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Lowell Brueckner

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The Baptism in the Holy Spirit I

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 Part One

Christ in us

The Christian life is supernatural, heavenly and spiritual. Its testimony is a mystery, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col.1:27). This life can never function with merely human, natural capabilities. The great need these days are people, who know what it means to be under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit of God.

The apostle Paul wrote: “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh…” (1 T.3:16). This speaks of the great mystery of how it came to be that the eternal, glorious God, the Son, could appear in a human body. Of course, His body had been prepared and conceived by God, and was not corrupted by a fallen nature; it was without spot or contamination, without the possibility of sin.

However, our bodies have been conceived in a despicable and incalculably fallen state, and although we have been rescued, pardoned and cleansed, we continue to be imperfect, committing many errors. Isn’t it then a great mystery that the triune God can manifest Himself through us to a surprised world, which can see men and women living a supernatural life? Even though it is a mystery, which I cannot understand or explain, it is biblically true.

Revelation 4

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The Creator’s throne

1.  After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
2.  At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.
3.  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.
  
An emerald
Jesus has given specific messages to the seven churches of Asia and has commanded John to write them in a book. They were read in those churches and preserved. The book of Revelation became the last part of the New Testament canon and the church down through the ages and in every corner of the world has had it at its disposal. We have had the privilege of participating and the eternal Word has spoken to us, as well. We have studied and come to the end of the messages, described as “the things which are” and now, we are able to go on. What follows continues to be for the enlightenment of the seven churches and for us.

The account changes dramatically, as a door is opened into heaven! This is an amazing development because, never before in all of Scripture has an opportunity been given to look upon heavenly scenes. We heard from heaven from the beginning of the Holy Bible and anointed men of God delivered multiple heavenly messages. We have seen patterns and types of heavenly things. We watched as God ordained the history of the Jews, beginning with the calling of Abraham. We were able to appreciate literature, inspired by heaven. Then, heaven’s King, God the Son, came to earth, took on a human body, and spoke of heaven with a human voice to human ears. Apostles, eye witnesses of the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, taught us heavenly principles and doctrines, but now, at the close of Scripture, we are going to be able to follow John through an open door into heavenly scenes!

Revelation 3:14-22

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The Church in Laodicea

14. And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
16. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so 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 eat with him, and he with me.
21. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The Amen, absolute authority

Laodicea, between Hierapolis and Colosse
It is probably the case of most, if not all, of the cities that we are studying, that their history goes back farther than that, which we have described. The cities of the seven churches of Asia Minor are built upon sites of earlier towns. However, we try to find a time, when these cities developed some kind of prominence or acclaim in history. Laodicea was earlier called Diospolis, the City of Zeus, and later Rhodas. Between 261-253 B.C., Antiochus II Theos, a Seleucid king, rebuilt the town and named it after his wife, Laodice. (Some of you may remember the Seleucid Dynasty that we studied in the book of Daniel.) He populated it with 2,000 Jewish families from Babylon, therefore many of its inhabitants were Jewish. At about the time of Christ and continuing into the times of the apostles, they sent 20 pounds of gold annually to Jerusalem for the temple.

Laodicea is the southernmost of the seven churches of Asia Minor, located 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, approximately 100 miles east of Ephesus and only eleven miles west of Colossae. It lies in the valley of the Lycus River. Laodicea held little importance, until it came under the dominion of Rome, when it became one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. In fact, it was the judicial center over 25 cities. It produced and exported fine, black, woolen garments and it was famous for its eye salve. As in Pergamos, there was a great medical school in Laodicea and not far away, in Hierapolis (which also had a Christian church, Col.4:13), there are thermal pools. The nearest modern city, Denizli, is four miles away.

Revelation 3:7-13

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The Church in Philadelphia

7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
8. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
9. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.
10. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
11. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
12. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
13. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

A history of Philadelphia

Alașehir, Turkey on the site of ancient Philadelphia
Before we consider the historical city of Philadelphia, the message to this church, and what it means to church history, first I want to write of what is pressing upon my heart. Just this morning, I watched while our granddaughter, Jessica, signed to the contemporary Christmas carol, “Noel”, and I was captured by the simple line, “Come and see what God has done!” Yes, look down upon that new-born infant in a manger in a cave for animals by Bethlehem’s inn. See in that little body, Someone that the world had never seen before... Something only God could do: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Is.7:14).

Immediately after watching Jessica, I opened my Bible to Isaiah 64 to prepare to tape a radio program with expository studies from that great, inspired prophet. The week before we had studied the last verses of chapter 63: “Our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name” (Is.63:18, 19).

Now, the prophet cries out with a passionate and desperate, “Oh!” “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil – to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence!” (Is.64:1, 2). It is a call for revival, for a heavenly visitation upon earth, for days of heaven on earth. When I finished, I texted the radio technician at the station, “Pedro, it seems to me that the word for the church today is revival. At least, that is what I am feeling.”

Revelation 3:1-6

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Chapter 3

The Church in Sardis

1. And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
3. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. I you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
4. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
5. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
6. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Alive in name, dead in reality

Sardis, capital of ancient Lydia
We learned that Thyatira was on the north border of a territory called Lydia, which was an important and prosperous kingdom in ancient history, and now we go 30 miles southeast to the city of Sardis. Sardis has a very long history, beginning about the time of the fall of the Assyrian Empire, surviving the Babylon and Persian Empires and then was burnt to the ground by the Greeks. It once was the capital of Lydia and was the first place in the world to mint silver and gold coins.

Alexander the Great rebuilt a temple to Artemis (Diana), which still can be seen today. Sardis became part of the Roman Empire in 129 B.C. and was one of its wealthiest cities, due to its location on the trade route between the Mediterranean and the East. It lay 1,500 feet above the junction of five main roads on a plateau that was almost impregnable, but actually, it was rapidly losing its renown.  Romans improved the temple of Artemis and used it for its Caesar-worshipping cult. However, the temple was never completed. A modern town of 5,000 called Sart is only a mile away from the ruins of Sardis. There is not one Christian in the town. May the sovereign Lord move once again in power over Asia Minor!