The Glorified Lord – Walking Amid the Churches
“And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:23)
The vision presented to John, when an exile on Patmos, of the glorified Son of Man, walking “in the midst” of God’s churches still on the earth, is not that of Christ as the sympathising High Priest able to succour (Heb. 2:18) and save them in the hour of temptation, but as the Searcher of hearts (Rev. 2:23), whose penetrating eyes (Rev. 1:14) see their true condition, and whose faithful judgment makes known to them their state, as He knows it and records it.
The symbols of lamps and stars, tell this to be a night scene. The seven golden lamp-stands represent the churches of God as His light-givers and testimony-bearers in the world, during the period of their Lord’s absence there-from. As “stars,” or planets, shed forth a reflected light, so all true ministry must come from Christ to men. And as received from Him, it is to be given out in its entirety and purity (1 Pet. 4:10-11; 2 Tim. 3:14-16), for the guidance and blessing of others.
The seven churches in Asia, here selected from among many more existing at the time, represent
(1) the whole course of the church in testimony, throughout the dispensation; this is why it is said to be a “mystery.”
(2) They represent seven possible conditions in which assemblies may be found, from early love and purity, to lukewarm indifference and self-satisfaction, with the Lord outside, knocking at the door, His person rejected, and His claims denied. This last condition immediately precedes the near rejection of that which bears His Name on earth, while, to individual souls who do the works He commands (Rev. 2:5), keep the words He gives (Rev 3:10), and give Him the place He claims, He manifests Himself and communes with them.
(3) The seven messages have their fitting word to all “churches of the saints“ in all seasons (1 Cor. 14:33) and may be used individually by “all saints” in them, as a spiritual thermometer, to test their state and apprise themselves as to what they are and where they stand, in the Lord’s reckoning of them. Seven times over, He says, “I know thy works,” and His investigation of their state includes the condition of the heart. He it is who marks the fall from first love and from first works (Rev. 2:4,15), faithfulness or laxity toward evil (Rev. 2:6; 14-16), holding forth or giving up of the truths they know (Rev. 2:24; 3:8), and the keeping of His Word and the confession of His Name (Rev. 3:8, 13). The promised reward is for faithfulness to Him, while others forfeit “the Victor’s crown” (Rev. 3:11). When Peter wrote his First Epistle, he said, “The time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). And here, the churches—having failed in this judging of themselves—the living Lord Himself undertakes this work, in all love and faithfulness (Rev. 3:19). For even when churches fail, He abideth faithful, and does not cease to “rebuke and to chasten” His own. May the solemn sense of responsibility to shed the light of heaven around us, and the fact that “the night is far spent” and “the day at hand” nerve us, to let our “light shine,” and so attract men to Christ, while the sands of the waiting hours of life run out.
In the Epistles—especially the Pauline Epistles, written to churches and to individuals, there is specific legislation and abiding directions given as to spiritual condition, godly order, and proper behaviour in “the churches of God” (1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 11:2, 16; 14:33). And these are “the commandments of the Lord” for all time (1 Cor. 14:37). Nothing has been repealed, nothing has become obsolete. But the most of God’s people in our time, give little heed to these commandments, or attention to the pattern left for their guidance in these last days. And the sad result has ensued, that even true Christians consider themselves at liberty to associate themselves with any kind of Church that appeals to their taste, and to adhere to any kind of doctrine or practice that is popular or pleasing, whether it be of the Lord and from His Word, or opposed to that which He has said His Churches are to be.
A reverent reading of these seven messages from the Lord, who walks “in the midst” of the churches which bear His Name, and profess to own His Lordship and the Authority of His Word, ought to show to all who “fear the Lord and think upon His Name” (Mal. 3:16), that He expects His Name to be owned and honoured, and His Word obeyed among His own, to the very end. And if this be denied Him, His judgment will come in faithful love (Rev. 3:19) and discipline, to bring to repentance.
How many of God’s people are in this condition, and under this form of chastisement, as the result of their indifference to His claims and neglect of His Word, He alone knows. But it will be to their great loss now, and also in the day of Christ’s Judgment-Seat, if the warnings and encouragements given by the Lord in these solemn and searching words of His to the Churches in the midst of which He walks—His very last messages from heaven to His people—are lightly esteemed or passed over, as if they bore no present message to the people of God and His Churches on the earth today.
Article series: Our Glorious LordOn His Head, Many Diadems The Coming Lord