King's Business - 1949-09

“ Thou . . . hast not denied my jiame.” This church stood for the great truths embodied in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord is the New Testament form of the Old Testament Jehovah and speaks of His deity. Jesus is His human name, received at the Incarnation, and speaks of His Humanity and Saviourhood. Christ is the Greek form of the Hebrew Messiah —the Anointed One —and is His official title as the divinely appointed Prophet, Priest, and King. Thus in His name are found the most precious and essential truths of Christianity. Already in John’s day some were denying these fundamental truths (1 John 2 :1 8 -2 3 ; 2 John 7 -1 1 ). Such was not the case at Philadelphia. To this church our Lord could say: “ Thou . . . hast not denied my name.” We must not pass on without noting the lovely parenthesis in this verse: “ Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” To such a church as this our blessed Saviour can open the door of God’s treasure house of spiritual blessings. He likewise opens the door of further usefulness, and “no man can shut it.” 4. Complaint. “ 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” (versé 9). No doubt there is room for difference of opinion in the interpretation of this verse, and some may feel that it refers to a group outside the church which was persecuting it. But a more careful study will show that the reference is to the same ones mentioned in the letter to Smyrna (Rev. 2 :9 )—the Judaizers—false legalistic teachers within the professing church. These men were of the same sort as those with whom Paul contended in Acts 15. While they were in the professing church, their character and teaching revealed that they were not in the true church. These perverters of the gospel had caused trouble in Philadelphia as elsewhere, but it is predicted that they will some day be humbled as they see that God’s blessing rests not upon their own deceitful ministry, but upon the work of those who truly love His gospel of grace. 5. Exhortation. “ 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” (verse 10). “ The word of my patience”—this phrase should be compared with Rev. 1:9—“ I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” Note the close con­ nection between the kingdom and patience. During the present age the Kingdom of Heaven is revealed to be in mystery form (see Matt. 13). Some day the Kingdom will be manifest­ ed in all of its glory—at the coming of the King—but the days pass on and the King returns not, so patience is a necessary virtue in God’s faithful ones. Some day this patience will be rewarded. To the believers at Philadelphia (and to all true believers everywhere) Christ promises: “ 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.” This coming hour of trial is none other than the Great Tribulation, that awful period just preceding the Second Coming of Christ, which is described so graphically in Revelation 4 to 19. Thank God, those who truly belong to Christ will not have to experience this final tribulation for the “ earth-dwellers.” Before the seventieth week of Daniel begins, the Church will be caught up in the Rapture, forever to be with the Lord (see 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Later Christ’s saints will return to rule and reign with Him at His glorious Revelation. 6. Threat. “ Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (verse 11). In view of the Lord’s imminent return, Christians are warned that they should “ hold fast” lest they lose their crowns. The croums are the rewards to be given by the Lord for faithful service, in that day when “we shall all stand before the judg­ ment seat of Christ” (Rom. 14:10). Notice that Christ does not threaten true believers with the possibility of losing their salvation. There is no such possibility. But it is sadly possible for a Christian to lose his reward. “ If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:14,15). What joy in that day for those who will hear him say, “ Well S E P T E M B E R , 1 9 4 9

done, good and faithful servant” ! May we all “hold fast” so that we may each one receive this most precious of all rewards —His commendation. 7. Promise. “ 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” (verse 12). In Old Testament times, God’s temple was an earthly building of stone, wood, and other materials. Not so today. Now God’s Spirit dwells in the bodies of believers (1 Cor. 6:19) and all Christians together, throughout the entire age, form the CHURCH. “ Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5). And [ye] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:20-22). So all born-again ones become living stones in this spiritual building, with Christ as the “ chief corner stone” (1 Pet. 2:6). The pillars are a most important part of a temple for they must support the entire structure, and without them it would fall. Christ promises to make the “ overcomer” a “ pillar” in this “ spiritual house”—“ the temple of my God.” He further promises to write upon these victorious Chris­ tians three names. When a person writes his name upon a book or other object, it signifies possession or ownership. By such an action he shows that the object is set apart—conse­ crated—to his own use. Thus the one who truly lives for Christ has written upon him “ the name of my God”—which speaks of consecration to God—“ the name of the city of my God . . . new Jerusalem”—consecration to an heavenly calling —and “my new name” (which is KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS—see Revelation 19:16)—consecration to the King. One further word needs to be said concerning the place of Philadelphia considered typically in the prophetic outline of Church History found in Revelation 2 and 3. This is best understood in connection with the last four of these churches. Thyatira is the Roman Church of the Middle Ages and fol­ lowing—“the church of Jezebel.” Sardis represents the post­ reformation Protestant Church: orthodox in creed, but snirit­ ually dead. Philadelphia represents the faithful individual church of the last days; Laodicea, the faithless individual church. No denomination today can be commended as being entirely Philadelphian in character. Neither can any denomi­ nation be condemned as being entirely Laodicean in nature. In each denomination there are some churches like Philadel­ phia, others like Laodicea. As each of these last four letters contains a reference to the Second Coming of Christ, it is indicated that the conditions pictured in these four churches will continue on “ till He come.” Let us exert every effort that our own churches (and our own lives) may be like the church at Philadelphia. The Intercessor By Annie Johnson Flint

Infinite Wisdom and infinite Love, Praving for me to the Father above. Asking for me what Thou knowest is best— Surely my heart in this knowledge can rest. Wrapped in my darkness and ignorance here, With Thy great prayer let me not interfere; Let me not cross that petition divine, Losing a blessing that might have been mine; Teach me to pray, that Thy will, so begun, May in my life and my spirit be done. Here is my confidence, here can I rest; Thou alone knowest and askest the best.

—By permission, Evangelical Publishers.

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