SEVEN REVELATIONS FROM SON OF GOD
(Sunday, May 03, 2020)
Ever since the beginning, there have been successes and failures when it comes to how men and women have approached their relationship with God. Not all of the failures failed due to idolatry or atheism. Adam and Eve disobeyed the commandment of God; Esau sold his birth right; King Saul decided it was better to sacrifice unto God than to actually obey Him; and Judas sold out the Redeemer. Those who failed did so for a reason. Those that succeeded did so for a reason. Success or failure do not happen in a vacuum. Neither “just happens.” The problems are often caused by a lack of dedication or love. This leads some to try to simply do as little as possible. Others simply put off needful changes or obligations. Sometimes it is a matter of ego. Some have failed because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by others into believing something false. Some have simply not taken the time to prepare for a successful life of true faith. But, enough about failure. Let’s look at success. Lets’ talk about overcoming the world. Let’s consider what we, in Christ, receive if we overcome. We have good reason to have confidence in His teachings about this. He has overcome the world and in this we have confidence and peace (John 16:33).
God loves His creation. Sin corrupted it, but now He has a plan to return it to its original state of perfection, and He will reward those who help Him carry out this plan. Sin was born because of Satan’s desire to set himself above God, and it destroyed the harmony of heaven. Now God needs sin to be completely eradicated from all of His creation, in such a way that there is no possibility of it happening again. So He created mankind with the express intention that they should rule over sin. (Genesis 4:7) His entire plan is that mankind should live a life where they hate and resist sin, and say yes to Him – to overcome. One who overcomes sin in their life is proving that God’s way is perfect and is part of the work of abolishing sin for all eternity. Each one who does this will taste the rich rewards of living such a life. These promises apply to all who overcome.
The apostle John was put on the island of Patmos by the Roman rulers because he had proclaimed God’s word the truth that Jesus revealed (Revelation 1:9). While exiled on the island of Patmos, John received a revelation from Jesus Christ that we now call the Book of Revelation. In this vision of John, Christ revealed SEVEN PROMISES to all believers through sending seven messages to seven first-century churches in Asia Minor. On the Lord’s Day i.e. on Sabbath Day (Revelation 1:10) John was told to write letters to seven different churches telling them about the visions that God gave him on the Isle of Patmos.
2.0 SEVEN PROMISES OF SON OF GOD
2.1 I give to eat the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7; Genesis 2:9)
It is the first of the seven promises, and, like the rest, very glorious carrying us on to the return of the second Adam, and to paradise regained. Jesus promises in Revelation 2:7 to allow every conqueror the privilege of partaking of the tree of life in God’s paradise. The tree of life appears first in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9; 3:22, 24) and is mentioned again in Revelation 22. Paradise is used here as a synonym for heaven (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:3). The promise of paradise would encourage the conquerors to obey Jesus’ instructions.
Amongst the trees in the garden of Eden, God placed the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told Adam and Eve that they may eat freely of every tree, except for the tree of knowledge. One simple rule. But we know the story. Eve was disobedient and ate of the tree anyway, having been deceived by Satan, in the form of a serpent. And she convinced Adam to do the same. They chose their own will over God’s good and perfect will, and through that simple act, sin also entered the world. If they ate of the tree of life now, they would have got eternal life. But then sin would have come into eternity. So God cut off access to the tree of life. “He drove out the MAN; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24. They lost their opportunity for eternal life.
The Tree of Life certainly is a unique tree, different than all other trees. It was last seen by human eyes in the garden of Eden and its fruit was immortality. It shared a place in the middle of the garden with the tree of knowledge, also a unique tree (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24). The consequences of disobedience had already been stated by God, and one of those consequences was death (Genesis 2:16-17). Obviously, then, the fruit, or benefit of the tree of life would no longer be accessible if man sinned, and man did sin. On the day of disobedience, MAN – male and female, died spiritually because of their disobedience, and became mortal due to the consequence of being separated from the tree of life (Genesis 3:1-6; 19). Death, though, was and is a blessing in disguise, as we shall see, though it may be difficult to accept death being a blessing in any sense. This is because that apart from mortality, there could be no redemption. Perhaps this is why the angels that fell have no redemption or hope. They are lost forever. But because of human mortality, you and I have hope.
God’s Son would become a man, so He could die, so we could live. As death enters the picture, God assures the woman Eve that her descendant (Jesus) would be bruised by the serpent (Satan) but Satan would be crushed by Him (Genesis 3:15). Man suffers physical death due to the fall, a curse, but through the curse comes a blessing. The Perfect One became flesh and died for our sins, so that we might live. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. (Hebrews 2:14-16; see verses 12-17) Now, we are told in our text that to those who overcome, access to the tree of life will be regained. It is ironic that the blessings of Christ, including access to the tree of life, is made possible by a cursed tree-the cross upon which Jesus shed His blood for us (Galatians 3:13,14; Acts 5:29-32). Because of what Jesus did for us, now we live in a time where we again have the opportunity to “eat” of the tree of life. What does that mean? Every time we choose to do God’s will instead of our own, we lay hold of something eternal; something is gained in our heart that has eternal value. Every time we resist temptation and overcome sin, we take a bite of the fruit of the tree of life. We are storing up for eternal life on the new earth that God creates. (Revelation 21:1) Everything connected with life is comprised in Jesus Christ—’In Him was life; and the life was the light of men’ (John 1:4). He is the bread of life; the water of life; He is life itself; He is ‘eternal life’ (1 John 5:20). There will be no sin there, not even the temptation to sin. The reward for overcoming sin is eternal life with God! In that paradise is the tree of life; and the promise is of free access to it, the reverse of that refusal to man of access to the earthly tree (Genesis 3:22-23). Free entrance, free access, and free liberty to eat of the tree of life.
Death loses its sting for those who overcome (1 Corinthians 15:20-26; 54-58). This is because we have access to the tree through Jesus and the power of the resurrection. We should also recall that being raised with him spiritually is necessary to be raised to eternal life. This occurs when we are baptized into Him (Romans 6:3-5; 8-9). There quite simply is no way to overcome other than by faith in Jesus. The Scriptures state “and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” (1 John 5:4). We must overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13-17). Practically speaking, this involves putting away sin and living our lives for the Father’s glory. It would include: Having a profound reverence for God’s word as He has given it (Revelation 22:18,19). Overcoming by faith means being steadfast, diligent and dedicated. When the love of the world, or the things in the world, is too strong, it will diminish from our putting the necessary attention toward living for Christ each day. It may well cause us to fail, just as it did Adam and Eve in the garden. Therefore, one balancing feature in our character is we must ‘hatred of the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which, the Lord adds, ‘I also hate’ (verse 6). Hatred of evil—hatred of false doctrine (verse 15)—these are things which the Lord looks for in His Churches. Indifference to error, tolerance of evil, smoothing down the ridge between true and false teaching, whether by the press or the pulpit—these are things very common in our day, as proofs of liberality and large-mindedness. But the Lord says, ‘these things I hate.’ To be ‘broad’ and ‘wide’ is the universal boast; to be ‘narrow’ and ‘strait’ the worst of reproaches—as if ‘broad’ and ‘wide’ were not the words of the Mater’s condemnation—as if He had not been said, ‘Enter in at the strait gate—for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to death; and strait is the gate, and narrow the way, leads to life.’ Awake, arise and shine, for our light has come! we are not yet a castaway. See from where we have fallen, what is our present low estate; see especially the bright recompense which may yet be ours, and let these things quicken us. Up, shake our self from the dust; gird on our sword; put on the whole armour of God; fight the good fight—it is not too late, even yet we may overcome! The tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God, may still be ours! For such a blessedness and brightness, who would not fight and suffer—and deny self—and toil to the end?
It is to those who overcome that Jesus promises access to the tree of life. As the Book of Revelation draws to a close, the tree of life is mentioned again. Further described, we are shown that it offers perpetual sustenance and healing as symbolized by 12 kinds of fruit, the tree yielding its fruit every month. All things pertaining to the gift of eternal life are provided on a perpetual basis and the healing refers to release from all the wounds from our sorrows, pain, sin and losses as they cease their hurting forevermore (Revelation 22:2).
2.2 You shall not be hurt of the second death (Revelation 2:11)
Ever since the beginning, there have been successes and failures when it comes to how men and women have approached their relationship with God. Not all of the failures failed due to idolatry or atheism. Sometimes it is merely a matter of neglect, or stubbornness, or arrogance. Some have simply not taken the time to prepare for a successful life of true faith. All who fail do so for a reason. Those that succeed likewise do so for a reason. Success or failure do not happen in a vacuum. Neither randomly “just happens.” Revelation 2:8–11 contains Jesus’ message, through John, to the church at Smyrna. Christians in Smyrna were undergoing intense persecution at the time these words were written. Jesus predicted even further persecution but told the believers not to fear. He promised a crown of life to them if they remained loyal to Him to the point of martyrdom. The church at Smyrna prefigures the history of the Church from the mid-third century to AD 316, when Emperor Constantine declared Christianity an official state religion. Out of seven churches mentioned in Revelation, Smyrna is one of only two not rebuked for any specific flaw.
One of the costs of sin is death. It might be more accurate to say that the costs of sin include death, both physical as well as spiritual death. In the previous section we saw how the tree of life, or the key to immortality, was taken from the human race (Genesis 2:9; 3:22-24). We also saw that the consequence of disobedience had been stated (Genesis 2:16-17). On the day of their disobedience, man died spiritually because of that sin, and also became mortal due to the consequence of being separated from the tree of life (Genesis 3:1-6; 19). Understand that there was more than one type of death going on here. But we also saw the blessing in the curse-at least the physical death part of it. Through Jesus becoming a man and redeeming us by His death, our salvation is made possible. Without death, it would not have been so. Apart from mortality, there could be no redemption-as is the case with the fallen angels (Hebrews 2:12-17).
There are two types of death: Spiritual death – a soul separated from God due to transgressions (Ephesians 2:1; 12,13; Isaiah 59:1,2). Physical death – A separation of the spirit from the body; the inner person from the outer. (James 2:26; Luke 23:46; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 5:4). Note that the “inner person”, or spirit, does not cease to exist at death, but is described as being “unclothed” … having no body. The spirit will receive a new body at the resurrection but continues to exist in a conscious state until then, longing for the new body which the Lord will prepare (1 Corinthians 15:50-53). The part of man that “sleeps” is the body, not the spirit. The spirit goes to God for judgment. Physical death is universal in its scope, and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The Sadducees of Jesus’ day denied life after death and the resurrection. Jesus let them know that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob continued to exist after their physical deaths (Matthew 22:31,32). While the first death is universal and cannot be avoided, the good news is that the “second death” can be avoided, and in fact it ought to be made life’s priority to do just that! Many would like to avoid the first as well, but, as they say, that horse is already out of the barn. However, in Jesus it can lose its’ sting (1 Corinthians 15:54-58). But the “second death” can be avoided, and again, it must be through Jesus. We must ensure that the course of our life is leading us to avoid the second death. It’s imperative. It’s more important than anything. Everything good and all the potential for good hangs in the balance, and Jesus is the answer, and we need to take Him seriously.
The second death is the lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8). This is the judgment over everything that is tainted by sin. When someone has not used the opportunities in their life to overcome sin, they will be hurt by this second death, because nothing that cannot stand the fire of judgment will be allowed into eternity. For we who have used our opportunities while still here on this earth to overcome sin, we will not be hurt by that second death. We have recognized the sin that we are tempted to, judged it as unacceptable for one who wants to practice righteousness, and resisted it. We are an overcomer who live righteously and do what is good and true in every circumstance. And if we fall, we repent, are forgiven, and resolve to resist the temptation to sin the next time. We don’t want to miss an opportunity! The “second death” is the eternal separation from God. It is separation from His mercy, kindness and goodness. It is darkness and wailing. It is the complete loss of all good things. It is the opposite of eternal life (Matthew 25:41;46). One only needs to see how the Scriptures describe the second death to understand the importance of the promise Jesus makes. We read of judgment and see the second death is also described as a “lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-14). Let us avoid falling into that lake! Overcoming means that you and I will not be hurt by the second death! This is made possible by the grace of God made available through the atoning death of His Son. We also learn that Satan and His servants are there, not to rule as often depicted, but to also be punished consciously and eternally. (Revelation 20:10). It is so important to overcome in Christ! (Revelation 21:3-8). Now, I could put some effort into making the second death sound less threatening than the Scriptures of God describe it, but why would I? Many do just that. Lots of people appreciate a softer approach to judgment, at least for now. But I am certain such appreciation will vanish in eternity by all who, because of this, have neglected preparing for the judgment to come.
“Born Once – Die Twice or Born Twice- Die Once”?
If we are to overcome the evil one, it must be by our faith (1 John 2:13-17). We overcome by being buried and raised up with Christ (Romans 6:4,5; 8,9). Being raised with Christ from baptism is important. We are not ready for the second resurrection until we undergo this first, spiritual resurrection, rising from baptism to walk in newness of life. The book of Revelation figuratively describes this new life as a thousand-year reign with the Lord (Revelation 20:6). This spiritual resurrection is also called a “new birth”. Jesus said one must be “born again” to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). We are born again through our obedience to the truth (1 Peter 1:22,23). In this way, we overcome by faith. We must be “born of God” (1 John 5:4) and walk in our new life in Jesus. This is living each day by faith. This is the means to our victory bought by God’s grace.
Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Jesus has shown us the way. But this is not something to be casual about. Overcoming by faith means being steadfast, diligent and dedicated. It is to those who overcome that Jesus promises access to the tree of life and that the second death will not hurt them. It is more than worthwhile to endure giving up our own will, the works of the flesh that Paul speaks about in Galatians 5, in order to do God’s will. The love, goodness, longsuffering, etc. that replaces our natural selfishness, envy, uncleanness, and so on, are the results of living an overcoming life. These give us value that we will have for all eternity. There is grace for forgiveness of sins, but we also have grace for a much deeper life. Anytime an opportunity to overcome sin is missed we will be forgiven but have lost an opportunity to gain something of eternal value. That is the pain of the second death. That is an eternal loss. First Corinthians 15:41 talks about the glory of the sun, the moon, and the stars. This is symbolic of the eternal glory that we can come to. The more eternal value we have as a result of being faithful to overcome, the greater our eternal glory will be.
2.3 I give to eat of the hidden manna and will give you a white stone, and in stone a new name written, which no man knoweth (Revelation 2:17; Isaiah 62:2)
Revelation 2:12–17 is a message from Jesus to the church at Pergamum. Jesus commends the church for keeping the faith despite intense persecution and the pervading worship of Satan around them. Manna was a welcome source of food to the Israelites during their journey through the desert en route to Canaan. The overcomers at Pergamum refused to eat food offered to idols, but they will enjoy bread from heaven. The feast Jesus prepares for His faithful servants exceeds by far anything the Devil offers us. However, some members of the church followed the teaching of Balaam (who taught Balak, the king of Moab to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, use Midianite women to seduce the men of Israel and lead them to worship other gods and to commit fornication; Numbers 22-24), and others followed the teaching of the Nicolaitans (The Nicolaitans appear to come from a sect group at the time that followed a man by the name of Nicolas. His name can derive from a Greek root meaning “conqueror” or “destroyer.” Some think Nicolas is the same man who appears to convert to Christianity in Acts 6:5 but lost his way to a teaching known as Gnosticism, a heretical teaching that swept away many members of the church in the second century. Moreover, Nicolaitans also appeared to eat food offered to idols, which Acts appears to decree against in Acts 15:29. Although this one doesn’t seem like a major offense, in their context, they had committed a serious spiritual crime). Jesus calls the church out for repentance regarding those flaws. Failure to repent would bring judgment.
God gave manna to Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 16:11-15). This was during the Exodus from Egypt. A whole nation of people needed sustenance to survive in a barren wilderness in order to reach Canaan. Only God could have preserved such a great number of people in the desert and wastelands. He did so with a food called manna which would fall from the sky and water from rocks. The word “manna” means “What is it?” which probably refers to the initial reaction of the people when they found it all around one morning. The Old Testament often refers to this event suggesting that it shows how God cares for His people. In fact, a pot of it was kept in the ark of the covenant to remind the people of God’s care (Exodus 16:33,34; Hebrews 9:4). When the people saw the ark, they would remember the things it contained and what they represented. The people would not have survived without it. God gave them everything necessary which they could not provide for themselves, but then expected them to trust and obey Him by doing the things they could. Jesus uses this figure to tell us something that is similar.
“Hidden manna” refers to that which sustains and strengthens us as Christians in our faith. By faith disciples can overcome even the most difficult of circumstances. The persecution of the church at Pergamum had been great. One of the members of that body had been executed (Revelation 2:13). But even in the most peaceful of times, there is a danger of becoming complacent and surrendering. People deny the Lord sometimes under threat, but at other times just through neglect. We need God’s manna to sustain us in the wilderness of this world as we journey toward our spiritual promised land. If we supply the faith, God will supply our strength. The hidden manna is something that we receive already in this life. It corresponds to our hidden life. Our hidden life is that place inside where no one knows what is going on except for we individually and God. It’s where we are tempted to impure thoughts, to pride, to lying, etc. It’s where we fight and overcome those temptations. The hidden manna is the help that we get when we pray for it in those times. It is the nourishment we receive, the power from on high. It is given to everyone who asks for it, everyone with a longing to be free from sin. The hidden manna gives vitality and life.
Jesus is our “bread of life” (John 6:47-51). The things Jesus provides is to the spirit what physical bread is to the body. It fills the emptiness and satisfies deep human longings. It instills confidence and hope. Jesus refers to eating his flesh and drinking his blood – not literally, but figuratively through receiving His word and example into our hearts. Going through the motions won’t do it. (John 6:52-58). One must fully receive Jesus. Some think life can be successful without this part. It can’t. Many pampered bodies are home to starving souls. How blessed is one who realizes their soul’s need for this bread, for that is necessary to be filled (Matthew 5:6). “Filled” – “Strengthened” – “Hope” – “Purpose” – “Confidence” – “Endurance” are some of the results of receiving this hidden manna (Philippians 4:11-13; Ephesians 3:16; 6:10).
Jesus also promises a white stone with a new name inscribed on it. Only the recipient of the honour knows the inscribed name. We cannot say with certainty what this stone represents, but we can be sure the recipient enjoys approval from Jesus and fellowship with Him. White stones were used for several things in the ancient world, especially in Greece. With what would have these disciples at Pergamum have associated with a “white stone” as promised them by Jesus if they overcome. The word means a small pebble, so that helps. In ancient courts, the accused were acquitted or condemned by vote of a jury, council or panel. The voting member would cast a white pebble for “acquittal” or a black pebble for “guilty”. Members of tribunals condemning Christians would have cast “black stones” against them. At Pergamum, evidently black stones had been cast when judging Antipas. He was put to death. But Jesus says, “I will give one who overcomes a “white stone”; that is, He declares such a one as vindicated, pure and guiltless. It does not matter if the world condemns you if the one who has the keys of death sets you free! When facing ridicule or worse, remember that. The Lord will give you vindication and victory if you overcome by faith! (Revelation 1:18; Romans 8:31-34; 38-39; Hebrews 7:25: 10:38-39).
More likely, however, this is a reference to the Roman custom of giving victors in athletic competitions a white stone inscribed with their name. This token served as their “ticket” to enter into an awards celebration later on. The white stone is a symbol of whom we have become through our faithfulness and our determination to rule over sin. It is rock-hard faith and purity. Here on earth our faith is being tested – there in eternity it will have been proven; it’s withstood the testing. Written on this stone of flint-hard faith will be our new name. This name will reflect the battle. Almost all talk of battles and wars when concerning a Christian life refers to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts us individually. God’s Spirit and the flesh are at odds. When we have decided to only do… that we have stood in, and sufferings that we have endured. It will illustrate who we’ve become because of our faithfulness and God’s grace. (2 Peter 1:4) We know the battles we had to endure to get there, and we will immediately identify with that name. It will be the ultimate symbol of victory and transformation. All of this is proof that our faithfulness is highly esteemed by God. This new name, that only He and we individually know, is the testimony of our spirit; it’s how God sees us. He doesn’t see what we were according to our human nature. He sees the new creation in us, the result of our faithfulness to Him and His commandments. (2 Corinthians 5:17) And that is what we will be for all eternity. No more battle to overcome sin, but a new creation to live in eternal purity! The promise of being given “a new name” probably refers to the new status one who has been born of God and has overcome. Lots of things are said to be “new”… there is a “new heavens and earth” where the redeemed sing “a new song” as “new creatures” who are walking in “newness of life”. Exalted with Christ in eternity will bring wonderful changes. And now, by faith, we glimpse glories to come in our joy and confidence as faithful Christians. We are sustained with manna now but look forward to the “land flowing with milk and honey”. And it is true that no one can know us but we individually. Right now, we either know what we are talking about – or we don’t. We know Jesus, or we do not. We understand the joys of discipleship, or we do not. No one on this earth knows us but we individually to ourselves. Overcoming by faith means being steadfast, diligent and dedicated. (1 John 5:3,4). It is to those who overcome that Jesus promises access to the tree of life and that the second death will not hurt them. He also promises hidden manna and a white stone. What wonderful hope these things symbolize!
2.4 You shall rule over the nations “with a rod of iron” and I will give you “the morning star” (Revelation 2:27-28)
This ruling action will be in cooperation with Jesus. Psalm 2:9 predicts that Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. The word “rod” refers to a shepherd’s staff. Jesus will be not only King over all the nations but also their Shepherd. The fact that He and the conquerors use a staff of iron indicates that not everyone will voluntarily submit to Jesus’ rule, but everyone will have to submit to it. At the end of Jesus’ earthly reign, those who submitted unwillingly will rebel. They will marshal themselves against Jesus but fall dead when He strikes them with a sharp sword that proceeds from His mouth (Revelation 19:15–21). The authority to rule the nations follows an order. The father grants it to Jesus, and in turn Jesus grants it to His faithful followers.
Revelation 2:18–29 reveals what Jesus instructed John to write to the church at Thyatira. Although the church exhibited commendable virtues, it allowed an evil woman—here referred to as Jezebel—to lead its members into immorality and idolatry. Jesus predicted strict punishment for her and her followers. The churches would know by Jesus’ action that He searches the mind and heart and deals with everyone according to his or her works. Those who did not follow Jezebel’s teachings (a woman who has gathered many teachings and calls herself a prophetess, who brought so many pagan teachings and practices into the church and mixed them with the teachings concerning Christ. The result then was idol worship and fornication) would not be punished, but Jesus encouraged them to stay loyal to Him until His return, when He will rule the nations and permit the faithful to rule with Him. Jesus promises to give them the morning star. The faithful in the church were surrounded by moral and spiritual darkness, but the time would come when they would experience the glorious rays of Christ, the morning star. The reference points us to the rapture, the event that transports Christians from earth to the presence of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17). At that time Christians will be free from trials and persecution. Our bodies will be like the body of our risen Lord (Philippians 3:20–21). They will be incapable of dying (1 Corinthians 15:50–57). Aches and pains will all be in the past, and spiritually we will be like Jesus, entirely free of sin (1 John 3:2).
At the end of the Old Testament, we learn that Israel’s hope of the coming of Messiah to establish His kingdom is buoyed by the promise that the sun of righteousness shall rise (Malachi 4:2). At His second coming—His coming to earth—Jesus will appear in glory as the sun of righteousness, but before that event takes place, He will come in the air for all Christians. That is the Christian’s blessed hope. This order of events is noteworthy. Before the sun appears, the morning star appears. So Jesus will appear first for Christians, in the rapture, and after a seven-year period of tribulation, He will come and establish His earthly kingdom to fulfil Israel’s hope.
2.5 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 (Revelation 3:5; Exodus 32:32)
Revelation 3:1–6 comprises the letter Jesus dictated to John to send to the church in Sardis. The church’s reputation was a far cry from reality. It had a reputation of being a live church, but actually it was dead. While this reputation is—technically—a praise, it’s a hollow one. Jesus instructed this church to wake up and strengthen what remained. All was not lost, though. A few members of the church were true to the faith, and Jesus promised they would walk with Him in purity. He would also keep their names in the book of life and confess their names before His Father.
In Revelation 3:5, Jesus extends three promises to every faithful believer. First, He will grant Him white garments (also in Isaiah 61:10 and II Corinthians 5:21). Roman officials customarily wore white clothing at religious festivals as symbols of high honour. White clothing that is given to the faithful represents not only honour but also purity and righteousness. This is a picture of the “righteousness of God” that is required for salvation. II Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “For he hath made him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” In other words, Jesus Christ traded places with us on the cross of Calvary. He took our sin upon himself in order that He might give us His righteousness. This is pictured in the Old Testament as a “garment of salvation” or a “robe of righteousness.” Our righteousness based on our deeds are filthy rags according to Isaiah 64:6. “But we are all as unclean things, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).” Isaiah also wrote, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). Therefore, the promise is that every believer (overcomer) shall be clothed in white raiment speaking of the righteousness of God (II Corinthians 5:21). Second, Jesus promises that He will not blot the faithful believer’s name out of the book of life. (also in Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20 and Philippians 4:3) While some individuals think this statement implies that a believer may lose His salvation, it simply means the conqueror—the “overcomer” (1 John 5:4,5)—can be secure knowing their name will never be erased. Every born-again person has eternal life that will be His divinely given possession forever (John 5:24; 6:35–37, 6:39; 10:28–29; Romans 8:1). Does the idea of blotting out a name from the Book of Life imply loss of salvation? There is the Book of Life and then there is the Lamb’s Book of Life. These are different books. The Book of Life is the book of physical life. The Lamb’s Book of Life is the book of eternal life. When we are born the first time, God places our names in the Book of Life. When we are born the second time, God places us in the book of eternal life, a register and roll of all who shall inherit eternal life. When we die, God blots us out of the Book of Life. God never blots our names out of the Lamb’s Book of life. In Exodus 32:31-33 we read, “Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold!’ ‘Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” Moses asks God to kill him. He asks God to take him out of the book of physical life. Jesus will physically blot out the life of those who do not gain victory in their spiritual lives. This letter is a challenge to the church of Sardis. The context deals with an active church with many ministries but also a church that is devoid of spiritual fruit. Therefore, Jesus will blot this church out of existence if she does not repent. This passage in context does not deal with salvation but with a church out of phase with God. The implication that we can lose our salvation infers that works justifies us. This falls short of by faith alone, by grace alone. Salvation is free, a gift of God based on the death of Christ for our sins (Ephesians 2:8-9). What does this passage mean by the idea that Jesus will “never” blot out his name from the Book of Life? It obviously does not mean that he can never lose his salvation for John clarifies that in other passages (John 5:24; 6:35-37, 39; 10:28-29; Romans. 8:38-39). If we did not become Christians by good works, then we cannot become non-Christians by bad works. God bases our salvation on the finished work of Christ, not on our works. A person can never have security of eternal life by what he does; he can only have eternal security based on what Christ did. Remember, according to Revelation 3:5, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he will not blot your name out. What is the sin that can cause your name to be blotted out? It is unbelief. It is the rejection of Jesus Christ as Saviour. This is the unpardonable sin. (See John 3:36, 1 John 5:12). In John 3:18 we have this unpardonable sin given. “He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” A person living in unbelief is living in a condemned state already. If that person puts their trust in Jesus Christ as Saviour before they die, God promises in Revelation 3:5 that “…I will not blot out his name from the book of life…” If that person dies in unbelief, then at that point, God blots their name out of the book of life. What a fantastic promise! The believer will be clothed with the righteousness of God, and his name will never be blotted out of the book of life. In other words, you can never be lost once you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Third, Jesus assures the faithful believer that He will confess His name before His Father and the angels. In a public ceremony in heaven, Jesus will acknowledge that these overcoming, enduring, faithful “conquerors” belong to Him. We are not told much about what is presently happening in heaven, but we are informed that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10). I believe that what happens at the moment of salvation, according to Revelation 3:5, is that an announcement is made in heaven that you have trusted Christ, (as Jesus said, “before my Father; and before his angels”). (Revelation 3:5 and Luke 15:10) Evidently, great joy follows the announcement in Heaven. Moreover, in Matthew 10:32–33 and Luke 12:8-9 we read, I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels- Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Further in Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8 we read, Revelation 13:8 says: “And all who dwell on the earth will worship [the beast], everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Revelation 17:8 says: “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.”
Being in the book, having your name in the book, keeps you from doing what would get you erased from the book if you did it — like worshiping the beast. What a verse! Remember the key to understand to whom this verse is addressed if found in 1 John 5:4-5. I John says, “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.” Have you trusted Christ? If so, the three promises of Revelation 3:5 are yours. Great news isn’t it? Therefore, an overcomer is clearly a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. We become overcomers not on the basis of what we have or will accomplish, but on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. So, therefore, we know that Revelation 3:5 is addressed to those that are born of God, those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
2.6 I will write upon you 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 you my new name (Revelation 3:12; Isaiah 62:2)
Revelation 3:7–13 contains Jesus’ message to the church at Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a center for exporting the Greek language and culture into the interior of Asia Minor. Thus, it had a secular missionary calling. Just as the city had an open door to the interior, so the church had an open door to spread the gospel. Jesus commends the church in Revelation 3:10 and promises to keep it from the tribulation period. He also instructs the church to retain the truth and promises each conqueror special recognition in the New Jerusalem. Smyrna and Philadelphia are the only churches in Revelation not to receive any particular criticism. The church at Philadelphia’s characteristics are similar to those of the Church in the 19th and 20th centuries that was a period of frequent revivals and missionary activity.
It’s interesting to note that the ancient city of Philadelphia was vulnerable to earthquakes that collapsed buildings. By contrast, God is suggesting that nothing could cause the conquering believers in Philadelphia to tremble and fall. They would stand tall like firm columns in God’s temple, a reference to heaven. When an earthquake struck Philadelphia, the residents left the city in search of a safe place, but the Christian overcomers would remain safe forever in heaven. Jesus also promised to inscribe on these overcomers the name of His Father, the name of the New Jerusalem, and Jesus’ own name. The New Jerusalem will descend from heaven when Jesus establishes His royal residence on earth (Revelation 21:9–27). Hebrews 13:14 points out that believers do not have a permanent residence on earth, but we look forward to living in a permanent one. The permanent city is the New Jerusalem. Possessing the name of our heavenly Father, the name of the New Jerusalem, and the new name of Jesus suggests that believers will receive honours that abide eternally.
Philadelphia means ‘love for the brethren‘.. and true, godly love for one another, can only be manifested, in the life of a believer, who is in fellowship with the Father and walking in spirit and truth. These Philadelphian Christians recognised Jesus as the One Who is holy and true. They confessed His absolute sovereignty and acknowledged that He alone, has been given the keys of David. Jesus alone has the keys of the kingdom of God – against which, the gates of hell cannot prevail. They acknowledged Christ’s Lordship in their lives. They believed in His power to open gates that no one could shut, and to close doors that no one could reopen. They also renounced Jewish legalism, which places people back under the ‘law of sin and death’, and they exposed the pagan cults, that denied the deity of Christ or denounced His perfect humanity. They opposed the self-appointed Jews, who despised the truth of the glorious gospel of grace, by claiming to be God’s chosen people, when they were, in fact, a synagogue of Satan.
Our lives should reflect this body of believers… for they were beloved of the Lord and received no condemnation from Him, but were instead, commended for their perseverance. And so they were given a promise: He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God – and I will write on him My new name. The same promise that was given to the Philadelphian Christians can become our promise, when we love the Lord our God with all our heart, and when we love the brethren with the same godly love that comes through Christ. The Christian has been given all he needs to love as Christ loved, so that we are enabled to overcome the world-(by faith), to overcome the enemy-(by resisting the devil) and to overcome the flesh-(by denying self and taking up our cross, as a true disciple of Christ). The precious promise, to become a pillar in the Temple of God, should thrill the hearts of all born-again believers, for this is a reminder that we have the permanently, indwelling Spirit of God, Who has become our ‘life’, through time and into eternity.
God, in His grace, chose to use our bodies as His permanent dwelling place, during this dispensation of grace. Today, those who have been saved by faith in Christ, are a Temple of the living God. However, a day is coming when each member of Christ’s body will receive an incorruptible body – and the new Jerusalem will become our heavenly home. The new Jerusalem will become the heavenly Temple of God, and we, who have the indwelling Spirit of God, will remain as established pillars in that glorious Temple of the Lord, for we have been promised a part of Christ’s, heavenly rule, when He reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. Having been identified with Christ and positioned in Him by faith.. we will similarly be identified with Him in the eternal ages to come – for when we see Him, we shall be like Him – having immortal bodies of flesh and bone, for we are bone of His resurrected bone and flesh of His resurrected body. We who have overcome the world, the flesh and the devil in this life, by faith, will be made a pillar in the temple of our God, and we will not go out from His presence anymore.
On that day, our redemption will be fully completed. On that day our justification, sanctification and glorification will be finalised, when our spirit, soul and body is at last made perfect in Christ. Our positional identification and progressive sanctification with the Lord Jesus will be completed and we will be perfected, spirit, soul and body – and He has promised, I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem.
By grace we are sealed by the Spirit and identified with Christ NOW, and by grace we will be permanently identified with Him, throughout eternity, for we will have His name inscribed upon us forever, for none can pluck us out of His nail-pierced hand – and no one can pluck us out of the hand of our heavenly Father.
2.7 I will grant you to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (Revelation 3:21)
Revelation 3:14–22 is Jesus’ final and most strident message, addressed to the church at Laodicea. We learn from this assessment that the Laodicean church was lukewarm, smug, and self-satisfied. It boasted about its wealth and need of nothing. But the church deceived itself. In terms of its spiritual condition, it was wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Jesus urged the church to turn to Him, as He was positioned outside the church, inviting whoever heard His voice to open the door and welcome Him. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ and raised up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6 How does this verse affect us? Paul is not speaking here literally and physically; he is speaking spiritually. He tells us that through God’s saving power demonstrated in Christ’s resurrection we already enjoy participation through the Holy Spirit in the heavenly realms where God and Christ reside. This is one of the benefits of life “in Christ” and His resurrection and ascension. Being “in Christ” makes all this possible. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are totally and eternally united with Christ. Therefore, being “in Christ” means that when God looks at us, He does not see our sins, He sees Christ. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) Our seating and reigning with Christ is a position of authority, honour, and triumph—not failure, depression, and defeat. God made the believer in Jesus Christ to be triumphant, because we are partakers of Christ’s victory over Satan. For the believer, our seating with Christ is part of our inheritance now. The words “raised us up” in our verse is past tense, therefore, our position in Christ is already an accomplished fact. That means we are to live as ambassadors for Christ and share the good news with all that we come in contact with, and to exhibit the Christ-like life to the people we meet. When we realize our position in Christ, it makes a tremendous difference in our lives and we will no longer feel defeated.
How many times have we heard this verse in church or read it in the Bible and just sort of moved on past it without really considering the absolute shocking incredibly wonderful statement saying that WE (that means You, if you belong to God) are SEATED (past tense, which means NOW) in the heavenly places with Jesus.? Have you ever stopped to ponder what that means? Well, you say, how can that be true? That’s really a rather odd picture! –Us sitting with the Lord in His Throne, meaning we’ll share His power! It almost seems improper, Him letting us share His Throne! –Unless we see ourselves as He sees us, like little children! That’s much more understandable, thinking of ourselves as little children sitting beside Him in His Throne. Thrones aren’t normally big enough for two grown people, but they’re always big enough for a child or two on the lap or beside one adult. Jesus will pick us up and put us on His Throne or set us on His knee. We sit with the Lord in His Throne, so that makes us princes and princesses, children of the King! –And just as little children have power to influence their father when they sit with him in his throne, we’ve got power with our Heavenly Father too! That’s how much the Lord loves you and me! He’s going to let us sit down with Him in His Throne, because we please Him and we love Him and He loves us! Isn’t that a beautiful picture?
Moreover, I’m still right here on earth, stuck in all the muck and mire of this world. Why yes, that’s true for your Body and your Soul. You see, we are triune beings just like God. We are a spirit living within a body that has a soul. (The soul is your mind, will, and emotions). The most important part of us and the Eternal part is our Spirit. We are made in God’s image, and the Scripture tells us that God is Spirit. Hence, we are spirit as well. It is our spirit that is really we. Our spirit directs our mind and emotions and our mind directs our body. But the source of power is our spirit. Unfortunately, many believers today and all non-believers allow their soul and/or body to be the boss, and because our soul and bodies are tainted with the curse of sin and are unregenerate, they will only lead us into darkness and death.
Before we met Jesus, our spirit was essentially dead. It was born with a sense of right and wrong called our conscience, but over the years, without the life-giving infusion of God’s spirit, it slowly began to die. If we ignored our conscience and kept sinning and sinning, then our spirit died even more. When we gave our entire life to Jesus, our spirit came alive! (1 Peter 3:18) Now, our spirit is infused with the Holy Spirit and is completely regenerated. We are a new man or a new woman! Old things have passed away. But our soul and body are still in sin here on earth. It’s like we are wearing some old, ragged clothing that we can’t take off. That clothing is keeping us in a certain place for now that we can’t leave. But when that clothing grows too old and worn and torn and it falls off us, then our spirit is free!
Hebrews 8:1 describes Jesus’ present position as that of sitting at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven. Someday, however, Jesus will leave the throne in heaven and occupy a throne on earth. The angel Gabriel told Mary that her child Jesus would “be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32–33). Undoubtedly, the promise to the repentant overcomer anticipates the privilege of participating in Jesus’ kingdom administration.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). James compares the person who is a hearer of the Word but not a doer of it to a man who looks at his face in a mirror and leaves, forgetting what he saw (James 1:23–24). He adds: “But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25). The invitation is similar to what Jesus said during His earthly ministry: “He who has ears to hear, let Him hear” (Matthew 11:15; Mathew 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Mark 7:16; Mark 8:18; Luke 8:8; Luke 9:44; Luke 14:35; Revelation 13:9). Of course, Jesus’ invitation to hear means more than simply taking in audible sounds. It means to heed: to accept and to obey. In James 1:22 this meaning is clear. James writes, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”