Revelation 22:16, 17.
In the closing testimony the Church, as in the remnant character, is characterized by the brightest trait of the original. Do you understand that? A remnant now is characterized by fidelity to Christ, the brightest trait at the beginning. Many think that a remnant is only the fag end, but it is not so in Scripture. The scripture I give you is Isaiah 6:13: "In it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them."
Would Simeon and Anna be the remnant?
What did you say the tenth was?
The tenth is God's right. He has a right to the tenth. The tenth was called the best of the spoil. That which Abraham gave to Melchisedec he was entitled to as conqueror. Thus tithes came in. The royal priest received the tithes.
Is the Lord's coming the hope of the Church?
Yes. "This same Jesus . . . shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." The Thessalonians were waiting for God's Son from heaven. The Lord said of John that he was to tarry until He came, and as soon as the book of Revelation was given this was fulfilled, because everything was in its place preparatory to His coming. Things may have developed since, but there is nothing new.
Then you overleap the rapture?
Oh, no, I do not! The rapture is before the dawn of the day; it is not the day. The rapture occupies some too exclusively. They are thinking only of being taken out of everything here.
Many hold that everything has been fulfilled, and that we are on the eve of the appearing, and that it may take place at any moment. What is the effect of that? That the Church has passed through the tribulation already.
Of course that is not true! The Church could not be in the tribulation. Many cannot see that the Church and Christ are one. Some speak of the coming of the Lord as if it were only to take them out of their present trouble. That is not the idea here. As far as I understand, John revives the truth entrusted to Paul. He begins with the Church at Ephesus. The whole book is written to the seven churches, and he begins at the chief one. It had lost its first love; Christ was no longer the absorbing object. The one attractive object to the heart of the bride is Christ. The candlestick has been taken away. If you look around you see many trying to recover the candlestick, to be acknowledged by the world.
What would you say when we speak of being a testimony?
To be acknowledged by the world is at the bottom of that saying.
Do you take the morning star to be a substitution for the candlestick?
Yes. To Thyatira was given the morning star. From Thyatira down to Laodicea the rewards, for the most part, are connected with the kingdom. The great thing is to have the Lord as the object of your heart. That is the point here. You must take in the whole passage - "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."
What do you understand by "the root and the offspring of David"?
He is the rightful King. In Philadelphia you find He has the key of David. What does that mean? He, though the rejected King, has opened the way through everything, notwithstanding all the opposition. He is coming to reign. The last type of the Church in the Old Testament is Abigail, and she ministers of the substance of Nabal to the rejected king. That is what you and I ought to do.
Would you mind telling us what that means - the substance of Nabal ministered to David?
Whatever would meet his necessity. She was thinking of the rejected king. The application today is, that instead of spending your time and means for your own benefit, you are engrossed with Christ and His saints. A type is but a shadow.
Would you explain the two things - the "root" and the "star"?
He (Christ) is the King, but besides being the King you get concurrently that He is coming. This the morning star indicates. If in natural life you were to hear, "There's the morning star," you would know that the day was at hand. If you were weary with a long night of travel, you would be glad to see the morning star. It is the harbinger of the coming day. I was glad to see a remark of Mr. Darby's the other day, that the rapture was only spoken of in Thessalonians, and possibly referred to in John 14:3. No one can deny that if you have the coming you must have the rapture.
But might we not, with regard to the rapture, have communion with the joy of Christ in receiving His people?
I have no doubt it is lovely in its order. The Thessalonians were in trouble because they thought their Christian friends would not be in the kingdom because they had died. They were waiting for God's Son from heaven, but they knew nothing of the rapture. They thought that those who died would not be in the kingdom. The rapture shows the Lord's tender love. "The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds." We shall all go up together. The beginning of His power - the first demonstration of it - is for us. There is no allusion to the Lord's coming in Ephesians. Philippians is the experience of a heavenly man. We are united to Christ in the brightest spot, but down here in the wilderness we have a body of humiliation. If the Lord should come we should have a glorious body. "We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." He has taken to Himself His great power. The rapture is the first wave of His power. Do you see? We cannot limit the power to that event. It is a most touching mark of His love, and He will have us to share with Him at once.
That is, it is the application to our bodies, of the same power that He will use afterwards to subdue all things unto Himself?
Exactly. But one has very little heart for Christ if he does not look beyond the rapture. That is mainly our own part. The great fact of the Lord's coming is lost sight of, if it is only to take us out of trouble. The Bride has "made herself ready." No one is ready to say "come," but the Bride. No one else is ready for the Lord.
There is no responsibility in the rapture?
Exactly. Now you use the right word; the Lord's coming is to reign. He is the King. We are looking for Christ to reign. Hence the prayer, "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." I do not think I can explain it, but the way you are found when the Lord comes affects your position with the Lord when He reigns.
That is, during the kingdom only?
Your place never alters in the new Jerusalem. Your place in the kingdom is distinct from your place in heaven. The youngest babe is as well off in heaven as Paul. Suppose a man could say "I have been living for the Lord for forty years - all except these last six months." Well, I am afraid the last six months will tell against him. I do not say he will lose the forty years, but we read, "That . . . we may . . . not be ashamed before Him at His coming." The coming there is the Lord's appearing.
Do I understand you that the great point is, how the Lord finds you when He comes?
Yes, that you are expecting Him. "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord. . . . Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching." Who is the good servant? The one who is watching and giving his fellows "their portion of meat in due season." He is expecting the Lord, and paying every attention to His own.
So that (that we may all follow and understand) in this verse in Revelation 22, there is a reference to the King?
Can we say then that we delight in the thought of the coming of the King, being absorbed in His interests?
Quite so; and therefore no one can say, "Come," but the Spirit and the Bride. As I said before, it is not merely the rapture when you will be taken out of the trouble here - but you are to be full of Christ's interests, because He is coming. What brought about the state of Christendom? They began to say, "My lord delayeth his coming."
Of course there is a danger of losing sight of the rapture. The whole boast of the natural man is, as you say, to teach that there is no rapture at all?
That is a grievous error. You might as well say there is no morning star before the morning. I believe the very first flash of the morning star is the rapture.
Is that when I get it in my soul?
Besides, is it not responsibility that comes in in this verse?
Yes, certainly. You never find responsibility connected with the rapture. "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom." That is responsibility.
But if the Church is not known, can the rapture be known?
I think the rapture might be looked for, but not the appearing. The Bride only could enter into Christ's interest.
Then does the morning star speak of the heavenly beauty of Christ?
It is the harbinger of day: "Until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." The day star comes before the day dawns.
Then only the watchers will see it?
The watchers are not only looking out for it, but they are diligent in caring for Christ's things; hence the Spirit and the Bride say, "Come," and the effect of this said truly is that the hearers say, "Come." You say, "I heard brother So-and-so saying 'Come,' and it had a great effect upon me. I say, 'Come,' too." When this truth was revived it had a great effect upon souls.
What produced the effect, the lives of those that held it?
The reality of their desire for it. I knew a young man, (he was younger than I was - then 17 or 18), and the verse he gave me for the Lord's coming was, "The meek shall inherit the earth." Do they? No. "Then," he said, "there is something coming."
Is not the appearing of the Lord very much lost sight of?
Yes, very much. I hope we shall improve.
Is it right to speak of the Lord as our King?
No, it is not. Some imagine that He is King now. It is not true.
I suppose when we speak of the Lord as King it is always in connection with the earth?
Yes. The moment He takes to Himself His great power and reigns, there is joy in heaven. The moment the rapture takes place His power has begun. Nothing can exceed it. I could dwell on the rapture, but I am afraid of saints dwelling too exclusively on it. It is very touching to our hearts that the first use of His power will be with regard to His own.
Still, we hear very little of the appearing of the Lord and of the wonderful reality of what it will be to reign with Him.
If the Lord were to walk, this minute, into this room, no one would take any position for Him. greater than he has now. I mean as to reigning with Him. Whatever interest you take in the Lord's affairs now, that is the interest which qualifies you for a place in the kingdom. The overcomer in Laodicea only sits on the throne, he does not get any power. In Thyatira he rules. In Philadelphia he is a pillar.
If the rapture were to take place this moment, we should all be equally glorified.
Yes, certainly. We should all go up together to the Father's house, and all know unclouded happiness there. As I have sometimes said, the holidays will have come and we shall have gone home, but the examination follows. At school, the examination comes before the holidays; in God's grace, we go home first, before the judgment seat. (2 Cor. 5:10.) Everything will come out there from our infancy onward - as it were in two columns: one as to what you have been, and the other, God's grace to you all the way. Grace has abounded, and you get the good of it.
We shall all be glorified together at the rapture and all in heaven.
Yes, truly, but consequent on that "His wife hath made herself ready," she has passed the judgment seat. White linen is the righteousnesses of the saints.
All responsibility is connected with the appearing?
Yes. It is connected with your righteousness here. A Wesleyan will tell you that you cannot get to heaven without good works; he will quote, "that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God." But, I say, the kingdom of God there does not mean heaven. You get a place in the kingdom on the earth according to your works. The kingdom is founded on righteousness.
Then it will be a result of the judgment seat, at the appearing?
Yes. You come out in righteousness then.
The Father's house comes after the rapture, and then the judgment seat?
Precisely. When Babylon has been destroyed there is the greatest joy in heaven. Then the Bride passes in review before the Lord, and each one gets his own place in the kingdom.
Does the marriage supper take place after that?
Yes; it is then celebrated. All the Old Testament saints are guests.
Before we appear with Him in glory?
Yes; we should be looking for this, to "appear with Him in glory." It is important to bear in mind that you could not be in the mind of the Bride if you did not know union with Christ.
It is not individual then?
No; the Bride is the remnant seeking for the others. "Let him that heareth say, Come."
Who is that, a Christian?
Yes; to be sure. The remnant is true. Anna, the prophetess, was a remnant at the time. She "departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day." You cannot look for the Lord according to His mind, unless you are identified with His interests. The Spirit and the Bride look for Him to come. You must know 2 Timothy 3 in order to be a man of God for this day. There are two things in that chapter. The one is, you know the state of things in Christendom. It is different from 2 Timothy 2. There they "erred" from the truth. Now they "resist the truth"; they have the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. You have the same sins as in Romans 1, only here there is a cloak. Now comes the most important point. No one is alive to the difficulty of this day who does not see that the truth is resisted by an imitation of it. The most effectual opposition to a reality is to imitate it. The more precious it is, the more the deceiver gains by imitating it. Many imitate gold, few imitate copper. Diamonds are imitated because of their value. Thus Jannes and Jambres neutralized the power of God by imitation. How were they checked? The dust was turned into living creatures, and they could not imitate that. Life marks the power of God. You confound imitation by life. Here the ministry of John comes in. If a diamond and a glass imitation were in this room together, you would not discern the difference. But take them both into the dark, and you would soon see the difference. In the dark there is no light in the glass, but there is in the diamond. It is a great moment for you when you see that imitation is the greatest hindrance to the truth. Suppose a Christian leaves system, and says, "I am looking for the true way of gathering," and he goes on with you for a while and then breaks away and sets up an imitation. He is a greater hindrance to the truth than if he had remained in system.
How are we to take their rods becoming serpents? Was there life in them?
No; I should say they became devils. Life was not brought in. The water turned into blood was the same, significant of judgment.
So what we have in Christendom is a multitude of counterfeits?
Yes; show me anything that is not a counterfeit. One minister reads aloud a written sermon; another speaks extempore - the latter is more talented than the other. Natural ability is not spiritual gift.
The better the counterfeits the more dangerous?
Yes. There are two qualities in a good physician. One is, he knows what is the matter with you; the other is, he knows the remedy to cure you. You have both in this chapter. First, the state of Christendom; a perfect diagnosis. Next the remedy; "Thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, etc." First, Paul's teaching must be thoroughly known, not only as to the Church, but also as to the Gospel. You will never understand the Church until you understand Paul's Gospel.
What do you mean by Paul's Gospel?
A Gospel which connects the believer with a Saviour in glory. Paul calls it his Gospel - the Gospel of God.
(See Acts 8) The eunuch was reading Isaiah 53: "His life is taken from the earth." Now, in chap. 9 we read of a "light out of heaven." That is Paul's Gospel.
We sometimes hear people say, "So-and-so preaches nothing but Jesus Christ crucified."
They must go another step. Paul writes, "1 determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, AND Him crucified." In Christendom they often leave out the "and." There are two distinct points in that passage - one, "Jesus Christ," and the other, "Him crucified." It is generally quoted "Jesus Christ crucified." The force of "and" in Scripture is a disjunctive one. It separates two ideas; "and" leads to a new idea.
But to resume. The man of God must not only be a proficient in Paul's teaching, but he must know the Old Testament, because there God's ways with man are fully brought out. You will never know what man is in relation to God till you are master of the Old Testament; yet a man who confines himself to the Old Testament is legal.
From Abraham down to the present day the man whom God supports is the man who is set for God's object at the time. When Daniel knew that he was sentenced to the lions' den he prayed in his house three times a day, his window being open towards Jerusalem. Jerusalem was then a heap of ruins, but he was set for God's object. I have illustrated this by the trade winds. The trade winds blow always the same way, and every ship is thus wafted along by them; and thus it is with every one who is in the line of God's present object.
Is that what you meant by a man for the day?
Yes, a man who is fully acquainted with Paul's Gospel and the mystery, and also with the Old Testament. He is a man of God. A man of God means really, A man for the crisis.
And the effect will be that he comes out as of the remnant, and will answer to the faithful servant, giving the household "their portion of meat in due season." Every one can help. Each one may be in heart so set for Christ that His interests are ever paramount - not only looking for Him to come, but as you do so, being more and more devoted to His treasure here. Amen. J. B. Stoney.