The Ruin of the Church and the Believer’s Way Out of It

Rev. 1, 22:16, 17
Revelation chapter 1 teaches us a solemn lesson, and that is that the Church had already become, in John’s day, the object of Christ’s judgment. Not that it was then executed, nor has it been yet, but it had already become an object of that judgment having already failed as the vessel of God’s testimony on the earth. When I say this also, I would guard the fact, that the Church is not looked at in that chapter as the body of Christ. It is the professing Church, figured by the seven assemblies of Asia, who represent there the complete figure of the professing Church of God in John’s day (ch. 1:4, 11, 20).
The Church is looked at in two great aspects in the New Testament. It is figured in 1st Corinthians by a temple and a body (ch. 3:12). In Ephesians by a temple, habitation and a body (ch. 3, 4:4). In Colossians by a body. In 1st Timothy by a house (ch. 3:15). Thus generally we say it is the house of God, or we may say, it is the body of Christ. The Lord Jesus having been rejected by the Jews and Gentiles in the world, the cross of Christ became their judgment before God, and consequent upon this God glorified the Second Man above every created being in the heavenly places, and sent down the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, baptizing all those who had by grace believed in God’s Son, into one body, and building them together to be His habitation by the Spirit.
As a building the Church may be looked at first as Christ’s building which He builds (Matt. 16:16-1816And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18And I say also 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. (Matthew 16:16‑18)), growing up to be when He comes again a holy temple in the Lord (Eph. 2:20, 2120And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (Ephesians 2:20‑21)). In this aspect it is only composed of living stones, real believers (1 Pet. 2:55Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:5)). Secondly, as handed over to the responsibility of man, as we read in 1 Cor. 3:10, 1710According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. (1 Corinthians 3:10)
17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:17)
, where the Apostle Paul laid the foundation among the Gentiles as Peter had among the Jews, and other Christian builders built it up, some with good material, others with bad, whilst an unconverted builder might corrupt the temple of God, and by God be destroyed. But anyhow, whether the walls were built in of living stones or bad material, God the Holy Ghost had come down from heaven, and taken up His abode in the midst of these believers as in a house, and so the Church is called the house or temple of God.
Now, man in whatever way he has been tested, has failed; tried as innocent before the fall, he listened to the lie of Satan and brought ruin and death on the whole race. Left to himself as before the flood, he did his own will, and filled the earth with violence and corruption. Tried under government in the hands of Noah, he got drunk, built the Tower of Babel and went into idolatry. Tried under law he broke it. Tried under Christ, he rejected and crucified Him. It has been no different since the cross. The Jews resisted the Holy Ghost; the flesh in the believer lusts against the Spirit; the church as a corporate body has began by boasting and self-confidence (1 Cor. 1); and will end by being cut off.
Moral evil began and was allowed at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:55That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; (1 Corinthians 1:5)). Doctrinal evil in Galatia. To the Philippians the sad testimony had already gone forth,
In Colosse many had left holding the Head. In 2 Timothy all they of Asia had departed from the Apostle Paul. The Church was then figured as a great house, with a mixture of vessels in it, and the believer was to purge himself from the vessels of dishonor (2 Tim. 2:19, 2219Nevertheless 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)
22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
). In 1 Pet. 4 the time was come when judgment must begin at the house of God. In the second Epistle, the future days of Christendom are described, by false teachers bringing in damnable sects, marked by denying the Mastership of Christ and His rights over men; by scoffers openly railing at the second coming of the Lord, (ch. 2, 3). John speaks of many antichrists as already existing, and preparing the way for the antichrist who should deny the Father and the Son (1 John 2:18, 2218Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (1 John 2:18)
22Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:22)
). Jude likewise traces the progress of evil by the three forms of evil, as pictured in Cain, Balaam, and Korah, ending up with Enoch’s prophecy of the Lord’s coming to execute judgment.
But not till Rev. 1 do we find the Church as actually become the object of judgment itself. In John’s Epistle the good was still so strong that the evil had been forced out (1 John 2:1919They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (1 John 2:19)). In Jude evil men had crept in, and there seemed no power to put them out. But in Rev. 1 we have the awful picture of the seven lampstands figuring the complete Church of God on earth as God’s vessel of testimony with the Son of man in their midst in the awful aspect of Judge; going to spue the Church out of His mouth as a loathsome thing (Rev. 1–3).
The seven candlesticks which represented the seven assemblies in Asia, may be taken in two ways. 1st, as a complete picture of the state of the whole professing Church in John’s day; 2nd, as a seven-fold development of the history of the professing Church from John’s day when he wrote a book, to the time of the coming of the Lord to judge it. Seven is a scriptural figure of completeness. We have seven parables of the kingdom of heaven in Matt. 13; seven candlesticks; seven stars and a seven sealed book, seven trumpets, and seven vials; all these latter figure in Revelations. In reference then to the first head, we have this awfully solemn fact, that the Church set up as a light-bearer in this world had totally failed in its responsibility to God in John’s last days. The Son of man stood in its midst as a Judge, finally going to spue it out of His mouth as a loathsome thing.
As to the second idea being Scriptural, I would add that the four last Churches are addressed in reference to the coming of the Lord, which would have little or no meaning unless it was to picture the state of the professing Church when He actually does come. The seven phases of address to the Churches so agree too with the actual history, that it cannot be doubted.
In the address to Ephesus we have pictured before us the first departure of the Church from Christ. It had left its first love to the Lord, though outwardly showing many good works and zeal against evil and antinomianism. In Smyrna we have before us the age succeeding to that of the Apostles where ten persecutions were used by God for the purifying of a declining Church. In Pergamos we have pictured the Constantine age when the Church became united to the world. This is shown by those who held Balaam’s doctrine, who was hired by a king of Moab to curse the people of God, and failing in this taught him how to mix them up in unlawful marriages and heathen worship with his people. Antinomianism was likewise allowed there. In Thyatira, we have the age of the Church when Rome got power, and when the Pope exercised rule over the kings of Christendom — like a second Jezebel married to Ahab, the king of the people. This will continue to the time of the Lord’s coming. Space has been given to repentance since the reformation, but without avail. A remnant, however, will be found faithful in that circle when the Lord comes.
In Sardis we have the reformation age and what succeeded in Protestantism; a name to live, but really as to the mass dead. This circle will be judged as the world at the appearing of Christ. A remnant will be saved. In Philadelphia we have the present time pictured to us in those who have returned in trueness of heart to the Person of Christ, the Holy One and the True, who keep His Word and do not deny His name. This circle will be preserved from the great tribulation that is coming on the world, and will cease at the coming of Christ for His saints. In Laodicea, we have the last phase of the professing Church pictured by lukewarmness to the Person of Christ, and satisfaction with itself as a corporate body. In. Philadelphia nothing satisfies but the Lord and His Word. In Laodicea, the Church’s state satisfies, and the Lord’s full claims are disallowed. Christ is outside this last assembly knocking for admittance. It is loathsome to Him, to be spued out of His mouth. Nevertheless, a remnant even in it will be saved; but Philadelphia is the only corporate witness that is held faithful when Christ comes. May God give His saints to understand these things, so as to be found not only as saved ones when He comes, as there will be some in each of the Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicean circles, but also true to Him ecclesiastically, exercising discipline on everything that is false to the claims of His Holy Person, and that is false doctrine to His truth.
I was immensely struck lately in noticing in Rev. 1:12, 1312And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. (Revelation 1:12‑13), the reality of the presence of the Son of man in the midst of the seven candlesticks representing the complete professing Church of God of the day. He is seen on earth, not in heaven. In Rev. 5, after the history of the Church is over, we see Him as the Lamb in the midst of the throne with the heavenly saints in heaven. But here He is seen on earth, in spirit of course, but in reality, and as the Son of man. Just as He said conversely in John 3,
And is not this, beloved reader, what the professing Church has lost? I do not mean that it has lost the presence of the Son of man. But has it not lost the sense of His actual presence there? Have not even real Christians lost the sense of it? Could they go on mixed up with idolatry with a name to live and yet dead, with lukewarmness, worldliness and false teaching, if they really believed in the actual presence of the Son of man in their midst? And in what aspect do we see Him here? Is it as He was (after having accomplished redemption and the putting away of our sins), when He appeared in the midst of the trembling disciples assembled in the upper room with doors closed, and proclaimed “peace unto them” (John 20); and when He had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side, then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord? Alas, no! Do you remember again, beloved reader, when the blessed Lord appeared in the disciples’ midst as Luke 24 describes it, and when after He had proclaimed peace to their trembling souls, He sat down as the real risen Son of man and ate before them, showing the reality of His manhood by eating the broiled fish and the honey-comb? Doubtless you do if you are familiar with the Scriptures, and then He went on to open their understandings to understand the Scriptures, to talk of His going away to heaven, and of His sending the Comforter down from heaven, to dwell with them on the earth during His absence. And then we read in Acts 1 of His actually going away and sitting down at the right hand of God, and in Acts 2 of the descent of the Holy Ghost baptizing them into one body, and building them together to be His habitation. We read of the blessed results at the end of the chapter, how they were all together, had all things in common, and did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.
But now all was changed; the Son of man is there still, true, but no longer joyful and singing praises, and comforting His assembly, but clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; He is the Ancient of days of Dan. 7:9, 10, 229I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. (Daniel 7:9‑10)
22Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:22)
, to whom judgment is committed. His eyes were as a flame of fire piercing for judgment, and His feet like unto fine brass, strong for judgment as if they burned in a furnace, and His voice was as the sound of many waters. And He had in His right hand seven stars; and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength. The only relief is the long priestly robe down to the feet, and the golden girdle of divine strength for service. On account of this perhaps there is forbearance as to judgment up to this day.
So fearful was the sight that John, the beloved apostle, the one who lay on the Lord’s bosom, and who got the secret of Divine love there, fell at His feet as dead. What! the beloved object of Christ’s affections, the espoused pure virgin of Paul’s day, now so departed from her espoused husband as to have become an object of His judgment? Yet so it was. I do not mean that the Church as Christ’s body, the object of God’s eternal counsels had failed, but the Church set up in its responsibility in this world had. This was what John had to learn: that the Church, as Israel, had failed as God’s witness on the earth, and it was now going to be set aside by Christ’s coming to set up His kingdom. This is what I mean, beloved reader, by the Church being a ruined thing. Man has failed in everything. Individually he is ruined; Israel became a ruin, the Church has become a ruin, and what remains but Christ?
And now, dear reader, it will not do for you or me to trust in our Church position, however correct, any more than in our individual selves for salvation. Man is ruined, and become an object of judgment; the Church is ruined, and become a circle of judgment. Where is the remedy — where is the way out of this circle? Suppose you are in a prairie, and it has caught fire all around you, and the fire gets nearer you every moment, how are you to get out — that is the question!
We left the beloved apostle at the feet of the Lord as dead, having learnt the ruin of the Church. The Lord lays His hand upon John, and says, Fear not; I am the first and the last, and the Living One: and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hades and of death (cp. Isa. 41:1-4; 44:61Keep silence before me, O islands; and let the people renew their strength: let them come near; then let them speak: let us come near together to judgment. 2Who raised up the righteous man from the east, called him to his foot, gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven stubble to his bow. 3He pursued them, and passed safely; even by the way that he had not gone with his feet. 4Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he. (Isaiah 41:1‑4)
6Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the Lord of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. (Isaiah 44:6)
, and 48:12-14). Jesus is the first and the last, the Everlasting God, the Creator of the world, the Sender of Cyrus for the deliverance of Israel, their Redeemer and King, who would chasten them, but finally deliver them from the yoke of Babylon. And He is the same in principle for the individual overcomer in the Church, for there it is the Christian has now to overcome. He is the first and the last, God Himself (cp. Heb. 1:10-1210And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: 11They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; 12And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (Hebrews 1:10‑12)); but there is a blessed truth between: the Living One who was dead, and is alive for evermore. John’s eye was raised to Him who had risen as man over the whole power of the enemy. He was the Eternal Life in heaven who had been into this scene of ruin, had met the whole power of the enemy, sin, the world and Satan, and had overcome, and who has now communicated to every believer that overcoming Life, so that he is constituted an overcomer in the very midst of the Church’s ruin. If the Church has so departed from its standing in the new creation that the flesh being set up again it has become the object of judgment, blessed be God, the Eternal Life remains, the foundation of God stands sure, and every believer that clings to Him, or rather is held by Him, having that eternal life communicated to Him, stands firm with Christ as partaker of His victory, and judges everything in the Church with His judgment. He overcomes, having the life of the great Overcomer as his, and standing with Him judges and discerns everything in the professing Church with His judgment; or ought to do so.
And should death come, it is no weapon of the enemy against him. Jesus has passed through death, taken the keys out of the enemy’s hands, and stands to let the believer through into the glory. Judgment for him is a passed thing. Death is for the believer the open door into the glory. And when the Lord comes, the dead in Christ shall rise even before the living, and all shall be caught away together to meet Him in the air. Thus the overcomer should eat of the tree of life that is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev. 2:77He 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. (Revelation 2:7)). He should not be hurt of the second death (Rev. 2:1111He 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. (Revelation 2:11)), though he might have to pass through death. Blessed comfort for John’s soul, and for our souls too. Though the Church is ruined, there is power for the individual believer to overcome, as linked with the Living One who was dead, with the assurance of final victory over death, should he have to pass that way, through Him who has the keys of hades  and of death in His hands.
But there is a still more blessed way of getting out of the circle of the Church’s ruin for those who live at the end of the dispensation, and that is shown to us in Rev. 22:16, 1716I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:16‑17). The Lord Jesus is coming again as the bright and morning star to take His real believing ones to glory before even a drop of judgment falls on this poor world. What is the name of the One who is coming? It is Jesus: Jehovah-Savior. Blessed name! It involves three things (cp. Matt. 1:21). 1st, He is Jehovah, God from all eternity. 2nd, It was His name given Him when He became a man; it is Jehovah become a man, but what for? 3rd, To save His people from their sins by His death and resurrection. So that we see in the two little words, “I Jesus,” with which the verse commences, the great fact, that Jehovah has become a man, and as we were sinners, He has gone to the cross and died for our sins, and after having done it He sat down on the right hand of God.
Beloved reader, I present you this Person in the glory as the One whom we have seen as the Judge of the professing Church, but here the Savior of those that believe. And why is the Church become an object of judgment, except that she has departed from her Head, and finally from her Savior? But blessed be God, the “I Jesus” remains. It was He who had sent His angel to testify these things in the churches. He is the Savior in the glory, the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star. In other words, the coming One, to make good the promises in regard to Israel, His earthly nation; and the bright and morning star, going to appear at the end of the long, dark night, and before the day of the Lord, to take His believing ones home to glory.
Israel is scattered, they have rejected Him who was David’s root and David’s offspring (cp. Isa. 11:1, 101And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: (Isaiah 11:1)
10And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)
). But He is coming to fulfill the promises, to inherit, as the rightful Heir the throne of David in Jerusalem, and to bring in blessings to the Gentiles and the whole earth. But now there is no response from Israel. When He sets Himself before them with this title, there is no answer.
But hark! again He speaks,
coming again after the long, dark night, to take away the watcher to the glory. Who is she? And the Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” I was journeying in the Metropolitan Railway some years ago, in London. We emerged from the tunnel at the west end of the city, and as we were rounding the curve to one of the stations, I noticed a handkerchief waving from some one on the platform, and I saw a little child, with its mother, looking intently for the approaching train. All at once the gentleman sitting at my side answered by a wave of the hat. I said, “Is that your wife and child?” He replied, “Yes.” I thought at once what a beautiful picture of the Church as the Bride of Christ awaiting His return! Not a shadow of doubt or fear, there was a relationship existing, and a heart beating true to the approaching husband! And so we have here:
She looks for Christ as the morning star, coming before the day of the Lord, for salvation. The world awaits Christ in the character of the Sun of righteousness, who shall burn the wicked up as an oven (Mal. 4:1, 21For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. (Malachi 4:1‑2)) at the commencement of the day of the Lord, which is always connected with judgment as to the world.
Just one word more as to the Church being the Bride of Christ. Here we have the difference brought out, which was mentioned at the beginning of the tract, between the Church being the body of Christ, and the house of God. As the visible house of God it has failed, but as the body of Christ it is preserved in living union with its Head in heaven, and the Lord is coming back as the Bridegroom to take His Bride to glory, whereas the professing Church will turn into Babylon (Rev. 17) and the world, to be judged after the real Church is taken away. This recalls us to God’s present purpose to call out a heavenly people from amongst Jews and Gentiles, to be the Bride of His Son; this is what is called the mystery hid in ages and generations, but was revealed in the Apostle Paul’s day to Christ’s apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This is the truth to which Christians are called to bear witness corporately and together, but in which they have so failed. Nevertheless the truth remains. And this heavenly body is to be the Bride of God’s Son. Beloved reader, do you know your relationship, or perhaps do you hear it for the first time, now? Then let him that heareth say “Come.”
Up to the end of the 17th verse the Lord Jesus had been the speaker; setting Himself before His Church as the coming One. The Spirit and the Bride had then interrupted Him by inviting Him to come. The hearer, too, was invited to take up the cry and say come. But now the Lord Jesus takes up the word again, and thinking of the time of His speedy approach, He invites the thirsty soul to come to Him; and whosoever will to take of the water of life freely.
Blessed Jesus! He cannot let the sinner go! He thinks of you, the thirsty one. He invites every one to come. Oh, sinner why will you die? why will you sink with all your profession into the deep abyss of hell? Look up into the glory and behold the living fountain opened there. See the river of God’s grace flowing down freely at this moment for you to drink. Freely it flows down from Jesus in the glory. Freely it is brought to you by the Spirit through the Word of the Gospel. Freely it was bought for you at the cost of Christ’s precious blood. Jesus is offered you. Eternal life is given. Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth on the Lord hath everlasting life, but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. But fearful will be the doom of the mere professor in Christendom in the day of the Lord; if Rom. 1, 2:1, 4, show clearly that the heathen will be righteously put into hell, with only the light of Creation and conscience as the measure of their responsibility; if we see likewise, from Rom. 2, 3, that the Jew will be damned if he rejects Jehovah, and the law as the rule for his conscience; how much more shall the professing Christian, (with the full light of the revelation of God shining upon his soul, and Christ as God’s gift of salvation offered him as the way of escape,) be cast away from the presence of the God of grace whom he refused to know! There is no place too black or too deep in the fathomless abyss of the lake of fire, to receive a rejecter of God revealed in grace, a treader under foot of God’s Son, and one who counts the blood of the covenant an unclean thing, and does despite to the Spirit of God (Heb. 10).
Rev. 1–3 only recount Christ’s governmental ways with the Church in judgment, whilst she is still upon the earth, with individual promises to the overcomers of blessings afterwards. But such passages as Rev. 14:8, 11; 19:20; 20:11, 15; 21:8; 22:13, 158And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. (Revelation 14:8)
11And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:11)
20And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. (Revelation 19:20)
11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. (Revelation 20:11)
15And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)
13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Revelation 22:13)
15For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)
, show the fearful doom of those who finally reject Christ, although professors of His name whilst here. These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal (Matt. 25:4646And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46)). When the eternal state begins and the Judge says from the throne,
“It is finished,” once sounded out in their ears from the cross. “It is finished,” has sounded in their ears from messengers of the glory of Christ. Then, “It is done,” shall sound in the same ears as the great iron gates of the lake of fire slowly close them in there, and the Judge shall be seen getting up from the last judgment on the great white throne. Oh, reader, where will you be? Where will you spend eternity? Will you choose the “It is finished” work of salvation, or the “It is done” work of eternal judgment? What is “finished”? Why, God’s work of redemption. God’s work of salvation.
I have glorified Thee on the earth, says the Son, I have finished the work Thou gavest me to do (John 17:44I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4)).
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:1515This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15)). Now, reader, if God has been fully honored as to His outraged character, by the work on the cross; if the work of salvation has been fully accomplished; if God has given the blood of Christ on the altar to make atonement for the soul, and that work is done and God is satisfied, what are you waiting for? Why will you die? Accept the death and resurrection of Christ and you are saved for time and eternity.
One word more. There is a fearful lie going about, and it is this, learned men, believers in the professing Church, are saying there is no such thing as eternal punishment. The wicked may die in their sins, but they will have an opportunity to repent after death; and after a purgatory, for no one knows how long, perhaps of different durations, they will all be finally saved through the efficacy of the blood of Christ. This doctrine, they say, magnifies the atonement, and exalts Christ and the love of God.
But, my reader, if there is no such thing as eternal punishment, if eternal does not mean eternal in this case, I should say that instead of magnifying the atonement, it takes away from its value, for the atonement only saves from time- lasting punishment instead of from everlasting punishment. The love of God only gave Jesus to save from this, and so the love of God too is dishonored and not so glorified. The Holy Ghost’s work in the soul at the same time is totally set aside for the wicked who die in their sins. They are not saved by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, but by the fires of hell. It would also require a less than a Divine Eternal Being to save from time-lasting punishment. I need not weary my reader any more to shew from the Scripture the reality of eternal punishment. Suffice it to say that eternal judgment is one of the fundamental doctrines of Christ (Heb. 6:1, 21Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. (Hebrews 6:1‑2)). To go back from this is to go back from the foundation instead of going on to perfection. 2 Pet. 2, I have no doubt, classes it amongst the damnable heresies of the last days of Christendom. It is a denial of the Lord’s rights over the wicked; and to these teachers God gives a threefold warning of judgment. The same word “everlasting” is applied to God, to the Spirit, to life and to redemption by the Word. May the Lord save my reader from any of such false teachings, and deliver those who are led aside by them. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished (2 Pet. 2:99The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (2 Peter 2:9)).
I would add a word here as to what I believe is Christ’s present testimony to the Church! Since the beginning of this century He has been presenting Himself as “the Holy One,” and “the True One” (see Rev. 3:7-127And 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; 8I 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. 9Behold, 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. 10Because 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. 11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12Him 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. (Revelation 3:7‑12)). Now I do not believe that these are simply moral titles, no doubt they are that, but they take in a great deal more than that! And it is of the greatest importance, my reader, that we should understand the meaning of these titles!
These having their start from the unconditional promises made to David, and to his Son, i.e., Christ, are the basis of the future blessing of Israel, when the Christ shall return. Israel will then be blessed as Jehovah’s nation, under Christ the King, and made the central nation of the earth. But what is the title ascribed to Jehovah, by the faith of the godly Israelite who writes this Psalm? (see ver. 18.)
Jehovah is our defense: the Holy One of Israel is our King!
Then he rehearses Jehovah’s unconditional promises in reference to David, His king, anointed with the holy oil. We see then that this title, whilst moral, is a kingly title of Jehovah.
In the prophecy of Isaiah it is the common title of Jehovah, recalling His poor nation of Israel back to Himself, which had departed into unholiness and sin. In the first five chapters the whole nation is tested, when brought face to face with the Holy One (Isa. 1:44Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (Isaiah 1:4)). It is likened to a diseased man from head to foot (ver. 5, 6); its covering of religion loathsome to Jehovah (ver. 10-15); its men full of pride (Isa. 2:10, 2210Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty. (Isaiah 2:10)
22Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? (Isaiah 2:22)
); its women, full of vanity, occupied with their dress (ver. 16-26). The vineyard of the Lord, where there should have been good fruit, only brought forth wild grapes (Isa. 5:1-71Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. 3And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. 4What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? 5And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. 7For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. (Isaiah 5:1‑7)), and the chapter ends with six woes on the whole scene.
Finally the king, the last resource of the house of David, dies a leper outside the camp, and all earthly hope is given up, as to the nation.
But in the very year that King Uzziah died, the prophet sees a vision of the Holy One, the glory of the coming King of Israel! (Isa. 6). Who is He? John 12:40, 4140He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (John 12:40‑41), quoting from this very chapter, lets us into the secret of this! It is the, glory of the Christ, the coming King of Israel, and He is Jehovah, the thrice Holy One (Isa. 6:33And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (Isaiah 6:3)).
Before His coming glory the regenerate prophet falls, owning his unfitness for His glory, crying, Woe is me: I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips, for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts!
I think I need not then go further, my reader, into this prophet, to prove that the title of “the Holy One” is a title of Christ as the coming King of Israel! But how then can He be said to present Himself under this title to the professing Church as seen in Rev. 3:77And 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; (Revelation 3:7)? I believe the answer lays here! It is a warning to the church of its failure and ruin, of its final setting aside as God’s witness on the earth, and that Christ, the King of Israel, was coming to take its place!
And like with Isaiah in his day, the effect of this on the church should be to produce a humbling, and a turning to the God of this Holy One, in repentance and self-loathing, so that instead of its being set aside, it may become, at all events in a remnant, a vessel of testimony (like Isaiah was after the humbling and healing), to the whole professing Church.
But in Heb. 2:1111For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (Hebrews 2:11) we have the present position of Israel’s King, the Holy One, in consequence of His rejection by Israel. He is now the set apart One, in the heavenly glory, the Sanctifier of a new heavenly people, who own the King during the time of His rejection by Israel. They are called the sanctified, set apart ones, or holy ones, called out into association with Himself during the time of His rejection. He is not ashamed to call them “His brethren!” Who are these, my reader? Why, Christians, of course, “holy brethren,” partakers of the heavenly calling! But then of course if they are associated with the Holy One during the time of His rejection by Israel, they also stand outside Israel and Judaism. It is their only proper true place. “Inside the veil, outside the camp!” This is the place the Epistle to the Hebrews gives us. And this will be the result of every true humbling of heart, that is the result of getting into the presence of Him who is God’s coming King to replace the Church which has been unfaithful to Him.
Thus, beloved, the Holy One of Israel, when He came the first time, presented Himself to Israel, to fulfill the promises made to the fathers, but was rejected by the Jews. He now sits in consequence on the Father’s throne in heaven, the rejected King of Israel, but presently He will come again, and sit on His own throne, fulfilling the unconditional mercies of David to His ancient people, and reign in Jerusalem as their King! In the meantime He is calling out His heavenly associates for the kingdom, whom He is not ashamed to call His brethren, and they will finally, after being translated to heaven, reign with Him over Israel and the nations. Now our place is that of rejection with the King, and outside Judaism. Such will be the position of every humbled heart at the present time! Whatever is Judaism in the professing Church, such an one will be outside of!
But Christ also presents Himself as the True One. That is, in all that He is as revealed in the Word. The King in Matthew’s gospel. The Prophet in Mark. The Son of man in Luke (now God’s heavenly Priest). We see the present heavenly application of “the Christ,” i.e., the Prophet, Priest, and King, in the Epistle to the Hebrews; and preached so in the Acts of the Apostles. He is the Son of God in John’s gospel, with the result to us applied in Paul’s and John’s Epistles. His personal name is Jesus, “Jehovah the Savior,” which is the name of the Christ, the Son of God, from Matthew to Revelation. He is the Lord, made so in heaven as man, and preached so by Peter in Acts 2, and others (Acts 11), and applied so specially by Paul to the Church in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. Also as the Lamb of God (John 1:2727He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose. (John 1:27)), the Holy Victim fulfilling the sacrifices, and finally going to take the earth in the power of redemption (Rev. 4–19). Oh, my reader, do we consider Him enough under all these titles? Finally, during the time of His rejection taking for Himself out of this world a body, His Church, to be His Bride, as the raised-up glorified Head of His assembly (Eph. 1:19-2319And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (Ephesians 1:19‑23)). Beloved, are we together thus confessing Him as the “True One,” so that we can say in the consciousness of our souls,
But besides this, He is the true Eliakim of Isa. 22:20-2520And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: 21And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. 24And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. 25In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 22:20‑25), setting aside every one who in the professing religion rules in the flesh like Shebna, who has the key of David, type of the administration of David’s house, the unlocker of all his treasures, and so making known to the Church what belongs to Israel, as distinct from what belongs to the Church. He who opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens. He is the One who presents Himself to the Church at this present time, and sets before it an open door which no man can shut. May you and I, dear reader, understand to-day how the blessed Lord is presenting Himself, so that you and I, hearing His voice, and obedient to His word, may be found in these last days in this circle of blessing, and waiting patiently for His coming.