will.
We are not to resist them or judge them.
Christ declares that the day will come when such false professors will worship God at the feet of the true saints and will confess that Christ loves those saints.
Apparent spiritual success is one matter. To serve Christ in actual righteousness, holiness, and obedience of behavior is something else again. Let us serve Christ in sincerity whether or not we enjoy apparent success as measured by the opinion of human beings.
The hour is coming in which all that has been whispered in the ear will be proclaimed on the housetops. That which has been performed in secret will be displayed for everyone to behold. Then will every individual have praise or blame depending on the condition of his heart and life in the sight of Christ.
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10)
Notice the justice of the above passage: as we keep the word of Christ’s patience, so He keeps us from the hour of temptation, from the sin that will abound in the earth as lawlessness comes to maturity.
Jesus stated a parallel to Revelation 3:10 and presented what we believe to be its meaning, as follows:
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:15)
The Greek word for “keep,” in Revelation 3:10, is teeREEso. The Greek word for “keep,” in John 17:15, is teeREEsees. The ending changes because one is “I will keep” and the other is “thou shouldest keep.” But it is the same term.
What Jesus means in Revelation 3:10 He explains in John 17:15. In both instances the Apostle John recorded the message.
It is not the will of Christ that we be lifted out of the world but rather that we be kept, or guarded, from the evil (one). In Revelation 3:10, we are kept from the evil of the “hour of temptation.” The word for “temptation” is used in the Lord’s prayer, “Lead us not into temptation.”
The problem of Antichrist’s reign, as far as the saints are concerned, is not as much in the realm of suffering as it is in the area of temptation to sin. In many instances Satan can overcome a believer more easily through sin than through suffering.
The trap and delusion of the last days is lawlessness and materialism. Already numerous Christians have had their spiritual vitality destroyed because of their participation in the lawless, wealthy cultures of our day. The believers are being overcome by sin, by physical luxuries, by fornication, by covetousness, by neglect of their salvation because of eating, drinking, buying, selling, marrying, giving in marriage—by the normal business of civilization.
The world of Noah and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were caught off guard by the Divine judgment because of lawlessness and materialism.
In the majority of instances, God does not deliver us from temptation by taking us to Heaven, although sometimes we could wish He would do so. Rather, God makes a way of escape for us so we may be able to triumph throughout the particular trial. God keeps us in the midst of temptation.
When we think of Israel in Goshen, Jeremiah in the dungeon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace, Daniel in the lions’ den, we realize that God can and shall deliver us out of every trial if we stand fast in trust and hope in Jesus. God provides a way of escape.
Some of the older saints will testify that God’s way is to enable us to overcome every difficulty through Him. Sometimes the Lord allows us to remain in trying circumstances until we achieve victory through His faithfulness and glory. When we have achieved victory He removes us from the conflict or the conflict from us, as His plan indicates. Have you found this to be the way of the Lord?
It is the promise and the Glory of God to bring a saint through deep waters and fiery trials and to keep him or her free from every spiritual harm (and sometimes from every physical harm as well). This is God’s way. We achieve victory in the place where we are.
It is our belief that the hour of temptation, of lawlessness, already is upon us in its early stages. Every saint who follows Christ with an undivided heart will be kept in spiritual safety, and often in physical safety as were Elijah and Elisha, no matter what comes to pass on the earth.
We must guard the Word of Christ’s patience. It is in the realm of patience that some of our greatest trials take place, some of the fiercest battles rage, and some of the most glorious victories are won.
If we continue to watch soberly and vigilantly in prayer, standing steadfast in Christ throughout every temptation and peril that approaches us, the Lord Jesus will provide a means of deliverance for us and we shall escape all these things that will come to pass on the earth. We shall survive and finally stand in absolute triumph in the Presence of the Son of Man (Luke 21:36).
The coming of the Lord is near to the church in Philadelphia.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. (Revelation 3:11)
By this time the conqueror has gained many of the attributes of the first resurrection from the dead. He has been pressing into the Kingdom of God and patiently, diligently, taking the Kingdom. He has received the crown of life. When the Lord comes the achievements already being woven into his personality will be revealed for all to behold.
Notice it is assumed that we already have a crown or are in the process of gaining a crown. The danger seems to be we will lose our position of rulership. Therefore the conqueror must be ready to “hold fast” what he has gained thus far. Otherwise some person (sometimes a wife or husband) will do or say something that will cause the saint to come down from his or her high place of victory.
We can lose our crown by listening to an individual who is seeking to turn our eyes away from the Lord. We also can lose our crown by not being diligent, as in the case of the individual who buried his talent instead of putting it in the market place where it would bear interest. In this instance the talent (the crown) was taken from the lazy, careless person and given to someone more diligent.
If we would reign with Christ we always must be ready to stand in the Lord against all opposition. Tremendous issues are at stake. The Battle of Armageddon is drawing near in which Christ will destroy Antichrist and assume the kingship over the earth and its peoples—that which is His lawful inheritance.
Those who would ride with Christ in the Day of the Lord must be saints of righteous conduct—true, faithful, patient, strong in the strength of the Lord. There is no place here for a silly believer who is willing to be robbed of his or her crown.
Having run the race this far, let us stand fast in Christ. Many deceivers may come to us. If we will hold steady in prayer and in the written Word of God the deceivers will soon be exposed for what they are. Meanwhile we are abiding in our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ and in the peace and joy we have gained by pressing through all obstacles in order to conquer in Him.
The hour in which we are living is one of ministry, of attainment of authority and power in Christ, of personal growth in the image of Christ, of abiding in Christ. Let us pursue vigorously every open door Christ sets before us. Let us present ourselves for service in the Lord’s vineyard. Let us also be diligent concerning the change of dominion in our own personality in which king self is removed from the throne and King Jesus assumes His rightful authority over us.
We cannot reign with Christ until Christ reigns in us.
Stand fast! Stand fast! Stand fast in Christ! In so doing you will possess your soul and will proceed onward and upward until you stand in victory before the Son of Man.
Now we come to the reward to be given to the conqueror in Philadelphia: the church of the holy, the church of the true, the church possessing the power to bind and to loose, to shut and to open, the church that has kept the Word of Christ’s patience and has not denied His name.
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. (Revelation 3:12)
The above passage of Scripture was made vivid to us almost fifty years ago. Throughout the intervening period of time it has remained as marvelous and inspiring as when it first was discovered.
There are few verses in the Scriptures that have ignited our hopes and desires to the same extent as Revelation 3:12. We trust this verse will inspire all who read these lines to cast aside every other goal and pursue the promise of being constructed a pillar in the eternal Temple of God.
Once this goal has been attained the believer’s destiny has been established for eternity. “He shall go no more out.”
The Temple of God is the Church, the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, the Wife of the Lamb.
In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:21,22)
The endlessly patient working of God in us and upon us is for the purpose of making us “an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
There were five pillars that supported the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation and four pillars that held up the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. There also were pillars supporting the gate leading into the Courtyard and the linen fence surrounding the Courtyard.
Pillars were an important part of the Tabernacle of the Congregation.
It is obvious that pillars were an integral, inseparable part of the structure. If one pillar were missing the entire Tabernacle would have been thrown into disorder. The symbolism, the symmetry, and the strength would have been destroyed. The Tabernacle could not have served as a shadow of the true Tabernacle in Heaven. It no longer would have been a suitable shelter for the priests or for the holy vessels, such as the Lampstand and the Ark of the Covenant.
Take away one pillar from the Tabernacle of the Congregation and the whole building would be ruined.
So it is in the eternal Temple of God, the Body of Christ. Each pillar is an integral, inseparable part of the structure. If one pillar is damaged in any manner or removed from its place the household of God is thrown into disorder. The perfection, the strength, and the operation of the entire Temple of God are destroyed.
So important is one conqueror to the Kingdom of God!
This is what Jesus meant by the statement “the last shall be first.” In the last days, in the days of the church in Philadelphia so to speak, God will establish pillars in His Temple. The remainder of the Church will be held up by these pillars. Therefore it is necessary that the “pillars” of God be created and placed with exceeding care.
If God has chosen you to be a pillar in His eternal Temple He will test you thoroughly. Do not expect to be able to pursue your own ways and also fulfill your calling in the Kingdom. Your calling is high, therefore you must be brought low in the present world. God is faithful and will bring you through to perfection in your appointed place. Your part is to not quit when the way becomes difficult.
As we conquer in Christ we are being created a pillar in the Temple of God. As soon as that work in us has been completed our eternal destiny is fixed. We cannot be changed or removed without affecting the Temple. We are constructed by the Lord and placed in our position.
There we shall remain forever.
“He shall go no more out.” Christ possesses the power of multiple presence. He abides at the right hand of the Father. Yet through the Holy Spirit He is able to be everywhere at once.
It appears that God does not move from His throne in Heaven; yet He is everywhere at once. Also He sends His angels or His Holy Spirit on missions to specific places.
We are being created the image of God. As we grow in resurrection life we are being brought into the bosom of the Father. His love embraces us and secures a place for us in His Divine Presence forever.
God never, never shall allow us to leave His side. We “shall go no more out” but shall be able to minister through the Holy Spirit as Jesus does now. When the Lord returns we shall come to understand just how this will work.
“I will write upon him the name of my God.” As soon as God’s name has been written on us we are His personal possession for eternity. Wherever we go throughout the creation we shall be known as those who belong to and are an integral part of God.
We understand from the prayer of Jesus in John, Chapter 17 that we are being made one in God—an eternally inseparable part of the Fullness of His Being.
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:23)
“The name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God.” The title Jerusalem will be engraved permanently on the conqueror. This is because he is part of the structure of the new Jerusalem.
The new Jerusalem is much more than a city as we understand the characteristics of a city on earth. The new Jerusalem is the Bride of the Lamb. The new Jerusalem is a living city. Its adornments are the virtues that have been formed in the saints through suffering, through intense heat and pressure, and through patiently waiting for the deliverance that comes only from the Lord.
Wherever the conqueror goes—that is the going of the new Jerusalem. Whenever the creatures of God behold one of God’s conquerors they are seeing the Jerusalem that comes down out of Heaven from the Father. Earth’s peoples will recognize each of the saints as being of the Lord.
The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee; The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 60:14)
But ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. (Isaiah 61:6)
“I will write upon him my new name.” The name of the Father is written on the conqueror. The name of the holy city, Jerusalem, is written on the conqueror. Also, the new name of Christ is written on him.
What is the new name of Christ? We do not know. We do know, however, that as we grow in the Lord He becomes to us all we need and desire.
When we begin as a Christian our understanding of Christ is that He is the Son of God and also the unblemished Lamb who was offered for our sin and who rose again from the dead by the power of the Spirit of God.
As we move ahead on our journey we discover that Christ is our peace, our healing, our wisdom, our strength, our joy, our sanctification, and everything else of lasting value. Gradually He grows in our vision until He becomes larger than the galaxies of the universe. We see that the creation is upheld by the Word of His power.
Still Christ grows in our consciousness.
We are beginning to understand that the Church, the Body of Christ, is the universal expression of Christ; that the two thousand years of the Christian Era, during which Christ is being formed in the believers, have been for the purpose of magnifying the death and resurrection of Christ in the members of His Body.
Finally we realize that Christ “filleth all in all.” He has grown in us and our vision has been enlarged until He who at one time was seen by us as the gentle Teacher of Nazareth has become all that is worthwhile in the universe.
We know now that God intends for the whole creation to become a reflection of the image and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we all shall live and move and have our being in His will and Life.
In Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. He is the visible Revelation of the invisible God and—wonder of wonders—we are being created in Him as part of that revelation!
We are being created a part of His appearing, His forthshining. Christ will return not only with us but also in us. In that Day we shall resemble Christ, and yet be ourselves. Our personality will be in union with His in such a manner that we will appear as Him and as ourselves—neither personality being confused as to identity.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (I John 3:2)
What the new name of Christ is we do not know. Our new name will represent the change in our re-created character and will reveal also that we belong exclusively to Christ.
Christ never changes as to His eternal Divinity. Therefore it may be true that His new name does not represent a change in Himself but rather a change in our ability to comprehend and receive Him.
However, it is true that a change of role occurred when the Logos became a Man, being born of Mary. Then, after terrible suffering, the obedient One received from the Father all authority in Heaven and on the earth. The Logos became the Man, became Christ, became Lord of all. There may come a further development and expansion of Christ resulting in a new name.
The enlargement of our ability to “see” Christ, in fact, all the rewards to the overcomer described in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three, are being wrought in us today. Some of the rewards may be in a very early stage of development as yet.
The final, crowning experience reserved for His appearing is the resurrection of our body. When that takes place the work of redemption will have been completed in us and we shall have the remainder of eternity to mature in the image and understanding of the Lord God of Heaven.
We shall discover in that Day that our new body is the reflection of the moral character and nature being perfected in us now as we demonstrate our willingness (or unwillingness) to follow the Lord through the several arenas of conquest.
We shall reap what we have sown.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:13)
The Church in Laodicea
The name Laodicea may mean “the rights of the people.” Laodicea is the church of the apostasy, of the revolt against authority of which Paul wrote (II Thessalonians 2:3).
The revolt against authority rapidly is approaching maturity in the earth. Before Jesus returns there will be a contempt for authority, and the “rights of the people” will be held up as the supreme consideration in terms of which all decisions and all efforts must be made.
The leaders of today are careful to present their desire for domination as being something that benefits and liberates mankind. Whereas in time past kings did not always bother to conceal their desire to rule people, today all would-be kings must be careful to cultivate a favorable world opinion so people will consider them to be humanitarian in their motives.
It seems likely that Antichrist will represent himself as the benefactor “of the people,” as the leader who will guide them to the fulfillment of their desires and hopes. As soon as Antichrist has spread his lie successfully he then will take his seat in the Temple of God and declare himself to be God, just as today a person can rule his fellow creatures once he convinces them he is seeking their welfare.
Men and women are becoming lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. There is no fear of God in their hearts. All authority is shown to be evil in that it prevents people from following their desires. This state of self-love is in fulfillment of the prophecy of the Apostle Paul:
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (II Timothy 3:1-4)
The members of the Church of Laodicea may be fundamental in Christian doctrine. But the philosophies of humanism and democracy will be mixed subtly with Christian theology. The passages of the Scriptures that speak well of people and seek their good will be emphasized. The passages that refer to the suffering that all true saints must experience will be ignored or discredited because they do not appear to benefit people.
The “positive” preaching of today is a forerunner of the doctrine of the Laodicean churches.
The church in Laodicea, as we understand it, represents the spirit of the Christian churches that will be on earth during the reign of Antichrist and that will be tolerated by Antichrist. Laodicea will have a “form of godliness” but will deny the power thereof.
During this same period the saints, the remnant, the conquerors, will be hidden away in the wilderness areas of earth and will be nourished by the Lord until His glorious appearing (Isaiah 26:20).
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (Revelation 3:14)
Christ comes to Laodicea as the “Amen,” that is, as the One who steadfastly maintains the promises of God. Christ is the Amen to us. All God has promised to us can be relied on in every situation.
The great hope and doctrine of the Laodicean churches will be that God’s Word can be changed; that Christ can be brought down to the level of frail humans.
We may change but God and Christ never change. It is established forever in the personality of the true conquerors that Christ never, never changes. Those who put their trust in Him are not consumed or destroyed but pass from victory to victory. We always can rely confidently on what God has written in His Word regardless of how our circumstances may appear, what danger looms on the horizon, what people may say, or how we may feel. Christ is the eternal Amen to the promises of God.
Christ is the “faithful” witness. We shall have to understand thoroughly the unchanging faithfulness of Christ if we are to stand throughout the tribulations and temptations that are at the door. Christ never will let us down. Christ is absolutely dependable. He will carry through to perfection that with which He has been charged by the Father.
Whatever Christ has promised to you, whether in the Scriptures or in personal revelation, will come to pass exactly as He stated.
Christ never changes. Heaven and earth will pass away but not one of the words of Jesus ever will pass away—so great is His authority, power, and faithfulness. Christ can be trusted. His name is Faithful.
The conquerors are so dependent on the unchanging faithfulness of Christ that were He to change their entire existence would become meaningless, fail, and disintegrate into nothingness.
If Christ indeed is the faithful and true witness of God, then the conqueror—of all the people of the earth—is pursuing the most meaningful, the most successful, the most sensible, the most rewarding life possible.
The Lord Jesus is the “true witness.” There have been, are now, and will continue to be a multitude of teachers, leaders, and rulers of mankind. All are liars. Christ is the only true Witness. Christ is the only true Teacher. Christ is the only true Shepherd. Christ is the only true Leader sent from God. Christ is the only true King and Lord of men.
All other “deliverers” and “benefactors” are thieves and liars seeking their own glory, their own profit.
Christ is the “beginning of the creation of God.” Christ is the Beginning of the spiritual and physical creations, the Beginning of the Kingdom of God, the Beginning of everything.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15-17)
The first creation, spiritual and physical, came into existence through Christ. The second creation, the Kingdom of God, commenced when Christ rose from the dead.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (Colossians 1:18,19)
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word from eternity who was with God and was God. All things were made by Him. In addition to the former creation there now has arisen a new creation—the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God came into being when Christ rose from the dead, poured out the Holy Spirit on His disciples, and gave them to eat of His flesh and to drink of His blood.
When Christ died the old creation died. When Christ rose the new creation of God, the making visible of the invisible God, the new Jerusalem, the eternal Tabernacle of God, rose from the dead. He—Christ—is the beginning of the new creation and the source of all that the new creation is. Christ is the new creation and the new creation is one universe-wide expression of the Glory that is Christ.
The church in Laodicea which is wholly occupied with the “rights of the people” will not accept that Christ is the Amen, or faithful, or the true witness, or the beginning of the creation of God. Rather it will be concerned with how marvelous people are. The church in Laodicea will be the greatest idolater of all time because it will worship and adore the creature rather than the Creator.
The conqueror is occupied with how marvelous Jesus is.
Do we see that tendency today while we yet are in the church in Philadelphia? Do we behold the age of self-love looming on the horizon of the world spirit? The hideous flowering of it is appearing on every side.
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.” Antichrist will not attempt to close down the Christian churches. He will be filled with satanic wisdom and will understand that the most effective way to destroy a Christian is to appeal to his sense of morality and good works and pretend to admire them, and then to gently and slyly move the Christian away from his state of separation to Christ and his fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
If Satan were to persecute the people of God they would become strong in the Lord because they would recognize the enemy and would resist him. Persecution is a foolish tactic to employ with God’s people. Persecuting the Christians only vents Satan’s rage, it does not accomplish his goal of removing the saints from the rulership of Christ.
The most effective method of destroying the saints is to tempt them with the appetites of the flesh, while at the same time reasoning with them concerning how wonderful people are and how the welfare of human beings ought to be the concern of God and of the churches.
Because God’s people are sheep-like they easily are led astray. This is why the Lord Jesus warned the elect concerning deception (Matthew 24:4).
We can observe Satan in our day effectively using the tactic of friendly persuasion as he appeals to the natural desire of people to be happy and comfortable. The Gospel of Christ is being presented as a positive force that helps people lead a better life, have a stronger marriage, obtain physical and emotional health, and become prosperous in material wealth.
It is true that the Gospel of Christ makes us a stronger, better person and that we are blessed in all our circumstances. However, the definition of stronger and better, and the nature of the blessing, are defined by the Lord and not by us. God does as He will with the saints. In many instances we do not understand what is taking place in our life. We appear to be getting weaker instead of stronger and worse instead of better. The blessing may prove to be difficult to understand and spiritual rather than material.
The Gospel of Christ indeed is a positive force that enables us to live a better life in this world. But the “better” life is one of repentance, of cross-carrying obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ; not “better” according to human understanding. Sometimes this concept is omitted in today’s preaching.
Christ is not to be used as a means whereby we obtain what we desire in this world or in any other world. Christ is a Person to whom we are to offer loving obedience—to the point of physical death if necessary.
The words of Christ to the conquerors of the seven churches in Asia are not formulas by which a multitude of imitators of Jesus are to be created. The words to the conquerors are the call of the Bridegroom to the Bride.
The Father is not desirous of creating many Christs. There is but one Lord Jesus Christ. The Father is seeking to enlarge the one true Vine. We are being made branches of Him. We are becoming a part of Him. We are not many christs; rather, we belong to Christ. There is an uncrossable gap between the concept of the creation of many outstanding saints and the concept of the enlarging of the one Divine Conqueror. It is the latter that is of God.
If the saints are not taught that they will go through various tests and trials they will not be prepared for the discipline that is administered to every son of God.
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:5,6)
The self-loving Laodiceans will embrace the part of the Gospel that appeals to their worldly betterment and comfort. They will reject the part of the Gospel that deals with self-sacrifice and endurance throughout trials. Therefore they are not qualified to participate in the first resurrection from the dead.
The Laodicean “Christians” are neither cold nor hot. They are too occupied with their comforts and pleasures to have strong views on any subject except their own lusts. They will not fight against Christ. Neither will they deny themselves and take up their cross.
Christ says to them, “I would thou wert cold or hot.” It is the desire of Christ that we either reject Him completely or accept Him wholeheartedly. To attempt to use Christ for our betterment while we keep our heart closed against Him is nauseating to Him.
The Christian salvation is not to be preached as a means of helping people lead a better life but as a means of escaping the wrath to come.
Because the church during the reign of Antichrist (and the church of today if we have these characteristics) is lukewarm, neither rejecting Christ nor accepting His absolute lordship, Christ will spit it from His mouth. It is tasteless, nauseating, unpalatable, disgusting to Him who cried out in anguish in Gethsemane and endured the pain and ridicule of the cross on Golgotha.
There is a cross on top of the Laodicean church building. The pews are filled with people on Sunday morning. The choir sings “Onward Christian Soldiers.” The congregation reads responsively from the Psalms of David. The minister opens the Bible.
It all is tasteless, nauseating, unpalatable, disgusting to Him who travailed in Gethsemane. The bodies of the people are in church on Sunday morning but their hearts are far from God.
Christ holds the spirits of the seven churches in the right hand of His majesty and authority. He holds the Laodicean “Christians” in His mouth along with the sharp two-edged sword. The assembling is in the mouth of Christ.
Its taste is disgusting. The “rights of the people,” along with the inevitable (when people are the central issue) lack of intense discipleship and spiritual fervor, is not a “food” Christ will swallow. It is revolting to Him.
The church in Laodicea claims: “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” This informs us that Antichrist, in his satanic political wisdom and skill, will sponsor the construction of costly, elaborate church buildings.
The “believers” will be convinced that Antichrist actually is God’s man. They will look to the physical structure of the church building (as some do today) as an evidence of the blessing of Christ, just as the disciples thought Christ would behold the Glory of God in Herod’s Temple (Matthew 24:1,2).
The Laodicean believers are worshipers of wood, hay, and stubble. Their religious idols will be destroyed at the appearing of Christ just as Herod’s Temple was destroyed.
The “church building” with which the Father is concerned is the heart of the saint.
The Laodicean believer is “wretched” because he is without Christ and without hope and is ignorant of this fact. He is “miserable” because he is in bondage to the God of the present world. The spiritual area of his personality is weak, shallow, possessing no depth of the love of God.
Did you ever notice that the people of the world will heap to themselves money, material goods, and every form of entertainment; yet they remain wretched and miserable because there is no peace and joy in their hearts?
The worldly are nervous, anxious, irritable, possessing no abiding contentment, often exhibiting malice and wickedness. Their life is vapid, a delusion. Sometimes they come to realize this. Truly, the way of the transgressor is hard.
The Laodicean believer is “poor.” Antichrist will be careful to ensure that the “Christian” has cradle-to-grave economic security, that people no longer are in want of food, clothing, shelter, or entertainment. Yet the Laodicean is poverty stricken because he does not possess the riches of the Kingdom of God.
The material pleasures the Laodicean Christian is grasping are perishing while he yet “enjoys” them. But the conqueror is moving toward the possession of all things.
Today we hear the young people of the wealthy nations speak of hedonism, existentialism, nihilism. There is a sense of despair and uselessness, futility, frustration. The attitude is “Eat, drink, and be merry for today we live and tomorrow we die.”
Meanwhile the conqueror is ascending the throne of the universe.
The Laodicean church member, the individual who emphasizes the rights of the people rather than the will of God, is “blind.” He is blind and dead possessing neither the light nor the life of Christ. He is blind because the things of the Spirit have not been observed by him. He is dead because he is living in material pleasure rather than in the Spirit of God.
He will be caught off guard by the appearing of Christ and will be thrown into outer darkness because he did not know the hour of the Lord’s appearing. He will be caught by surprise because he is abiding in darkness. He is a child of darkness and will be assigned to eternal darkness.
The believer who “sees” in the present age is blind to the Kingdom of God. The believer who chooses to be “blind” to the things of this world begins to behold the glory of Christ. He comes to know the mind of the Spirit of God.
The Laodicean believer is “naked.” He is not clothed with the Presence and power of Christ. When the Lord Jesus comes the Laodicean will attempt to hide, as did Adam and Eve, because he is spiritually naked. He will run from the light of Christ because of the shame of his nakedness.
The conqueror, on the other hand, is arrayed handsomely in the righteous deeds that have been created in him through means of the virtue of Christ—virtue that has been given to him as he has sought the Lord earnestly. He runs to the light so his actions may be revealed clearly that they have been performed in God.
Now Christ speaks to the saint, the conqueror, to him who even in Laodicea desires to be a true disciple of Jesus:
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. (Revelation 3:18)
The Laodicean saint will have many opportunities to buy “gold tried in the fire.” As soon as he begins to oppose Antichrist he will suffer economic hardship. The comforts of life will be denied him and he will be threatened as to his welfare and the welfare of his loved ones.
His faith in the Word of God will be put to the test. He will be required to flee into the wilderness with the true people of the Lord and learn to live by faith. His faith—his “gold”—will be refined, refined, refined in the fires of temptation, persecution, and tribulation!
When his faith has been purified by fire it will be worth infinitely more than all the gold that can be given him by Antichrist.
The Laodicean Christian must go to Christ and “buy white raiment.” This means he must obtain the grace and virtue of Christ so he can conduct himself in righteousness, in holiness, and in obedience to God.
When we act, speak, and think in unrighteousness, uncleanness, and disobedience to God we are naked in the sight of God. If we confess our sins and repent, the Lord will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
God clothes us in righteousness—the righteousness contained in the blood of Christ. Then we are to submit to God, and to resist the devil when he tempts us to sin. This is how we “buy” of Christ the righteous conduct that is the clothing of the conqueror.
The Laodicean conqueror must “anoint his eyes with eyesalve” so he may “see.” The “eyesalve” is the Holy Spirit. Unless the Holy Spirit anoints our eyes we cannot see or follow Christ.
When we “see” by the light of the present world we are blind to the Kingdom of God. When the Holy Spirit anoints our eyesight we become “blind” to the philosophies, values, and desires of the world and we behold the Glory of God in Christ.
It is necessary for us in the day in which we are living to pay less attention to the world communication systems and more attention to prayer and the Word of God.
Perhaps in time past we could profit from worldly knowledge. Now we find that the Spirit of God and the world spirit are on courses so separate, so divergent, so opposed to each other that we either are understanding the world and compromising the written Word of God or we are seeing and hearing the Spirit of God and are largely ignoring the world while it pursues its path to certain judgment and destruction.
Either we are seeing what Christ is seeing or we are seeing what Antichrist is seeing and desires that we see. There is a struggle today for our mind. Let us have our mind guarded and renewed in the Spirit and Word of God so we may not be changed into the image of this present world but transformed to the extent we are able to know the will of God and do it.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
We do not understand Christ at all if we are under the impression that He exists for our pleasure and the New Testament writings are a set of spiritual principles by which we can be happy and successful in the world. Such thinking is taught by Antichrist and characterizes Laodicea—the rights of the people.
Christ rebukes each person whom He loves. Has the Lord ever rebuked you?
Can you picture the Lord rebuking you? He rebukes by circumstances, in many instances.
Your fiery trials are not (as so many suppose) the devil taking advantage of you. Neither are such hardships a misfortune, or an oversight on God’s part. Your pain probably is, if you are a sincere believer, the rebuke and chastening of the Lord on your flesh, soul, and spirit so you may be a partaker of His holiness.
Every saint whom the Lord receives He chastens. If you are without chastening you have not had your turn yet. Do not attempt to chasten yourself. Rejoice in the Lord at all times. Be thankful to Him for His goodness to you and bless His name.
When the fiery trials come your way, do not regard them as some strange, unnecessary, or unscriptural happening. They are the Lord’s love in action on your behalf.
One of the more damaging of the current errors is the idea that Christians are not supposed to suffer. This doctrine is not scriptural. It has come from Antichrist. Those who do not love the truth have been deceived by it.
Christ chastens those whom He loves.
When we are chastened we are to “repent,” that is, we are to turn and walk in the direction toward which the Spirit is leading us. Each of us who starts on the pathway of redemption has numerous lessons to learn, many experiences to encounter, a whole host of blessings to receive. We rejoice because Christ’s grace is sufficient for every situation.
The Lord chastens us so we may partake of His holiness.
Praise the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men!
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)
Does there exist a more wonderful promise than this?
While people are concerned about their rights, their comforts, their amusements, the Lord Jesus stands before their heart’s door and knocks gently. He knocks. He knocks. Then He speaks quietly. He could, if He so desired, force the door open by the power of His Word.
Christ quietly, patiently, knocks and speaks.
We feel the knocking. We hear His voice. We possess the awesome power to keep that door closed for eternity or to open it to Him.
There is no other portrayal that so perfectly reveals the love, the compassion, the gentleness of the Lord Jesus Christ as that of Him standing patiently, knocking gently, calling quietly, at the door of our heart.
There is no more tragic picture on the canvas of mankind than a human being refusing to open his heart to his Creator.
There is no greater opportunity in all human life than being able to allow Christ to enter our personality and become one with us.
Perhaps it would be better for us if He would force His way into our life and compel us to serve Him until we are able to grasp the desirability of what He is offering.
Such forcing is not the way of the Father. God operates in the present hour in love and gentleness. Either we respond in love and joy to our Lord, allowing Him full access to our life, or we turn Him away so we may follow our own desires.
The invitation to us is waiting now. Tomorrow it will be gone for eternity.
If we can hear His voice over the clamorous confusion with which Satan attempts to drown out Christ’s voice and the voice of our conscience, and then will choose to open our heart’s door to Him, He enters our personality. He dines with us and we dine with Him. His food is our adoration and obedience. Our food is His body and blood.
Satan attempts to persuade us (as he did Eve) that if we receive Christ we will lose everything that is desirable and will be miserable all our days. In actuality the opposite is true. If we deny Christ, obeying the voice of the enemy of our souls, we indeed will shut ourselves off from everything that is desirable (as did Eve) and will be miserable for eternity—in this life and throughout the life that is to come.
If we receive the Lord He dines with us. He dines with us and we with Him. It is a love feast, a banquet all the day. In the middle of the night there is a feast, as Paul and Silas demonstrated while confined in the inner cell of the jail in Philippi. Christ spreads a sumptuous table for us in the presence of our enemies.
When we allow Christ into our heart we are in need of no good thing. He supplies our every need. The Laodicean attitude toward the necessity of catering to the desires of people is a grotesque lie because it promises us that if we reject the demands of Christ and please ourselves, all pleasure will be ours.
In fact, the opposite is true. If we keep our heart’s door closed against Christ we deprive ourselves of everything of value in the universe. If we open our heart’s door to Christ our destiny is fulfilled to perfection and we enter an inheritance so wonderful we cannot in the present hour conceive of the smallest fraction of it.
Now appears the most stupendous reward of all—the fullness of the purpose and power of the first resurrection from among the dead:
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
This is a staggering promise—incomprehensible in its terrible implications. We do not remember ever hearing one sermon that even mentioned it.
It is fitting that the greatest reward of all will be given to the overcomer of the church that is laboring under the greatest delusion and threat of Antichrist.
The throne of Christ is the throne of the universe. There is no other throne as elevated, as complete in authority and power.
When we behold the throne of Christ in the heavenlies we shall be reduced to nothing. That throne is so exalted, so vast, so holy, so powerful, that all the mass and energy of the present universe is seen to be but one speck of dust.
The throne of Christ is the center of all authority, all power, all wisdom. The most magnificent, most holy, most obedient of the angels of God fall prostrate in absolute subjection and adoration at the raising of Christ’s little finger.
All the creation has been given to the Son by the Father. There is no other authority, no other power, no other wisdom, no other resource. All are Christ’s.
The raising of human beings to sit in the throne of Christ would be a blasphemous thought if it were not written in the Word of God. How can such a thing be? How can it be true that the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist—a saint filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb?
Universal authority and responsibility are part of the reward assigned to the conqueror. They are assigned to Him because of the formation of Christ, the Day Star, in him.
If the saints were mere human beings who learned the teachings of Christ and then applied them they never could be raised to the throne of Christ. Christ is God. The saints are the dust of the ground.
Our salvation is by grace working according to Divine election. We did not create ourselves. We did not call ourselves. We did not choose ourselves. We did not come to Christ of ourselves. We are not perfecting ourselves.
We are the choice of the Lord God of Heaven. We have been born again of the Word of God. We are being nourished by the Divine Substance—the body and blood of Christ. Christ is being formed in us. The Bride is not of the earth but of Heaven and will come down from Heaven to rule eternally on the new earth.
The Lord God of Heaven is fashioning the Bride of the Lamb from the body and blood of Christ. The Bride is Christ who is being formed in us just as Eve was of the substance of Adam and was Adam in another form. As Christ is created in us He is caught up to Heaven, there to await His return to the earth. When Christ returns from Heaven, He and His counterpart, the Bride created from His Substance, will return in the glory of the Father.
Each conqueror will be an inseparable part of Christ’s appearing.
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify [put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [lust], and covetousness, which is idolatry: (Colossians 3:3-5)
The members of our physical body are on the earth but our spiritual life is “hid with Christ in God.” We are above the Antichrist. We are above the principalities and powers of darkness when we are walking in victory in Christ.
When Christ who is our life appears we shall be an integral part of His appearing, His Presence.
The true Church of Christ is the heavenly Jerusalem. We find in Revelation, Chapter 21 that the Wife of the Lamb will come down from the new heaven and be established for eternity on the new earth.
Christ was required to overcome Satan and the world. This He did through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Christ conquered totally, perfectly. He endured the cross and then ascended to the right hand of the Father.
Now it is our turn. Do we believe the written Word of God?
If we do we will receive Him who is the Conqueror. Through the grace Christ gives us we shall conquer our sinful nature, we shall conquer Satan, we shall conquer the spirit of the world. In so doing we shall arrive at the first resurrection and shall be seated forever with Christ in His throne.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Revelation 3:22)
More than forty years ago we first came to the place of yielding to the Lord to the point of speaking in tongues. At that time the Lord laid a burden of teaching on us.
The burden included the concept that there was more of Christ for us after the Pentecostal experience, and that the “more” of Christ has to do with “Christ in you.”
The burden for God’s people to press on to the fullness of Christ has not changed over the following period of time.
In those days, Revelation 3:12, having to do with our becoming a pillar in the Temple of God, became so vivid to us that we wrote it in large letters in the back of our Bible.
Part of the burden of “Christ in you” is the pursuit of the overcoming life, the life of victory in Christ. The decision was made to do the whole will of God, whatever the whole will of God might prove to include, and to once and for all lay aside every distraction that interferes with the single-minded pursuit of Christ. It was, Go all the way with Christ. Never mind the price or consequences.
This booklet about the Christian conqueror seems to sum up the burden that has been borne through the subsequent years.
Soon after my original determination to follow the Lord there came a dream:
I was aboard a ship being broken up in a raging storm. The wind was blowing and the waves were tumultuous. It appeared to be at night. The sailors were nowhere to be seen. The passengers were leaping overboard and drowning in the sea. I also went over the side and began to attempt to keep my head out of the water.
Then, after a time of struggling in the water, the realization came that the water was only waist deep. By relaxing and standing up straight, anyone could keep his head out of the water. Turning around, I could see the other passengers thrashing about and drowning in those black waters that were only waist deep. In their panic and confusion, they did not realize that if they merely stood up straight on their feet they could walk toward shore as they pleased.
Then I turned toward the shore in the distance and began to walk toward it. As soon as I came a little closer, I could see the sailors from the ship standing in a circle with their hands joined. They were playing ring-around-the-rosy. At this point I stopped, turned around, and started back toward the drowning passengers in order to tell them that the water was only waist deep.
Then I awoke.
For several days I could not escape the conviction that the dream was of God, for the picture remained in my mind (and has to this day). However, the interpretation was not clear.
Slowly the concept began to form.
The ship represents the world. The sailors playing ring-around-the-rosy portray the Christian people who are playing children’s games while unbelievers die, when salvation is so readily available.
The fact that the water was only waist deep signifies the availability and accessibility of redemption, in fact, of the victorious life in Christ, to every human being, and it is this point that stands out to me and that I wish to emphasize.
The life of victory in Christ is readily available and accessible to every person, male and female, rich and poor, young and old. Victorious living does not demand from us what we do not possess. It does not require that we be intelligent, well-educated, possess extraordinary will power, be “spiritual,” or possess any other remarkable trait or talent.
The life of conquest is not in Heaven that we should ask, “Who will ascend into Heaven and bring down Christ from above?” It is not in the abyss that someone must raise up Christ by his own strength.
Victorious living in Christ is in our heart and mouth. It is produced by the Word of God as we mix faith with that Word. Anyone can choose to be a conqueror.
It is impossible to be like Christ, to copy Him by our striving, and that may be why so many Christian people have settled for a confused, compromised walk with God.
One expression of attitude that is not uncommon is, “I know I should try to be like Jesus but I can’t do it. I am saved by grace.”
With such an attitude, defeat is assured. It certainly is not the attitude of the conqueror. It certainly is not the faith and diligence to which the Lord Jesus exhorts us in Revelation, Chapters Two and Three and the Apostle Paul, in Philippians, Chapter Three.
No person can be like Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God from eternity. He was born of a virgin. He Is the Fullness of the Godhead in bodily form. The Spirit of God abides on Him without measure. None of these facts is true of you or me. Therefore we cannot copy the Personality of Christ.
To be a conqueror does not mean we imitate Jesus successfully, although it is always commendable to behave as we think the Lord would in a given circumstance. It means we begin to recognize there is only one Conqueror and His name is Christ. As He—God’s Conqueror—is formed in us through the grace of God, we through Him are enabled to conquer the world, the lusts of our flesh, and our self-will.
The life of conquest, on which our participation in the first resurrection depends, is not the condition in which we state that Christ is worthy and we are saved and go to live in Heaven forever on the basis of His worthiness.
Nor is the life of conquest the condition in which we continually make an almost superhuman attempt to live an ascetic, self-denying life—an effort few people could or would make. Neither of these conditions will produce the conqueror in whom the reward of the first resurrection is created.
The true life of victory in Christ is a third condition in which we recognize from the start that there is only one Conqueror, and that His name is Christ. We set out to follow Him each day through the help of the Holy Spirit.
As we do the best we can, following the Spirit’s guidance and enablement, the Conqueror—Christ—is formed in us. As He is formed in us our ability to conquer increases. As our ability to conquer increases, more of the Conqueror is formed in us.
Soon we find ourselves on an ascending cycle as victory is heaped on victory. There are some difficult experiences. These, if worked through in the Lord with patience, hope, and courage, lead on to still greater victories.
The Conqueror grows in us and conquers in us. As we grow in strength our trials increase in difficulty. God brings us as far as we are willing to go, as high as we are willing to grow. God stretches us. God changes us. God transforms us as much as we are willing to bear, to His benefit and to ours. The only limitation on the fruitfulness of our life is the amount of pruning we are willing to accept.
When the Lord Jesus was tested in the wilderness, God required only that Christ make godly decisions. Jesus was not forced to do anything, only to choose to obey the Word of God.
So it is with us. It is like power-steering in an automobile. The power is there but it is directed by us as we turn the steering wheel. The moment we choose to go to the right or left, and make a bit of a turn, the power steering mechanism does the work for us.
All God requires is that we make the godly choice. The Divine wisdom and power are present to do the work for us. Let us choose this day whom we will serve!
God has a need for rulers and priests to represent Christ in the universe. He will use us if He can, but He never sacrifices quality for quantity in the development and perfecting of the royal priesthood. We must acquire our place according to the rules.
In these days, when the Lord’s wheat is coming to maturity, it is critically important always to keep in mind that we are being made a part of Christ. It is not that many conquerors, many christs, are being created. Rather it is true that the one Conqueror, the one Christ, is being enlarged. We are being married to Christ.
The False Prophet is the one who attains spiritual power apart from his personal cross. The False Prophet seeks the power of Christ, the authority of Christ, but he seeks glory apart from oneness with Christ. It is the oneness, the cross, and the patience, that characterize the true Kingdom of God.
There are many deceivers today. They are seeking the crown of glory. They are not being brought into union with Jesus. It is one matter to be desirous of spiritual glory. It is another matter to accept the patient waiting on the will of God, the painful, self-denying, cross-carrying obedience, that makes us an inseparable part of the Lamb.
There are many prominent Christians today. However, not every one of them is a part of Christ. Some still are living their own life, seeking their own glory, working their own will. They have the gifts but are not becoming a part of the Giver of the gifts.
We are in water waist deep, according to our dream that we mentioned previously. The life of victory in Christ, of performing the will of God perfectly, is readily available to every human being.
The “Assyrians” have fled because of Calvary (II Kings 7:5-9). The enemy has been defeated totally. He can work only in the realm of deception in his attempt to lead us into sin. He no longer possesses the authority or power to truly harm the saint. When we come to understand the Word of God and what Christ actually accomplished on the cross we are able to press into the Kingdom of God with all confidence.
Perfect victory in Christ indeed is for you no matter how weak and incompetent you may consider yourself to be. This moment, cast yourself and your cares on Christ. Do not worry about trying to explain all the details to Him. He understands perfectly every detail of your life.
With your mouth—out loud—tell Jesus that from this point on you will do the will of God as the Holy Spirit assists you. Tell Him that you desire to be one of His conquerors, that you want Him to remove from you the overwhelming desires of the sinful nature, the world, and Satan. You want to belong to Christ and to Christ alone.
From this moment on, believe with all your heart and soul that Christ will enter you and become the Way, the Truth, and the Life in you. Do not allow yourself to be troubled, worried, agitated in your mind. Give yourself completely to His love, power, and wisdom.
Christ loves you more than you have any idea whatever.
Has life on the earth become a heavy burden to you? Jesus will take you dancing among the stars. Are you concerned about whether you are pleasing to the Father? Jesus will bring you in His name into the Presence of the Almighty God, there to receive the blessing.
There is a song without end. Would you like to hear it? Would you like to have it created in you?
Whatever He says to you, do it through His grace. Instead of being one of those believers who is wandering about in guilt and confusion you can hold up your head in the realization that you now are Christ’s responsibility, and that through the indwelling Christ you are walking forward in victory—in the center of God’s will.
The water is only waist deep. We overcome through Christ, not through superior spiritual ability. If you believe Christ when He states that what He begins He finishes, then lift up your heart and rejoice. Relax and stand up straight in the water. You received Christ by faith when you needed to be saved from the wrath of God. Now receive Christ by faith in order to become a conqueror, an attainer to the first resurrection.
Lord Jesus, we pray You will reach down now and touch the reader of these words. Give to him or her the assurance that You are the Finisher as well as the Author of his or her salvation.
Enter, we pray, into the heart of the reader as he begins to realize that the acceptance of Your Presence will lift him up from the state of “trying to be a Christian” to the level of the conqueror who, through the Spirit of God, is pressing toward the mark of the first resurrection from the dead.
Come, Lord Jesus, and shine through Your saints. Take to Yourself Your irresistible power and reign on the earth. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on the earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
Books Consulted During the Writing of The Conqueror
The Amplified Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965.
Berry, George Ricker. The Interlinear Literal Translation of the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971.
Ironside, H. A. Lectures on the Book of Revelation. New York, New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1930.
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1945.
New American Standard Bible. La Habra, California: Foundation Press Publications, 1973.
New International Version of the Holy Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1988.
The New Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1962.
The New Testament From 26 Translations. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1967.
Rotherham, Joseph Bryant. The Emphasized Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1971.
(“The Conqueror”, 3111-1)