JOY INEXPRESSIBLE!

[SW137] 04/19/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014

“Joy Inexpressible!”

He is risen! (He is risen, indeed!) We do not physically see Jesus Christ, but He has revealed Himself to us, and He and the Father have come to dwell in us!

Joy is in the hearts of all who believe! And that joy began a long time before Christ rose from the dead . . .

Imagine the joy of Moses, when he received the creation story from God, and heard that the Enemy of our souls would be defeated:

Genesis 3:14 The LORD God said to the serpent . . .
    15 And I will put enmity
    Between you and the woman,
    And between your seed and her seed;
     He shall  bruise you on the head,
    And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

Imagine his joy as he prophesied of a coming prophet who would be like him, used by the Lord to set free the captives —

Deuteronomy 18:15   “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.”

Imagine the joy of David, who in the Spirit calls the Messiah “Lord, ” and speaks of His victory —

Psalms 110:1  The LORD says to my Lord:
        “ Sit at My right hand
        Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
(also see Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:42-45)

And even from the beginning of the Psalms, David speaks what he hears from the Lord in the Spirit, prophesying about the Son of God:

Psalms 2:6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
    Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

    12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
    and you be destroyed in your way,
    or his wrath can flare up in a moment.
    Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Imagine the joy of Isaiah, when the Lord spoke through him and he prophesied of the Messiah —

Isaiah 9:2   The people who walk in darkness
    Will see a great light;
    Those who live in a dark land,
    The light will shine on them.
    4 For You shall break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders . . .
    6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
    And the government will rest on His shoulders;
    And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,  Mighty God,
    Eternal  Father, Prince of  Peace.
    7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace . . .

And —

Isaiah 53:5    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
        he was crushed for our iniquities;
        the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
        and by his wounds we are healed.
        11  After the suffering of his soul,
        he will see the light[of life] and be satisfied;
        by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
        and he will bear their iniquities.

Imagine the joy of Jeremiah, when the Lord spoke through Jeremiah, and he gladly prophesied —

Jeremiah 23:5   “Behold, the  days are coming,” declares the LORD,
    “When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
    And He will reign as king and  act wisely
    And  do justice and righteousness in the land.
    6 “In His days Judah will be saved, and  Israel will dwell securely;
    And this is His name by which He will be called,
    ‘The  LORD our righteousness.’”

And —

Jeremiah 33:15 ‘In those days and at that time I will cause a  righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute  justice and righteousness on the earth.”

But they did not yet fully see how it would come to pass, nor did they see the Messiah face-to-face —

Jesus says:

Matthew 13:16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 “For truly I say to you that  many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

And the Apostle Peter says:

1Peter 1:10  As to this salvation, the prophets who  prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,  11 seeking to know what person or time  the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.  12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who  preached the gospel to you by  the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things into which  angels long to look.

Imagine the joy of Mary, when Jesus spoke to her in the garden at the tomb —

John 20:15 Jesus  said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she  said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  16 Jesus  said to her, “Mary!” She turned and  said to Him in  Hebrew, “ Rabboni!” (which means,Teacher).  17 Jesus  said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to  My brethren and say to them, ‘I  ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’” 18  Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and that He had said these things to her.

Imagine the joy of the disciples, when Jesus came to them —

John 20:19   So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for  fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and  said to them, “ Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this,  He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then  rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  21 So Jesus said to them again, “ Peace be with you;  as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

Imagine the joy of the Apostle Paul, who saw the risen Lord on the road to Damascus and in later visions —

Romans 1:1    Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle,  set apart for  the gospel of God,  2 which He  promised beforehand through His  prophets in the holy Scriptures,  3 concerning His Son, who was born  of a  descendant of David  according to the flesh,  4 who was declared  the Son of God with power  by the resurrection from the dead, according to the  Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord . . .  

And imagine the joy in everyone who even this day confesses that they are sinners in need of Jesus Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing, and receives all of what the cross represents —

1Peter 1:6  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now  for a little while,  if necessary, you have been distressed by  various  trials . . . 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and  full of glory,  9 obtaining as  the outcome of your faith the salvation of  your souls.

He is risen, indeed, and He is alive today! He reveals Himself to those who believe, who love and therefore obey:

John 14:21 “ He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “ If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”

Oh, it is indeed joy beyond anything we can think or imagine, when God the Father and God the Son enter a human heart to dwell there, by the Holy Spirit! There are no words sufficient to describe it!

Even though we have not seen Him in the flesh, as did Mary and the disciples, we see Him and FEEL HIM in our hearts! His joy is in us, His peace is in us! His Spirit makes us cry out, “Abba, Father,” because we know beyond any doubt that Christ has risen and God has adopted us as His own and has become our Father!

Oh, beloved, do you have this joy indescribable? Do you know beyond any doubt that Christ has risen and you are now a child of God? Have you had the witness of the Spirit, the “Abba, Father!” rising up in your heart, filling you with joy?

The Lord extends His grace to you today.  On the day we celebrate His resurrection from the dead, He offers you resurrection, if you will turn to Him:

1Peter 2:21 For  you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,  22 WHO  COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;  

1Peter 2:23  and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;  24 and He Himself  bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to  sin and live to righteousness; for  by His wounds you were  healed.  25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 

REBUILDING – PROVISION

[SW136] 04/12/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Rebuilding the Church —Provision”

First we intercede standing in the gap between a broken church and a God who heals brokenness. Then we seek the provision necessary to rebuild.

Jesus has shown me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:

Chapter 1 — Interceding

Chapter 2 — Requesting Christ’s provision

Chapters 3 and 4 — Possessing God’s strength and wisdom

Chapter 5 — Convicting regarding sin

Chapter 6 — Discerning

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repenting

Chapter 10 — Consecrating

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

Ezekiel 22:26-31 describes the spiritual condition of Israel that led to the Babylonian exile of Judah (southern Israel) about a hundred years after Samaria (northern Israel). Judah had sinned greatly against the Lord, and refused to listen to the prophets the Lord sent to them, who warned them to repent. And so God sent them into exile in Babylon for 70 years.

Nehemiah 2

Having heard the report that the remnant in Judah was under great distress and reproach, Nehemiah interceded for the sons of Israel, asking the Lord to forgive, and reminding Him of His promise that, if they would return to Him, He would return them to Israel. He asked the Lord for mercy when he went before King Artaxerxes.

It was not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit that Jersusalem and its walls and temple would be rebuilt (Zechariah 4:6). Only by the power of the Holy Spirit, in Spirit-filled believers, will the church be rebuilt.

As intercessors for today’s church, we ask the Lord Jesus Christ, head of the church, to have compassion on His church. Unlike Nehemiah, thought, we do not deal with a pagan king as an intermediary used by God — we go to the King of kings and Lord of lords, the One who is above all things:

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —  all things have been created through Him and for Him.  17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

The earth is His, and all that is in it (Psalm 24:1)!

He preserves His promise to those who love and obey Him (Nehemiah 1:5)!

We can come before Him and ask whatever we will, and He will do it:

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and  greater works than these he will do; because  I go to the Father. 13 “ Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that  the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything  in My name, I will do it.”

The Lord sees our sadness of heart over the brokenness in the church (Nehemiah 2:2). But we are not afraid, as Nehemiah rightfully was afraid of the pagan king. No, perfect love casts out fear of punishment:

1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but  perfect love casts out fear, because fear  involves punishment, and the one who fears is not  perfected in love.

And so:

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Oh, our King lives forever! As we sit at the table with the Father, Son and Spirit, the Son will ask us, “What would you request?”

Our desires are Your desires, Lord Jesus. We have come to do Your will, O Lord; Your Law is written in our hearts (Psalm 40:6)!

We will say, “Send me to Your broken church, that we may rebuild it” (v. 5).

“Whom shall We send, and who shall go for Us?” Isaiah said, “Here am I! Send me!” He saw the Lord highly exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. His heart was cleansed by the coal of fire touching His lips, in Isaiah 6!

It will please the King of kings to send us (v. 7), and we will return to Him at the appointed time.

Our fathers were in the church, and we want to bring it back to what it was in those days. The church was with Christ at one time, but now all but a remnant have been exiled from God’s presence.

What must we ask our King for?

— First, authority. We must have authority to pass through Enemy territory, from the One who is greater than our Enemy, Satan:

Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to  tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that  your names are recorded in heaven.”

Beloved, in today’s church, few have asked for Christ’s authority to pass through Enemy territory. Therefore we are blindsided and ambushed, deceived and destroyed.

We cannot ask for Christ’s authority over Satan if we are disobedient. But if we will ask Him to change our hearts, so we love and obey Him, He will surely grant us the authority we lack!

— Second, timber. Nehemiah needed natural wood.

We need the whole message of the Cross, from the bounty of the King. What is the whole message?

God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. We all know that one.

Why was that necessary? He was, indeed, a sin offering to cover our past sins.

But the message of the Cross goes beyond that — it is the rest of the story, the part which must be in place for the church to be rebuilt.

God sent Jesus Christ that we may have His Spirit, His heart, His love,  His nature, with our old, rebellious nature crucified, in a moment of time!

That is the timber by which the church will be rebuilt — the whole message of the Cross! We must ask Him to put steel in our backbones so we boldly speak it!

In today’s church, beloved, the message of the Cross is the message of the “CRO.” It is half the message. It leaves out the “SS” which is Sin Sickness. That is a disease only Christ can heal, and that by way of His work on the cross and afterwards, when He rose from the dead after three days. He ascended to the Father, was glorified, and poured out the Holy Spirit, who fills us with God’s holiness and gives us a new heart, a new nature!

Yes, we continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, but we no longer resist as the Lord molds and shapes! We have given up our rights to ourselves! We are dead, and now He lives in us (Galatians 2:20).

We must return to building on the one foundation, Christ, so our work will not be found by Him to be wood, hay and straw.

1Corinthians 3:11 For no man can lay a  foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver,  precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  13  each man’s work will become evident; for  the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test  the quality of each man’s work.  14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will  receive a reward.  15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

As the Nehemiahs for today’s church, we call that all pastors once again build on the foundation which is Christ!

When we ask the Lord for the authority and the whole message of the Cross, He will go beyond what we have asked. He will send with us (Verse 9) officers of the army and horsemen — angels, ministering servants:

Hebrews 1:13 But to which of the angels has He ever said,
“ SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND,
UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES
A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET”?
14 Are they not all  ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

They will assist us when the Enemy hears of the church’s rebuilding and is displeased that we seek her welfare, just as Sanballat and Tobiah were displeased!

But our Lord has won the victory. Satan has nothing in Him (John 14:30). And we walk in Christ’s victory, when we have called the Father to do the whole gospel in us (Luke 11:13)!

Jesus Christ WILL have a church glorious, without spot or wrinkle, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27). But just as with Nehemiah, He wants those who love and obey Him to participate in the church’s rebuilding (Ephesians 4:11), even to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).

Will you join me, O remnant, and rebuild the church? The One we go to for provision will certainly provide.

Next week, we will celebrate His victory, on Resurrection Sunday. Then we will return to Nehemiah and learn the next step to rebuilding.

#1 REBUILDING — INTERCESSION

[SW135] 04/05/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“#1 Rebuilding — Intercession”

The Lord Jesus Christ is calling for intercessors within His church to beseech the Father to rebuild today’s broken down church (see the latest Barna report). He is faithful and will hear us!
Jesus has shown me something in the Book of Nehemiah. It’s about today’s church, and what she must be taught and how she must be exhorted. In Nehemiah, the Lord reveals the necessary steps to rebuilding:

Chapter 1 — Interceding

Chapter 2 — Requesting Christ’s provision

Chapters 3 and 4 — Possessing God’s strength and wisdom

Chapter 5 — Convicting regarding sin

Chapter 6 — Discerning

Chapters 8 and 9 — Repenting

Chapter 10 — Consecrating

Chapter 13 — Cleansing

Here was the spiritual condition of Israel that led to the Babylonian exile of Judah (southern Israel) about a hundred years after Samaria (northern Israel) was exiled through Assyria:

Ezekiel 22:26-31 “Her  priests have done violence to My law and have  profaned My holy things; they have made no  distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the  unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.  27 “Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and  destroying lives in order to get  dishonest gain.  28 “Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing  false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.  29 “The people of the land have practiced  oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have  oppressed the sojourner without justice.  30 “I  searched for a man among them who would  build up the wall and  stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found  no one.  31 “Thus I have poured out My  indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath;  their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.

Prior to the exile, the Lord’s prophets had warned and called for repentance, but no one listened. It continued during the exile, and once again, men stood in the gap to intercede for Israel:

— The Lord’s call to intercession through the prophet Joel, in Joel 2:12-17

— Daniel’s great prayer of intercession in Daniel 9, after he read Jeremiah 25:11 and realized that the 70 years of Babylonian exile had been completed.

— Nehemiah, cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, who stood in the gap before the Lord for the people, to restore and rebuild.

Nehemiah 1

Cyrus of Persia made the proclamation to his entire kingdom (and the Medo-Persian empire conquered the Babylon empire which encompassed the known world). In 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Cyrus proclaimed that the Lord God had appointed him to build Him a house in Jerusalem, and released all Jews in exile to go up to Jerusalem. This was just according to the prophecy the Lord gave Isaiah in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1, 150 years before Cyrus came to power!

Persia was now under the rule of Artaxerxes. Of the approximate million who were in Judah at the time of the exile, only 42,360 Jews would return to their land and rebuild. The rest died in battle when Babylon laid siege, or tried to escape to Egypt and were killed there. A few were allowed to remain in the land to tend it and a few escaped. Some stayed in Babylon, preferring it to Israel.

Intercession was the first step to rebuilding, and that’s what Nehemiah 1 is all about.

Nehemiah heard the terrible report about the remnant in the land. He wept and mourned, fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

That’s intercession — seeking God’s heart for the church or for individuals, weeping and mourning, praying and fasting day and night (v. 6), beseeching God to act on behalf of His people, and having faith that He will answer.

Let’s look at Nehemiah’s prayer in Chapter 1, so we may understand how to pray for today’s church —

— He beseeches the Lord God of heaven, who is faithful to keep covenant with those who love and obey Him.

— Hear! See! I am Your servant. I am praying on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants. We have not served you well, for we have sinned against you. Even I and my family have sinned against you.

— We have acted very corruptly against You. We have completely disobeyed You. And just according to Your command to Moses, You have scattered us.

— But remember, Lord God, that if we repent, if we return to You and obey You, even though we’ve been scattered to the remotest parts of the earth, you will gather us and return us to Israel, where You have chosen to cause Your name to dwell.

— You redeemed them before, Lord, by your great power and strong hand.

— I beseech You! Hear the prayer of Your servants who love and revere You.
Bless me by granting me compassion (7356, raham mercy, from the word for womb) from King Artaxerxes.

— For I am cupbearer to the king. I have a close relationship to him, as a friend. I hear what goes on in his throne room. He trusts me not only with his secrets, but with his life, for I taste his wine before he drinks it, so if it is poisoned, I die rather than him.

For today’s church:

Please listen to the message, for I interweave the Lord’s words for today’s church with verse-by-verse explanation of Nehemiah 1. The video will available later today at:

https://www.youtube.com/user/SetFreeMinistriesFMC

http://vimeo.com/myfathersplace

Intercession did not end when Jesus came! Our Lord interceded in John 17, and He literally IS our intercession in heaven, for His work is finished! The Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26-27). The Apostle Paul was a great intercessor, in Ephesians 1 and 3 and throughout all of his letters to the churches.

Oh, beloved, intercession is not only petitioning God, but it is spiritual warfare!

2Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war  according to the flesh,  4 for the  weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but  divinely powerful  for the destruction of fortresses.  5 We are destroying speculations and every  lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the  obedience of Christ . . .

Colossians 1:9   For this reason also,  since the day we heard of it,  we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the   knowledge of His will in all spiritual  wisdom and understanding,  10 so that you will  walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,   to please Him in all respects,  bearing fruit in every good work and  increasing in the  knowledge of God;  11  strengthened with all power, according to  His glorious might,  for the attaining of all steadfastness and  patience;  joyously 12 giving thanks to  the Father, who has qualified us  to share in  the inheritance of the  saints in  Light.

And it must be done for today’s church. She is exiled from the presence of God. She has sinned greatly and been scattered. Many have fallen away, many follow false teachers who tickle their ears. Many do not believe or declare that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Many of our churches are dying or dead.
Ezekiel 22:26-31 “Her  priests have done violence to My law and have  profaned My holy things; they have made no  distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the  unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.  27 “Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and  destroying lives in order to get  dishonest gain.  28 “Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing  false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.  29 “The people of the land have practiced  oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have  oppressed the sojourner without justice.  30 “I  searched for a man among them who would  build up the wall and  stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found  no one.  31 “Thus I have poured out My  indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath;  their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord GOD.

So I pray the same prayer as Nehemiah. By the grace of God, all whose hearts are entirely His are able to pray and beseech Him to act on behalf of our broken churches. Who will pray with me? Who will return with me to rebuild the church?

JESUS’ PROMISES TO OVERCOMERS

Those who overcome this world by way of Jesus Christ, who overcame the world, have great promises from Him!

[SW134] 03/28/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Jesus’ Promises to Overcomers”

First, the definition of “overcome” —

3528. nikao, nik-ah´-o; from 3529; to subdue, conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory.

3529. nike, nee´-kay; conquest, i.e. (figuratively) the means of success, victory.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Overcomers —

— Repent from leaving their first love

— Stand steadfast in Christ amidst persecution even to death, thus gaining the crown of life

— Repent from eating things sacrificed to idols and committing sexual immorality

— Repent from tolerating/compromising false teachers in the church who teach the above (i.e., it’s OK to sin) and from following such teaching

— Repent from their deadness and wake up, remembering and keeping what they have heard

— Remain steadfast in their faith in Christ, so as not to lose their crown

— Repent from their pride and from trusting in their riches, and seek
the purification of heart that only the Lord, our Refiner can give

To Ephesus:

Revelation 2:7 ‘ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

This is a promise to those who repent from leaving their first love, Jesus Christ . . .
and is also a promise to all overcomers.

The tree of life in the Paradise of God

Genesis 2:9 Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This is the tree of life from which God prohibited Adam to eat, after he sinned against the Lord (see Genesis 3:22). And this is a word of restoration . . . He who overcomes eats of it, in heaven. 

For those who overcome, eternal life starts here and now, in that His eternal life is in us, but we will also eat its fruit with God in heaven! Hallelujah!

To Smyrna:

Revelation 2:11 ‘ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’

This is a promise to those who remain steadfast in Christ, despite persecution even to death . . . and is also a promise to all overcomers.

No harm from the second death,

Defined at the end of the sequence of events in Revelation 20:4-11:
The first resurrection — His saints come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years.

[NOTE: remember Paul’s words — absent from the body, our spirits go to the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:6-8). When we die, our spirits go to the Lord, but there is a later resurrection of our bodies.]

Then Satan is released for a period of time.

Then there is great battle on the broad plain, with enemy armies surrounding Jerusalem — instantly defeated by the Lord who rains down fire on them.

Then the devil joins the beast and the false prophet (see Revelation 19:20) in the lake of fire where they are tormented day and night forever and ever.

And then the second death is defined:

Revelation 20:11  Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

So that we may understand:

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Remember —Revelation 3:5 “‘ He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

It is possible for a name to be erased from the book of life.

To Pergamum:

Revelation 2:17 ‘ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

This is the promise to those who repent from eating things sacrificed to idols and sexual immorality, who repent from the things of this world, and is also a promise to all overcomers.
Hidden manna

Reflects a Jewish tradition that the pot of manna that was placed in the ark for a memorial to future generations (Exodus 16:32–34; cf. Hebrews 9:4) was taken by Jeremiah at the time of the destruction of Solomon’s temple (sixth century B.C.) in the Babylonian overthrow of Jerusalem, and hidden underground in Mt. Nebo (2 Maccabees 2:4–7). There it was to remain until the coming of the Messiah when Jeremiah would reappear and return the ark and its contents to the new messianic temple in Jerusalem. [Source: New International Commentary on the New Testament (NICNT)]

White stone

Again from the NICNT, I believe the white stone refers to a tessera (small block of stone like a mosaic tile) that served as a token for admission to a banquet. They were distributed to the poor in Rome by the emperors to insure a regular supply of corn, and to victors at games.

But I believe these two uses of the tessera fit best:

— A token for admission to a banquet. We are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb, when we will be bride to our Bridegroom, united in a way not possible here on the earth! Read Isaiah 25:6 to hear what will be served!

— Given to gladiators who had won the admiration of the public and had been allowed to retire from further combat. We will have fought the fight and been victorious, and in a sense, we will retire! Read 1Timothy 1:18 and 6:12, and 2Timothy 4:7!

As for the stone’s color, white indicates purity.

Our new name

The new name written on the stone, I think, is as the Lord did with Simon Peter, saying:

Matthew 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter (4074 petros, a piece of rock), and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”

To Thyatira:

Revelation 2:26 ‘ He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; 27 AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.”

This is the promise to those who repent from compromise and tolerance of false prophets and prophetesses who say it’s OK to sin, because our spirits are saved anyway, a version of Gnostic teaching. It is also a promise to all overcomers.
Psalms 2:7   “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”

Authority over the Enemy, and authority to rule with Christ, having become co-heirs with Him (see Luke 10:19, for we have authority now, but more so when we stand before Him at the end of things:

Romans 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

If we will suffer persecution, and spiritually, death to our sin nature and become filled with His nature, by His Holy Spirit, we are indeed heirs.

Morning star

Morning star (5459 phosphoros) light-bearing, morning star, daystar.

2Peter 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

Revelation 22:16   “ I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

I believe this is in reference to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Right now, the Holy Spirit is an earnest, a pledge:

Ephesians 1:13b-14 . . . the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

I believe the morning star is a greater portion of the Holy Spirit than we can contain in physical bodies.

To Sardis:

Revelation 3:5 ‘ He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

This promise is for those who wake up and repent from their deadness, and remember and keep what they have heard, and is also a promise to all overcomers.

Mark 9:2    Six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

White garments — exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. Heavenly clothing!
The book of life

Psalms 69:28 May they [the wicked] be blotted out of the book of life
And may they not be recorded with the righteous.

Luke 10:19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. 20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

Philippians 4:3b . . . and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him (the beast), everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

Again, so that we are sure:

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Confessing them before God

Matthew 10:32  “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.”

To Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:12 ‘ He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

This is a promise to all who remain steadfast, and thus do not lose their crowns, and and is also a promise to all overcomers.

Pillars

I believe He speaks of the two bronze pillars made by Hiram for Solomon’s Temple —

1Kings 7:21 Thus he set up the pillars at the porch of the nave; and he set up the right pillar and named it Jachin, and he set up the left pillar and named it Boaz.

Jaquin (3199) He will establish AND Boaz (1162) quickness (life, strength). He will establish us, in His strength! Thus, we are pillars in the temple of God that is in heaven.

And the overcomers will not go out from it anymore!

What will He write on us?

— the name of My God, YHWH

— the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

— My new name, the one He did not have until He was sent by the Father, crucified, dead, buried, risen, ascended, and glorified, Yeshua haMashiach.

To Laodicea:

Revelation 3:21 ‘ He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high . . .

Hebrews 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Again, these are the promises, to all who:

— Repent from leaving their first love

— Stand steadfast in Christ amidst persecution even to death, thus gaining the crown of life

— Repent from eating things sacrificed to idols and committing sexual immorality

— Repent from tolerating/compromising false teachers in the church who teach the above (i.e., it’s OK to sin) and following such teaching

— Repent from their deadness and wake up

— Remain steadfast in their faith in Christ, so as not to lose their crown

— Repent from their pride and from trusting in their riches, and seek
the purification of heart that only the Lord, our Refiner can give

Beloved, it is not too late to turn. If the Holy Spirit has shown you that you are like Ephesus, or Pergamum, or Thyatira, or Sardis, or Laodicea, it is because of His love that He rebukes you. Turn now, for His grace is here to change your heart!

Those who are like Smyrna and Philadelphia, ask Him to continue to establish you in His strength, that you may remain steadfast and faithful, pillars in His temple! Hallelujah!

 

JESUS’ LETTER TO LAODICEA

Oh, the grace of God, that His Son would come and speak to the church at Laodicea to admonish and correct, so they may become His witnesses!

[SW133] 03/21/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Jesus’ Letter to Laodicea”

Text: Revelation 3:14-22

Background:

While the Apostle John is exiled on the island of Patmos (to the east of Greece), Jesus Christ gives him a revelation — an unveiling — of Himself, and what is to come.

The unveiling of Himself:

When John sees Jesus Christ as He is now — Judge, Lord of lords, and King of kings — here’s what happens:

Revelation 1:17   When I saw Him, I  fell at His feet like a dead man. And He  placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid;  I am the first and the last, 18 and the  living One; and I   was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have  the keys of death and of Hades. 19 “Therefore  write  the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place  after these things.”

What is to come:

Before He unveils what is to come, the Lord Jesus speaks to seven churches through their messengers (pastors). He is the one that walks among (5281, in the middle of) the seven golden lamp stands that are like candelabra (the churches).

Why does He speak to them? To encourage them, to exhort them, to correct them, to convict them regarding sin and righteousness and judgment. He commands five of the seven churches to repent.

Background on Laodicea:

The city of Laodicea was known as an extremely wealthy city — so wealthy that even after an earthquake hit in A.D. 60, they rebuilt the city without financial assistance from Rome.

Its wealth came from the textile industry. But it was also known for its medical school, where a salve made of spice nard was developed for treatment of the eyes and ears.

Laodicea lacked a water supply. Its water source was six miles north, delivered to them through a series of stone pipes (another sign of Laodicea’s wealth). But because of the miles the water traveled, it was lukewarm by the time it reached Laodicea.

Jesus’ words to Laodicea

Jesus identifies Himself as:

— the Amen (281 truth, firm, trustworthy),

— the faithful and true Witness (4103/228 trustworthy, true as in true to His nature, and 3144 judicial witness in view here).

He also identifies Himself as being the Beginning (746 the Origin) of the creation of God. He was with God in the beginning, before anything was created, and it was by Him that it was created (see John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16ff, Hebrews 1:2, and elsewhere).

In that passage in Colossians 1, Paul goes on to say that Jesus is the Head of the church. But in the church at Laodicea, its wealth has gone to its head! Praise God that He comes to such a church with righteous correction!

Jesus Christ has no good things to say about this church. They do not possess His character, His nature, His attributes. Yet it is God’s will that we possess them, and He is ready and waiting for us to ask Him to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire (Luke 11:13)!

In Verse 15, Jesus gets right to the point. The Laodicean church is neither cold nor hot toward Him. They are lukewarm, like their water.

He wishes they were cold or hot:

— If they are cold, they do not claim His name. Because they do not claim to be His, their sins cannot harm or profane His name, His reputation.

— If they are hot, they are on fire for God, baptized with the Holy Spirit and fire, zealous to do God’s works, working out their salvation with fear and trembling, knowing it is God who is at work in them (Philippians 2:12-13).  Those who are hot adorn His reputation and live His gospel. They walk in the same manner as He walked (1John 2:6), and thus bring Him glory.

But the Laodiceans are lukewarm. They are casual, mediocre, with one foot in the worldly riches they enjoy and one foot in Christianity. They profane His name:

halal  (first letter a “het”); properly, to bore into so as to cause a wound, to break one’s word, to use a wedge to create an open wound, to defile, to pollute, to prostitute.

They are not faithful and true, but disobey Him by chasing after riches. He knows where their hearts are (Matthew 6:19-21):

Matthew 6:19   “ Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves  treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for  where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Because they are lukewarm, He will vomit them out of His mouth (Verse 16), violently expelling them out of Himself so they are no longer in Him — unless they repent.

They do not trust in the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Origin of creation. What do they trust in? Verse 17 says it: their worldly wealth. They are rich, they have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.

But the faithful and true Witness tells them they are:

— Wretched (5005 as in bearing a weight, and they are being weighed in His balance), despite their lack of financial burdens. The handwriting is on the wall. They have been weighed in the balance, and have been found wanting (Daniel 5:27).

— Miserable (1652 pitiable, needing mercy), despite their self-assurance.

— Poor (4434 one who crouches and cowers one who is beggarly, understanding their lack), despite their material wealth.

— Blind (spiritually), for they do not see their spiritual poverty, despite their famous eye salve, AND

— Naked (not clothed with Christ nor with readiness, with their lamps lit by the oil of the Holy Spirit), despite their renowned textile industry.

What do they need? He advises them to seek His riches (see Malachi 3:2-3)

First, Gold refined by fire — the Refiner requires it! They must be purified, and then they will possess His riches, the Holy Spirit. Their monetary wealth simply masks their spiritual poverty.

Second, white garments so they may be clothed and the shame of their nakedness not be revealed — it is a picture of those whose sin has been washed away and whose hearts have been purified. The Launderer requires it! Their beautiful textiles cannot cover their shame. They must be clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27), and clothed with power from on high:

Luke 24:49 “And behold,  I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but  you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Third, eye salve to anoint their eyes so they may see — Not the eye salve they manufacture, but the salve that Jesus Christ supplies, by the Holy Spirit, to give them a revelation of Him and to let them see with His eyes!

Those who He loves (5368 phileo has affection toward), He disciplines (Hebrews 12:4-6). He does not use agapao here — God’s actual love, the same love with which the Father loves the Son — as He did with the church at Philadelphia. It is a lesser love than agapao, but because He has affection toward them, He calls them to repent, saying,

“Therefore (because of your spiritual condition), be zealous (have ardoer, burn with holy passion) and repent (turn away from your riches and say, “Against You only, O God, have I sinned!” Turn away from your love of money, and love Him!

This church’s condition is perilous, because He has nothing good to say about them AND He is not IN the church at Laodicea. He is not present with them. He is outside, knocking. How ironic — the One who opens doors faces hearts shut to Him!

The painting, The Light of the World (1853–54) is an allegorical painting by William Holman Hunt representing the figure of Jesus preparing to knock on an overgrown and long-unopened door, illustrating Revelation 3:20 According to Hunt: “I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good Subject.” The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing “the obstinately shut mind”. Hunt, 50 years after painting it, felt he had to explain the symbolism. (Wikipedia)

He doesn’t expect the church to open its doors to Him, because He speaks to individuals — “if anyone hears My voice . . .” If anyone does, He will come into him. He will enter them, He will dwell in them. And they will have holy intimacy with Him— He will feed them with His Word and His presence, and they will feed Him with worship and ministry to Him, in an endless, joyous exchange!

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!

For today’s church

The Lord’s words sting. But remember, He disciplines those whom He loves.

Many churches in developed countries, and particularly in the U.S., are materially wealthy. They are rich and have become wealthy, and are in need of nothing.

Many churches who preach hyper-grace* and prosperity are materially wealthy, tickling the ears of their attendees:

2Timothy 4:3 For  the time will come when they will not endure  sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,  4 and  will turn away their ears from the truth and  will turn aside to myths.

Thus, many of these same churches are, like Laodicea, in a perilous condition. They are lukewarm. They remain slaves to sin. Thus, they profane the reputation of God the Father and God the Son by sinning against God, boring through Him so as to wound, driving a wedge into Him with a sledgehammer.

They are:

— Wretched (5005 as in bearing a weight, and they are being weighed in His balance), despite their lack of financial burdens. The handwriting is on the wall. They have been weighed in the balance, and have been found wanting (Daniel 5:27).

— Miserable (1652 pitiable, needing mercy), despite their self-assurance.

— Poor (4434 one who crouches and cowers one who is beggarly, understanding their lack), despite their material wealth.

— Blind (spiritually), for they do not see their spiritual poverty, despite their famous eye salve, AND

— Naked (not clothed with Christ nor with readiness, with their lamps lit by the oil of the Holy Spirit), despite their renowned textile industry.

Go quickly to the Refiner, O lukewarm ones! He will refine you, cleanse you, and you will discover HIS riches — true life in Him and freedom from slavery to sin! He will clothe you in white and purify your heart! His Spirit will give you a new heart, one that is on fire for Him!

Do you hear Him knocking? Open the door, repent, be baptized in the Holy Spirit, be zealous, full of ardor and holy passion for Him and for His reputation!

Then go forth, clothed with power from on high, as you ought to be, as it is necessary to be, as you must be, as you are responsible to be, as you are indebted to Christ to be, for you owe Him! You were bought with a price and are not your own (1Corinthians 6:19)!

* The term hyper-grace has been used to describe a new wave of teaching that emphasizes the grace of God to the exclusion of other vital teachings such as repentance and confession of sin. Hyper-grace teachers maintain that all sin, past, present, and future, has already been forgiven, so there is no need for a believer to ever confess it. The conclusion of hyper-grace teaching is that we are not bound by Jesus’ teaching, even as we are not under the Law; that believers are not responsible for their sin; and that anyone who disagrees is a pharisaical legalist. In short, hyper-grace teachers “pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 1:4).

JESUS’ LETTER TO PHILADELPHIA

Those of the church at Philadelphia are keepers — keepers of the Word of Jesus Christ, keepers of the Word of God. Are you a keeper, too?

[SW132] 03/14/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Jesus’ Letter to Philadelphia”

Text: Revelation 3:7-13

Background:

While the Apostle John is exiled on the island of Patmos (to the east of Greece), Jesus Christ gives him a revelation — an unveiling — of Himself, and what is to come.

The unveiling of Himself:

When John sees Jesus Christ as He is now — Judge, Lord of lords, and King of kings — here’s what happens:

Revelation 1:17   When I saw Him, I  fell at His feet like a dead man. And He  placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid;  I am the first and the last, 18 and the  living One; and I   was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have  the keys of death and of Hades. 19 “Therefore  write  the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place  after these things.”

What is to come:

Before He unveils what is to come, the Lord Jesus speaks to seven churches through their messengers (pastors). He is the one that walks among (5281, in the middle of) the seven golden lamp stands that are like candelabra (the churches).

Why does He speak to them? To encourage them, to exhort them, to correct them, to convict them regarding sin and righteousness and judgment. He commands five of the seven churches to repent.

Background on Philadelphia:

The city of Philadelphia was surrounded by vineyards. Worship of Dionysus/Bacchus, a fertility god and the god of the grape harvest, took place there. Worship involved drunkenness and a sexual free-for-all

Philadelphia had a difficult time recovering from the A.D. 17 earthquake. Dangerous tremors occurred there even 20 years later. It was to be renamed Neocaesarea (nee-oh-kahee-sar’-i-a) because Tiberius provided aid in rebuilding.

Jesus’ words to Philadelphia:

Those of the church at Philadelphia are keepers — keepers of the Word of Jesus Christ, keepers of the Word of God. Of the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3, this is the only one who has “kept My Word” in the text.
Ephesus toils and perseveres, and is on the lookout for false teachers. But Jesus shows us they do not keep His Word because they have left their first love — Him!

I believe Smyrna keeps His Word, though He doesn’t write that in his letter to them. They are so Christlike that they endure fierce and fatal persecution. That’s the mark of a keeper of His Word.

Pergamum holds fast His name and does not deny His faith, but some do not keep His Word because they heed false teachers, and thus eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality.

Thyatira has love and faith and service and perseverance, and deeds greater than at first. But these are no substitute for keeping His Word. They tolerate and some heed a false prophetess who teaches false doctrine similar to Pergamum, but  within the church.

Sardis is dead, except for a very few. They do keep not His Word. If they did, they would have Christ’s abundant life dwelling within them (John 10:10)!
To the church at Philadelphia Jesus identifies Himself as the Holy One, the True One.

— Holy (40 hagios) consecrated, set apart, blameless, pure.

He is the Holy One, deity, consecrated by the Father to be His Messiah, His Christ. He is set apart, blameless.

— True (228 alethinos), concealing nothing, truthful, true. Like His Father, He is faithful to His Word, true to His character, full of grace and truth (John 1:14, 17), and not capricious like false gods.

I believe there are two reasons He identifies Himself this way:

1.  To respond to those in the synagogue of Satan, the ones who refuse to believe He is the Holy One of Israel, God who came in the flesh.

2. To encourage Philadelphia that they have been given His attributes, because they keep His Word!

He has the key of David:

Isaiah 22:22 “Then I will set  the key of the  house of David on his shoulder,
    When he opens no one will shut,
    When he shuts no one will  open.”  

It is one of the Old Testament (OT) titles of the Messiah, the Savior, the One to whom God the Father entrusts to rule, the One who is descended, in the natural, from the house of David. He proclaims to those who say they are Jews but are not, “I am the Messiah!”

Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ sent from God to redeem His people, and what He opens, no one will shut, and what He shuts, no one will open! What a promise!
He opens the door for His faithful ones — those who keep and obey and guard and protect His Word — so they may proclaim Him. He shuts the door on those who oppose the church at Philadelphia; that is, Satan and those whom Satan uses.

Jesus fully knows their deeds! They have a little (3398 micros, small, little, least) power (1411 dunamis, used of the miracle-working power of God). They have a mustard seed:

Matthew 17:20b “ . . . for truly I say to you,  if you have faith  the size of  a mustard seed, you will say to  this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and  nothing will be impossible to you.”

It is the only church of which Jesus says “you have a little power.” A small portion of the power of God is manifested through those in the church at Philadelphia, and it is enough to move mountains!

But miracles by themselves must be accompanied by keeping His Word, and not denying His name. The church at Philadelphia does all three. Because they keep His Word and do not deny His name, they have a little dunamis,

They live according to His character and do not profane His reputation by claiming to be Christian and yet willfully disobeying Him. Doing that would be to deny Him.

Some will work wonders like they do, but if they do not keep His Word — if they disobey Him by sinning against Him — He says:

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

22 “ Many will say to Me on  that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you;  DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’”

Philadelphia keeps His Word! They obey, they protect and guard His Word! And so they are faithful and true to Him, and they have a little of His power.

Therefore, He says: “Behold, I have put before you  an open door which no one can shut  . . .”  He says this of no other church. He provides an open door to proclaiming the gospel, one that cannot be shut, and an open door to heaven. I believe both are in view here.

Who opposes to the church at Philadelphia? The same as at Smyrna, the only other church that receives no rebuke: those who say they are Jews but are a synagogue of Satan, ones whom Satan uses.

There are in Philadelphia those who call themselves Jews, but because they do not believe in their Messiah, Jesus Christ, they are sons of their father, the devil (John 8:44). So they are a synagogue of Satan, as Jesus said when He walked the earth:

John 8:44 “You are of  your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks  a lie, he  speaksfrom his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Just as they did to Jesus Christ when He walked the earth, and as they do to the church at Smyrna, they also do to the church at Philadelphia. The “Jews” accuse them of blasphemy because they believe and confess that Jesus Christ is deity, God the Son, and they call God their Father, just as Jesus did (see John 20:17).

But Jesus will make (a prolonged form of that word) Philadelphia’s persecutors do something: He will make them bow down in a prolonged way before the church at Philadelphia. And when He does it, they will know unequivocally that Jesus has loved and continues to love the church at Philadelphia with His actual love. They are His beloved. They share in the promise from Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:23 “ Kings will be your guardians,
    And their princesses your nurses.
    They will bow down to you with their faces to the earth
    And lick the dust of your feet;
    And you will know that I am the LORD;
    Those who hopefully wait for Me will  not be put to shame.

Isaiah 60:14 “The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you,
    And all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet;
    And they will call you the  city of the LORD,
    The  Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

So, too, those at Philadelphia, because they have kept (5083 preserved, guarded, obeyed, watched over, continued in) His Word steadfastly.

And thus, not only do they have an open door for proclaiming the gospel AND to heaven itself, but He will keep them in the same way they have kept His Word — He will keep them, guard them and watch over them and preserve them from the hour of testing (3986, discipline, adversity) which is about to come on the whole world, to put to the test the earth-dwellers.

As the Book of Revelation unveils in Chapters 6 to 20, a great tribulation of famine, plagues, and death will come upon those who reject Jesus Christ:  first, by Christ’s breaking of the seven seals of the scroll the Father hands to Him, then the seven trumpets, and finally, the seven bowls of God’s wrath.

2Peter 2:9  . . . the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment . . .

2Thessalonians 1:7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted  and to us as well   when the Lord Jesus will be revealed  from heaven  with  His mighty angels  in flaming fire,  8 dealing out retribution to those who  do not know God and to those who  do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  9 These will pay the penalty of  eternal destruction,  away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

Note this, beloved — retribution will be dealt out by Jesus Christ to two groups: 1) those who do not know God; and 2) those who do not obey His gospel.

He is coming quickly, suddenly, unexpectedly. He encourages the church at Philadelphia to hold fast, to cling to what they have, so they do not lose their crown, which I believe is the same crown of life that He promises Smyrna.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches!

For today’s church:

The church of Philadelphia is scattered throughout all the churches — it is a remnant. These are keepers, they are keepers of the Word of God.

Beloved, are you a keeper? If you have been unfaithful to Him, repent! He must remain true to His nature.

2Timothy 2:11  It is a trustworthy statement:
    For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
    If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

He is love, and He has all the grace you need, but He is also just and righteous. If you deny Him, He will deny you:

Matthew 10:32   “Therefore  everyone who  confesses Me before men, I will also confess  him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But  whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

In what way do some in the church of today deny Him? If you do not keep His Word, you deny Him, beloved. If you do not keep His Word, and continue in it, you will surely profane His name by sinning against Him.

Die with Him (v. 11)! Ask the Lord to crucify the old nature in you, the one that wants to go astray! That crucifixion happens when you ask Jesus to baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

He will give you His nature — you will become holy and true, because the Holy One, the True One lives and reigns in you!

When He reigns in you, He will say of you what He says of Philadelphia:

Revelation 3:8   “‘ I know your  deeds. Behold, I have put before you  an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and  have not denied My name.’”

And the Enemy, Satan, will be forced to bow before you! And you will be protected from the test that is about to come.

He is coming quickly, suddenly, and unexpectedly.

Be baptized in the Holy Spirit, be clothed with His readiness, have oil in your lamps, so they are lit when He comes (Luke 12:35), cling to what He has given you!

Be ready, O church!

JESUS’ LETTER TO SARDIS

[SW131] 03/07/2014 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
“Jesus’ Letter to Sardis”

Jesus Christ writes a love letter of powerful admonition to a dead church, because only He has the power to resurrect it.

Text: Revelation 3:1-6

Background:

While the Apostle John is exiled on the island of Patmos (to the east of Greece), Jesus Christ gives him a revelation — an unveiling — of Himself, and what is to come.

The unveiling of Himself:

When John sees Jesus Christ as He is now — Judge, Lord of lords, and King of kings — here’s what happens:

Revelation 1:17   When I saw Him, I  fell at His feet like a dead man. And He  placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid;  I am the first and the last, 18 and the  living One; and I   was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have  the keys of death and of Hades. 19 “Therefore  write  the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place  after these things.”

What is to come:

Before He unveils what is to come, the Lord Jesus speaks to seven churches through their messengers (pastors). He is the one that walks among (5281 in the middle of) the seven golden lamp stands like candelabra (the churches).

Why does He speak to them? To encourage them, to exhort them, to correct them, to convict them regarding sin and righteousness and judgment. He commands five of the seven churches to repent.

Background on Sardis:

Sardis, 60 miles inland from Ephesus, was the first city to mint coins of silver and gold, and was known as a wealthy capital city. This city boasted a large temple to Artemis, a fertility goddess. It was never able to fully recover from an earthquake that struck it in A.D. 17.

Jesus’ words to the church at Sardis:

He identifies Himself as the one who has, holds and possesses, the seven Spirits of God. That is, He holds and possesses the complete power of God (completeness indicated by the number seven), the oil of the Holy Spirit that lights the lamps on the lamp stands that are the churches.

The oil of the Holy Spirit is the life and light of the church.

Jesus Christ holds what Sardis lacks.

[NOTE: Some refer to Isaiah 11:1ff here, but I see that passage as the description of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, and those who will be filled with His Spirit after He comes and dies and is resurrected, ascends back to heaven and is glorified.]

And He also has, holds and possesses the seven stars, the messengers, of the seven churches in Revelation that represent Christians, denominations, and the church-at-large throughout the ages.

As I prepared this message, I saw that Jesus does not rebuke Sardis for the things He rebukes the others for:

Ephesus, for leaving their first love, Pergamum and Thyatira for eating food sacrificed to idols, for committing sexual immorality, or for following or tolerating false doctrine.

He says, “I know your deeds.”  He always knows what His churches are doing and have done. He walks among them, reproving, correcting, encouraging.

But Sardis does not do the deeds of the others:

Ephesus (toil, perseverance, intolerance of evil)
Smyrna (their Christlikeness is obvious, for they are persecuted and suffering)
Pergamum (held fast His name and did not deny His faith)
and Thyatira (love, faith, service, perseverance, now more than ever)

The deeds of the church at Sardis are that they have a reputation for being alive (that is, that they have zoe, the very life of God, life as God has it, full of love and power), but they are dead.

But they are physically alive, because He writes to them. In what way are they dead?

Paul describes to Timothy that some churches will be:

2Timothy 3:5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied  [720 disavowed, rejected, renounced] its power [1411 dunamis, miracle-working power].

The church at Sardis is spiritually dead (except for a very small remnant), dead in that they do not have the Holy Spirit’s oil to light the lamps on their lamp stand.

They are like the five foolish virgins (Matthew 25:1ff) who had a reputation for being part of the church, but when their lamps ran dry, they had no supply of oil for light.

Whatever they are doing in Sardis, it is without God’s Holy Spirit. But they look good on the outside. They do have a reputation for being alive.

Perhaps they have great orators or a beautiful place to worship. Perhaps they are very busy with social justice, but are not proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ as they work. Their works are devoid of the power of God.

And thus, their deeds are lacking, incomplete, they are not satisfying when viewed through the eyes of God the Father, who is the God of Jesus Christ (“My Father and your Father, My God and your God,” per John 20:17).

Jesus does not call the deeds of the first four churches incomplete and unsatisfying to God, though there are extremely serious problems in all but Smyrna thusfar.

Jesus Christ comes with a love letter, a wake-up call that warns them to turn back to Him, to be brokenhearted over their sin of unbelief, and crushed, for the Lord will not despise a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 51:17).

Wake up (1127/1453 as from death), He says!

Ephesians 5:13 But all things become visible when they are  exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.  14 For this reason it says,
“ Awake, sleeper,
And arise from  the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

Church at Sardis, wake up, be resurrected, and you will see the light Jesus Christ is shining on you to expose your deadness so you cry out and repent and ask Him to resurrect you! Then His light will shine from you!

Wake up from spiritual death! Resurrection is required! Oil is needed so your lamps are lit and your deeds are acceptable in the sight of God!

How can they be resurrected? Repentance. Individual repentance. Individual resurrection. His command for that is coming right up.

Once they are resurrected, they must strengthen (4741, make fast, establish, confirm and fix in place) the things which remain, which were about to die. Their church as a whole is in ruins, spiritually, and it is about to die.

First, church at Sardis, wake up from death, and be resurrected! Then cry out for the oil you need to light the lamps of your lamp stand. Then you’ll have the Holy Spirit’s power to rebuild your ruins.

You will have the power you have been denying and rejecting! It is God’s power through God’s Holy Spirit:

— the power to become established and fixed and strong,
— the power to speak the truth in love to a dark and dying world,
— the power to do God’s works,
— to bring people out of spiritual captivity
— and starvation
— and nakedness and into
— freedom and fullness,
— clothed with Christ’s readiness,
— their hearts wholly His, beating in time with His!

Remember — bring to mind — what you received and heard! Bring to mind the gospel which you have forgotten and deserted. Keep it, protect it, guard it, and don’t let go of it. And REPENT — turn to Me, saying with all of your heart, “Against You only, O God, I have sinned!”

If you don’t, you will be one who is caught with unlit lamps when Christ suddenly returns:

Luke 12:35   “Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. 36 “Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. 37 “Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. 38 “ Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the  third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

Luke 12:39   “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.”

Keep your lamps lit. Only I, Jesus Christ, hold the Holy Spirit who can light you up and clothe you with readiness!

Otherwise, Satan will break into your house, as he has in Sardis, sowing seeds of unbelief, and you won’t know when Christ is coming!

O church at Sardis, you are saying, “Peace and safety,” but sudden destruction is at  your door unless you return to Him:

1Thessalonians 5:2 For you yourselves know full well that  the day of the Lord  will come  just like a thief in the night.  3 While they are saying,“Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.  4 But you, brethren, are not in  darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;  5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness;  6 so then let us not  sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

There are a few (small, little) in Sardis, a very small number, who have not soiled their garments with the sin of unbelief, who are faithful and believe. These will walk with Him in white, for they cling to Him and thus they remain worthy because of Him.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to all the churches, then and now!

For today’s church:

Many are as Paul describes to Timothy —

2Timothy 3:5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied  [720 disavowed, rejected, abnegated] its power [1411 dunamis, miracle-working power].

Many have denied, renounced, and rejected God’s power, His miracle-working power, His dunamis!

Many are walking in their own power, and many fall and will yet will fall.

And so, the deeds of many churches are incomplete, lacking, not satisfying in the eyes of God the Father!

Wake up from your spiritual deadness!

Ephesians 5:13 But all things become visible when they are  exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.  14 For this reason it says,
    “ Awake, sleeper,
    And arise from  the dead,
    And Christ will shine on you.”

In the Interlinear (Greek-to-English) Bible:  “Awake, sleeping one, and stand up from among the dead ones, and Christ will shine on you.”

Wake up, be resurrected, and you will see the light Jesus Christ is shining on you to expose your deadness so you cry out and repent and ask Him to resurrect you! Then His light will shine from you!

You lack the oil of the Holy Spirit, O lamp stands, and your lamps are going out!

Wake up! Get the oil you need, and then fan the flame! Rebuild your ruins.

Keep your lamps lit! Ask Him to clothe you in readiness for His second coming!

Otherwise, He will come like a thief, and you will not have time to get the oil you need. And the door will be closed:

Matthew 25:10 “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were  ready went in with him to  the wedding feast; and  the door was shut. 11 “Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘ Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 “But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

For those who have not soiled their clothes with the sin of unbelief, Jesus Christ says:
— you are clothed in readiness,
— your lamp is well supplied by the oil of His Spirit, and
— you will walk with Him in white,

for you have been made worthy through His blood and you have clung to Him, despite all the unbelief around you.