Christ’s Present Session (Revelation 3:21-22)

Andy Woods
Christ’s Present Session (Revelation 3:21-22)
October 21, 2018

Good morning everybody.  The title of our message this morning is Christ’s Present Session.  We have been in the Book of Revelation, that middle section of the book, chapters 2 and 3, where Jesus has been addressing seven churches in the Asia Minor Area: Ephesus, the loveless church, Smyrna, the persecuted church, Pergamum, the compromised church, Thyatira, the corrupt church, Sardis, the dead church, Philadelphia, probably the highpoint of the letter, the missionary church, and then finally we’ve looked at, at least most of it, which we hope to finish today, Laodicea, the man-centered church.

Here’s our outline that we’ve been following for the letter to Laodicea; the destination, of course, is Laodicea. There’s where it appears on the map.  And Christ has described Himself to this church a particular way: He’s called the Amen, the Faithful, the True witness and The source of creation itself.  And then you’ll notice the words commendation, what the church was doing well, except you don’t see any verses there for that.  Jesus here deviates from His normal way of speaking to each church; each church He tries to comment—not so Laodicea because they had become very man-centered.  In fact, the name Laodicea, as we’ve talked about, literally means the people ruling.  And what had happened in Laodicea is the dictates of humanity were controlling the church.  Jesus, as we’ll see in a moment, is literally outside the door of that particular church.

So He launches into, verses 15-17 a rebuke; He rebukes them for their lukewarmness, He actually says this whole scenario makes me nauseous, and He says the problem with them is they have become so prosperous they don’t need God any more.  And if that weren’t bad enough they didn’t even know their own spiritual condition, they were blind to their own spiritual condition, a tragic thing that is happening here in this particular congregation.  [Revelation 3:15-17, “‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. [16] So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. [17] Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”]

So He gives them an exhortation in verses 18-20, there are some things they need from Jesus; they need gold, or a trial, white garments, eye ointment, they need to get their zeal back, they need to repent, and verse 20 says they need to restore fellowship.  [18] I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. [19] ‘Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. [20] ‘‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”]

And this is where, verse 20, Christ is portrayed as standing outside the door of the church knocking wanting to get in. Sadly verse 20 is typically used to communicate evangelism and yet the context here is not evangelism, it is broken fellowship.  These people are still saved (as I’ll show you in a minute) but their moment by moment enjoyment of God has been broken because of unconfessed sin.  They need to exercise their right under 1 John 1:9.  [1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”]  More on that a little later.

And now we move into verse 19, at least the first part of the verse; the second part of verse 19 and all of verse 20 we covered last week, but let’s go back just for a minute to the beginning part of verse 9 where he articulates for them a consequence if they don’t repent.  He says, verse 19, “Those whom I love I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”  Almost every commentator I could find on my bookshelf and I’ve got a lot of books on my bookshelf by the way, says that these are unsaved people here.  The reason they’re unsaved is because no Christian could be acting this way.  Part of the problem is they’re coming from a very aggressive Calvinistic angle. One of the tenants of Calvinism is the P in the pneumonic T-U-L-I-P, the Perseverance of the saints.  If you truly are a child of God then there has to be increasing fruit in your life.  If that’s not happening then maybe you were never saved to begin with; maybe you were never one of the elect!

And so because people have got into this theological system of Calvinism they take wayward Christians that are described in the Bible and they simply convert those to unbelievers.  You’ll notice that Jesus never says to these people you need to receive Christ for salvation.  He never tells them to trust in the provision of Jesus Christ for purposes of salvation.  Why?  Because these people are saved.

It is interesting that the Bible talks about three kinds of Christians, the spiritual, the carnal, and the babes.  The world, according to the apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, is divided into two, believers and unbelievers.  [1 Corinthians 3:1-3, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. [2] I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, [3] for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?]

And most people’s thinking is about as simple as that, saved and unsaved.  But when you study carefully what the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 what you discover is within the ranks of the saved there are different kinds of Christians.  There are those that are spiritual or growing; those that are infants or new Christians, and then you have some that are carnal, continuing over and over again back to the flesh, still saved.  And it’s that group, the carnal Christians, that is being addressed here in Revelation 3 in the letter to Laodicea.

You say well how can you be so sure?  Look again at what it says in verse 19, “To those whom I love I reprove and” what? “discipline.”  [Revelation 3:19]  The concept of discipline does not apply to an unsaved person.  The concept of judgment or wrath applies to an unsaved person but the concept of discipline only applies to a saved  person.

What is divine discipline?  What is divine chastisement?   What it is is the introduction of pain into the life of the believer by God.   So the next time the believer steps out of line they will associate the momentary pain with that sin and they’ll be less likely to sin.  It’s the same reason we discipline our children.  A child runs across the street without looking, any parent worth their salt will discipline their child. Why is that?  Because the next time they think about running across the street they’re going to associate the pain of discipline with the rebellious act of running across the street and in fact that discipline is for their own good because remembering that pain and keeping them from running across the street without looking may save their life one day.  If we can deal like this with our children we should expect God, our heavenly Father to deal this way with us as well.

Proverbs 13:24 says, “He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently,” not to the point of antagonizing a child but to the point of correcting them so that they stay away from activities that may destroy them.  God knows something about sin, He knows what sin will do to us and so He provides divine discipline to keep us away from sin.

The whole book of Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 5-11 deals with this very subject, the subject of divine discipline.   [Hebrews 12:5-11, “and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;  [6] FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.”  [7] It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? [8] But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. [9] Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? [10] For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. [11] All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”]

Discipline itself is a sign of God’s love and ownership over us.  I have never once disciplined the neighbor’s children; I’ve thought about it a few times… [laughter]  but I’ve never done that.  Why?  Because they don’t belong to me, I would have no business disciplining someone else’s child.  The reality of the situation is because God loves you and because you belong to Him and you are His child by way of faith, He applies at times in our lives the rod of divine discipline.  Sometimes the rod of divine discipline can be very severe.  Sometimes it can even involve the premature taking of one’s life.

This is what was happening in the church at Thyatira you’ll recall.  It says there in Revelation 2:22-23, “Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. [23] And I will kill her children” that’s pretty severe, “with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.”

Ananias and Sapphira were disciplined to the point of death.  There’s very little doubt in my mind that Ananias and Sapphira were both saved people and I believe that because the church, Acts 5:11 fell into fear when this happened.  [Acts 5:11, “And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”]   I don’t know if the church would be afraid if an unbeliever was killed but one of their own was killed, maximum divine discipline.

The Corinthians were drunk and disorderly at the Lord’s Table and God moved into that congre­gation with divine discipline. He says in 1 Corinthians 11:30, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number have fallen asleep,” which is a euphemism, if you will, for death.  But then Paul says something very interesting, verse 31, “But if we judged ourselves rightly we would not be judged.”

The heart of a parent is never to impose discipline; it’s to warn a child so that child will self-correct so the uncomfortable nature of discipline will not have to be applied.  God is the same way with us.  It brings Him no delight to bring into our lives the rod of divine discipline and so many times a warning will come and this is the kind of thing that’s happening here in Laodicea.  Divine discipline is about to be applied.  God’s hope, of course is self correction.

1 John 5:16 talks about a sin leading unto death and that sin is never identified, what it was and so therefore everybody always asks me what is it and my answer is I don’t know, but it was something pretty bad.  [1 John 5:16, “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death; I do not say that he should make request for this.”]  And isn’t it interesting how we can avoid these types of disciplinary impositions from God simply by heeding warnings and internally correcting ourselves.  This is the consequence which is articulated here to Laodicea if they do not reevaluate and change their man-centered ways.  And this , verse 20, is why Jesus is outside the door of His church with fellowship broken.  [Revelation 3:20, “’Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.”]

We go from verse 19a to two verses that we didn’t cover last week that hopefully by God’s grace we can cover today.   You say two verses, how long could this be?  Well, you’re going to be shocked at the truth that’s found in these verses, particularly verse 21.  We have here the promise to the overcomers, verse 21, “‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Notice what it says, to him “who overcomes,” and all the way through this series, all the way through these letters we’ve identified the overcomers as saved people.  We are overcomers because Jesus is the overcomer and we are related to Him by way of faith.  And so these are promises that the Lord typically gives at the end of each letter to encourage the believers that in spite of divine discipline and the uncomfortable nature of trials we are on the winning side of history.

And notice what the promise is, verse 21. “…I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  Question: how many thrones do you see there?  If you’re a careful reader of the Bible you’re going to see two thrones.  This is very important to understand for reasons I’m going to explain.  There is My throne, Jesus speaking and there is the Father’s throne.  Now notice as these two thrones are described, notice the change of tense in the verbs.  What does it say?  “To him who overcomes, I will grant” that’s the future tense of the Greek verb didōmi, “To him who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne.”  Therefore Jesus is not on His throne right now;  His throne is  yet future. Which throne is that?  That’s the Davidic throne, the throne promised to David’s heir.  It’s on the earth, it’ll be in Jerusalem during the millennial reign of Christ and you’ll notice that that throne at the present time is unoccupied because that throne, His throne, My throne is put in the future tense.

But then the verse continues, “as also I have overcame and sat down” now the tense just switched, we move into the aorist tense, something that’s happened already, to some extent happening now, the aorist tense of kathizō, “just as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  So we have throne number two, the Father’s throne.  The Father’s throne is currently occupied by the Father and Jesus Christ.  Jesus’ throne, future, earthly, not in heaven like the Father’s throne, is unoccupied.

Revelation 12:5, of Jesus, says, “A child” that’ Jesus, “was caught up to” what does it say?   It doesn’t say Christ’s throne, it says very clearly “her child was caught up to God and His throne.”  [Revelation 12:5, “And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”]  So the Father’s throne is heavenly and is occupied by two members of the Trinity, God the Father and God the Son, Jesus taking that seat following His ascension.

But back to Revelation 3:21, the throne of Jesus Christ, which is earthly, in Jerusalem during the millennial kingdom at the present time is unoccupied.  You say well who cares?  I mean thrones, schmones, what does it really matter?  It becomes a big deal because of the three offices of Jesus Christ.  What did Jesus pray in what is truly the Lord’s Prayer?  You know, if you want to find the Lord’s Prayer don’t go to Matthew 6, that’s the disciple’s prayer.  Jesus was teaching the disciples how to pray.  If you really want Christ’s final prayer you go to John 17 and in verse 5 Jesus says, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself with the glory which I had with you before the world was.”  I want to go back to that place of glory at the Father’s right hand on the Father’s throne.  And that prayer was answered with which event?  The ascension found in Acts chapter 1.

So it’s very clear that Jesus is on today the Father’s throne, not His throne, a very significant teaching because what we have in the doctrine of Christology, the doctrine of Christ, are Christ’s three offices: office number one is prophet, largely fulfilled by Christ in His first coming, when He did what a prophet does, He called the nation of Israel to repentance.  And just like the prophets of old He was largely unsuccessful in that role which shifted Him to office two, the present session of Christ where Christ is not on His throne, He’s on the Father’s throne at the Father’s right hand engaged in His present session where He is functioning, not as King but as high priest after the order of Melchiz­edek.  So that’s office two.   And you’ll find a reference to that in Hebrews 4:15.  [Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”]  By the way, that’s why we’re to pray because somebody is up there listening to us because we don’t have a high priest who is unsympathetic with our weaknesses, He lived as we lived.  He knows exactly what we’re going thru and He had it much worse.

But there is going to be office three where He will reign as King over this earth, Isaiah 9:6-7, Matthew 25:31.  [Isaiah 9:6-7, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  [7] There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”  Matthew 25:31, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”]  Many verses talk about it, where He will not be on the Father’s throne.  He will be on whose throne?  His throne.

So in office two His priestly role, He is on the Father’s heavenly throne.  In office three, which has not yet come into existence, He will be on His throne reigning over the earth from the city of David (Jerusalem) in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.  And here is something that’s very significant to understand when  you start putting all of these things together.  Jesus (watch this very carefully) is not reigning as King today.  He is functioning as high priest.  We are in, currently (and we’ve been in it for the last 2,000 years) the second type of ministry, the second office of our Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s why Revelation 3:21 keeps the two thrones separate.  [Revelation 3:21, “‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”]

In fact, those two thrones will not even merge until after the thousand year kingdom is over.  After Jesus has reigned over the earth for a thousand years, from Jerusalem, on His throne, which at this point in time is unoccupied, only after that reign has run its course will God dissolve this word by fire, 2 Peter 3:10, replace it with the new heavens and the new earth, and only then will those two thrones merge together.  [2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.”]

Until that time in history the two thrones are always kept separate related to these three offices of Jesus Christ.  You see, in the eternal state the day is going to come when those two thrones will become one.  You read about it there in Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one throne, but until that point in time, which won’t even occur until after the thousand  year kingdom, those two thrones are separate.

This has become a big deal in our day, it’s become a big deal in church history because ever since the fourth century, thanks to the writings of Augustine, who wrote the influential book, The City of God, which is the most influential book ever written in church history.  That book influenced more people than any other single book ever in the history of Christianity.  And I’m not using influence here for good, I’m using influence for negative, because that was the first formal treatment of the doctrine of amillennialism, “a” is a negation, no millennium, no future earthly reign of Christ, because we’re in the kingdom now.

And so from that time onward people have been saying we’re in the kingdom.  The fact of the matter is, even some of the songs that we sing within modern day Christianity are songs that are errant because they give the impression that we’re in the kingdom now. For example, a well-known song, Majesty, Kingdom what? Authority.  You say well come on pastor, you’re getting a little wound up about nothing, I mean they’re just singing about the millennial kingdom there.  No they’re not!  And the reason I know they’re not is because I’ve watched what the church has done over the last 20 to 30  years where they go around the city of Los Angeles and they bind Satan and territorial spirits.  Now why would they be binding Satan and territorial spirits?  Because that’s what Jesus is going to do when He sets up His kingdom.  Now these people have been binding spirits over the city of Los Angeles for the last two to three decades, I would say they’re not being all that successful to the city of Los Angeles, it’s called “The city of angels.”  It is more wicked today than it’s ever been, just try calling the city council sometime and see what kind of reaction you get, and complain about some of their policies.

This is why this doctrine of the kingdom matters.  It’s not just hair splitting, it relates to what the church is, what its identity is and what the church should and should not be doing.  I have no interesting in binding territorial spirits over Houston.  I think they’re there.  I’m not going to bind Satan either because my Bible is very clear that Satan is the god of this age and he will not be downed until the millennial kingdom.  What I’m going to do is play defense because I’m not in the kingdom, I’m in the age of the church, and I’m going to put on the full armor of God because that’s what the New Testament, in context, understood rightly, tells me to do.  But if you get these three offices confused you get very confused fast as to the identity of the church and what the church should be doing.

If all of this is true then why do so many people believe that we’re in the kingdom now?  Why is it that almost on every marquee and vision statement you see at any local church they’re all building the kingdom; they say this.  We’re kingdom builders they tell us! We’re bringing in the kingdom.  We’re doing kingdom work!  I mean, it’s a nice buzzword, “kingdom,” but what does it mean?  In fact at my alma mater, Dallas Seminary, it’s sad for me to say this, the doctrine that’s in vogue there is what is called progressive dispensationalism which in my opinion is neither progressive nor dispensationalism.  The primary thrust of that doctrine is Jesus is reigning on David’s throne currently.

Darrell Bock, one of the  progenitors of this doctrine openly teaches this.  Here is a quote from one of his writings.  Why does he teach this?  Well, his point in this quote is the two thrones merge. He quotes Revelation 22:1, the two thrones merge.  [Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”]  And since the two thrones merge in Revelation 22:1 guess what?  The two thrones are merged when?  Right now!  That’s how they get this idea that Jesus is on David’s throne.  The fact of the matter is Jesus is not on David’s throne. David’s throne is unoccupied because the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel is in unbelief.  Jesus is in heaven on the Father’s throne, not functioning as King but He is functioning as High Priest.

And how crazy is it to take Revelation 22:1, the merger of the two thrones, and act as if those thrones are merged today.  [Revelation 22:1, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”]  You know, folks, there’s a lot of things going on in the eternal state that aren’t happening today.  Amen!  Like what?  No Satan, no sea, that’s going to hurt the cruise industry by the way, no death, crying or mourning or pain, that seems to be going on today.  No sun, we’ve got a little cloud cover today but the sun is still there.  Now moon, no night, no evil, no curse.  You can’t take a concept from the eternal state, like the merger of the two thrones and just indiscriminately make it sound as if those thrones are merged today and Jesus is in phase A of His kingdom they say, reigning from David’s throne.

Jesus is NOT on David’s throne!  The Bible never teaches He’s on David’s throne.  He’s on the Father’s throne. If He were on David’s throne right now the kingdom would be in existence.  The kingdom is not in existence!  He is on the Father’s throne, not functioning as King but functioning as high priest.  You say well, why is He not in His kingdom now?  John 1:11 tells you, “He came to His own” now who are His own?  The nation of Israel.  “He came to His own and those who were His own did not receive Him.”  Daniel, six hundred years in advance said this concerning the rejection of Israel of their Messiah: So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; [it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”[  [Daniel 9:25]

Jumping down to verse 26 because we’ve already had teaching on this, in fact there was more teaching on this than most of you probably wanted.  Verse 26 says, “Then after the sixty-two weeks” watch this very carefully “the Messiah will be cut off” the crucifixion, see the rest of the verse, “and have nothing….”  Daniel 9:26 predicts, and this is what happened in the first century, the Messiah would come to His own people, He would be rejected by His own people, they are the ones that took Him and handed Him over to Rome for crucifixion, and the moment that happened He would have nothing.  Nothing of what?  Nothing of the kingdom.  So consequently Jesus is not on David’s throne right now.  If the nation had received Him He would be on David’s throne governing planet earth.

So what did He do?  God took lemons and turned into what?  Lemonade, through this terrible transaction God has a habit of bringing something good out of it; through the crucifixion of Jesus the sin debt is paid for…Amen!  We are related to Christ by way of faith…Amen!  We are in the church, not the kingdom… Amen!  And so where did Jesus go?  Not to David’s throne, He went back to the Father’s throne, His place of preincarnate glory that He prayed to return to where He functions as high priest.

You say well, yeah, but doesn’t Jesus…isn’t He described as being within the lineage of David?  Any passages in the Bible? Isn’t He the one who exercises the key of David?  And there are many Davidic concepts or ideas that describe Jesus as David (watch this very carefully) only because He is the heir to David’s throne.  This is why He is called (Revelation 5:5) the what of David?  The “root.”  [Revelation 5:5, “and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’”]  Why is He called “the Root of David”?  Because He’s on David’s throne?  NO, because He’s the heir to David’s throne.  It’s a legal heirship that He is not yet enjoying.

How does the Book of Revelation conclude? Verse 16, “I am the root and the descendant of  David, the bright and morning star.  [Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”] He is a Davidite but that does not mean He is currently functioning with Davidic reign.

If He were functioning with Davidic reign I’ll tell you this much, the world that we’re living in would be a lot different, not the least of which Satan would be bound right now.  Is Satan bound right now?  Does Satan bother you like he bothers me?  Agricultural prosperity will break out all over the earth.  There’ll be no more war because the nations will beat their swords into plow­shares? Does any of this seem like it’s happening today?  It’s not happening today.

So if you have a theology that says we’re in the kingdom anyway you have to take all that information and you have to deliteralize it.   And you have to say well, the prophecy related to His first coming was literally fulfilled, like Bethlehem, and piercing, but all the second coming prophecies are allegorical.  You have to switch horses in midstream to get their system to work.  And  you have to start saying funny things, like Jesus is really on David’s throne right now because we know in the eternal state the thrones merge, so that means they must be merged today.

No, beloved, He is not reigning as King.  What is happening today is He is functioning as high priest.  Hebrews 4:15 is very clear on this.  [Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”]  In fact, the whole book of Hebrews is defending this idea.  Hebrews 7:3 says, end of the verse, “…he remains a priest perpetually.”  [Hebrews 7:3, “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.”]

Hebrews 6:20, after the order of who?  Melchizedek!  [Hebrews 6:20, “he remains a priest perpetually.  [Hebrews 6:20, “where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”]  Melchizedek is sort of this very interesting character that shows up in the Book of Hebrews and what it indicates is Christ has a priesthood related to Melchizedek which is higher than Aarons.  Aaron’s system was great while it lasted.  But the priesthood that Christ has ushered in following His ascension, following His return to the right hand of the Father on the Father’s celestial throne is way better than anything Aaron and his sons could have ever engineered and pulled off.  In fact, it’s such a higher order the author of Hebrews says it’s after “the order of Melchizedek.”  How could Jesus be another Aaronic priest when the priests had to come from which tribe?  Levi!.  Jesus came from which tribe?  Judah, Genesis 49:10.  [Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”]

So He’s obviously in a priesthood which is spectacular and as wonderful as that priesthood is it’s not the kingdom of God.  Christ currently is only in His second office.  When Jesus is described as a Davidite it’s saying He’s the heir to the kingdom, although currently He’s not yet in the kingdom.

The founders of Dallas Seminary thought this was a big deal.  Lewis Sperry Chafer says this, back in 1947.  “Similarly, the earthly kingdom that according to the Scriptures had its origin in the covenant made to David, which is mundane and literal in its original form and equally as mundane and literal in uncounted references to it in all subsequent Scriptures which trace it on to its consummation,” that kingdom, the literal earthly kingdom he’s saying, watch this language, “is by theological [legerdemain]” I didn’t know what that word meant, I had to go look it up so I put it in brackets.  What does that mean, legerdemain.”  It means trickery or deception.  That’s very strong language.  You convert what Jesus is doing now as high priest into the kingdom of God and you’re involved in (according to Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary) trickery and deception.  “it is by theological [legerdemain metamorphosed into a” watch this, “spiritual monstrosity….”

If you think the present session of Christ is the kingdom you have just created a monstrosity of the Bible is what he’s saying.  You have intermingled something that the Bible says is never to be intermingled, the three offices of Christ, in which an absent King seated on His Father’s throne in heaven is accepted in lieu of the theocratic monarch of David’s line seated on David’s throne in Jerusalem.  I will never settle for this idea that we are in the Davidic Covenant now because what the Bible describes for the Davidic Kingdom is so much grander than what is happening that you have to tone all those passages down, rewrite all of those passages to make it fit.  And this doctrine of deception and trickery and a monstrosity, according to Chafer’s words, is what is normal in Christendom ever since Augustine, The City of God, fourth century.

In fact, most Christians, by way of denominational affiliation, believe this monstrosity.  They’ve just never been presented with the other side because they are connected by way of denomina­tional affiliations to institutions which teach this round the clock.  In fact, the view is so common most people have never even heard of the present session of Christ nor have they ever heard of the three offices of Christ and their distinction.  And what people say is well, you know, if you’re not going to say Jesus is not reigning on David’s throne today then he’s up there doing nothing.

That’s what a lot of people think, well, if this isn’t the kingdom then I guess He’s not reigning today and He’s not doing anything.  Beloved, on the contrary.  He’s doing so many things today that are astounding.  Number one, He’ keeping creation sustained, these are all verses describing what He’s doing today at the Father’s right hand, on the Father’s throne in heaven.  He’s keeping creation sustained, He’s the One that’s moving the planets around so that they do not collide with each other.  [Colossians 1:16-17, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. [17] He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”]

He is the one that has grace enough to keep your heart palpitating so you could wake up this morning.  A lot of people didn’t wake up this morning around the world.  Why do you wake up and they don’t?  It has something to do with the present session of Christ as high priest after the order of Melchizedek.  He is the Head of the church, Ephesians 1:22-23.  [Ephesians 1:22-23, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  He is the Groom of the Church, Ephesians 5:22-23.]

In fact, He is the one that is building the church. From His position at the right hand of the Father He is orchestrating the growth and the development of the church, Matthew 16:18, “I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”  Why is it that Satan hasn’t stopped the church by now?  He should have stopped it a long time ago.  Because Jesus keeps it moving, building, growing.  How is it that the Apostle Peter, this guy that denied the Lord three times, and will walk out on the water and sink, and would speak up out of turn, I call him the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth, always putting his foot in his mouth to such a degree that Jesus had to say “get behind me Satan.”  How is it that guy could stand up on the day of Pentecost, preach a sermon, and three thousand people get saved.   How could that happen?  Because of the ministry of Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father functioning as high priest.

Why is it that the number jumps in Acts 2 from three thousand converts to Acts 4:4, to five thousand converts.  How did that happen?   It’s related to the present activities of Jesus Christ  [Acts 2:41, “[Acts 2:41, “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. from three thousand converts,”   Acts 4:4, “But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”]

What else is Jesus doing?  Ephesians 4:7-12, He’s giving the church spiritual gifts.   [Ephesians 4:7-12, “When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” [8] Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, [9] if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, [10] let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. [11] He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.  [12] And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”]

What else is He doing?  You should be grateful for this as I am, He’s interceding for the saints.  Man, I wish someone would pray for me!  Romans 8:26, Hebrews 7:25.  [Romans 8:26, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”]  You’ve got someone praying for you around the clock.

What else is He doing?  He’s your defense attorney.  He’s even better than Johnny Cochran.  He is our advocate, 1 John 2:1.  [1 John 2:1, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;”]  Why do I need an advocate?  Because what does the devil do before God’s throne day and night?  He hurls accusations against the saints.  Aren’t you glad you’ve got an advocate?

What else does He do.  He forgives sin.  Do I need my sins forgiven?  I thought once saved always saved.  No, beloved, you need  your sins forgiven, not to get re-saved, John 10:27-29, but to restore broken fellowship.  [John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; [28] and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  [29] “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”]  We, as Christians, can to back to the sin nature, I hope I’m not the only one in the room that that happens to.  And when we do we don’t get unsaved any more than a new child could be unborn, what happens is the moment by moment enjoyment we had with God stops.  And so we need to exercise 1 John 1:9 to restore broken fellowship.  [1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”]

Lewis Sperry Chafer put it this way.  “The effect of the Christian’s sin upon himself is that he loses his fellowship with God, his joy, his peace, and his power.”  So you find yourself today Christian in a situation where you’ve lost your fellowship, your joy,  your peace, your power? There’s a remedy for that.  It’s 1 John 1:9, [1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”] where Jesus, in His current position as high priest is faithful and just or righteous to forgive us of these sins. “On the other hand, these experiences are restored in infinite grace on the sole ground that he confesses his sin.”

Look at what Jesus is doing today at the Father’s right hand.  May I ask you a question though?  Who is the last sermon you ever heard in any church covering the present session of Christ?  In fact, when I taught at the local Bible college called The Biblical Studies almost every semester I would ask the question, can someone tell me the last sermon you ever heard in your church on the present session of Christ.  And in the seven years being there I never got anybody to raise their hand and say oh  yeah, my pastor’s covered that.  For whatever reason the present session of Christ in an obscure doctrine in the minds of most Christians.  We know an awful lot about what He did when He came the first time and we know an awful lot about what he’s going to do when He comes the second time, what did He do as prophet, what will He do as King.

I’m living in the year 2018 and I want to know what He’s doing now.  And for whatever reason we don’t know much about it.  And yet there’s an actual area of Christology, the doctrine of Christ, called the present session of Christ, things that Jesus executes consistently, not to be confused with the Davidic Covenant.

Lewis Sperry Chafer again says this: “The present ministry of Christ in heaven, known as His session, is far-reaching both in consequence and import.”  In other words, this doctrine will change your life if you let it.  “It, too, has not been treated even with a passing consideration by Covenant theologians,” people that believe we’re in the kingdom, “doubtless due to their inability—because of being confronted with their one covenant theory—to introduce features and ministries which indicate a new divine purpose in the Church and by so much tend to disrupt the unity of a supposed immutable purpose and covenant of God’s grace.”  Translation: a lot of people will never talk to you about this because their pre-existing theology of us being in the kingdom now won’t allow it.  So the pulpits are silent over this subject.  “ Since, as will be seen, certain vital ministries of Christ in heaven provide completely for the believer’s security, the present session of Christ has been eschewed by Arminians in a manner equally unpardonable.”

Why won’t people talk about it?  Because it reveals the security of the believer.  And if I have a theology that says you can lose your salvation I’m not going to talk about the security of the believer.  He goes on, now this was 1947 he was complaining about this.

He goes on, “This neglect accounts very well for the emphasis of their pulpit ministrations. The Christian public, because deprived of the knowledge of Christ’s present ministry, are unaware of its vast realities, though they are able from childhood itself to relate the mere historical facts and activities of Christ during His three and one-half years of service on earth.”  You give a quiz to kids, they can tell you all about the earthly ministry of Christ, a survey to adults, they can tell you all about the things He did.  You ask them what He’s doing now… blank stare.   It’s an area of theology that’s been obscured, if not lost.

“That Christ is doing anything now is not recognized by Christians generally and for this part-truth kind of preaching is wholly responsible. It yet remains true, whether neglected by one or the other kind of theologian, that Christ is now engaged in ministry which determines the service and destiny of all those who have put their trust in Him.”  [vol. 5, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 273-74.

This a big deal, this present session of Christ.  And yet it’s the area of Christ’ life where, for whatever reason, we have a tremendous lack of familiarity.

So what’s the promise then.  That was my introduction, what’s the promise then?  “He who overcomes I will grant him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  [Revelation 3:21]  In other words, when the time in history comes where Jesus has evicted Satan, returns to the earth, takes His seat in Jerusalem on David’s throne and governs the whole world you’re going to be there.  In fact, you’re going to be on the throne with Him, if I’m reading this right, functioning under His delegated authority, ruling and reigning in the millennial kingdom.  The same type of promise was given to Thyatira, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;” [27] AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father;” [Revelation 2:26[27]

Christian, whether you know it or not you’re destined for authority; you’re destined for a throne.  The Book of Revelation is how that throne is established as Christ’s kingdom comes to the earth and “The kingdom of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign” for how long, “forever and ever.” [Revelation 11:5, “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’”]

That’s your destiny in God, but it’s not happening now.  Now is a special provision for you, while you’re in the devil’s world, for grace in the midst of that adversity.  That’s what Christ is executing currently, not on His throne but on the Father’s throne, not on the earth but in heaven, functioning not as King but as what? High priest.   So if we’re destined for a throne why can’t we get along in life with a smaller thing.  That’s the application.

1 Corinthians 6:2-3, Paul confronts the Corinthians who are suing each other, can you imagine.  “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts?  [3] Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”  You’re upset about this little tiny issue over here, don’t you understand who you are?  Don’t you understand your identity?  Don’t you understand the authority that you are hurling towards in the providence and the timing of God?  Of course you can handle a little disagreement, work it out, grow up, mature into your identity as a kingdom ruler.  In fact, beloved, every trial you’re experiencing right now is preparatory for you kingdom reign.

As one man put it, this earth, what is it?  It’s training time for reigning time.

We conclude with the exhortation to listen, from all of the distractions that are out there in the world, think of all of the sermons and Bible studies that are being given this week, last week, right now on Sunday morning, and how many of them are focusing on this issue.  I would say a very, very small percentage, if any, and  yet we’re told these things as a privilege to listen and to heed.  Verse 22 says, “He who has an hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” listen up, same command God gave to ancient Israel prior to their conquest of the land.  You know, they went into the land, 800 years they got evicted.

Do you know why they got evicted?  They never listened to what Moses told them to do.  Moses gave them specific instructions on how to thrive and prosper in the land which they didn’t listen to and they neglected and Israel’s history is recorded there in the pages of the Old Testament for all to see.  It is a failure to read and heed.  And what I’m revealing to you is not something that’s unique to me, it’s what your Bible teaches.  It’s  your current provision as you march through the devil’s domain and are in route to glory.  And how badly the Lord wants us to actually hear this, not allow the mind to wander, not to think about gosh, where am I going to go to lunch after the service is over, do I need to talk to so and so or such and such.

I mean, isn’t it interesting that people can watch the movie Star Wars for two hours and sit there, little kids, glued to the TV, and yet it’s so difficult for us to hear a sermon about the present session of Jesus Christ, His current office, and how it’s being confused by many people when that very office is the source of  your provision for the rest of today and the rest of this week.

This is a lesson that’s given to all the churches, not just the church at Laodicea.  The present session of Christ is for all of us.  Now here’s what’s very interesting. We just finished chapter 3, that’s a miracle right there.  “Write down the things which you have seen” chapter 1, “the things that are, “chapters 2 and 3, “the things that will take place after these things,” chapters 4-22.  So we’re going to hit chapter 4 and guess what’s going to happen?  We’re going to get raptured into heaven because the voice is going to come to John and say “come up here,” and when he gets up there, which I assume happens very fast, he’s going to be given information about the third part of the book, the futuristic section.

And that I want you to see is the transition from chapter 3 into chapter 4.  Why would John be called up into heaven? Where is Jesus right now?  On His throne or His Father’s throne?  His Father’s throne.  Where is His Father’s throne?  On earth or in heaven?  In heaven.  He just finished telling us He’s in heaven on His Father’s throne so now He says to John, Come up here and I will show you the things that will take place after this.   [Revelation 4:1, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”]

I mean, He was caught up to God and His throne in His ascension and so He says to John the same thing, “Come up here” and beloved, as God is my witness the same thing is going to happen to you.  Now I don’t know if this event is going to happen prior to our death or before, I don’t have any inside information on that but I know that there will be a generation that will hear the last trump of the church age.  I would think we would also hear that voice “Come up here” and we’ll be rocketed into heaven in a nanosecond.  And you say oh,  come on pastor, you say it every week and it’s never happened.   One of these days I’m going to be right.  [Laughter]  So the question is, when that trumpet sounds, let’s say it sounds this afternoon, would you go?  That’s the question.  Or would you, to quote the late Tim LaHaye, be Left Behind.”

You know, I think this: I think the Sunday after the rapture I think the churches will be packed.  I really do!  I think first of all a lot of people think they’re saved because they go to church.  And I think also the unsaved world will be so dumfounded by this sudden disappearance that just after 9/11 they’re going to be coming to the leaders of the world for an answer.  And that’s not a crowd  you want to be in.  You want to be in that crowd that’s going and participation in the rapture is part of your great passage.  There are things that God gives to us that are independent of human performance in any way, that are totally accessed by way of grace.  One of those is salvation and part of that package is participation in the rapture because Paul says we will “all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling” and so forth.   [1 Corinthians 15:51-52, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, [52] in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” ]

And you enter the grace package, not through human works, not through raising a hand, not through joining a church, not through walking aisle, not through filling out a decision card, not through giving money to your local church, not by obligating  yourself to try harder.  See, that’s what the religious world teaches, that’s how you enter into this great package. If you entered into it that way then you’d have something to boast about. Right?   You enter into the grace package based on what He has done for you, not what you do for yourself.  You enter into the grace package by receiving as a free gift what He has done.  And in the mind of God you have to think the way God thinks.

There is only ONE way to receive a gift from Him and that’s why He’s deliberately conditioned it on the basis of faith.  Not A, B, C, D, not Admit, Believe, Confess and all these other things people say, but it’s B, “B” by itself, the Spirit convicts us of our need to do this and we simply trust in Christ.  The Spirit convicts us and we, the best we know how, we place our confidence, our faith, it’s a condition of privacy in the mind and in the heart, exclusively in Christ and Christ alone for salvation, period!   No ten thousand verses of Just as I Am, hoping someone can come forward so we can complete the service and go out to lunch.  That’s not how it’s done.  It’s done completely by receiving, by faith, what Jesus has done and becoming a Christian is not a multi-step  process.  It’s a single-step process and it’s something you can do right now where you’re seated or even people listening, you can receive Christ by trusting what He has done.  And if that’s something you have done or are doing then on the authority of the Word of God you’ve altered your eternal destiny and you become a participant in the grace package, including the rapture of the church.  Does that sound like a pretty good deal?  [clapping]  So we would invite folks to do that.

Shall we pray.  Father, we’re grateful for these letters that we have been studying, I know they’ve been personally convicting to me as I’ve been trying to prepare.  I pray You will continue to be with this church as we continue to move through the Book of Revelation to this very exciting vision that You have in store for us.  We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said… Amen!