Category Archives: The Son

The High Priest And His Lampstands

I observed in my reading recently that the high priest of the tabernacle that God instructed Moses to make was himself responsible for the care of the lampstand.  It was Aaron himself who was to arrange the seven lamps on the lampstand and light them every evening so that they cast their light in front of the lampstand—that is, toward the Holy of holies (Ex. 25:37, Num. 8:2,3).

And every morning he was to replenish the oil and dress the lamps in readiness—that is, he was to trim the wicks so that when lit again they would burn clearly and brightly without a smoky, sooty flame (Ex. 30:7,8).

I find great comfort in this, for the lampstands of our day are not burning very clearly or brightly, and I don’t seem to have any ability in myself to do anything about it.

What do I mean by the lampstands of our day?  We understand that Moses was to make the lampstand of the tabernacle according to a pattern shown him “in the mount” (Ex. 25:40).  In other words, there was a heavenly reality that this lampstand was just a representation of.

And what is the heavenly reality?  It is the church.  John in The Revelation describes a vision of a certain Man walking in the midst of seven golden lampstands, and John tells us a little further on that these seven lampstands are seven churches.

So a lampstand represents a church.  And He must be a priest, then, this Man, for who but a priest has authority to walk amidst lampstands?  And this is just what we discover Him to be by John’s description of Him.  This Man is dressed in the priestly robe of fine linen down to the foot.

And so here in The Revelation we see our great High Priest walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands—the seven churches—with loving care and attention tending them, replenishing their Oil, trimming their wicks, that they might shine forth with a pure clear light.  He is intent on conforming them to God’s desire—if for their part they will but repent.  He has no word of reproof at all for two of these lampstands (one is characterized by love and and the other by suffering).  For the rest He has words of correction.  In fact one of them (in spite of much that is commendable) is in danger of no longer being considered one of His lampstands.

As I said, I find great comfort in this—that it is the High Priest’s own responsibility to care for and deal with His lampstands.  For, I often mourn over the state of things here in the western world.  The churches of our day, many of them… if their light has not totally gone out, they are dim and sooty in their burning, and they are not focused forward toward the Holy of holies the way the lampstand is supposed to be.  I am not alone in my mourning; many there are who anguish over this, sometimes to the point of despair.  Where is the Oil?  Where is the light?  We are not pointing fingers, we often feel that the lamp of our own life is scarcely shining.

But when we are feeling like this, it is so comforting to remember that primarily it is not up to you and me to deal with all this.  I am not providing excuse for those who don’t care anyway; I am speaking to those who care, those who love the church, and are burdened.  It is the High Priest Himself who is responsible for the condition of His lampstands, His churches, and He will not be negligent in doing so.  It is the light of the glory of God that is at stake, and He will not rest till His lampstands are shining forth the pure light of the glory of the Lord.

What does this mean for us, then, for you and for me?  It means we can anticipate this One revealing Himself, this One who calls Himself “the faithful witness” (Rev. 1:5).  Yes, He is faithful.  He will not leave His lampstands in their present dismal state.  This is what my heart is set on—seeing Him.  It’s easy enough to point out how poorly the lamps are shining these days, and many major on this.  But I don’t have much of a heart for criticizing churches.  What I long for and set my heart on is the appearing of this Man who begins to walk in the midst of the lampstands dealing effectively with things.

He is going to do this, beloved.

But… think about this.  Just how will He do this?  Beloved, He will do this by walking in the midst of the lampstands, the churches—by the Holy Spirit in you and in me.  Does this grip you the way it grips me?  I know that in myself I can make no impact on the churches—nor is it my responsibility.  But this One is going to make His appearing—in fact is beginning to make His appearing—and as I see Him in whatever way He reveals Himself to me… what I speak and do in whatever church situation I am involved in… will be His very own speaking and doing.

I tremble at that.

John describes this One.  Clothed with a garment down to the foot, the fine linen of His own righteousness covering His whole body.  Girt about the breasts with a golden belt or sash that sustains the heart and its motives with purity in every situation no matter how grievous.  His head and His hair white as wool, as snow—the maturity and authority of the Ancient of Days, and perfect purity of thought.  Piercing, penetrating eyes from which none can hide, yet consuming in fire all the uncleanness that is exposed.  Feet (yes, His feet) glowing like bronze in a furnace as He steps forth for justice and judgment.  His voice like the sound of many waters blended together in perfect harmony.  Seven stars (His messengers, His ministries) in His right hand of authority, and a sharp two-edged sword proceeding out of His mouth.  And His countenance like the sun shining in its strength.

You consider this, and you tremble.  This One walks in the midst of the churches.  This One has—or rather, is—in Himself all that is necessary to bring the churches into full conformity to the will and intention of God…

So that God is as glorified in the church as He was in Christ Himself when He walked the earth (Eph. 3:21).

That is going to be utterly devastating in one sense.

But very, very wonderful in another.

Mind Not High Things

Christians everywhere this time of year are thinking of the birth of the King of kings. Don’t tell anybody, but even in summer I sometimes find myself singing (to myself) The First Noel, or, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie;
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light:
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

What cause for rejoicing!  We live in a terribly dark world, yet into this world of darkness—I am so thankful—a Light has come!  Into this world of darkness He came, the everlasting light!

And when I think of the way this happened—the way the God of glory came down into a world of darkness and revealed Himself among men—I am awestruck.  It is true that He is the high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity; there is none greater nor higher than He.  But at the same time, there is none more lowly than He.

There was great expectation in those days that their Messiah-king was about to appear.  Would it not be natural to assume that the Great King, the Deliverer of David’s line, would be born in a palace?  This in fact is what the Magi assumed when they first saw His star in the east.  They made their long journey to Jerusalem, and inquired in the palace of Herod.  Where else would such a potentate be born?

But no, He is born to a penniless teenage girl and her betrothed husband who have just had to make a very difficult trip at a very inconvenient time.  She is great with child, and just as they arrive at their destination, suddenly her pains come upon her.  The inn has no room for them, and so the King of kings is born in, of all places… a stable?  He is laid in a manger… a feed trough for cattle?  There is no pomp, no ceremony to which the great ones of the earth have been invited.  In fact His first visitors are shepherds who are keeping night watch over their flocks while most men sleep.

It is this, all this, that is so moving about the birth of Jesus Christ.  Here is all this lowliness—the cattle shed, the manger, the nameless shepherds… Yet we know we are touching grandeur, majesty of the highest order.  The open heart cannot help but be on its knees.

Do you long to be involved in great things?  So do I.  But do we recognize that God’s greatness is always couched in this kind of lowliness?  Many in our day are not so sure of that anymore.  There is as much a celebrity culture in the church as in the world these days.  Hollywood has its stars, but so now does Christendom.

Bearing this in mind, here’s another poem I love.

That Holy Thing

They all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high:
Thou cam’st a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.

O Son of man, to right my lot
Nought but Thy Presence can avail;
Yet on the road Thy wheels are not,
Nor on the sea Thy sail!

My fancied ways why shouldest Thou heed?
Thou com’st down Thine own secret stair;
Coms’t down to answer all my need,
Yea, every bygone prayer!

George Macdonald (1824-1905)

I love those lines.  “Thou com’st down Thine own secret stair…”  How deeply we need our Lord Jesus.  Only His Presence—He Himself—will avail to right our lot, that situation in our lives we so desperately need an answer for.  He comes to answer all my need—my present need, and not mine only: all the prayers of ages past as well.  But how does He come?  I look at the way He appeared back then when people looked for Him among the important of the day.  And I look at what is happening these days in the Church among the fame seekers and big-name entertainers and performers.  All too often I am seeing the red carpet being rolled out for “another Jesus” these days, one far different from the lowly One who made His debut into this world in a cattle shed.  He came down His own secret staircase, came down Jacob’s ladder from the top to the bottom, and was born in a cattle shed.  You mean the High God took upon Him human flesh in that manner?  It sends shivers down my spine.

We live in days of such grievous and heart-rending things; there are those who try to tell us that the human family is just an accident of evolution gone terribly wrong, and the sooner it’s all scrapped, the better.  I am not among the cynics.  God has things in store for the family of man beyond our wildest fancies.  He has chosen man, of all creatures, for His own Dwelling Place.  When Jacob saw that ladder in a dream at Bethel one night, it was the Man Christ Jesus that He was seeing.  It is the Son of man, Jesus Christ Himself, who is Bethel—the house of God (Gen. 28.17, Jn. 1.51).

And wonder of wonders, there are others among men who are part of this same House! But  who?  The high?  The lofty?  The praise seekers?  The great among men?  Beloved, if we want to be part of this Dwelling Place we will be companying with the lowly in “the secret place of the stairs.”

This is my great desire and prayer for those who read this little blog A Mending Feast.  Let us not be minding high things, beloved.  Let us be among the lowly… anticipating a precious visitation in the Spirit.

…Maybe you would join with me in singing another verse of O Little Town of Bethlehem.

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.

Amen. Blessings to you all at this time, and all through the coming year.

The Sea And The Waves Roaring

I don’t know if you are feeling the same way I am about things in the news these days. It seems to me things have “morphed” into a frightening ugliness.  My news source is the Google news page, and I don’t make a habit of going through it all.  A lot of it I dare not read; it’s unclean.  Much of it I can’t read; it’s too painful to read it.  So I skim the headlines.

The other day as I considered it all, these words came on my heart again and again.  “…The sea and the waves roaring… The sea and the waves roaring…” (Lk. 21.25).  That’s what Jesus prophesied things would be like just prior to the coming of the kingdom of God.

Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring…

That’s a perfect description of the sea just now—the sea of nations, the sea of humanity.  There is so much distress, and perplexity, and unrest.

In fact I wonder if I don’t see a new beast rising up out of the sea, something along the lines of Daniel’s vision, “and behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  And four beasts came up from the sea…” (Dan. 7.3).  John the Revelator saw something similar—a beast having seven heads and ten horns rising out of the sea.

Now, I’m not trying to invent a new eschatology of what that is all about, and I’m not saying I’ve had a divine revelation; it’s just a feeling I have; I’m just surmising.

What I’m thinking of is the “waves” of influence that have arisen as masses of ordinary people in various nations have gathered together—multitudes in the streets banding together in a common cause.  They just came up “out of the sea.”  They discovered that massed together, rising up together, they had power.  Is this a new political force in the earth– a new beast rising out ot the sea?

Some of these waves have been extremely violent.  Add to that the frightening riots in our so-called orderly democratic societies.  Anarchy right before our eyes.

Now add in this– the influence of social media these days.  The little people who had no voice now have a megaphone that has turned their puny voice into a shout that gets political attention.

Whereunto shall all this grow?  Truly the waves of the sea are becoming very restless.  Very boisterous.  I believe they are going to grow even more boisterous.

A storm is gathering strength.

I take courage in knowing this—the One who stilled the waves on Galilee will in His timing speak again and still the waves of this great sea.

Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, Thou stillest them.  (Ps. 89.9).

What I mean is… consider this verse in the light of the one just before it.

O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto Thee? Or to Thy faithfulness round about thee?
Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise Thou stillest them.

Thou rulest the raging of the sea.  Who is that?  The LORD God of hosts.

Fast forward to a stormy night on Galilee centuries after this psalm was written.  Who was it that stilled the raging waves of the sea that stormy night on Galilee?  It was a Man whom to see was to see the LORD God of hosts, a Man who did only what He saw His Father the LORD God of hosts doing.  The things this Man did, it was God the Father who dwelt in Him who did the works (Jn. 14.10).

And so it was the LORD God of hosts who calmed the sea of Galilee that night, fulfilling an ancient prophecy of the psalms.

I believe we shall yet see an even greater fulfillment of that prophecy.  I anticipate that this same One shall speak again and still the raging waves of the restless sea of humanity.  How shall He do so?  Through that same Man again—and those who are in union with Him because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in them.

That will indeed be a very powerful word going forth from the mouth of the Lord—in the body of Christ.

High sounding words?  Do you think it’s even possible for this kind of word to go forth from the body of Christ?  I do—when it is Christ Himself speaking.

Which means you and I must seek very earnestly to abide in Christ and hear His Voice and speak what He is speaking.  Be sure that it’s only those who are abiding in Christ— only those who are walking in the yoke and lowliness of Christ, who are going to be entrusted with this kind of word and authority.

But it’s the only answer for this increasingly lawless and violent and godless world.  We are already seeing anarchy in many places.  So far men have always felt they could solve their problems and bring things under control.  I believe God is going to convince man that this is no longer true.  The problems are becoming too great, too complex.  Things are spinning out of control.

The sea is getting very stormy indeed.

It frightens me… and I’m glad to read the disciples of old were scared too that night on Galilee.  They were sure they were about to perish.  I can identify.

…But didn’t they know who was with them in their little ark?  And don’t I know too?

Jesus—He was asleep on a pillow through it all—awoke to their cries.

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mk. 4.39).

Notice that.  “He rebuked the wind…”  That’s where the real problem is—those “four winds of the heavens” that are always stirring up the great sea.  These are the real instigators behind all the turmoil—evil principalities and powers in the heavenly realm.

“…And He said unto the sea, Peace, be still.”  He rebukes the wind and speaks to the sea—to the peoples in turmoil and unrest.

And there was a great calm.

The disciples were overawed at this.

And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, what manner of man is this, that even the wind and the waves obey Him?

They weren’t even sure He was a man, as the original Greek implies.

Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?

Who?  What manner of Man?  A Man who is one with God.

Likewise shall many be overawed when this same Man speaks peace and brings order out of chaos again.

The Lampstand—The Corporate Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Pt. 4)

Last time we talked of individuals who had the testimony of Jesus Christ.  John on Patmos had this testimony.  The messenger who was showing John the things he wrote about in the Revelation had this testimony—so powerful a testimony of Jesus Christ that John was tempted to worship him.  He thought the man was Jesus Himself.

This is a very tremendous thing—individual men coming into the testimony of Jesus Christ.  But as great as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to what God has in mind.  We admire great saints, but God is not satisfied with just one person here and there coming into this tremendous testimony.  His desire is that this testimony be revealed in something called the church, where all the members—every man and woman and boy and girl—are shining forth this pure testimony together as one Man.

Remember that in the Old Testament it was the tabernacle that was called the “tabernacle of the testimony.”  The tabernacle in the wilderness had a testimony—had something to reveal about God, something to say about God.  But the tabernacle was just a “figure” foreshadowing Christ—the corporate Christ, that is—Christ in union with His bride, His body.  Some very good teachings are available on this, showing how every aspect of the tabernacle speaks of Christ and His church.  The bread on the table of showbread, for example.  This speaks of the body of Christ.  Paul said, “For we, being many, are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10.17).

And the lampstand in the tabernacle.  John saw the Son of man walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.  And he said these seven lampstands were “the seven churches” (Rev. 1.20).  A single lampstand, then, represents the local church, which is to have the light and testimony of Jesus Christ shining in it.  (See also Rev. 11.3,4, Zech. Ch. 4.)

To some extent—certainly not in full measure, but to some extent—the church in Corinth had this testimony.  It was a lampstand in which the Testimony of Jesus Christ was shining.  As we read 1 Corinthians we discover the wick in the lamp needed trimming, but nevertheless the Corinthian church was a genuine lampstand shining forth the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Earlier we quoted the passage in which Paul said he had come to the Corinthians with “the testimony of God.”  How did Paul come to them with this testimony?  It was not the Torah Paul came to Corinth with.  It was “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” that Paul testified of.  And the result of his testimony was that the testimony of Jesus Christ was reproduced in the Corinthian church.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1.4-9).

This is quite the thing.  The Corinthian church had the “testimony of Christ” confirmed in their midst—a living word expressed corporately, as well as the manifestation of the Spirit, the shining forth of Christ in the gifts of the Spirit—also a corporate expression.  It’s quite something, isn’t it, that this church that is given the reputation for being such a carnal church had a testimony like that.  “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you…” Paul said.  That is awesome to read!  In other words, people coming into the Corinthian assembly became aware of Christ.

What was the evidence that the testimony of Christ the Anointed One was confirmed (established, made firm) in the Corinthian church?  It was that, as a result of the Spirit of Christ in their midst they were enriched “in all utterance, and in all knowledge.”  They had spiritual knowledge, and not only that, they could give it forth; there was a vital “discourse” taking place in their assembly—the sharing together of the things of Christ with one another.  And they came behind “in no gift.”  Paul brings these more fully into view in Chapter Twelve.  Diverse manifestations of the Spirit were abundant in the Corinthian assembly, and functioning together produced “the testimony of Christ.”  With a word, a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, an interpretation, a prophecy, a revelation, a healing… each one of the Corinthians in differing ways and differing measures participated in the Testimony of Christ.  All were involved in this (1 Cor. 14.26).

There’s a lot of emphasis on the ministry these days.  There are a lot of great pastors around.  Because of the Internet there are a lot of great messages available.  But it’s painful how little of the corporate testimony there is—of this “one loaf, one body,” of this lampstand wherein the Oil of the Holy Spirit is aflame and light shines forth, light shines forth in the lampstand—in a church, I mean, every single member being vitally involved in the shining testimony.  You hear of anointed preaching.  But where is the corporate anointing that enables all in the body of Christ to function vitally?  As it is, the saints are pretty much used to leaving it all up to “the ministry,” and the ministry for the most part are content to leave it that way.  But this kind of church order is short of the glory of God.  We must seek the corporate testimony for Christ’s sake—for the glory of His Name.  It’s only as this corporate testimony comes into being that the communities around us will see the glory of the Lord.

“By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body,” said Paul.  I anticipate, then, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire—it is my conviction that this is yet ahead for us, though I know we have seen a measure of it in the past—is going to cause great shakings throughout the ten thousand denominations of Christendom.  God is going to bring into being local churches that function as one anointed body in which every member is vital—not just the pastor behind the pulpit.

And these local lampstands are going to be one in the Spirit with all other lampstands.  This thing called denominational Christianity is going to go up in smoke as a result of this powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.

And this baptism is going to cause great shakings in the “come-out-of-her” groups as well.  For, there is as much a sense of oldness about the come-outer groups and home fellowships these days as there is about the denominational system.  (I am encouraged by this; something new is at the door.)  In fact I would say there are many out there in the denominational system who, walking in the light they have, are walking a closer walk with Jesus than some of the “come-outers.”

Come-outers like to remind people that the true meaning of ekklesia is the called out assembly.  And they are the called-out ones, they insist.  But so was the Corinthian church a called-out assembly.  Just how far had they come out?  They were still in many ways carnal, Paul said, and walked as men. Because of it their lamp sent up a dirty, sooty flame.  There were divisions in their midst.  There was immorality.  And though they had been given abundant knowledge, they ended up priding themselves in the knowledge they had.  They thought they knew a lot.  Paul had to humble them on this account.  I think it is something like ten times in his first letter to the Corinthians that Paul—obviously deliberately—provoked them with the words, “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”

It isn’t knowledge that is the light that must shine in the lampstand, Paul said.  It is love that is light.

And so the great High Priest through His servant Paul had to trim the wick of this lampstand in order that the Testimony of Christ continue to shine brightly in Corinth.

The lampstand—a church—is a corporate witness.  Yes, each of us is to have a testimony which is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  But the fullness of the Testimony of Jesus Christ is the corporate testimony.  Jesus prayed in His high-priestly prayer, “I have made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in THEM, and I in THEM.”  Them, He says.  I in them.  It is a corporate thing.  If Jesus is in you as well as in me, how can there be any discord or division between us?  Or between churches?

I know there has been much emphasis on “the baptism,” and the gifts of the Spirit over the past century or so—more specifically since the 1948 revival at North Battleford, Saskatchewan, from which the Charismatic movement got its beginnings.  They got that name from the charismata—the gifts of the Spirit.  It wasn’t really God’s plan, but it seems He permitted men to take the charismata back into their denominations instead of coming out of the denominations and by one Spirit being baptized into one body.  Of course they realize they must have unity—the Bible calls for unity among Christians.  But they are determined they will have unity their own way—they will have “the baptism” and maintain their denominations in the process.  It is frightening disobedience to the Spirit of Christ.  Deception—great deception—is inevitable.  We are seeing it already.

And so let us be very watchful not to get drawn into it.

But let us be filled with anticipation also.  Yes, deception abounds.  The beautiful realm of the gifts of the Spirit has become contaminated.  The lights that once burned brightly have faded and yellowed.  Charismatic is almost a dirty word these days.  But there is more ahead of us than behind us.  There is yet a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire ahead for us.  I believe we are yet going to see manifestations of the Spirit, manifestations of Christ, that will utterly—and literally—floor us, and cause us to weep… and cry for joy.  People will fall on their faces and worship God.

And I believe we are going to see a wondrous unity come forth as God baptizes us by one Spirit into one body.  We have known so much of division.  We have mourned and wept over it all.  Who of us has not anguished with Christ over the divided condition of the body of Christ?  But His word still stands.  “By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body.”  The fire of this baptism must, then—and will—consume all that is discordant with the Lord Jesus Christ.  A corporate testimony of Jesus Christ is going to come forth.

Beloved, we must be encouraged in this dark hour to know that our Lord Jesus Christ is not finished yet.  He who walketh among the seven golden lampstands will not rest till His pure testimony is shining forth in every place.  And Jesus Christ Himself is seen in the churches!

The Testimony Of Jesus Christ–A Mistaken Identity (Pt. 3)

Last time we talked about the apostle John being in the isle of Patmos for “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  I think John is speaking of the testimony that back on the mainland got him in trouble.  Jesus had said to His disciples:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me, and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning… (Jn. 15.26,27).

It was the Spirit of Christ in John that enabled him to have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  John by the Holy Spirit was convicting those around him of sin—the same thing Jesus had done when He was here (Jn. 16.9).  Again it wasn’t appreciated.  It got John banished to Patmos.

But I think this “testimony of Jesus Christ” refers also to what Jesus had in mind to speak to John on Patmos.  He had much yet to say to John, and through John to us all—this prophecy we know as The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  This prophecy is what “God gave unto Him (unto Jesus Christ), to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Rev. 1.1).  And so Jesus the Word of God, the faithful and true witness, is testifying of what God has now given Him.  It is a prophecy.

And He sent and signified it by His angel—His messenger—unto His servant John.

I believe this was the same angel that later in the prophecy John was tempted to worship, thinking this one was Jesus Christ Himself.  But the angel would not permit John to worship him.  He was not Jesus Christ, but had “the testimony of Jesus.”

See thou do it not:  I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19.10).

The Greek original has the article there.  “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of the prophecy.”  The same words are used in Rev. 1.3, which the KJV translates this prophecy.

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy…

It should say, “the words of the prophecy.”

We will speak more of this in a minute.

The word angel simply means “messenger,” and it takes discernment to discover whether it’s referring to one of the heavenly angelic order, or simply a man, a messenger sent by God.  Sometimes the distinction isn’t clear.  But in this case we’re told clearly, for the angel himself tells us clearly: he is a man: “thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren…” So we gather he was one of the saints beyond the veil.  (Very quickly here, this gives us a little glimpse that moving beyond the veil of this life does not mean idly sitting on a cloud playing a harp all day.)

John is tempted a second time in this same manner at the close of the book.

And I John saw these things, and heard them.  And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book.  Worship God” (Rev. 22.8,9).

So here was a man—a prophet—that John was ready to bow down to and worship.  And it happened twice.  John obviously was having trouble with this.  Here before him was a man so like Jesus Christ that John actually thought it was Jesus Himself.  And so he fell at his feet to worship him.

But the man forbade him.  His testimony was, “I’m a man just like you, John.  What you are seeing in my life is actually the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  What you’re hearing me speak—I’m only speaking what Jesus Christ is speaking.  What I am showing you–it’s what Jesus Christ is showing me.  It’s Jesus Christ you’re seeing.  It’s Jesus Christ who is prophesying.  It’s the testimony of Jesus that is the Spirit of the prophecy.”

The man called himself a prophet.  The prophecy he was involved in—the prophecy we know as our book of The Revelation—was nothing less than the shining forth of “That Prophet,” the Son of God Himself.  God spake in times past to the fathers through the prophets in various ways—a word here, a word there, a portion here, a portion there (Heb. 1.1).  But in these last days He hath spoken to us in a Son, who is the full, complete message of Himself, the outshining of Himself, the “express image of His Person.”  That is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  He spoke only what the Father was speaking.  He did only what the Father was doing.  He revealed the Father.  He was so one with the Father that those who saw Him… it was the Father they were seeing.  Yet Jesus was not the Father.  He was the Son of the Father.  He was “the faithful and true Witness,” who by the Holy Spirit bore witness to and shone forth the Father in all He said and did.  That was His testimony.  “The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do…”  That is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.

And that’s what this man had.  “I am of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus…”  We’re inclined to think that it’s blasphemy that an ordinary man should have this kind of testimony—that those seeing him would mistake him for Jesus Christ Himself.  But here is at least one man from the past who had this very testimony.  No doubt there are many others.

I ask the question, then.  Have you or I ever been mistaken for Jesus Christ?  You and I—are we so committed to speaking only what He speaks, and doing only what He does, that we too have the testimony of Jesus Christ?  Have we become so like Him in love, in holiness, in righteousness, in mercy, in patience, in humility… in all His graces… in the power and manifestation of His Spirit and Presence in our lives… there is such Light about us… there is such a shining forth of Jesus Christ Himself in our lives… that people around us are tempted to fall down at our feet and worship us?

Would that we too might have the same opportunity, like that man beyond the veil, to forbid it, and call others to worship God alone!

The Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Pt. 2)

Last time we talked of the Testimony in the days of the Old Covenant.  God’s testimony in the Old Covenant was the Law.

For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel… (Ps. 78.5).

Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples (Isa. 8.16).

Under the Old Covenant the law and the testimony were equated, were one—and God bore witness to this with His Presence over the tabernacle.

Now let’s look at certain New Testament scriptures that talk of the Testimony.

Paul, writing to the Corinthians:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2.1,2).

What an astonishing thing to say.  This man, a Jew steeped in the law and the prophets, comes to Gentiles with “the testimony of God.”  Which is?  The Old Covenant Law, the Torah?  No.  Not any longer.  Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  The New Covenant testimony of God is all bound up in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The scribes and Pharisees, Jesus told His disciples, sat “in Moses’ seat” (Mt. 23.2).  They felt confident they were the custodians of the testimony—the word of God, the Torah, the Scriptures.  And yes, it’s true: to them God had committed the oracles of God.  But when the True Oracle came into their midstthe living Word of God, this Man born of the Spirit, baptized in the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and thereby witnessing faithfully of His Father, doing only what He saw His Father doing, speaking only what He heard His Father speaking—this One became the faithful and true Witness—the testimony of God.

He was crucified for that testimony.

In The Revelation we find in a number of places the phrase, “the testimony of Jesus Christ.”  And we find it coupled with “the word of God.”

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw (Rev. 1.1,2).

I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1.9).

John is not talking of two different things for which he was banished to Patmos—expounding the word of God, and then going out and testifying, witnessing, about Jesus Christ.  What he is saying is that the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ are one and the same thing.  Someone may say they have the word of God, pointing to the Bible.  And indeed, Jesus the Son of God said the Scriptures were those that testified of Him (Jn. 5.39).  But it is He Himself who is the Word of God.  Merely having the words of Scripture or of doctrine is not the kind of testimony that got John in trouble.  Just as Jesus Christ the Word of God was crucified for the testimony He bore, it was “the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” that landed John in Patmos.

Now we come to the thing that is of the utmost importance.  How was it possible for John to say he had the testimony of Jesus Christ?  Jesus was in Heaven when John wrote about being in Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  If Jesus was in Heaven, how could He give His testimony here on earth?  And how could John have this testimony?  It was because John had the Witness in himself.

He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness (the Testimony) in himself (1 Jn. 5.10).

The Witness?  What is this speaking of?

And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth” (1 Jn. 5.6).

This, really, is the greatest of wonders.  What can be more wonderful than to have Jesus Christ the Son of God Himself in us?  John had this!  He had the Spirit of Christ—the Witness—in Himself.  He had been born again, and had been baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire.  The Spirit of God, the Spirit of the living Word, dwelt in him.  No doubt John knew much of the letter of the word by memory—the Old Testament scriptures.  But beyond that, the living word of God was dwelling in John, abiding in him, as he taught in one of his letters.  “…The word of God abideth in you…” (1 Jn. 2.14).  He is speaking of the Testimony—the Witness—the Spirit of Jesus Christ the word of God.

It is the Spirit of God who has the Testimony of Jesus Christ the Word of God.  The Spirit of God here in the earth is the faithful witness of Jesus Christ the Word of God at the right hand of God in the heavens.  John had this Spirit—this Testimony.  And so John’s own testimony, because of the Spirit of Christ that dwelt in Him, was nothing less than the Testimony of Jesus Christ.

What about you and me, then?  Do we have the Spirit of Christ?  We are to bear that same Testimony, then, that same expression of the word of God that manifests the living Christ in and through our lives.

What was the testimony of Jesus Christ the Son of God when He was here?  He did what He saw the Father doing.  He spoke what He heard Him speaking.  He revealed the Father.  He was the faithful and true Witness.  He bore witness of the Father.  He said:

He that hath seen me hath seen the Father (Jn. 14.9).

That was His testimony.  And correspondingly, He said:

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me, and ye also shall bear witness… (Jn. 15.26,27).

What a wonder.  The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, testifies of Jesus Christ.  And because of the Holy Spirit we too are to bear this same precious testimony—which is nothing less than the shining forth of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself—as we too are faithful to do only what the Holy Spirit is doing, and speak only what He is speaking.

…So that—I tremble at this word—you and I by the empowering grace of God are ultimately able to say, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus Christ.”

Do you see why I am held in thrall by this phrase—the testimony of Jesus Christ?

Beloved, this ought to provoke us to a deeper seeking.  This is our greatest need—the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Because oh, how men need to see Him!  Many of us claim to have the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  No doubt we do—in measure.  But to what extent do we have this beautiful pure testimony of Jesus Christ among men?  Can we say yet that, “He that has seen me has seen Jesus?”  You say that’s blasphemy?  But that is the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit.  It’s only blasphemy if the Holy Spirit is not capable of fully and faithfully bearing witness to the Son of God.  Let me ask.  Does the Holy Spirit bear a pure and full and faithful witness to Christ?  It’s blasphemy to say He cannot.

But if the Holy Spirit bears this faithful testimony, so too shall those who are baptized—immersed—in the Holy Spirit.  We who have the Spirit of Christ—He is given to enable us to have the Testimony of Jesus Christ, to shine forth the Testimony of Jesus Christ—nothing less.

Why, then, do we so readily settle for less? Oh, how men need to see Him!

Remember, though.  The Greek word for testimony is marturion—from which we get our English martyr.

There is a price tag on this Testimony.  Jesus was crucified for this Testimony.  John was in exile in Patmos for this Testimony.  We who have this Testimony will also pay that price—even here in our so-called free Christian nations.

Jesus And Idols?

It’s not likely that we modern-day Christians in the western world would be tempted to worship an idol of wood or stone the way they did back in Old Testament days, or still do in certain societies.  We like to assure ourselves we are not that primitive.  Even so, idolatry is a serious problem among many Christians.

Here from the New Testament are two verses revealing areas of idolatry that are very common.

“Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10.7).

In other words, when we view life as something that is our own to enjoy unto ourselves, this is idolatry—the idolatry of self.  It is perhaps the greatest form of idolatry in the world.  People who would not be caught dead worshipping a wooden idol bow down with ready abandon to the worship of themselves.  It is they themselves who sit on the throne of their lives ordering all things.  They believe their lives are their own to do with as they see fit.  If they are sitting down they are eating and drinking.  When they rise up it is to play.  The idol temples of eating and drinking and play are filled day and night—particularly in our secular western world.

Here is another one.

“…Covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3.5).

“…No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5.5).

How is covetousness idolatry?  Covetousness is idolatry because the heart is filled with a lust for something other than God.  It is a heart issue—the idols of the heart.  Do we not trust God to give us whatever is necessary to glorify Him in our lives—whether material or spiritual?  (Yes, it’s also idolatry to covet our brother’s spiritual blessing for ourselves.)

These two areas of idolatry are rampant out there in “the world.”  But because we Christians live in the world we are vulnerable.  Perhaps we are not abandoning Christ wholesale and turning to the idols of the world, although that does happen, I know.  The more serious problem is that we want Christ and our idols.  We want Christ and what the world has to offer as well—its pursuits and joys and toys.  So we have this phenomenon so common in our day.  I am fixated on prosperity—so I make a Christian doctrine out of it.  If I was a biker, now I become a Christian biker.  If I was into the rock scene, now I become a Christian rocker.  If I am into football in a serious way, now I become a Christian football player.  I love the glory of entertaining.  Now I will give Christian concerts.  I will be a Christian movie star.  We want to pursue the best the world has to offer, and be a Christian too, so we don’t miss out on God.  Of course we want God—but just to bless us in the pursuit of our own endeavours.

Jesus’ words still stand.  On one occasion when He saw the multitudes following Him He turned and said to them, “…And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14.25-27).  (How’s that for an evangelistic technique, by the way—telling the multitudes to go home unless they are prepared to take up their cross?)

We Christians are to walk a holy walk—in the world yet not of the world.  Nevertheless, it is not a stiff legalistic holiness that will draw the idolaters of the world into the worship of the true God.  It’s seeing the holiness of love—the love of the holy Jesus burning in the heart—that turns the idolaters to Him.  Jesus, who though He was “separate from sinners,” loved them deeply.  And they knew it.

Here’s a poem I’ve loved for a long time.  I’ve seen it quoted in part, but I found it in full one day.  It’s based on a passage in Hosea who back in his day decried with broken heart this chronic problem of God’s people wanting their idols along with their God.  It’s such a beautiful book—Hosea.  You touch over and over God’s love for His people—it’s He who is broken hearted—even as He pronounces judgments upon them for their waywardness.  And in the final analysis what is it that turns them back to Him?  (I confess I am far short of this myself—but am pursuing.)

“Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols?  I have heard Him, and (beheld) Him…” (Hos. 14.8).  That’s what does it!  Hearing Him!  Seeing the unmatchable Jesus!

Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand, own Him?
Joyful choose the better part?

Idols, once they won thee, charmed thee,
Lovely things of time and sense;
Gilded, thus does sin disarm thee,
Honeyed, lest thou turn thee thence.

What has stripped the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty
But the sight of peerless worth.

Not the crushing of those idols
With its bitter pain and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.

Who extinguishes their taper
Till they hail the rising sun?
Who discards the garb of winter
Till the summer has begun?

‘Tis the look that melted Peter,
‘Tis the face that Stephen saw,
‘Tis the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw:

Draw and win and fill completely
Till the cup o’erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?

Miss Ora Rowan
(1834-1879)