"Thou Hast Not Denied My Name"

It is a
revelation of Christ’s Word, and the freshened sense of relationship to
Christ - the new realization of what He is to His people, - that practically
produce Philadelphia. Every genuine revival, as I have already said,
necessarily has something of the spirit of this, - tends, at least, towards it.
Of course, when I speak of revival, I do not mean simply the conversion of
souls, even in numbers : the revival I am speaking of is of saints, not
sinners, although naturally the effect of this will be seen in a new power in
the gospel for the conversion of sinners. But when interest in the word of God
is revived, and the love of Christ is felt in new power in the soul, increased
communion with Him will issue in the "communion of saints" being more valued
and more sought after, and the spirit of obedience will cause the "yoke" with
those who are not Christ’s to be an intolerable bondage.

If such a
revival were felt in the whole Church of God, how surely would every chain of
this kind be broken by the energy of the Spirit of God, and the whole Church be
brought together! But such a thing has never taken place, and the consequence
of local and partial revivals has been therefore in fact more or less to
separate Christians from Christians, - those who can go on with the world and
with the worldly from those who cannot do so. Hence every such movement has to
bear the reproach, on the part both of the world and of many Christians quite
as much as the world, of causing divisions, which it is true it does and must
do, and which the Lord’s words declare he came to do - not to send peace,
but a sword, and to make a man’s foes to be ‘those of his own

In a state of things like this, compromise and expediency
soon begin to do their fatal work. That which the Spirit of God alone can
accomplish is taken in hand by the wisdom of man, Scripture itself being
perverted to its use - for they cannot do without Scripture. ‘Froth must
he partly clipped, partly suppressed, or else not insisted on charity will he
invoked, and liberal tolerance, with premise of wider and speedy results, - the
seed in this case needing no "long patience " on the part of the husbandman.
From such attempts have arisen the religious confederacies of the day, assuming
soon the large proportions which seem so triumphantly to justify them, but in
all which the "dogma," the unyielding truth of God, tends to he thrown out or
ignored, that men may keep company with one another.

For the truth,
somehow, - the unconpromising truth - does seem to rouse men, and set them at
variance. The jarring sects of Protestantism, have they not arisen from those '
private interpretations' of an open Bible, which wiser Romanism has condemned
in favour of what is strangely affirmed to be catholic,' even while it is plain
that put it to the free, unconstrained votes of the "Christian world," it could
never he. Rome's word, however, is not compromnise, but authority.
Protestantism too loves not the word Compromise, but rather tolerance; you must
he liberal in divine things, where you have no rights; for the word of God,
too, claims authority, and of the highest kind, as is evident, if it be that.
Scripture is not, in that sense, tolerant: as how could he be who could write,
"If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge
that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord"? (i
Cor. X1V. 37.)

Scripture therefore - spite of Sunday-schools and what not
- tends with its sharp-edged teaching to be in a certain disrepute to-day. As
men did with Him of whom it speaks, in His day, so now: they bow it out. With
studied respect of manner, they seldom allow it to dictate to them where its
voice is unsupported by some other authority, or where obedience will cost them
much. Few there are, it is to be feared, who are absolutely ready to receive
and welcome all the truth of God; for, there is really no other reason, and can
be none, why all Christians are not of one mind to-day, than this, that they do
NOT In heart desire at all costs to follow the truth. ‘‘He that
willeth to do God’s will," says the Lord Himself, "shall know of the
doctrine" (John vii. 17). How could it be otherwise, if God be what He is? But
then what does the confusion abroad in Christendom at the present time, tell of
the condition of soul prevalent among the true people of God themselves

For the most part, it is not strife about doctrines that is so characteristic,
as indolence and indifference about them. Some, very active in eager
evangelism, have given them up pretty much, as only hindering their work. If
they pause to realize the meaning of this, they will have to own that God has
made a mistake, or they have; - God’s word is not in harmony with His
work; - He from whose love to man the gospel has come, cannot have foreseen the
effect of His truth! And how many, on the other hand, have just received what
has come down to them from their fathers without exercise of soul about it!
without following the apostle’s well-known rule, to "prove all things,
hold fast that which is good"!

As a consequence, many things carelessly
received make Scripture, in all that is inconsistent with these, really
unintelligible; and this lies really as an accusation, though they would not
openly formulate it, against Scripture itself. It cannot fail to be so. The
searching it, produces but perplexity. They hold to it in general - give it up
as to minor details: would be astonished, could they seriously examine it, how
much of what they believe God has given to them has thus exhaled altogether; -
how much is but as a dead thing - dead without any lamentation over it - not
the living word of God at all.

And this affects even the most central
truths, - truths about the Person of Christ, truths about His work. How many
conflicting views about atonement prevail in the so-called orthodox
denominations What is the remedy? why, leave out the "views" then, say many: do
not define. But suppose Scripture does? This will mean in that case,
"don’t go too deep into Scripture." And that is what is at the bottom; we
should know surely whose voice it is that suggests this. It is one and the same
voice that says to one person, "Be humble: don’t imagine that your opinion
is better than anybody else’s"; and to another, "Be charitable: good men
differ about these things"; and to another, "Don’t contend for this: you
will make enemies, you will lose your friends"; and to another, "You are not
learned: don’t occupy yourself with what requires a theologian to decide
about"; and to another, "The Church has settled this"; and - getting more and
more the dragon’s voice - "Oh, but surely there are mistakes in the Bible
: you do not mean to contend for verbal inspiration?" So the form of the
argument varies; but the voice is that of the "liar from the beginning," him
who "abode not in the truth"; and his aim is ever to discredit the truth.
"Don’t go too far." "Don’t be too sure." "Don’t be dogmatic."
"Don’t be uncharitable." The devil knows men well, and what is the chord
in each that will be most responsive to his touch. He is a good chemist too,
and can mix his poisons so that there shall be scarcely taste or smell of the
principal ingredient: all the same it will do its work.

And amazing it is,
the easy-going torpidity of Christians, that will allow their best blessings to
be stolen under their eyes, and never discern it. In other matters they will be
quite other men. "The children of this world are in their generation wiser than
the children of light"; but now, with a large number of Christians you shall
find (and not unsignificantly) in worldly matters all the wisdom of the world,
and in the things that should be their own things as Christians, the most
childish incapacity. I may seem to be wandering from what is before me, in
dwelling upon these things; but in fact I am fully keeping it in mind all
through, and that it is "he that hath ears to hear" that will listen to it. And
the Lord insists upon this in all His addresses to these Asiatic churches.

What is the meaning of this word to Philadelphia, "Thou hast not denied My
Name"? You have not, at any rate, denied it, my reader? I trust not, indeed:
but perhaps you think of this as mere gross apostasy, or as the lapse under
pressure of such days of persecution as have been, when a little incense thrown
upon an altar to some heathen god would save one’s life by abjuring
Christianity. Few are tempted that way now, and you have no need to look
closely at it: is that so? Yes, it may do, if we want to let ourselves off
easily. But if Philadelphia in its deeper application just applies to such
professedly Christian times as these, then it will seem surely strange that the
not having done what few among us have any strong temptation at all to do,
should be, in the Lord’s eyes, a special commendation of Philadelphia! As
to this also, we need not in that case lay much emphasis upon the warning,
"hold fast that which thou hast"; and overcoming will not be in this
application difficult ; - or in another view of it we may say, perhaps, will
scarcely be possible, when there is for the mass no difficulty to "overcome."

Have we possibly, then, misinterpreted it? For one would say, rather, that
there would be on the contrary some special and exceptional suitability in the
commendation and warning both, which would infer some special liability, just
on the part of Philadelphians, to this specific sin, - some special trial in
this respect to which they would be exposed! Can that be true? Does it seem
unlikely? In the gross form in which we may be disposed to take it, yes. But is
the gross form then the true interpretation? can it be so, when it leads to
such a result as to almost evacuate meaning from it, as applied to
Philadelphia? What is it, to deny His Name? What is "His Name"? All names are
significant in Scripture; but the names of God and Christ, how specially, how
transcendantly significant! If God acts "for His Name’s sake," that means,
to declare what He is. If we are "gathered to Christ’s Name " - which is
the true form of the words (Matt. xviii. 20), "to," not "in, " - it is because
what we realize Him to be, draws us (each and all together) unto Him. "His
Name" is thus the revealed truth of what He is. He is away from earth; and we
have not Himself, visibly, to come to. But the truth of what He is, draws us
together, and as so drawn, we confess what He is to us, and so coming have the
promise of His (spiritual) presence. This is how we are united together, as a
wheel is; by the circumference surely; but if that were all - if it were the
main thing - the wheel would have no strength : its strength depends above all,
upon the centre; so our union is (in a way that transcends all that the figure
can express) by the Centre, which Christ is to all of us: and this, in
proportion as it is true, defines and secures also the circumferential union -
that to one another. Carry this back to our subject: think of what Philadelphia
stands for and expresses. If the gathering of Christians is in question in it,
and it is to a true Christ (to the truth of what Christ is) they would be
gathered, then what more central for the Philadelphian than not to deny this
truth of what Christ is - this all-essential, all-sufficing Name

another question - and let no one who values Christ treat it lightly: if there
be a devil, the enemy of God and man, the constant and subtle opposer of all
good, and with such knowledge as such a being may have, of what it is that he
is opposing, how would he seek to corrupt and destroy such a movement as that
of Philadelphia? The answer is not in the least doubtful: he would attack it at
that central point upon which all depended: he would attack the truth of
Christ, His Person and work. As surely as that is true, so sure is it that a
main test for the Philadelphian would be the CONFESSION OR DENIAL OF THE NAME
of CHRIST, the Centre of gathering.

Look at this all through, and see if I
have strained the argument in any wise. See if any link in it is missing, or if
any is insufficient. If it be not, let us take one most evident step further.
These addresses are prophetical: this particular address therefore is a
prophecy. There is implied here then, in connection with this movement to
recover (on principle) the Church of God, that there would be an attack of
Satan upon the Lord Jesus Christ as the Centre of gathering. Has it been so?
Brethren who have knowledge of the history of the last fifty years in relation
to this movement, I cite you all to bear witness as to this before God: have
there been questions affecting the Person of Christ and the gathering to His
Name? I charge you, as you would listen to His word, to answer the question:
has not history fulfilled this prophecy? And how then does the prophecy affect
our position, whatever it may be, with regard to our Lord’s own
commendation here: "Thou hast not denied My Name"?

But again, let us
remember that the great enemy of us all is one well versed in the ways of this
terrible warfare. He has skill acquired in six thousand years’ multiform
experience. "He is a liar, and the father of it." The covert and the wile are
his. Nothing is more common than to see him in the garb of sanctity; and he is
familiar with the habit and the speech of love. He can appear as an angel of
light, and his ministers be as the ministers of righteousness. He can be Satan,
and denounce Satan; only putting Satan for God and God for Satan. Well may we
look to our armour; well may we cleave to the word of God; well may we be
"praying with all prayer"; well will it be, if in truth it can be said of us,
that "we are not ignorant of his devices." All the world is on his side. The
flesh, even in a Christian, pleads for him. Nor can we meet him with his own
weapons, nor foil him by the adoption of his own tactics. In the encounter with
him we have always to keep in mind what Proverbs says of the "strange woman":
"lest thou shouldst ponder the path of life, her ways are changeable, that thou
shouldst not know them."

Let us fix this firm in our minds, that the Lord
here, in commending Philadelphia for not denying His Name, assures us of what
is the great danger in such controversies as have arisen. The great danger is
lest the Philadelphian in his aim to have together the people of God should
forget in some way the gathering Centre, should link himself with the denial of
the Name of Christ. We shall look at "links," if the Lord will, by and by; but
let us already anticipate the apostle’s warning words that one who
"receives" or even "greets" the man who "brings not this doctrine" (of Christ)
is "partaker of his evil deeds" (2 Jno. io, ii); therefore that one who
knowingly "greets" the denier of Christ’s Name is "partaker" of that
denial. The history - which here I do not give - of the first attack of the
enemy makes undeniably clear where it began. And as to those affected by it, it
is just as clear where alone any suspicion even of such denial, or of greeting
of the deniers, has attached. One body there was (of those divided at that
time) which even those separated from, did not and could not charge with such
denial, or with any compromising adherence to those denying. The same could
never be said of the other side: there, if anywhere, (and the attack of the
enemy is certain,) the danger-signals of the prophecy alone display themselves.
Satan here was certainly permitted to be the sifter of God’s wheat, and he
does well in that way what he takes in hand to do. Plenty of failure, no doubt,
could be urged on both sides. Piety too could be urged on both. In a sieve
things naturally get well mixed. So much the more important is it to stand
clear upon the ground given by the prophecy, and see that while on the one side
men were pleading for the Centre, the other side was all the time thinking of
the circumference. Both surely need to be maintained, and it is quite possible,
of course, to err on all sides; yet he who holds fast to Christ will find that
Christ is an attractive power for His people; it is Christ whom the Spirit of
God glorifies; it is here that government of heart and mind is found. It is
only from the centre that the circumference can be truly drawn. Philadelphia is
neither praised nor blamed for her conduct in relation to the people of God, as
we have seen: it is "My Word, My Name, My patience," that are spoken of: and to
get His point of view is all- important.

If Christ be honoured, the Spirit
of God is free, truth finds its place in relation to Him, and there is
progress: souls can be led on. All that will, can judge in the case in
question. The Spirit of God cannot be mistaken in this, or turned aside into
other channels than those connected with the Rock from which the water flows.
And here is a distinct and precious evidence of Christ’s approval. Apart
from this, the stream grows sluggish and dries up. Souls may be blessed and
ministered to, for God is gracious; but the supply is elsewhere.

No one
can, I think, deny these principles. If they are true, they will not mislead in
honest application. Nor do I write a word for those who have no heart to make