May 12, 2019 The Judgement Seat of Christ Part 6

The Judgment Seat of Christ Part 6

 

Our scripture reading this morning is Revelation 3:7-13. READ. PRAY.

 

Christ again identifies himself at the beginning of his short letter to the church in Philadelphia. In each letter he identifies himself in a way that addresses the need of the church to whom he writes. He call himself the holy one. He is the holy one. He is without sin. He is pure and he is separated from all things common.

 

He is the true one. He speaks the truth. He lives the truth. He personifies truth. There is no falsehood within him.

 

Holy one is one of the titles of God in the OT. And there is no one but God who is true in an absolute sense. These titles reflect the divinity of Christ. Why these particular titles? Out of the seven churches only Smyrna and Philadelphia received no rebuke from the Lord. He is pleased with them. They are filled with the holiness of the Lord and the truth of the Lord. They are holy and true in a way that fallen people can be and the Lord is pleased with them.

 

God is pleased when we reflect the character of Christ!

 

He has the key of David. In chapter one Christ said that he has the keys of Death and Hades. The phrase “key of David” is the same as the “key of the house of David” in Isaiah 22. Keys open and keys lock. For Christ to have the keys to Death, Hades, and the house of David is to say he decides who lives and who dies, who remains in Hades and who leaves, who enters David’s house and who stays out.

 

He also has the keys to every door. The most important decisions that you have to make in life are often directed by what doors are open and which ones are closed. Christ has the keys to those doors, too, and he uses them for the advantage of his servants. And, especially, to the advantage of His kingdom so the gospel will grow.

 

Only two things are necessary for the church to go forward and for the gospel to grow: for the risen Christ to use the keys and for his servants to be willing to speak. The Lord is ready to use his keys. Are you ready to speak?

 

He says, “I know your works.” He knows them and he is pleased with them. He does not identify the works as he does in the other letters. But two things about this church hint at what they were. First, he commends them in verse 10 for keeping his word. To keep the word of the Lord means more than just believing it. It means living it and speaking it. The Philadelphians were under persecution but they continued to live and speak God’s word.

 

Second, Philadelphia was at the crossroads of the world. It was a big trading center where major highways came together. This positioned them to reach out to people of many languages, countries, and beliefs without having to leave their own city. The world was coming to them.

 

Some conservatives get upset about our state department allowing so many foreign nationals into our country to work, to go to college, or to immigrate, especially those from middle eastern countries who follow a completely different belief system. This is nothing to be upset over. The Lord is the one who really has the key to this country, not the State Dept. One of the reasons the Lord may be letting so many foreigners come into our country is to give the church an opportunity to reach them with the grace of Christ in a way that we could not in their country. The real question is: will we be faithful?

 

There was an open door that the Lord opened and set before them. This is an open door for the gospel to go out but the Philadelphians still had to walk through it. We should pray both for an open door for the gospel in our sphere of influence and we should pray that we would not be timid but that we would walk through the door. Those are two good prayers!

 

Then he says, “I know you have but little power.” The Romans controlled the city and the Jews were both influential in this city and vehemently opposed to the fledgling church. Compared to the Romans and the Jews the church had little power. This shows that it is not how much we do (because that is partly determined by our power) but what we do with what we have. Great rewards are coming to those with just a little strength as long as they use that little strength for the Lord’s behalf.

 

Don’t squander your little strength on television, games, and sports. Use it for the work of the Lord! Using our strength for him pays better dividends than using our strength for anyone else and better rewards than using it on ourselves.

 

What the Lord is saying is that, “You have a little strength; use what little you have and I will supernaturally multiply it and open the right doors.” He said it to Philadelphia and he is saying it to New Salem. “New Salem, you have a little strength. Use it! Exercise it! And see me multiply what you do!” Amen.

 

He says “You have kept my word.” Keeping it does not mean locking it away in a corner of your mind. Keeping it means using it. Keeping it means living it. Keeping it means speaking it.

 

How did the Philadelphians get the word and know the word of the Lord? The earliest the book of Revelation was written was about 65 AD. Scholars disagree on the date of composition. Most believe it was written about 95 AD but several think it was written between 65 and 67 AD. Even if it were written in the earlier time frame most of the NT books (except for Revelation, of course) were already in circulation and churches would copy them. So, the church in Philadelphia had the gospels and Paul’s epistles. They had the Bible though not in the format that we have today. They were true to the word of God that they had.

God is calling us to be true to His word still. Keep his word by knowing his word!

 

Those who are not of the household of faith will often think you are foolish for reading the Bible, for loving the Bible, for going to church, for not participating in sin, for standing against ungodliness. One day, though, all will know how much Jesus has loved you. One day they will recognize who Jesus really is and who those who follow Him really are.

 

In verse 10 he says, READ. The word “world” there is not the common word for world, but means the “inhabited realm.” It would have been synonymous with the Roman Empire at that time. This trial or tribulation that is referred to must be one that the Philadelphians themselves would be saved from; otherwise, the promise would be of no effect to them. This letter is first and primarily to them and only to us by extension and application. Therefore, this trial is most likely the Roman-Jewish war of 67 – 70 AD. If Revelation were written in 95 AD then the trial would be the great persecution under Domitian who was Roman Empire at that time.

 

In verse 11 he says, “I am coming soon.” This does not refer to the Lord’s actual physical coming but, rather, his coming in judgment. Whenever we read of the “coming” of the Lord we must examine the context to determine whether it refers to his so-called second coming, that is, his return to the earth in glory, or to a coming in judgment. The latter is in view here.

 

In the last part of verse 11 the Lord gives them a warning: “Hold fast what you have, so that no one may take your crown.” A crown is the reward of victory and co-rulership that is gained through the loving service. Whereas eternal life cannot be lost, our rewards may be lost. It is not only what we have gained on behalf of the Lord during our lives, but what will also be considered by the Lord is how we end. We may have been faithful, but we must continue. Even if you are 80 the race is not over. You have time to fail and you have time to succeed.

 

The fact that the Philadelphians had a crown already means that their work for the Lord caused them to be blessed with a crown that was waiting for them. Yet the Lord says, “Beware that no one takes your crown.” It can be lost. Notice the Lord says “that no one may take your crown.” The temptation to doubt and the temptation to lay down our efforts both often come through another person.

 

We are beings of influence. This means that we both have influence and we are influenced by others. Be careful what you read. Be careful who you listen to. Be careful who your friends are.

 

[Illus here]. Therefore, we must hold fast. Do not be deceived by flowery words that become seeds of doubt. We must keep pressing in to the glorious truth that is found in God’s word.

 

Then comes the promise of rewards to the overcomers just as in every other letter.

1. “The one who overcomes I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” What does it mean to be a pillar in the temple of God? The temple of God is the dwelling place of God constituted with those whom he has called from before the foundation of the world. I Peter 2:5 says: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house…” To be a pillar in this living temple is to part of the support structure. This is glorious!

 

Turn with me to I Kings 7:13-15. These two pillars of bronze were cast for the building of Solomon’s temple. Verses 16 through 20 describe the beauty of the pillars and how ornate they were. Then in verse 21 we read that Hiram, full of wisdom, called one of the pillars Jachin and the other Boaz. Jachin means “establish” and Boaz means “strength.” For those who will be pillars in the spiritual temple of God means that they will take part in its establishment and will give it strength.

 

Now this establishment and strength has nothing to do with our own power. As if anyone has the power to establish or the strength to support in themselves. No. It is what the Lord has wrought in that person as they cooperate with the Spirit’s working in this life and then, by the glory of His power to subject all things to Himself, as the Lord multiplies and perfects that establishment and strength in the depths of our being at the Judgment Seat so that we will fulfill the promise that we read of right here in Revelation 3:12.

 

It is the Lord’s grace and power applied to the overcomer that makes them a pillar.

 

2. The second promise of reward is that the overcomer will never go out of God’s temple. This too is wonderful! One day I attended the inauguration ceremony of the new president of CTS. The new president is a humble man who loves the Lord. I know him personally. During the ceremony we sang the hymn, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. The third stanza reads: “O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;” 

This is true of even the spiritually strong. We still have a fallen nature that we carry around with us. Sometimes it is quiet and we hardly notice it, especially when things are going well in our lives.

 

  • Then, when things don't go so well, it often will manifest itself as we begin to murmur against the Lord.
  • Or, if we do not verbalize discontent, we will act it out by becoming more distant from the Lord.
  • We may go for weeks, or months, or even years being faithful to the Lord, thinking that we are strong and then a temptation arises seemingly from nowhere that we wouldn't have thought we would yield too. This is why the apostle Paul says, “But anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
  • We are prone to wander. We are prone to leave the God we love. Sometimes when we least expect it.

 

But the overcomer will find in the next age that that proneness is gone! The promise is that we will never go out of God's temple! We will never leave the blessed dwelling place of God. Our place and position will be secure as it never can be in any earthly position. Here, you can be fired from your favorite job. Board members of corporations are dismissed. Presidents can be asked to step down. Your own family can reject you. But the overcomer will never leave the dwelling place of God.

 

3. Lastly, the Lord promises that He "will right 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, and my own new name."

“Name” in Scripture means the person represented by the name. To have the name of God, the name of the New Jerusalem, and the name of the Lord written upon the overcomer indicates that the overcomer is possessed by God, by the New Jerusalem, and by the Lord; that God himself, his city, and the Lord also belong to the overcomer and that he is one with God, the NJ, and the Lord.

Since the word “name” represents a person in scripture, the name of God denotes God himself, the name of the New Jerusalem denotes the city itself, and the name of the Lord denotes the Lord himself. To say that the name of God, the name of the city, and the name of the Lord are written upon the overcomer also indicates that what God is, the nature of the new Jerusalem, in the person of the Lord have all been wrought into the overcomer.

 

To have the person of the Lord wrought into us is not something that will happen all at one time neither upon death nor at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Rather, it is something that begins in this life after we're born again.

 

In Galatians 2:20 Paul writes,"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

 

Some teachers have tried to saying that this verse teaches an “exchanged life,” meaning that our life goes away and it is replaced by Christ’s life. But Paul says right after "it is no longer I who live" that "I now live in the flesh." The first “I” is the natural man. That is to say, the person I was without my sins forgiven and without the Holy Spirit. That person has been crucified. He is done away with. The new person, with Christ living in them, lives by faith.

 

We still have our own desires, our own personality, but Christ comes in to us, really into us, and we begin to be transformed by His life. It is like a branch and the vine. We and Christ have one life and one living.

 

In John 6:57 Jesus said,"As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me."

 

For Christ to be wrought into us we must feed upon him. We must take in his words and his thoughts, allowing them to become part of us, allowing them to take the place of our misconstrued words and our fallen thoughts.

 

Therefore, to have the name of God, the name of the New Jerusalem, and the name of the Lord inscribed upon us is really nothing more than the culmination of the progression of sanctification by the living Lord within us. It is what will make us and overcomer.

 

To have the name of the New Jerusalem written upon us shows that we love the people of God for the New Jerusalem is the dwelling place of all of God’s people. Therefore, we must learn to love God's chosen ones now with real love, not simply social niceties. Our love for the Lord is reflected in our love for His children.

 

This is Philadelphia. The place of brotherly and sisterly love. Enter into it now so that you will have the name of the New Jerusalem inscribed on your heart in the next age.