Quiet Talks by Samuel Dickey: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation: 30. The Seven-fold Message

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Quiet Talks by Samuel Dickey: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation: 30. The Seven-fold Message

TOPIC: Gordon, Samuel Dickey - Quiet Talks on the Crowned Christ of Revelation (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 30. The Seven-fold Message

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The Seven-fold Message

Now this seven-fold message lets us see things through Christ's eyes. He is letting them and us see what He sees. The Scottish poet's thoughtful lines might well be changed to get the yet better look: "Oh! wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursel's as" God sees us. It would do more than free us from blunders and notions. And we are needing more.

Each one of these seven messages begins by our Lord drawing their eyes to Himself. This is the thing needed most. And this will give meaning and force to the message. They are to be looking at Him as they listen. Then He speaks of all the good things He sees. Then of the faulty, weak, bad things, in a few simple but unmistakably plain words. No one could doubt what He meant.

Then is the pleading call to repent, with the faithful warning of what will surely happen if they don't. Then the earnest plea that His words be listened to and taken to heart, and the wondrously gracious promise held out to those who steadily set themselves against the evil, and who get the victory.

Let us look for a moment at each of these Churches as seen by those searching eyes of flame.

Ephesus is the centre of the group, the natural leader, the largest and most influential, perhaps the mother Church of the group, where Paul and John had put in so much time and strength, and whence they reached out to these others.

Christ reminds them of His presence in their midst and His control of the angel messengers that minister to them. Then he speaks of their good deeds, their tireless activity, steadfast endurance, intense zeal for the true faith, with special emphasis upon their unwearying steadfastness even under sore difficulties, and their hatred of those who made compromise with evil so hateful to Himself.

But there is something lacking, the tender personal love for Himself. There's intense loyalty to Church and to the faith, but a lack of personal love for Himself. And the startling thing is that this is said to quite outweight all these good things. They may have these things without the love, but they cannot have the love without having these things, and at a finer temperature.

And this defect is crucial. If persisted in it is fatal. It will actually mean their rejection as His messenger. This is the critical thing which we seem to have such a hard time getting hold of. The essential qualification for true service is the personal attachment to our Lord Jesus Himself, that warm heart love which the human heart longs for and gives to some one. He longs for this. This is the essential; not Church organization nor creed, not zeal for orthodoxy, but warm love for a person. Service, witnessing, all the rest, are valuable to Him in reaching His world only as they grow out of a tender love for Himself.

And the startling thing is that this privilege and opportunity of service is to be taken away not because displeasing to Him, but because it fails of the end in view. The candlestick is only removed because it is no longer serviceable; it is not giving out the light. This earnest, aggressive, orthodox, patiently-enduring Church is to be rejected as a light-holder, because it is not holding out the light. This is tremendous!

The group in Smyrna is tenderly reminded of the suffering of their Lord, for they are filling up what is left behind of His suffering. This tells at once the depth of their personal love for Him, nothing could tell it more.

They are poor in money and so despised, but rich in faith and so precious to Him. They are suffering at the hands of the Jews, who were the outspoken, intense, fanatical enemy of the Christians. There is no reproach, only earnest en couragement to keep steady even through fiercer fires yet to come.

The description of Himself to the Pergamum group is startling. He is the one with a sharp two-edged sword. There is something here He must fight against. They are frankly told that they have had a hard place to witness in, and earnestly commended for being true even in the midst of persecution.

But there's something wrong, and it is very serious. It is as wrong and bad as it can be. There is actually compromise with evil, partnership with the world in its wickedness. The thing is put in the intensest way possible by characterizing it as adultery. No stronger language could be used to tell how He sees the evil they are guilty of. And they are plainly told that He will fight against them. They have made themselves His enemy by joining His enemies.

The Thyatira group is reminded of the purity of their Lord, who cannot stand impurity but searches it relentlessly out, and pursues it to the death. There's a faithful minority here. Their activity and love and faith and patience and increasing activity in service are all counted carefully over and warmly commended.

But the evil here is much worse. It is put into the gravest language. "Thou sufferest the woman Jezebel." This is most significant. There is no worse character named in the whole Old Testament. She not only represented the worst adulterous uncleanness in herself, but she was the national leader energetically fostering unclean idolatrous practices among the people. Jezebel pulled God's light-holder nation down to the lowest moral level it ever reached. She brazenly dominated king and people, and remained stubbornly obstinate to the terrible end.

Christ brings her name in here. Again this is tremendous. No more terrific parallel could have been made. Here evil characterized as adulterous has actually come to a place of leadership in the Church. With great longsuffering time has been given that all this might be changed, but with Jezebel-like obstinacy it was determined that there would be no change. And the inevitable result that will surely follow continued obstinacy will be a great tribulation or deadly persecution.

The Sardis group is told that Christ is the centre of all life and help, in the control of the Holy Spirit and of the angel messengers. There is nothing to commend here. There are some who insist on living true lives, but they are a scanty scattered few, not enough to count.

There are some ragged remnants of good, but even these are sickly and nearly dead. The Church is well organized, energetic, standing high among men, but with an utter absence of spiritual life. The personal lives of most are like dirty garments. And the warning is this: He will come as a thief, that is unexpectedly, disagreeably, to take away what they prize most and leave them stripped and naked.

The longest message is to the group in Philadelphia. Christ reminds them that He is holy in character, faithful to His promises, having full control, and giving opportunity of service as the highest reward of faithfulness. This candlestick is giving out light, for it is given yet further opportunity of shining.

The chief characteristic of this group is its steady plodding faithfulness. They are not spoken of as brilliant or talented, but faithful in the midst of opposition. He loves them with the sort of deep love drawn out by love freely given. And a special promise is given, a significant promise. A great persecution is coming, an awful testing time to all the earth. But He will keep them through this unhurt because they have been keeping His word so faithfully.

The common reading here is, "I will keep thee from the hour of trial." It is quite as accurate to read "through" in place of "from." And there is good reason for taking this as the sense here. The word underneath here is translated by several different words in other passages.

Where a word in one language may be translated by any one of several words the general sense of the passage must decide which one correctly expresses the meaning. Here the meaning must be gotten from the whole trend of New Testament teaching. Like the Israelites during the plagues that came to Egypt these faithful ones will be kept untouched through this terrible time that is to come.

The Laodicea group is to be talked to plainly by one who is a true, faithful witness in dealing with His people's faults, and who has all the authority of God in doing so. This is the second group that actually has not one good thing to be commended. There is no false teaching, no compromise with evil; they are simply asleep. Rich, influential, self-satisfied, grown fat and sleek,—so they seem to their neighbours and themselves. Wretched, poor, blind, naked,—so they are. And the chastening threatened will be of the severe radical sort that strong love insists upon.