VERSE 1. 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 are dead. 2. Be watchful, and
strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die:
for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 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. 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. 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. 6. He that hath an ear, let him hear
what the Spirit saith unto the churches. p. 363, Para. 2.
If the dates of the preceding churches have been correctly fixed, the period covered by the church of Sardis must commence about the year 1798.
song of joy, or
that which remains. We then have before
us, as constituting this church, the reformed churches,
from the date above named to the great movement which
marked another era in the history of the people of God. p.
363, Para. 3.
The great fault found with this church is that it has a name to live, but is dead. And what a high position, in a worldly point of view, has the nominal church occupied during this period! Look at her high-sounding titles, and her favor with the world. But how have pride and popularity grown apace, until spirituality is destroyed, the line of distinction between the church and the world is obliterated, and these different popular bodies are churches of Christ only in name! p. 363, Para. 4.
church was to hear the proclamation of the doctrine
of the second advent, as we learn from verse 3:
therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a
thief. This implies that the doctrine of the advent would
be proclaimed, and the duty of watching be enjoined upon
the church. The coming spoken of is unconditional; the
manner only in which it would come upon them is
conditional. Their not watching would not prevent the
coming of the Lord; but by watching they could avoid being
overtaken as by a thief. It is only to those who are in
this condition that the day of the Lord comes unawares.
Ye, brethren, says Paul,
are not in darkness, that that
day should overtake you as a thief. 1 Thess. 5:4. p. 364,
Few Names even in Sardis. -- This language would seem to
imply a period of unparalleled worldliness in the church.
But even in this state of things, there are some whose
garments are not defiled, -- some who have kept themselves
free from this contaminating influence. James says,
religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this,
To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and
to keep himself unspotted from the world. James
364, Para. 2.
Walk with Me in White. -- The Lord does not overlook
his people in any place, however few their numbers. Lonely
Christian, with none of like precious faith with whom to
commune, do you ever feel as if the hosts of the
unbelievers would swallow you up? You are not unnoticed or
forgotten by your Lord. The multitude of the wicked around
you cannot be so great as to hide you from his view: and if
you keep yourself unspotted from surrounding evil, the
promise is sure to you. You shall be clothed in white, --
the white raiment of the overcomer, -- and walk with your
Lord in glory. See chapter 7:17:
For the Lamb which is in
the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead
them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe
away all tears from their eyes. p. 364, Para. 3.
Raiment. -- Being clothed with white raiment is
explained in other scriptures to be a symbol of exchanging
iniquity for righteousness. [See Zech. 3:4, 5.]
the filthy garments from him, is explained by the language
Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass
The fine linen, or the white raiment,
righteousness of saints. Rev. 19:8. p. 365, Para. 1.
Book of Life. -- Object of thrilling interest! Vast
and ponderous volume, in which are enrolled the names of
all the candidates for everlasting life! And is there
danger, after our names have once been entered in that
heavenly journal, that they may be blotted out? -- Yes; or
this warning would never have been penned. Paul, even,
feared that he himself might become a castaway. 1 Cor.
9:27. It is only by being overcomers at last that our names
can be retained in that book. But all will not overcome.
Their names, of course, will be blotted out. And reference
is made to some definite point of time in the future for
I will not, says Christ [in the
out the names of the overcomers, which is also saying, by
implication, that at the same time he will blot out
names of those who do not overcome. Is not this the same
time mentioned by Peter in Acts 3:19?
Repent ye therefore,
and be converted, that your sins may be blotted
the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the
Lord. To say to the overcomer that his name shall not be
blotted out of the book of life, is to say also that his
sins shall be blotted out of the book wherein they are
recorded, to be remembered against him no more forever.
Heb. 8:12. And this is to be when the times of refreshing
come from the presence of the Lord; may we not also add, in
that other language of Peter, When the day star shall arise
in our hearts, or the morning star be given to the church,
just previous to the advent of the Lord to usher in the
glorious day? 2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 2:28. And when that hour of
decision shall come, which can not now be a great way in
the future, how, reader, will it be with you? Will your
sins be blotted out, and your name be retained in the book
of life? or will your name be blotted out of the book of
life, and your sins be left to bear their fearful record
against you? p. 365, Para. 2.
Presentation in Glory. --
I will confess his name
before my Father, and before his angels. Christ taught
here upon earth, that as men confessed or denied, despised
or honored him here, they would be confessed or denied by
him before his Father in heaven and the holy angels. Matt.
10:32,33; Mark 8:38; Luke 12:8, 9. And who can fathom the
honor of being approved before the heavenly hosts! Who can
conceive the bliss of that moment when we shall be owned by
the Lord of life before his Father as those who have done
his will, fought the good fight, run the race, honored him
before men, overcome, and whose names are worthy, through
his merits, of standing upon the imperishable record of the
book of life forever and ever! p. 366, Para. 1.
VERSE 7. And to the
angels 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; 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 has
kept my word, and has 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. 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. 11. Behold, I come quickly:
hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
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.
13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith
unto the churches. p. 366, Para. 2.
The word Philadelphia signifies brotherly love, and expresses the position and spirit of those who received the Advent message up to the autumn of 1844. As they came out of the sectarian churches, they left party names and party feelings behind; and every heart beat in union, as they gave the alarm to the churches and to the world, and pointed to the coming of the Son of man as the believer's true hope. Selfishness and covetousness were laid aside, and a spirit of consecration and sacrifice was cherished. The Spirit of God was with every true believer, and his praise upon every tongue. Those who were not in that movement know nothing of the deep searching of heart, consecration of all to God, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit, and pure, fervent love for one another, which true believers then enjoyed. Those who were in that movement are aware that language would fail to describe that holy, happy state. p. 366, Para. 3.
The Key of David. -- A key is a symbol of power. The Son of God is the rightful heir to David's throne; and he is about to take to himself his great power, and to reign; hence he is represented as having the key of David. The throne of David, or of Christ, on which he is to reign, is included in the capital of his kingdom, the New Jerusalem, now above, but which is to be located on this earth, where he is to reign forever and ever. Rev. 21:1-5; Luke 1:32,33. p. 367, Para. 1.
He that Openeth, and no Man Shutteth, etc. -- To understand his language, it is necessary to look at Christ's position and work as connected with his ministry in the sanctuary, or true tabernacle above. Heb. 8:2. A figure, or pattern, of this heavenly sanctuary once existed here upon earth in the sanctuary built by Moses. Ex. 25:8, 9; Acts 7:44; Heb. 9:1, 21, 23, 24. The earthly building had two apartments, -- the holy place and the most holy place. Ex. 26:33, 34. In the first apartment were the candlestick, the table of showbread, and the altar of incense. In the second were the ark, which contained the tables of the covenant, or ten commandments, and the cherubim. Heb. 9:1-5. In like manner the sanctuary in which Christ ministers in heaven has two apartments. Heb. 9:24. [See also verses 8 and 12 and chapter 10:19, in each of which texts the words rendered holiest and holy place are plural in the original, and should be rendered holy places.] And as all things were made after their pattern, the heavenly sanctuary has also furniture similar to that of the worldly. For the antitype of the golden candlestick and altar of incense, in the first apartment, see Rev. 4:5; 8:3; and for the antitype of the ark of the covenant, with its ten commandments, see Rev. 11:19. In the worldly sanctuary the priests ministered. Ex. 28:41, 43; Heb. 9:6, 7; 13:11; etc. The ministry of these priests was a shadow of the ministry of Christ in the sanctuary in heaven. Heb. 8:4, 5. A complete round of service was performed in the earthly tabernacle once every year. Heb. 9:7. But in the tabernacle above the service is performed once for all. Heb. 7:27; 9:12. At the close of the yearly typical service, the high priest entered the second apartment, the most holy place of the sanctuary, to make an atonement; and this work is called the cleansing of the sanctuary. Lev. 16:20, 30, 33; Eze. 45:18. When the ministry in the most holy place commenced, that in the holy place ceased; and no service was performed there so long as the priest was engaged in the most holy place. Lev. 16:17. A similar opening and shutting, or change of ministration, must be accomplished by Christ when the time comes for the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary. And the time did come for this service to commence at the close of the 2300 days, in 1844. To this event the opening and shutting mentioned in the text under consideration can appropriately apply, the opening being the opening of his ministration in the most holy place, and the shutting, its cessation in the first apartment, or holy place. [See exposition of the subject of the sanctuary and its cleansing, under Dan. 8:14.] p. 367, Para. 2.
Verse 9 probably applies to those who do not keep pace with the advancing light of truth, and who oppose those that do. Such shall yet be made to feel and confess that God loves those who, not rejecting the past fulfilments of his word, nor stereotyping themselves in a creed, continue to advance in the knowledge of his truth. p. 368, Para. 1.
Word of My Patience. -- Says John, in Rev. 14:12,
Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that
keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
Those who now live in patient, faithful obedience to the
commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will be kept in
the hour of temptation and peril just before us. [See
chapter 13:13-17.] p. 368, Para. 2.
I Come Quickly. -- The second coming of Christ is
here again brought to view, and with more startling
emphasis than in any of the preceding messages. The
nearness of that event is here urged upon the attention of
believers. The message applies to a period when that great
event is impending; and in this we have most indubitable
evidence of the prophetic nature of these messages. What is
said of the first three churches contains no allusion to
the second coming of Christ, from the fact that they do not
cover a period during which that event could be
Scripturally expected. But we come down to the Thyatiran
church, beyond which only three comparatively brief stages
of the church appear before the end, and, as if then the
time had come when this great hope was just beginning to
dawn upon the church, the mind is carried forward to it by
a single allusion;:
Hold fast till I come. We come down
to the next state of the church, the Sardis, the church
which occupies a position still nearer that event, and the
great proclamation is brought to view which was to herald
it, and the duty of watching enjoined upon the church:
thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief. We
reach the Philadelphian church, still further down in the
stream of time, and the nearness of the same great event
then leads Him who
is holy and true to utter the stirring
Behold, I come quickly. How evident it is
from all this that these churches occupy positions
successively nearer the great day of the Lord, as in each
succeeding one, and in a continually increasing ratio, this
great event is made more and more prominent, and is more
definitely and impressively urged upon the attention of the
church. Here they see indeed the day approaching. Heb.
10:25. p. 369, Para. 1.
Hold that fast which thou hast,
that no man take thy crown. Not that by our faithfulness
we are depriving any one else of a crown; but the verb
rendered to take has a number of definitions, one of which
to take away, snatch from, deprive of. Hold
thou hast, that no man deprive thee of the crown of life.
Let no one, and no thing, induce you to yield up the truth,
or pervert you from the right ways of the Lord; for by so
doing they will cause you to lose the reward. p. 369,
Pillar in the Temple. -- The overcomer in this address
has the promise of being made a pillar in the temple of
God, and going no more out. The temple here must denote the
church; and the promise of being made as pillar therein is
the strongest promise that could be given of a place of
honor, permanence, and safety in the church, under the
figure of a heavenly building. And when the time comes that
this part of the promise is fulfilled, probation with the
overcomer is past; he is fully established in the truth,
He shall go no more out; that is, there is no
more danger of his falling away; he is the Lord's forever;
his salvation is sure. p. 370, Para. 1.
But they are to have more than this. From the moment they overcome, and are sealed for heaven, they are labeled, if we may so express it, as belonging to God and Christ, and addressed to their destination, the New Jerusalem. They are to have written upon them the name of God, whose property they are, the name of the New Jerusalem, to which place they are going, not old Jerusalem, where some are vainly looking; and they have upon them the new name of Christ, by whose authority they are to receive everlasting life, and enter into the kingdom. Thus sealed and labeled, the saints of God are safe. No enemy will be able to prevent their reaching their destination, their glorious haven of rest, Jerusalem above. p. 399, Para. 1.
VERSE 14. 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; 15.
I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I
would thou wert cold or hot. 16. So then because thou art
lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of
my mouth. 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: 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 eye-salve, that
thou mayest see. 19. As many as I love, I rebuke and
chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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. 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. 22. He that
hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the
churches. p. 370, Para. 3.
Laodicea signifies the judging of the people, or, according to Cruden, a just people. The message to this church brings to view the closing scenes of probation. It reveals a period of judgment. It is the last stage of the church. It consequently applies to believers under the third message, the last message of mercy before the coming of Christ [see chapter 14:9-14], while the great day of atonement is transpiring, and the investigative Judgment is going forward upon the house of God, -- a period during which the just and holy law of God is taken by the waiting church as their rule of life. p. 371, Para. 1.
Things Saith the Amen. -- This is, then, the final
message to the churches ere the close of probation. And
though the description of their condition which he gives to
the indifferent Laodiceans is fearful and startling,
nevertheless it cannot be denied; for the Witness is
faithful and true. Moreover, he is
the beginning of the
creation of God. Some attempt by this language to uphold
the error that Christ was a created being, dating his
existence anterior to that of any other created being or
thing, next to the self-existent and eternal God. But the
language does not necessarily imply that he was created;
for the words,
the beginning of the creation, may simply
signify that the work of creation, strictly speaking, was
begun by him.
Without him was not anything made. Others,
however, and more properly we think, take the word to mean
efficient cause, which is one of the
definitions of the word, understanding that Christ, is the
agent through whom God has created all things, but that the
Son came into existence in a different manner, as he is
the only begotten of the Father. It would seem
utterly inappropriate to apply this expression to any being
created in the ordinary sense of that term. p. 371, Para.
The charge he brings against the Laodiceans is that they are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. They lack that religious fervency, zeal, and devotion which their position in the world's closing history, with the light of prophecy beaming upon their pathway, demands that they should manifest; and this lukewarmness is shown by a lack of good works; for it is from a knowledge of their works that the faithful and true Witness brings this fearful charge against them. p. 371, Para. 3.
I Would Thou Wert Cold or Hot. -- Three states are brought to view in this message, -- the cold, the lukewarm, and the hot. It is important to determine what condition they each denote, in order to guard against wrong conclusions. Three conditions of spiritual life which pertain to the church, not to the world, are to be considered. What the term hot means it is not difficult to conceive. The mind at once calls up a state of intense fervency and zeal, when all the affections, raised to the highest pitch, are drawn out for God and his cause, and manifest themselves in corresponding works. To be lukewarm is to lack this zeal, to be in a state in which heart and earnestness are wanting; in which there is no self-denial that costs anything, no cross-bearing that is felt, no determined witnessing for Christ, and no valiant aggression that keeps sinews strained and armor bright; and, worst of all, it implies entire satisfaction with that condition. But to be cold -- what is that? Does it denote a state of corruption, wickedness, and sin, such as characterizes the world of unbelievers? We cannot so regard it, for the following reasons:-- p. 372, Para. 1.
It would seem harsh and repulsive to represent Christ as
wishing, under any circumstances, that persons should be in
such a condition; but he says,
I would thou were cold
hot. p. 372, Para. 2.
2. No state can be more offensive to Christ than that of the sinner in open rebellion, and his heart filled with every evil. It would therefore be incorrect to represent him as preferring that state to any position which his people can occupy while they are still retained as his. p. 372, Para. 3.
3. The threat of rejection in verse 16 is because they are neither cold nor hot. As much as to say that if they were either cold or hot, they would not be rejected. But if by cold is meant a state of open worldly wickedness, they would be rejected therefor very speedily. Hence such cannot be its meaning. p. 372, Para. 4.
are consequently forced to the conclusion that by this
language our Lord has no reference whatever to those
outside of his church, but that he refers to three degrees
of spiritual affections, two of which are more acceptable
to him than the third. Heat and cold are preferable to
lukewarmness. But what kind of spiritual state is denoted
by the term cold? We may remark first that it is a
feeling. In this respect it is superior to
which is a state of comparative insensibility,
indifference, and supreme self-satisfaction. To be hot is
also to be in a state of feeling. And as hot denotes joyous
fervency, and a lively exercise of all the affections, with
a heart buoyant with the sensible presence and love of God,
so by cold would seem to be denoted a spiritual condition
characterized by a destitution of these traits, yet one in
which the individual feels such destitution, and
recover his lost treasures. This state is well expressed by
the language of Job,
O that I knew where I might find
him! Job 23:3. In this state there is not indifference,
nor is there content; but there is a sense of coldness,
unfitness, and discomfort, and a groping and seeking after
something better. There is hope of a person in this
condition. What a man feels that he lacks and wants, he
will earnestly strive to obtain. The most discouraging
feature of the lukewarm is that they are conscious of no
lack, and feel that they have need of nothing. Hence it is
easy to see why our Lord should prefer to behold his church
in a state of comfortless coldness, rather that in a state
of comfortable, easy, indifferent lukewarmness. Cold, a
person will not long remain. His efforts will soon lead him
to the fervid state. But lukewarm, there is danger of his
remaining till the faithful and true Witness is obliged to
reject him as a nauseous and loathsome thing. p. 373,
Will Spue Thee out of My Mouth. -- Here the figure is still further carried out, and the rejection of the lukewarm expressed by the nauseating effects of tepid water. And this denotes a final rejection, an utter separation from his church. p. 373, Para. 2.
and Increased with Goods. -- Such the Laodiceans
think is their condition. They are not hypocrites, because
know not that they are poor, miserable,
naked. p. 374, Para. 1.
The Counsel Given Them. -- Buy of me, says the true Witness, gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. This shows at once to the deceived Laodiceans the objects they lack, and the extent of their destitution. It shows too, where they can obtain those things in which they are so fearfully poor; it brings before them the necessity of speedily obtaining them. The case is so urgent that our great Advocate in the court above sends us special counsel on the point; and the fact that he who has condescended to point out our lack, and counsel us to buy, is the one who has these things to bestow, and invites us to come to him for them, is the best possible guarantee that our application will be respected, and our requests granted. p. 374, Para. 2.
by what means can we buy these things? -- Just as we
buy all other gospel graces.
Ho, every one that thirsteth,
come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye,
buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money
and without price. Isa. 55:1. We thus buy by the asking;
buy by throwing away the worthless baubles of earth, and
receiving priceless treasures in their stead; buy by simply
coming and receiving; buy, giving nothing in return. And
what do we buy on these gracious terms? -- Bread that
perishes not, spotless raiment that soils not, riches that
corrupt not, and an inheritance that fadeth not. Strange
traffic, this! yet thus the Lord condescends to deal with
his people. He might compel us to come in the manner and
with the mien of beggars; but instead of this he gives us
the treasures of his grace, and in return receives our
worthlessness, that we may take the blessings he has to
bestow, not as pittances dealt out to mendicants, but as
the legitimate possessions of honorable purchase. p. 374,
The things to be obtained demand especial notice. They are enumerated as follows:-- p. 374, Para. 4.
Gold Tried in the Fire. -- Gold, literally considered, is
the comprehensive name for all worldly wealth and riches.
Figuratively, it must denote that which constitutes
spiritual riches. What grace, then, is represented by the
gold, or, rather, what graces? for doubtless no one single
grace can be said to answer to the full import of that
term. The Lord said to the church of Smyrna that he knew
their poverty, but they were rich; and the testimony shows
that their riches consisted of that which was finally to
put them in possession of a crown of life. Says James.
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor
of this world rich in faith and heirs of the
which he hath promised to them that love him?
is the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen. To be
rich toward God, --
rich in the spiritual sense, -- is to have a clear title to
the promises, -- to be an heir of that inheritance which is
incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away,
reserved in heaven for us.
If ye be Christ's, then are ye
Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal.
3:29. And how do we obtain this heirship? -- In the same
way that Abraham obtained the promise; that is, through
faith. Rom. 4:13, 14. No wonder, then, that Paul should
devote an entire chapter in Hebrews [chapter 11] to this
important subject, setting forth the mighty achievements
that have been accomplished, and the precious promises that
have been obtained, through faith; and that he should, in
the first verse of the next chapter, as the grand
conclusion to his argument, exhort Christians to lay aside
every weight, and the sin [of unbelief] that so easily
besets them. Nothing will sooner dry up the springs of
spirituality, and sink us into utter poverty in reference
to the things of the kingdom of God, than to let faith go
out and unbelief come in. For faith must enter into every
action that is pleasing in his sight; and in coming to him,
the first thing is to believe that he is; and it is through
faith, as the chief agent under the grace which is the gift
of God, that we are to be saved. Heb. 11:6; Eph. 2:8. p.
375, Para. 1.
this it would seem that faith is a principal element
of spiritual wealth. But if, as already remarked, no one
grace can answer to the full import of the term gold,
doubtless, other things are included with faith.
the substance of things hoped for, says Paul. Hence hope
is an inseparable accompaniment of faith. Heb. 11:1; Rom.
8:24, 25. And again Paul tells us that faith works by love, and
speaks in another place of being
rich in good works. Gal.
5:6; 1 Tim. 6:18. Hence love cannot be separated from
faith. We then have before us the three objects associated
together by Paul in 1 Cor. 13, -- faith, hope, and charity,
or love; and the greatest of these is charity. Such is the
gold tried by fire which we are counseled to buy. p. 375,
White Raiment. -- On this point there would not seem to be
much room for controversy. A few texts will furnish a key
to the understanding of this expression. Says the prophet,
All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags. We
are counseled to buy the opposite of filthy rags, which
would be complete and spotless raiment. The same figure is
used in Zech. 3:3, 4. And John, in the 19th chapter of the
Revelation, verse 8, says plainly that
the fine linen is
the righteousness of saints. p. 376, Para. 1.
The Eye-salve. -- On this there is as little room for a
diversity of opinion as upon the white raiment. The
anointing of the eyes is certainly not to be taken in a
literal sense; and, reference being made to spiritual
things, the eye-salve must denote that by which our
spiritual discernment is quickened. There is but one agent
revealed to us in the word of God by which this is
accomplished, and that is the Holy Spirit. In Acts 10:38 we
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy
Ghost. And the same writer through whom came this
Revelation from Jesus Christ, wrote to the church in his
first epistle [chapter 2:20] as follows:
But ye have an
unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. In
verse 27 he enlarges upon this point thus:
anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and
ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same
anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is
no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in
him. By referring to his Gospel, it is found that the work
which he here sets forth as accomplished by the anointing
is exactly the same that he there attributes to the Holy
Spirit. John 14:26:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy
Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach
you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you. [See also John 16:13.]
p. 376, Para. 2.
Thus in a formal and solemn manner are we counseled by the faithful and true Witness, under the figures of gold, white raiment, and eye-salve, to seek from him, speedily and earnestly, an increase of the heavenly graces of faith, hope, charity, that righteousness which he alone can furnish, and an unction from the Holy Spirit. But how is it possible that a people lacking these things should think themselves rich and increased with goods? A plausible inference may here be drawn, which is perhaps also a necessary one, as there is room for no other. It will be observed that no fault is found with the Laodiceans on account of the doctrines they hold. They are not accused of harboring any Jezebel in their midst, or of countenancing the doctrines of Balaam or the Nicolaitanes. So far as we can learn from the address to them, their belief is correct, and their theory sound. The inference therefore is that having a correct theory, therewith they are content. They are satisfied with a correct form of doctrine without its power. Having received light concerning the closing events of this dispensation, and having a correct theoretical knowledge of the truths that pertain to the last generation of men, they are inclined to rest in this to the neglect of the spiritual part of religion. It is by their actions, doubtless, not by their words, that they say they are rich, and increased with goods. Having so much light and so much truth, what can they want besides? And if, with a commendable tenacity, they defend the theory, and in the letter, so far as their outward life is concerned, conform to the increasing light upon the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, is not their righteousness complete? Rich, and increased with goods, and needing nothing! Here is their failure. Their whole being should cry out for the spirit, the zeal, the fervency, the life, the power, of a living Christianity, and their righteousness should consist in a swallowing up of self and all its works in the merits of their Redeemer. p. 377, Para. 1.
Token of Love. -- This, strange as it may seem, is
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. If
we are without chastisement, we are not sons. Heb. 12.
A general law, says Thompson,
Of his gracious economy
is here set forth. As all need chastisement in some
measure, they in some measure receive it, and thus have
proof of the Saviour's attachment. This is a hard lesson to
learn, and believers are dull scholars; yet here and
throughout God's word and providence it stands, that trials
are his benedictions, and that no child escapes the rod.
The incorrigibly misshapen and coarse-grained blocks are
rejected, while those chosen for the glorious structure are
subjected to the chisel and the hammer. There is no cluster
on the true vine but must pass through the winepress. 'For
myself,' said an old divine under affliction, 'for myself,
I bless God I have observed and felt so much mercy in this
angry dispensation of God that I am almost transported. I
am, surely, highly pleased with thinking how infinitely
sweet his mercies are, when his judgments are so gracious.'
In view, then, of the origin and design of the
chastisements you receive, 'Be zealous and repent.' Lose no
time; lose not a blow of the rod, but repent at once. Be
fervent in spirit. Such is the first appliance of
encouragement. p. 378, Para. 1.
Be Zealous and Repent. -- Although, as we have seen, the state represented by coldness is preferable to one of lukewarmness, yet that is not a state in which our Lord ever desires to find us. We are never exhorted to seek that state. There is a far better one which we are counseled to attain: and that is to be zealous, to be fervent, and to have our hearts all aglow in the service of our Master. p. 378, Para. 2.
Knocking at the Door. -- Let us listen again to the
author above quoted:
Here is the heart of hearts.
Notwithstanding their offensive attitude, their unlovely
character, such is his love to their souls that he humbles
himself to solicit the privilege of making them blessed.
'Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.' Why does he? Not
because he is without home elsewhere. Among the mansions in
his Father's house there is not one entrance closed to him.
He is the life of every heart, the light in every eye, the
song on every tongue, in glory. But he goes round from door
to door in Laodicea. He stands at each, and knocks, because
he came to seek and to save that which is lost, because he
cannot give up the purpose of communicating eternal life to
as many as the Father has given him, and because he cannot
become known to the inmate unless the door be opened and a
welcome given him. Have you bought a piece of ground? have
you bought five yoke of oxen? is your hat in your hand, and
do you pray to be excused? He knocks and knocks. but you
cannot receive company at present; you are worn out with
labor; you have wheeled round the sofa; you are making
yourself comfortable, and send word that you are engaged.
He knocks and knocks. . . . It is the hour for church
prayer-meeting or for monthly concert; there is opportunity
to pay a Christian visit to an individual or a family; but
you move not. . . . Oh, nauseous lukewarmness! Oh, fatal
worldliness! The Lord of glory comes all the way from his
celestial palace -- comes in poverty, in sweat, in blood --
comes to the door of a professed friend, who owes all to
him, and cannot get in! -- comes to rescue a man whose
house is on fire, and he will not admit him! Oh, the
height, the depth, of Jesus Christ's forbearance! Even the
heathen Publius received Paul, and lodged him three days
courteously. Shall nominal Christians tell the Lord of
apostles that they have no room for him? p. 378, Para. 3.
If Any Man Hear My Voice. -- The Lord entreats, then, as well as knocks. And the word if implies that some will not hear. Though he stands and knocks and entreats till his locks are wet with the dews of night, yet some will close their ears to his tender entreaties. But it is not enough simply to hear. We must hear, and open the door. And many who at first hear the voice, and for a time feel inclined to heed, will doubtless, alas! fail in the end to do that which is necessary to secure to themselves the communion of the heavenly Guest. Reader, are your ears open to the entreaties which the Saviour directs to you? Is the sound of his voice a welcome sound? Will you heed it? Will you open the door and let him in? Or is the door of your heart held fast by heaps of this world's rubbish, which you are unwilling to remove? Remember that the Lord of life never forces an entrance. He condescends to come and knock, and seek admittance; but he takes up his abode in those hearts only where he is then a welcome and invited guest. p. 379, Para. 1.
then the promise!
I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me. How forcible and touching the
figure! Friend with friend, partaking of the cheerful and
social meal! Mind with mind, holding free and intimate
converse! And what a festal scene must that be where the
King of glory is a guest! No common degree of union, no
ordinary blessing, no usual privilege, is denoted by this
language. Who, under such tender entreaty and so gracious a
promise, can remain indifferent? Nor are we required to
furnish the table for this exalted Guest. This he does
himself, not with gross nutriment of earth, but with viands
from his own heavenly storehouse. Here he sets before us
foretastes of the glory soon to be revealed. Here he gives
us earnests of our future inheritance, which is
incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth not away. Verily, when
we shall comply with the conditions, and receive this
promise, we shall experience this rising of the day star in
our hearts, and behold the dawn of a glorious morning for
the church of God. p. 380, Para. 1.
Final Promise. -- The promise of supping with his
disciples is made by the Lord before the final promise to
the overcomer is given. This shows that the blessings
included in that promise are to be enjoyed in this
probationary state. And now, superadded to all these, is
the promise to the overcomer:
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.
Here the promises of the Lord culminate. From being at
first rebellious, and then fallen, degraded, and polluted,
man is brought by the work of the Redeemer back into
reconciliation with God, cleansed from his pollutions,
redeemed from the fall, made immortal, and finally raised
to a seat upon the very throne of his Saviour. Honor and
exaltation could go no farther. Human minds cannot conceive
that state, human language cannot describe it. We can only
labor on till, if overcomers at last, we shall
it is to be there. p. 380, Para. 2.
this verse there is not only a glorious promise, but
there is also an important doctrine. We learn by this that
Christ reigns consecutively upon two thrones. One is the
throne of his Father, the other is his own throne. He
declares in this verse that he has overcome, and is now set
down with his Father in his throne. He is now associated
with the Father in the throne of universal dominion, placed
at his right hand, far above all principality, power,
might, and dominion. Eph. 1:20-22, etc. While in this
position, he is a priest-king. He is a priest,
of the sanctuary; but at the same time he is
on the right
hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
8:1, 2. This position and work of our Lord was thus
predicted by the prophet Zechariah:
And speak unto him,
saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts [God], saying,
Behold the man whose name is the Branch [Christ]; and he
shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the
temple of the Lord. . . . And he [Christ] shall sit and
rule upon his [God's] throne; and he [Christ] shall be a
priest upon his [God's] throne; and the counsel of peace
[in the sacrifice and priestly work of Christ in behalf of
repenting man] shall be between them both. Zech. 6:12, 13.
But the time is coming when he is to change his position,
and, leaving the throne of his Father, take his own throne;
and this must be when the time comes for the reward of the
overcomers; for when they enter upon their reward, they are
to sit with Christ on his throne, as he has overcome, and
is now seated with the Father upon his throne. This change
in the position of Christ is set forth by Paul in 1 Cor.
15:24-28, as follows:-- p. 381, Para. 1.
cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the
kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put
down all rule and all authority and power. For he must
reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last
enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all
things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put
under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put
all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued
unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto
him that put all things under him, that God may be all in
all. p. 382, Para. 1.
The truths taught in this portion of Scripture may perhaps be most briefly expressed by a slight paraphrase, and by giving, in every instance, instead of the pronouns, the nouns to which they respectively refer. Thus:-- p. 382, Para. 2.
cometh the end [of the present dispensation], when
Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom [which he now
holds conjointly with the Father] to God, even the Father;
when God shall have put down all rule and all authority and
power [that is opposed to the work of the Son]. For Christ
must reign [on the throne of his Father] till the Father
hath put all enemies under Christ's feet. But when God
saith, All things are put under Christ [and he commences
his reign upon his own throne], it is manifest that God is
excepted, who did put all things under Christ. And when all
things shall be subdued unto Christ, then shall Christ also
himself be subject unto God that put all things under him,
that God may be all in all. p. 382, Para. 3.
That this is a correct version of this scripture may be easily verified. The only question that can be raised is concerning the persons to whom the pronouns refer; and any attempt to make the pronouns refer to Christ which in the foregoing paraphrase are referred to God, will be found, when traced through the quotation, to make poor sense of Paul's language. p. 382, Para. 4.
this it will be seen that the kingdom which Christ
delivers up to the Father is that which he holds at the
present time upon his father's throne, where he tells us he
is now seated. He delivers up this kingdom at the end of
this dispensation, when the time comes for him to take his
own throne. After this he reigns on the throne of his
father David, and is subject only to God, who still retains
his position upon the throne of universal dominion. In this
reign of Christ the saints participate.
To him that
overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.
they lived, says John, dating from the first resurrection
and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
This we understand to be a special reign, or for a special
purpose, as will be noticed in that chapter; for the actual
reign of the saints is to be
forever and ever. Dan. 7:18,
27. How can any earthly object divert our gaze from this
durable and heavenly prospect? p. 382, Para. 5.
Thus close the messages to the seven churches. How pointed and searching their testimony! What lessons do they contain for all Christians in all ages! It is as true with the last church as with the first, that all their works are known to Him who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. From his scrutinizing gaze nothing can be hidden. And while his threatenings to the hypocrites and evil workers, as in justice they may be, are awful, how ample, how comforting, how gracious, how glorious, his promises to those who love and follow him with singleness of heart! p. 383, Para. 1.
Gracious words of counsel, messages of love,
Sent to all his children from the Lord on High:
Precious are these warnings from the throne above,
As the world's last crisis swiftly draweth nigh.
p. 383, Para. 2.
and all unworthy we, his children, are --
Pure and perfect must be ere we see his face;
Now for us the Saviour shows his tender care,
Offering for our purchase every heavenly grace.
p. 383, Para. 3.
each boundless promise every bosom thrill,
Bear us through sad ills this world has ever known.
Till we reach the mansions on God's holy hill,
Till we sit with Jesus on his glorious throne.
p. 412, Para. 3.
© by S. D. Goeldner,