Letters from Heaven

Prof. Johan Malan, Middelburg, South Africa (June 2009) www.bibleguidance.co.za

There are seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3 which the Head of the Christian Church, Jesus Christ Himself, directed to the entire church of all centuries, through the mediation of His servant, John. The letters are undated and therefore timeless writings to all followers of Christ – the faithful and the wayward ones. The letters contain precious promises and loving encouragement to those who persevere in the right way, but also clear reprimands and serious warnings to all who started to err and subsequently departed from the truth. Many of the latter have completely lost their way.

Why are these letters only directed to seven churches? Because they reflect the typical strong and weak points of the entire Christian church on earth. When John sent out these letters in about the year 95 AD, the early Christian church had been established for several years and had already shown various forms of apostasy. Today the same forms of apostasy still occur – often in more extreme forms than during those early years. Consequently we can now, almost 20 centuries later, still apply these letters to ourselves to determine the nature of our relationship with the Lord.

The general style of the letters is strongly admonitory as they paint a rather dark picture of apostasy, a dead form of godliness, worldliness, and compromise with false religions. In five of the seven churches true believers were a small minority group who were encouraged to overcome and persevere in the right ways in the midst of all the errors of their time. Outward circumstances were often perilous but that did not adversely affect the spirituality of members. However, Laodicea’s materialism and Pergamos’s compromise with the pagan world had disastrous consequences in the church. It still is the case today.

The big challenge which is directed at true believers in these letters is that, through their perseverance, they should at all cost avert backsliding and strive to be among the overcomers. They will be worthy to rule with Christ in His future reign of peace: “Hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps my works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:25-26). Extremely much is at stake and true children of the Lord should ensure that they are overcomers in this demanding spiritual race.

The following are prominent characteristics of the messages to the seven churches:

1: Ephesus: The terrifying consequences of a dead form of godliness

The church in Ephesus is typical of the big, growing churches of modern times where many activities are offered such as bazaars, seminars, youth programmes and weekend camps. They labour tirelessly in the name of Christ (Rev. 2:3). These churches have clear Christian confessions, in terms of which cults and false prophets can easily be identified and rejected (Rev. 2:2,6). In this way a false sense of spiritual security is instilled in members.

But churches of this nature have a very big problem of being man-centred rather than Christ-centred. Their most important driving force is a humanistic love for the cause of the Lord and all the benefits which it offers for personal happiness and the Christian management of societies, rather than a divine love which leads to greater holiness in our relationship with the Lord Jesus, and the proclaiming of the message of salvation to a dying world.

Positive Christian values are proclaimed and also promoted through programmes for the development of self-esteem, without attending to the dark side of human problems, namely sin. For this reason the cross of Christ where He bore the penalty for our sins does not prominently feature in such churches. The heart of the Christian gospel is cut out by merely ignoring it, leaving believers with only a form of godliness. This approach practically leads to the denial or negation of God’s agape love, which moved Him to send His Son to earth to pay the ransom for our sins. Forgetting this important fact and making the church a human institution in which only good human relations and positive values are pursued, effectively renders the church powerless and dead.

The Lord Jesus strongly denounces these people for their wrong perception of divine love, and calls them to repentance out of their confused and apostatised state: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Rev. 2:4-5).

A true church of Christ is depicted as a lampstand (Rev. 1:12-20) in which the oil is to be poured, symbolically referring to the Holy Spirit, so the seven small lamps can burn and make their light shine in a dark world. Should the church (or an individual) depart from cardinal aspects of the gospel truth the Lord will withdraw His Spirit from such a church or person. They will then have to repent from their apostatised state.

From the history of the church in Ephesus it is evident that a serious falling away had occurred among them. The teachings of false prophets (“savage wolves”) were heeded, accepted and further proclaimed by themselves. The pastor and elders propagated these distorted perspectives and false gospel in the church, thereby undermining the faith of members. After Paul had extensively instructed this congregation in the full counsel of God for a long time, he realised that problems were brooding nevertheless. In his farewell address he gave the following warning to them:

“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He has purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).

It is obvious that the gospel of the blood and the cross was rejected by the church and replaced by a gospel of good works, Old Testament law observation and church rituals. Paul instructed Timothy to confront the guilty persons in the church of Ephesus by warning them not to change the gospel of Christ’s grace by becoming teachers of the law (1 Tim. 1:3-7). Because of their actions the faith of certain members was completely destroyed. Paul exhorted Timothy to have “faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander” (1 Tim. 1:19-20). These false teachers said, among others, that the resurrection is already past (2 Tim. 2:17-18).

But there were also a few faithful ones in Ephesus and they are encouraged to stand firm in the truth and to overcome (Rev. 2:7). They were an unpopular minority group. Church history confirms that doctrinal errors which stealthily crept into congregations often enjoyed huge popular support and had completely distorted the theology of many churches. Even false teachers who deny the gospel of the cross often have “many” followers (2 Pet. 2:1-2) as can clearly be seen today.

2. Smyrna: Encouragement to the martyrs

Smyrna means Bitterness. From the earliest times there were churches of Christ, or sometimes only a few members, who were persecuted and suffered tremendously because of their faith. Many of them died as martyrs. The persecution was mostly instituted by oppressive regimes that ruled in association with hostile, pagan religions, e.g. the Roman Empire during the time before Constantine. For a very long time in the dark Middle Ages the Roman Catholic Church was the persecutor of Christians who refused to accept the authority and doctrinal confessions of the pope. Thousands of believers were slain by the ‘holy armies’ of the Vatican. Because of this, many of the surviving evangelical Christians fled form Italy to France and other countries. The Protestant believers who defected from the Church of Rome were subsequently also severely persecuted in France. Many of them fled to the Netherlands, from where they were sent as colonists to the southern tip of Africa.

During the 20th century, communist regimes, as well as Marxist rebel groups in other countries, were the major persecutors of Christians. Many missionaries were also persecuted and killed in heathen countries where the governments allied themselves with pagan religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. The persecution of Christians is still perpetrated in many countries, particularly radical Islamic countries.

The Lord Jesus has a very clear message to His witnesses who find themselves in the fire of persecution: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life… He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:10-11). If they remain true to the Lord to the end they will inherit eternal life; then, the second death (eternal death which awaits all sinners) will not hurt them as it will have no power over them. Those who deny Jesus just to evade hardships will bring great shame and loss upon themselves for not having prevailed in the battle.

The martyrs who suffer because of their faith in Jesus Christ are on the forefront of the battle between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. That is an honourable position to be in and not something to feel embarrassed about: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Pet. 4:12-13; cf. Luke 6:22-23; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:12).

3. Pergamos: The dangers of friendship with a depraved world

A very serious doctrinal problem is discussed in this letter, which is described as the doctrine of Balaam. With the exception of a small core group who stood by the truth of God’s Word, the Christian church in Pergamos became very liberal and openly associated with the pagans around them. The church also compromised with the secular world, and that always leads to apostatising and unfaithfulness towards the Lord. This phenomenon is clearly reflected by the name Pergamos which means marriage – a marriage between the church and the world. In the eyes of the Lord friendship of this nature is described as spiritual adultery (Jas. 4:4).

The Lord refers to this compromising as “the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality” (Rev. 2:14). According to Numbers 22 to 24, Balaam was hired by Balak, the king of the Moabites, to curse Israel. But Balaam could not comply with this request and thereafter convinced Balak not to resort to curses and military confrontation, but rather to entice Israel to compromise with foreign gods by attending a feast in the honour of Baal. This strategy worked, and in Numbers 25 we read that Israel accepted an invitation to attend a Baal feast in Moab.

Also in modern times is it obvious that Satan achieves great success among Christians in the West by using the strategy of compromise. In this way he causes more spiritual harm than with his strategy of confrontation which he follows in countries where Christians are persecuted and tortured. The Christian church in Pergamos was subjected to severe pressure of religious compromise, and was thereby seduced to spiritual unfaithfulness. Martyrdom was often the end result for those who refused to compromise with these evil systems. An example of such a person was Antipas (Rev. 2:13). His name means Against everything. He was a pastor in this church and was executed in a hollow bronze calf under which a fire was made, causing him to burn to death inside the hollow.

The Lord Jesus introduces Himself to this congregation as the one who has the two-edged sword (Rev. 2:12). The sword of His Word distinctly and beyond any doubt separates righteousness from unrighteousness. It works cooperatively with the conscience of a person to help him/her discern between good and evil.

The modern compromisers in the ecumenical movement should heed these warnings. They join hands with other religions and also with secular, worldly governments in an effort to promote peace and unity in the world. But that is peace without Christ. He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).

4. Thyatira: The deceived church and her tragic destiny

This is a letter to a church in which the majority of members had completely departed from the truth and occupied themselves with demonic deception. This phenomenon has occurred throughout the centuries but is particularly characteristic of the end-time: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). The co-workers which Satan uses to do his work of deceiving people are false prophets and prophetesses (Rev. 2:20):

“For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). The false apostles and prophets of Satan pretend to be messengers of Christ in order to easily gain access to Christian churches with a view to deceiving their members. They specialise in extra-biblical revelations of God through dreams, visions and voices which speak to them. These are all channels through which the camouflaged lies of Satan are more easily introduced into churches.

Through the false messages of these prophets people do not learn more about God but become acquainted with the depths of Satan (Rev. 2:24). Occult signs and wonders occur, by which people are confused to believe a lie; false prophecies on revivals and a wonderful future on earth are uttered; ecumenical ties are forged with all types of churches and other religions; and prayer is replaced by meditation. People who open themselves to these messages and activities receive strong delusion to believe the lies of the great deceiver (2 Thess. 2:8-12).

The judgements of God in the coming tribulation period await the members of these false, deceived churches (Rev. 2:22). Those who will be alive when the Lord Jesus comes for His faithful servants at the rapture, will remain behind and become devoted followers and worshippers of the Antichrist (Rev. 13:3-4). Those who are deceased will appear before the great white throne after the second resurrection to be condemned to the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). Their false religion which was practised in the name of Jesus will be of no avail to them on that occasion (Matt. 7:22-23).

The Lord Jesus gives a wonderful promise to the minority of faithful believers in wicked Thyatira: “But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes and keeps my works to the end, to him I will give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:25-26).

5. Sardis: Victims of a dead form of godliness

A short but powerful message is addressed to spiritually dead churches which have but a form of godliness, and where there are only small remnants of true believers. The Lord Jesus is bold and very specific with His assessment: “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what remains, and is about to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent” (Rev. 3:1-3).

This church had a name in society that it was alive, and was therefore accepted as a good and vibrant church. However, that was only an outward appearance as they were in fact stone-dead. Because of their spiritual deadness this church did not reach out to the unsaved world around them to proclaim the gospel message to dying people. The Lord Jesus told them that their spiritual standard was unacceptably low as it did not comply with God’s standard for salvation – that was the reason for the lack of fruit that befits repentance. The pastor of the church advanced a dead, ritualistic form of godliness in which everybody was declared saved in the easiest possible way. This approach rendered him and his church socially acceptable, but in the eyes of the Lord they were rejectable.

Initially the gospel was correctly proclaimed in this church, but most of the members merely reacted intellectually to the preaching and neglected to repent to the Lord Jesus so His Holy Spirit could regenerate them. That is why their works (their reaction to the preaching of the gospel) were not perfect before God. Only a small number of members had a testimony of being born again, and persevered in this. The Lord Jesus says of them: “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4).

A very important promise is made to this small group of true converts: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life; but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5). Only the overcomers will be clothed with white garments. They are the ones who persevere to the end in the way of the Lord: “Therefore, since we also are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:1-2). Those who are overcome by burdens and sin will not be able to finish the race victoriously. Many of them even lose their faith and lapse into a dead form of godliness, soothing their consciences that they have a good relationship with the Lord.

Many Christians who do not overcome but backslide, lose their way. Some of them, for various reasons, even lose their faith and position as saved people:

        Paul counselled Timothy to persevere with “faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck” (1 Tim. 1:19). People reject a true faith when they accept and promote unbiblical teachings.

        The Holy Spirit expressly fixes our attention on the great end-time apostatising which will occur as a result of preaching false doctrines (1 Tim. 4:1).

        Some of the early Jewish believers yielded to Satan’s temptation to revert to a sinful lifestyle. As a result of their backsliding they developed “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12-13).

        The book of Revelation concludes with a serious warning that believers who are deceived into questioning and omitting parts of God’s Word, or who are presumptuous enough to add their own ideas to it, will forfeit their salvation as God will blot out their names from the book of life (Rev. 22:18-19).

However, faithful believers in Sardis who lived in the victory of the cross are assured that their names will not be blotted out from the book of life. The Lord Jesus will confess their names in heaven because they had confessed and honoured His name before people.

Do you persevere in the faith to be counted among the overcomers? “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14). “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering” (Heb. 3:14). Paul also mentions the need for perseverance to the Colossians if they wish to appear before the Lord without blemish: “…if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:23). “You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3:17).

The pastor of the church in Sardis was obviously one of those who lowered the standard of God’s Word and declared people saved who only had a form of godliness. This was done to please them and win their favour.

6. Philadelphia: Encouragement to the faithful disciples of Christ

This is a very special letter to a small, evangelical church that did not enjoy much recognition and had little influence in an evil and agnostic society. They had to trust the Lord for all their needs, also financially. He guided them and provided opportunities for evangelistic outreaches to those who remain true to Him: “See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept my word, and have not denied my name” (Rev. 3:8).

Evangelical Christians should heed the fundamental reasons why this church enjoys the favour of the Lord: (1) They do not boast in their own ability to do things; (2) they honour the Bible as the inspired Word of God; and (3) they confess and proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, Son of God and Saviour of the world.

These faithful disciples of Christ are encouraged to hold fast what they have in order to one day be awarded in heaven (Rev. 3:11). They also receive the assurance that they will not go through the tribulation but escape it (cf. Luke 21:36). The Lord Jesus says He will “keep them from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Rev. 3:10). True Christians are not destined for the tribulation period.

We are living in a postmodern world in which people rely on wealth and their own insights. They do not believe in the Bible as God’s inerrant Word but regard it as a humanly produced book which is full of contradictions, Jewish folklore, strange symbolism and mythology. Contemporary theologians also increasingly reject the virgin birth and deity of Jesus, His work of atonement on the cross, as well as most of His divine attributes. They do not even hesitate to say blasphemous things about Him. In doing so they deny the biblical Jesus and openly take sides with His critics and enemies. They do so at the peril of their lives.

7. Laodicea: The rejected, self-justifying and materialistic church

In this letter the Lord Jesus explains why He withdraws from churches that predominantly rely on themselves and their own achievements, to the extent that the gospel of the cross enjoys no recognition or prominence in their self-assessment: “So then, because you are lukewarm… I will spew you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:16-17).

This church and its pastor(s) are so full of their own achievements, popularity and large income that it does not even occur to them that they are spiritually bankrupt. They wrongly conclude that it is the Lord who made them rich and prosperous. Humanly speaking they have need of nothing, but according to God’s measure they fall far short because they do not even realise their need for a Saviour and His blessings. They do use His name, but this is where their practical association with Him ends. They are not true disciples who take up their cross of self-denial and follow Christ daily, since they immerse themselves in humanly-conceived confessions in which everybody is declared saved by virtue of divine election and the ministering of church rituals. For the rest they pursue secular objectives which are aimed at acquiring larger buildings, more investments, exceptional high salaries to church officials, as well as expensive halls for recreation, sport, the conducting of political meetings, auctions and bazaars.

This church does not even realise that the Lord Jesus and His Spirit have departed from them and that He now stands outside the church, knocking on the door to be invited in. He is still concerned about the many lost people inside whose lives are built on false foundations. He says to them: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock…” (Rev. 3:19-20). If “anyone” (referring to individuals in the church) hears His voice and opens the door to his heart, Christ will come in and dine with him.

However, there is no indication that the church as a whole will reform, open its doors to the Lord Jesus and give Him the central place in their preaching and other activities. We are living in the time of the big falling away, which is characterised by false teachings, worldliness, ecumenical thinking, and the building of a human kingdom on earth. That is a modern tower of Babel. Such people are preparing the way for the coming of the Antichrist and the establishment of his global state.

Members who come under the conviction of sin through the work of the Holy Spirit and realise that their church is deceived, should immediately settle their case with the Lord and then look for an assembly of true believers – even though it may only be a small group of dedicated children of the Lord. The argument of certain believers that they prefer to remain in their dead church as ‘missionaries’ is not biblically acceptable. One cannot join a compromised ‘mission field’ as that would lead to condoning the wrong dogmas and false preaching of deceived churches by virtue of the loyalty demanded by one’s membership obligations. This kind of compromise would make it difficult to evangelise the church from within.

The biblical command with regard to compromisers, ecumenical thinkers and those who only have a form of godliness is very clear: “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord… And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). The Lord Jesus says to the faithful ones in Laodicea who stand with Him outside the false church structures: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).

By the grace of the Lord we must also prevail over spiritual deception and be delivered from it. We will get nowhere in our spiritual lives if we are full of ourselves and full of humanly-conceived theological views, instead of being full of the Holy Spirit and the true knowledge of God’s Word. Does the Lord Jesus increase in your life and do you decrease (cf. John 3:30)? The church of Laodicea blinds its members to the great truths of the Bible, as virtually all promises, precepts and warnings are spiritualised since they refuse to interpret them literally. Furthermore, these church members know nothing about the Lord Jesus’ second coming which will come like a snare on all of them (Luke 21:34-36). In that late hour, in the midst of great anxiety and hundreds of questions which their own pastors will not be able to answer, they will either become victims of the Antichrist’s greater deception or they will, for the first time, seriously search for the truth. The true Christians will then be in heaven, while the Antichrist and the false prophet will be revealed on earth and, in a short time, through extreme deception, will mobilise the whole world behind themselves.

The time of judgement

Peter says, “The time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Pet. 4:17-18). The judgement of believers will take place at the judgement seat of Christ directly after the rapture. Although there is “no condemnation to those who are in Christ” (Rom. 8:1; John 5:24), our works will nevertheless be put to the test (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9-16; 2 Cor. 5:10). Some of us are not serving the Lord as we should and will appear before Him empty-handed, saved as through fire (1 Cor. 3:15). We will definitely not be rewarded if we are building with perishable material on the solid foundation, Jesus Christ. Do you use your talents in the service of the Lord, or have you hidden them away somewhere? We must do works that befit repentance. If we fail in doing so the chances are great that we only have a form of godliness without true faith, as faith without works is dead. How can such a faith save you (Jas. 2:14,26)?

Pews are filled with these self-proclaimed but unsaved Christians. Christ’s letters to the churches contain solemn warnings that most of them are heading for condemnation before the great white throne. The unsaved will not be taken away at the rapture to appear before the judgement seat, to which only true believers will be summoned. The Lord Jesus denounces deceived, nominal Christians and churches in the strongest terms: “I have this against you, that you have left your first love… I will remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent… You have those who hold the doctrine of Balaam [compromise with non-Christian religions]… Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth… I will cast her [the false prophetess] into a sick-bed, and those who commit [spiritual] adultery with her intro great tribulation, unless they repent… You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead… Because you are lukewarm, I will spew you from my mouth” (Rev. 2:4,14-16,22; 3:1,16).

Are you sure of your salvation? Soon we will have to give account of our lives before the Lord’s throne. We must work while it is day – the night of God’s judgements is coming when no one can work. The dispensation of grace is drawing to a close, and also the opportunities to get in the right relationship with the Lord and to do something for the extension of His kingdom before He comes. Those who are on the wrong road must urgently examine their situation in the light of God’s Word to determine where they stand with Him: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5). How should we prove ourselves?

        Consider the nature of your quiet times. Unsaved people as well as carnal Christians do not have a love for Bible study and prayer. Do you often pray and do you have confidence to pray before other people?

        Are you filled with the Holy Spirit and do you walk in the Spirit, or are there still carnal attitudes and lusts that reign supreme in your life (cf. Gal. 5:16-17)? Come and settle your case with the Lord, crucify and deny the flesh, and trust the Lord to fill you with His Spirit – for the first time or by renewal.

        Do you evaluate the preaching in your church for its conformity to Scripture, and do you raise concerns when error is proclaimed? You will have to know the Bible fairly well before you will be able to fulfil this important duty. If you are uncertain about anything, conduct some research to determine what the truth is.

        Is there spiritual fruit in your life? Do you reach out to other people with the gospel and are there any of them who can testify about blessings they received because of this?

        Do you fulfil your calling to be the light of a dark world and the salt of a corrupt earth? You have the obligation to make the light of the gospel shine in places where the darkness of sin, false religions and ignorance still prevail. You will also have to express yourself against spiritual deception, corruption and wickedness (Eph. 5:11). Before doing so, first make sure that you are firmly anchored to the truth and daily follow in the steps of our Saviour.

The Holy Spirit wants to guide us into all truth and to remind us of everything the Lord Jesus teaches us in His Word (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). We should be committed students of eternal truths, meticulously apply them to our lives and always act accordingly. Then alone will we have confidence to appear before the judgement seat of Christ after the church dispensation has been concluded. There is not much time left to attend to outstanding spiritual matters.