Revelation 3:7-13.

1869 301 The Lord is here the One who sets before the saints the "open door." As the good Shepherd in John 10, to Him the porter opens, and He sets the door open for them, the door connected with the word, the testimony. "A great door and effectual is opened unto me." (1 Cor. 16:9.) And "a door was opened unto me of the Lord." (2 Cor. 2:12.) The Lord's titles are here taken from Isaiah 22. He, the true servant, shall bear the key of David.

In the first four churches we get the whole ecclesiastical history of the Church down to the Lord's coming. The types in which the Lord addresses them are all ecclesiastical in connection with the description given of Him in chapter 1. The One who walks in the midst of the candlesticks. But in the last three churches the characters in which He is presented are all in reference to His coming and the millennium. So here I get the substitution of the morning Star and the kingdom to Thyatira. To Sardis it is the One who has the seven Spirits of God (that is, the government of the world, as Isaiah 40:2), "The spirit of wisdom and understanding," etc.; to Philadelphia, the One who has the key of David (Isaiah 22); to Laodicea, the faithful and true Witness, who, when every other witness has failed, will be the beginning of the creation of God. His coming to Sardis is presented as His coming to the world in 1 Thess. 5 He comes as a thief to those who are not aware. In Sardis I get Protestantism. They are overtaken as those who are of the darkness. In the first three churches I get nothing of the coming of the Lord (except it be to remove the candlestick at Ephesus). Then I come to the ecclesiastical end in Thyatira and His coming brought in and the substitution of the kingdom and the morning Star. After this all looks on the millennium.

In Matthew 16 the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed to Peter. There are no keys to the Church. It is very important to see that that which is given to Peter in Matthew 16 as to binding and loosing on earth is in Matthew 18 extended to two or three wherever they are gathered in the Lord's name. This was never committed to any of the apostles but Peter.

"Whose soever sins ye remit," etc. (John 20:23.) Here we get the administration of the forgiveness of sins on earth. "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." It is not a question of imputation of sins.

The Church when spoken of by Peter is always that which Christ builds, and therefore unfailing. In 1 Corinthians it is that which man builds, and there you get a whole system to be tried with fire. That which Christ builds will never be tried. You get fatal error by applying that which is spoken of man's building to that which Christ builds. We get God's work in building spoken of in two was in Ephesians 2:21-22: first, as that which is going on, growing, "Groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; secondly, as a complete thing, "Ye also are builded," etc. In Ephesians 1:22-23 we get the Church as the body, the final result, the accomplishment not yet come.

I should say the Church (the assembly on earth) is in ruins, the body not. It makes it much more simple if you use the word assembly instead of church. In Hebrews 12 we get the general assembly and also the assembly of the firstborn, whose names are enrolled in heaven. This refers to the fact that in eastern cities there were two distinct classes of inhabitants. First, there were those who were born citizens, and whose names were enrolled, possessing privileges peculiar to themselves (Acts 21:39; Acts 22:25-29); secondly, there were those who were merely inhabitants forming the greatest part of the population who were only called together on particular occasions. These formed the general assembly.

The characters in which Christ is presented to the church at Philadelphia is as the Holy and the True, and what is looked for in the saints now is holiness and truth. "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." I cannot have holiness apart from the revelation of God. There can be no holiness where there is no truth. The Church was to be the pillar and ground of the truth. Truth is not to be looked for elsewhere. If it is not found in the Church, where else will it be found.

"The gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The gate is the seat of power. It is the "power of hades." He who sets before them the open door is He who has the keys of hades.

There are two things which have been running side by side from the beginning — responsibility and grace. There were two trees in Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, responsibility; and the tree of life, grace. Man failed in the responsibility, and lost the grace.

Under the law the word was, "Do this and thou shalt live." Again man fails in the responsibility, that is the "doing," and therefore does not get the life. But Christ comes, takes all the responsibility, and then becomes Himself the eternal life. "Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

The Lord does not discuss the character of their works. He simply says, "I know thy works." The saints are cast upon Christ Himself. He says, "My word, my patience, may name," and the result is that He practically associates us with Himself. "I will make," "I have loved thee," "I will keep thee," "I come quickly." He presents Himself personally to them. So to those who overcome He says," I will make," "I will write," "my God" (four times), "and my new name." "The word of my patience." It is Christ's own patience, as though He had said, "I wait and you wait." The "new name" is in connection with the new place He has taken as the risen man in the heavens at the right hand of God.

We find the coming of the Lord presented to these three churches in three different ways. To Thyatira He was coming to the overcomers, as the One who would substitute the kingdom and its blessedness for the present state of ruin. It was for their comfort. He would give them power over the nations and the morning Star. To Sardis He would come as a thief at such an hour as they thought not, just as He will come to the world taking them by surprise. To Philadelphia it was the personal coming. "I come quickly."

In the transfiguration scene the cloud is the same cloud which filled the temple, the shekinah glory, what Peter calls the more excellent glory into which the priests could not enter; but in Luke 9 they enter the cloud with Jesus, they go into the excellent glory, they enter the unseen and eternal with Him who is the bright and morning Star.

Take Philadelphia out of Sardis and you have Laodicea. Sardis merges into the other two.

Where do we get the Greek church? It would perhaps be included in Thyatira, but it was never the special place of the action of the Spirit of God. Thyatira would be the Romish church and goes on to the coming of the Lord. It is connected with the commencement of Revelation 17 — Babylon. It is not that she is seduced by those who are outside, as is the case with Pergamos, where it was the Balaam form of evil; but she has Jezebel in her midst, like Babylon the mother of harlots, who is found drunken with the blood of the saints and the martyrs of Jesus. The address to her is, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins," etc. (Rev. 18:4.)

The great thing is to be faithful though you be little. "Hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."