JESUS, HIS MESSENGER AND CHURCHES

Revelation 2:1, "... These things saith He That holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." This is He of Whom it is said, `This Same Jesus is BOTH Lord and Christ.' There He is, the One and Only Lord God Almighty, and beside Him there is no other. There He is, the Saviour ("... salvation is of the Lord", Jonah 2:9) walking in the midst of the churches throughout the seven ages. What He was in the first age He is in all ages. To every believer, He is Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. What He did once He is still doing, and will keep on doing.

Now you will notice that Jesus is walking alone in the midst of His churches. There is no one else with Him. Neither indeed can there be, for He alone wrought her salvation, and having purchased her with His own blood He owns her. He is her Lord and Master. She gives Him all the glory and that glory He will not share with another. There is no pope with Him. There is no archbishop with Him. Mary, the mother of His earthly body, is not with Him. He does not speak and turn to a Father, for He is the Father. He does not turn to give orders to a Holy Spirit, for He is God, eternal Spirit, and it is His Life that is flowing and pulsating in the church giving her life, and without Him there would be no life. Salvation is of the Lord.

There was no one with Him when He trod the fierceness of the wrath of the fiery furnace. It was not another, but HIM Who hung upon the cross and gave His blood. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the Alpha and Omega of our salvation. We are espoused to Him and not another. We don't belong to the church. We belong to Him. His Word is law. Creeds, dogmas, by-laws and constitutions have no effect on us. Yes, it is Jesus ALONE Who walks in the midst of the churches. It is God in her, willing and doing of His good pleasure. Never forget that. You have only one relationship to God and God has only one relationship to you - that is JESUS, and JESUS ALONE.

There He is with the seven stars in His right hand. The right hand or arm signifies the power and authority of God. Psalms 44:3, "For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy right hand, and Thine arm, and the light of Thy countenance, because Thou hadst a favour unto them." In that right hand of power are seven stars, who, according to Revelation 1:20, are the seven church messengers. This signifies that the very power and authority of God are behind His messengers to every age. They go forth in the fire and power of the Holy Ghost with the Word. They are stars because they reflect light. The light they reflect is His light. They have no light of their own. They kindle not their own fires that men may walk in the light of their sparks. Isaiah 50:11. It is night, for that is when the stars come out. It is the night of the blackness of sin, for all (even the whole world), have sinned and are constantly falling short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23.

These seven messengers are making God known to the people. He that receiveth them, receiveth Him That sent them. John 13:20. They speak and act upon His authority. He stands behind them with all the power of Godhead. Matthew 28:18-20, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, ALL POWER is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, even unto the end of the world (consummation of the ages)." So there they are, full of the Holy Ghost and faith, on fire with the fire of God, holding forth the Word of truth, and there He stands to back them up. And think of it, not one believer of any age need cry in his heart, "Oh, that I might have been back there in the first age when the apostles were first sent out." There is NO need to look back. LOOK UP! Behold Him Who is even now walking in the midst of the churches through all ages. Behold Him Who is the same yesterday and today, and forever; and Who never changes either in essence or in His ways. Where two or three are gathered together in His Name, there He is in their midst! And not only in their midst as a complacent onlooker, or as a recording angel; but there He stands expressing exactly what He is - the Life and Sustainer and Giver of all good gifts to the church. Hallelujah!

"Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks." How meaningful are those words when viewed in the light of the Scripture, which describes Him as "Christ Who is our Life". For Christ, indeed, is the life of the church. She has no other life. Without Him she is simply a religious society, a club, a meaningless gathering of the people. As a corpse bejeweled and dressed is still a corpse, so the church, no matter what her programs and her gracious efforts might achieve, without Christ she is a corpse also. But with Him in her midst, with Him motivating her, she becomes to the wonderment of all "His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all." And this very hour He is walking in the midst of the last age's golden candlestick. What He was as He walked in the first age He is even now in this last age. Jesus Christ the SAME, YESTERDAY, and TODAY, and FOREVER.

"Seven golden candlesticks." In Exodus 25:31, it says, "And thou shalt make a candlestick of PURE gold; of BEATEN work shall the candlestick be made; his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same." The true church of Jesus Christ, the bride, is likened to PURE gold. Her righteousness is HIS righteousness. Her attributes are HIS own glorious attributes. Her identity is found in Him. What He is, she is to reflect. What He has, she is to manifest. There is no fault in her. She is all glorious within and without. From beginning to ending she is the work of her Lord, and all His works are perfect. In fact in her is summed up and manifested the eternal wisdom and purpose of God. How can one fathom it? How can one understand it? Though we cannot do that, we can accept it by faith, for God hath spoken it.

But not only is the candlestick of gold, it is of BEATEN gold. Handcrafted of beaten gold, according to her blue prints which were Spirit-given. Outside of her Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, was ever a people so beaten and purged as the bride of Jesus Christ? Surely she is filling up the sufferings that Christ has left behind. Her goods are despoiled. Her life is in jeopardy. She is accounted as sheep for the slaughter. She is killed all the day long. She suffers much, but in it all retaliates not, neither does she cause others to suffer. Worthy of the Gospel is this lovely bride of Christ. And as gold is malleable, whereas brass will break with the beating, this gold of God will bear her suffering for the Lord, not bowed, not broken, not destroyed, but formed as a thing of beauty and a joy forever by the trials and testings of this life.

CHRIST PRAISES HIS OWN

Revelation 2:2,3, "I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted."

How beautifully the Saviour praises and commends His children. He takes full account of their fine spiritual attitudes and behavior. He knows that there is weakness amongst them, but as yet He does not cry out against it. Isn't that just like the Lord? He knows how to encourage us in the right matters and discourage us in the wrong matters. We could all learn a good lesson right here in running the church and our families. And better still, we could all learn a good lesson in that God deals with each one of us in exactly this way. Don't ever be discouraged, Saint of God, for God is not ungracious to forget your labors of love. Whatever we do, even giving a cup of cold water to some one, has a reward and blessing from the Lord.

"I know thy works, thy labour, and thy patience." As He walks in the midst of His church, He is aware of the suffering of His people, and He cares. As it was in the days of the captivity in Egypt when He heard their cries, He Who never changes still hears the cries of the oppressed as He walks amongst them. The very word, labour, signifies a weariness through oppression. God's people do not only work for Him in a labour of love, but they suffer for Him with joy. They are patient in bearing the yoke. This first age suffered great persecution. It had to work hard to preach the Gospel and shed forth truth. Their high calling in life was to serve God, and when their hopes in life were blighted they were patient and committed all to Him Who had promised a lasting recompence in heaven for what they had given up for Him on earth.

I think we ought to stop here and deal with the thought that God's people have always been and always will be persecuted. You know that Genesis is the book of beginnings, and what you find started there will carry right on through the Revelation and never change. There we see that Cain persecuted and killed Abel because the latter pleased God. Then we see a perfect picture in Abraham's son of the flesh, Ishmael, who teased and fought the son of promise, Isaac. And there was Esau, who hated Jacob and would have killed him, had not God intervened. In the New Testament we find Judas betraying Jesus, while the religious orders of the first century attempted to destroy the early believers. The children of this world, controlled by the devil, hate the children of God who are controlled by the Spirit.

No matter how just and upright a Christian is before the public, and how gracious he is to his fellow man, doing naught but good, let him confess Christ as his Saviour and acknowledge the operation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in tongues, prophecy, healing and miracles, and he will be condemned. The spirit of this world hates the Spirit of God, and because it can't overcome the Spirit of the Lord it tries to destroy the vessel in whom the Spirit of Truth dwells.

Persecution and trials are a natural, normal part of the Christian life. There is only one thing you can do about them. Commit them all to God, judge not, and leave their outworking and final judgment to Him.

"Thou canst not bear them which are evil, and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." These Ephesians believed that God's people ought to be holy. According to this verse they took steps to keep the body unleavened from sin. Most evidently the apostasy had already started. Sin had entered into the church. But they were obedient to the words of Paul when he said to put away the wicked from amongst them. They were a separated people. They had come out of the world, and now they weren't going to let the world enter amongst them. They would not put up with sin in the church. Holiness wasn't a phrase with them or a figure of speech; it was a way of life.

"Thou hast tried them that say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars." My, that is a blunt statement. "Thou hast tried them who call themselves apostles." Isn't that presumptuous? What right has a people to try those who call themselves apostles? And how do they try them? Oh, I love this. Here it is in Galatians 1:8, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have (already) preached unto you, let him be accursed." It was the apostles who brought the original Word to the people. That original Word could not change, not even a dot or dash of it. Paul knew it was God Who had spoken to him so he said, "Even if I come and try to give a second revelation, try to make one little change in what I gave originally, let me be accursed." You see, Paul knew that first revelation was correct. God can't give a first revelation, then a second revelation. If He did, He would be changing His mind. He can give a revelation and then add to it, as He did in the Garden of Eden when He promised the Seed to the woman, and then later designated that Seed had to come through Abraham, and then later said it would come by the same blood lines in David. But it was the same revelation. It only gave the people more information to help them receive and understand it. But God's Word can't change. The Seed came exactly as revealed. Hallelujah. And see what those false apostles were doing. They came with their own word. Those Ephesians knew that Word as Paul had taught it. They were full of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of Paul's hands. They looked those false apostles in the eye and said, "You are not saying what Paul said. You are, therefore, false." Oh, that sets my heart on fire. Get back to the Word! It is not you that really tries the apostle, and prophet and teacher, IT IS THE WORD THAT TRIES THEM. One of these days there is going to come a prophet to the Laodicean Church Age and you will know if he is the real one sent from God or not. Yes you will, for if he is of God HE WILL BE IN THAT WORD EXACTLY AS GOD GAVE IT TO PAUL. HE WON'T DEVIATE FROM THAT WORD FOR A MOMENT, NOT BY ONE IOTA. In that last age, when there will be many false prophets appearing, watch and see how they keep telling you that if you don't believe them and what they say, you will be lost; but when that LAST DAY PROPHET comes on the scene, if he is truly that prophet, he will be crying out, "Get back to the Word or you are lost." He won't build on a private revelation or interpretation, but on the Word. Amen, and Amen!

These false apostles are the grievous wolves that Paul spoke of. He said, "Once I am gone they will try to come and claim equal revelation; but their purpose is not to help you, but destroy you." Acts 20:27-32, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things (their own word and ideas, not God's) to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified."

John knew of them, also, for he said in I John 4:1, "... many false prophets are (already) gone out into the world." That antichrist spirit was already infiltrating the church, and it was doing it by going against the Word. Why here is where it all started. Right here in the first church age. Already they were denying the Word and setting up their own creeds and philosophies instead of the Word. That is anti- christ, for Jesus is the Word. To be anti-Word is to be anti-Jesus. To be anti-Word is to be antichrist, because the Spirit and the Word are ONE. If you are anti-Word, you will have to be antichrist. AND IF IT STARTED IN THE FIRST CHURCH IT WILL HAVE TO GROW UNTIL THE END WHEN IT TAKES OVER. And that is exactly what you will see as we cover all the ages. It starts out real small in the Ephesian Age and it grows in every age until the anti-Word, antichrist system takes over entirely and the infallibility of the Word is repudiated by the false apostles of the false church.

Now it is easy to get a wrong impression of what we are talking about because I am making this so strong. It could sound to you as though this anti-Word, antichrist spirit, is a complete repudiation of the Word, a denial of the Bible culminating in its rejection. No sir. It is not that. What it is, is Revelation 22:18,19, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." It is the changing of even just ONE word by taking away or adding to it. It is the original trick of Satan in the Garden of Eden. He just added one little word to what God had said. That did it. It brought death and destruction. And in Ephesus, it was just the same. Just a word added, just a word taken away, and the anti- Word, antichrist spirit began to flourish.

Did you get it now? There are those twins again. There are those two trees again, growing side by side in the same earth, partaking of the same nourishment, drinking in the same rain, and benefiting by the same sun. But they come from DIFFERENT seeds. One tree is FOR the Word of God, exactly as God gave it, and loves and obeys it. The other tree is from the seed that is anti the Word of God and changes it where it wants to. It substitutes its own creeds and dogmas for the living true Word exactly as did Cain, who ended up killing Abel. But fear not little flock. Stay with the Word. Keep that Word between you and the devil. Eve did not do that and she failed. And when the church lets down on the Word she goes into the depths of the darkness of Satan.

"And hast borne, and hast patience, and for My Name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." This is just about the same as was said in verse two. But in verse two the work, labor, and patience were from guarding the sacred Word which was committed unto them. How they kept away the adversaries. What a credit they were to Paul. But in this verse their persecutions and trials and patience are over the blessed Name of Jesus.

You know that is not at all strange, for it is the Word and the Name that brings the enemy pouring after us like a flood. That mighty Word which was manifested in healings, signs, wonders, and other demonstrations, caused the Pharisees to scream out for the death of the true believers. And now that Name, hated and despised by the Jews, is mocked by the cultured as they laughed to think anyone could be so foolish as to believe in a man who died and rose again and is now seated in heaven. So here were the religious persecutors, the Jews, cursing this Jesus, Who to them was a false Messiah; and here were the others laughing with delight and mocking sarcastically at the Name of a new god, Who to them wasn't a god at all.

Now here is something else that started in that age and will continue right down through the ages, getting deeper and darker. That is, people were repudiating that Name. It was not the true Ephesian Church that was doing it. No sir. It was the false apostles. It was the outsider trying to get in and defile the believers. The Ephesians knew that Name and loved it. Recall the origin of that Ephesian Church. A little group of people who were looking for the Messiah heard that a prophet who called himself the forerunner of the Messiah had appeared in the desert of Palestine and was baptizing people unto repentance of sins. These, then, received the baptism of John. But when Paul came to them he showed them that the prophet was dead, that Jesus had come and fulfilled His life as a sacrifice for sin, and that NOW the Holy Ghost was come and would enter in and fill all true believers in Jesus, the Messiah. When they heard this, THEY WERE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, and when Paul had laid his hands upon them, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. They knew what it was to obey the Word, to be baptized in His Name (Lord Jesus Christ) and in that way they knew they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. You could not get that people to change. They knew the truth. Acts. 19:1-7.

They knew the power of that Name. They saw that Name was so powerful that even aprons taken from the body of Paul and sent in Jesus' Name to suffering people could deliver the sick from all manner of diseases and cast out evil spirits. So manifestly wonderful did that Name perform that reprobate Jews at Ephesus attempted to use it to exorcise devils. Acts 19:11-17, "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul; So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the Name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus Whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified."

They knew the righteous life that accompanied the bearing of that Name, for whosoever nameth the Name of the Lord, let him depart from sin. Be ye holy, ye that bear the vessels of the Lord. Thou shalt not bear the Name of the Lord thy God in vain. These Ephesians were CHRISTIANS. They bore a Name, and that Name was Christ, Who was the Spirit of God within them, and Which was one of the threefold Names of their Lord.

"... And for My Name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted." These believers weren't laboring for Paul, or for an organization. They weren't committed to programs and institutions whereby they built up holdings of value. They worked for the Lord. They were His servants, not the pawns of organization. They didn't go to church on Sunday and talk about that Name and then forget it the rest of the week. They didn't give lip service to that Name. No Sir. It was their lives that were given.

All they did, they did in that Name. In that Name they acted, but if they could not act in that Name, then they refrained from acting. These were heavenly placed Christians whose behaviour was in the Lord.

But that false vine group that wanted to defile that Name hung like skulking wolves in the dark, waiting to get in and tear down. But the saints stood the test and kept the Word and the Name. 7ch010.htm

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