Brother Beebe: If congenial with your feelings, I would be pleased to have your views on Revelation 3:12, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
G. W. Brooks.
Clay’s Village, Kentucky.
July 3, 1866.
Reply: The subject proposed for consideration so far transcends our limited understanding that we feel a hesitancy in attempting an elucidation of it, and should utterly decline an expression of any views upon what seems so awfully sublime and profound, if anything more than our views were solicited. Let it be well understood that we feel and confess our incompetence to comprehend the depth of the subject, and desire that what we may express as our views may be carefully and prayerfully compared with the scriptures of truth, and accepted only so far as found sustained by the unerring standard of truth as clearly revealed in the scriptures.
Three things are indispensable necessary to be considered in approaching the subject. First, the speaker; second, the person addressed; and third, the true sense and meaning of what is said.
First. The speaker is described as “He that is holy, he that is true; he that hath the key of David; he that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth.” These characteristics cannot be found in any one short of the Son of God himself. He is holy and true, he has the key of David, he openeth and no man shutteth, and he shutteth and no man openeth. These distinguishing attributes belong to Christ alone. He is holy and harmless, separate from sinners, and higher than the heavens. (See Hebrews 7:26; Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35; Psalm 89:19.) He is the Holy One of Israel; the fountain and fullness of all holiness of which his redeemed people are made partakers. Aside from him, they are all destitute of holiness, and he is therefore distinguished as him that is holy. Christ is also known as “Him that is true;” “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life;” “the Faithful Witness;” “the True God and Eternal Life.” He is true not only in regard to his veracity, “The strength of Israel cannot lie,” and as to his reliability as the Messenger of the Covenant, and the infallible certainty of the full and complete accomplishment of all his Mediatorial work, but also in distinction from all the types, figures, and shadows which were given under the ceremonial dispensation concerning him. He asserts his claim thus: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman (John 15:1).” Other vines were used as figures; but he is the real, the true and living vine. He is the true bread, which was prefigured by the manna in the wilderness. And he is true in distinction from all who ever came before him. He also hath the key of David; or the power to rule, to open or shut without the possibility of being successfully resisted by any man, as typified by David. He says, “I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify these things in the churches; I am the Root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” Typified by Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, of whom God said, “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open (Isaiah 22:22).” In his first revelation of himself in this vision to John, he said unto him, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death (Revelation 1:18).” It is the key, or power to execute his will, to open and shut, to shut and open without the possibility of being thwarted in doing his pleasure in the armies of heaven, or among the inhabitants of the earth. He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. Is there any other being in earth or heaven to whom such power is given; who bears the keys of omnipotent power, having all power in heaven and earth given into his hands? All the heavenly hosts revere his power and acknowledge his majesty; the elements of nature, the winds and seas obey him, and devils tremble at his presence. With all these credentials of his eternal power and Godhead, he utters the words of our text.
Second. The subject of this address is the angel of the church in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia is the sixth, and next to the last of the churches of Asia, to the angels of which, severally, John was commanded to write the things which he had seen, and the things which are, and the things which should be hereafter, etc.; to each, however, a distinct communication was dictated, in which the situation of the churches respectively and of the angels of the churches, was clearly indicated. The seven golden candlesticks in the first chapter of this vision, or revelation, are interpreted to mean the seven churches, and the seven stars which were in the right hand of him who is the Alpha and Omega, were the angels of the seven churches.
It is thought by some of our most gifted brethren that these seven churches are designed to represent the church of Christ in her different phases, as she should appear at different periods and circumstances until the end of her militant state, and that the order and circumstances are to show a succession of phases in which she should appear from the Ephesus to the Laodicean state, and point to so many periods and conditions of the church in the order in which they were addressed. Of the correctness of this theory we have no certain knowledge; but, in view of the number seven, as used in other parts of this vision, as applied to the book sealed with seven seals, the seven angels with the seven trumpets, the seven thunders, the seven vials of wrath, etc., all seem to point to distinct and marked periods of the church and of her trials and the development of the mystery of God, and we are led to regard the views of brethren which we have referred to, as entitled to serious consideration. If this theory be correct, the Philadelphian, being the next to the last, indications of the condition and development of the church must, we think, point to the present period of time; as the opening of the seventh seal must uncover and reveal the last manifestation that shall be made of her on earth.
As the name Philadelphia signifies a family or fraternity of love, it may, at first thought, seem very inapplicable to the present state and condition of the church of the living God; but on a more critical and full examination, the name with its signification may not seem so inappropriate.
The Philadelphian state never was, nor ever will be, applicable to any of the numerous branches of anti-christ, nor is it ever applied in scripture to any but the church of God; and perhaps there never was a time since the organization of the gospel church that it has not to some extent been applicable to her. But the title in this case seems to have been given as a special indication of the prevalence of brotherly love, as forming a very obvious characteristic of the church of God, in striking contrast with the very opposite developments of anti-christ at the time referred to. The difference at the present time between the church of Christ and false or anti-christian pretenders is the more apparent by the contrast, as stars are only seen shining brightly when all is darkness around. The elements of the dragon, the leopard, the bear, and the lion, with their insatiate howling and thirsting for blood, persecuting those who know and love the truth, and biting and devouring their own kindred and kind, how strikingly apparent is the spirit of love and fellowship which binds the family of our God in her Philadelphian state, keeping the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. What revolting examples have been witnessed in our country during a few of the past years! All the Protestant denominations, as far as our knowledge extends, have divided and engaged in deadly conflict with each other, fighting like demons with the most destructive and deadly weapons, and in their professedly religious character gravely sat in ecclesiastical council, enacting the most cruel decrees, and hounding on their fanatical minions for the extermination of those of their own communion. Which, if any, of all the Protestant religious denominations have not divided asunder, and distinguished themselves as the church North, and the church South? The Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, New School, or Modern Missionary Baptists, Congregationalists, and those of every other name or stripe, the ring, streaked and the speckled have all shown the same rancorous spirit with which they were branded by our Savior as the children of the devil; whose works they are so zealous to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth; and from him they inherit the murderous and untruthful disposition by which they are so indelibly marked in their foreheads and right hands. But how great has been the contrast, while hatred, variance, wrath, strife, sedition, envyings and murder, have so unmistakably proclaimed their religious paternity, causing the earth to reek with human gore, the little persecuted flock of the meek and gentle Savior has quite unmistakably borne the inscription of his name, and implantation in their hearts of his spirit of love, gentleness, good will, and kindness. They are known as his sheep and lambs; not his tigers and wolves. And they have sought the suffering who have been lodged in gloomy prisons, and hospitals, and ministered to the suffering all the aid and sympathy their cruel opposers would allow them to afford, without even discriminating among the suffering between their friends or foes. The Philadelphian character of the church of God has not only identified the true church from all others in the display of the Spirit of Christ, as expressed by the song of angels, “Peace on earth and good will toward men;” but there is a peculiar bond of Christian love and gospel fellowship by which they are always to be known. “By this,” said the Prince of Peace, “shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.” Would any sane person have taken any of the religious denominations of our country for the disciples of Jesus, from their love one for another, while they were striving and praying for the destruction of each other? Or would any fail to discover this trait as peculiarly characteristic of the Old School Baptists?
We do not know if the disciples at the present time love one another with a purer heart or more fervently than on former occasions; but it does appear to us that the surrounding admonitions of anti-christ, and the peculiar trials through which the church has been wading of late, has served to make the love of the brethren the more clearly apparent. And the kind, Christian and heart-felt greetings of the brethren from the South and North, East and West, now after a tedious, cruel, and devastating war has closed and facilities are again open for correspondence, really makes it seem as though the brethren love one another more fervently than ever before.
The condition of the Philadelphian church as indicated by the special message of her angel was that of comparative weakness and conflict with hypocritical professors. “I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man shall shut.” Her works, like her name, were works of love, in which she was opposed, not only by anti-christian organizations without, but also by false pretenders within, who said they were Jews, and were not, but did lie. This seems to be a fair description of the opposition which the church and her ministry have encountered in their works of obedience to Christ, in loving their enemies and refusing to kill or rob them, and in contending for the peaceable doctrine and practice enjoined by the gospel. They have been violently opposed, and threatened, slandered and abused, and every effort has been made to bring down upon them the wrath and persecution of their enemies; but Jesus says, “I know thy works.” He cannot be deceived about it. And he knows their perplexities, trials and persecutions. But he has made a way for their escape. He has set before them an open door; and no man, however malicious or treacherous, shall be able to shut it. And weak as the church and the ministry may feel, they still have “a little strength.” For, “As their days, so shall their strength be.” Truly, it may now be said of the church, “Faint, yet pursuing.” Her strength, though small, shall be increased as her necessities shall require. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. The grace of God is sufficient. Nothing perhaps can be more discouraging to church or pastor than to find the church infested with unreliable members; such as say they are Jews, thatis, they are of the circumcision which is not outward in the flesh; but that which is of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is of God and not of men. This they may profess to be, and say they are; but he who searches the hearts, and trieth the reins of all, detects their hypocrisy, and says they do lie; and that they are of the synagogue of Satan. That such is their real character and proclivity will be seen not only while in the church they give their influence to the enemies of God and truth, but as soon as they are cast out from church recognition they at once go to their own company, and seek for sympathy from the avowed enemies of the church. Can there be any doubt that they do lie, when they come to the church and profess to give up all for Christ; to renounce the world, the flesh and the devil, and after a solemn profession of faith, as soon as conflicts arise, show that they have a greater regard for their worldly interests, their politics or their earthly associations, than they have for the laws and authority of Christ in his church? Do they not lie when professing to be circumcised in heart and ears, cut off from the fleshly influences that war against the truth; and yet hold a more sacred regard for their allegiance to human governments, however corrupt, than for the authority of Christ and fellowship for his people? Some of these marks seem to us peculiarly applicable to the present state and condition of the church, and of her ministry. But God, who has reserved vengeance in his own hands, will humble the adversaries of his people, and in due time they shall bow before the majesty of his truth, and know that he has loved his people with an everlasting love.
Third. We come now to consider the true import and meaning of what is said in our text. The plain import of the message is that of Instruction, Admonition, and Encouragement.
Instruction is given of the watchful care of Christ which is always devoted to his church and people; that he knows their works, their trials and their persecutions, and he knows how and when to deliver them, and how and when to dispose of their adversaries. The door of deliverance from all their sorrows and tribulation is opened and shut by his sovereign and resistless power and wisdom, and their trials are almost over, he is coming quickly, when all his angels or ministers, who have finished their course with joy, and the ministry which they have received from him to testify the gospel of the grace of God, shall receive a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give them at that day.
Admonition. The church and the ministry, and all who have an ear to hear what the Spirit saith to the churches, are admonished to hold that fast which they have, that no man take their crown. That which the saints have sometimes seems to them to be so very small as hardly to be worth such terrible conflict; sometimes they feel almost tempted to give it all up. But the admonition is to hold it fast. It is but a little longer the conflict can last, and the crown of triumph shall be given. Men, and devils too, are in the field, and with determined malice aim to deprive the saints of their crowning joy and victory; but we are admonished to be watchful, prayerful, and patient a little longer, and then enter into uninterrupted and everlasting joys.
Encouragement. How full of encouragement to the poor wayworn child of God, when almost overwhelmed by the opposition of hostile foes without, and still more treacherous and false-hearted foes within; and when conscious that his strength is very little, to receive such a message of consolation from him who holds the keys of death and hell in his own hand. “I have made a way for thy escape.” “I have set before thee an open door.” “To me the porter opened.” “I have opened for thee the doors of death and the grave, and brought thee up out of thy prison-house, when no one else had the key; the doors of immortal life I have opened before thee, and it can never again be shut.” Let faith behold it and rejoice in God, your deliverer. “I have supplied thee with a little strength, so that in the most trying hour thou hast not denied my name, even when, for my name sake, persecution and sufferings were heaped upon thee.” “A little strength;” had he given us a great deal of strength we might have boasted or been vainly puffed up; but just enough, and none to spare; that we may every moment know and feel our dependence on him. And while hated by the world, and while we find in ourselves so much that in our inmost soul we detest, to have assurance that he loves us, and that he will make our enemies also know that he has loved us, is blessed encouragement indeed. To know and be assured of our God that we have kept his word, the word of his patience when that word has been rejected by the world, by the synagogue of Satan, and by false and treacherous professors, is a very comforting assurance indeed. It is called the word of my patience, because that all who receive and keep it shall suffer persecutions. Jesus said to his Father, “I have given them my word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world (John 17:14).” He has given them not only the word of life by which they were quickened, but his word, as the man of their counsel, the standard of their faith, and rule of their practice. The grace of patience is necessary for the world and false Jews, and all the powers of darkness, will oppose; and not only do we need patience to endure their opposition, but if we become impatient we are apt ourselves to leave the instructions of the word, and try our own inventions. But the Philadelphians are commended in that they had under all their trials and discouragements kept the word of his patience; therefore they have the comforting assurance that their God will keep them from the hour of temptation that shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. We come now to speak on that part of the message on which brother Brooks desired us to write, viz.: “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out; and I will write upon him the name of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name.
To him that overcometh five most precious promises are given. Let us consider first the triumph, and then the promises.
The triumph contemplated implies a conflict and struggle, which evidently refers to the warfare already noticed with anti-christ, and those lying Jews, who belong to the synagogue of Satan, but more especially to the hour of temptation in prospect, seems to refer to a most trying period to be accomplished during the time of the Philadelphian church state. Not only shall it so try those who dwell in the secret place of the most High, as to call into active manifestation their patience, but it shall try and detect those who, whatever may be their lying professions, dwell upon the earth. Those who received orders from the two-horned, or Protestant, beast to make an image to the beast which had the wound by a sword and did live, are designated as “them that dwell upon the earth.” That is religiously, as John says, “They are of the world; therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them (I John 4:5).” While the true worshipers of God are not of the world, but redeemed from the earth, their dwelling is on high. The hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world to try them that dwell upon the earth will, as we believe, expose the deception and falsehood of all those who profess to be Jews, while they are of the synagogue of Satan, and whose religion is altogether of the earth earthly; and drive them from connection with the church of God. Him that overcometh, or they that overcome the torrent of iniquity of the hour of temptation, and keep the word of the patience of their Lord, and resist the tide of mad fanaticism, shall realize the blessings promised in our text.
First. “I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.” This gracious promise or pledge is from Christ, as the Mediatorial Head of his body, the church; his God is the God of all his members; as he said, “I go to my Father, and to your Father, to my God, and to your God.” “The Temple of my God” is that which is of lively stones built up a spiritual building consecrated as the dwelling of the Most High God. In the construction of this temple, or organization of this church, every part is fitly framed, and every child of God has a place to fill; some are more and some less prominent. It is said of the building of Wisdom, “She hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven (or perfect number of) pillars (Proverbs 9:1).” So in the organization of the church, the same idea is figuratively applied. James, Cephas and John, among the apostles, seemed to be pillars, or parts of the spiritual structure so arranged as to afford support and strength to other parts of the same building. So Christ has set in the church an ample variety of gifts, and all are designed for the common edification of the whole, the strong are to bear the infirmities of the weak, and all in their measure to strengthen one another in the Lord.
Our own observation teaches us that those angels, or messengers, or pastors of the churches, who keep the Word of Christ and overcome all opposing influences, are unmoved and unshaken in the hour of temptation, do afford much strength and stability to the building; while such as are driven by winds of doctrine and are easily switched off the gospel track at the approach of trial, temptation or persecution, are like broken reeds, unreliable and altogether incapable of affording strength or consolation to the tempted and trembling weak ones of the church. There are some angels, and among them not a few who are transformed as angels of light, who can make a plausible show of devotedness to the cause of God and truth when they have nothing to lose, or when that cause is not assailed by opposing foes; but the moment they are required to suffer losses, crosses or persecution, they will show you that their name, fame, worldly interests, comforts, lusts, or ease are more to them than any attachment they have to the truth, or reverence for the name or authority of Christ. Such are not like pillars in God’s holy temple; for no reliance can be placed on them. But those who can endure hardness as good soldiers, are reliable and trusty, and shall afford much support to the faint and trembling children of God.
The second promise to him that overcometh is that he shall permanently abide in his honorable and useful position in the temple of God, and go no more out. While all those vacillating, unstable souls who cannot endure the hour of temptation shall be sifted out, and every wandering star and rainless cloud shall be driven by the tempest, to whom is reserved the mists of darkness forever and ever.
“And I will write on him the name of my God.” Who can describe the greatness of this promise and the certainty of its fulfillment? Who can describe what it would be like to be one of those who bear the imprint of the name of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, be endorsed as his own, and forever distinguished from those on whom is written the mark of the beast, or his image, or the number of his name? John saw this and said, “And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:1-5).” When Jesus writes his Father’s name upon his ministers or upon his children, the hand-writing is easily recognized by all who are taught by his Spirit; it cannot be counterfeited by the art of men, or can the writing be erased by all the malice of devils. They are marked as his chosen, redeemed and saved people, and sheltered from all harm under the protection of his great name. Unspeakably great as this privilege is, it is sure to all who overcome, who keep his word, and who deny him not before the sons of men.
A further promise is that he will also write upon him that overcometh the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem which cometh down out of heaven from God. The chosen and redeemed people of God, both ministers and churches, who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth are so identified with the holy Jerusalem, that they bear her name. She is the mother of them all; and it is meet that they shall bear her name. The word Jerusalem signifies vision of peace. And this New Jerusalem is truly a peaceable habitation and a quiet resting place to those who bear her lovely name. She is very unlike the churches which are gotten up in modern times by the inventions and zeal of men; for she came not up, but cometh down from heaven. All the materials in this building came from heaven. Her King came down from heaven, her subjects were all chosen in Christ before the world began, and are brought into manifestation when born of God; her spirit is heaven-born, her doctrine, laws, ordinances, food and defenses are all from God. The anti-christian beasts rose up out of the earth and out of the sea, and out of the bottomless pit and go into perdition. But the New Jerusalem came from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband. But:
Lastly. “And I will write upon him my new name.” As Jesus, in his Mediatorial work, entered the field of conflict, he took on him the form of a servant, and learned obedience. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. But when he had overcome all opposing principalities, vanquished death, and brought immortality to light; he ascended up on high, and now sits enthroned in glory at the right hand of the majesty of God. And in his deathless victory, God hath given him a name which is above every name which is in heaven or earth, or under the earth. At the supremacy of his name every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess. Thus mounted on his white horse, with his bow, and with his crown, in righteousness he doth judge and make war. He goeth forth conquering and to conquer. But emerging from his conflict with all the powers of darkness, wearing a vesture dipped in blood, he bears a name that no man knew but himself. And the armies which are in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS (Revelation 19:11-16).” His new and secret name declares his finished work, his perfect triumph, and in his new name he ascends to heaven with a shout; the gates thereof lift up their heads, and the everlasting doors are lifted up, that the King of Glory may enter in. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne (Revelation 3:21).” His new name, which he will give to him that overcometh, is the same which is mentioned in Revelation 2:17, in the message to the angel of Pergamos. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving him that receiveth it.” The name and fame achieved by Christ with all the glory of his perfect triumph shall be written in living characters upon his vesture and his thigh, and stamped indelibly on all the members of his mystical body, and in name and in glory they shall be one with him, even as he is one with the Father.
September 1, 1866.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 365 - 377