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Written by J.H. Fisher   

 

Chapter II-Exhortations to the Churches

"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations: and then shall the end come."--Mat. 24:14.

Now the idea is that the light is to shine in the churches. So the exhortations are sent by the Savior to each church in the form of a charge, or warning, and in promises and assur ances of his greatness and also his blessedness and kindness to those who have ears to hear. Here now is a very clear proof that the teaching is not to give them ability to hear, but it is to those that can hear. In the first verse of the second chapter he takes up the first church, which is the beginning of his strength among the Gentiles. Here at Ephesus was the place where Paul preached and rebaptized twelve men and laid his hands on them and they were baptized with the Holy Ghost and spake with tongues and prophesied, and this is the place where Paul preached two years, and under God tore down the citadel of the mighty idol Diana, and it is the church where Paul had sent and called the elders to the island of Miletus, and gave by inspiration the awful charge that God sent to the Gentile elders to go with them till the end of time, and to which church Paul wrote one of his strongest doctrinal letters, of which Timothy seemed to be the first elder, and to whom he wrote two pastoral letters that stand out as models for our ministers till the end of the age that we now live in.

"Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, Who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them that are evil; and hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and has found them liars: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love."

How many of us have left our first love. Our first experience. How good the loving, kind Saviour was to us, and we esteemed him our best and greatest friend.

How many of us have grown cold, and wandered away from him. We need not say that he left us, but we left him and wandered off in the darkness and became cold and indifferent, and there is no one to blame but ourselves. "Thou hast left thy first love. How we need to repent, this is right.

"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen; and repent, and do thy first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."--Rev. 2:5.

How solemn this awful charge. Some might say, we do not need to do anything for all that we are to do is so fixed that we can not neglect it. But I would reply to that by say ing, then, why did the all wise Jesus tell that church that, "except ye repent, I will remove the candlestick out of his place." Are his words not worth anything to us, not worth being obeyed? Think of such awful blasphemy before we say things that in our hearts we know can not be the truth. Truth is what we want, and is all that will do the child of God any good. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

I will not take up at length the exhortations to each church, as that would take up considerable space, yet this is a good line to write on, or to preach on and is for the upbuilding of the Lord's children. Some of these exhortations are wonderful and show how prone we are to forget our duties, how cold we get when we have enlarged prosperity. We often become lukewarm and have to be spewed out of the mouth of the Lord.

Now I undertake to say that the New Testament day lapped on to the Old Testament day and we are bound to look at them as they lap in order to get to running on the right line of the correct interpretation.

The cherubims in the old temple faced each other, and under them was the mercy seat where the Lord met the priest and bestowed the blessing, and the four and twenty elders, stand for the twelve patriarchs and the twelve apostles.

This lap is seen in the fact that the first is to be last and the last is to be first. The twelve apostles were the last Jewish prophets, and yet they were first in the gospel church that Jesus set up. Jesus kept all the Old Testament law to a jot and a tittle, and also set up and observed his own blessed rules for establishment and success of the kingdom that answered to the prophesies of the Old Testament.

These seven churches no doubt correspond to the seven periods that run with the other sevens all the way through this book of Revelation. At each church there was some defect, except two, Smyrna and Philadelphia. In the charge to each church we find this strange language. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." The reference to Balaam, and to Balac, and to Jezebel, and also to the Nicolataines seems to have some reference to certain characters in the Old Testament. These may be the things that the apostle Paul referred to when he said in his Thesalonian letter, "For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until that wicked be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the I Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall i destroy with the brightness of his coming." 2 Thes. 2:6-8. The mystery of corruption often works very slow. But it seems, that this thing had been working for a long time before it began to show up in its full colors.

This book of Revelation is part of the Apostolic testimony, It must ring out to the Bride as a message for this last day and we must not withhold it.

In this book we will see seven sevens walking side by side all keeping time to each other, and each one bringing up to the very last event in the providence of God and shall lock and link together in one solemn chain or wall of testimony, that is most beautiful to behold. As the Ark of God was not allowed to be destroyed even while it was in the land of the enemy, and under his charge, so the two witnesses of God's true mes sage and doctrine will never be allowed to go down, even in the darkest times of the world's history, but shall in some way be upheld, and our God is all the time in some way working on to the end that was in his mind at first, and the devil has never overthrown any of God's works so as to disappoint him, or cause him to fail in his arrangements.

Our God will overrule all the workings of the devil, and while Satan may prosper for a certain length of time, as the time truly comes for God's purpose to come around, all the wisdom and tricks of Satan will never stop the Lord in the least, but his glorious work will in due time come just exactly as the eternal God planned it before he made the world or anything in it.

We never tire looking at the sweet candlesticks, seven in all. As this complete number of God's churches shows a charming fullness that is precious in the very eyes of the Saviour and we hear him saying, "Thou art all fair my love and there is no spot in thee. My dove, my undefiled is but one, she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bear her; the daughters saw her and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." Yes it was terrible in its power as a two-edged sword, it goes out like Gideon did and the Midianites fell by the thousand. One can chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight."

Man is so blind he can hardly discern this mighty candlestick as it travels up and down in the earth. But one time God made the hills and the mountains to see it, and also the sea. As the children of Israel traveled along with this mighty God-given magic power that is of God and not of man, it made the very earth to tremble. Hear what David says about it: "The sea saw it and fled, Jordan was driven back, the mountains skipped like rams and the hill like lambs. What aileth thee O sea that thou fledest, and ye mountains that ye skipped like rams and like lambs. Tremble thou earth at the presence of the Lord, who changed rock into water, and the flint into fountains of water."

Now it is not necessary that all these candlesticks be in the same local country. So from here they may be seen to scatter to the utmost ends of the earth. These seven candle sticks were in the country of western Asia, and soon were found in Europe, and on in Italy, Rome, and as persecution raged they drifted north into the Alps mountains, then west into the valleys of Piedmont, and there as Waldenses they remained some 1260 years, and then were driven out toward Bohemia and Switzerland, then on to Germany, then to Holland, then to England, then the United States and Australia. I hope later to give account of the Baptists in Australia. Where two or three meet together in Jesus name there is the shining light of Jesus and this little affair is never to be put out till Christ comes again.

"And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive; "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich), and I know the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer: behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be teed; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."

"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." There was no charge brought against this church. But it was not appointed to rule over and regulate the other churches that did have some wrongs in them. Men are so different. Some of the smart sinister preachers might have decided that church was really worse than Pergamos that had the doctrine of Baalam. You know it has always been the rule for a wicked man to bring charges against the faithful man to cover up and hide his own wickedness. The wolf Is always after the sheep. The wolf snaps and growls. Watch these growling fellows.

These ten days here referred to are sometimes called the ten persecutions that were put upon the christians during the pagan or heathen persecutions, up to about 300 A. D., when they stopped. Diocletian who was one of the greatest Emperors of Rome before Constantine, put the tenth persecution upon the christians, by the influence of his associate, Galerius. But Diocletian was a noble and great ruler for the most, for after he had been ruler of Rome for a time, he laid down all desire or effort to be great over men, he abdicated his throne and retired to private life. No one had the power to put him down. He was a nobler man than Charles the Fifth of Spain, who abdicated his throne because that his health would not allow him to further attend to business. But this Charles was a persecutor under the pope, but Diocletain ruled before Con stantine and the so-called christian Rome came into power. But there has been more bloodshed under false christianity than under heathenism. Heathenism is much better than false christianity. Deliver me from the false christian professor. He is the dog in the manger, which can not eat the hay, but would kill the sheep if they dare to eat of it.

In the exhortation to this church, this language is used, "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." That is a promise of some peculiar blessing or honor. What is it to overcome? It is to manifest the fruits of regeneration, such as love, hope, peace, joy, good works in baptism, Lord's supper, feet-washing, helping the poor, bearing each others burdens and not increasing them. How else do we overcome? By putting down the evil by the use of good things. Notice this scripture: "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Rom. 12:21.

Then he takes up the Church in Pergamos, which had some in it that held to the doctrine of Balaam. This Balaam tried to make a house full of gold by pleasing King Balac, but God would not let him curse Israel. He ran eagerly after the wages of unrighteousness. This is a day, when that very thing is ruling largely in the pulpit and in the pew. Preachers leaving their own cares, and hunting for the fleece that belongs to other shepherds.

Covetousness in the pew. Some of the wealthiest members hide and dodge to keep from helping to carry the loads of the church. Covetousness is idolatry . Idolatry in the church. Worshipping dollars and cents. God will take it away from the covetous preacher, and the member and give it to their enemies. One old covetous deacon lost a hundred and twenty-five dollar horse in one minute by lightning. Did it fool the Lord, or did he know and see just exactly where and when it was coming? "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." So this church had the doctrine of the Nicolatains, which is the doctrine of community of wives.

Then the church in Thyatira suffered this woman Jezebel to teach, and she called herself a prophetess, a teacher in the church, as some women are today. Yet, Paul said, "I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." Some women seem to think that Paul had no right to say this. They presume that they have greater light and understanding than the inspired Apostle. These are spots in your feast of charity that creep in from the devil. One writer said, that Paul was a disappointed lover and had a prejudice against women. This was infidelity. It gets into the church sometimes.

But this was more likely a form of teaching whose back ground is the old Jezebel of the Old Testament, that dictated to her husband and brought in every form of iniquity to des troy the true service of God. She had some 400 preachers fed and salaried that preached exactly as she wanted them to preach, and she had them to accuse and persecute the true old servants of God, that got no salary, but had to flee to the mountains for their life. These dirty preachers all agreed to be united for the peace that Jezebel wanted. Look out for any such peace. For it is full of hypocrisy, deceit, lying, fraud, cheat. Yes, indeed it was a cheat.

They knew nothing about the truth only as they imitated a boss or dictator. Away with the bosses and dictators of the churches of Jesus. It is the doctrine of Jezebel. No one man should pose as the decider in all doctrine and leadership. But humble, faithful leadership under Jesus is good. Even the flocks of geese have a leader. But he is only a goose. They would not follow a buzzard, a hawk or a crow. "Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost has made you overseer, to feed the Church of God which he purchased with his own blood." This is not the work of Jezebel, but to overthrow the work of Jezebel. Some times these Jezebel fellows have a little space to repent and it begins to look like they are going to work for truth and peace, but often it is too late. Instead of repenting, they go right on this Jezebel way. How many of God's children in Babylon today, for a minute see the truth, and then turn back because of the opposition they would encounter, and can't resist the charms of old Jezebel--the false church?

Come out of her, my people, and touch not, taste not, handle not, the unclean thing. But the church of Laodicea is the seventh and to me the most significant to us in these latter days, for we are in this Laodicean age. "Because thou are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot. I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." Rev. 3:17. What a pitiful state. To be blind and naked and not know it. Such strange nakedness. Worse than to be naturally naked and not know it. How shameful to be gazed upon. This is the state that now prevails in some places. "Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; afterward that which is spiritual." 1 Cor. 15:46.
 

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