PODCAST – A home Bible Study on the Church of the Laodiceans – Part Two. (Revelation 3:14-22)
Christ our Righteousness
“As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness:
I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness”
Beholding is the path to becoming. It is in the seeing of Him that we are actually changed.
“But we all, with open face
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord”
2 Corinthians 3:18
From Genesis through Revelation we read of those who had one purpose in life: to see Him who is the matrix from which all things come into being. He is the One by whom all things are created and for whom all things are created. The pursuit of this one thing has been the uniting purpose of all who have His Spirit within their hearts.
Righteousness is the vehicle through which we see Him. I cannot immerse myself in sin and iniquity and expect to see Him. The cry for righteousness within the human heart arises out of a pure desire to see Him. The pursuit for holiness or righteousness with any other motive will always lead into an abyss of religion and darkness.
“I will behold thy face in righteousness”
“I will” speaks of confidence and the assurance of one who knows the grace and the wonder of his God. There is no doubt concerning this. This righteousness is the result of a heart submitted to the purging, dealings and searching of His Spirit.
“Little children, let no man deceive you:
he that doeth righteousness is righteous…”
1 John 3:7
Religion concerns itself with words; God concerns Himself with the reality of a life. The true substance of righteousness is revealed in the doing not in the speaking. Righteousness is revealed in the things we do for they are the true expression of what we are.
It is in the desire for authenticity that our true need for Him is discovered. The greater the desire for true righteousness, the greater is our need for the grace to make it so. This is the righteousness of God in Christ for it brings us to complete dependency upon Him for its growth and development. His life reigning in us reveals His righteousness.
The pursuit of God is an ever growing, ever living and ever deepening journey into the life and righteousness of God Himself.
“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed
from faith to faith…”
It is a continual unfolding of His righteousness in us through the development of our growing faith to walk and live in Him. This desire is summed up by David:
“I shall be satisfied,
when I awake, with thy likeness”
To settle for anything less is unthinkable.
“When the LORD shall build up Zion,
he shall appear in His glory”
God is a covenant keeping God. The reins of His dealings in His people are neither arbitrary nor random. He is a God of purpose and intent. It is always striking to me to hear people say that the Lord could return at any moment as if there were no real purpose in His timing. He is coming back for something specific and precious to Him.
“…to present her to himself as a radiant church,
without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish,
but holy and blameless”
The church which God is going to present to Himself is to be radiant, pure, and holy. The stains of selfishness, strife, division, and worldliness will be removed. She will be ONE in truth, love, and holiness. Her garments will not be wrinkled nor soiled. The members of this glorious body will have a fervent love one for another and there will be no schisms within those who have the faith of the Bride. Those who are not bothered by the division and the worldliness of the church today know little of either His return or His heart. Those not burdened to the point of speaking, praying, and admonishing His people to repent from their ways know not God! His return is predicated upon the fulfillment of the prayer of Jesus.
The Prayer of Jesus
God is not going to allow the prayer of His Son to go unanswered! The prayer of Jesus (John 17) will not fall to the ground unfulfilled. We are here to serve His purposes and desires; to walk contrary to these things is disobedience.
“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him:
for the marriage of the Lamb is come,
and his wife hath made herself ready”
Those who walk in the faith (the call) of the Bride cannot hold to evil thoughts about their brothers and sisters; they cannot gossip, speak evil, or withdraw themselves from others. Those who would be ready for Him must know of the burning and purifying required to walk in the white robes of His righteousness and grace. We are required to speak truth and present the Holiness of God to all. The declaration of His Holiness does not arise out of a perceived self-righteousness; it is simply because He who is Holy has called His people to be holy. People who see little are not troubled by the horror of the present day Church of God. They are so involved with their own “church” that they are blinded to the reality of God’s house.
How can it be that we can have our “own” church and our “own” spiritual agendas? Even in our “preaching of Christ” we secretly desire to bring men and women to our building, our organization and our ways. The hidden agenda to enlarge “our” church body reveals the carnality of self-seeking. The result of this worldly way of living is that we are divided against ourselves; an indictment of a people who have wandered far from the truth and power of HIS love in our midst.
“That they all may be one;
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee,
that they also may be one in us:
that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”
Many religious people do not take the substance of this prayer seriously nor is it thought of in terms of actual fulfillment. The prayer of Jesus is given little consideration as to how we live and conduct ourselves within the household of faith. This Oneness for which Jesus prayed can only be known by “us being ONE IN HIM”. If I am in Jesus, I love His people; if I do not love His people, I do not know God.
“He that loveth not knoweth not God;
for God is love”
1 John 4:8
Living outside a true knowing of God will leave an individual separated from the influence of the prayer of Jesus. Men take the knowledge of God’s Word and purposes as an intellectual formula but do not know the heartbeat or the power of His love within their hearts. They journey through life unaffected by the condition of His House. In stark contrast, the Bride makes herself ready for she feels the anticipation of being one with Him. Her aspirations are not born by some religious concept; she desires purity because she wants to present herself to Him. This spiritual betrothal is a real and living thing that beats within her heart; a hope that purifies.
“And every man that hath this hope in him
purifieth himself, even as he is pure”
1 John 3:3
Everyone that has this hope knows of this purifying! It is a day of separation of the wheat from the chaff, the wheat from the tares, and the Ishmaels from the Isaacs. The Day of the Lord is upon us and the life which we now live reveals the truth of our condition. Those who hold His heart and His faith are asking God to search out their hearts, repenting of the works of the flesh and the severing of relationships. There is a fire to speak the truth and to hold one another accountable in our walk with Him. There is a circumspect walk and a rising up of His Word within the hearts of those who know and feel that the day of His appearing is nigh; not waiting in faithless inactivity but cooperating with the burning of His Spirit within their hearts. They seek out others in whom the fire is burning “to provoke one another unto Love and Good works”.
The Father waits for the prayer of the Son to be realized within those whom He has called.
“Behold, the husbandman waiteth
for the precious fruit of the earth…”
It is He who is waiting for the full and rich harvest from the precious seed which was sown into the earth! The Day of the Lord is the Day of the Harvest. He is waiting for the fullness of Christ within His own. We cannot know God and have little or no concern for the welfare of the Body of Christ. Daniel saw the state of Israel and spent his time weeping and praying over their condition. Paul, Peter, Jude and others wrote and spent their lives beseeching His people to preserve the unity of the Spirit and hold fast to the love of God.
“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
beseech you… to walk worthy…
Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace
There is one body, and one Spirit,
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all,
and through all, and in you all”
How do we walk worthily?
By endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit!
This is not about the organizations of men but about the One Body of Christ. To walk worthy of His heavenly call we must seek the welfare of His house! Without a burden for his house we are without His Heart.
“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
if ye have love one to another”
A heart devoid of love reveals the indisputable fact that it is not a disciple of Christ. Love is the very signature of God in His own. Apathy is deception; it holds to His word but is bereft of the power and wonder of His Love for Him and one another.
Religion is comfortable with loving one another in word but the love of God calls us to a higher standard.
“My little children, let us not love in word,
neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth”
1 John 3:18
When the Church of God is pure, holy, and unified in the fervency and power of His Love, He will suddenly appear with unspeakable glory.
“It came even to pass,
as the trumpeters and singers were as one,
to make one sound to be heard
in praising and thanking the Lord…
that then the house was filled with a cloud,
even the house of the Lord
So that the priests could not stand
to minister by reason of the cloud:
for the glory of the Lord
had filled the house of God”
2 Chronicles 5:13-14
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come”
Those who are of the Bride speak the same word as the Spirit.
Note that there are many aspects of His return and his appearing will be according to a person’s relationship with Christ. To the wicked and evil of this world He will come as the Righteous Judge with retribution upon those who have not obeyed the Gospel. To the slothful servant who hid His talent in the ground He will judge and render a just recompense (Matthew 25:24-28). Those who kept their lamps burning by the oil of His Spirit He receives into the marriage feast (Matthew 25:10). To the foolish virgins the marriage feast is closed (Matthew 25:10). To those who knew His will but did not prepare themselves His coming will be accompanied by many stripes (Luke 12:47). His coming to each of us will be in accordance to the life we have lived not the doctrines we hold.
“Blessed is that servant,
whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing”
“the Lord, whom ye seek,
shall suddenly come to his temple”
With an acknowledgement to Brendan Jaster and Linda for help with editing Please also visit: Brendan Jaster's Blog
Thought for Today
The “ING” of Life –
“If you will not believe,
surely you will not be established”
Believing in God is not a one-time event. In a true and vital reality, it is to be more equated to breathing than some momentary experience. The Hebrew words used for “believe” and “established” are expressed here in the imperfect tenses. The imperfect tense would suggest (for the sake of clarity) these words culminating in an “ing”, indicating an ongoing and uncompleted work. It is in our believing that our lives will be in the ongoing work of being established. The work of the Holy Spirit is ever embellishing, ever rooting and establishing us in Christ. It is in the ongoing reliance upon Him where His work takes on the power and substance of true in-wrought character and stability in our lives.
“If ye continue in my word,
then are ye my disciples indeed”
Discipleship is not a fleeting momentary experience. It is a life-long necessary experience. As breathing is to our natural life so is believing, trusting and faithing in our relationship with Him. The life of the branch consists in its live and continuous connection to the vine. Jesus in this parable uses the word “abide”. It is here within the context of this one living principle that we discover the wonders and glory of the increasing of His Kingdom within our own hearts.
“If ye abide in me,
and my words abide in you,
ye shall ask what ye will,
and it shall be done unto you”
This life of abiding, believing, and trusting in Him is an active principle of life. Any true expression of faith is revealed in obedience and response to His Word. To abide in His word means to respond to its influence and lordship. It is not uncommon to see a dead branch connected to a living plant. The connection is there but the dead branch no longer has a live relationship with its source. The identity of the branch is known by the fruit it bears. We see a branch bearing grapes we know that it is a grape vine. The fruit is the signature of the life of the vine. They who do not abide in Him lose their identity and confidence in Him. When people lose their identity they have no ability to impact the lives around them. Faith becomes a thing rather than a life. It becomes an ideal or a teaching rather than a heartbeat. This is what death is in our spiritual lives. Faith without works, branches without fruit and cold dead hearts without His life being the continuous inspiration of our very breath are the symptoms of a decaying branch.
“Every branch not bearing fruit in Me,
He takes it away”
John 15:2 (BLB)
“But become doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, this one is like a man studying his natural face in a mirror; for he studied himself, and has gone away, and immediately he forgot of what kind he was. But the one looking into the perfect law of liberty, and continuing in it, this one not having become a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in his doing”
Thought for Today
“fervent in spirit”
In this day of apathy and lukewarm expressions of faith we need this simple statement of the Holy Spirit to remind us of our calling. We are surrounded and bombarded by the world, the lust of the flesh, the ease of life and the deception of the status quo. We watch in horror how His people treat one another; divided by secular organizations (all in His Name) and fully capable of all manner of evil to one another with no sense of accountability to Him. This dreadful state is the result of a people who are not “beholding the Head” or walking in His Life. Fervency of spirit is the result of His Spirit burning within our lives.
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,
let us have grace, whereby we may serve God
acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
For our God is a consuming fire”
There are many who preach grace from the pulpit but it is a grace that ministers a human comfort, a consoling message to our sin, worldliness and cold hearts. This “grace” brings an apathy to people who are no longer aware of the Day which is upon us. It is a false grace, the Lie of the very Devil who would lure God’s people into a deadly slumber of spirit which will result in the judgment of a Holy God.
The true ministration of Grace brings forth lives who are enabled to serve God acceptably with “reverence and godly fear”. The Church of Jesus Christ is in need of burning expressions of His Light and His Glory to re-ignite the flame of God within the sanctuary of our hearts. If our God is a consuming fire what should be the temperature of the hearts of those who claim He is alive in them? We cannot sit Sunday after Sunday hearing sermons (which may be good) without the intensity of something rising up within us to be empowered and inspired as a flaming torch for Him! How can this slumber continue without a sense of life passing us by; without the tasting and seeing of His wonder being expressed from our own hearts?
Jesus commenting on John the Baptist declared:
“He was a burning and a shining light…”
Should not this be the normal testimony of Jesus concerning each of us?
“He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said,
out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”
Do we believe this? The revelation of our belief is in the outflow of lives held by the fervency of His Spirit. How can we be comfortable with a life which has no resemblance to this? The complacency of spirit, the dead thing men call life in our day, the standards of the life of a Christian are so low that even the world takes note of our impotency.
“For the name of God
is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you…”
Read the context of this scripture and feel the passion and heart of God beating in Paul’s heart. Let us hear the admonition of His voice in our Day. Let us turn from our wicked, self-deceiving, and worldly ways and offer ourselves afresh unto Him who can turn our cold and dead hearts into flaming expressions of living sacrifices.
It is the empty altar which receives no fire.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren,
by the mercies of God,
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God”
The evidence of His mercy received is a free-will offering unto Him. The greater the reception of mercy the greater is the depth of our offering.
“Our God is a Consuming Fire”
Thought for Today
Who is Wise?
“Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine,
and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man…”
The scriptures are full of God’s thoughts and His determinations. Those who set their hearts to please and honor Him will have little difficulty discovering these things. It is a simple concept for us to consider; hear His Word and obey it. While many love to discuss revelations, dreams and visions the simplicity of doing His Word will make one wise and pleasing to God. As one man observed, the disobedient scholar has to muddy the water in order to make it appear deep. In reality the wonder of obeying Him brings us to clear waters, pure hearts and a faith built upon the very Rock of our Salvation.
There is no better teacher than obedience for it opens the heart to feel God within. It cleanses the eyes that we may see clearly and it causes our ears to become sensitive to the intonations of His voice. Obedience will always clarify our walk. In obeying we soon discover whether a thing is of God or of ourselves. Those who never obey His voice within are left with obscurity in the things of life. They have never acted on the still small voice within and therefore the ambiguity of His way is never solved. With the passing of time the voice becomes reticent and men and women are left to their own thoughts and ways.
Child-like faith will always reveal the Father. It is to such He comes to show them the wonders of His Son and of His Kingdom.
“But whoever does what is true comes to the light,
so that it may become evident
that his actions have God’s approval”
“THE TIME OF SEALING”
“And it shall come to pass at that time
That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men
who are settled* in complacency, who say in their heart,
‘The Lord will not do good, Nor will He do evil.”
In this time of silence preceding the conclusion of all that God began in Christ, there is a searching and a measuring of men’s hearts where eternal destinies are being determined. It is a subtle hour and a most critical time as the lamps of some begin to grow dim as the Bridegroom tarries. The Hebrew word used here for settled* (see below) means to become thick, slow and curdled. It speaks of people who start out well but who, as time passes, become set in their ways and are no longer flexible. They are no longer able to flow in the purposes of their God. Their waiting has turned into stagnation; the brightness of their hope has become dim. The vision has turned from a quest and a pursuit into a doctrinal concept that no longer energizes their hearts and minds. This is a slow and certain death; it is the enemy of us all! Slowly the obscurity falls like a veil over the heart and the whispers of the enemy speak with great cunning and craftiness, “what difference does it make, nothing seems to make a difference, I will just “settle” here and live comfortably…” In other words, “The Lord will not do good, nor evil” I will just pass the time here as other men. If calamity comes I will “then” be ok..
It is in this time throughout the history of God’s dealings with men that there is a marking and a sealing; a determining and a measuring of the hearts of His people. In the silence there are great things at work as God prepares for the unveiling of all that He has purposed. May we consider a couple of examples….
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city,
through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads
of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be
done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing,
Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare,
neither have ye pity: Slay utterly old and young, both maids,
and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon
whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary…”
EZEKIEL 9:4 – 6
“And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice
to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,
till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads”
REVELATION 7:2 – 3
It is a Day for seeking out those who “cry and sigh” over the state of His House; to dig deep and hide ourselves within the secret place of the Most High. It is a Day to speak, encourage and admonish the people of God to fight off the slumber of this hour, to pray and build up our lives on “our most Holy Faith”. It is a Day to seek out that fellowship that will challenge and provoke us unto the ardent pursuit of Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a Day to know in the reality of our hearts the setting aside of all that this world can offer to purchase that Pearl of great price. This is a costly thing, more than just a casual walk, more than just a religious concept; it is the Battle for Life…HIS LIFE.
“TO HIM THAT OVERCOMES…”
Can we not hear the Word to us, “TODAY”? May the Lord press upon our hearts that we are brothers and sisters of one great family, and BECAUSE of that we speak, we cry out and we plead with one another that we may assemble ourselves together in fear of the Lord and in the awareness of the hour in which we live!
*Note: קָפָא qāpāʼ: A verb meaning to curdle, to congeal; to become settled, stagnant. It refers to something standing still or slowing down its movement, becoming thick (Ex. 15:8). It is used figuratively of a person in great suffering being curdled, tossed about like hardening cream (Job 10:10). It depicts a dead or stagnant spirit in a person (Zeph. 1:12). It means, used with reference to the heavenly bodies, to shrink, to lose brightness (Zech. 14:6). (S. Zodhiates)