main index              back to "To the Christians"

JESUS

His Instruction To The Church

CHAPTER 9

The book of the Revelation has often been interpreted in neat sections with one thing after another. This is not incorrect, but some who do this miss the point. The Revelation is not only a revelation of time, but also of principle. It is a book of practical applications of principle as well as a revelation of time and circumstance. Jesus' revelation to the church is as a multi-faceted diamond, for light sparkles through it in a variety of ways.

This can be seen in the messages of Jesus to the churches. The prophecies seem so mysterious at first glance, but with careful study, one can see the simplicity intended for the one willing to grasp it. When Jesus was on the earth, He taught in the simplest language. He used language that even the common man or child could understand. His illustrations came from nature and the sights that men saw everyday. He used natural illustrations to show simple truths. Why should this great teacher suddenly change His ways of teaching?

In the letters to the churches He gives some simple lessons for all of us to grasp. He also shows the meaning of His illustrations. "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches." (Rev. 1:19-20)

In this first chapter, John saw Jesus standing in the middle of seven golden candlesticks. In His right hand were seven stars. The scripture quoted told John what the stars were. These were the angels of the churches. The word "angel" simply means messenger. These messengers could be heavenly or human; but, in the context of this passage, it refers to the one giving the message to that church. This is likely the overseer or pastor.

The Angels Are The Stars

The angels are the stars. They receive light from Jesus and give light to their congregations. The candlesticks are the churches where the star gives the light of Jesus. The Lord has made His illustrations simple for even the very young ones to understand.

The seven churches of the Revelation are often understood as churches through the ages. This is an appropriate application. There are also other principles involved. These principles include that the seven churches might also represent the kinds of professed believers and their circumstances of the church at any time. In other words, the seven churches represent the church through the ages and the church today.

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars [messengers] in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks [churches]; I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." (Rev. 2:1-7)

This is a graphic picture of the modern conservative. They hate the works of the Nicolaitanes. The Nicolaitanes were those who supposed the grace of God freed them from obedience to the law. These were professed believers who sinned and said that was alright since we had an intercessor.

The conservatives hated this type of thinking. The conservative would say you are not supposed to sin. Sin is bad. The conservative would say that we are supposed to live victorious lives. They would say that one is supposed to have victory.

Conservatism Is Not Enough

The Lord says that He knows the labor and works of the conservatives. They will travel from sea to sea to make a single convert. They bear long and labor with patience and do not faint. With all of these noble traits, the Lord says that it is not enough. "You have lost your first love." Conservatism is not enough. Even though one has many good qualities, if he has lost his first love, he cannot get to heaven. This first love is the joy and peace of obedience, and the enthusiasm to share it. It is the joy and love for the soul for whom Christ died. The conservatives have trusted in their "rightness" and their own "righteousness" so that they were lax in the true religion of Christ.

Jesus said to them, "If you don't change, I will remove your candlestick." He bears with conservatives to a point, then He leaves them to their own religion. When one leaves the first love behind, when one leaves his ardent devotion and love for souls, he has a form remaining. The form is not evil of itself, but it lacks the true nature of God. Such an individual will find he has been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

"And unto the angel [messenger or pastor] in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (Rev. 2:8-9)

This well represents the Christians of all ages who have found themselves in very difficult circumstances. These may be the poor in the congregation who are oppressed and persecuted by their more prosperous brethren. These "brethren" say they are Christians but they actually belong to the synagogue of Satan. They bring sin and oppression into the camp and it causes the less influential brethren great distress. The Lord lays on them no more burden than to be faithful unto the end. They seem not to have recourse or anywhere else to go, so the Lord keeps their experience where they are.

"And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days where in Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." (Rev. 2:12-17)

We have already mentioned the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes who teach that the law is not binding because of grace. But to the church at Pergamos are mentioned two other things. One is the doctrine of Balaam. The other is the teaching of fornication and things eaten that have been sacrificed to idols. This should not be a mystery to us. Through the Bible we can see the principle of fornication with the world that is profess to be a Christian but live and do as the world does.

Today there are also those who teach that we should eat things sacrificed to idols. Instead of eating that which is for our best good, some eat things in honor of the stomach god. "If it tastes good, eat it." There are those who profess to be followers of Jesus, but they follow the world in their customs and ideas and eat whatever their stomach craves. This is the doctrine of Balaam. The Lord will not accept these individuals.

He says to them, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and fight against them with the sword of my mouth." That is I will send messages of reproof and I will fight against you. Some, today, who call themselves the church of God, have not repented of these three things. They hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes; they live after the world, and they eat that which is not for their best good. Their stomachs are the idols to which they sacrifice. Because of this the Lord has sent them the sword of His mouth. He has warred against these false believers. He has brought messages against them and some have overcome. To them Jesus has given a white stone with a new name on it.

This word for stone in the Greek is "psephos". It is used by the apostle Paul in Acts 26:10. He writes, "...And many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice (psephos) against them." This stone is represented as a testimony. It is one's influence, vote or judgment. Paul used his "stone" against the Christians he persecuted. This was also well illustrated in the act of stoning those who offended the Jews. They were casting their stone or vote against them. They were bearing their testimony against their enemies. When Jesus said to Peter, "And I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it", Peter had just finished declaring that Jesus was the Son of the living God. Jesus responded that this testimony, judgment and declaration would be the foundation of His church.

The people of God were to bear a new testimony. They were going to be given a white stone with a new name on it. The stone would be their vote and testimony. It would be white representing the character of Jesus. Instead of our own testimony, it would be the testimony of Jesus represented by the new name written upon it. That new name is, "The Lord Our Righteousness".

In Daniel, Chapter 2, is described a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. This stone is cut out of the mountain of God. It is the testimony and judgment of Jesus. It represents righteous judgment. This, in fact, destroys the image of Babylon. "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them; and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." (Dan. 2:34-35)

This prophecy in Daniel represents the Lord fighting against the false image set up in the hearts of men. This image represented the great earthly kingdoms. This image was the world. God cut out of the mountain of God a stone (a testimony and a judgment) and gave it to His people. This righteous (white) stone grinds to powder the lies that are perpetrated in the earth. And this stone has a new name. This name is not the name of a man or idea, but the name of God, "The Lord Our Righteousness."

No man knows this name but those who receive it. They do not recognize its importance. In the Bible it is written that a man "knew" a woman when he slept with her. When he became one with her, he knew her. So it is with the name of God. One does not know it until they are one with it. Man cannot appreciate that which he does not know. So it is with the name on the stone.

The Lord also says, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna." What is this hidden manna? This is the bread. This is the Word of God. Jesus said, "...Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. ...I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:32-35) Jesus is the "hidden manna". Jesus is the Word of God. There are those who read the Bible but cannot grasp what it says. They see words but cannot take the powerful meanings written there. Jesus says to His church that if you overcome and follow me, you will be able to read the Bible and know what it is saying. I will give you the "hidden manna." You will understand the "mysteries" of Scripture. You will understand the Word of God because you will have Him in your temple.

You Put Up With An Harlot

"And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I receive of my Father." (Rev. 2:18-27)

This statement to Thyatira well illustrates some who dwell with the harlot. There are churches who have lost their purity, yet professed believers still are members of her congregation. These members who realize that their churches are in a worldly condition, but refuse to leave those churches, "suffer" that woman Jezebel. They say, "Oh, we will just stay in and witness", or "the Lord will bring her to repentance someday." Jesus said, "I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not."

The worldly churches do not get better. They just go more deeply into their idolatry. Because of this the Lord says, "I will kill her children with death." The members of her congregations who know of her condition, yet refuse to leave, will die spiritually. The angel will not keep them.

The Lord goes on to say that there are those who do not know the condition of the churches. These sincerely seek the Lord's will and have not known the depths of Satan in their church. To these the Lord says that He puts on no other burden.

But there is a reward mentioned for those who overcome the harlot. "To him will I give power over the nations. And he [the one who overcomes] shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father." If you overcome Jezebel, and refuse her company, you will have power over the nations and you shall rule them with a rod of iron.

The Lord says Jezebel calls herself a prophetess. That is she calls herself a true church. She says, "I am God's true church." In reality, she is a whore because she teaches her members to partake of the world as well as make a god of their stomachs.

Those who knowingly "suffer" that woman Jezebel will be cast into great tribulation. The Lord will bring their children to judgment. Spiritual death will be their reward. If your church has gone after the world, to save yourself, you must overcome her and separate from Jezebel instead of sleeping with her. Save your children. Get out of her bed. If you overcome her, you will be made a ruler over the nations.

The Living Dead

"And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." (Rev. 3:1) This well illustrates those who have a high profession of their life but, in reality, they are dead. They have the right doctrines but there is just no life in them. They have no spark, just a profession. The Lord counsels these to strengthen all that remains. They must do something.

"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 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. 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. 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. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 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." (Rev. 3:7-12)

I Will Give You A New Name

The church reflects those who will be translated. These are those who are on the rock. They have not failed to keep the word of God. They will be kept from the plagues which are soon to fall on the earth. Satan finds nothing in them to accuse. The day will come when those who have professed to be Christians, but who were really not, will worship before these believers. They will acknowledge that the true church of God was right and just. They will acknowledge that they have been liars.

To those who overcome is promised that they will be a pillar that will never go out of God's temple. And the new name will be written upon them. This name is the Lord Our Righteousness. It is written on all who overcome the harlot. It is written on all who overcome mere conservatism. It is written on all who are truly alive. The church has "a little strength" and that is enough. These are those with the new name written on their foreheads. This name reflects the very character of God, rather than the old names they have used for generations. They have called their churches so many names that the very process of names has caused confusion. Jesus gives His unmistakable name, "The Lord Our Righteousness." This is the only name whereby a man is saved. The character of the Lord is now our own character. No one enters heaven without this character firmly imprinted on the mind.

I Will Spew Thee Out

"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; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:14-16)

The lukewarm professors are those who ignore the message of the Philadelphians. They do not take a stand, for or against, in any strong terms. They are detached and make no real decisions. The Lord says, "I will spew you out." Some like to let others bear the heat of the day, but the day is coming when these false-hearted professors will bear the heat of the Lord's coming, calling for rocks and mountains to hide them from the face of the One sitting on the throne.

What is the warning of our Savior concerning all these matters? "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Rev. 3:22)

We have seen who God is. We have seen what He has said to the churches. In which church do you worship? Are you a conservative, but have lost your first love? Are you of those who have accepted the false doctrines which allow the world into your homes or where your god is your stomach? Do you profess to be alive but you are actually dead? Are you one who acknowledges Jezebel the harlot as the true church? Do you say you will just stay in and witness? The Lord says "repent" or he will remove your candlestick out of its place. If you do repent, the Lord promises eternal life. He will remove the plagues from you. He will give you a new name. Your name will be, "The Lord Our Righteousness."


« Last | Next »