Elder Beebe: Please give your views on Revelation 22:19, and oblige an
Inquirer after truth.
December 17, 1866.
Reply: The words on which we are requested to write our views are as follows, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
We have, if we mistake not, on former occasions given our views on this text, and on the verse preceding it, but as some of our present readers have not read what we have published, we will give such light as we now have on the subject.
In closing the sacred volume of the inspired testimony, the Son of God, as Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, sets to the entire volume the broad seal of his power and immutability, in the solemn words of the sixteenth verse, “I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things in the church.” From which we cannot easily mistake the source from which the solemn admonition has emanated, nor the subjects to whom they are addressed. The whole testimony and revelation comes from God, to the churches of the saints, as golden candlesticks, among which he is seen, as holding their stars in his right hand, and from the Eternal God through the Mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom alone all divine revelation is made; as he is the only Mediator between God and men. In the introduction of this book, these remarkable words are given, “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to show unto his servant 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. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein; for the time is at hand.” Then the words immediately follow, “John, to the seven churches of Asia, etc.” John was the messenger to whom Jesus Christ sent his angel, (or his Spirit) and signified (by figures and dark sayings) in a manner to be understood and witnessed by him, and recorded, and sent to the churches for whom they were designed. Hence in the last chapter Jesus says, “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” Of the awful importance of the things thus signified to John, and testified by the angel, or Spirit of the living God, we may infer, not only from the manner of the communication and revelation, but from the startling admonition contained in the eighteenth and nineteenth verses of the last chapter. The plain and unmistakable import of which is that nothing is to be added to, or diminished from the precious words of the prophecy, in which this testimony is given by revelation from God, through Christ, signified and attested by the angel of the presence of the Lord God of Hosts.
In signifying to the churches to whom this testimony is directed, as branches of the kingdom of Christ, the entire church is brought to view, as the “holy city, New Jerusalem,” which in the words of the prophecy of this book, is very clearly described, as descending from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. The perfect organization of the gospel church, is beautifully signified under the similitude of the perfectly organized and regulated city. Her exact boundaries are measured; her length, breadth and height, are equal, her walls, her gates, her streets and internal regulations are given with the most exact precision, and her supplies of all that can contribute to the comfort, safety and glory of this city minutely declared. No natural or artificial light is either needed or allowed; for the Lord God, and the Lamb are the light of it. The waters of life are clear as crystal, and flow from the throne of God and the Lamb. The fruit of the tree of life, of which Jesus is both the Root and the Offspring, is yielded every month, and those who are admitted within her gates have right to eat of its delicious fruits.
As we understand the church of our Lord Jesus Christ to be signified by this city, and in her gospel organization and discipline, we shall see that by the laws of her King, there are rules for admission, and also for expulsion, through her gates.
The law by which members are to be admitted through her gates to the fellowship and fellow-citizenship of the city, are thus stated in the fourteenth verse of this chapter, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city (Revelation 22:14).” This regulation agrees with the prophecy of Isaiah also, “Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in (Isaiah 26:2).”
By special instruction given to the apostles by our Lord Jesus Christ, in their commission, they are authorized to recognize such, and only such, as “believe and are baptized,” as subjects of church fellowship. So the apostles were governed at the day of Pentecost. They that gladly received the word preached were baptized, and added to the church. Professing to believe the doctrine as held and taught by the apostles, and bowing their necks to take on them the yoke of Jesus, they were baptized on the profession of their faith in Christ.
Those who are admitted through the gates into the city, on profession of their faith and obedience to the laws of the kingdom, are required to continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship. Their feet are to abide within the gates; that is, to walk orderly in all the laws and institutions of the house of God. The same law of Christ by which they were admitted to fellowship requires that the fellowship of the church shall be withdrawn from them, and their part from the book of life, (or record of the living in Jerusalem), God will take away from them, by the discipline of his church. The margin reads, from the tree of life, or from holding a name and place, and from enjoying the privileges of orderly members of the church, who have a right to the tree of life.
This text does not certainly mean that those who are born of God can be unborn, that the children of God can ever cease to stand in that relation to God; but it does, as we understand the subject, mean precisely what it says; their part shall be taken from the family record, that is from the registry of the names of those who are entitled to recognition as orderly members in fellowship. Thus for the heresy of adding to the doctrine, laws or ordinances authorized by the laws of Christ, and for rejecting any part of the words of the book of divine inspiration, the apostles delivered such over to Satan, that they might learn not to blaspheme.
It will not be disputed that there are subjects of grace who have not entered in through the ordinance of baptism to the church relation which is signified, and who while living in disobedience to Christ cannot be admitted to the communion of the church, or to participate in any of the privileges whereby orderly disciples are recognized as having right to the tree of life.
It is also a well established order in all gospel churches that when any who have been received deny the faith, or defy the authority with which Christ has invested his church, by repudiating any of his laws, or rejecting any part of the word and laws of Christ, they are excluded from the fellowship of the church, and no longer allowed any of the privileges of the church, until they shall be convinced of their disorder, confess their faults, and be restored to the fellowship and privileges of the church. They are to the church when, and while put away, as the publicans and sinners were to the Jews. Thus debarred from church fellowship and church privileges, they are cast into outer darkness, and into outer company; for the division wall which separates between the orderly disciples, and those who do not the commandments, as marked in the fourteenth and fifteenth verses of this chapter, shows that the walls encircle only the orderly members, while those who are cast out by the laws of Christ, have to associate with dogs, and sorcerers, whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. It is a fearful and lamentable state indeed for a disobedient child of God to be expelled from the fellowship of the saints, and find their portion with hypocrites. May we take heed to the solemn admonitions of our Lord, and see that we take no liberties which are not granted, by adding to the word; or transgress the law of Christ by repudiating any part or portion of his sacred word.
March 15, 1867.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 461 - 464