(Notes of Addresses)
THIRD, ADDRESS: Rev. III. 7-22.
In the Epistles to Philadelphia and Laodicea, a remnant is addressed as in Thyatira and Sardis. In Philadelphia the Lord speaks to those whom He approves, and in Laodicea to those with whom He is disgusted (‘‘I will spue thee out of My mouth ”).
What the Lord values in these last days are the things the world thinks nothing of. The Lord speaks to Philadelphia in all her weakness as the One who has all power, and He tells her of His own moral character. (He is holy and true, and has ‘‘the key of David.’’) .
If we value His name—its sufficiency—and Himself. as our centre and Saviour, we must remember also that He is holy and true. Beware of indifference to evil, ‘‘Let him that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity ”’ (2 Tim. ii. 19, 20).
The Lord’s answer to our weakness is that He has all power: ‘‘He opens and no man shuts, etc.’’ He knows all the evil opposition to the truth. If others turn aside, because of this, there is no need for us to lose heart.
What He approves in Philadelphia is that in their’ little strength they kept His word and did not deny His name: In other addresses He commends their works, etc. Here it is a question of how they stand in relation to Him. ‘‘If a man love Me, he will keep My word,’’ and ‘‘If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” To keep His word is more than keeping His commandments. If we love Him we shall desire to find out and obey what His word enjoins. We must not make excuses out of difficulties that can be overcome by His power.
Outward success is not to be regarded as a mark of His approval. The Lord does not say, ‘Why are you not more numerous?’’ In an adverse world such as this is, it is impossible to get on without encountering difficulties,
We have no marks of power now, such as gifts of healing and of tongues. But the Lord calls us to keep His word and not to deny His name. These are the points of attack in these last days.
We did not receive God’s word through the church (as Roman Catholics say) but through gifted men. Human sanction of its authority is unnecessary. God is capable of bringing His word with power to our consciences, If in presence of and in spite of all criticism and unbelief we hold fast His word, this is what the Lord approves. Let us walk in obedience to His word and value His name because of its worthiness.
The synagogue of Satan in verse 9 refers to those who import the ceremonies of the law into Christianity. Man’s heart hankers after law—Judaism. People like what is material—an earthly place of worship and priesthood. But you deny Christianity if you bring. in human priesthood. For Hebrews shows that the Lord Jesus has brought us to God, ‘‘has perfected for ever them that are sanctified.’’ Under the law there was no direct coming to God, but there is now no priest between our souls and God. We have a Great High Priest upon the throne of God, and when we draw near we are in the presence of the Father and the Son.
Verse 9 shows that if we keep His word, the Lord will claim us as His own in the hearing of everybody, and show how He loves us. He is going, so to speak, to boast of us; this is the reward of following Him in a place of difficulty and danger.
We are exhorted in verse 11 to ‘‘hold fast,’’ because there is a danger of letting slip. If a man says he is a Philadelphian you may be sure he is not, but is rather a Laodicean.
“Thou, Lord, our all must be, Nothing that’s good have we.”
We may meet with difficulty and disappointment-here, but there is no disappointment in Him. Guard against the danger of growing weary and discouraged. What greater ambition could we have than to ‘‘strengthen the things that remain.’” This is not a small thing in His sight. Whether gifted or not we should strive to do it.
The Lord says to Philadelphia, “Behold, I come quickly”; “want you to be patient, to endure.’’ Then we shall have His approval and every loss and sorrow will be made up a thousandfold.
The Lord Jesus is before us in another character in this address. He is the Amen—the One in whom everything is secured and made good. He is also the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. He addresses the professing ‘assembly just before judgment falls. She should have been the display of all that Christ is, but now He can speak of her only with displeasure. Thou art neither cold nor hot: ‘‘1 will spue thee out of My mouth.”
We need to watch against being satisfied with ourselves : we need to get into God’s presence, to judge ourselves, and to have exercised consciences.
In a day of lukewarmness we shall find that lukewarmness is the very thing that will beset us. Are we now as enthusiastic for the things of the Lord as we used to be?
The serious thing about Laodicea was that she was ignorant of her condition, She boasted instead of being humbled. She. was so blind as not to see the true state in which she was. This warning should put us on our guard. We are partakers of the righteousness of God, and the Lord looks for works of righteousness in us.
The Lord says, ‘‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (ver. 20). He addresses those professing Christianity. He is Himself outside, but will have communion with all who open to Him. The overcomer will sit with Him in His throne. The Lord is looking on to the time of His kingdom, when He will have His own throne! Now He is upon the Father’s throne, a place that no creature can share,
We cannot share His present glory. Godhead glory is His exclusively, but God has glorified Him as man also, He will have a throne as Son of man and reign over this world, and over Israel as Son of David. We shall share this reign with Him. It is an honour to share His rejection now. We shall enter then into all His own joy, We shall see Him come into His rights; though rejected now, He is the Worthy One. If followers of Him, we shall not find: an easy path in this hostile world, but with the hope of His coming in view we should be joyful and hopeful.. See to it that we never give up the word and the name of Christ. Hold fast what He has given us, whatever it is.