A Christian, every one will admit, ought to be a Christian in conduct and walk as well as in name; how else is the character which stamps him as such, the life of Christ in him, to be seen? In these days of worldliness and declension we often have to leave the question whether a person is really a Christian or not. We know that "the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His;" but it is incumbent on "every one that names the name of the Lord to depart from iniquity." It is not the walk which makes the Christian, though to walk in some measure as Christ walked entitles such an one to the name; for what a Christian is before God should be reproduced in his walk. Before God he is seen in Christ as holy and without blame in love (Eph. 1:4), and such a character should mark him now. (1 Thess. 3:12-13.) He is in the same position before God as Christ is; he has no other standing; for he is in it as the effect of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows it by the Holy Ghost, which dwells in him, through whom he enjoys all the results of that death and resurrection, whether present or future. His "sins have been forgiven for His name's sake." He is in Christ saved for ever from judgment; for love with him has been made perfect, so that it can be said, "As He [Christ] is so are we [Christians] in this world." God sees each believer as such absolutely; he is complete in Christ.

Let each one take it home, and say, "Yes; through God's grace that is what I am. I will own no other description of me than His. I will take it, and see how far my walk answers to God's thought about me." The question is not how far we have attained. Paul had to say, "Not as though I had already attained … but I pursue." But are we walking on the same principle? He could say, "The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20.) The world and the flesh would never own the lowly Man whom it scorned and crucified to be the Son of God. He was declared to be so, in spite of the world and the flesh, by resurrection from the dead, and as such he was revealed to Paul in glory. A new Person filled his soul, and consequently a new principle of living down here. As men we gather our motives from men; what others do, we do. We are shaped by the current of things around us which are of the first Adam in all his developments, whether natural or religious; but "the faith of the Son of God," to whose image we are to be conformed, is altogether another principle of life. Himself too is the object of that life. Ought we not to press this on one another?

Further, has the state of Christendom, which is a witness of the ruin of true Christian profession, altered one bit what a Christian is, and consequently what his walk should be? True, the altered condition of things around us from those of early days, and the varying phases of that which bears the name of Christ, and therefore stands in the responsible place of answering to that name, may and do make the circumstances more difficult in the midst of which Christian walk has to be maintained; but should not I ask myself still, "Ought I not to be true to what I am through God's infinite grace?"

Again, if we see what the Church is in God's thoughts, and consequently what it should be down here in answer to those thoughts, other than individual responsibility will present itself to us. First, it is the object of the deepest affections of Christ. "He loved the Church, and gave Himself for it," to this end, that it might be for Himself. The moment the sense of this was lost decline set in, not in outward walk, but the bloom of the first love was gone. (Rev. 2:4.) By the Church now, in contrast with Israel of old as a witness in earthly places, the principalities and powers in heavenly places are to learn the manifold wisdom of God. Further, upon earth "the Church of the living God is the pillar and ground of the truth." The Lord's words to the Churches of Pergamos and Thyatira attest how soon the heavenly position was forgotten, and an earthly one assumed, as well as the corruption of the truth by Balaam and Jezebel allowed. The Church in Smyrna had to bear the blasphemy of a rival - an earthly religious system, which had the light for the earth in its day, but had become the synagogue of Satan; but that should have more fully established and manifested the heavenly character of the Church; for the truth, of which it is the pillar and support, is, that He who was manifest in flesh is not now in the world, or among the Jews, but is preached to the Gentiles, an object of faith only in the world, and has been received up into glory. In Pergamos, the place of Satan's throne had become the Church's dwelling. Balaam and Jezebel soon did their work of corruption; and it might be asked, as by the spirit of prophecy of old, "Where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?" (Jer. 13:20.)

The fresh work of the Spirit in Sardis did not produce in it any witness of the heavenly character of the Church; for it is threatened with the same treatment as the world. A remnant only walk with undefiled garments. In its responsible Church character it was not "a faithful witness that will not lie." (Prov. 14:5.) Was there nothing then which the Lord could own as a "true witness that delivereth souls" (v. 25), and before whom He could grant an open door, even though it had little strength?

We do find in Philadelphia that which, as still having a candlestick character, He does own, and, more blessed still, He identifies it with Himself. It is, as in the other epistles, the angel of the Church in Philadelphia who is addressed; for the seven candlesticks are the seven churches. It, as Smyrna, had a rival (Laodicea it could not be, for that is a candlestick also); but again it is the synagogue of Satan with its pretensions, "which say they are Jews and are not, but do lie" - "a false witness which speaketh lies," one of the seven things the Lord hates. The Lord grants to this system of Satan that He will make those who are of it to bend before the feet of this feeble Church, and know that He loved it. He acknowledges it in its candlestick character as a witness, and grants it an open door; for it had kept His word, and not denied His name. It is not a question of conversion, hut of witness. Lot was a righteous man, but not a witness; nor did he find an open door for his testimony even in his own family, for "he seemed as one that mocked to his sons-in-law." Reality is needed, being true to His word, and name, and the hope of His coming. Surely every saint ought to take the position which the grace of Christ's heart now assigns to all - the Kohathite service of keeping the charge of that which is most holy, because so immediately connected with Christ Himself - my word, my name - and such a service all the more blessed now that the external order of the Church is broken up. To every saint also belongs the position of girded loins and burning lamps, "like unto men that wait for their Lord." It is well to challenge ourselves as to whether we answer to the grace bestowed on us, or whether, like Lot, we fail to be witnesses of the position assigned to every saint. He was kept from the doom of Sodom, as each whom the Lord knows to be one of His own, witness or no witness, will be kept by Him from the world's coming hour of temptation. The Philadelphian position is surely to be desired by every saint; it is what the Lord approves. He is sovereign, and when there is break down and failure His testimony may be borne in a way that He could not identify Himself with. The break down of Moses was the occasion of the seventy elders prophesying, and two of them - Eldad (God's love) and Medad. (love), prophesied in the camp instead of at the door of the tabernacle. (Numb, 11) The Lord identifies the witness of Philadelphia with Himself, and stamps on the overcomer all the character of His own heavenly associations. Our crown is the possession of such a holy service as Aaron's crown was the anointing of His God upon him. (Lev. 21:12.) We want to know the power of the name of the One who is holy and true, who cannot deny Himself, so that we may hold fast the position of witness which the Lord can thus own, if indeed in any little measure we can say we are of it, as really desiring through His grace to answer in our walk and conduct to what is our proper and only true character in these last days. T. H. Reynolds.