Revelation 3:5
Like them, the one who is victorious will be dressed in white. And I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.
Sermons
Earnestness in ReligionJ. Foster.Revelation 3:5
The Battle, the Victory, and the RewardW. M. Taylor, D. D.Revelation 3:5
The Blessedness of OvercomingC. L. Burdick.Revelation 3:5
The Book of LifeA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:5
The Book of LifeW. Burnett, M. A.Revelation 3:5
Written in HeavenW. L. Watkinson.Revelation 3:5
A Dead ChurchD. Tasker, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
A Life Akin to DeathC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:1-6
A Living ChurchH. Cooke, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
A Name to LiveT. Guthrie, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
A Show of LifeH. Macmillan, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Christ's Message to the FormalistJ. J. Ellis.Revelation 3:1-6
Death in the ChurchA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Formalism and True ChristianityC. Garrett.Revelation 3:1-6
God Knows the Works of MenW. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Moral DeathWm. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Nominal ReligionJ. W. Cunningham.Revelation 3:1-6
On Formality and Hypocrisy in ReligionS. Lavington.Revelation 3:1-6
SardisJ. Hyatt.Revelation 3:1-6
Sardis -- the Fickle ChurchA. Mackennal, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
Semblances of LifeC. Bowes.Revelation 3:1-6
Some Causes of Spiritual DeathC. P. Thwing.Revelation 3:1-6
That a Minister May be in Fault that the People are DeadWm. Fenner, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The Address to SardisG. Rogers.Revelation 3:1-6
The Epistle to the Church At SardisS. Conway Revelation 3:1-6
The Epistle to the Church in SardisR. Green Revelation 3:1-6
The Semblance of LifeC. H. Spurgeon.Revelation 3:1-6
The Seven Spirits of GodA. Maclaren, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The State of All Men Known to ChristD. Wilcox.Revelation 3:1-6
The Warning Voice Re-Echoed from SardisJohn Gibson, B. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The Words of Christ to the Congregation At SardisD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 3:1-6
The Words of Christ to the Congregation At SardisD. Thomas Revelation 3:1-6
Uselessness of Mere ProfessionJ. Trapp.Revelation 3:1-6
WorksH. H. Gowen.Revelation 3:1-6
They shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. This is Whit Sunday, and its very name carries us back in thought to the literal and impressive manner in which the Christian Church of the early centuries was wont to interpret our text when she celebrated the Feast of Pentecost. For it was at this feast - so the Book of the Acts tells us - that there were reaped for Christ and his Church those famous firstfruits of the harvest of converted men, which in the ages to come Christ's ministers should gather in. On that day there were added to the Church some three thousand souls, who were all straightway baptized according to St. Peter's word, "Repent, and he baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." The Day of Pentecost, therefore, became a chosen day in the early Church for the reception by baptism of converts to the Christian faith. On that day they who had lived heretofore in Judaism or in heathenism were clothed in white robes, and gathered in numerous throngs at the baptisteries of the churches; there, with music and holy psalms, and with many elaborate symbolic ceremonies, they received the initiatory rite of the Christian Church. But the most striking feature of the day was the procession of white-robed candidates, and that so fastened itself on the mind of the Church, that the day which commemorated the Feast of Pentecost came to be called, as it is amongst us still, Whir or White Sunday, Alba Dominica, or the white Lord's day. Those who were on that day baptized had been counted worthy - for they had renounced heathenism or Judaism, and had confessed Christ - to he numbered amongst the Christian fellowship. And hence they were arrayed in white garments; for was it not written, "They shall walk... worthy "? And it is told how not seldom these baptized ones would ever afterwards carefully preserve their white robe as a perpetual reminder of their vow of consecration to Christ, and at the last, when they lay down to die, they would have it put on once more, and in it they would be buried. But whilst it is interesting to note how the mind of the ancient Church expressed by such symbolism its understanding of this word before us, it is more important to us to get beneath the metaphor, and to ascertain its meaning for ourselves today. And that meaning is surely this - that the consecrated Christian life is a blessed life. The white robe of the baptized told them, no doubt, of the character and responsibilities of that life; that its character was to be holy, and that their responsibility and obligation were to strive after holiness, and to he content with nothing less. But in our text it is not so much responsibility and obligation that are meant, but the blessedness of the Christian life. Let us speak, therefore -

I. OF THE WORTHINESS WHICH WINS THE WHITE ROBE. The few in Sardis who are to be counted worthy are they who, unlike the rest, "have not defiled their garments;" that is, the character, which is the vestment of the soul, and which they had received, they had kept undefiled. For a new character is given to him who truly comes to Christ; he is a new creature, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth him from all sin. This is no mere doctrine of theology, but a fact in Christian experience. For the mind in which we come to Christ is in nature, though not in degree, Christ's own mind - that mind of which his atoning death was the expression; the mind that condemns sin, that trusts in the forgiving love of God, and desires above all else the love of God. Such was the mind in which Christ died, and which was the real atonement. For the mangled flesh of the Lord and the bleeding body had no atoning power save as they declared the mind which was in him. And it was a mind that could not but be infinitely acceptable to the Father, could not but have been a full, true, sufficient atonement, ablation, and satisfaction to his heart, the Father-heart of God. And because, whenever we come really to God in Christ, the movements of our minds are in this same direction, and we come clothed in this mind, though it may be but imperfectly, yet because our mind is like in nature, though not in degree, to the perfect mind of Christ when he died for us, therefore are we accepted in him, and for his sake pardoned, and made possessors of a new character - his mind - which is the garment we are to keep undefiled, and which those who are counted worthy do keep undefiled.

II. OF THE WHITE ROSE ITSELF. It tells:

1. Of purity. "Blessed are the pure in heart." Oh, the joy of this! It is good, when temptation comes, to be able to grip and grapple with it, and to gain victory over it, though after a hard struggle. Oh, how far better this than to miserably yield, and to be "led captive by Satan at his will"! But even this falls far below the blessedness which the white robe signifies. For it tells of an inward purity, like to his who said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." There was nothing in him on which the tempter's power could fasten, and to rise up to this heart-purity is the glory and joy promised by the white robe.

2. Of victory. White was the symbol of this also, as well as of purity. He who went forth "conquering and to conquer" rode upon a white horse - so the vision declared. They who had come out of the great tribulation were clothed in "white robes," and elsewhere we are told they had "overcome by the blood of the Lamb." And this blessedness of victory the consecrated soul enjoys. "Sin shall not have dominion over" him. "In all things" he is "more than conqueror." One of the very chiefest blessings of the Christian faith is that it makes the weak strong, and to them that have no might the faith of Christ increaseth strength. Facts of everyday Christian experience prove that it is so.

3. Of joy. White garments are the symbol of this also. And the truly consecrated heart shall know "the joy of the Lord." The saints of God in all ages have found that "he giveth songs in the night." Who should have joy if not the true-hearted Christian man?

III. HOW WE MAY WIN AND WEAR THESE WHITE ROBES. Through entire surrender to Christ. There is no other way. If we retain our own will and keep urging its claims, these white robes are not for us. The consecrated life is clothed thus, and that life alone. - S.C.







He that overcometh... shall be clothed in white raiment.
I. A CONFLICT ENGAGED IN. The Christian has the peace of God, and is at peace with God; but just because he is so, he is at war with everything that wars with God.

1. The first of the Christian's enemies is his own sinful nature. And I am not sure but that is the most dangerous of all his enemies. A foe in the citadel is a thousand times worse than an enemy without. The particular form which this warfare may assume in the individual depends very much upon the natural temperament and previous habits of the man. We have all some sin which most easily besets us. This is the key to the position, like the farmhouse on the field of Waterloo; and, therefore, each principle is anxious to secure it as its own. Nay, not only this; it is here that the new nature is weakest; for as, when one has had a severe inflammation, it leaves, on recovery, a local weakness, which makes itself felt on the least exposure to cold or damp; so, when a man has been addicted to some sin, then, even after his conversion, there, where he formerly was worst, is now his weakest point, and it is in connection with it that his sorest conflicts are. In the light of these things, we cannot wonder that our life is called a fight.

2. But there are other enemies without the fortress, cunningly seeking to tempt us to yield to their entreaties. I mention, therefore, secondly, among our adversaries, the evil men of the world, who approach us ever in a most insidious style. They come under colour of being our servants, and ministering to our pleasure; but alas! it is only that they may remain to be our lords.

3. I mention as another foe the great arch-enemy of God and man — Satan. His efforts, indeed, are inseparably connected with those other two of which I have spoken, He is the general by whom evil men are marshalled for the fight; and as a spiritual being, intimately acquainted with our spiritual nature, he knows how best to take advantage of our still remaining sin.

II. A VICTORY WON.

1. The agent by whom this victory is won. In one sense it is the believer who wins it; in another, it is won for him; and it is to the latter aspect of it that I would first look. This conquest is obtained for us by the Great Captain of our Salvation, Jesus Christ; and there are two ways in which He vanquishes our enemy. In the first place, He has already overcome him on the cross; so that we have not now to deal with a foe in his pristine strength, but rather with one crestfallen and defeated. Nor is this all; it was as our representative that Jesus vanquished him; and so he cannot really harm us, however much he may annoy and disturb. Then this death of Christ has also slain the enmity of our hearts; for, if we really believe in Him, "our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin should be destroyed." Hence our union to Jesus Christ ensures our victory. But Jesus vanquishes our enemy for us, secondly, by the gift and gracious indwelling of His Holy Spirit. He so quickens our conscience, that we shrink from sins of which formerly we would have thought but little; and He works in us a kind of instinctive intuition, by which we know that we are in the presence of evil, and hasten away from its influence. Thus, in Christ for us, and Christ in us, the victory is won!

2. But a word or two as to the means on our part by which the agency of Christ and His Spirit is secured on our behalf. That means on our part is faith. This may be illustrated by the case of one travelling in a foreign land. He is a British subject, and as such he has the weight and influence of the whole British empire at his back, so that he is safe from injury or insult, and sure, if any such be offered to him, that it will be promptly and efficiently checked. But if he cannot plead that he is a citizen of this favoured land, and has to stand alone, he is sure, in a despotic country, to be very cavalierly and even cruelly dealt with, if he should have the misfortune to fall out with its authorities. Now it is just so here; by faith the believer is connected with Christ — one with Him — and a citizen of heaven. Hence, in his warfare, he has all the power of heaven behind him; and the man who has God on his side is sure to be victorious. But in yet another aspect, faith is seen as the means of victory; for it is the eye of the soul, by which the things of the spiritual world are beheld; and by bringing the soul under the influence of "the powers of the world to come," it encourages it in the battle, and determines it not to yield. It shows him the recompense of the reward: the white raiment; the victor's palm; the hero's crown; and the throne of royal honour. And thus it raises him above the sphere of earth's temptations, and makes him proof against the voice of the charmer, charming never so wisely.

3. But now let us look at the time when this victory is obtained. In one sense, the believer is daily winning victories. Israel, of old, crossed the Jordan to fight; but we cross it to reign; and from the moment of our dissolution we have no more to do with temptation.

III. THE BLESSING HERE PROMISED.

1. The victor shall be "clothed in white raiment." This, then, imports that the conqueror's condition will be one of pure joy, and joyful purity.

2. "I will not blot his name out of the book of life." The allusion of this phrase is supposed to be to the genealogical tables of the Jews, out of which a man's name was blotted when he died; and the meaning is, that Jesus will not blot such a victor's name out of the register of His redeemed ones. Now this phrase speaks of many things comforting to the Christian. It tells of salvation assured to him; and it declares, moreover, that Jesus has a care for him as an individual, and has his name enrolled among the denizens of bliss.

3. "I will confess his name before my Father and His angels"; that is, He will own the conqueror as His, and claim salvation in His name. Nay, it is more than this; it is a public introduction of the believer to heaven, and a proclamation there of the victory which he has obtained. Compared with this, what are earthly decorations for valour?

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. WHAT ARE WE TO OVERCOME?

1. Self.

(1)In its hostility (Romans 8:7).

(2)In its indifference (Acts 24:25).

(3)In its insincerity (Jeremiah 17:9).

2. World.

(1)In its frowns (James 4:4).

(2)In its flatteries (Proverbs 1:10).

(3)In its applauses (Acts 12:22).

3. Death.

(1)In the fears of his approach (Hebrews 2:15).

(2)In the pains of his attack (1 Corinthians 15:55).

(3)In the desolations of his triumph (John 11:25, 26).

II. HOW ARE WE TO OVERCOME?

1. By thought. "I thought on my ways."

2. By purpose.

3. By faith.

(1)Lively.

(2)Progressive.

(3)Saving.

4. By effort.

(1)Cheerful.

(2)Continual.

(3)Mighty.

III. THE RESULTS OF OVERCOMING.

1. A pure and spotless nature.

2. An enduring name.

3. A public honour.

(C. L. Burdick.)

Such a topic has great difficulty to lay any hold on the mind-almost even to engage the attention. We all know the effect of perfect familiarity and endless reiteration. But more than so; — this great familiar truth seems to suffer in its power of interesting men by the very fulness of its evidence, and of the conviction with which it is admitted. Whatever be the explanation, the fact is evident, that the actual power of this great principle of truth (namely, the absolute necessity of being in earnest about our highest interest) seems to be repressed, in consequence of the ready and complete acknowledgment it obtains in the mind. It seems to go to sleep there, because it holds its place certainly — is not contradicted-and cannot be expelled. If some serious doubts could be raised upon it, they might make the matter interesting — they might turn and fix thought upon it. Perhaps another thing that causes this general solemn admonition (to be in earnest about our highest interests) to come with less force, is the circumstance that it is applicable and pertinent to all. It concerns me, not more than all these millions. Again, there is far too little of the serious practice of bringing as near together in view as thought can do it, the two orders of things which both belong to us — so belong to us that they must both be taken into our practical adjustment. There is the world we are in, the object of our senses; and a world to which we are to go, the object of our faith. There is this short life — and an endless one. There are the pains and delights of mortality — and the joys or woes of eternity. Now unless a man really will set himself, in serious thought, to the comparative estimate of these, and that too as an estimate to be made on his own account, how powerless on him must be the call that tells him he must be "in earnest!" Another thing may be added to this account of causes tending to frustrate the injunction to be in earnest about our highest concerns; namely, that the mind willingly takes a perverse advantage of the obscurity of the objects of our faith, and for the incompetence of our faculties for apprehending them. There is a willingness even to make the veil still more thick, and reduce the glimmering to utter darkness, as strengthening the excuse. "We do not know how to carry our thoughts from this scene into that. It is like entering a mysterious and visionary wilderness. It is evidently implied to us, by the fact as it stands, that the opening of that scene upon us now would confound us in all our business here. Were it not best to be content to mind chiefly our duty here; and when it shall be God's will and time, He will show us what there is yonder!" Partial truth thus perversely applied, tends to cherish and excuse an indisposition to look forward in contemplations of hereafter'; and this indisposition, excused or protected by this allegation, defeats the force of the call, the summons, to be in earnest about our highest interests. There is another pernicious practical deception, through which the force of this call to earnestness is defeated, and the strong necessity which it urges is evaded: that is, the not recognising in the parts of life, the grand duty and interest which yet is acknowledged to belong to it as a whole. "This day is not much," a man thinks, "nor this week — a particle only in so ample a thing as all life." We add only one more description of delusive feeling tending to frustrate the admonitions to an earnest intentness on the great object — namely, a soothing self-assurance, founded the man can hardly explain on what, that some way or other, a thing which is so essentially important, will be effected, surely must be effected, because it is so indispensable. A man says, "I am not mad. I surely — surely — shall not lose my soul." As if there must be something in the very order of nature to prevent anything going so far wrong as that. Sometimes particular circumstances in a man's history are suffered to excite in him a kind of superstitious hope. Perhaps, for instance, in his childhood or since, he was saved from peril or death in some very remarkable manner. His friends thought that this must surely be a propitious omen; and he, too, is willing to persuade himself so. Perhaps very pious persons have taken a particular interest about him; he knows he has been the subject of many prayers. So many deceptive notions may contribute to a vague sort of assurance that a man will not alway neglect religion, though he is doing so now, and is in no serious disposition to do otherwise. And, in addition to all, there is that unthinking and unscriptural manner of considering and carelessly throwing ourselves upon the infinite goodness of God.

(J. Foster.)

I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life
I. THE BOOK. There is a great deal in the Apocalypse about this book of the living, or "of life." And, like the rest of its imagery, the symbol finally reposes upon the Old Testament cycle of metaphor (Exodus 32:32; Psalm 69:28; Psalm 87:6; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1). Coming to the New Testament, we find, outside of the Apocalypse, comparatively few references. But see Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23). So then, to be "written in the Book of Life" is to be included amongst those who truly live. St. John, in his Gospel and Epistle, dwells with even more emphasis than the other writers of the New Testament on the great central thought that the deepest conception of Christ's work to men is that He is the Source of life. "He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son hath not life." This symbol implies, too, that they who truly live, live by Jesus Christ, and by Him alone. It is "the Lamb's Book of Life." In His character of the Lamb — that is, of the Sacrifice for the sins of the world — slain for us all, He has made it possible that any names should be written on that page. Then, again, note how this symbol suggests to us that to be enrolled in the Book is to be a citizen of heaven. The name being "written in heaven" implies that the true native soil of the man is where his name is written. He is inscribed on the register of the community to which He belongs. He lives in a far-away colony, but he is a native of the metropolis. Again, let me remind you that to be written in that Book implies being the objects of Divine energy and Divine love. "I know thee by name" said the Divine voice, through the prophet, to the Great Conqueror before He was born. "I know thee by name," saith the Lord, to each of us, if our hearts are humbly trusting in His Divine power.

II. THE INSCRIPTION OF THE NAMES. Now there are two passages in this Book of the Revelation which seem to say that the names are written "before the foundation of the world." I am not going to plunge into discussions far beyond our reach, but I may remind you that such a statement says nothing about the inscription of the names which is not true about all events in time. So, leaving that ideal and eternal inscription of the names in the obscurity which cannot be dispelled, we shall be more usefully employed in asking what, so far as concerns us, are the conditions on which we may become possessors of that Divine life from Jesus Christ, and citizens of the heavens? Faith in Christ brings us into the possession of eternal life from Him, makes us citizens of His kingdom, and objects of His care. Jesus calls us all to Himself. Do like the man in the "Pilgrim's Progress," who went up to the writer at the table, with the ink-horn before him, and said to him, "Set down my name," and so subscribed with his hand to the mighty God of Jacob.

III. THE PURGING OF THE ROLL. It seems to me that the fair implication of the words of my text is that the victor's name remains, and the name of the vanquished is blotted out. Why should we be exhorted to "hold fast our crown, that no man may take it," if it is impossible for the crown ever to drop from the brow upon which it was once laid? No man can take it unless we "let" him, but our letting him is a conceivable alternative. And therefore the exhortations and appeals and warnings of Scripture come to us with eminent force. And how is that apostasy to be prevented, and that retention of the name on the roll-call to be secured? The answer is a very plain one — "To him that overcometh." The only way by which a man may keep his name on the effective muster-roll of Christ's army is by continual contest and conquest.

IV. THE CONFESSION OF THE NAMES. There comes a time of blessed certainty, when Christ's confession will transform all our hesitations into peaceful assurance, when He shall stoop from His throne, and Himself shall say, in the day when He makes up His jewels, "This, and that, and that man belong indeed to Me." Men have thrown away their lives to get a word in a despatch, or from a commanding officer; and men have lived long years stimulated to efforts and sacrifices by the hope of having a line in the chronicles of their country. But what is all other fame to Christ's recognising me for His?

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. As its name implies, this is the roll of the living members of His Church. Very much as in some of our ancient cities there is a register kept of the freemen, from which their names are struck off at death, so the true citizens of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, are registered on high. There is only this important difference between the two cases. Christ's freed men never die. They shall not be hurt by the second death.

II. Perhaps we long to obtain one glance at its contents, and think it would afford us exceeding comfort if we might read our own name, and the names of those dear to us, inscribed on its pages. But this may not be. The discovery would probably lead to self-confidence and presumption as regards ourselves, and a fatal indifference to the eternal welfare of others. We might cease to watch and pray, and might neglect the appointed means of grace. Is, then, that Book so high above our present reach that we have practically nothing to do with it at all? If so, why should it be so often mentioned, and what is the value of this promise? Assuredly there is one way in which we may obtain some insight into its contents. The Lord, as it were, writes a duplicate of them on the hearts and lives of His people.

III. This now mysterious record will be referred to by the Judge of quick and dead, and read out before the assembled myriads of mankind. What astounding disclosures will then be model

(W. Burnett, M. A.)

I. THERE ARE NAMES WRITTEN IN HEAVEN WHICH ARE UNKNOWN ON EARTH. Who are the world's greatest men? Those who are doing the noblest acts, living the purest lives, suffering the most for righteousness' sake, making the greatest sacrifices for the common good; the greatest men are not necessarily notorious politicians, vocalists, tragedians, capitalists, orators, and soldiers. Now of these really greatest men we know little or nothing; they live in simplicity, obscurity, and poverty; the world is not aware of them, bestowing upon them neither titles nor rewards. But they are known by Him whose eye seeth every precious thing. A hue art critic entering a second-hand shop will detect a master. piece when it is nearly buried in confusion and rubbish. It may be covered with dust, the colours blackened by neglect, boasting no gold frame, and the crowd pass it by with contempt, as not worth sixpence, but the true critic discerns it at a glance. So God recognises merit before it gets into a gold frame; He knows the glorious work of His own hand when found in obscurity, want, suffering, and deepest obloquy and humiliation. Thousands of names are written in heaven as heroes which are not found on Fame's eternal bead-roll.

II. IF OUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN, WE NEED CARE LITTLE WHETHER THEY ARE WRITTEN ELSEWHERE. We have a name. That is a grand thing, it means much. We are not numbered, we are all called by our names. We have a distinct and an immortal personality, we are not merely links in a series. We require that our name shall be written somewhere; we are not content to drop out of the universe, and be lost; we must be registered, recognised, remembered. To be written in heaven is supreme fame. It is high above all earthly peerages as the stars are above the mountain tops. To be written in heaven is immortal fame. By strange accidents a man's name once written in great bead-rolls may get obliterated.

III. IF OUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IS HEAVEN, THEY OUGHT TO BE WRITTEN THERE AS LABOURERS.

IV. IF OUR NAMES ARE WRITTEN IN HEAVEN, LET US TAKE CARE THAT THEY ARE NOT BLOTTED OUT. Let us watch lest our name should be struck from the roll of honour.

V. IF OUR NAMES ARE NOT WRITTEN IN HEAVEN, LET US AT ONCE GET THEM WRITTEN THERE. How near many people come to the kingdom, and yet never get into it! Some of these are written in the reports of the Church, and yet do not get their names inscribed in the book of life.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

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