Study of The Book of Revelation
W. T. Russel (Tape #2)
Chapter 3:1 " And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things
saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy
works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." "And unto the
angel" (or pastor) "of the church in Sardis write; these things saith he that
hath the seven Spirits of God," Remember I said previously if there had been ten
churches, there would have been ten Spirits; fifty churches, there would have
been fifty Spirits. The seven Spirits of God are having reference to complete
spiritual guidance for each of the churches. So God's Spirit is everywhere--here
in this world and in heaven as well. The world can't contain God. Solomon said
in 2 Chronicles 6:18 "But will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?
Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this
house which I have built!” "These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of
God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou
livest, and art dead." Some churches have a great name of being very much alive
because of their great activities and their promotion of these in the name of
the churches. They seem to be very much alive from their actions and activities,
but from a spiritual standpoint, they're just as dead as a mackerel. That is
exactly what he's talking about here. Churches can have too many programs and
too many social activities--as the old people used to say,” Too many irons in
the fire to take care of". They can get so involved in adding activities
unsanctioned by God that the primary purpose of the church of winning lost souls
to Christ is completely forgotten. This was the condition of the church at
Sardis at that time. They outwardly appeared to be very much alive and very
strong indeed, but inwardly they were dead.
Chapter 3:2 "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God." I believe I will say this. There are many widely known “churches" with just a few in those churches who really know what it means to be born again--to be children of God. There are churches who take five year old children into the church. Kindergarten schools are organized for the little ones to get them while they're small. Five year old children are taken into the church from kindergarten by answering the simple question, "Do you believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" They can believe this statement all the days of their lives if they live to be one hundred, but without the new birth, their church membership amounts to nothing. Their baptism is null and void. They are dead when at the same time they appear to the public as being very much alive. Some pastors have been seen with about six young men carrying Bibles who after getting the center table in a restaurant will make a show of themselves with their open Bibles. To me that's just as Pharisaical as it can possibly be. It's making a show. These are actively engaged in gathering members into the church, but with nothing said about an experience of salvation. This was the condition of the church at Sardis. He said there's a few in there--and I believe even in modern churches, there are some of the members who know about true salvation. However, those members just go right along with the modernism.
Chapter 3:3 “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shall not know what hour I will come upon thee. “The admonition to this church is to "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come unto thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."
Chapter 3:4 "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy."
Chapter 3:5 "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." Then he goes on, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment" etc. We have now covered five churches. The remaining two to be covered are Philadelphia and Laodicea.
Chapter 3:6 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Chapter 3:7 "And 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;" The seventh verse of the third chapter is where we begin. There are two more churches that were written to. Sometimes we have questions we would like to have answered just for our own satisfaction. It has been asked whether the seven letters in the book of Revelation were written by John when he received them while on the Isle of Patmos or written after he went back to Ephesus. It is my opinion he wrote the Book of Revelation when he received it because the Lord commanded him to do it in Chapter 1:11 and 1:19. In Chapter 1:19 He commanded him to "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;” It’s my opinion he wrote this book while on the Isle of Patmos and not after he was brought back to Ephesus. The seventh verse is written to the church at Philadelphia. "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;" (This angel, as we have said before, no doubt, is the representative or the pastor of the church at Philadelphia) "These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David,” In Isaiah 22:20 there is a reference to the key of David in Eliakim the son of Hilkiah. Isaiah 22:20 "And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:" Isaiah 22:21 "And 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." Isaiah 22:22 "And 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." The prophecy of Isaiah in the 22nd Chapter is used in the same sense as in the letter to the church at Philadelphia; Of course "key" in the Book of Revelation in symbol represents authority. Jesus is the one who had the authority. If you want to go into it further, Jesus was called the son of David. He wasn't the literal son of David in the flesh, but in descent he was the son of David with authority. Of course David's authority was kingly authority in Israel. The authority written about here is the authority over the kingdom of God--the church kingdom.
Chapter 3:8 "I 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.” Here he uses similar words as in Isaiah 22:22 "And 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." The open door the Lord had set before the church at Philadelphia was the door of missions. A door opened to the heathen so they might hear the gospel of the Son of God. Philadelphia was an inland church. It was very poor from the standpoint of earthly wealth--they were a poor people. Not only were they poor, but they were small in number. There wasn't a large membership at this church. Jesus said, "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. Let's not interpret "little strength" wrong. Jesus didn't mean they had less power or less authority than some other church. He just simply meant they were small in number. We have a lot of churches small in numbers. They don't have as much strength as some other churches have. He said, "And has kept my word and has not denied my name."
Chapter 3:9 "Behold, 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." "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie;" We discussed that previously. The synagogue of Satan was none other than the descendants of Abraham who were so prejudiced toward Christianity that they banded together to persecute the churches, and it was called the synagogue of Satan. When Jesus referred to knowing where Satan's seat was, he was talking about Satan's throne of power. It was the Jews who were persecuting the true Israel of God. They were Jews by descent from Abraham, but were not spiritual Jews which are those that have been circumcised in heart as we discussed previously. The Jews were one of the greatest persecuting powers in that day. They claimed they were the descendants of Abraham, and were the only descendants of Abraham. These Jews banded together and persecuted the Gentiles of the churches who were claiming to be Jews. I am not able to say now, but a hundred years ago or maybe less, that little church in Philadelphia was still standing. Historians wrote about it. The church at Smyrna, which is Ismar now with about 500,000 populations, less than a century ago was still standing. But these other churches had ceased to exist in their locality. The church at Philadelphia was still standing. He said I’ll make these Jews (in that particular area) to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. The Lord promised the church at Philadelphia he would cause those who persecuted them to humble themselves before the little church at Philadelphia and worship God.
Chapter 3:10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the entire world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” There are two things I think he is talking about here. I'm not going to be dogmatic and say it's one or the other. Disregard the hour as being sixty minutes because he's talking in general terms. One of these is, no doubt, the rising of Modhammedism which took place around 600 A.D. The other is that the Catholics had their beginning about 250 A.D. However, they didn't have a pope until about 606 or 610. So, in my opinion, the temptation which was sent to try them was either the rise of Mohammedism or the Roman Catholic hierarchy. "....which shall come upon the entire world, to try them that dwell upon the earth." This statement gives us a broad scope that enables us to determine what it might have been. I truly think that it was one or the other-- Catholicism or Mohammedism.
Chapter 3:11 "Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast, which thou hast, that no man takes thy crown." I want to call your attention again to the letters addressed to the churches. It takes individual members to make up churches. So every letter is a personal letter to each member of each church. In other words, it is the church members personified, and it's individualistic. So we want to notice as we read these letters that it makes each member of every church responsible for everything that is demanded by God. Not in church capacity as a whole, but every individual unit that makes up that body. That second person being used in this respect has its significance. This says that no man take thy crown. In other words, let no one else get your reward. I'm of this opinion, and Bible so teaches, that God has given to all certain talents and abilities. He knows what they are capable of doing with the proper use of the talents he's given them. God knows what to expect of us as individuals. God determined in the beginning that he'd be glorified in man. I say man from a general standpoint, not from an individual. God is going to have purposes carried out in the world by mankind. He may have certain things for you as an individual to do as a member of the church. God may have a certain field for you to occupy as a preacher, a member of the church. I might fail to fill the place precisely and exactly that God has designed for me to fill. If I do fail to that extent, I will lose my rewards. God will use someone else to do the job I failed to do. In that sense, he will receive what could have been my reward. This is what "Behold I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man takes thy crown." teaches. I think we need to be very cautious about our duties and responsibilities owed to God as individual members of the church.
Chapter 3:12 "Him 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." I will go into the twelfth verse later because he goes into the promises.
Chapter 3:13 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Chapter 3:14 "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;" The fourteenth verse is written to the church at Laodicea. I want to say this now to offset some opinions you might have read. Some authors say the letters written by Jesus to the seven churches in Asia represented seven different dispensations of time. They say that we are now living in the Laodicean age. In reading the letter to Laodicea, we might be reminded of this position and be tempted to believe it. I don't believe a word of it. There was never a time when all the churches were just like the church at Ephesus or at Smyrna. There is no proof of this position whatsoever. However, down through the centuries of time churches have experienced the very same things that are recorded in the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia. The fourteenth verse says, “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; these things saith the Amen," (Of course the "Amen" there was the last, "the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us, all things were created by him, and for him and without him there was not anything made that was made. So this is Jesus talking.)
Chapter 3:15 "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot." I wish you were one or the other was the desire of Jesus Christ as he looked down upon this church at Laodicea. The state of the Laodicean Church was neither cold nor hot. A church can get cold. I don't know any that haven't become cold. They don't stay hot constantly. The members might get fired up for a time, but then they might drop right back to the cold state for a while. In other words a church is just like a stream. It ebbs and flows with good and bad days.
Chapter 3:16 "So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." When the Lord said I will spue you out of my mouth, he meant the church at Laodicea was lukewarm and nauseating to him. A lukewarm church just drifting along is nauseating to the Lord, the head of the church. It is pleasing to the Lord for the church to be active, moving one way or the other. A church must go down before it can ever go up. He does not want it stopped in one particular position of lukewarmness and staying there.
Chapter 3:17 "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:" Let me say this of Laodicea. It was a commercial city centrally located in commerce. It was increased with earthly wealth and goods. They had reached the place where they thought, "We have it made." You know a lot of churches are in that shape today. We have it made with everything going our way. We have plenty of money, and if we don't have it today, we can get it. Everything is just going fine, and what do we have to worry about. I would hate to see a depression as bad as anyone. The natural part of me has already gone through one, and I know exactly what it's all about. When times were hard and people had to struggle to get by, they were more humble, more consecrated, and more dedicated to God than when they had plenty. It's like a fellow who has eaten a big meal, sits down in a big easy chair, then goes to sleep. I'm afraid a lot of churches are in that shape today. He said you say you are "increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Take all of those words and sum them up, and see the condition Jesus saw the Laodicean Church. It is horrible to think about a church being in that shape. If the church was in that condition, each member was in the same boat all sailing along together. Jesus was simply saying they were unmindful of their conditions--wretched, poor and naked while thinking they had nothing to worry about, needing nothing. What they needed was God. The Laodicean Church had actually put Him aside. If the members of a church set their affections on the things of the world while putting God out of their service, the church‚ is sure to get into trouble down the road.
Chapter 3:18 "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see." He has told the Laodiceans what they are to do in the eighteenth verse. The meaning of the word "counsel" is "advise you." What is the meaning of "to buy of me gold tried in the fire,"? The Bible says "Buy the truth and sell it not." It doesn't mean to go to a merchant and pay $10 or $20 for the truth. It does mean to accrue to you that faith or the truth of the word of God. The Apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:7 "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" The church at Laodicea needed to exercise faith so they could be strong in the grace of God instead of putting so much of their dependence in the material things of the world. They needed to walk by faith and not by sight . . . He said that thou mayest be rich. There is no man richer in the world than the person that knows the truth of God and will contend for that truth in the face of all the opposition that might be around even though he is so poor in earthly riches he might have to go barefoot. Jesus made the church he left here in the world responsible for the keeping of that faith. If his church had not kept that faith, we wouldn't have it today. I thank God we still have it and believe it will be here when the Lord comes back. Some may fail as they did in Laodicea by turning their minds in a different direction than of God. Nevertheless, the purpose of God will be accomplished by another church or others who will take up where they left off. Continuing with verse eighteen: "and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness does not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see." This is typical symbolic language. It's just plain advice given to the church so they might do what necessary to make their spiritual eyesight stronger is enabling them to see well. A lot of things can be done to help us along that line too.
Chapter 3:19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." I'm glad I can know I have been chastened of the Lord and would hate to be without the chastening hand of God for he said the ones he loved, he rebuked and chastened. He also said in Hebrews 12:8 "But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." So the person that undergoes the chastening hand of God is a child of God. The last part of verse nineteen says: "be zealous therefore, and repent." which is the counseling of Jesus Christ to that church to be zealous. It's always fine to be zealous in a good cause. Sometimes people have zeal without judgment for a wrong cause. They will go to great lengths because of the zeal for which they are striving. To be zealous in a good cause is what he's talking about here. Jesus is telling them to be zealous over the cause of God, and repent of their carelessness and lack of zeal.
Chapter 3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." Preachers, let me say this to you. Never use verse twenty for a text to preach to sinners for it is not directed to sinners. Who is the letter written to? It's written to the church at Laodicea. Jesus said to the members of that church, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:" In other words, Jesus knocks at the heart's door of the church member. (Some wouldn't hear his voice then, and some will not even hear it today.) They may be rebuked and chastened for their ungodly living, for their failure to let the Spirit of God guide and dominate their thinking and their lives. They will pass it by and let the knocking continue not letting the Lord in to have his way. What does he mean by "If any man hears my voice, and opens the door,"? The Lord is not going to open that door. It's up to the church member to open the door of his heart. When he opens that door the Lord said, "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." What sweet communion! That's when you see people shouting the praises of God and a church stirred in the Spirit. They clear the line. They have received forgiveness of their sins and stand clean and pure in the sight of God because they heeded the knocking at their heart's door and made things right. Christ comes in, and you will see a revival when this happens. This is what the Lord is talking about in verse twenty. This is rich, isn't it? It's the truth. When the Lord said he would "sup with him, and he with me." he just simply means that there'll be sweet communion and fellowship between the individual and Jesus Christ. They can rejoice in the things of God and the glories that await us on the other side.
Chapter 3:21 "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
Chapter 3:22 "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." That's the promise. Now I told you that we were going to leave off the promises to the churches for this particular reason. One church was not segregated from the other in the reception of the blessings that the Lord promised because they were all based upon one condition. The promises were to be received by the ones that met the condition. The condition, my friend, is this: "He that overcometh,” Jesus said, "shall inherit all things." All of these letters close out with this promise from Jesus. The first one was to Ephesus, and he said he would give them access to the tree of life in the paradise of God. Now what is the tree of life? We first see it mentioned and read of it as mentioned in Genesis. It was in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve had transgressed the righteous law of God, and had fallen from their holy state, and became transgressors, God said, lest he put forth his hand and take of the tree of life and live forever. What happened? They were put out of the Garden of Eden. All right, what is the tree of life? It is a symbolic term, and I'd like for you to consider it that way because that is exactly what it refers to, a metaphor if you please. It has reference to the giving of immortality. To partake of the tree of life is to become immortal. Wouldn't it have been terrible if Adam in the Garden of Eden had partaken of the tree of life after he had transgressed the law and became a sinner, separated from God without any hope in the world, to have been a partaker of the tree of life and live forever in that state. He would have become an immortal being, and would have lived forever in the state of sin. So to partake of the tree of life has the same significance as taking of the bread of life to the soul. Jesus said your fathers, the Jews, they ate manna in the wilderness, and they are dead. But he said, "I am that living bread that came down from heaven that a man may eat thereof and not die." That was talking about the inner man, the soul. The person that eats of that bread has everlasting life, and when the individual partakes of the tree of life, he has an immortal body, just as immortal as his soul. That wasn't denied anybody that overcame, was it? All right, I want us to think before we go any further on this. Who is the over comer? Only those that are born of God. They are the only ones. What does he overcome? He overcomes the world. He overcomes the Devil and the over comer is one that is born again, as you will find in 1 John 4 and 5. All right, what's the means of their overcoming? The blood of Jesus Christ is the means or the blood of the Lamb and the instrumentality that brings about that overcoming is faith. So faith in Jesus Christ brings about the cleansing by the blood, and the overcoming of the world of sin and Satan is by and through the shed blood of the Son of God. Whoever has been born again, their soul washed in the blood of the Lamb, one day after while we shall partake of the tree of life and have an immortal body just like the one Jesus had. That's his promise to the church at Ephesus. He said he shall not be hurt of the second death. What is the second death? To partake of the tree of life is to escape the second death. The second death is the calling up of the souls that are in Hell or Hades. I'm talking about that place of torment, the bottomless pit. It is the state of the unsaved and the unregenerate. When they are called up, and the graves of the unsaved are opened and soul and body are reunited, that soul and body of the unregenerate are cast into the lake of fire. That is the second death. Jesus said to the over comer, he'll not be hurt of the second death. That's Baptist doctrine, pure and simple. Let's go a little further. He said I will give him a white stone, on the stone a new name written which no one knoweth but he that received it. *** Brother Russell: Could you tell what Carroll said here that you are referring to? Right here I'm going a little further than Brother Carroll did. He gives a satisfactory answer, and I accept what he gave. However, I think he should have gone a little further. During the time when Revelation and these letters to the seven churches were written, a stone of election or refusal was well known. When people were brought before the court to be judged by the counsel, they were either condemned by the black stone or acquitted by the white stone. These seven churches were in a locality where they were being persecuted. The persecution even went so far as to deny citizenship to people who were just like you and me. They believed in the crucified and risen Christ and preached the gospel of the Son of God. The people who said they were Jews and were not had the authority to demand certain people lose their citizenship. They were denied the freedoms and liberties of the citizens of that country. What did Jesus say to this church? He said though you be condemned with the black stone by the court because of your faith, I'll give you a white stone. In that white stone, there is a name written that no man will know except him that receiveth it. Who is he? You know who he is. I know where I was saved because I was there when it happened. There were several more there the night that God saved me, but I was the only one that experienced my salvation. I was the first one to know about it, and I had something in my heart that nobody else could tell me I had. The Spirit of God bore witness with my spirit that I was a child of God. So every child of God is elected of God. When Peter wrote the letter in 1 Peter 1:2 He said, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied." These people were denied citizenship in that country where the church was located, but Jesus lets them know they are his elect with salvation that only the individual knows about. Some people just can't swallow that. They will tell you, "I just know so and so I am saved." Well, I just know that you don't know it. And this Bible teaches that you don't know it. The only way that anybody can know that they're saved is by experiencing it for themselves. I can have a strong faith in your salvation and believe it as much as possible that you've been down to the fountain and had the drink that I had. I know that I had the drink by experience and can only believe you did. This is what he's talking about here in this verse regarding the white stone. You were elected though you have been refused by your neighborhood, your community and your location. Even though the people thumb their noses at you, so to speak, I give you a white stone. You are elected by me. Let's go now a little further.
Revelations 2:26: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:" 2:27: "And he shall rule them with a rod of iron;" (Who? The over comer.) "As the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father." I thought I would just pass this up. I can't because I want to clarify some things here that have been misunderstood. We talked before about translators and their use of words. I don't want anyone to say that Russell denies the inspiration of the scriptures and that some of it is false. I didn't say that. I believe the original scriptures, in their original tongue, were perfect. However, the translators were men who were not inspired. They made mistakes in their own use of words by using words that did not fit the Greek text. I want to point them out to you in these cases. He said I will give him power over the nations. The word "power" comes from the Greek word "exousia" which always means "authority". If it had meant "kingly rule or dictatorship or monarchy," it would have been the Greek word "dunamis". "Exousia" is used in the same sense that Jesus said all authority, all power in heaven and earth is given to me. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, etc. The Catholics like the verb phrase "shall rule" in verse 2:27 "And he shall rule them with a rod of iron;". You'll find the Catholics using that interpretation. However, "shall rule" is not “basileuo" which would mean a "monarchy or dictatorship". It is the word "poimaino" which means "to shepherd." It is the same "shepherd" as in the Twenty-Third Psalm in the Greek Old Testament which is called the Septuagint. Jesus says I will give you authority over the nations, and you shall shepherd them, not rule them. How? They are to rule with a rod of iron. The Greek word used for rod here is "rhabdos" meaning a rod of correction. This rod is not a rod of chastisement or a rod to drive slaves. It is the shepherd's rod tipped at one end with a crook at the other end. See the Septuagint for the shepherd psalm. The Septuagint says just what he's saying here--thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. The shepherd does not carry two instruments--a rod and a staff--but the same instrument is used according to the need. The breaking into shivers as a potter's vessel is not necessarily for ultimate destruction but may look to reconstruction. See Jeremiah 18:4-10. It becomes destructive only when impenitence becomes incorrigible. Jeremiah 19: 1-11. Even then it does not apply not to the entire nation but only to its hostile elements. So in that sense it is a rod of correction. We miss the mark if we misconstrue all this. Rule is punitive. The primary intent looks to correction and salvation. The shepherd goads the wandering sheep with the iron tipped end of his staff into a safer path or draws him back from a precipice with the crooked end of the staff. He sets up the staff as an ensign for rallying the flock together in time of danger or with it he counts the each morning and evening as they one by one pass under the rod in leaving the fold for pasturage or returning to it for shelter or in using it as a weapon of defense against the enemies of the flock. That takes care of the Catholic interpretation of Verses 2:26 and 2:27. They use these verses in the sense there is a pope that sets as authority to rule and govern the entire dioceses of catholic hierarchy wherever it may be. That man who sets on the papal throne is the king of the flock, and he is the one that governs and rules. As you can see the Greek words used in verse 2:27 mean shepherding rather than kingly authority, kingly rule, or dictatorship. Jesus told those people who overcame they had to be born again. They had to be saved people who would be the instrument of shepherding that flock, and that they would break them in pieces like a potter's vessel. That does not mean absolute destruction. Read in Jeremiah where he said go down to the potter's house and see how he messed up one piece of pottery and had to remake it. There are a lot of people that need reconstructed lives. As far as their souls are concerned, they are saved by God's grace, but they need reconstruction and the rod of God. It is given to this church as a sheparding rod and not a rod of violence. I want to take up now the promises that were made to the church at Sardis. We didn't get through all of it previously. Notice here in chapter 3:3 "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Jesus did not mean that he was coming back in his second advent to the church at Sardis, for him, as we've spoken of before, personified the members of the churches. He spoke to them in the sense of individuals, the second person. There are many comings in the Bible that mention the coming of the Lord, and that he's coming upon the people. Most of the time it means he's going to visit them with judgments. He will visit them with the sword of his mouth which is preaching of the truth by his servants in using the word of God to just straighten people out to be simple about it. Now he said that he that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life. We mentioned previously in our study of one of the other seven churches a certain practice in the eastern countries at the time this book was written. If the citizens of those countries did not follow certain rules and regulations set out by those nations and walk the dotted line, so to speak, their names were erased from the books. They were no longer citizens and granted the same rights that the other people had. That's where this originated. In simple terms, Jesus is telling the church at Sardis that their names might be taken off the list as citizens of their country or the territory in which they lived, but he would not blot their names out of the book of life. Jesus is not even leaving any indication here that anybody could use to uphold the possibility a person could lose their salvation. He's just encouraging the church at Sardis, though they lose their citizenship in their community and in their territory, they'll never lose their citizenship in heaven. That book doesn't have any erasures. Every name that's ever been recorded in that book is still there. There's one more thing I want to say about that before we leave it. I believe we have studied this before in the foreknowledge of God. I believe that God is omniscient which means "all wise". He is also omnipresent meaning he is everywhere and omnipotent meaning he is all powerful. You won't find these words in the scriptures, but we refer to God in this way. If God is omniscient, "all wise", you cannot place limitations on his knowledge. I believe God knew from the very beginning every name that would be written in the book of life. He didn't foreordain the salvation of a single one of them. He left the choice in the hands of the individual as a free moral agent, but God knew what choice he would make. This is what I believe about foreknowledge. I believe also, the Bible teaches very clearly that God could have written every name from the very beginning in the book of life. I don't believe he did since David said in the Psalm 87:5: "And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her. 87:6: "The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah." So I think the writing of the name in the book of life takes place at the very time of regeneration and the new birth. This is just simply assuring the church at Sardis that they do not have to worry. There is no danger that God will ever erase their names from the book of life. I want to call your attention to another promise that was made. The promise is that he shall be arrayed in white raiment’s or garments, and is made to the church at Sardis, to the overcoming individual. I'm going back over that again now. There's no way anyone can overcome this wicked world alone, and has never been a man that has lived who was able to overcome the Devil by himself. There's never been enough water, even though the great majority of the surface of this earth is water, to cleanse anyone from one single sin. But the over comer is the one that believes that Jesus Christ is Son of God, and I don't mean that now in just a historical faith. I mean the person that actually in his or her heart trusts Jesus Christ as their savior. The Bible said the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, and I'm going to believe that. So as the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin, there's nothing else that has anything to do with it. Water doesn't do it. The action of a second party doesn't do it. The sinner is cleansed from sin and becomes an over comer of sin, the Devil, and the world by the blood of Jesus Christ. When a person is saved, that is, regenerated and born again, their bodies are not dealt with in regeneration. There is not one thing done to the individual's body in his new birth. I'll tell you what does happen in regeneration and the new birth, a holy disposition is given to the mind. It doesn't mean God gives them a new mind or brains. It simply means that God performs an operation upon the individual. In that way God leaves him with a holy disposition of the mind that he could never have as a sinner. So the over comer who is to be arrayed in white raiment or garments is the person who is regenerated, born again. I believe that sanctification of the soul, the inner man, takes place at the very time of the new birth. Yet sanctification in the body is progressive, and it starts the very day of regeneration. We can work at it all the days of our lives and never become perfect which doesn't excuse us from striving daily to continuously make ourselves better. This sanctification is left up to the individual and is a progressive work only accomplished by the grace of God. I want to go now to the martyrs that John saw under the altar of God. Rev. 6:9 "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:" 6:10 "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" 6:11 "And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." I don't think John saw them in neither heaven nor any period of time after they reached heaven, but he saw them when they were dying. He saw them when they were giving their lives for what they believed. In that time of death, they cried out under the altar of God. If you can find an altar in heaven, I want you to show me where it is. When we leave this world and go to the heavenly world, there won't be need for altars up there. Under the altar of God, John saw the martyrs who were giving their lives for what they believed in, and they cried out for actual judgment against their murderers. The Bible said that white robes were given to every one of them. Do you believe they had been in heaven any length of time before the robes were given? I don't. I believe the robes were given to them when they went to heaven. It is my opinion the white robes given to the martyrs is a blessing for their faithful service to God which was given to them when their souls entered heaven to be with Christ. The believer is the over comer. This verse also says that they should rest for a little season until their servants would give their lives as they had. They have been waiting all this time, almost 2,000 years, and God has not yet visited this world in which we live with the vengeance that is coming that we read about in the 2 Thess. 1:7-8. I would like to go now to the promise that was made to the church at Thyatira. I can remember when I was just a boy; we use to burn plant beds. They treat them now chemically. We use to go into the woods and cut down trees and prepare logs and put them together and get a heap ready to set fire before daylight the next day. Many of you have experienced that I'm satisfied. My attention has been brought many times as a boy to the morning star. When all the rest of the stars that have shined through the night brilliantly had faded, they had ceased to be seen, but there was one that was still so bright as we walked and went to the place where we were going to burn a plant bed. And that morning star was the herald or the assurance of a new day. That morning star that is given to the over comer, the child of God, is that hope of glory that he has in his heart which is Christ, of that coming day after a while when we shall depart this world and all of its troubles and sorrows and disappointments and shall live with God and angels while the ceaseless ages of eternity roll on. Now that belongs to the over comer. The over comer is the believer, the one that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and Jesus has given to that individual a hope that is sure and steadfast and enters into that within the veil. It's not seen. We can't visualize it, but we can feel the assurance in our hearts that one day after while we shall experience for ourselves the reality of that assurance that's presented here as the morning star. I want you to notice something else regarding the promises in Rev. 3:21 "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." This is not the throne of ruling. Some people today in their writings and teachings interpret this as being a throne of rule, and that Jesus is coming back and sit on the throne of David and rule the world. This is not the throne of rule but is the throne of judgment. There is a question which needs to be answered in connection with Verse 3:21 since he said "even as I also overcame,” Did Jesus Christ, the son of man and the Son of God, walk by faith? Did he look to his Father by faith? Yes, he did walk by faith. Jesus Christ lived his life here on this earth, and he did the work on earth for the Father. Jesus said that he sent me to do this work, and the Father's will is that, that I do. So Jesus Christ, while he lived here in the world, lived and walked by faith in the Father. I would like to add a little more to this. The church Jesus set up here in the world was the church which God gave him the authority to set up when he came. Now Jesus, even though he was God manifest in the flesh, had a fleshly body. In his fleshly body, he wrought the will of God. The only person who has ever lived on earth that ever kept the law in its entirety and able to fulfill it was Christ. As to the likelihood of Christ sinning, some say that he just couldn't have sinned. I don't believe that. I think Jesus Christ was made just like us. His physical body came from his mother. He was God and man. He was begotten of God, but he had a physical body. The Bible said he was tempted in all points like we are. So if he was tempted like we are, my friend, the Bible said in James 1:13 "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:” 1:14 "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." So my savior, while he lived here in the body, had to be tempted or else there would have been no reason for the devil to call him out into the wilderness for that purpose. By not yielding, he proved himself an all-sufficient Savior. We read about the three temptations the Devil presented to Christ which he overcame, and the Bible said he departed from him for a little season. Those weren't the only three temptations that he had. The Devil came back to him later. It's not recorded as to what he did, but the Devil just left him for a short time. There's coming a day, thank God, when Christ will sit upon the throne of judgment. He says that the over comer shall sit down with me on my throne as I have overcome and am sat down with my Father in his throne. If Christ was not capable of sinning, what did he overcome? Paul said in I Corinthians 6:2 "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" 6:3 "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?" Won't it be a wonderful time when Paul will sit on the throne of judgment with Christ. He will be a judge of Agrippa, Festus and Felix. Paul bore witness to these men of the Christ who suffered, died, and shed his blood for all men who heard the gospel, that good news of salvation. Even though Agrippa said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." they turned it down. Paul, as well as every other over comer in the world, shall judge jointly with the Son of God. Job is another who will sit in judgment. God allowed the Devil to have liberty for just a little while with Job. He could not take Job's life however. God said Job was a man who feared Him and eschewed evil and none like him on the face of the earth. After all the evil brought upon Job by the Devil, Job did not curse God. One day Job will sit on the throne of judgment of the Devil and all his angels. Paul and Job, as well as every other over comer in the world, shall judge jointly with the Son of God. God told the over comer he would give him the right and privilege to judge them. That will be a wonderful day.