Agonizomai: Rev 3:3 - Sardis the Counterfeit Church<br>The Commandment Revives the Faithful

Friday, June 05, 2009

Rev 3:3 - Sardis the Counterfeit Church
The Commandment Revives the Faithful

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Rev 3:3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.

"Remember what you received and heard!" Remember the Word of Truth the gospel - the teaching of the Apostles. The remembrance contemplated is more than just a bringing to mind. It is a remembering to do that which is already revealed. It is the opposite of hardening. It is the application of the truth. It is walking in the truth. It is obedience to the heavenly message that has been given to them.

Now it may be that, by lack of vigilance, they had let slip some of the doctrines of the faith and begun to rely upon human teaching - or upon their own instincts, talents and reason. Who can say how the world and the flesh and the devil infiltrate the heart and the congregation? There are no doubt a million different means by which we become deadened or cold or misled - but there is only one way, and that is by lack of vigilance. Failure to watch and wait. The Truth is sometimes assailed head-on through persecution, but is often corrupted by gradual degrees - here a compromise, there a tolerance, over yonder a reinterpretation to fit modern custom or usage.

What Satan cannot destroy outright he pecks to death. It is all the same to him as long as the gospel is not rightly preached, if it must be preached at all. When persecution would serve to purify the saints he prefers to pander to them. People wonder how the pioneering communities of modern third world mission fields are so vibrant and much of the Western church is so lifeless.

It is because of these principles, which are not new. One has only to look into the history of Israel to see that they besought God rightly when they were afflicted and fell away when they had their ease. But this in no way absolved them of seeking God at all times. All it did was to demonstrate the longsuffering and lovingkindness of God - and the depravity, spiritual bankruptcy and utter need of the natural man.

So often with God, the warning itself is the very means that God uses to keep His saints on the right pathway. Those that belong to Him hear His voice and obey. Those that are not His continue on towards their destruction. Of course, the obedience of the few is far from a cut and dried matter. At any given time, in actual practice, some reprobates may appear obedient and some true saints may seem to be beyond the pale.

If we examine ourselves at various times it may be that even we are confused about our relationship to Him. We may come dangerously close to perdition, to apostasy, to reprobation, before the grace of God operating upon our hearts turns us back into the path. If we fall over the edge we cannot blame God for not saving us. It will have been our own fault for disobeying - or for not coming to Him to beg for the grace to be found obedient, and then doing all as if we had been granted it.

The security of the believer in Christ is always balanced by the admonition to be in Christ. To abide in Him. And God will hold all accountable who do not harken to His just admonishments and commands. But what does He mean when He speaks of coming as a thief in the night?

Firstly the Lord refers to the unexpectedness of His arrival. It is true that all believers are to look forward to the Lord’s return and, though that is not specifically what is meant here, the principle always holds true that if we are looking for His coming we shall ever be on guard. Surely it is not possible to hope in Christ’s glorious return and to be continually casting one’s mind upon that hope, while at the same time being disobedient to the One in Whom the hope rests. Hoping in His return while not abiding in Him in the present is what Mr. Spock would call "illogical".

So - the unexpectedness of His coming in judgment to those who refuse to be corrected is akin to His coming in glory to bring the final judgment. God alone knows the time. He knows the place. He draws the line and says, "Thus far and no further shall you go." There is no knowing and no appealing that stark moment when He Who is patience and forbearance itself chooses to cease exercising those mercies.

Second - and already mentioned - beside the unexpectedness of the judgment there is the finality of it. For when God comes against a person then who can be his defender? Where is there any strength to resist? Will God, the source and sustainer of all strength, grant the power to overcome He Who grants and judges all things? Will He make a rock so big that He cannot move it? Of course not! It is a foolish question. God is not a paradox to Himself. He acts and who can hinder Him?

So let all men hope never to bring God to that point through perverse disobedience to His revealed will. Let us not exhaust His patience and, thereby, come to the end of His mercy. His patience is great and His mercy is wide, But He Himself chooses to limit both and He alone sets the boundaries of those limits.

But we must remember that, for those who truly are Christ’s, there is no judgment unto condemnation because they have passed from death to life. The dire warnings may serve to bring straying sheep back to the pathway, but the same warnings also serve to condemn those who were truly goats all along. God alone knows for sure which is which. He will separate the sheep from the goats and the wheat from the chaff and the crop from the tares. Those who persevere will do so giving glory to God for His saving and sustaining grace in Jesus Christ. Those who fall in the way and do not get up, do so on their own account and out of their own choice and will be rightly condemned by God.

It’s not a difficult gospel to grasp if you will just believe what God says. You can’t save yourself. You can’t sustain yourself. You must believe in the God Who both can and does do both. But you must believe with a faith that acts upon the truth it knows. Fruit-bearing is the only reliable indicator of saving faith.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony, I eagerly look forward to reading and listening to your blog and podcasts. The wisdom and clarity you have from the Lord are helping me to come as a child to the throne of grace. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share these golden nuggets with us. I, for one, truly appreciate you for this.

10:55 am  
Blogger agonizomai said...


I am glad and grateful that there are some blessings for you in these writings.

My twin hopes are that someone is blessed by what I do, and that nobody takes what I say as gospel without checking it out with the Word.

As you look forward to listening to these devotions, so I look forward to hearing and posting more of your inspirational music.

So many gifts - but only one God and Saviour, communicated through One Spirit.



7:51 am  

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