WE WERE JUST BARELY GETTING INTO THE PHILADELPHIA LETTER IN OUR THREE PART SERIES ON THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA WHEN HE RAN OUT OF SPACE, FOR PART 2. THEREFORE WE WILL START RIGHT OUT IN REVELATION 3:7, WHERE WE FIND JOHN WRITING TO THE SIXTH CHURCH OF THESE SEVEN CHURCHES. THIS WAS THE CHURCH THAT HAD CONDITIONS IN IT IN 96 A.D. THAT WOULD TYPE CONDITIONS IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN THE 6TH CHURCH AGE, THE AGE OF BROTHERLY LOVE. THIS, OF COURSE, WAS THE WESLEY AGE, AND THAT IS THE LAST ONE THAT HAS THE CHURCH AGE MESSENGER RECORDED IN HISTORY. BUT FOR THE LAODICEAN AGE WE DO NOT NEED HISTORY, FOR WE HAVE LIVING WITNESSES AS TO WHO THE CHURCH AGE MESSENGER WAS. THE MESSENGER HAS PASSED FROM THE SCENE, AND ENTERED INTO HIS REST, BUT THE AGE OF LAODICEA IS STILL RUNNING ITS COURSE, AND THE MESSAGE DELIVERED TO IT BY THE STAR MESSENGER WILLIAM MARRION BRANHAM, IS STILL RINGING LOUD AND CLEAR TO THOSE WHO HAVE EARS TO HEAR. WE DEALT WITH LUTHER’S AGE IN PART 2, BUT DID NOT READ THE PARABLE FROM MATTHEW 13:44, THAT PREVIEWED IT, SO WE WILL READ THAT ONE VERSE OF SCRIPTURE BEFORE ENTERING OUR STUDY OF THE PHILADELPHIA CHURCH, AND THE AGE IT TYPED. REMEMBER NOW, THE APPLICATION OF THIS PARABLE IS COMING RIGHT OUT OF THE DARK AGES, WHEN CATHOLICISM HAD SWALLOWED UP EVERY APOSTOLIC DOCTRINE TAUGHT BY THE EARLY CHURCH, AND HAD SUBSTITUTED THEIR MAN MADE DOCTRINES IN PLACE OF THEM.
Let us read Matthew 13:44. “Again the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth. and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Martin Luther, like all the rest of those priests and monks, had been taught that there was no salvation outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Your faith must be in the mother church, or you are doomed to purgatory, they were taught. They were ruled by fear. But Martin Luther found something in the Bible that changed his whole life. He found where the apostle Paul had written to the Romans (1:17) “The just shall live by faith.” That became a treasure to him, and he was ready to sell out all his interests in the Catholic church to pursue this treasure he had found in the word of God. This of course, led him to write up his 95 theses against Romanism, and post them on the church house door in Wittenberg, Germany, and from that point. I believe we have sufficiently covered this period, so let us go to Revelation 3:7, where we will begin reading John’s letter to the Philadelphia church, there in Asia Minor.
SOVEREIGN CHOICES OF GOD
Now as we would consider the opening words of these seven letters, to these literal churches, let us be sure we understand the symbolism here. All of them start, “Unto the angel of the church in such and such a place, write.” Certainly we should all understand that the angelic being (or guardian angel) behind the scene in these churches, did not need to be admonished by the Lord. I am convinced He performed His duties perfectly. Therefore we understand that it was to the pastor or spiritual leader of these churches that the letters were addressed, and it was his responsibility to see that proper action was taken, after receiving the letter. Then, as we have already stressed, when you bring the application of these letters over to the age they portray, it still falls the responsibility of a certain man whomsoever God lays His hand upon, to be the star messenger to that age. Also, remember, the star messenger does not necessarily need to appear on the scene at the beginning of the age. Those individual churches had been functioning about 40 years before the Lord’s message was sent to them. As for what we said about literal conditions being exactly the same, between those churches, and the age they portray, it is simply a matter of recognizing similarities, and catching Satan’s objective in what is going on. Just take for instance, the Jezebel woman in the Thyatira church, that seduced God’s servants to commit fornication, and eat things sacrificed to idols, through her prophesying, and her enticing ways. You will not find where there was any literal woman in that Dark Age period, that claimed to be a prophetess, and conducted herself in that manner. But when you take the similarities between the conduct of that woman, and the conduct of the Catholic church, you have your parallel. Every detail will not match, but Satan’s objective stands out as clearly as it possibly could. Furthermore, I believe there is more to be seen here, than just seven churches setting a type for seven ages to come. I believe the seven men who were addressed as angels to those churches also set a type for something else also. Why did God just single out seven churches, seven men, and why was it those particular churches? There were many churches in operation in 96 A.D., and they no doubt had their own problems that could have been just as serious as the ones that were dealt with. But why this particular seven? First let us remind you once again, that all seven of these churches were started at about the same time, from the gospel fires that burned at Ephesus for three years, while Paul preached and taught there. That gave them common ties. They were all founded from the same teaching, at approximately the same time. All right now, blindness in part was imputed to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles be brought in. and this great revival was solid proof that the Spirit of God had come among the Gentiles in the fullness of His purpose. Therefore Satan would now have to turn his attention toward the Gentiles in an effort to thwart the plan and purpose of God. If there was any way for him to keep the gospel from getting back to the Jews, he was determined to find it. He does not want a righteous King ruling the world, and he will do anything in his power to prevent it. Therefore he went to work on the Gentile churches, perverting the gospel through the infiltration of tares among the true believers. What we have seen in these first five churches shows how successful his campaign was, for in less than forty years, some of those churches looked more pagan than Christian – But God’s purpose was not defeated, and it will not be defeated. By His own Sovereign choice, He directed words of admonishment, encouragement, and promises, to the seven men who would be responsible to see that His message was delivered to the people. Furthermore I want you to understand that those seven men were not just some little half-hearted 2×4 preachers. There is very reason to believe that Polycarp was the pastor of the Smyrna church at that time, and he truly was an outstanding soldier of the faith. Likewise I believe the other six were also. Therefore if the Lord would choose seven certain men in 96 AD., and give them a prophecy that in reality pertained to the whole Christian world in that hour, why would it be so strange to believe He would do the same thing again, at the end of the age? That brings us right back to something we were just on. “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Those pastors no doubt, read those letters to the whole congregation, but there were only a few that had ears to hear the spirit of God talking to their hearts. That is exactly how it will be in the last days, as those thunders sound THEIR VOICES, only those who have ears to hear the voice of the Spirit will even be affected by their sounding. Others may hear the audible words, but they will not receive the message. Furthermore we do not know who the men will be, for the Lord will choose them just as sovereignly as He chose the pastors of those seven churches of Asia in that day. Two other men will be chosen of God for a special work in the endtime also; the two Jewish prophets that will prophesy to Israel for 3 1/2 years. These are the two alive trees of Zechariah 4:11, 14, but tell me who would have known that, if Revelation 11:3-4 never had been written? Do you see how God hides these little jewels of revelation from the devil? The Jews still do not know what is meant by Zechariah 4:11, but we know. Zechariah kept asking what those two olive trees meant, but when the angel answered him, it still did not make sense. But, Praise God! It was explained to John, and he put it in writing, so the Gentile church could know also. Now you may ask, Bro. Jackson, why are you bringing the two Jewish prophets into this? But it is very simple, I want you to get further confirmation on something. The two olive trees is symbolic language, but the prophets they represent are not symbolic, they are literal men. Therefore I will ask you to read Revelation 11:3-9, a little later, and see how many times you find the word THEIR, in those seven verses, and then tell me why it is so hard for some people who claim to be filled with the Holy Ghost, to catch certain things that are so plain. These things were written for those that have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church of the living God.
PHILADELPHIA KEY OF DAVID — OPEN DOOR
All right now, let us take a look at this beautiful church, located in Philadelphia, one of the seven churches in Asia. This church typed the 6th church age, the Wesley age. That literal city does not even exist today, but it was there in 96 A.D., when John wrote this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. That church had also been invaded by Satan’s tares, but they stood the test, and served their purpose, so let us see what the Lord had John write to them. We do not know who the pastor was, but we do know who the star messenger to the 6th age was, John Wesley. I am sure of one thing though, if you could have seen the pastor of that local church in Philadelphia, you would have seen a man of God in action. We are in Revelation 3:7, as we begin reading. “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.” This is quite an introduction the Lord gives Himself here, but it sure did let those saints know who the author of that letter was. He is the very one that said, I am the door, I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life, and no man cometh unto the Father but by me. But there was one thing here in this verse that I had to take a long look at, “He that hath the key of David, He that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. We have to go to Isaiah 22:20, and read a few verses to get that lined out. It is a prophecy pointing to Jesus Christ in a Millennial setting, and one might wonder why He would use such a reference in His letter to a church that was so far away from the Millennium. But when you stop to consider that this is also directed to the star messenger to an age of time just prior to the Millennium, you will ratch the significance. The Philadelphia age, the age of brotherly love, was a period of time when God dealt with the church along the lines of holy living, just before the darkness of Laodicea began to settle in. Just before the hour of great tribulation would hit the world. Notice now. “And it shall come to pass in that day, (This is pointing to a particular day, a future day. a prophetic time.) that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: (This is pointing to Christ, and Christ shall not be called Eliakim, but this man Eliakim, by his very God appointed office, set a type of the one who appeared to John, and instructed him to write these letters, the one that all Bible types point to, the Lord Jesus Christ.) 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.” Let me say something more about this Eliakim. In the 18th chapter of 2 Kings. beginning with verse 18. Hezekiah being the King, we find that there was a priest by the name of Eliakim who was in charge of the temple. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded the land, and surrounded Jerusalem with his great army. He had already conquered everything that stood in his way, and even Jerusalem had already given up many things in an effort to pacify him, hoping to stay off this invasion. King Hezekiah had gone into the temple and gathered up the gold and silver, and even beat off the door knobs and gave them to him. Still the king is totally determined that he must bring this Jewish people completely under his control. Certain messengers were sent to cry out to those who walked the walls of Jerusalem, Open up to us. But it was the man in charge of the house (the temple) who actually listened to their message and conveyed it to King Hezekiah. Eliakim stood there listening to the blasphemous words of those Assyrian soldiers, and finally said to them, Do not speak any more to us in the Jewish language. Speak to us in the Assyrian language, for we do understand it. There were many other Jews standing on the walls, and Eliakim did not want them to hear all those blasphemous words of what they purposed to do, lest it strike fear in their hearts. (You can read it later if you want to.) He carries their message to the king, and the king sent messengers to Isaiah the prophet, to find out what the word of the Lord was, for this occasion. The word of the Lord from Isaiah , came back, “Thus shall ye say to your master. Thus saith the Lord, – Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him. and he shall hear a rumor, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” Brothers and Sisters: That is exactly what happened. But our point is this, Eliakim was in charge of the temple. He was the one who stood to hear the enemy, and convey the message to the king. Therefore He definitely characterizes something that Jesus Christ will be, in the day when He Himself sits in that house, because He will be King over all the world. He will do His own hearing, and fulfill all that Eliakim set the type for. We have already read verse 21, in the 22nd chapter of Isaiah, but notice. “I will commit thy government into his hand: (The government that was in effect in those days was the government that David had established, a theocracy. The priest had his role ) within it, the prophet had his role and the king had his, but we realize that when Jesus Christ sits as king in Jerusalem, all of this will be fulfilled in Him. The word of the Lord shall go forth from Zion and Jerusalem, and all nations of the earth, will flow to y Zion and Jerusalem to worship the Lord of hosts. Brother, the word of the Lord in that day, will not be what you might read from e the Bible, because most of the Bible by then, will have become a fulfilled reality, except Revelations 21 & 22. Yes. The word of the Lord in that day will be what f issues forth from Jesus to His ) bride. I believe it is Revelation 5:10, that says, He has made his kings and priests unto our God, and we shall rule on earth. I tell you Saints, World leaders of our day do not know just what kind of troubles they are getting involved in, for before this scripture can be fulfilled. there has to be a temple built in the very same spot where it stood before. Those Arab peace plans that have just been made known do not leave room for the Bible prophecies to be fulfilled. They are demanding that Israel give up all occupied territory (This is the way they refer to it) including East Jerusalem, which is old Jerusalem. That is the Jerusalem that is mentioned right here in verse 21. “And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. and to the house of Judah,” and the West Bank belongs to Judah. Mr. Begin does not hesitate to call that West bank territory by its proper Bible name. It came out in the Jerusalem post, where he said that 70 percent of the country of Jordan belonged to ancient Israel.
It could very well be, that instead of Israel giving up the West Bank, she just might wind up with a large chunk of Jordan, for we have to realize that verses 20-22, here in Isaiah 22, are prophetic, and they pertain to the time of the Millennium. But in order for it to work out right, these lands must be back in the hands of those to whom it was given. Now let us read the verse that we first turned back here to read, verse 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.” That is exactly what we saw in that Philadelphia church’s letter. But notice where the key of the house of David was placed. Not in his hand, but on His shoulder. This is symbolic language. You just simply do not lay a key upon a man’s shoulder. Do you? I know you have heard of shouldering responsibility though, and I know you have all heard the saying, That man sure has a load upon his shoulders. This is what we are seeing here, responsibility and authority delegated. King David wanted to build God a house, but the responsibility of building that house was laid upon the shoulders of Solomon, his son. Circumstances caused David to purchase the spot to build an altar unto the Lord, where God chose as the place where He would place His name, and that is where the temple was built. When Solomon ruled from that temple, he was actually setting a type of Christ ruling in the Millennial temple. People from the ends of the earth came to view the beauty of that temple and to witness the wisdom of Solomon, and the queen of Sheba, a rich queen herself, coming from a great distance to view the temple, and the man she had heard so much about, said, The half has never yet been told. If that could be said about Solomon, then how much more can be said of this next son of David, that will rule on earth from that same spot? Praise God! We see here then, that to lay upon His shoulder the key of the house of David, is to commit upon Him responsibility and authority to open and possess the house, and to sit in it throughout His Millennial reign. It will be His government that will be established, and His authority that shall enforce it. Therefore if that is His authority to the natural temple, to open, and none can shut, and shut, and none can open, then let us see if we cannot bring that right on over into the spiritual realm. Coming back to Revelation 3:7, we see that He who opens, and no man shuts, and shuts, and no man opens, is going to give this to the Philadelphia church (He has already set before them) an open door. Naturally He is not talking about opening natural doors, but doors of opportunity, blessings, and achievement. But do not forget, He also shuts doors, and when He does, then no man can open them. Many times, I look at this, and think how we have a tendency to get discouraged. We are human. We ask, Oh Lord, What is going to happen? The world is going to pieces. Oh Lord, Do this, do that and something else. But, Brothers and Sisters: We need to remember that He is the one that is running the show. He is the one that is putting it in men’s hearts to fulfill His will, and He is not doing it from a carnal standpoint. Neither does He need a lot of secretaries to keep records of what has been done. He is working out a spiritual plan of complete redemp-tion for all of God’s creation, and that means that every law, and every spirit is subject to Him. That is why, when a child of His gets altogether serious about walking in the perfect will of the Father, He is the one that can open the door, and change circumstances that heretofore have prevented it. We have many desires, but then we think of all the circumstances that make those desires unrealistic. But brother, I am here to tell you, that there is nothing impossible with ) the Lord, and there is nothing impossible to him that believeth. You just have to seek Him, and allow Him time to open the door, and remove the hindrances. In due time, you will feel a wonderful release in the Spirit. It is just like stepping through an open doorway into a completely different environment. He is the only one that can open what no man can shut, and shut, so that no It man can open. Praise Him!
I KNOW THY WORKS
Let us read verse 8 now, where we will begin to catch a different tone to this letter than the previous ones. “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.” All right now, who is this letter actually coming from? He that hath the keys of David laid upon His shoulder. He whose authority is all the key He needs. He will not need a natural key in His hand, when it comes time for Him to enter into the literal temple in Jerusalem, from which He will rule and reign for one thousand years. This will truly be the house of David according to all prophecies, even though it was not built by David. Nevertheless it was David that had the vision for a house where God could put His name, and His Shekinah glory; therefore when Solomon built the first temple, and sat I upon the throne of Israel, he was actually sitting upon the throne of his father David, fulfilling a vision that was in David’s heart to perform. Ezekiel prophesied, (when that ancient throne of David had constantly been sat upon by a reign of kings down through Zedekiah who finally corrupted his ways so much that God allowed the Babylonians to capture him and his sons, kill the sons, and gouge out the eyes of Zedekiah,) that God would remove the diadem, take off the crown, and overturn, overturn, overturn, until He comes whose right it is; and it shall be given unto Him. Saints: I believe we are getting very close to that time. Naturally we realize that there are yet some other prophecies to be fulfilled first, but I still believe we are living very close to their fulfillment. Then He who has the key of David will come to His temple, and no man can stop Him, nor even hinder Him.
ALL POWER IS GIVEN UNTO HIM IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH: therefore when it comes time for that phase of God’s total redemption plan, it will be fulfilled perfectly. But let us look back here to what the Lord had John write to that particular church at Philadelphia. Too many times, we just concentrate on the corresponding church ages, as we read these letters, and fail to stress the fact that there was an actual condition in a literal church some 1900 years ago that the Lord was giving His attention to. When He said, “I know thy works,” to the church at Philadelphia, He was pleased with their works. He had no rebuke for them. Instead of rebuke He said, “I have set before thee an OPEN DOOR.” Sure, John Wesley had an open door, as he rode horseback from place to place preaching holiness, but this local church in Asia, in 96 A.D., also had an open door set before them at a time when the age of martyrdom was rapidly approaching. God saw something in that church that He was well pleased with. They were loyal, steadfast, and their resistance to evil stood out noticeably above the others. Instead of rebuke, the Lord’s very words commended them. It looked like, at least for a while longer, they would be spared from the tribulations of that age of martyrdom that was coming on. I noticed on the map, that Philadelphia was an inland city, not a seacoast city. Therefore by not being on the main trade routes, she probably avoided being overrun by a lot of riff raff quality of people. As I said earlier, I believe the local churches in these cities were affected spiritually by the total atmosphere of the entire city. Every environment carries a certain spirit with it, and therefore the church, over a period of time, is affected by it. Remember what the Lord said to the church in the city of Pergamos. “I know thy works, “AND WHERE THOU DWELLEST, even where SATAN’S SEAT IS.” They also had kept His name, but they had an element of people among them that were polluting their fellowship, and the Lord did not like it. I believe the difference between these two churches were mainly because of their total environment. That is not to say that every true Christian will not be tried and tested, for we all know perfectly well that the Bible declares we will be, but certain congregations are kept cleaner than others, simply because they are not exposed to the same things as others. Take the church at Ephesus for instance. That being the place where Paul stood preaching the gospel that all these other churches were started off of, I believe that gave them a certain recognition that caused every preacher desiring to make a name for himself to head for Ephesus to preach, or at least to be recognized as being there. It is the same way with Jeffersonville, Indiana. Ever since it became published that the prophet to this age had a tabernacle there, people from all over the world have come to Jeffersonville, just to see, or be recognized as someone that has been to the tabernacle where the prophet preached his major messages. Before Bro. Branham’s day, Jeffersonville, Indiana, was just a little old river town, hardly known to anyone except its close neighbors, and today it is known the world over. There was a time when one might have said, Can any good thing come out of Jeffersonville, Indiana? But a little old river town, hardly known to anyone except its close neighbors, and today it is known the world over. There was a time when one might have said, Can any good thing come out of Jeffersonville, Indiana? But I will tell you this right now; a prophet came out of it, and today you can go into India, Africa, Norway and other far away countries like them, and hear people speak of it as though it was one of their own cities. Now our point is this. That kind of recognition draws an element of religious minded people to this city. They are not criminals, nor bums, but they are not necessarily sons of God either. However they do affect the atmosphere of the city, so we will just say that the church can affect the atmosphere of the city, or it can be just the opposite; the city can affect the atmosphere of the church. You may not agree, but I believe that is why there was so much difference between these 7 churches that were all founded at about the same time, when the Lord had John write them these letters in 96 A.D. Paul had told the elders of the Ephesus church. when he met them at Miletus, that after his departure grievous wolves would enter in among them, not sparing the flock. He also told them to take heed, and to feed the church of God which He had purchased with His own blood, so they were warned, and instructed. They knew what to watch for, and they also knew how to feed the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers.
ONE OF SATAN’S DECEPTIONS
The Lord said to Ephesus, “I know how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou has tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” To Smyrna He said, “I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” Therefore it is plain to see that the devil knew exactly the kind of people who would be gladly received in these churches, so he sent imposters, trying desperately to get his tare sowers into their pulpits. Ephesus gave them the word test, and kicked them out, but their constant routine of doing so, caused them to lose sight of their reason for doing it. That is why the Lord had to remind them that they had left their first love, and admonish them to repent. We should never get so involved defending the truth, that we neglect our fellowship with the author of that truth, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philadelphia had kept His word, and had not denied His name. Therefore in verse 9, He said to them, “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. As we said before, Those Gentile Christians had great respect for those Jewish brethren that were truly brethren of the faith. But we can see here, that the church at Philadelphia had held their own with Satan’s imposters, and they had also remained true to the Lord with the little strength they had left, and the Lord was going to reward them for that faithfulness. When we are faithful to God, He is faithful to reward us for it. Let me remind you once again though, before going on, that when we bring this letter over to the age it types, you will not have the exact same situation. John Wesley’s Methodism was never harassed by characters claiming to be Jewish brethren, seeking recognition in the churches. They were harassed by that same old spirit though. As that sanctification message went forth calling men to holy living, and a dedicated life to God, drunkards, coal miners, timbermen, and people from all walks of life threw away their booze bottles, spit out their tobacco, rinsed their mouths out, and instead of cursing, they had praises to God. Hallelujah! But do you know what Satan did? He ran a parallel to it with this Seventh Day Adventist doctrine, teaching British Israelites, seventh day Sabbath keeping, abstaining from meats, and all such like. Can you see what that same old spirit was trying to do? They were a charitable type of people that built hospitals, schools, and relief centers, and believed in holy living, but their doctrine was not what the apostles of Jesus Christ taught. Therefore honesty requires one to brand them as Antichrist in doctrine, regardless of all their good works toward suffering mankind. They did not get a foot hold until the middle 1800’s, but I will tell you this much, when they began to point their finger at Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and a lot of others, accusing them for worshipping on Sunday instead of the seventh day, it scared the daylights out of a lot of them. Perversion of the scriptures will always shake up a certain element of professing people, but that is because they themselves are not grounded in truth. But my point is, the Wesley age did not have people claiming to be natural flesh and blood Jews causing them trouble, but they did have this group claiming to be spiritual leaders ordained of God to finish the Reformation which they claim was incomplete. What they did was put people back under Jewish law, and that law was never given to anyone but Jews. You just simply cannot take what Paul said in Romans 2:28-29 and make spiritual Jews, and put them under Jewish law. Paul was simply stating the fact that Gentiles, once they are born again of the Spirit of God, make up the spiritual faith seed of Abraham. Abraham was justified by faith, therefore all who enter that family of God by faith, (and that is the only way) are seed of Abraham, the patriarch that all Jews point to as their father.
WHAT THE REFORMERS DID
I have said many times, and I don’t mind saying it again, Adventism was never a part of the Reformation, for every true move of God that was a part of the Reformation, carried an apostolic truth as its main objective. Luther brought faith, Calvin brought predestination. Knox eternal security of the true believer. Wesley, a sanctified, holy way of life, and if you followed the history of the others, you would find that they also carried an apostolic truth, but that is not so with Seventh Day Adventists. Their main teachings are designed to put Gentiles under Jewish law. We realize of course, that all the other Reformers carried a lot of Roman Catholic doctrine along with them, but at least they did contribute something worthwhile to the Reformation with their primary teachings. Neither did they try to cancel out what the other true Reformers stood for; they just added their truth to the others. In other words, God cannot go contrary to His true purpose. He is the author of a consistent flow of truth; therefore no man that is truly anointed and led of God, will ever try to cancel out the truth that another man of God has delivered. Even Bro. William Branham, that some of these denominational people can’t say a good word about, never attempted to cancel out the truth that their organizations were founded upon; he only pointed to their error of building a denominational fence around that truth. Every Bible truth belongs to the whole, undenominated body of Christ. As we look at Methodism, and realize that their founder John Wesley, was the star messenger to the age of the open door, Philadelphia, we have to realize that he was not the one that built the fence around sanctification; that was done later. But we do see that Wesley doctrine was truly given an open door. The new world had been discovered, the colony states had been settled, and there was a whole new area for this sanctification message to be preached to. Down close to Asheville, North Carolina, there is a marker by the side of the road where a fellow by the name of Asbury rode a mule up and down the Appalachian Mountain range, preaching the message of John Wesley, and in Wilmore, Kentucky, there is a Bible college and seminary named after him, Asbury College. Naturally they are supposed to be teaching Wesley’s message; but they do not; they have strayed a long way from it. Nevertheless it is Jesus Christ Himself that opens doors that no man can close, and closes doors that no man can open, and He is the one that gives out the rewards for faithfulness, and that is what we want to see, as we study this letter written to the local church in the city of Philadelphia, in 96 A.D.
MOLDING AN IMAGE
Simply because they had kept His word, and had not denied His name, notice what Jesus said to that Philadelphia church. We are in verse 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.” I believe God made sure that those imposters. sooner or later, came to the true believers in that church, and admitted that they were wrong. I also believe that there have been many Seventh Day Adventists that have followed the same pattern after realizing that they were wrong. But notice verse 10, now, Not only would He make those pretenders come and worship at the feet of those Philadelphian saints, Jesus also promised to keep them from the hour of temptation that was to come upon the world. Because of their faithfulness and loyalty, and because of the open door that was set before them, the Lord somehow spared them from the great impact of that age of martyrdom that the 2nd century brought on. Let us read the verse. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” In other words, they have been faithful to the Lord in everyday tests, and trials of their faith. That is what He was referring to when He said, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience.” Just turn right back to James 1:2, and read where he said, “My brethren, Count it all Joy when ye fall into. divers temptations: (various tests divers temptations: (various tests of your faith) Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Now, Brothers and Sisters: Some people who claim to be Christians, will just fly off the handle at the very first sign of something going wrong, or because someone makes a remark they do not like, or because they fail to get their way about something, but when you do that, you are out of step with the Lord. Oh Bro. Jackson: If you only knew what I have been going through, you would see why I am like that. But, Dear Soul: The word of God says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but GOD IS FAITHFUL, who will not suffer (allow) you to be tempted (tested) above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” But why should a Christian have so many hard trials and complications? The apostle Paul wrote to the Romans, (5:3) “that we glory in tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.” Well what is patience? It is an attribute of God’s character; and He wants all of His true people to have it. Some people simply cannot wait two minutes for anything, and a lot of them are preachers. They are just burning up inside, wanting to do something for God, but their motives are wrong. They run ahead of God, always demanding to see the fruits of their labors immediately, when God might have them wait 20 years otherwise. God appraises faithfulness and obedience differently than most people do. If He keeps a man waiting twenty years, before He leads him to a specific work, I will guarantee you one thing, The man that patiently waits will be in the perfect will of God when he is finally led into his calling. God can use a man like that, and he does not necessarily need to be a preacher. for God wants this attribute operating In His whole family. It is a matter of building the character and principles of Jesus Christ in us according to Paul’s revelation in Colossians 1:77. “Which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It is very true that we receive the Holy Ghost many times, when there is little, or nothing about us that even resembles Jesus Christ, but when He is allowed to come in and take control of our whole being, He will begin to mold us into the very image of Jesus Christ. That does not mean that our nose, eyes, and hair will look exactly like His, but our attitude, our nature, and our motives should begin to take on a likeness of His. There are millions of people going to church today, not because they are hungry for the word of God, but simply to fulfill a certain obligation to their religious system, or to receive a certain material benefit. Brother! I am here today because I love being assembled with my brothers and sisters of the faith, and I love this precious word of God, that furnishes us with spiritual nutrients for our spiritual growth in the days ahead. Taking on the nature and mind of Christ, is not a sudden experience we have; it is something we grow into as we give ourselves to the leading of the Spirit of God, and allow Him to move us when He is ready. No, He will not lead you to stay at home and listen to sermon tapes, if there is a place of worship where you could attend. Paul pointed out, in his letter to the Corinthians, that we are all members of one body, and that we all have some certain function that is necessary in order for that body to be complete; therefore if you are a part of the body of Christ, you have no right whatsoever to withhold yourself from the rest of that body. However, God is the judge of that, so we will leave that to Him. He is the rewarder for faithfulness, not me, and He is the judge of unfaithfulness, and I am glad that I do not have to be responsible for that.
HOLD FAST AND OVERCOME
All right now, as we bring verse 10, over to the 6th church age, the Wesley age, and apply that part, “I will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth,” let us realize that this hour of trial will be the great tribulation that closes out Laodicea. God saw to it that the age of Wesley fulfilled its purpose, before He actually allowed the age of Laodicea to hit the world. The age of Laodicea, when you look at it properly, is the most deceiving, misguiding, hypocritical age of them all. What actually winds up as Laodicea, is what eventually winds up in the great tribulation. But moving from the age of brotherly love, (the Philadelphia age) to the age of lukewarmness and deception, (the Laodicean) was not an abrupt transition; it was a gradual reversing of the spirit of that age, which we will cover more thoroughly as we deal with Laodicea. In verse 11, the Lord says to Philadelphia. “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 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 the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” What was the admonition? Hold fast, and overcome. That was both to the local church, and also to the Methodists of the Philadelphia age. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of God.” Of course we all know what the temple of God is; it is the true church. Notice also, that they have the promise of a new name, just like those at Pergamos. and I will say once again, We will have no need of a new name until we are in immortality. Furthermore, we ought not think of this as actually having a name written upon us, as with pen and ink, for what that applies to is the pure revelation that all overcomers will have. We have already pointed out that when you get to the 19th chapter of Revelation, you see heaven opened, and Jesus, with His army of overcomers descending to earth on white horses. He had a name written, that no man knew but He Himself. Yet it goes right ahead and says. His name is called The Word of God. The name of the city of God is the new Jerusalem which cometh down from God out of heaven, and Rev. 21:2. 10 tells us that the new Jerusalem is truly the bride of Christ. Now Brothers and Sisters, we will not have many names written upon us, for I believe Paul gives us some light on that in his Ephesian letter, (3:14-15) where he says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the FATHER of our Lord Jesus Christ, OF WHOM THE WHOLE FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH IS NAMED.” In redemption it is all tied to the name Jesus. That is God’s redemption name, but when redemption is completed, well, we will just wait and see what God has for us in immortality. Overcomers of Pergamos were to receive a white stone, with a new name written in it that no man would know except the one that received it, but I ask you, Do you believe God will be passing out little rocks to His immortal children with a new name literally written in it? No, these are symbolic terms and they apply to spiritual revelation that only overcomers may have. Stone speaks of a durable substance, which lets me know that once it is placed there, it is there to stay, and the revelation of it is yours. Now who will receive these promises? They that overcome. They that overcome what? Spiritual assaults from Satan and his angels. Well, who will overcome? They that have an ear to hear what the SPIRIT is saying. There are many voices in the land today, claiming to be called of God to do what they are doing. But those who have an ear to hear, are not hearing the right kind of ring from most of those voices. Most of those voices generate confusion and strife wherever they are heard, and the Bible plainly tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:33, that God is not the author of confusion, but rather of peace, as is in all churches of the saints. Paul went right ahead, in verse 37, and said, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, OR SPIRITUAL, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But tell me. Do you find many preachers today that will take those letters written by the apostle Paul. and preach them as the commandments of the Lord? No, you do not. Pentecostals like Acts 2:4, and 1 Corinthians 12:1-10, and they like what they think they see in Revelation, chapters 21 and 22, but I am afraid their rejection of Acts 2:38 will deprive them of ever taking part in the true picture of those last two chapters of Revelation. Brothers and Sisters, let us look at this thing realistically, Not everyone who speaks in tongues, is speaking by the indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost, for Satan is a duplicator, and a deceiver, and he helps people speak in tongues also, just like he helped Pharaoh’s magicians duplicate the signs given to Moses and Aaron, down there in Egypt. The truth is, We are living in an age of makebelieve and deception that supersedes all others, the age of Laodicea.
SOMETHING WORTH SELLING OUT FOR
Before we actually go into this letter written to the church at Laodicea though, 1 want to take a little time to review the main points that we have tried to stress in this series of messages. First of all, let us be sure we can see these seven local churches as actually exemplifying spiritual conditions of seven ages, or divisions of time throughout the dispensation of grace. Then, let me remind you once again, that the seven parables spoke by Jesus, in Matthew 13, gives a little preview of those ages also. Each one fits perfectly with the age it numerically corresponds to. Luther found treasure hid in a field, The just shall live by faith instead of by Roman Catholic dogma, and he sold out all his former hopes and dreams, that he might lay hold on that newly discovered treasure. John Wesley found the pearl of great price, (sanctification and holy living) and did likewise. They both found something worth selling out for; have you found it? I pray that you have. The Laodicean star messenger cast a huge gospel net out into this vast sea of humanity, and what was the result? Just like the parable says, it gathered of every kind, and right now, we are witnessing the sorting out process, where the Holy Ghost is gathering the good into vessels, and casting the bad away. How is He doing that, you may ask? It is very simple; He is just allowing these carnal minded, quote book preachers all the time they need, to draw those make believers away from the true children of God who love the truth. God will not burden His five fold ministry with the task of separating all the tares, husks, and just plain trash from the good seed. They have a much higher calling, and that is a ministry for the perfecting of the true seed. According to the very words of Jesus in the 29th chapter of Matthew, this present generation will not pass away before God’s plan of redemption is climaxed. Open your Bibles and read that chapter later, it will do you good. Saints! We are living at the end! Hallelujah! I want to be ready! Don’t you? Some of you may wonder why I get so excited at times; it is because I see something beautiful in this old black backed book that has been so abused by modern day religion. I see a people that is getting dressed up for a royal wedding, and the wedding garments are beautiful. The bride of Jesus Christ is to be dressed in fine linen, clean and white, which the Bible shows to be the righteousness of saints. Not our own righteousness. but His, and it is imputed to us through our obedience to the pure revelation of His word that He has given to us. A tare cannot dress up for the Lord; they do not have anything to dress up in. That is why they spend millions of dollars dressing up their church buildings. God couldn’t care less what kind of building we worship in; for He is looking at what we have in our heart. Why do we go to that building? That is all God is looking at.
DIFFERENT PROJECTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
Another thing we have tried to stress in dealing with these let-ters, is the proper application of the word angel, in each one. If we do not get that applied correctly, we will run into a lot of trouble applying the message contained in the letters, for men do not write letters to spirit beings. Neither can we apply it to the star messengers of the ages, for the star messenger to the Ephesus age had already been dead almost 30 years when these letters were written, in 96 A.D. Therefore if we fail to see that the angel referred to in each letter is actually the man in charge of that local church at the time of writing, the whole purpose of the letter is lost. Why? Simply because that man is being instructed from the throne of God, about how to deal with spiritual conditions in his own particular congregation. Of course there was a spirit being behind that man of God, and that same spirit being would be behind the star messenger of the age each church typed. As we look at the churches then, we see that Satan used different approaches, in his relentless efforts trying to destroy apostolic truth in that first age. But God knew what was going on, and He laid the responsibility of dealing with the problem upon the shoulders of the man in charge, and that man was referred to as the angel of Such and Such church. Now as we have already said, There were other churches in existence at the time these letters were written, but they were not founded as a result of the fire that fell at Ephesus, when Paul preached there for three solid years declaring the whole counsel of God to those people. Neither were the others in Asia Minor, the geographical area of beginnings. I believe that was important to what God was setting forth through these seven churches. In other words, from 34 A.D., and onward for quite a number of years, Jerusalem was the place where all controversy was settled, Simply because the apostles that walked with Jesus, and knew first hand what He taught, were in that Jerusalem church. But when the Lord sent letters to these Seven churches, in 96 A.D., there was no Jerusalem church, and besides that, God is by this time working among Gentiles with preeminence. A plumbline had to be held somewhere, and I believe Ephesus was the place. But God, by His great foreknowledge has seen the universal church passing through seven distinct stages, or ages, and He has seven churches over here in Asia Minor, (in the east country) all started off of the fire that fell at Ephesus, and all taught the same doctrines, and holy precepts, yet in such a short time, they are projecting seven different pictures of Christianity. A perfect type of what will happen to the gospel as it makes its way from east to west. Going into the 2nd age, God was going to hold these seven churches, these seven men, responsible for how the gospel would be exemplified doctrinally, spiritually, and in every aspect of His full purpose. Paul had preached things to them that he had not preached at Corinth, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Galatia. They had insight of the plan and purpose of God that those other churches did not have, and I cannot help but believe that this sets a type for the fulfillment of Revelation 10:1-7, as this age of Laodicea comes to a close. There, we see Paul, the star messenger to the Ephesus age, he has delivered his message in his age, and thirty years after his death, God charges seven men with the responsibility of guarding the truth that Paul had preached to them. You come right over to the Laodicean age, the star messenger has already delivered his message and left the scene, so what would be so different about God speaking to seven men in this western world to stand for the truth in the same manner? Seven men who have the same vision, the same qualifications, and understanding of His revealed word. Those seven thunders will utter their voices to this generation, or else it will have to be recorded that we read the signs of the times wrong. Therefore I say, as I have about certain other things, Just stick around and let God do the vindicating. All of these things are only for those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit has to say to them anyhow. God knew that no matter how hard those seven pastors preached to their congregations, it would only be those that had a spiritual ear, that would hear and take heed to His rebuke and admonition, and it will be the same way here in the end time. God has a beautiful picture portrayed in the pages of this blessed old book, if we will only allow Him to focus our attention on it. He wants us to see it.
HOW THIS AGE ENDS UP
Now Saints, God was not interested in preserving those seven church buildings where the saints met to worship. Those cities are all archaeological ruins today. It was the revelation carried by those predestined souls, that God was interested in preserving for the next age. By the time of the 3rd age, God was moving westward with the gospel, and that means that the area of authority moved westward also. You could go to the country of Turkey today, and you would discover that the nation as a whole is basically Moslem in religious belief. Even that which is called Christian is mostly Greek Orthodox. Think about it, Saints; we are talking about the very country where these seven New Testament churches once held the gospel light that we are walking by today. That just shows how God moves on, and we either move with Him, or we are just left to dry up and blow away. That is why there is no life of God left in the denominational churches today; they failed to move on with God, so God just left them to operate on their own power, as He continued to call out a people for His name from among Gentiles who would hear Him. The gospel message has been preached around this old world, and it is just about time for it to return to the Jews, right back where it started out. That puts us in the closing hours of : Gentile grace, right at the end of the Laodicea church age. Laodicea is completed in chapter 10, where the mighty angel comes down from heaven clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow upon (or about) His head, with His face as the sun, and His feet like pillars of fire. Verse 2, says He had in his hand a little book (scroll) open: (it no longer has seven seals concealing its contents.) He has one foot upon the sea, and the other foot on the earth, and He cries with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth: and when He had cried, seven THUNDERS uttered THEIR VOICES. Brothers and Sisters: We all know good and well that Jesus is not coming back to earth in a literal body of flesh until after the great tribulation when He comes with His saints to cleanse the earth and set up His Millennial rule. But on the other hand, there is no doubt about the identity of this mighty angel, for the description identifies Him to be Jesus Christ, the lion of the tribe of Judah. We must endeavor to see the symbolism here, for when John was caught up to heaven in the Spirit, over in chapter 4, he saw a throne, and one sitting on the throne with a rainbow around him, and in His hand was a little book (scroll) written on the inside, and on the outside sealed with seven seals. Yet here He is seen in chapter 10, still having the rainbow about his head, but the little scroll is open. All the seven seals have now been broken, and it is time for Him to t come for the contents of what was recorded in that little book. Saints: This is Jesus in angelic form, (not literally.) John had to be shown something he could grasp with his mind, and record in this prophecy, but that, by no stretch of the imagination, could ever apply to a literal flesh and blood man. You have to realize, that when Jesus comes back to earth in bodily form, He will not be a giant of a man, that could stand out here somewhere with one foot on land, and the other foot on the sea. This is symbolic language that shows universal dominion. This is a universal projection, and the fact that the little scroll is open in his hand, shows that verse 1, in chapter 8, is fulfilled. That is where the 7th seal is opened. You will notice also, that after He cries with a loud voice, as when a lion roareth, there is time given for the 7 thunders to utter their voices, and then this mighty angel lifts His hand toward heaven, and declares that there shall be time no longer, or delay no longer. Time for Gentiles is finished then: and God will give full attention to the Jews in the nation of Israel. He will be working among them through the ministry of two Jewish prophets that will be on the scene there in Israel. That is the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3; and the seven trumpet angels of Revelation 8:2-13, will be working with them. All of these symbols are God’s means of showing what He, the eternal Spirit, has invested in Jesus the Son. That rainbow is the sign of the great eternal Spirit, and the image with one foot on land, and the other the sea, speaks of universal dominion, and it is all invested in Jesus the Christ who was the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Symbolically He declares to His people of the whole earth that the seventh seal is open, and it is time for Him to come for the seventh seal is open, and it is time for Him to come for the contents of this seven sealed scroll. Some of you will remember the message I preached here, titled, “The Angel Has Not Cried Yet.” Well, He still has not cried. but I believe He soon will, and when that time comes. He will have seven men upon earth, in strategic places, that He ran speak prophetic utterances the bride through. They will be men of spiritual integrity. Men who are loyal to His word. Men who do not have to read their sermons from a Spoken Word Publication. I realize that it is hard to find 7 men in this message who all speak the same thing doctrinally, but you believe me, God has them, and they will be revealed in their proper time. When that time comes, what they utter will be prophetic, and it will be revelatory. and it will climax something for the little bride of Christ. The tares will have been separated, and bundled together for burning, leaving an element of people that love the word of God, and that walk in perfect unity. That is how Laodicea ends up, so now, let us read the letter to the angel of Laodicea, and compare what we see there, with what is going on in this evil age.
If there was ever anyone that should understand what we see exemplified in that letter sent to Laodicea, it should be the bride of Jesus Christ, living in this present hour. This age of Laodicea is known as the industrial age. Even up through the 1800’s, very little advancement was made in the industrial realm. Transportation had remained basically the same for hundreds of years. But about the turn of the century things began to change, and look where we are today. Not only have we put men on the moon in this age, but presently there is a commercial thrust being made into space by private concerns. Wickedness and perversion are running rampant on every hand, and an honest politician is fast becoming a rare thing. There is hardly anything imaginable, that cannot be found in this age. Men are literally building their own towers that reach into the heavens, but they will never see God as a result of all their human efforts. Their great empires, and their towers that reach into the heavens will all be cast down, and all who have put their trust in these things will have their part in the lake of fire. God has let men have, you might say, a free hand in this age, but believe they have used up just about all of their allotted time. That is why I like that little chorus, “Soon, yes very soon, we are going to see the King:” it just makes good spiritual sense to sing a chorus like that. Those who have spiritual vision can see right on through the marriage supper. and into the Millennium, and even beyond that. But throughout all of it, Jesus is the exalted one. True saints humble themselves instead of exalting themselves and pushing someone else aside to get the spotlight.
PERFECT ATTRIBUTES EXEMPLIFIED
Let us turn to Revelation 3:14, now, and begin reading the letter written by John, but dictated by the living Christ. “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, (The who? The Amen?) the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” Let us stop right there, and see if we can discover why Jesus referred to Himself as the AMEN. Turn to 2 Corinthians 1:19-20, and notice what Paul said along those lines. “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us. even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in Him was yea. (All positive, no negative) For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him AMEN, unto the glory of God by us.” In other words, what Paul was actually saying was this, What we have preached to you was not yea to some. and nay to others: it is the same for all that will receive it. That word amen, means so be it, or let it be. Jesus Christ was the end of all that the Old Testament saints had looked forward to. He was AMEN also in the sense that there was no other to come after Him. All the promises of God would be fulfilled in Him, and through Him. Those early disciples preached a positive gospel. There was never left any room for a maybe. A lost man did not have to just hope He would save him when he repented and accepted the truth; there was no place left for doubt the way those men preached the gospel. Alright, He was also the faithful and true witness. We have three words to look at there, and they each one speak of a particular attribute exemplified perfectly in the life of this perfect Son of God. To be faithful is to be dependable, steadfast, unwavering, leaving no room for doubt. Therefore to those who might wonder, What was lie faithful in? Let me say this, He was faithful in every area of all that the Father had purposed for Him to accomplish. He kept His mind in complete submission to the mind of the Father. He set a perfect example of obedience. He was faithful to exemplify every attribute of the eternal Father that begat Him. But not only was He faithful in all these aspects, He was also a true witness. Now I do not believe I need to give you the definition of the word true, but I will give you the appropriate definition of witness, as it is used here. It is in relation to His personal knowledge of the resurrection through martyrdom. He became the first-fruits of the resurrection, and a faithful and true witness of it. The Pharisees believed in a resurrection, but they had no personal knowledge of it. Jesus was faithful during the first 30 years of His life, and that faithfulness brought Him to the Jordan to be baptized by John, and that invoked the incarnation whereby the great eternal Spirit, the Creator of all things incarnated Him. Then He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted of the devil, and He was faithful in every temptation. Not once did He yield to the demands of His flesh during that 40 days and nights of testing. (I might add this right here; He overcame every temptation by the word of God, the very same way we are to overcome.) But the ultimate of faithfulness was when He went to the cross willingly, bearing the sins of the whole world. (He could have called ten thousand angels to rescue Him from that fate, but He did not. He accepted it willingly.) He is the only man that ever died a physical death, went to hell, and returned to life giving personal witness to the resurrection. Right in the very first chapter of Revelation, you find Him saying, “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, AMEN; and have the keys of hell and of death.” How did He get those keys? He went right down into hell and loosed those Old Testament saints from that place of captivity, and returned to give personal witness of it. Therefore this faithful and true witness refers to Himself as, “the beginning of the creation of God.” That applies to the redemptive, recreating process by which God redeems back to Himself, all that Adam forfeited to Satan by his disobedience in the garden of Eden. God is recreating us and redeeming us back from spiritual death, and all those saints that have gone by way of the grave will be resurrected and given immortal bodies just like Jesus. To have an immortal body simply means that it is no longer subject to death. Not only is He the beginning of the creation of God. Jesus is also the ending of it also. Notice verse 8, of chapter I, where this God incarnated one says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord. which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” When you turn back to 1 Corinthians 15:24, you find Paul dealing with this very thing, the ending, saving. “Then cometh the end, when He (Jesus the Son) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” When the Millennium is fulfilled, and the great white throne judgment is finally over with, all wickedness, all sin and rebellion will have been judged and destroyed, and the earth will be clean again, completely restored back to what Adam lost, there will be no more need for redemption. Redemption and restoration being completed, Jesus delivers the kingdom back up to the Father, the great eternal Spirit, that God may be all in all, as He was in the beginning. Jesus then becomes our elder brother. The first born of those from among the dead stands at the head of this great family of God, but we are all joint heirs with Him who was the beginning and the ending of God’s redemption process.
HOT, COLD, OR LUKEWARM
As we continue reading this Laodicean letter, we are made to realize that it was not so much their doctrine, that Satan had attacked, he had just simply slipped in among them, a spirit of materialism. It was their lifestyle that the Lord was displeased with. Nevertheless whether it be doctrine, worldly living, or just simply wrong attitudes, if such a condition is allowed to continue it will kill a church. It can happen to an individual person, or it can happen to a group; they will just get colder, and colder, until they are unrecognizable as Christians, so let us notice verse 15 now. “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. The Lord is using terminology here in describing their works that really gets the point across. If drinks are supposed to be hot; then let them be hot, and if they are supposed to be cold, then let them be cold, because neither one is fit to drink if they are just lukewarm. If I take a drink of coffee that is lukewarm, I feel exactly like just spewing it out of my mouth, and it is the same way. if the drink is I supposed to be served cold. I James said, Show me your faith without works, and I will show t you my faith by my works. That is the kind of works the Lord loves to see among His people. In other words, Faith without this kind of works is a dead faith. It can never lay hold on the promises of God for you, nor can it help anyone else to. We are not saved by our works, but after we are saved and filled with the Holy Ghost, that indwelling presence of Jesus will cause us to reach out to help someone else. In other words, If you see a brother or sister that has a genuine need, – and all you do is say God bless you, Have you displayed works of faith? Absolutely not. The love of God in you should cause you to f reach out to such a need with some kind of help. This is one of the main things that show the spiritual temperature of a congregation. This is what the Lord was looking at in the Laodicean church. On the other hand, He looked at the Sardis church, and must have seen them working like a bunch of bees, for He said, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” They were so busy with works of fleshly zeal, it looked like they were really on fire for God. That was the kind of name they had in the community, and that was the name the Sardis age carried, but Jesus could see that they did not have His name. They were working in the name of the church instead of in the name of the Lord, with the true motive of heart that would have made it genuine works of faith. If it had been what it looked like. Brothers and Sisters: The Lord is looking at our hearts. Why are we doing what we are doing? The opposite of that is. Why are we retraining ourselves from doing things that are wrong for Christians to do? Have you quit drinking, smoking, cursing, lying, chewing tobacco, and gambling just because you are afraid someone might catch you at it, or is your heart changed to the place where you no longer want to partake of those worldly things? That is what the Lord is looking at, and you cannot conceal your heart condition from Him. You might come in here and sing, and play your instrument ever so beautifully, and we may not know the difference, but if your heart stinks within, the Lord knows it. You cannot fool Him. If our mind is like a garbage can. He knows it, and all of our beautiful talent is abominable to Him. He did not go to Calvary to redeem our talents, it was to redeem our souls. But I do want to say this right now, When we get our soul delivered from the bondage of sin and shame, and our mind and mouth cleaned up, He loves to hear us clap our hands, sing and shout, and make a joyful noise in whatever way we are led to do so. He takes pleasure in that.
WRETCHED — MISERABLE CONDITION
Let us notice verse 17 now, and see if we can find our present age exemplified in that local church there in Laodicea. “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: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.” We can see that spirit today both in religion and otherwise, but it is hard to picture a New Testament church founded off of the teaching of Paul in that 1st age, having a spirit like that ruling them. Sometimes I turn on the television and that P.T.L. program will be on, and occasionally I will watch it for a while. That was the case not too long ago when they were interviewing this large woman from the Hee Haw show. She was telling about being delivered from drugs or something like that, and as they interviewed her, a tear would come to her eyes at times, and she would have to be awful careful how she wiped them, to keep from smearing her mascara. I am not making fun of her, but I just thought to myself, Lady, if you would dress the Bible way, you could just turn loose and let those tears roll, and it wouldn’t hurt a thing. But here is my point, A few days later she was right back on that Hee Haw show with all of those half naked women, with their breasts sticking out there only half covered. You cannot serve God and mammon both. You cannot be an entertainer with a worldly crown on Friday night, and expect God to meet you in a house of worship on Sunday morning. Someone is going to miss God. There was no such thing when the early apostles of Jesus were still on the scene. What do you think old Peter, or Paul would do, if they were still alive, and could walk into the midst of the P.T.L. or 700 Club? I am afraid someone would get shaken a bit. The power of God is all these foolish virgins are concerned about right now. It is Laodicea. This is the age that the sex image of woman is far more important than the image of virtue and righteousness. They spend more time fretting about their figure than they do in preparing their soul to meet God. If they would spend as much time exercising their soul in the spirit of holiness as they do their physical bodies in these so-called health clubs, they could see something more than just the miracle working power of God in the Bible. It would become a cherished book to them. Now Saints: I am not picking on individuals; I am talking to you about the spirit of Laodicea. We are living in the age of Laodicea; but we, as children of God, ought not be a part of what that spirit represents. The devil does not care whether you are fat, skinny, beautiful or ugly, he just wants you to miss God, and if you do, hell is waiting, with plenty of room for all. This is truly an age of materialism, and we ought to thank God, that we do not have to struggle for survival like former generations have, but there is no reason whatsoever why a child of God cannot use the things of this world that would make life a little easier than what our grandparents lived through, without becoming a slave to those material devices. The Lord is looking at this age exactly as He looked upon that local church in Laodicea 1900 years ago. He sees a wretched people, so busy making provisions for the flesh that they have no time for God. Some of them, or maybe I should say, a lot of them are rich in worldly goods, but they are miserable, because they are paupers spiritually. There is no true satisfaction in anything for them, but the saddest part of all is that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked in the eyes of God and they do not even know it. You say, Have they not been told? Yes. But they do not have ears to hear. Many of those that even believe there is a sovereign God controlling this universe, only look upon Him as a God that people run to when they need help of some kind, and their spiritual blindness does not allow them to see the pitiful shape they are in they think they have everything. They have a mansion in the suburbs, a summer house in the country, a lakeside lot with a fishing camp, a pleasure boat, a fishing boat, a motor home, and every push button gadget that they can get hold of. and those that do not have these things spend their time dreaming about how they can get them, and neither group has enough spiritual vision to even realize just how void and without purpose their lives are. Every now and then one will catch a true glimpse of their wretched life, but they seldom turn to God with their whole heart. Most of them will either jump out a window in a tall building, or grab a gun and blow their brains out. Why? They are captives of an evil spirit. The Bible tells us, “That whomsoever we serve, his servants we are. That is why we see a lot of people who are actually children of God, still serving the devil. They are not the devil’s children; they are just his servants. Instead of honor and dignity in their Father’s house, they accept the role of a servant in the house of their Father’s enemy.
SOME ERR FROM THE FAITH
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy concerning perverse disputings of natural men whose minds are corrupt and destitute of truth, supposing that gain is godliness saying, (6:5) “From such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (Some try. They have their money and other valuables placed in the casket with them, but I guarantee you this much, their earthly treasures never get to the place where they go. If the funeral director, or some grave digger does not get them, they lay right there in that old cold grave, while their owner burns in hell.) And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. FOR THE LOVE OF MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL: (He did not say that money is the root of all evil; he said the LOVE of it is.) which while some coveted after, they have erred from THE FAITH, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” That lets us see right there, that a Christian can get his eyes on worldly things and neglect his soul. You cannot ERR from THE FAITH, if you have never been in the faith. I am truly thankful for the comfortable place that God has allowed me to live, and raise my family. It comes nowhere close to measuring up to a lot of, we will say, average type homes of the world today, but to me, it is a mansion beside the one I lived in as a young boy. But saints, it is better to live in a 10×10 shack with a leaking roof and a dirt floor than to live in a mansion on a hilltop, if you spend an your time in upkeep on that mansion, and never put together anything that would give you a spiritual dwelling in Jesus Christ. Hell will be a lot worse than sleeping in the mud once in a while when it rains. Don’t think I am just being harsh, trying to be hurtful to someone; that is not the purpose for saying these things. I am trying, by the help of God, to say something that will help a few people to wake up and examine themselves. Even that Laodicean church had an opportunity to repent. God will still hear a repentant heart, when it cries out to Him in genuineness. That mighty angel of Revelation 10:1 has not cried yet, and until He does grace is still available. The Spirit of conviction is not working among Gentiles as we have witnessed it in the past, but neither has He stopped altogether. so hear Him while you may.
THE LIVING BREAD SPEAKS
Let us finish reading verse 18. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, (salvation robes, covering for the soul.) that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” That was the Lord’s admonition to the literal church in Laodicea, in 96 A.D., but He is saying the same thing to this generation living in the closing hours of the AGE of Laodicea. Gold has always been a valuable medium of exchange. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it also has purchasing power, and power to gain one a certain station in life from the standpoint of the natural. That is why God uses it to convey the thought concerning spiritual wealth. The gold referred to here is revelated faith, and the fire that puts it through the refining process is the trials and tests of life that only a revelated faith can stand up under. That kind of faith will open a door of communication whereby a child of God can enter right into the very presence of their heavenly Father without going through an earthly mediator. It is a medium of exchange between God and His children. Faith like that will purchase anything that heaven has to offer, so to speak. It clothes our soul with a robe of righteousness, and our past sins will never be seen by God any more. The Psalmist expressed it prophetically like this, (Psa. 103:12) “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” That kind of faith will anoint our spiritual eyes and allow us to see right through Satan’s disguises. It will also enable us to see afar off, so that we can be prepared for what is coming down the road. Jesus Christ will not come as a thief in the night to those who are walking daily with their God by the means of a revelated faith that the world of denominational religion does not have. Yes, Brothers and Sisters, this is a miserable age, but I had rather be living today than at any other time since the world was created. Brother Jackson: Do you mean to tell me that you would rather be living today, than to have walked with Jesus Christ personally when He was upon earth almost two thousand years ago? Absolutely! Brother we have had things revealed to us in this age, that were never revealed to those apostles that walked with Him throughout the land of Israel. Furthermore, just look at the multitudes that followed Him for a while, and then left Him, never to return. I am truly thankful to know Him by the Spirit, which is the only way Gentiles have been allowed to know Him. Do you remember what Jesus said one day, when a bunch of Jews were giving Him a hard time? You will find it in the book of St. John. Jesus said, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.” Was He referring to His human flesh? No. His flesh did not come down from heaven, except in the mind of the Father. That flesh came from the womb of a young virgin called Mary. The Jews that heard Him say that became offended and very provoked, but did that stop Him? No, it did not. He came right back with another statement that really sent them into orbit saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Was that the Son of God talking about the literal human flesh of His body? Did any of you obtain your salvation by eating the literal flesh, and drinking the literal blood of Jesus? Those Jews thought that was what He meant. Eyen His close disciples became disturbed at His remarks, so much so that He looked over to them, and said, “both this offends you? What and IF ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where He was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; ( gives life) the flesh profiteth nothing: (Notice now) the WORDS then speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.” If they could have just heard all that Jesus said to them, they would have known what He meant, for He went right ahead and explained it, but He did it in such a way that it actually sounded like He contradicted Himself. First He told them that eternal life could be obtained only by eating His flesh, and drinking His blood, but then He finished up by telling them, that the flesh was of no profit, for it is the Spirit that gives life, and follows that by saying, “The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life.” He led those troublemakers around in circles telling them the truth all the time, but they could not receive it, because they were not foreknown of the Father. He told them that in so many words. Verse 64 says, Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him; and He said, “Therefore said I unto you, that NO MAN CAN COME UNTO ME, EXCEPT IT WERE GIVEN UNTO HIM OF MY FATHER.” That was the last draw for many of those who had been His disciples up until that point. They went back, and walked no more with Him. Jesus knowing this, looked over to His twelve apostles and said, “Will ye also go away?” But old Peter was seeing something in all of that, so he spoke for all of them, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the WORDS of eternal life. So Brothers and Sisters, we need to see that there is no virtue in human flesh. The virtue is in believing WORDS, but not just believing with the mind, for it takes the Spirit to give life to those words, in you. Some want the word, but not the Spirit. Others want the Spirit, but have no time for the word, and only those who gladly receive both have eternal life abiding in them, and it makes no difference whether they lived two thousand years ago, or were born twenty years ago, for the formula for receiving eternal life remains the same. Now just one more verse, while we are on this, and then we will read the rest of the Laodicean letter. Because John opens his gospel saying, “In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God,” and in the 14th verse said, “And the WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” people have a tendency to look at Jesus as the WORD of God. But John was not saying that Jesus was the WORD, for the revelation of what he said is this, God who is Spirit, created an embryo in the womb of a virgin girl, by His spoken WORD, and that embryo being implanted there by an act of creation, but then being allowed to take on form and nutrients through a normal period of pregnancy, came forth into life being called the son of Joseph and Mary, when, as far as the genes were concerned, he was not the son of either one of them. By virtue of the flesh alone, and only the flesh, he was rightly called the son of Mary, and in this sense, Joseph was his foster father. But from the standpoint of the genes, God, the great eternal Spirit, the Creator of all things, was both his Father, and his mother. That is how the WORD of God was made flesh. Furthermore, though Jesus the Christ was rightly referred to as God, it was only by virtue of the incarnation. His flesh never became God: it was only a living, walking, talking tabernacle, whereby the eternal Spirit could exemplify His attributes through human flesh. I hope this is clear to you, but if it is not, just hold on a little while, for we are going to deal with the incarnation in a complete article a little later.
THIS AGE OF EXTREMES
All right now, we are living in the age where spiritual conditions correspond to the spiritual condition of that Laodicean church; there is no doubt about that. To just say that it is an age of materialism and lukewarmness is an understatement, for the spiritual and moral degradation of Sodom and Gomorrah could never come up to that of this age; yet God destroyed them from the least to the greatest, sparing only Lot and his two daughters. It is no wonder that people who do not know where we stand prophetically, believe that Jesus could come any moment to catch His bride away. They read scriptures like Matt. 24:37, and Luke 17:26-30, that speak of certain conditions that will proceed His coming, and they see those conditions all around them, so it is only natural for them to read it like that. I too, agree that the spiritual and moral conditions seem to be ripe for the end of this present age, but there are yet a few prophecies to be fulfilled first. Even so, the time is very short now, when you stop to realize how fast the months seem to pass. It seems that there is hardly enough time to get everything done that we want to do. We have the fastest, and most modern means of transportation that the world has ever known, and yet we are always rushing to get somewhere. But that is right in line with the spirit of this age, for it is an age of extremes. Americans have enough clothing to clothe the whole world population, and the larger percentage of them run around almost completely naked. They have refrigerators and freezers full of food, frozen as hard as a rock, and they never seem to have anything in the house to cook. That is why the restaurants are full all the time. Children live two blocks from school, and they have to be bused 15 miles to a school all the way across town. Why? Simply because of extremes. The Environmental Protection Agency racks their brains trying to find ways to cut down on pollution, and it seems that every new law that is passed, creates a new source of pollution. Every action that is taken to right one wrong, seems to make at least a half dozen other wrongs for someone to organize a protest against. Freedom of religion in this nation has been protected to a point where there is almost no freedom of religion. In many of the large factories and production plants, men and women are being replaced with robots that pay no taxes, nor buy any of the manufactured products. The displaced workers are forced to accept welfare from the state and federal governments until their reserve funds for such are just about depleted, and everyone is blaming someone else for their dilemma. Everything is blown out of any reasonable proportion, and we have gone too far to turn back now. It has to end in chaos. The Lord is the only one that can keep everything running right on schedule, and in the proper proportion: therefore when He is locked out, what else can you expect except chaos and confusion! Oh, He still has a people that does not have Him locked out, but they are few in number, compared to those who run the world systems. To these, He says, (Rev 3:19) “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Chastening is often hard on the flesh, but it is comforting to know that God loves us enough to be that concerned about how we grow up. He is not rebuking everyone in Laodicea: just the ones whom He has foreknown. Those that were chosen and predestined in Him before the foundation of the world. None of the others could even hear a rebuke from the Lord. He does not stand out by the side of the road rebuking people with an audible voice; the Holy Ghost works through the word of God to effect necessary rebukes to those that are loved of God. A rebuke from the Lord can only be heard with a spiritual ear. In other words, God’s word rebukes His children, and pronounces judgment on the ungodly. Rebuke serves the purpose of sharpening up our convictions, and leading us to repentance, back into a closer fellowship with the Lord. The dictionary gives it as a strong expression of disapproval, and we have experienced it from time to time. But it is comforting to know that God rebukes us because He loves us. Not only does He rebuke those He loves, He also chastens them. Now, Saints, chastisement goes much beyond just being yelled at. It even gets into the area of strong discipline. Some require more discipline than others, the same as our children. Some children are easy to correct. while others are much more difficult, but any good parent will take whatever measures are necessary to get the job done, and our Heavenly Father is no exception. He has many ways of chastening us, but if we truly are sons of God, we will appreciate the strict discipline, when we get to the place where we can look back on it. In writing to the Hebrews, Paul said, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” You do not expect your children to enjoy a whipping at the time they are receiving it, but years later, they may come and thank you for it, when they get to thinking about where they could have ended up, if you had not intervened. It hurts something awful at times, when our heavenly Father whips us, but it will do us good, or lie would not do it. Let us just back up to verse 5, in this 12th chapter of Hebrews, and read all of what Paul wrote concerning the chastening of the Lord.” My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him: For whom the Lord LOVETH He chasteneth, Some people seem to think God whips them because He hates them, but it is just the opposite of that. He is reserving the lake of fire for those He hates.) and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. (Let me just say this. Chastening does not necessarily require a whipping. There are many methods of chastisement, but this word scourgeth, definitely points to a whipping. Paul knew what the word meant, for he had been scourged severely at the hands of his enemies.) If ye endure chastening. God dealeth with you as with sons: for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? (Notice now.) But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all (all of God’s children) are partakers. then are ye bastards and not sons. (In other words, you do not have the life of the Father within you. You have not been born again.) Furthermore we have had fathers v of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they (earthly fathers) verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit. that we might be partakers of His holiness.” Brothers and Sisters: We need to realize that as long as we are here in this life, we are to occupy. We are to go ahead with our earthly duties and obligations. But do not forget, The margin between that, and what the devil will try to get us involved in, is very narrow. If Satan cannot keep you completely in the world, his next move is to keep you right on the borderline. He will do anything to cause a person to fall short of the perfect will of God. Rut God is faithful. He will rebuke and chasten every predestined soul as much as is necessary, in order to get us on the right track.
CHASTENING COMES IN DIFFERENT WAYS
I remember, back in 1963, it was the first time we had ever been asked to come out to the state of Missouri, to hold a meeting there in a particular church. I am having trouble remembering the exact testimony of this family, but I believe it was three brothers all together, in that one family group in this church, and it was one of them that gave this testimony. He had grown sort of cold spiritually. They were young folks, and had a young daughter, I believe in her early teens. They were losing interest in going to church, and just sort of drifting along, like a lot of people you see today. They no longer had that energetic zeal they started out with. On one particular Sunday, they had planned a family picnic, out in a wooded area by the side of a lake; they were going boating. (I am not speaking against having a boat, but you need to be selective about how you use it, and when, for if you are a child of God, His great eye is upon you, no matter where you go.) While some of the others prepared for the meal, this man took his daughter and two more of the party, and went for a boat ride. They were just purring along, having fun, when something happened. I do not remember exactly what it was, but his daughter was thrown out of the boat, and all of their searching efforts, failed to find her. Finally, they got some help, and started dragging the lake, and they found her caught on some tree roots, deep in the lake. By then. it was too late; she had drowned. It almost tore the young father’s heart out, because he felt that he had killed his lovely daughter. You know how you would feel; we all do. One thing it did do though, was cause him to realize that on Sunday, he needed to be in the house of worship, instead of out there purring around on a lake somewhere. He knew he should have been doing something else with his soul. Listen to me now, Do not ever get the idea that a thing like that cannot happen right here in Faith Assembly. The truth we have here is not a shield that you can hide behind, while just ratting your life away, and doing as your flesh demands you to do. One of these days the Lord is going to knock on your door, if you do, and you are not going to like what he does. But it will work good for your soul, when you realize why He did it. Trials in life do bring certain disappointments, but you will never gain anything by blaming God for them. Any time you lose your zeal and aggressiveness for the things of the Lord, your life becomes a playhouse for the devil. You become incapable of defending yourself from the devil’s attacks. Just believing the truth is not enough; we have to be doers of the truth. Just having truth in your head is fine. if all you want to do is argue with someone, but you will never have any true victory in your life until you become a doer of the truth, a defender of the faith, a son who knows and uses his throne rights. Satan can take truth out of your mind, but he can never take a revelation out of your heart. You may wash your car, shine your boat, and clean up all your fishing gear on Sunday, instead of going to church, but you will have to pay the price for it somewhere down the road. The apostle Paul was not just filling in space, when he wrote in Galatians 6:7-8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Carnal minded deeds designed only to fulfill the craving of our flesh will always produce a rotten mess of corruption in the end. We are living in an age of pleasure, and the spirit of the age is a strong one, but a true child of God has a Spirit in him that is stronger than this one in the world. We do not have to yield to Satan’s devices; we have a recourse.
PERILOUS TIMES ARE UPON US
I am not against playing ball, as some may think, but there is a spirit on that thing, that can rob your soul of the blessings of God. Not just ball games, but sports in general. If you think there is not a spirit involved, you just watch, and listen to some of those people when they get excited. They will dance, scream, and jump up and down when things are going their way, and when things are not going their way, Look out. You cannot tell what may happen. Those same people will criticize us, if we get happy about the grace and mercy that God has shed forth upon our lives. Nevertheless we all enjoy something in life, and I have found that most people love to talk about the thing that is uppermost in their mind. Some talk about their job constantly, others about their car, their boat, their home, their children, and even politics, but we are living in an age when few people ever get together and spend time just talking about the good things of God. I will never forget how I was when I first heard about what God was doing through Bro. Branham. That was all I wanted to talk about. I wanted to gather up everyone from all around Elizabeth, and take them to hear him. For weeks and weeks, this is all I thought about. I took people to Owensboro, Ky., to hear him, took them to Evansville, Ind., to Connersville, Ind., and anywhere else we could go. I was hearing truth! Praise God! Hallelujah! I wanted everyone to hear it, Brother! I had no time for sports. I could hardly find time to plow my fields. Do you catch my point? Brothers and Sisters? Whatever our mind is on, that is what we love to talk about. But if we never find any time to talk to, and talk about the Lord, there is something wrong in our lives. Nevertheless this is the days Paul wrote about in his 2nd letter to Timothy. 13:1) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud. blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy. Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form (a form) of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Brother, I have never seen such a long list of faults, but everything he mentioned is found right in our present age. Paul went ahead to say, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” One brother handed me a little cutting out of the local paper, concerning what one Catholic diocese out in San Francisco, California has announced lately. A certain committee of Catholics has come up with a plan, and they are announcing it officially, that within the ranks of the Catholic Church, there will no longer be discrimination between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Any of them can now be allowed to enter the priesthood and nunnery. Do you know what that does? It gives the Catholic church a legal cloak. to cover up what has been going on between priests and nuns for 1600 years. I suppose they will soon rewrite their articles of faith, for how can they condemn a double marriage in the Catholic church, and at the same time sanction homosexuals and per-verts of every sort? The Bible condemns adultery, and fornication, all in the same verse of scripture, and a person would have to be totally blind not to see how God hates perversion, but do they care? That in itself is enough to prove that they are not the true church of the living God. No. They are a perverted religious system. They are the largest cult Satan has in the earth today but it is so unique, it deceives multitudes. Nevertheless I thank God for every hungry soul that He has delivered from the bondage of that old Antichrist system, and we have quite a few of them right here.
We still have a few more verses of this Laodicean letter to read, and there is yet a word in verse 19, that I believe has particular meaning; the word ZEALOUS. This word speaks of energy and enthusiasm. It gets into the area of physical activity. It is the opposite of lazy. These Laodiceans had fallen into such a state of mind, that even their physical bodies were affected. They had become lazy toward important things, even though they were very active when it came to something for pleasure. That is the exact picture of this present age: All of our aggressiveness, energy, and enthusiasm is spent on pleasure and trivial things, and we have nothing left in us for the things that are truly important. No time to study the Bible. no time to pray, and no time to talk to some lost person about the condition of their soul, and besides that, we would not have enough energy to do those things even if there was time. Why? Simply because of the spirit of the age we are living in. Now when I say we. I am not pointing to any certain ones, for that is just a matter of terminology, but if the shoe fits any of us, we will just have to wear it. but we do have a hope, for what did God say to those Laodiceans? “Be zealous therefore, and repent.” In other words. See yourself as you are, and with a determined, aggres-sive attitude, repent. Aggressiveness is something that more or less originates from a determined motive. An aggressive person just simply will not take no for an answer, so when you see a person become zealous and aggressive about serving God in truth, rejoice with them. That is what God is looking for When a person ever gets the kind of zeal they had when they first got saved. har-nessed up with revelated truth and statural growth, they can be a useful vessel in the Master’s service. If any of you are sitting back there right now thinking, I wish you would hurry up and get finished. I have other things to do; I will read the last part of verse 19, again. just for you. “Be zealous therefore and REPENT.” It is your kind of attitude that this letter is dealing with. God wants us to get excited about what we are believing. After all, this is what we are depending on to get us out of here. You would not even consider going up in an airplane that had not been in-spected. passed all the tests, and declared to be flight ready, so why be less careful about making sure your spiritual soul is in condition to make its flight? It takes more than just sitting back somewhere. I’m saved, sanctified, filled with the Holy Ghost, and waiting for Jesus to come and take me with Him. I have heard a lot of people talk like that, but most of them never get very thrilled about the revelation of this precious word. You begin to talk to them about some of the deeper truths of God’s word, and the first thing you know, they will begin to say, I just don’t believe God wants us to worry about all of that. Oh no! Then why did He have it written in there? Why is He revealing it here in these last days? Former generations did not need to know everything, but I will tell you this much, This generation will not just drift along, knowing nothing but John 3:16, and Acts 2:4, and still meet Jesus in the air when He comes for His bride. You can mark my word on that, dear brother. You simply cannot lock Him out now, and expect Him to take you with Him to the marriage supper. Oh, Bro. Jackson, I would never do that. Are you sure? Have you examined your life lately? Is it reflecting anything in the mirror of life that looks like Him? If it isn’t, there is something wrong. Let us read that 20th verse, and see who all it applies to.
WILL YOU LET JESUS IN?
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: (Someone has Him locked out.) If any man hear my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” We have to realize that because that Laodicean church was in such a lukewarm condition, the Lord was not even in there. His anointing will not rest upon a people who do nothing to cultivate His presence. Naturally there was no natural door keeping Him out of the church building, for He did not come through the door when He appeared to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. Therefore spiritually, He is pictured on the outside of that church, knocking. Now if He is not knocking on a literal door to the building, what is He knocking on? He knew that there were a few souls among them that had something genuine, though in a weakened condition, so it was at the door to their hearts that He was knocking. Strictly on an individual basis would He come in and fellowship with those who would open up to Him. Realizing then, that it is not the physical man Jesus, the Christ doing the knocking, but rather, the Holy Ghost, then only those with a spiritual ear could even hear the knock. That is how it is today; He is not knocking on denominational church house doors, trying to get invited in, for He left them long ago; never to return. He is still knocking on the heart’s door of a few individuals that are still not completely free from those places though, and if they will hear the knock and open up to Him, He will come in. Faith Assembly: There may be some of you that are not very enthusiastic about the things of the Lord. If so. I hope you have heard something that will cause you to realize, God is not finished with us yet. He may be knocking on your door right now. He may be giving you one last opportunity to repent of your lukewarmness before He gets the whip out. If you are ever going to become zealous for the Lord, the time is short for you to do so. We are living in the Laodicean age. There will not be another age after us. In the light of what we see taking place in the Middle East, I cannot help but believe that we are closer to the end than we have even dared to suspect. From the standpoint of the natural everything is in a state of uncertainty. We could wake up some morning, and find that half of the world has been blown to pieces, or you might not wake up; you might be in that other half. We are certain of one thing though: if our heart is right with God when we go to bed, it will not matter whether we wake up here, or in the presence of the Lord, over there. That is what our hope in Him is all about. It is love, peace, contentment; and joy unspeakable, full of glory. This whole thing is going to catch a lot of people unaware though, and let me ask you something. Can you even begin to imagine what you will feel like, even if you do survive the initial blast? Knowing that many of your loved ones have been blown to bits, and not knowing how long it may be before the fall out from the thing gets you, will really be torment. You are going to need God in a way that you have never needed Him before. Will you know how to call on Him, in a time like that? I have never been one that believed in trying to scare people to the Lord; I know that will not work, But I do believe there are a lot of Christians in this hour, that need their spiritual mind jogged to the reality of where we stand. Some of you are being given an opportunity to get your lives lined up with God’s word, and if you do not respond, who will you blame when the bottom drops out from under you? The whole world is blaming Israel for all the trouble in the Middle East, not even realizing that God is still in control of His creation. If He wasn’t using this Lebanon condition to fulfill His word, He would bring about conditions that would settle things down for a while, but we are too close to Ezekiel 38, for that. Something has to cause Gog to come down from the North country against Israel, and I believe everything that is taking place over there is setting the stage for it. All of these conflicts between various factions of these Middle East countries will just serve to get Russia’s prophetic allies lined up together, for that final thrust against Israel. As I just said, God is running this thing. He is putting it into the hearts of men to fulfill His will. He did not give us this book to hide His plan from us; it is to enable us to know what is going to take place as this age closes out. Therefore if we have been reading it correctly, we know that He is getting ready to wrap up the last little ball of yarn and throw it into the basket. When that happens it will be too late to repent. It will be all over. As the apostle John was allowed (in the Spirit) to stand here at the end of this age and see and hear what was to take place, he fell down at the feet of the angel that showed him all these things, so let us read a few verses from Rev. 22; starting with verse 9. “Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. (Notice here now.) He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: (It is too late to change.) and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life. and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers. and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Notice) I JESUS have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things IN THE CHURCHES. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. (Just one more verse now, and then we will go back to verse 20, of the letter to Laodicea.) And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” That has been an open invitation for 1900 years now, but we know for sure, that no tare will ever partake of this water of life freely. That is just for those who have been elected and predestined in Him, for they are the only ones that have an ear to hear what the spirit saith. This invitation actually points you right into the eternal age when God is back in the same relationship with His children, as when time for man began.
FELLOWSHIPPING THE LORD
Now let us go back to chapter 3, verse 20, as we bring this message to a close. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if ANY man (or person) hear my voice, (That lets us know that the knocking is not a rap on the church house door, for when He knocks, it is His voice that we hear) and open the door, (What will He do?) I will come in to him, and will SUP with him, and he with me.” His voice is His word that is spoken to you by the anointing of the Holy Ghost, and that is more than just Matthew 28:19, and Acts 2:4, and 1 Thessalonians, chapter 4. It has to be the whole counsel of God. The knocking, of course, is His tugging at your heart strings, and when you let Him in, He does not bring His own cup, nor His own instant coffee. No. He wants us to furnish the substance of what He will sup with us. Supping, or sipping is a means of drinking a beverage, hot or cold, while fellowshipping together with someone else. It is not limited to that, but there is a point to be made here. If someone serves you a glass of water because you are thirsty, you will usually drink it right down, Thank you, that really hit the spot, and that is the end of it. But when they serve you a beverage, you will usually sit around sipping the beverage and talking. You just take little sips, because you want to enjoy the taste. You enjoy the taste, the aroma, and the stimulating benefit all at the same time, while just taking a little sip at a time. That way, there is time for fellowship, and this is the picture the Lord wants us to see in this verse. He wants us to invite Him in, and then take time to fellowship with Him. He does not want our lukewarm fellowship either. That is why He used this setting to get the point across. He can work with a person that is either cold toward the things of God, or on fire, either one, but a person claiming to be a Christian, having no zeal, no enthusiasm, no joy, always complaining, and never satisfied, is a putrefied mess to the Lord’s taste buds. He has no stomach for such a mess. In verse 16, when He said, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” he did not explain the use of such terminology. But in verse 20, when he used the term, sup with him, and he with me, that explained it. If I am going to drink coffee, I want it hot. If I am going to drink what is supposed to be iced tea, I want it cold. I do not want either one to be lukewarm. If I even tried to drink either one lukewarm, I will probably do just what it says there, spue it out of my mouth. If I was in a place where I could not do that, I would still want to. That is exactly what the Lord was having reference to. He is not interested in your 349 year old experiences if you do not have any up to date revelation to go with them. He is walking the road of life, knocking on our doors, ready to come in, and fellowship with anyone that will enthusiastically invite Him in.
GOD’S PROMISE TO OVERCOMERS
“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.” Is there something to overcome? You had better believe there is. This old Laodicean spirit will get hold of you, if you get the least bit careless. The devil is not after the criminals, drunks and gamblers: he already has them; it is people that are trying to follow the truth that he is after the most. He likes for us to be religious, if he can keep us following a trinity doctrine, and if we will not get too serious about seeking for truth. But once you begin to find out that God is one, and that you need to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of the sins of your human nature, (un-Christlike) words and deeds,) he gets real upset, and tries to kill you. He does not like for us to learn about predestination and eternal security, and neither do his children. Some of them get mad enough to fight you right in the church house, if you even mention these precious truths. Have you ever wondered why some people get so mad when you mention predestination? It is because they are smart enough to realize that if this really is a scriptural truth, they are not included. They want to keep on believing that God will accept them on the basis of their good works, and the long beautiful prayers that gain them so many compliments from others just like them. There is no virtue in that! If you have not been born again by the only formula in the scriptures, Acts 2:38, you can pray your way right into hell. A tare can never pray enough to get his name put on the Lambs book of life. A tare can never fry enough chicken, nor sell enough junk in a rummage sale to satisfy the demand of a just and holy God. That is not what He is looking for. He is looking for all of those who have an ear to hear what the Spirit has to say. How does He find them? Simply by anointing His servants to preach this gospel to the multitudes. Those who have an ear to hear will come running home to claim their inheritance. Preaching the gospel to a great multitude is just about like calling out over a public address system in a huge auditorium. “Will Jack Jones please come to the speakers stand?” You know a lot of people heard those words, but only those named Jack Jones, responded to the plea. What was being said was not for the others. I hope this gets a point across. For now I want to ask you this, Do you have an ear to hear what the Spirit has to say in this late hour of time? I pray that you do. If you do not have an ear to hear Him, what will you hear? Where will you go? What will you do? Paul said, in the Roman’s letter, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” and this was not given as an option; that is what the kingdom of God is. It is people who have had the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed to them, and because of that, they have peace in their souls, and an inner joy that the world knows nothing about. The preaching of the cross, to the world, is foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. To believe the message of that old cross with your heart, opens up all the treasures of heaven to you, and to reject it, will open up the lake of fire to you. I tell you people, it is time we find out where we stand, for the time is short. If we are on God’s side, then let us take our stand on God’s side. Remember what Paul told the Corinthians, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? What communion hath light with darkness?” You just simply cannot live for God, and choose your fellowship with people of the world, for if you try it, you will become more and more like them, and they will not even have respect for you as a Christian. It is time we examine ourselves, to see if we truly are in the faith. May the Lord be praised. Amen.