Enter subtitle here
...a cross section of ecclesial life as viewed by Christ. The key thought with which each begins is "I know thy works." And we notice the emphasis upon "works," so belittled in Protestantism. All is known, noted and permanently recorded. Mainly they are urgent warnings. To five of the seven, he has to say "repent, or else." Things were not good in the ecclesias. They never have been. Only a very few will be saved. We must take both warning and encouragement from this, and we must constantly compare ourselves, not with each other, but with the perfect standard of the Word.
Bro Growcott - A review of the Apocalypse
SARDIAN STATE - From A.D. 248.
The Pale Horse. Sword, famine, pestilence, wild beasts - Rev. vi. 8. Decian persecution. End of the world thought to be at hand. Spiritual death resulting from long peace and Platonism - Rev. iii. 1,2. The Thyatiran, or Jezebel and Satan, ethics, working death, or becoming Sardian. Dionysius of Alexandria; Paul the first hermit, A.D. 250; Paul of Samosata, 264. Gregory Thaumaturgus. Anthony the Egyptian, founder of Monkery, A.D. 270.
1 And unto the angel of the ecclesia 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.
The Spirit still shone in the angel of the ecclesia in Sardis, to which John was ordered to write. But, though "the Angel" had the gifts, these did not perfect the works of the members of "the Angel," nor preserve them from death in trespasses and sins. The Angel-Presbytery had "the name," or reputation, among its contemporaries, of being alive, but, in the estimation of the Eternal Spirit they were pronounced to be "dead." There must have been a very general corruption, and departure from first principles, at the close of the first century, for the Eldership of the ecclesia in Sardis, which was really in a dying state, to be regarded as living in health and power.
This was, doubtless, the opinion of Nikolaitanes, false apostles, Balaamites, and the children of Jezebel, constituents all of the synagogue of the Satan, whose "depths," "teaching," and seductions, had swamped the truth in Sardis. They proclaimed "the Angel" there to be a star of living brightness; for had not they of the angel the gifts; and if they had not a living name before the Deity, would he not withdraw them? But these spiritual gifts only remained because of "the few names which had not defiled their garments;" with these exceptions, "the Angel" was dead. The presence of this few constituted it a body "about to die," or a dying body, so that in their absence, it was "dead." They were the only living element in it, and when they should be removed, the extinction of the Spirit-Light in their midst would come upon them "as a thief."
How different is the Deity's judgment of men and things from that of the thinking of the flesh. The case of the Star-Angel in Sardis proves it. The general christian public regarded it as flourishing in spiritual life, while the Spirit pronounced it to be actually dead.
Thou hast a name that thou livest
This is a verdict which only a divine discernment could pronounce, but the fact that such a verdict should be applicable to any ecclesia (especially one existing at the end of the first century) is suggestive of grave reflections for all, as intended. A name to live is a reputation for spiritual life. Men are liable to work for a reputation. This is in fact the very inspiration in our age of public life of all sorts, and it is liable to intrude into the realms of divine truth. To have ''a name to live" is with some an object of ambition and a motive of effort. That there should be some susceptibility to reputation is legitimate, but it is a dangerous incentive, and should be kept in a very small place.
Suppose you succeed in establishing ''a name to live," what then? You have in all likelihood only made a snare for yourselves for it is a name or reputation with whom? Very likely with those who see on the surface; with those who cannot recognize genuine life; with those whose standing is false; for this is the character of the bulk of mankind, professing or non-professing. If this be the case, you are likely to be drawn to the kind of things the doing of which will perpetuate it with them, and thus you will be held in the wrong line of things. Or, if it is otherwise, you will be led to act the part of the hypocrites in the doing of things for the reputation thereof, and not for the inherent character thereof.
The best plan is, to be on the whole heedless of the name of the thing, and to be bent on the thing itself. What is this? Why, to be really alive, whether men know it or not; whether they acknowledge it or not. And this being alive is an affair of quickened understanding and affection towards God, as revealed in the Scriptures. This state of mind is not only independent of human recognition, but naturally shrinks from it, for the favour of God and the favour of man are on two such totally distinct foundations that they do not in their nature mix.
How pitiable is the opposite state, in which there is a feverish care to be right in the eyes of man, with little or no concern towards God. Jesus declares this to have been the case with the ecclesia at Sardis. He warns them, and in warning them, warns us.
Brother Roberts - Strengthened by the word of his grace.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Whatever the dogmas were, though it might gratify curiosity to know, it matters not; this, however, is certain, that they worked death in those who received them.
This is the sure influence of all thinking not in strict accordance with "the law and the testimony."
Whatever is not of the truth is defiling before God. Every "reasoning," lofty conception, and thought not according to the knowledge of God, is polluting, and engenders disobedience and apostasy.
The faith is perverted, and the practice marred. Such was the condition of the presbytery in Sardis -- defiled by human tradition and dead.
3 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.
Remember How Thou Hast Heard...In the latter day revival of The Truth (Sardian epoch) the falling away became evident in the early 1920's with the Birmingham ecclesia departing from the sound basis of fellowship established by tolerating doctrinal error (clean flesh) and moral laxity (constabulary issue).. The separatists also failed to 'Remember' - by adding clauses to the fellowship basis which ever since have excluded Bro Thomas from fellowship (Divorce and Remarriage for instance).
4 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.
To walk with him in white robes is to be the subject of a union with the Spirit such as obtains now between Jesus and the same. Jesus now walks with the Spirit; for "whithersoever the Spirit goeth" he, as the pre-eminent of the Cherubim, also goes (Ezek. i. 12,20). Hence, as this obtains with respect to him, it will also with them; for it is written, that the redeemed from among men "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth," which is equivalent to walking with the Spirit -- in material and personal union with him.
But they shall walk with him "in white robes." Those who walk with the Spirit must be "worthy." The "few" in Sardis are declared to be such -- "they are worthy," saith the Spirit. Their robes must be of moral and material whiteness. Their character being pure and unstained, their nature must be made to correspond. In the present state, the saints are invested with holy garments, termed "their garments" in the writings before us. Having "put on Christ" by faith in the kingdom and name, and by immersion, he is for them a robe of righteousness; and by walking in him according to the truth received and obeyed, and so yielding the fruit of the Spirit, they "keep themselves unspotted from the world," which is as a garment of "fine linen, clean and white," which symbolizes the righteous actions of the saints (Apoc. xix. 8).
These premises constitute the basis of their exaltation to holy spirit nature. This is "white," or pure. It is the incorruptible and deathless body, undefiled by the affections and lusts of our present nature, "in which dwells no good thing." Hence, then, he that walks with the Spirit in white robes is a righteous, incorruptible, and deathless man.
To "clothe" the undefiled few in Sardis, "in white garments," is for the Spirit from heaven to reorganize their dust, and having modelled it after his own image as "the Heavenly Man," to give it life with incorruption, glory, and power. Thus will the resurrection-life of Jesus be manifested in their mortal flesh; and thus will they "be clothed upon with their house which is from heaven"; by which operation their mortality will be swallowed up of life "(1 Cor. xv. 42; 2 Cor. iv. 11; v. 2-4).
They are worthy.
Belief of the gospel of the kingdom and immersion, while they are indispensable to worthiness, do not alone constitute men "worthy." The constituents of the Angel-Presbytery had all believed the gospel and been immersed, yet they were pronounced by the Spirit "dead.
"This faith and obedience gave them an orthodox standing among contemporary Christians, who supposed that they were enjoying spiritual life; but the Spirit, who sees not as men see, declared that they were unworthy of his favour, because "their works were not perfected in the sight of the Deity." They were in the case of a man who says "he hath faith, but hath not works." This is the reason why the Spirit testified that they were "dead;" for he had said by James, that "faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
The Angel in Sardis said they had faith; while "the few" in the same city "had works." They all claimed to have faith; they had all believed the gospel and been immersed; for in the time of the apostles none were recognized as Christians who had not thus consented to "the wholesome words of the Lord Jesus."
But how were the "worthy" to be distinguished from the unworthy? By their professions? No the "dead" undertook to "show their faith without works;" but the Spirit rejected their claim, and gave his approbation to "the few," who showed their faith by their works," as Abraham their father did, "whose faith" in the promises of the Deity "was perfected by works," whereby he obtained the honourable and exalted title of "The Friend of the Deity."
5 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.
"And I will not at all obliterate his name from THE SCROLL OF THE LIFE."
From these testimonies there would appear to be two scrolls, -- the one styled A scroll of the Life, and the other THE Scroll of the Life. These two scrolls are opened at the setting up of "THE GREAT WHITE THRONE" of judgment, at the epoch of resurrection. Certain things having been written in these scrolls, the resurrected are judged from them. These things are their works.
One of these scrolls will present a very unseemly aspect -- a sort of EVERY-DAY BOOK OF LIFE, in which names of believers are inscribed with very disreputable mementoes appended to each. These will find no admission to "the other scroll, which is of the life" -- THE LEDGER OF THE LIFE, to which those names may be supposed to be transferred from the Every-Day Book, that are not condemned to obliteration.
The dead constituents of the Angel of the ecclesia in Sardis, together with the few undefiled ones there, had all been written in the Every-Day Book of the Life; and their works inscribed under their respective names: and the general record of this scroll is read in the writing penned by John. He shows that the works therein recorded resolved themselves into two classes; the one signalized by the words "thou art dead" after their names, and the other by the sentence, "their garments undefiled."
Now of these classes, the names of the latter alone will be transferred to the Ledger; while the names of the former will be obliterated or excluded. The confession of names in the presence of the Father and in the presence of his messengers, will be read, not from the Every-Day Book, but from the Ledger of the Lamb's Life, which contains the register of names inscribed there, from the foundation of the order of things extant.
This is styled the scroll of the life in allusion probably to the custom of oriental monarchs, who, as they had several books for the record of things, so they had a peculiar book, in which they entered the names and actions of all those who did them any special service, that they might reward them in due time. See Esther vi. 1-3, where it is styled "the Book of Records of daily affairs."
The Scriptures make very early mention of the existence of such a book before the Lord. Moses refers to it in Exod. xxxii. 32, saying, "If thou wilt, forgive thou Israel's sin; if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of hy book which thou hast written. And Yahweh said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." The Spirit in David says, "Are not my tears in thy book?" that is, "Are not my sorrows in thy remembrance?" Hence "book" and "remembrance are associated in Mal. iii. 16, where it is styled "a book of remembrance;" as,
"They that feared Yahweh spake often one to another; and Yahweh hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Yahweh, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith Yahweh of armies, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will have compassion upon them as a man hath tender affection for his own son that serveth him."
This is evidently the book of the life, or the Ledger; for all written in it are precious with God in a day when the wicked are trodden down. Daniel also refers to the same book in testifying that, in the time of trouble when the books shall be opened, "every one of his people (the Saints) shall be delivered that shall be found written in the book" (xii. 1).
The Ledger book of the life is styled apocalyptically "the Scroll of the life of the Lamb slain" (Apoc. xiii. 8: xxi. 27). It is contrary to the law of symbol-writing to regard this as a book in the vulgar sense. There is something in the real thing to which a book of record has some resemblance or analogy. Such a book is for remembrance of deeds. Hence the name given to the book of life in Malachi (which in the Old Testament includes both the Day Book and the Ledger), "a Book of Remembrance." Scroll, then, in this relation, is symbolical of remembrance by whatever system of means it may be compassed. "I will remember their sins no more," which is equivalent to, "I will blot out the record of their sins from the book of my remembrance;" or I will pardon them. Hence to pardon is equivalent to inscribing the name of the subject in the Day book of the life; or to placing him in God's remembrance for resurrection unto life even for the life procured by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, if found to be "worthy."
But, how is a man's name inscribed on the memory of God for resurrection? ln answer to this, it must be remembered, that the spirit of THE INVISIBLE ONE is the remembrancer of His dominion. Whatever the Spirit remembers is written, so to speak, in the book of remembrance before God. "God is Spirit; and they who worship him must worship him in Spirit and truth " (John iv. 24). Pardon is the result of Spirit-and-truth worship. Now the relation subsisting between the Spirit and the Truth is one of intellectual and moral identity; so that he who hath the truth hath in him the mind, the thinking, and teaching of the Spirit: but he that hath not the truth, is destitute of the Spirit, and not a true worshipper.
The life of the book is peculiar. It is "the life of the Lamb slain." The present life is hereditary and natural. It comes to us based upon the sympathies of flesh, which "profits nothing" in relation to that which is "the Lamb's." He gave his life as a price for the purchase of life for many brethren (Matt. xx. 28). It is therefore styled "the life of the Lamb slain;" and a right to it is predicated on a "justification unto life" which results to a believer from the obedience of faith, or doing the commandments of God (Apoc. xxii. 14).
I will confess his name...see Matt 10:32; Luke 12:8
"I will connect myself with his name as one selected from among others, whom I reject, because their works have not been found perfected in the sight of the Deity."
It is promised to him who shares in "the victory," that he shall, not only "be clothed" with incorruption, and "his name" remain perpetually inscribed among the deathless; but that his name shall be honourably mentioned in the august presence of the Eternal Majesty of the Universe, and before His angelic hosts.
The name to be confessed before the Father is one that is "holy, unblameable, and unreproachable in his sight." It is representative of one who has "continued in the faith, grounded and settled, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel." This suggests a time when the subject received the name....
...The name is called upon the subject when faith is manifested in the obedience it prescribes. James styles it that worthy name, the honourable, excellent, or distinguished name, which had been called upon those to whom he wrote (ii. 7); and Peter, in answer to the inquiry of the believing multitude on the day of Pentecost, told them to be "every one of them immersed upon the name of Jesus Annointed into remission of sins." Thus they were grafted, as it were, "upon the name," which became their designation before the Father.
The subject having been called by this name in baptism, it became "his name" -- the name to be confessed if preserved undefiled, and to be duly illustrated by him who had been ennobled by it...
...But the undefiled in Sardis were not such. They preserved it unsullied; and in the name confessed, and kept it as their own to be celebrated by the Spirit in the presence of his Father and in the presence of his angels, the messengers of his power.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias.
PHILADELPHIAN STATE - from A.D. 303
The community of "fellow-servants and brethren," which had become Sardian, or "ready to die," intensely persecuted by Diocletian. The Spirit comes upon them in this judgment like a thief - Rev. iii.3. Only "a little strength" remains in the Christian commonwealth. Superstition prevalent on every hand, and Christianity in a decayed state. A little benefitted by the severe trial. Fast becoming Laodicean. Eusebius the Ecclesiastical Historian and the following are Laodiceans. Arius, Athanasius, Constantine the Great, Ambrose, Basil, Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome, et id genus omne.7 And to the angel of the ecclesias 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;
He hath set before the Gentiles "an open door, and no man can close it," so long as the Scriptures are in the hands of the people. The false prophet may dangle keys at his girdle, and affect the power of the Son of God; but so, long as "THE LAW AND THE TESTIMONY" are accessible, "whosoever is athirst may come; and "whosoever will may take the water of life freely."
The Scriptures contain the keys. Popes, priests, clergy and ministers may suppress, torture and garble the truth, and throw hindrances in the way; but the man who discards their authority and thinks for himself, may, by the enlightening efficacy of the living word, become "wise unto salvation by the faith which is in Jesus Christ." Let, the people then help themselves, if they would that God should aid them.
Elpis Israel 2.1.
8 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.
9 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.
'During this period of a century and a half, the state of things exhibited in the New Testament grew worse and worse; and it may be generally remarked, that the same opposition to the Name of the Spirit, termed by historians "the Deity of Christ or his manhood," and the same insidious methods of depreciating or abusing "the word of the kingdom," or "the word of the patient waiting for Christ," continued in all this period, which had begun in the time of the apostles, with this difference, that they were now multiplied, varied, complicated, and refined by endless subtleties and fancies, in which the poverty of taste and genius, so common in a period when letters are declining, discovers itself no less than the christian doctrine.
Nevertheless, in the midst of this widespread and general corruption of faith and practice, the faithful still kept themselves separate and distinct, and preserved their garments from defilement.
In the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Earth was full of "Names and Denominations of Christians," inspired with very bitter feelings against each other; but united in hatred of "THE ACCUSER," who harassed them all with continual persecution to imprisonment, confiscation and death. These constituted in the aggregate the Laodicean Apostasy -- an e pluribus unum as heterogeneous and motley as this "christian" nation in congress, when, before the war, it appointed an unbelieving Jew to lead it in its prayers to God.
But apart from this Holy Apostolic Laodicean Catholic Apostasy, there was a community, comparatively small, that hated the deeds and doctrines of these Nikolaitanes and children of the woman Jezebel. It repudiated "the depths of the Satan as they taught;" and with "a little strength," kept the word of the Spirit, and did not deny his name. This community of faithful ones was preserved from the hour of temptation which came upon the whole habitable to try them. These who stood aloof from the Apostasy, protested alike against "Catholics," Jews and Pagans.
They were zealous for "the faith once for all delivered to the saints," and contended earnestly for it, both against their own "fellowservants" and nominal "brethren," who were fraternizing with the liberal non-professing world, and conspiring with them against the government; and against Pagan and Jewish clergies and their blasphemous and profane traditions with which they "destroyed the earth." This Philadelphian community was in all things opposed to the Laodicean.
Its members "walked after the Spirit," or the truth; and through that spirit mortified the deeds of the body; while the Laodiceans, who had an overweening conceit of their own piety and spiritual intelligence, "walked after the flesh," in the fashion universally illustrated in the practice of the pietists of all the "Names and Denominations of Christendom," and of the "christian politicians," "liberal christians," and the political wire workers and pullers, of our day.
The Philadelphian party had no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but reproved them. They had escaped from the corruptions of the world through lust, and devoted their energies to the making of their calling and election sure. They came out, therefore, from among the Laodiceans, that they might not be defiled by the uncleanesses of these unfaithful "fellow-servants and brethren," and constituted what the Laodicean Catholics termed a Schism or Heresy.
10 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.
The Patient Waiting
The ground of escape from "the hour of trial," which was to be so terrible, was stated to be "the keeping of the word of the patient waiting for the Spirit." The importance of this word may be estimated by the severity of the chastisement for its neglect. The coming of the Spirit-Man is the thing waited for; and the teaching which creates this expectation is "the word of the patient waiting for."
Wherever the truth was received as the result of divine teaching, the earnest and joyous expectation of the return of the glorified Jesus became a prime article of faith. This appears from many places in the New Testament. When Paul went to Thessalonica he proclaimed the royalty of Jesus, and his return to rule the whole habitable -- that there is another King than Caesar, even Jesus.
Many of Caesar's subjects believed him; and, in consequence, threw away their idols, and waited for his coming. In writing to these in after years, Paul said, "Ye turned to the Deity from the idols to serve a living and true Deity; and to wait for his Son from the heavens, whom He raised from among the dead, even Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath." This became to them a matter of hope. They waited for it, and were taught to do so with patience and endurance.
It is, therefore, termed "the patient waiting of the hope of our Lord Jesus Anointed," in 1 Thess. i. 3. In both these epistles the apocalypse of Jesus occupies a prominent place. It is expressly mentioned at the end of all the chapters of the first with many important accompaniments; and, in 2 Thess. iii. 5, he says, "the Lord direct your hearts into the love of the Deity, and into the patient waiting for the Anointed."
They had become impatient, supposing that the day of his appearing was at hand. But Paul corrected this error by telling them that it would not come to pass until the consummation of an Apostasy, which would be perfected under the Man of Sin: and that, when this power should be fully matured, then the Lord Jesus would be apocalypsed to destroy it, and be glorified in his saints. All who are "taught of God" understand this, and earnestly desire the event; because they know that there is no salvation till He appears.
The promises are to those who love his appearing. Paul teaches this distinctly. "There is laid up," says he, "a coronal wreath of righteousness for all them who love his appearing;" and in another place he says "to them who look for him he shall appear a second time without sin for salvation" (Heb. ix. 28). Only those who are watching and prepared will share in this salvation.
This "hour of trial" was not to arrive in the lifetime of that generation of saints. It was an hour "being about to come;" that is, in their future, or, as the event proved, in A.D. 248; about one hundred and fifty years after the apocalypse was revealed. This afforded time for the Satanists to fill up the measure of their iniquity, and for the faithful to depart to their graves in peace; for a long peace of thirty-seven years preceded the outbreak of the fiery trial under the emperor Decius... nothing less than the extermination of the christian name was intended.
'...The elevation of Decius to supreme power was fatal to multitudes of professing christians, who were unable to stand the trial of their principles; and in their fall proved themselves to be of the synagogue of the Satan, and not Jews, but liars.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
"Behold, I come, tachu quickly," or soon. This does not refer to the "coming in clouds" of i. 7; but to the coming to execute the threatening of the previous verse. "I, the Spirit-man, will come soon to bring the hour of trial upon the whole habitable."
In the English Version, stephanos is rendered "crown." There are two words in the Apocalypse so rendered, -- diadema and stephanos. The latter is used in Matt. xxvii. 29, "they platted a crown of thorns;" and in 1 Cor. ix. 25, "to obtain a corruptible crown;" and in 1 Pet. v. 4, "a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
In the Apocalypse, when unassociated with other words, it signifies a garland, chaplet, or wreath, encircling the head from the crown to the back thereof at its junction with the neck. Such was the stephanos, or coronal wreath, with which the victorious athletae, or combatants, in the public games of antiquity were decorated. These combatants were runners, wrestlers, and pugilists, who agonized, or contended earnestly, for the glory, honour, and recompense of victory.
Paul alludes to them in saying, "Know ye not that they who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible coronal wreath; but we an incorruptible."...
...Abundant memorials exist to show that all through the time to which the first Seal refers, the crown remained the badge of Roman emperors, the diadem of barbarous kings. In fact, not till about the time of Diocletian, near 200 years after John's banishment to Patmos, was the diadem adopted by Roman emperors: the innovation being accompanied both with the other insignia, and even the adoration too, attendant on eastern royalty.
...The stephanos was a very appropriate device for association with life, honour, glory, rejoicing, and righteousness. It was constructed of the laurel, which is evergreen, and therefore emblematic of the ion-Life which is perennial; still when plucked from the living tree it is corruptible, and fades away.
So with the believer; as long as he holds fast to what he has, retains his hold upon Christ, by his dwelling in his heart by faith in the word of the patient waiting for him, and not denying his name; Christ, who is the Wisdom of the Deity, is to him a living and unfading tree; and he, as a leaf thereof, does not wither: but if, having received "the word," he does not hold it fast, or denies the name of the Spirit-Man, he is as a leaf plucked from its parent stem; he fades, and another has snatched from him his stephanos, which nought enriches the persecutor, and makes him that loses it poor indeed. Hence, the high importance of the exhortation to the Philadelphian saints, "Hold fast what thou hast that no one may have seized upon thy coronal wreath."
When the combatants in the public games obtained the coronal evergreen, it was because they had contended according to the regulations, which justified the awarding of the crown to the victor. It was therefore a coronal of justification. He was in a state of right; and therefore entitled to all the honour, glory, and rejoicing due to successful combatants. The laurel wreath was therefore a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory and honour, and a crown of rejoicing, in a gymnastic sense.
Upon the principle of analogy, then, the Spirit has chosen the stephanos in preference to the diadem, as the symbol of the glory, honor, rejoicing, and incorruptible life, he has promised to those who are found in that state of right -- of moral right -- he has organized, and defined in "the word." They who come up to the regulations he has ordained in this, are righteous; and being thereby justified, when the day of coronation arrives, "glory, honour, incorruptibility, and life" will be to the resurrected righteous, "a crown or stephanos, that fadeth not away." The diadem is inherited; the stephanos is the prize of "him that overcomes."
12 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.
'...the manifestation of the Deity is not merely for habitation purposes, but for glory and dominion. This is indicated by "the Name," and "the Name of the City," or "New Name." Thus it is written in Psal. lxxix. 9, "Help us, 0 Elohim of our salvation, in the matter of the Glory of thy Name: and deliver us, and cover over our sins for the purpose of thy Name." Moses styles it "the glorious and fearful Name, YAHWEH ELOHEKHAH"(Deut. xxviii. 58); concerning which David says in Psal. lxxii. 19, "Blessed be YAHWEH Elohim, the Elohim of Israel ... and blessed be the Name of his Glory for Olahm; yea, all the earth shall be filled with his glory."
The glory of the Deity is intellectual, moral, and physical, all of which is covered by his name, which expresses what he really is. Thus, "His name is Jealous;" that is, "He is jealous;" "His name is holy;" that is, "He is holy;" and "His name is YAHWEH Tzavaoth;" that is, He who spoke to Jeremiah is He who shall be of armies, which is the meaning of the Name.
Thus, "the Name of the Deity" in scripture signifies every thing that He is as revealed therein...
...But "another name" was to be proclaimed to Israel and Judah than any they were acquainted with in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah. These both prophesied concerning it. The former says of the child born and son given,
"He shall call his name Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty Power, Father of Futurity, Prince of Peace ... upon the throne of David:" and the latter says of him, "the Great, the Mighty Power, YAHWEH of armies, his Name" (xxxii. 18); and in xxiii. 5, says furthermore concerning it,
"Behold, the days come, saith YAHWEH, that I will cause to rise up unto David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and he shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this his Name which he shall call him, YAHWEH-TZIDKAINU -- He shall be our righteousness."
This is certainly a name of glory, honour, power, dominion, wisdom, and holiness. It is the name for the Olahm emanating from Deity: who shall bear it? Shall it be borne wholly and solely by Jesus; or shall a multitude share it with him? We, who have confessed that he is Lord to the glory of the Divine Father, rejoice that he hath already received it in part, which is an earnest of the whole.
The Name of the City Within
To Write the Name of the City of the Deity upon one already inscribed with the Name of the Deity, is indicative of all such constituting a Body Politic -- a Divine Municipality.
It is called "New Jerusalem" in contradistinction to the Old Jerusalem under the Mosaic constitution, "in bondage with her children." The latter was the mother of those whose name was good for nothing, but the former is the mother of all who believe the promises concerning the glorious things spoken of her approaching future...
... in the writing before us, it is said to "descend out of the heaven from the Deity." The reason of this is, because he in whom the fulness dwells is there, and the city will not be manifested until he descends...
...The Holy City lies in the dust, with only here and there a stone monumental of its ruin. But when power descends from the heaven with Jesus, he will by that power refashion the ruins, and bring them forth for a Name and City of his Deity -- a name and city composed of the Sons and Daughters of Omnipotence. Thus the city is "out of the Deity," for it can have no existence apart from his wisdom and power. ..
...therefore the city is represented apocalyptically, as "descending out of the heaven from the Deity," to indicate the direction from which the formative energy is derived, and to connect the operation with the appearing of Jesus Christ. ..
LAODICEAN STATE - From A.D. 311
A great political earthquake, and departure of the heaven as a scroll, from . Dissolution of the Pagan Constitution of the Roman Government; or that which hindered the revelation of the Lawless One taken out of the way - Rev. vi. 12; 2 Thes. ii. 7,8. The "little strength" of the Philadelphian exhausted, Laodiceanism fully established.
Persecution having ceased, and "THE CATHOLICS," as nominal Christians were now called, being in high favor with the authorities, they say, "We are rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing" - Rev. iii. 17. Spued out. Wicliff, Huss, Jerome of Prague, Luther, Melanthou, Zuinglius, Erasmus, Calvin, Knox, Cranmer, Ridley, the Nonconformists, Whitfield, Wesley, E. Irving, Cummings, Scott, Cambell, Himes, Miller.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias.
14 And unto the angel of the ecclesia of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Jesus, by the transforming energy of the Father-Deity, became Spirit, and is now "the Lord the Spirit." ...He was the individual Amen -- the incarnation of faithfulness, and therefore "the Witness faithful and true" ...All the promises fulfilled in and through Jesus are the Amen.
"I am the truth," said Jesus; that is, all the truth spoken by the Eternal Spirit receives incarnate fulfilment in, by, and through him; and all this "to the Deity with glory" -- to the manifestation of the Deity in his Sons with glory, styled by Paul elsewhere, "the manifestation of the Sons of the Deity," which is the full development of the great mystery of godliness, "Deity manifested in flesh."
The Witness Faithful and True.
He was "the Witness" by eminence. When standing at Pilate's bar, he said, in answer to Pilate's question, "Art thou King then?" "Thou sayest, for I am King. I have been born for this; and I came into the world for this, that I might bear witness to the truth. Every one being of the truth, hearkeneth to my voice."
...Jesus admitted, that "if he bore witness of himself his witness was not true." This was incontrovertible. The Mosaic law, under which Jesus lived, required two or three witnesses for the establishment of truth, so that if Jesus could have adduced no other evidence than his own, the people of Judah would have been guiltless in rejecting his claims to the Messiahship, and in repudiating the gospel of the kingdom to be manifested through him. No man of himself can demonstrate his own parentage.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of the Deity, a claim which could only be established, in view of the natural untruthfulness of humanity, and the frailty of woman, by the Deity himself. This was publicly and notably done before the multitude on Jordan's banks, when the Spirit of the Deity descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the voice came from the excellent glory in the heaven, saying, "This is my Son the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
Thus the Father attested him; and afterwards, John the immerser, who heard and saw the wonder; and all the apostles who were present, and especially Peter, James, and John, who afterwards, in the presence of Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, heard the same declaration on the mount, with the addition of the words, "HEAR YE HIM!"
The beginning of the creation of God
In the passage before us the Lord the Spirit, or Jesus Anointed, refers to another creation -- to A NEW CREATION. He is the beginning of that new creation of the Deity; even of that referred to in Apoc. xxi. 5, in which Jesus Anointed says "Behold I make all things new."
When all things are made new there will be a new creation upon the earth, adapted in all its elements to the new population prepared in the previous seven thousands of years to inhabit it. Jesus Anointed is the creator of this new creation; and himself also the first element of it that has been created without human intervention...
Jesus had no human father; but was created by the Spirit as independently of the will of the flesh as Adam, the Beginning of the Animal Creation of the Deity, was before him.
It is revealed that the Eternal Spirit will create from the dust, and establish upon the earth, a population, every individual of which shall be like Jesus is now -- glorious, incorruptible of body, and deathless; the Deity bodily manifested in each of them (Apoc. xxi. 3,4); and that such a constitution and order of things will obtain in relation to them, as will be suitable to pure and immortal beings -- to a world of gods, or elohim.
This order, or kosmos, is styled "a New Heaven and New Earth" -- a New Government and New People; a phrase which indicates that, although all men then upon the earth are immortal and free from all the evils of the present state, yet are not all of equal rank and authority; and that government is designed for the purpose of affording scope for a diversity of honours, that he who has distinguished himself more than his fellows in the cause of truth and righteousness in the previous animal existence, may be a more distinguished and brilliant star in the firmament "beyond" the Millennial Aions.
...The power of the Deity overshadowed the daughter of Heli, and in the set time was born Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. Here was a creation of the Deity; but it was only the "beginning of the creation" hereafter to be effected by the same power.
When created and anointed this new creation was Eternal Power manifest in flesh; and when resurrected and glorified, that flesh was transformed into Spirit, or Deity -- a substantial corporeal entity, called by Paul a "Quickening Spirit," and "the Lord the Spirit."
...The power of the Deity overshadowed the daughter of Heli, and in the set time was born Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews. Here was a creation of the Deity; but it was only the "beginning of the creation" hereafter to be effected by the same power.
When created and anointed this new creation was Eternal Power manifest in flesh; and when resurrected and glorified, that flesh was transformed into Spirit, or Deity -- a substantial corporeal entity, called by Paul a "Quickening Spirit," and "the Lord the Spirit."
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
But they were not cold, in other words, they were not a faithful angel-presbytery. Neither were they hot. They had no zeal for the truth, therefore they did not speak it forth.
Laodicea became "lukewarm;" they ceased to be "hot;" their meditation upon the word ceasing, the fire also ceased to burn; and they no longer spoke with their tongue the glorious and wonderful works of the Deity (Ps. xxxix. 3).
Neither cold nor hot.
Shall He Find Faith On The Earth?
Bro. Oscar Beauchamp
Reprinted from the Berean Commentary, April 1988
Jesus did not picture a believing world at his coming, but a world in rebellion against him. And we see today even the "Christian" elements giving only lip service to him while denying his teachings and making little or no pretences of obeying his commands.
We see church systems inseparably connected with the world and its ways -- an integral part of that godless order of things which must be removed to give place to that new and righteous order in which no place will be found for them.
And what of the Household of Faith? Is it not also true that those who have been given the blessed privilege of being called out of darkness may also contribute to the signs of the times? Christ does not picture a Household at his coming in a state of high spiritual vigour, but a Household in a state of weakness, laxity and self-satisfaction, saying,
"I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. And knowest not that thou are wretched, and poor and blind and naked."
-- spiritually blind, naked, willingly deceived; self-deluded.
The oft-repeated warnings of the Saviour envision a Household the majority of which have grown worldly, deeply concerned about temporal things, but unconcerned about preserving the unity of the Faith, and keeping of the commandments of Christ.
"The love of the many (R.V.) shall wax cold."
A people in grave danger of being overcome with "Surfeiting, drunkenness (spiritual), and the cares of this life." Absorbed in temporal things; so weak in the Faith as to say:
"My Lord delayeth his coming ... smiting his fellowservants; eating and drinking with the drunken (the world)."
It is not a picture of a Household growing in spiritual strength and vigour, but a Household weak in faith, with few ready to meet Him when He comes --
"When he cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Yes, we too, should beware lest we contribute to the fulfilling of this fearful sign of the times.
LAODICEAN STATE - Opened A.D. 324
. "Silence in the heaven about the space of half an hour" - Rev. viii. 1. The Laodicean "strong delusion," becomes "THE HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH," or religion of the Roman State "by law established." The LAODICEAN STATE continues to the approaching advent of Christ. Joe Smith, Marsh, Spurgeon, and such like. The Laodicean State from the sixth Seal to the Millennium, or concurrent with the Seventh Seal.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
They had therefore become as the incompatible ingesta of an irritable and nauseated stomach. This was their relation to the Spirit in whom they were for the time. If they had been cold they would have been refreshing; for "as the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger (or angel) to them that send him; for he refresheth the soul of his masters" (Prov. xxv. 13). "Would, saith the Spirit, that thou wert cold!" for then, as it was a harvest time, the Father and the Son would have been refreshed in beholding their faithfulness.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
They were looked up to by the wealth and fashion of the city as the ambassadors of the Deity, and the inspired mediators between heaven and earth; and were respected and honored by the plaudits and largesses of the rich, in whom, as we have seen, Laodicea did greatly abound. The rich ministered to them abundantly in temporals, so that they had "need of nothing:" and in return they ministered to them "smooth things"
...they may preach in His name (Matt. 7:21-23); make broad their phylacteries (Matt. 23:5, 6, 7); sound trumpets in the synagogues and in the streets (Matt. 6:1-4); make long prayers in public (verse 5-7, 23:14); disfigure their countenances with grimace that they may appear to fast (Matt. 6:16-18); build churches; compass sea and land to make proselytes (Matt. 23:15); found hospitals; and fill the world with their benevolences -- all is reducible to mere fig-leaf invention as a substitute for "the righteousness of God."
Elpis Israel 1.4.
Such was the state of "the church" while Jesus and His apostles were members of it; and such is its condition now that "He standeth at the door, and knocks." "The Church" of the 19th century, by which I understand, not the "One Body" (Eph. 4:4), but that thousand-headed monster presented by the ecclesiastical aggregate of "Christendom," is that Laodicean anti-type which is neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, and which saith, "I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, but knows not that it is wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17), the sputa once "spewed out of the Lord's mouth."
Its eyes are blinded by the god of the world. Its zeal for faction, its devotion to Mammon, its ignorance of the Scriptures, and its subjection to the dogmas and commandments of men--have made its heart fat, its ears heavy, and closed its eyes. "The people of the Lord, the people of the Lord are we!" ascends as its cry to heaven from myriads of throats; but in the tablets of their hearts the light of the glorious gospel of Christ's kingdom and name finds no surface of reflection.
Many who mean well lament "the decline of spirituality in the churches," but they fail to perceive the cause. The Scriptures have fallen into comparative disuse among them. They are superseded by shallow speculations- -mere unintelligible pulpit disquisitions, the contradictory thinking of the flesh, trained to excogitate the creedism of the community that glorifies itself in the orator of its choice. The gospel is neither believed nor preached in the churches. In fact, it is hid from their eyes, and the time is come to break off the wild olive branch for its saplessness, to cut off these churches for their unbelief (Rom. 11:20, 22, 25)
The principle, or spirit, that works in these children of disobedience, is neither the law of sin as exhibited in the savage, nor the law of God as it appears in the genuine disciples of Christ. It is a blending of the two, so as to make of none effect (Matt. 15:6-9) the little truth believed, as far as inheriting the kingdom of God is concerned. This proportion of truth in the public mind is the measure of its morality, exegetical of its conscience, and constitutes that scintillation, or "light within," which is struck out by the collision of ideas in the world around.
Educational bias makes men what they are -- sinners, whose habitude of thought and action is "pious," or impious, civilized or savage, according to the school in which their young ideas have been taught to shoot. The divine law and testimony alone can turn these into reflectors of the moral image and similitude of God.Elpis Israel 1.4.
One of the greatest dangers the Truth of God faces in every age is when it attracts clever, capable, self-confident people who take it over and drive it forward to a self-destructive success, like Laodicea -- outwardly rich, and successful, and increased with goods, and in need of nothing.
"MY strength is made perfect in WEAKNESS."
Paul strongly emphasizes this vital truth at the beginning of the first epistle --
"Ye see your calling, brethren -- not the wise, the mighty, the noble; but God hath chosen the weak things of the world, the base things, and things which are despised, and things which are not -- which are nothing -- to bring to nought things that are" (1 Cor. 1:26-28).
As soon as the Truth starts to get socially respectable in the world, as soon as it begins to attract the "intellectuals," it is on its way out, and a complete new beginning has to be made if anything is to endure.
Bro Growcott - 'In Labours more abundantly'.
18 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.
As long as an ecclesia is a called-out association, the Lord the Spirit waits to restore it from the lowest conceivable ebb of faith; so that if she of Laodicea had taken the warning of the ejectment prepared for her in the future, she might have recovered, and not been spued out at all. It was to save her from this catastrophe that the Spirit counselled her to buy gold and garments of him, and to anoint her eyes with salve...
To buy a tried faith, then, would be the fruit of zeal, and of a change of mind, and the cause of their justification, or investment with the "white garments" of righteousness.
But to arrive at this most desirable anti-Laodicean state, it was necessary that the eyes of their understandings be anointed with the unction of the Spirit, that they might perceive what, with all their piety and wealth, they were perfectly blind to. The Spirit's eye-salve is the word of the testimony contained in the writings of the prophets and apostles.
If they would work this into their eyes, "anoint" them well with it, they would be brought to see how wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked they really were. They would discover that instead of having need of nothing, they were in need of everything; and "needed that one teach them again the first principles of the oracles of the Deity; and had become such as had need of milk, not of strong meat."
The blessing is not simply to him that watcheth; but to him that watcheth and keepeth his garments." Simply to believe that the Lord is near, and to be able to discern the signs of the times, will not entitle a man to the blessing. He must "buy gold tried in the fire...'' In other words, he must believe "the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ;" follow the example of the Samaritans and be baptised into the name of the Holy Ones; and thenceforth perfect his faith by his works, as Abraharn did.
He will then be a lamp, well oiled and trimmed, and fit to shine forth as a glorious light at the marriage of the Lamb.
Elpis Israel 3.3.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Probation is a refining process. It purges out a man's dross, and brings out the image of Christ in His character; and prepares him for exaltation to His throne (Rev. 3:21). We can enter the kingdom through the fire (1 Cor. 3:13); but, if a man be courageous, and "hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end," he will emerge from it unscorched; and be presented holy, unblameable and unrebukeable (Col. 1:22-23) before the King.
A man cannot "honor God" more than in believing what He promises, and in doing what He commands; although to repudiate that belief, and to neglect, or disobey those commands, should highly gratify all his senses, and place at his disposal the kingdoms of the world, and all their glory.
Elpis Israel 1.3.
20 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.
'I have stood at the Door, and I knock'
Now for Christ to enter in to dwell there, and consequently to banquet there, his voice, which is the truth, must first knock at, or sound upon the ears of a man. If a man do not hearken to the truth, he keeps the door which leads to his heart, or understanding and affections, shut; and a faith-appreciated Christ cannot enter.
21 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.
In this sentence the verbs enikesa and ekathisa are both of the aorist tense; that is, they express actions without fixing the time of the actions; for the word aorist signifies without boundaries, indeterminate, indefinite.
In the translation I have rendered them by the indefinite present, which is always flowing. "I vanquish" is a simple fact, which, in the present tense, does not affirm that the action is complete. The action continues, it may be for a long or short time, until it merges into the perfect, when it may be said "I have overcome," or "I overcame." If the Spirit had meant that the overcoming process was completed, he would have used the word nenikeka, "I have overcome;" but as he did not, we are to understand that enikesa is prophecy and not history; that is, an action to be accomplished in the future.
It cannot be affirmed that Jesus Anointed has overcome the enemies to this throne and kingdom, and that affirmation be in harmony with the word. Jesus claimed the throne of David, or sovereignty over Israel, and the world; and argued his rights before the people and other rulers. But he did not overcome; on the contrary, they overcame him in putting him to death. True, he was raised by the power of the Deity; but when raised, he did not obtain what he claimed. He was even then like a man in the midst of a crowd of enemies too strong for him.
Some friends perceiving it, rush in, and rescue him from their grasp; so the Father interposed and extricated him from their snares, and carried him off to heaven, where he is secure against their attack, until the time arrives to renew the conflict; and for the Lamb to overcome in the war of that great day of the Almighty, spoken of in Apoc. xvi. 14: xvii. 14: xix. 11-21 -- an overcoming, by which the book is opened and the seals loosed, and its contents read and looked upon (v. 1-5). See Heb 2:8 note
The reward to antediluvian, and postdiluvian patriarchs and Israelites, for a faithful observance, or commemoration of Yahweh's rest from His creation-work, was "delight in the Lord, riding upon the high places of the earth, and feeding with the heritage of Jacob." This was neither more nor less than a promise of inheriting the kingdom of God, which is a summary of "the things hoped for and the things unseen," or the subject matter of the faith that pleases God. When that kingdom is established all who are accounted worthy of it will "delight or joy in the Lord;" and occupy "the high places of the earth," ruling over the nations as His associate kings and priests; and share in the "new heavens and earth," in which dwells righteousness, when Jerusalem shall be made a rejoicing, and her people Israel a joy (Matt. 25:23, 34; Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:21; 5:9, 10; 20:4; Dan. 7:18, 22, 27; Isaiah 65:17, 8).
Elpis Israel 1.2.
22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias.
CONSTITUTED as human nature is, it was impossible that these elements of the iniquity could remain stationary. They were bound to progress. "The Devil," who cast some of the Smyrneans into prison, was an outward pressure that restrained the too rapid development of the Apostasy. This Devil, or Pagan Roman Power, hindered the heading up of the apostasy in the Lawless One "until the time came for him to be taken out of the way." The development was therefore progressive. It required two hundred and fourteen years from the communication of the apocalypse to mature the Ephesian Declension into the Laodicean Lukewarmness; at which it finally and permanently arrived through the intermediate Smymean, Pergamian, Thyatiran, Sardian, and Philadelphian, periods.
The Laodicean epoch AD 311 to the apocalypse of Yahoshua.
Let the reader understand then distinctly, that the Constantinian era was that in which the Apostasy from true christianity as originally set forth by the apostles, was perfected; and that being perfected, the Spirit withdrew himself from it entirely.
It became as completely separated from the Anointed Jesus and his love, as the loathsome ejecta vomited from the stomach of the person vomiting. The Holy Catholic Church so-called, is a mere spue; and all the churches of which she is "the Mother," are "the Abominations" that have effervesced from its putrefaction.
They are mere forms of Laodiceanism -- the genuine progeny of the Roman Jezebel. Since the period of the Sixth Seal, the true believers of the gospel must be sought for in a different channel. They are not to be found among catholics, Greek or Latin; nor among any that recognize catholics in faith, practice, and spirit, as christians.
They are not to be found among infant sprinklers of any "name" or "denomination;" nor among adult-immersionists, who understand not "the gospel of the kingdom" preached by Jesus and the apostles. Christians are a separate and distinct class from all these, who are but Laodiceans in faith, spirit, state, and practice.
These have been the persecutors of the saints in all ages; that is, from the time the Spirit vomited them out of his mouth in the beginning of the fourth century to the time in which I am now writing; and they will continue to persecute in word or deed, or in both where they are able, "until the Ancient of Days come;" for the Laodicean State being concurrent with the Seventh Seal the judgments of which have been appointed especially for the punishment and tormentation of the Laodiceans, not for their chastisement as sons beloved, but for their destruction as despised bastards -- it does not terminate till "the wrath of God" contained in the Seventh Vial section of the Seventh Seal, is poured out to the last drop (Apoc. xv. 1,8)...
So Huss, Jerome, Luther, Calvin, Knox, and such like, all of them Romanists and ignorant of the gospel of the Kingdom, which consequently they never obeyed, were useful in blindly developing protestantism, which, with all its imperfections and worthlessness as a means of eternal life, is an improvement on Romish superstition and immorality...they are at all events better than Romanism, if we except Mormonism, which is cruel as the grave.