Agonizomai: Rev 3:11-13 - Philadelphia the Obedient Church<br>Overcomers Will Be Eternal Testaments to God

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rev 3:11-13 - Philadelphia the Obedient Church
Overcomers Will Be Eternal Testaments to God

Rev 3:11-13 - Overcomers Will Be Eternal Testaments to God

Rev 3:11-13 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

The promise for all believers in all ages since the ascension has been, "I am coming soon." This is not to be understood in any particular time frame. "Soon" is a comparative term. In God’s view all times are "soon" for He inhabits eternity, and touches time at every point from Genesis to Revelation. But neither are we to think that His return is not imminent all the time. It is one of the cardinal points of our faith that God keeps us faithful partly by continually encouraging us to be mindful of the Lord’s return. We are to savour the idea. We are to hope in it without wishing to hasten it one second sooner than God’s eternal plan has purposed since before time itself began.

By the blessed hope and the watchfulness it engenders in all the saints (not wishing to be ashamed at His coming) we are further moved to eschew evil and to abide in Him as we wait upon Him.

To this particular church at Philadelphia the promise of His coming is no different. It is that exhortation which is given in order to keep them faithful, and to bring them to endure all the persecutions of both the synagogue of Satan and the cruelties of Rome under Trajan. This is accomplished by them abiding in Christ by faith. In this they hold fast to what they have, and what they have is all things in Christ - including eternal life. No one can seize that from them because they are in the hand of Jesus and the Father, and no one can snatch them out of Their hand. {John 10:28-29} But they can lose their reward by stumbling. The "crown" here is more like the laurel that is awarded to the victor in a race, or to a general victorious in battle. It is an honour, but not a symbol of actual power. It is an awarded, not an inherited crown.

All the saints will conquer in one sense, because all rest in the victory of Jesus over sin and death. All abide in His righteousness. All bear the fruit of the Spirit of God by grace. All are eternally secure. But there is another sense in which they must conquer, and that sense is exhibited in the obedience of faith. Not saving faith, for all the true saints have that - but sanctifying faith in which a man must strive to be found in the will of God by the grace of God. Though justification is what is imputed to a person it, being forensic (or legal) in nature does nothing to actually change the person. Yet all whom God justifies He also glorifies and, by implication, sanctifies. It is in sanctification that the responsibility of man to strive is exhorted, though the result of his striving will always be due to the grace and power of God. And, in fact, the fact that he strives at all will be seen to be the grace of God at work in him. {Php 2:12-13-10}

There is a lot about names here, particularly the Name of God. In the case of the Name(s) of God, a name is more than simply a "handle" identifying one person from another by purely visual association. A name in the Biblical sense is descriptive of the nature and character of the person alluded to. And, while we associate names with faces on a purely physical level - this is Joe and that is Fred - the recognition of God by His Name(s) is a matter of spiritual perception engendered by God’s self-revelation to the understanding of believers.

We know the Truth (one of His Names). We know the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. We know the Wonderful Counselor. None of our recognition of Him in His Names is by dint of our perceptiveness or our deductive powers or our wisdom. It may be that the depth of our understanding of His character by these names yields to persistent and faithful and diligent pursuit of Him. But the fact that we recognize Him at all (that is, His character as revealed in His Name(s)) is entirely due to His grace shed abroad in our hearts.

And for Him to write on a person His very Name is symbolic of Him both showing ownership and (more importantly) actually putting His Character itself upon them. He is saying, this is a man after my own heart because I have put a new heart within him. It is final glorification. Remembering that we never earn our salvation (including our glorification) we must be careful not to read from this that we receive God’s Name because we ourselves conquer. That would contradict what the Bible clearly teaches elsewhere - and the Bible cannot contradict itself. If it seems to, then it is we that are mistaken in our understanding.

The fuller understanding sees that we conquer because He is in us to do it and we have trusted and obeyed Him in the fight because of the faith He initially gave to us when He called us out of the world. God will commend us for our diligent use of His gift or rebuke us for our lassitude. And we, not being God, must be diligent to make our calling and election sure by "proving" to ourselves that we are indeed in Him. We must strive and press and labour to be certain that we are truly in the faith and do not prove to be reprobates.

So the writing of the Name of God upon the conqueror is the consummation of the salvation that comes from God. {Jon 2:9} It is reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision in which all those who mourned for sin committed in the city of Jerusalem received the mark upon their foreheads and were thus spared from the coming destruction. {Eze 9:3-4} It brings to mind the gold platelet bearing the phrase "Holy to the Lord" that adorned the forehead of the high priest. {Ex 28:36-38}

This is Christ speaking to the pastor of the church at Philadelphia. He speaks of three names. The Name of His God (the Father), the name of the city of His God (the new Jerusalem) and His Own new name, which no one knows. {Re 19:11-12} Whatever these things mean, the sense of establishment, acceptance, communion and permanence are all a part of it. There is great inclusiveness here. We ourselves shall bear the Name of Christ because we shall in some mysterious and glorious sense partake fully of His nature. And it will be all of grace. Sola Gratia, Sola Fides, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Again it should be noted that this encouraging truth is for those who have an ear to hear. Not all do. Only those to whom it has been given. The rest flounder in the morass of human blindness just as we all once did. And they do it, as we did, because it is what they want.


Blogger Derek Ashton said...


You said: "That would contradict what the Bible clearly teaches elsewhere - and the Bible cannot contradict itself. If it seems to, then it is we that are mistaken in our understanding."

This is well put. The trouble is, we sometimes lack the humility needed to admit it. Yet even this, God will grant to His beloved. As Nebuchadnezzar noted, "He is able to humble those who walk in pride." That's a hopeful statement for all of us.

Grace & peace,

10:41 pm  
Blogger agonizomai said...


What do you mean "sometimes"? ;o)

And, yes, I like YOUR turn of phrase when you attribute to the work/grace of God any true humility that we might display.



11:33 pm  

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