Lecture 1

 •  30 min. read  •  grade level: 8
I have been asked to lecture here on " The Coming Kingdom." I do so gladly, depending -upon God, in His grace, for ability, and for guidance and power. A first remark, however, may be, that I dread lest we should forget the unity of truth whilst examining any portion of it, and so be misled by having taken a part out of, and away from, its place of connection with the rest. To explain what I mean, I will give an instance of this, and one which has led to many practical evils.
(*From " Hymns for the Little Flock.")
Some have spoken about the gospel, and written about it, merely as it bears upon a sinner when he first believes, as though the forgiveness of sins were all that it contained. To look at the gospel in this way takes up but one point connected with -it, and that in itself a little one, namely, how it suits the sinner dead in trespasses and sins, if he -receives it; and this, too, is on its lowest and least important side of blessing, that is, guilty man's side; and, further, I may ask (if I speak of what suits a fallen man), has the gospel no other blessing for such an one? God's side of it presents it as a whole, in its own proper importance (not to me, or any individual sinner, in his or her selfishness, all-important as it is to such, but) to God, and to the whole universe under Him; for thus it reveals God in His eternal being and character,. His joy in the Son of His love, in three displays, of Him; firstly, in humiliation unto death, the, death of the cross-He suffering; secondly, in heaven now (between the suffering and the glory yet to come), forgiver of sins, and giver of eternal life and the Holy Spirit to all who own and bow down to Him-He now in patience, while waiting for His foes to be made His footstool; and, thirdly, He in displayed glory when He comes a second time as Son of man; coming out from the glory-of God to take the kingdom, and bring forth new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness, shall dwell. No suffering to Him then, nor to those that are His-no more need of patience then He will reign first in the kingdom; whether. his court, and the bride (now become the Lamb's wife), be looked at as on high, or whether the kingdom upon earth be considered. Reigning, He will put down all enemies-Satan (and rebellions men with him, their chosen head and master) must go into the lake of fire—death be swallowed up in victory, and finally the new heavens and new earth come into being.
This (God's display of His Son in humiliation, and then in patience, and then, as resulting from these, in glory) is God's gospel. And hero the "humiliation, and the patience, „and the glory of Him, who is God manifest in flesh, stand out as a unity. It is the revelation of the being and character of God Himself-shows His delight in Christ, into which delight the believer can enter, through faith and by the Spirit, but the believer only. No other man's works, or doings, or sufferings have been from or for God, or have a claim upon God; none other than He has shared, or over can share, the throne of God; none other has been endowed with authority to forgive sin, to give eternal life, even now; none other has waited to be gracious. But to Him, Jesus, all power in heaven and in earth is given, and all glory shall be given.
To turn now to my thesis " The Coming Kingdom." I might separate the coming kingdom from that which leads into it, and from that to which it leads. I should then have to give you from every part of scripture such portions as refer to it, and to fix. each portion in its right place. This would take for granted that I had a very thorough knowledge of the Bible, and that you all likewise had so mastered its contents, as to be able to say whether or not my application of these scriptures sheaved that I had been taught of God. Instead of supposing so much to be true, it will be more humble and happy to choose some one portion of scripture, and endeavor to examine what it says. That scripture remains always open in our hands, and before us, and if, instead of attempting to explain every verse of it, God gives me to help you as to the meaning of some one or two only of the more important parts, you will each of you be a gainer, and any mistake that I may make be more easily perceived by you.
I have selected, therefore, the last book in our Bible-the Revelation-as that which we may look at together.
Read with me the first three verses of the first chapter, and verses 6 and 7 of the last chapter.
(1) " The Revelation* of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things. which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (2) Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, [and] of all things that he saw. (3) Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear, the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which arc written therein: for the time is at hand." And chapter 22:6, 7. " These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord. God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book."
(* " The Revelation" is in the singular number, and not, as sonic arc wont to say, " The Revelations," which is plural. This at least marks the unity of the whole, though that whole may contain subordinate parts, It is the Revelation Of je; Christ which God gave, &c.)
Observe how these five verses bear upon those who do not study this book. Can I say, as their practice implies, it is not a revelation, or uncovering of things (which man's mind never could have discovered), which God gave unto Jesus Christ to show unto His servants, things which must shortly come to pass. Surely, if there be a covering anywhere, it Must be over the hearts and minds of those who cannot, and will not, see what God says He has uncovered, and revealed, and given to Jesus to show to His servants. It is the book that skews part of what Jesus has been doing since He went to heaven, and what He is about to do, and Himself is the One to show it all to His servants. Care you not for such divine grace? despise you such service of Christ? If so, are you a servant of His?
God has shown that which will shortly come to pass. Now, man is naturally a great planner for what is to be the future down here, and the knowledge of God's plan for the future is a fine antidote to man's planning and plans; and " shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do?" (Gen. 18:1717And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; (Genesis 18:17)) contains one of God's ways in His actings with the members of the household of faith, as much as with the father of the faithful. If the things which must shortly come to pass are known to you, and abide with you, the flesh will be judged; the world spoiled to you, and its engrossing power over the natural mind broken by the very hopes of the corning glory, and the vista of grace which leads up to it. John in Patmos, outcast from his much-loved sphere of work among saints, was the first who enjoyed the privilege of this book; and his exile was the Lord's time for giving to all His people the chart for the troubled wilderness which lay between John, when in Patmos, and the new heavens and new earth. A troubled wilderness it is, but with bright illuminations of God's ways, and of Christ's presence with His people right on to the end-an end whose bright and. gladdening light may be seen all through the journey, and by each individual who makes it.
And notice the peculiar blessing to the student: " Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear.... and keep (or treasure up) the sayings of the prophecy of this book." See also chapter 22:7, " Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keeps the sayings of the prophecy of this book."
Note it, He does not say, "Blessed is he who understands," &c., but blessed is he who reads, or hears read, and keeps the sayings of the book. He, if there be but one, as in John's case when in Patmos, has the blessing.
As we look through the book together, you will, I trust, sec with me that the Revelation is no trackless- ocean, nor is it without some of the most blessed springs of sweet water, nor without fruits of the tree of life, for our use!
The book, as given by God, and as spread out before us down here, is divided into parts, or sections. The leading truth in each part naturally (according to God) was according to the actions of Christ during the times it treats of. What more according to God than that His beloved Son, and the actions of His Son-the- Christ-should be treated of in each part of the stream of time, from Patmos to the new heavens and new earth being set up! And, consequently, in the account given of these actings, the places or scenes of such actings are brought before us. And what more natural (in the new nature, and to the Spirit of God) than that the servant's mind should be there where the Master is acting! " The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy."
The three-ply thread of gold, which is to faith its clue through the book, is the blessed Lord Himself in His actings, and the scenes of these, and the mind of His servant there, through the Spirit.
The Revelation contains God's chart, or stream of time, for John, from Patmos to the end of time. The Christ is seen in it in action; whether first in judging the seven candlesticks, from chapter 1 to 3-which was seen by John in a vision, as if all was in Patmos-and the Lord there as Son of man in the glories of the Ancient of Days.
Or, secondly, when in spirit John was caught up into heaven, and found that the Lamb, who had been hidden in the midst of the throne, was opening out all that He upon the throne would do in providence to prepare for Israel's getting back to the land, and the power of the Gentiles being set aside. From chapter v. to the end of chapter ix. in heaven, Himself acting, though unseen by men, and nothing that mere men on earth could understand, it being seen as flowing from Him. From chapter 10 to 19, verse 10, there is a description of the things upon earth for which He had been so acting, but at the time when they will stand out to man's eye upon earth; and both these parts-the preparation for the end, and the beginning of the end (visible to man)-all of it, so to speak, and understood by John; ending with the triumph in heaven.
If the Revelation were printed on one side of a large sheet of paper, and I then divided it into three parts-
The first part (A) would end with chapter 3.
The second part (B) would end with chapter 19:10.
The third part (C) would end with the book.
(A)* would contain both the introduction to the book, and the actings of the Son of man seen by John, as if He had come down into Patmos, and was seen by him there as judging the churches. (B) would embrace the whole period in which the Lord (His resting-place in patience still in heaven) is acting, first, in providence, to remove barriers out of the way; and then openly, to bring out to light and sight on earth the beginning of the end, and the actual preparations for earthly glory; and (C) would contain the open manifestations of Himself; the kingdom in its twofold parts, heavenly and earthly; and after that, the eternal state; and then the conclusion of the book, or prophecy.
(* (A). This really contains the things which are and the things seen. (Chap. 1:19.) (B) and (C) contain all that shall be hereafter, or after those things which John saw.)
Peter, James, and John saw the transfiguration of the Lord on the mount. Peter wrote about it as an eye-witness. (2 Pet. 1:16-2116For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. 19We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:16‑21).) They saw it for us, In like manner John, when in Patmos, had a stream of time-God's stream about the Son of man. and tin' Lamb, and of that which would roll out under the hand of Christ, as Son of man, or the Lamb. John saw it all in broad outline, and John wrote it down for us. And the Holy Spirit, who inspired. John to write it, is' with us, to enable us to profit from it, each for him or her self. But in order to do this we must be simple and childlike, and not carry our own thoughts into the book, but bring forth God's mind as expressed in it.
Keep your eye upon Christ Himself, and see where He is, and what He is doing, as you read the book. This will light to your intelligence, and will give warmth to your heart, as well as strength to your conscience, and purpose of heart to be a doer of His will. Christ a living person, in whatsoever glories shown, for me as sole clue through the book! Take seals, or trumpets, or vials, &c., as clue-if I see, the Living One who gives all these their power, I can be satisfied to wait till many of the details explain themselves by their accomplishment; for the word of God accomplishes itself. But I live upon Christ now.
I take, then, now this roll of the stream of time, as to the revelation of Jesus Christ as Son of man, and as the Lamb. It has three cords across it, binding up its length into three parts. I loose the first of them, and it unrolls down to the end of the third chapter. I real it prayerfully, and say the golden thread that runs through it is my Lord,. as Soil of man, in the glory of the Ancient of Days, come down from above, and standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. And there He expresses His unfailingly correct estimate of how far they had answered the purpose' He had in lighting them. His mind conies out to and in His servant John. All this in a vision in Patmos. And (may I not add?) gracious the love which chews me the Lord in this, to me, His new position; surely Himself therein, will give me the light of intelligence, and feed my soul with His glory. The apparent nearness of the One in action to that about and on which He is acting, and the full entrance of the mind of John into all this, should be noticed.
But remark verses 4 and 5-" which is, and which was, and which is to come"-(or the existing one, and the was, and the coming One). How different from the title, Father and God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Father and God through Him! (John 20:1717Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17).)
Again, " the seven spirits which are before the throne." How different from the titles of the Spirit, the Unction, Life-giving, the Seal, the Earnest, and Comforter, as we know Him!
And again, and " Jesus Christ, as the Faithful Witness, first-begotten from the dead, and Prince of the kings of the earth." How different from that which John's faith gives out the moment he sees Him, according to the glories in Christ, as displayed in the eternal redemption and everlasting salvation of a people for heaven! " Unto him -that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood:" the enjoyed fruits of His love acting in mercy and compassion. "And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father;" rich grace to us, in having set us in relationship with Himself, who is Head of all government and worship! And, lastly, the privilege and power of praise; " to him be glory and dominion forever and ever, amen," expressing both the mind of the Holy Spirit, and the desire of the disciple's heart.
Verse 4, and the first part of 5, give us glories divine of God, and of the Spirit, and of Jesus Christ as connected with earth. But John (latter part of verse 5, and verse 6) takes up glories divine, but as connected with himself, and those that are for heaven and eternity-known and enjoyed blessings.
The Emperor may have been allowed to stop John's work in the churches, and was allowed (led by Satan) to thrust him into solitude, to the very point where the Son of man meant to meet him, and to give to him the new service of writing the guide-book for His people, through time, until the end. The glories of the Son of man, here as the Ancient of Days, are awe-inspiring; but they are not difficult to understand, at least not the titles or the insignia. John fell (ver. 17) at His feet as dead! But He graciously laid His right hand upon him, saying, " Fear not;" and then He names some of His own glories, as the answer to all that His servant could fear. " I am the first and the last; the Living One, and who became dead; and, lo! I am living for evermore, and have the keys of death and of the unseen world." And then (ver. 19) he claims John's service for Himself and the churches. To John, and to everyone that serves, how precious that service, and the love that formed it!
The mind of man works upon the things of man, but where the Spirit of God is, there that which God's word reveals is received in simplicity, just as " it is written." And sure I am that anyone of us that has the Spirit and mind of God can receive what He has written, and if we compare scripture with scripture, we shall soon discover thus more than we can find time to communicate one to the other.
In chapters 2, 3 we have the seven churches named, in the midst of which John had seen (chap. 1:13) the Son of man. They were seen as around -Him, Himself in their midst: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira„ Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea. Seven churches selected as embodying all those failures which the Lord knew were contrary to His own mind, and all that would be found in any church, unto the end of there being any such on earth. These seven churches, I do not doubt, give all the phases of carelessness, weakness, haughtiness, evil in false doctrine, and in false profession, dependence, and independence, of all parts of the whole nominal church.
If I sit down and read ecclesiastical history, and study all the phases that have appeared in the churches, from the beginning down to the present time, as near the end, I find then the value of the Lord's wisdom in having selected the above seven, and the order of the moral evil in the church, as a whole, upon earth is marked by the order in which the seven candlesticks are placed.
Each of these addresses has insignia* in which severally the Lord appeared.
(* Study the string of these precious insignia and characteristics of your Lord and Savior till you can go with intelligence through them. They are goodly beads to tell over.
1. He that holds fast the seven stars in His right, hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. (Chap. 2:1.)
2. The First and the Last, which became dead, and lived. (Ver. 8.)
3. He which has the sharp sword with two edges. (Ver. 12.)
4. The Son of God, who has His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet like unto fine brass. (Ver. 18.)
5. He that possesses the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. (Chap. 3:1.)
6. He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens, and no one Shuts, and shuts, and no one opens. (Ver. 7.))
7. The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. (Ver. 14.)
Seven insignia or signs about, or in Him, possessed by Himself alone! Precious glories of the Son of man, here in the glory of the Ancient of Days!
Each assembly has the Lord's estimate of it given.* Each has words of caution, consolation, and admonition, rebuke, warning, comfort, &c., fitting to its state, given. Each too has promissory communications made to it, calculated to make any believer become a victor or overcomer (who of you are overcomers?) Works, whether good or bad, are noticed.
(* Every one, if he speaks, writes, or acts, will let out, at all events, what is in himself. Let this make us swift to hear and slow to speak. And, mark it, Christ also speaks, and acts truthfully according to what He is. Thus, if there be anything that can be praised, He speaks of that first and afterward of what is evil. usually find fault first, and few believers know how to praise another. I remember one saying once to me, "Nobody ever praised me before!" I had noticed to him how much Christ had wrought patience in him in the preceding year.)
There is to each of these addresses an internal consistency in all its several parts, one with the other, which makes it impossible to transfer one part from one address to another, without disturbing the internal harmony of both. The promise are as full as such a Giver might give.
The one that is an overcomer:* 1, to him will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in thy paradise of God. (Chap. 2:7.) 2, Shall not be hurt by the second death. (Ver. 11.) 3, To him will I give to eat of the hidden manna; and a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no one knows, saving he that receives it.. (Ver. 17.) 4, To him will I give power over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father and I will give him the Morning Star. (Ver. 26-28.) 5, we 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. (Chap. 3:5.) 6, Will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and my new name. (Ver. 12.) 7, To him 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. (Ver. 21.) What a giver He! and how gracious the way in which he cheers on to victory.
(*"He that overcomes" is tame in English, and is ambiguous, for it might mean he that may gain the victory in the end. "The overcomer" is he that has overcome, does) overcome and will overcome. A title attached to a person and characterizing him, he has overcome the wicked one, himself, and the world. Reader! am I, are you, an overcomer?)
1. EPHESUS, the primitive church left her first love. (Chap. 2: 4.) No diligence in candlestick duties (and there was much therein which He praised) could compensate to the Son of man for the want of personal love to Himself. It was Paul's freshness of love to the Lord, which, from the beginning to the end, so characterized him, amid all his much service; and which alas, had waned in His beloved Ephesians! " Thou hast left thy first love." This was the church in her first declension.*
(* 1, Ephesus may, it has been said, mean beloved; 2, Smyrna, preserved; 3, Pergamos, elevation; 4, Thyatira, rend or tear the sacrifice; 5, Sardis, feigned; 6, Philadelphia, brotherly love (if so as exhibited in the Lord); 7, Laodicea, judgment by the people.
Introducing Himself as Son of man in the glories of the Ancient of days to the churches, He uses some of His various official glories and personal characteristics in their wide range, if haply He may act upon those under the responsibility of their testimony, and lead them to repentance; or to be strong; or to fear; or to take forth that which is precious from that which is vile; or to be real; or to use Him as their responsibility-bearer; or to be ashamed of themselves. And all this more connected with the heema (2 Cor. 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)); than with the great white throne. (Rev. 20:1212And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12).)
2. Smyrna had most taste in her experience of fellowship with Christ in His rejection by the world, though the reason of the experience was different. As to the church it was by persecution that the Lord preserved a weak people, from the world which crucified Him (the Lord) because He was unwavering, strong and true to God alone. This was the second estate of the church.
3. Pergamos, the third experience of the church, brought with it Constantine, the emperor, usurping a place of power over the church.
4. Thyatira, the fourth phase, gives us Jezebel's history over again. She who had no right to any place in the kingdom usurped power to establish false worship.
5. Sardis comes next as a fifth, when the kings of the earth took the place of being nursing fathers to the church-a name to live, but no life.
6. Philadelphia, the sixth is fully filled up by the Lord Himself.
7. Laodicea had a very good opinion of itself and its attainments; very like what we see now.
Study Christ as He set Himself forth in Patmos and amid the seven churches: John saw it all, and wrote it all for all his fellow-servants that they might know it.
The Christ,-born of a virgin, and growing up, and seen to have been in retirement from youth
till about thirty years of age; in testimony and teachings, and in all the beauteous ways of His own, amid the activities of His life here below; on the cross, in His marvelous death, and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea; but who burst the grave and came forth leading captivity captive, -is the Christ whom I commend to you. That Person first in those circumstances of humiliation. Yes, but stop not thou in those circumstances, He is not there now-the mosque of Mahomet has supplanted in that land the temple of Jehovah. Nor is He still lingering on earth as He once did forty days, to show that He marked well the state of all things in the beloved city, and to counsel and cheer His apostles: for whom when He was risen from among the dead, He yet lingered forty days, but then ascended, while they saw Him go up; and after that (Phil. 2:6-116Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6‑11)) He took His seat on high. Mark the " wherefore" of verse 9, obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, "wherefore" God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus (which was His name as known among men) every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and on earth, and infernal: and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
Study Himself there, in His actings at Pentecost (Acts 2.), Forgiver of sins, and Giver of the Holy Spirit to repentant sinners in Jerusalem. Study Himself in the martyrdom, of Stephen (chap. 7.); and the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (chap. 9.) and his mission (chap. 13.) at Antioch, and his apostleship as Paul. Study Him in the Hebrews, in the heavenly calling, in the Epistle to the Ephesians, in the mystery: study Him where you will, but whatever you do, do not forget to study Him in the Apocalypse, book of His glorious power, and coming, and of the glorious manifestations to come, on earth and in heaven; first, as suppressing all evil, and reigning over the earth; and finally, in the new heavens and new earth. For God will have this twofold glory as fruit of the humiliation, patience, and power of the Son of man, Jehovah's fellow. (Zech. 13:7; 11:137Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. (Zechariah 13:7)
13And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. (Zechariah 11:13)
.)
I beseech and entreat each of you to have and to hold Christ Himself as the test of yourself, and all your ways: as the touchstone by which worldliness can be discovered; and (as He is in the book which we are studying) the great responsibility-bearer before God, as to the profession of religion on earth, and as to the fulfillment hereafter of all promises to the Jews, and the Gentiles, as well as to the church of God. (1 Cor. 10:3232Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: (1 Corinthians 10:32).)
It may not be amiss to add a few remarks now upon the light which this first part of the book sheds upon some of the leading ecclesiastical notions of the day.
Man from the time he lost his innocency, with it lost his first estate, he was turned also out of Eden a spoiled thing. From that time downward, his tendency and business have (alas!) been to spoil everything he can; and this often through the delusion that he is competent to improve upon what God has done!
Men tell us that the church as set up round. Peter, apostle of the circumcision, at Pentecost, is to stand forever, and to bring in a spiritual millennium; and that nothing in it may be altered until the Lord takes the great white throne. The Jews held much the same thoughts about the Mosaic economy; and were stumbled by the Lord's coming first in humility, ere He came in glory; just as now, men are stumbled by the statement of the truth that the churches-Christendom-will certainly be judged by Him, because 4 its failure as to the truth entrusted to it, and the position in which grace placed it as to heavenly truth, as much as Jewdom failed of old, as to truth about earthly things.
But, if the church at Jerusalem was everything, and the source of all power, and was to abide continually,—why was there to be another apostle (Paul, apostle of the uncircumcision), and another site, Antioch, set forth? Who transgressed man's notions, even with a Philip in Samaria, and as to the eunuch of Candace of Ethiopia (Acts 8:5, 275Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. (Acts 8:5)
27And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, (Acts 8:27)
)? It was the Lord Himself. Who used Peter, as to Cornelius and his household (chap. 10.) contrary to his own, and Jerusalem Christians' prejudices? It was the Lord!! Who chose a new-witness, a Hellenist, chosen to be apostle of the uncircumcision, endowed him, and sent him out from Antioch without his deriving any one thing through, Jerusalem? It was the Lord. And Paul was witness, not of Christ risen from the dead merely, but of Christ ascended up on high and giving gifts to men! Christ Jesus on earth formed Peter, and (when risen from the dead) sent down from heaven the Holy Spirit to him: Christ ascended up into glory, turned Saul* into Paul, and the Holy Spirit sent him out from among his praying brethren, and fellow-servants at Antioch, together with Barnabas, who afterward dropped off from Paul.
(* The name Saul may perhaps mean "interrogated," asp man is by the law; but has no answer to give. And perhaps also Paul may signify "wrought" or "formed." This, our apostle was certainly, a vessel well fitted for the Master’s use.)
Paul, be it remarked, had to modify, after that failure had set in, the conditions of fellowship here on earth. At first, himself full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit, and preaching (what he had learned in his own conversion) an ascended and glorified Christ as Son of God,-those that seemed to cleave to Him and walk with Him Paul owned, and fully associated himself with them. But when evil had set in, and become established, we find him writing to Timothy, after telling of Hymenaeus,, and Philetus (2 Tim. 2:1717And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; (2 Timothy 2:17)), he adds, Nevertheless the foundation of God stands firm (or fixed) having-this seal, The Lord knows those being His; and let everyone that names the Lord's name stand aside from iniquity. (2 Tim. 2:1919Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19).) How is a man to be meet for the Master's use, prepared unto-every good work? " Flee youthful lusts; but follow righteousness, faith, love, peace, with them, that call upon the Lord out of a pure heart." And this is confirmed in chapter 3, in which he bids Timothy Turn away from those who have the form of godliness but deny the power of it; just as. Protestants did en masse at the Reformation.
John's line of truth differed from Peter's or Paul's, though the doctrine of all of them concurred together to form one whole. The Father's family, possessing the eternal life in and through the Son of God, in John's epistles; the Son of man as Ancient of days in the Apocalypse judging false-profession in chapters 1 to 3; and the Lamb in the midst of the throne of the Lord God Almighty in chapter 5 &c. And, note it, it was God who, without reference to Peter or Paul, opened the fresh truth in the Apocalypse!
Again, the man-made religion of fallen human nature denies that pardon and acceptance can be known* until the great white throne has been sat upon; but John (chap. 1:5, 6) knew his own forgiveness and that of the "us," knew also our relationship with and under Christ, as part of the royal priesthood. And so, naturally, he and we cease from occupation with our leanness, our leanness, to be occupied with praise and ascription of glory and dominion to the Lord.
(* A most unfortunate view. For no one that stands there will be saved: all these are judged according to their own works. On the other hand, one thousand years before that the saved through faith in Christ will be made manifest before His beema, or judgment-seat; none but the saved to appear there, where the question is about rewards for works done since they believed.)
Again, ecclesiastical views never see the tender faithfulness of the Lord, as towards John, when he fell at His feet as dead or the solemn and awful truth of judgment of false profession being in the Lord's mind, however long He may linger in long, suffering patience.
Again, as Protestants did well to escape from the evil of the nominal church at the Reformation, (though many nowadays are inclined to turn back to it and traditional religion, so building again the things which they had destroyed) yet we have two very remarkable things in each of the seven churches. First, Christ's estimate of it as a thing He had examined; and secondly, His command, -" He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." Did they, or any of them, repent and get restoration? Which of the seven? And where is it? If none escaped, -faith in me, if I have an ear to hoar, knows that the Lord's visitation of them ends in His spueing them all out of His mouth. I am, we are, under Christ who has judged the churches and Christendom and given us His estimate of them.
Compare Israel in Moses' or Solomon's days with Israel in the Lord's days,-alas! the contrast is not so fearful as that which the comparison of the Pentecostal church (Acts 2, 4.) and Christendom of our own day gives us.
God's counsel and plan and the value of the work of Christ stand forever, and those who through faith and the Spirit are connected therewith most surely have as individuals everlasting life now: for they are part of the espoused, the bride expectant of Christ. But, as to the present enjoyment, and standing upon earth of anything like a candlestick, such a thing cannot be found anywhere. But there is One, who is faithful amid unfaithfulness, and who can, and will keep that which we have committed to Him.
He remembers who wrote, " They that feared the Lord spike often one to another, and the Lord hearkened, and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that feared the Lord, and thought upon His name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." (Mal. 3:16, 1716Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. 17And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. (Malachi 3:16‑17).)
And He did remember His Zacharias and Elizabeths; His Annas and Simeons; His Marys too, and Josephs: just as He had remembered His Enochs and Noahs. We may be assured of this, and count upon Himself as John did. Yea! May I not say, such a meeting as this is the proof that He has not forgotten to be gracious in our day?
May the Lord be with you and bless all that God knows to be His; bless them in the knowledge of this book of the Revelation, and help us to profit from it!