February 5, 2009
Revelation 3:3, "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."
There is one truth, but unfortunately there are many interpretations. With each passing day, new doctrine seems to spring up out of nowhere, like mushrooms after a spring rain, but just as not all mushrooms are edible, and some are even poisonous, so it is with these new doctrines. There are some doctrines floating about in the spiritual ether that amount to nothing less than cyanide for the soul. They will cripple your spiritual walk, and put you in a spiritually comatose state just as sure as getting hit by a train would irreparably damage your physical being.
If one is uncertain as to what they should believe, go back to the source of truth, to the fountainhead of divine wisdom, and you are sure to find nourishment for your soul. The truth is not hidden, it is not shrouded in mystery, it is not reserved for a select few who dole it out piecemeal, the truth is there for any man desiring to receive it, the truth is Christ and the word of God.
If you say in your heart, 'I do not know where the truth is!' My question to you, is do you know where the sun is?
Fix your gaze upon the Sun of righteousness, upon the Christ, and you will see the truth revealed to you in ways you never thought possible. He is the Truth, He is the source, and His mercy extends to this generation, His desire to know you personally and intimately, undiminished by the countless souls who have rejected Him in the past. Christ desires to know man, more than man will ever desire to know Christ. He came to this earth for the purpose of reconciling us onto God the Father, sacrificing Himself, hanging upon a cross and dying an unspeakable death all so that we might have a door by which to enter, and a means by which to His love and enduring mercies.
"Come unto Me!' says the Sun of Righteousness, "and I will give you light and rest." It is a solemn promise, and one He keeps with every soul that comes to Him, and unburdens itself at the foot of the cross.
Mankind cannot come to Him as a collective; we do not approach the cross as a group, but as individuals. It is a most intimate and personal experience, reserved for those who desire to be saved. Yes, who desire to be saved; not those who desire to be rich, not those who desire to have perfect hair or acne free faces, straight teeth or winning smiles, those who desire to be saved. Those who realize that death consumes them, and darkness has overwhelmed their senses, those who acknowledge that they are deep within the mire of sin and corruption that is a Godless life, and want the salvation that only Christ can give, wanting nothing more from Him than to be unshackled and set free, to be cleansed and placed upon the rock.
'Remember therefore what you have received and heard', remember and never let it be forgotten. Remember the Christ, remember the Word, remember the promise, remember the standard. What a wretched state of existence, to have known but dismissed, to have heard but forgotten, to have received but rejected. Is there a more pitiable creature walking the face of the earth today, than one who has known the narrow path of faith, who has heard the good news, who has received the light and truth of the gospel and yet somehow wandered off the path, and has lent their ear to deceptive doctrines of devils?
The Word of God is our foundation, and it is to it that we must hold fast, repenting of the doctrines of men, and corrupt heresies we've allowed to worm into our hearts. Yes, the flesh rejoiced, it reveled in the new doctrine, it gloried in the unbridled teachings of a faith absent of Christ, and absent of the cross, but to what end? If the spirit is ever at odds with the flesh, if enmity is ever present, why do we so often give in to the flesh rather than subdue it, why do we gravitate toward the powerless gospel that has so permeated the churches of today? Because we forget to remember! That which we received and heard, becomes antiquated, old, boring even, like the once new car that is along in years, no longer the object of appreciative glances or outright stares. The Gospel of Christ however, is not a car that can lose its luster and shine, it is the ever present, relevant, necessary and living word of God that is as able to renew and transform, that is as able to change and make new today as it was two thousand years ago.
It is not enough to remember however, it is not enough simply to recall that which we received and heard. A certain prescribed action must be taken once we remember; we must hold fast and repent. May we be wise and watchful, lest we become as those of whom the Word warns, who are always learning but are never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Once the truth is remembered, it must be followed by repentance. Regardless of how much repentance has fallen out of favor with many of today's churches, it is still an integral and necessary component of the process of restoration and regeneration. Of what profit is it to a man to simply know where to locate bread, if he remains static, unmoving, unwilling to reach out, grab it and consume it? He dies with the knowledge he possesses all the more wretched because he was aware of the means by which he might live yet chose not to pursue them. Simply knowing without applying that which we know, without taking the necessary steps is a worthless and fruitless exercise.
Following His stern warning, Christ also gave an equally stern threat. No, it was not His desire to come upon them as a thief in the night, but the consequences of their disobedience would be just that. If they would not watch, if they would not receive the warning with the requisite soberness and seriousness, he would come upon them as a thief in the night, and they would not know what hour He would come upon them.
The true believers, the ones whose lives are hidden with Christ in God, joyfully await the day of the Lord's return. They joyfully anticipate that blessed day when Christ will appear in the heavens to take up His bride and present it before the Father. For the true believer, the Lord does not come upon them He comes for them. For some this might seem like an insignificant distinction, a splitting of hairs, but it is quite profound in its simplicity.
Those who have a name that they are alive, but are in fact dead, will not be come for, but they will be come upon, judged with the world even with their abundant religiosity. They were believers in name only, men and women who never truly knew Christ, who had never truly repented, but who had heard and received nonetheless. All their protests and cries to the contrary, will not sway the great Judge, for He will see the darkness in their heart, the darkness that they kept hidden from the eyes of men.
1 Thessalonians, 5:2-3, "For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, 'peace and safety' then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape."
These were words penned by Paul concerning the times and the seasons. In His love for all the brethren and the churches, Paul was attempting to reassure the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord would not come upon them as it would for those living in the darkness, for they were of God, they were of the light, and that day would not overtake them as a thief.
For some the great day of the Lord will be a reason for rejoicing, while for others the hour of their destruction. What terror, what dread, to slumber cocooned in a false sense of security, and wake up to judgment. What gnashing of teeth to call upon the name of the One who passed upon your lips but was never allowed to reside in the heart, and receive no answer.
We slumber when we ought to be vigilant, we are neglectful while we ought to be watchful, we are indifferent while we ought to be passionate, we are prayer less while we ought to be prayerful, faithless while we ought to be faithful, wavering while we ought to be steadfast, all the while having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.
'But brother you paint such a grip picture. You are so pessimistic.' No, I just prefer to be a realist, I prefer to look beyond the whitewashed tombs of today's contemporary and marketable gospel, and see the reality of the decay that resides within. I choose to heed the warnings of Christ because they were warnings uttered in love, and a desire not to bring judgment down upon those who still have something that remains, which is getting ready to die if it is not strengthened.
Revelation 3:4, "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy."
We live in an age where relativism is not only on the menu it has been the daily special for some time now. Men who are considered visionaries and forward thinkers by their contemporaries blaze trails into the never before explored and what they deem spiritual newness distancing themselves exponentially from the truth of God's Word, indifferent toward the countless souls they lead into the darkest of deceptions. The words Christian and humanist have become interchangeable, and those who see the dangers of these deceptions, those who have not been lulled to sleep by the sweet lullaby of tolerance and interfaith worship, have but one consolation: The Lord sees, and the Lord knows!
The eyes of God gaze from the heavens. God looks upon the earth and with immeasurable love follows the path of those few who have not defiled their garments, naming them by name from among billions, ever ready to protect, strengthen and sanctify them.
Even within a congregation of believers, God does not see them as a collective, He does not perceive a fellowship as a whole simply because they've gathered in a building with a giant cross on the roof, He gazes upon the hearts of men, weighing them, and fellowshipping only with those who are truly His. There are people today who have been attending service regularly for years, never having felt the touch of God because they were unwilling to break ties with the world, they loved their sin so much that they chose not to consent to the cleansing process that God demanded and still demands.
Contrary to the staggering amount of material available today, our primary objective in walking with God is not to get a financial breakthrough, it is not to prosper, it is not to get wealth or get Jesus to pay our mortgage, it is to keep the white garments with which we have been clothed spotless and undefiled. Eternity with God is our goal, all else pales in comparison, dare I say becomes irrelevant in the face of this one purpose.
The eyes of God are firmly fixed upon the true believers, that minority among a great majority who have not defiled their garments, and it is those souls, which He endows with spiritual gifts, with strength, with the heavenly things that only He can bestow. God desires to have vessels of honor in His house. Once a heart is open to Him, God goes about the task of burning out all the impurities, of refining in the fire, until becomes what He desires it to be. Once a vessel is cleansed and strengthened, once the eyes of the heart are open to the reality that it is not our will we should be desiring but His will, the vessel is ready to be used. A vessel has no will of its own, it cannot choose the service into which it is placed, it cannot choose the person it is chosen to serve, it is, in its entirety at the mercy of the Master.
The few names that remained undefiled in the church of Sardis prove to us that even amidst a fallen generation, and a backslidden church one can retain their purity. The fact that the world around us grows more evil every day, and the churches are venturing further and further from the truth of God's Holy Word, is not ample excuse for us to stop living in righteousness and purity before a sovereign God. God does not judge the collective, He judges the individual. One can choose to follow the majority into the land of compromise and half-truth, or one can stand, feet firmly planted upon the rock, unshaken and undeterred in walking in holiness and humility, faithfulness and steadfastness. "I did it because everyone else was doing it" was a poor excuse when we were children, and it is a poor excuse now that we've grown and matured. We all know the classic question every mother has asked at one point or another, "if everyone else was jumping off a bridge would you?" but clichéd as it might be, the reality of it is still undeniable. Just because others have chosen to serve the flesh rather than God, just because others have given themselves over to the pursuit of worldly things rather than heavenly things, it does not give us license to follow in their footsteps. We know the truth, we possess the truth, it is in simply written in the Word for all to heed it, and in the end it is the Word that will stand as witness against many a soul.
Although it is possible to retain once purity amidst a fallen world, it is not easy. When I was younger I used to love walking through wheat fields, for some reason it had a calming effect on me, and always put me in a contemplative mood. No matter how much time I'd spend walking through the wheat fields, when I was done, there was never anything stuck to my clothes. If I had chosen to walk through a field of thorns, briars, and thistle however, I would most likely spend the rest of the day picking thorns out of my clothes. I realize this may seem like a senseless story, but there is a point I assure you. Living in a world such as ours, it is far easier to learn evil than to learn good. The voice of good, the voice of righteousness and holiness unto God grows more feeble with each passing day, as it is drowned out by sin and avarice. Everything of this world, from the greatest to the smallest is always attempting to defile our garments, to ruin the beauty of our inner righteousness. Whether we trek through the dust, or the mud of this world, it invariably attempts to cling to us, to dirty our once pristine attire, and if we stop being watchful, if we stop looking into the mirror of God's Word to see if there are any spots or wrinkles on our garments, what was once white soon becomes gray, dirtied and spotted.
When it comes to our physical attire, we often see a spot or wrinkle and think to ourselves, "it's not so bad, no one will notice", but we cannot take the same liberties with our spiritual attire. God notices every spot; God notices every wrinkle, because He knows the condition in which He gave your garment to you, and demands that it be presented to Him in like manner.
May God help us be watchful and scrupulous when it comes to our spiritual attire that we might be counted among those who did not defile their garments, for it is to those who remained undefiled that Christ promises will walk with Him in white. What greater glory can man aspire to than to walk with Him? We all know the story of Enoch, the man who walked with God, but what we can deduce by reading between the lines is equally impacting as the fact that Enoch journeyed with God for three hundred years, and never grew tired, bored, or indifferent toward the relationship he had established. For three hundred years, Enoch was daily satisfied, desiring nothing more than intimacy with the Creator, realizing there was no greater thing to aspire to in this life, than to walk humbly with your Lord.
When the heart is joined to Christ, when it is infused with His presence, by the very nature of the relationship we established with Jesus, we distance ourselves from the world. Our feet follow in His footstep, we find our fulfillment and our joy in His ways, and as such our garments remain spotless and undefiled. We know that we cannot serve two masters, that there is only room for one lord upon the throne of our hearts, these ought to be basic and fundamental teachings within the house of God. We have a tendency to shy a way from absolutes because absolutes leave no wiggle room, there is no median, no gray area, but when it comes to spiritual matters, with God it is either all or nothing at all. We either surrender our entire beings, our hearts, our minds, our desires, our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations, our pride, our ego, our flesh to He who is and was and is to come, or we deceive ourselves into believing that He won't notices the smudges, the spots or the wrinkles on our garments. God finds pleasure in holiness, and He fellowships with holiness. Heaven's environment is one of holiness, wherein nothing wicked or defiled can enter.
Even though the letter was to the church of Sardis, there are clearly two camps within this congregation. Too often, what is addressed to those within the house of God is misconstrued as having been written for the world by today's theologians, having altogether dismissed the fact that we are told the world considers the Word to be foolishness, neither receiving it or perceiving it. Why would you play a symphony for a deaf person? Why would you present a masterpiece of color and nuance to a blind man? Jesus is not writing to the world, but to those who claim to be of the house of God. There are those who have defiled their garments, who will have no part in the Kingdom, who will be judged together with the world, and there are those who remained spotless and undefiled, who will walk with Christ, being clothed in white, clothed in holiness and righteousness just as the Lord is clothed for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:5, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."
The Sardis condition is more difficult to overcome than all the other maladies thus far presented in the letters to the churches. Unfortunately it is also one of the most common conditions found in today's churches as well. The dangers of having a form of godliness, an outward appearance of holiness, a reputation of being alive and sanctified while being wrought with sin and wickedness gasping what amounts to the last few shallow breaths of a once vibrant spiritual existence, are so vast and real that they are beyond my ability to adequately describe.
Imagine a man who by all appearances is at the peak of his physical conditioning, who to the physical eye is worthy of envy for his chiseled physique and ruddy cheeks, but on the inside is a mass of decay and disease. He knows something is not right, but then looks in the mirror, flexes a few times, and talks himself into believing that nothing is wrong because the outward parts look so good, even though in reality he is a breath away from succumbing to the malady that is slowly eating away at him, shutting down his organs one by one, bringing him one step closer to a sure death. When a church, a ministry, or a minister projects an image that is the opposite of what lies beneath the outward shell, they are likened to such a man, who although dying on the inside, keeps up the external appearance of being alive.
It is very difficult for those who have the words of truth on their lips, but not in their hearts to see the light, to repent and thereby be restored. Such souls cling to empty ceremony, to teaching absent of substance, to men who flatter, and words that tickle the ears. They resent those who would point the way to Christ, and despise those who give the Word of God its rightful place of honor as the final authority when it comes to spiritual matters. Although in name they are of Christ, their actions and conduct prove otherwise, squandering the time they've been given on earthly pursuits and material excesses, neglecting the spiritual altogether.
It is difficult to overcome the Sardis condition, but not impossible. The healthy glow and rugged features notwithstanding, when one grows exceedingly symptomatic he or she comes to the realization that all is not well, that even if on the outside they may as yet not show it, they are gravely ill on the inside and begin to seek after a cure. Just as physicians prescribe medication for our physical bodies, the Word of God has prescriptions for our spiritual restoration. If we find ourselves in the Sardis condition, suffering the symptoms which Christ pointed out, we must with determined steadfastness employ the spiritual arsenal to which we have access, girding our waist with truth, putting on the breastplate of righteousness, taking up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation, and mercilessly wielding the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, cutting down anything that would hinder our walk or endanger our spiritual well being. We cannot coddle sin; we cannot tolerate or overlook compromise, for they are the harbingers of spiritual death. The journey of faith is a lifelong, and the putting on of the whole armor of God is a mandatory prerequisite for victorious and sanctified spiritual continuity. Falling at the foot of the cross in repentance, receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is not the end of the journey, but the beginning. Once we have received, once we are saved and redeemed, the battle begins, and we must be equipped that we might stand against the wiles of the devil, and quench all the fiery darts of the wicket one.
The promise and reward for those who overcome the Sardis condition is threefold. First, he who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments. Only Christ can prepare these white garments, only He is able to distribute them to His beloved and His faithful, made possible by His shed blood.
Revelation 7:13-14, " Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.' So he said to me, 'these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Revelation 19:8, "And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints."
These white garments, are in recognition of the righteous life, the overcoming believers lived here on earth. While on earth the true believer might suffer at the hands of the wicked, he might be mocked and hated, persecuted and degraded because he was not of the world, because the world looked upon him as something odd and off-putting, because the nature of Christ so radiated from him that those of the darkness could not help but have an aversion toward the light, but their reward for all that they endured was established in the heavens, and administered by Christ. Do not grow weary in pursuing righteousness, do not grow sad when the world mocks you and hates you, your reward awaits, that white garment, that fine linen clean and bright, which is the righteous acts of the saints.
The very life of the righteous will serve as testimony against those who chose to grovel in the darkness. The very acts of the saints will be the overwhelming evidence on the Day of Judgment that it was within man's ability to worship God, to serve Him, and be a true ambassador for the Kingdom even in the midst of a wicked world.
Even now, those who have clothed themselves in Christ, those who strive for righteousness and hunger after holiness stir up hatred and resentment in the hearts of those who are Christian in name only. Some part of them must know the futility of false humility, it must know the vanity of false worship and that which is in them which is still of the world, rebels against the agents of light and goodness, it rebels against those who carry the Christ not only on their lips but in their hearts as well.
The true servants of Christ, those who pick up their crosses daily and follow after Him, are arrayed in white garments, absent of identifying insignia as to denomination, nationality, skin color, social standing, education level, gender or age. They are as one, the body of Christ, shining from within with the glory of the glorified One. We do not recognize a true servant of God by their title, their lapel pin, or by their diploma, but by the white garment of righteousness that they wear, made so by the blood of the Lamb; those fine linens which have been placed upon them not by an elder, a deacon a preacher or even an angel, but by the Son of God, the Christ, the Savior of mankind.
The second promise to those who overcome the Sardis condition is He (Christ) will not blot out their names from the Book of Life. I realize full well that we have happened upon a touchy and sensitive topic, a topic that is the dividing line between some denominations, but these are the words that Christ spoke and they cannot be twisted to fit our own agendas or our own way of thinking. To put it bluntly, God's pencil has an eraser.
Exodus, 32:33, "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book."
I know full well I will not make any friends with the following assertions, but if we believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, then we can't just choose the good parts, the wholesome verses, those which exhort and edify, but must accept even those which challenge our preconceived notions, those which rebuke, correct, and warn.
I also realize that some will hold to denominational dogma rather than accept the truth of Scripture, but I must press on, and state the Bible's case, for it is that to which I was called.
Whenever this verse is brought up, even in general conversation with other brothers, an argument always arises. The foundational question is most often, 'if God knew a man was going to fall, why would He write their name in the Book to begin with?' Every time we try to dig a little deeper into what has become known as the 'once saved always saved' doctrine, we realize the inconsistency of it, and can't help but be drawn into a tailspin of paradox from which there is no ascend to greater understanding.
'Well, if they raise their hand in church, get baptized, but fall into sin again, it means they were never really saved, and thus the once saved always saved doctrine still holds.' This is the comment I hear most often when this topic is discussed, whether it's coming from a preacher, or someone who's just repeating what they heard someone else say when the topic was discussed on a previous occasion.
In order to wrap our minds around the idea that a name can be blotted from the Book of Life, just as Christ asserts in the third chapter and fifth verse of the book of Revelation, I will have to employ the use of a parable:
After much contemplation and soul searching a young man decides to enlist in the army. He goes to the nearest recruiting office, signs the papers required for enlistment, and soon is sent off to boot camp. The minute he arrives, he is by all rights considered a soldier of his nation, the requisite dog tags having already been imprinted, his name entered in the necessary database. Upon finishing boot camp, the young man discovers that within the week he will be sent to a far off country, to join a war already in progress, in the hopes of bringing democracy and stability to the entire region. Suddenly the young man has a change of heart, he does not want to fight, he does not want to go to war, and in a panicked rush runs off. Days go buy, and he does not report for duty, his brothers in arms hear nothing from him, and finally the powers that be come to the conclusion that he has deserted. His name is removed from the database, and the man who was once a soldier, serving his country, is now a deserter and a fugitive from the law. Whether due to desertion or conduct unbecoming, a dishonorable discharge is still the end result.
When we come to Christ, when we repent of our sins and receive Him, our names are written in the Book of Life. God does not wait until the end of our existence on earth to enter our name, but the second that we receive salvation, the angel to whom the duty was assigned, writes our name within the great book. When we believe and are saved, God is constrained by His own word to write our names in the Book of Life even though in His omniscience He knows who will remain faithful, and who will squander the gift, and reject salvation. God would not be just if knowing one's end He would not place their name in the Book even though all the requirements had been fulfilled.
The tragic truth is that the Word tells us men can fall from grace, they can return to the pit and the mire from which they were once freed. Yes there is room for repentance, however the more often one stumbles and repents, it seems the more calloused and hardened the heart gets, wherein it becomes more difficult to bend one's knee and honestly repent of what had pained and offended God. Better not to stumble, better not to fall into the snares of the enemy than betting eternity on whether or not we will feel true and heartfelt remorse. Man treats sin lightly because he knows repentance is always available, all the while forgetting that the heart of man is exceedingly evil.
God is merciful but He is also just, and in His righteous judgment He rightly divides. We are no more entitled to ask God why, than we are entitled to ask the sun why it rises every morning. As obedient servants all we can do is humbly say, 'God's will be done.' This foolish notion that we can somehow demand of God, like some spoiled little child who stomps its feet and shakes its fists, is lunacy worthy of being committed in a mental facility. How can creation demand anything of its Creator? We can ask, and He who is a loving Father will surely give good gifts to His children, but this idea that we can demand God change His mind on what He has already established in His Word, or that by our will alone we will nullify His will is preposterous.
The third blessing that is promised to those who overcome is that Christ will confess their name before His Father and before His angels. A man's good name is a prized possession, a treasure, which exceeds wealth and success in its true value and worth. This is an undisputed truth that has held through the ages, for a man's good name, a man's reputation echoes long after the flesh has returned to the earth. Once a good name is tarnished, once a reputation is ruined by a man's actions or choices, it is difficult to regain, and almost impossible to return to its former luster.
Proverbs 22:1, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold."
Ecclesiastes 7:1, "A good name is better than precious ointment."
Every one can name a name that will forever live in infamy due to their actions. Every one can point to someone who chose great riches rather than a good name, sacrificing relationships, reputation, and even their own morals in order to achieve something they belatedly realized was void of warmth, meaningless and vain. To have laid waste to everything that would have brought love, peace, and joy into one's life in order to achieve a certain success, or amass a certain fortune all to look back on the life that was and realize that it was not worth the tradeoff. So often men dismiss the examples of those that came before them, and pursue the same goals, which ultimately lead to the selfsame conclusions as their predecessors.
There is an underlying mystery in the words of Jesus, concerning confessing the name of those who will overcome before the Father and before His angels. The true believer is also given a new name. It is a name that is good, eternal, well known, and necessary for us to posses when we stand before the throne of God, for no other name under the sun will suffice or be received as an acceptable surrogate or replacement. There is one name that every child of God must have etched upon their foreheads, and burned upon their hearts, and that name is Christ. This is not just another name, another empty word, but a powerful reality that stands as testimony before the heavens and the earth. To be endowed with the name of Christ, one must posses the nature of Christ, live the life of Christ, and follow in the footsteps of Christ. Christ must be our all in all, our sufficiency, our portion, our provision and our fulfillment.
When Christ will confess our name before the Father and His angels, it will not be Bob, Ruth, George or Linda that He speaks, but He will speak the words 'redeemed, blood bought, saved and sanctified'. He will confess His nature in us before the Father, the fruit of His sacrifice, the offspring of His work on the cross, His bride, and His beloved.
Remember the name you carry with you, always ensuring that you bring glory and not shame to it. It is not the name of a nation, it is not the name of a prince or a president, it is the name of the King of Kings, the only begotten Son of God, who was with Him in the beginning. We cannot take such a name lightly, we cannot besmirch ourselves, and by association His name. If this were any other study, I could continue with this line of thought for there is much to say, but we are studying the book of Revelation, and so I must control my desire to stray from the topic at hand.
Revelation 3:6, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
We serve a God whose singular desire is to draw us nearer to Him. He bestows us with gifts among which are our five senses, which work to reveal Him, that we might know, and in knowing submit and worship Him.
God gave us ears that we might hear His voice, which is the voice of truth, and in hearing it obey it. Obeying the voice of God is never in detriment to man, but is always, and indisputably, a benefit to him. Even when in the present it might seem to the human eye that there can't possibly be anything good in a certain situation, the God who sees beyond today, into tomorrow and the far off future, has already established the good and the benefit one will experience due to a present circumstance. We often beat our own chests screaming to anyone within earshot how much we trust God, when all along our actions betray our true hearts. In times of trial we moan and complain, we murmur and grow bitter at the hardships that we experience, indifferent toward the reality that something good will come out of it. There isn't a chance that something good will come of it; it is a certainty.
We are all endowed with gifts, with talents, which we must lay at His feet, and make available for His service. Whether spiritual gifts, or physical talents, it is incumbent upon all the children of God to offer themselves without reservation or preamble. It is our duty, God comes first, and whatever He requires of us we do as unto Him.
We have ears that we might hear the voice of truth, eyes that we might see the works of truth and follow them, hearts to receive the love of truth and live it in perpetuity, mouths to confess the truth for the truth is God, feet to walk the path of truth, and hands with which to work in the harvest field of truth.
When one has ears, yet does not hear what the Spirit is saying, it means he or she has lent their ear to another voice, to some other whisper that is hindering them from hearing what the Spirit is saying. When our ears our focused on the things of this earth, on the voices all around us, it becomes increasingly more difficult to hear the voice form heaven. If we are the body of Christ, if we are part of the congregation of believers, then we must with all diligence be tuned in to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. It is our duty, and there is none greater, for to hear what God is saying, is to know His will, and to know His will is to walk in His ways.
In His final words to the church of Sardis, Jesus also accentuates the fact that these letters to the seven churches, were not intended singularly for them, but for all the churches, throughout time, for He says, 'he who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'
The plurality of the word church, should cause us to understand that He was not writing to one specific body of believers, but to the spiritual conditions that are found within every church, in every generation, that we might look into the mirror of the word and right the wrongs, repent of the forbidden things, and walk humbly with Him.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.