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The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Chapter 20 - The Philadelphian Conqueror

By Horatius Bonar


      "Behold! I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name."--Revelation 3:11-12.

      Again the trumpet sounds. 'Behold!' It is the trumpet of Advent. 'Behold, I come quickly!' The Master is at the door. What then? Hold fast! 'Hold fast that which you have.' As if one of the special temptations of the Church would be to let go her principles; to turn her back upon the truth which once she held; to contradict not only herself, but the truth of God. And all under that name of progress! "We are men of progress, therefore we must be tolerant! Narrow views are bigotry and narrowness; tolerance is advancement and development--large-mindedness and nobility of soul!"

      Hold fast that which you have, that no man takes your crown! In letting go what we have, we lose our crown. Such stress does the Master lay upon consistent adherence to our testimony to His name.

      Again the conqueror is set before us. For each of the Churches there is warfare, and victory is to be our aim. A daily battle and a daily victory! The good warfare and the glorious victory. Of this victory let us now hear the reward.

      I. The conqueror is to be a temple-pillar. Not an outside, but an inside pillar. Not a door, nor a wall, nor any mere vessel or utensil; but a column, a fair and majestic column 'in temple of my God.' The interior colonnades or double rows of tall pillars in some churches and temples (such as that of St. Paul's Cathedral, outside of modern Rome), set upon marble floors, upholding marble roofs and arches, are splendid beyond description. There the pillars stand, each in itself an obelisk or a monument, beautiful in their matchless symmetry, tall as the palm, and pure as the snow. Day and night they stand there, looking down upon the temple and its worshipers, listening to its songs, and veiled in its incense. They are part of the vast fabric; not like those who minister there, going out and in, but standing immovable in their surpassing beauty.

      Such is the reward of the Philadelphian conqueror. An everlasting inhabitant and ornament of that sanctuary of which we read, 'I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof.' They shall go no more out! Their home is the innermost shrine in the heaven of heavens. Like Jachin and Boaz (1 Kings 7:15, 21), there they stand forever. As the Church is here the pillar and ground of the truth, so are they hereafter. As Barnabas and Cephas are called 'pillars,' because of their noble pre-eminence in upholding the truth, so are these conquerors to be. And as pillars were used of old for affixing royal proclamations, so that from them came forth the voice of the king, so shall it be with these conquerors. Like the seven pillars which Wisdom hews out for her house (Proverbs 4:1), they stand. Witnesses for Christ they were here, with 'little strength;' witnesses for Him they shall be hereafter, when that which is sown in weakness shall be raised in power. Here they kept His word and denied not His name; there they shall stand as His faithful ones forever and forever.

      II. The conqueror is to be inscribed with glorious names. It is said of Christ that He has on His vesture and on his thigh a name written, 'King of kings and Lord of lords.' It is said of the redeemed in glory that they have their Father's name written on their foreheads (ch. 14:1); so here on these Philadelphian pillars are many names to be inscribed, each of them unutterably glorious. The inscriptions ennoble the pillar; and the pillar displays aloft the inscriptions to the gaze of 'the great multitude that no man can number.' These inscriptions are written by Christ Himself--'I will write.' As He engraved Israel upon the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16), so does He engrave these names upon these temple-pillars, that they may be eternal witnesses to them in the glorious sanctuary; for throughout eternity His redeemed are to be His witnesses and His conquerors--pre-eminently so. All saved ones are to tell something of Him--His conquerors most. The inscriptions to be thus engraved are as follows:

      (1.) The name of my God. This is the name which God proclaimed to Moses, the name which is the summary of His blessed character, as the God of all grace. As He made Israel's names to shine out from the twelve gems of the breastplate, so does he make His own name to shine out from these pillars; quarried, hewn, polished, set up by the Holy Spirit, and engraved by a greater than Bezaleel or Aholiab--by Christ Himself. What honor! To be the marble on which Jehovah's name is carved, and from which it shall blaze forth in the eternal temple!

      (2.) The name of the city of my God. 'God is not ashamed to be called their God, because He has prepared for them a city.' And the name of this city is to be engraved on these pillars in connection with the name of its builder and maker. The city's name is New Jerusalem, and 'it comes down out of heaven from my God.' The city is theirs; and, as its citizens, they are to have its name written upon them. Other pillars set up on earth by man have the names of deities, or kings, or warriors, or cities engraved upon them. But this inscription excels all in glory. It shines out in its own brilliance, irradiating the pillar itself, and the whole temple where that pillar stands.

      (3.) My new name. This is the new name given by Christ, which no man knows but he who receives it--a name, the like of which has not yet been known on earth; a name which shall embody in itself some peculiar honor and blessedness which we know not now, but which we shall know hereafter. We need not try to guess it--we would but fail. It will be made known in due time, when the battle is won and the reward is given to the conqueror.

      All this is because, with but 'little strength', this Philadelphian Church had kept Christ's words, and not denied His name. The reward is to correspond with the service. For the keeping of the word, there is to be the recompense of the pillar with a divine inscription; and for the owning of the name, that inscription is to consist of the most glorious of names. Reward and service are ever made to correspond by Him who duly appreciates the service of His saints on earth, and knows the peculiar circumstances of trial or difficulty, or pain or weakness, in which the service was performed.

      Small may be our strength in these last days. The tide of error, and sin, and worldliness may be running very strong. It may not be easy to confess Christ, or to hold fast His truth. But His grace is sufficient for us; and woe be to us if we give way to the errors of the age, or conform to its vanities, or seek to please its multitudes, either under the dread of public opinion, or the fear of not being reputed 'men of progress,' or the shrinking from more direct persecution and hatred! Faithfulness to Christ, and to His truth, is everything, especially in days when iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold.

      Fear not! The reward is glorious! The honor is beyond all earthly honors! The contempt and enmity are but for a day--the dignity and the blessedness are forever and ever!

      What though men call you narrow-minded for cleaving to 'old truth'--now obsolete, as they say; for 'worship of a book,' or biblioatry, as they call it; for the stern refusal to lower our testimony to our glorified Lord and coming King? Let us be content to bear reproach for Him and His word. The glory to be given us at His appearing will more than compensate for all.

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See Also:
   Chapter 1 - The Book of the Last Days
   Chapter 2 - The Grace and Peace of the Three-One God
   Chapter 3 - The Chief Among Ten Thousand
   Chapter 4 - The Great Advent
   Chapter 5 - The Fullness of the God-Man
   Chapter 6 - The Voice from Patmos to the Churches
   Chapter 7 - The Seven Golden Lamps
   Chapter 8 - The Glory of the Son of Man
   Chapter 9 - Fear and its Remedy
   Chapter 10 - The Symbolic Sevens
   Chapter 11 - Watchman, What of the Night?
   Chapter 12 - Self-Denial Christianity
   Chapter 13 - First Love Left
   Chapter 14 - Paradise and the Tree of Life
   Chapter 15 - The Divine Food of Our Heavenly Life
   Chapter 16 - The Morning Star
   Chapter 17 - The Fullness of the Holy Spirit
   Chapter 18 - The Key of David
   Chapter 19 - The Church's Little Strength, and the Lord's Great Love
   Chapter 20 - The Philadelphian Conqueror
   Chapter 21 - The Charity of the Lord Jesus
   Chapter 22 - The Heavenly Merchant and His Goods
   Chapter 23 - The Love and the Discipline
   Chapter 24 - Christ's Loving Earnestness
   Chapter 25 - The Victory and the Crown
   Chapter 26 - Glory to the Glorious One
   Chapter 27 - The Weakness and the Power of Christ
   Chapter 28 - How Long?
   Chapter 29 - The Recompense of Martyrdom
   Chapter 30 - Pent-Up Judgment
   Chapter 31 - The Great Multitude
   Chapter 32 - The Earthly and the Heavenly
   Chapter 33 - The All-Fragrant Incense
   Chapter 34 - The Cross of the Lord Jesus
   Chapter 35 - Strangership and Pilgrimage
   Chapter 36 - The Heavenly Song of Victory
   Chapter 37 - The Blood of the Covenant
   Chapter 38 - The Church Dwelling Alone
   Chapter 39 - The Model of a Holy Life
   Chapter 40 - The Everlasting Gospel
   Chapter 41 - The Swift and Sudden Advent
   Chapter 42 - The One Witness and the One Testimony
   Chapter 43 - The Great Prophetic Theme
   Chapter 44 - Messiah's Many Crowns
   Chapter 45 - The First Resurrection
   Chapter 46 - The Great White Throne
   Chapter 47 - Death and the Grave
   Chapter 48 - The Vision of the Restitution of all Things
   Chapter 49 - God's Tabernacle on Earth
   Chapter 50 - The Coming of the Perfect, and the Departure of the Imperfect
   Chapter 51 - The New Things of God
   Chapter 52 - The Conqueror's Reward and the Coward's Doom
   Chapter 53 - The Glorious Bride
   Chapter 54 - The Holy City
   Chapter 55 - The Light of the New Jerusalem
   Chapter 56 - The Life River
   Chapter 57 - The Tree with its Twelve Harvests
   Chapter 58 - The Serving and the Reigning
   Chapter 59 - The Curse Cancelled, and the Kingdom Begun
   Chapter 60 - The Vision of God
   Chapter 61 - Entrance Into the City
   Chapter 62 - Come, O Savior! Come, O Sinner!
   Chapter 63 - The Divine Word, and the Doom of its Defacers
   Chapter 64 - The Free Love of Christ
   Chapter 65 - The Last Amen

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