I am sure that it is the Lord's will that this whole time should be gathered up in some concise and definite and practical word; not any further laying foundations or presenting subject matter, but seeking to reach a clear conclusion, and, by His grace, a clear position. I am going to turn you again to Rev. 1:9, "I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus."
I want to begin by cutting that statement down to this - "for the testimony of Jesus". The whole conference has been occupied with the testimony of the Christ, and we have seen, I trust, that the testimony of the Christ is the testimony of His complete conquest of death through His Cross in His resurrection; the testimony of Life's triumph over death.
Now here is this verse - "for the testimony of Jesus". It is not just abbreviated to "the testimony of Jesus", I attach the word 'for', "for the testimony of Jesus" because that gives me the point, the specific point, of contact with you at this time.
Identification with the Testimony
Now let us add something more to it. "I John... for the testimony of Jesus". John is identifying himself here with the testimony of Jesus, and saying that it is the testimony of Jesus which gives significance and meaning to himself. It is as though he were saying, "My existence is represented by the testimony of Jesus. I come into the picture because of the testimony of Jesus. I have my place for the testimony of Jesus. My name is mentioned, and only to be mentioned, because of the testimony of Jesus." "I John... for the testimony of Jesus".
My name is mentioned, and only to be mentioned, because of the testimony of Jesus." "I John... for the testimony of Jesus".
I am sure the Lord would like the outcome of this conference to be that each one of us should just write our name in the place of John. There may be some Johns here. Well, put a ring round it and underline it, but if your name is not John, just write it in, or ask the Lord that in the future when you read Rev. 1:9 your name is there in the place of John's. "I... for the testimony of Jesus. If I am going to be identified at all, singled out, there may be many names, but, having a name of my own, I am singled out by my name because of the testimony of Jesus. The testimony of Jesus is the thing that brings my name in at all." You see what I mean. YES :)
The testimony of Jesus is the thing that brings my name in at all." You see what I mean.
"I John for the testimony of Jesus". That is the true starting-point where this testimony of the Christ, as we have been looking at it through all the Scriptures, should become a personal and individual thing which justifies our having a name at all, that it could be said at length that "So-and-so for the testimony of Jesus". It would be a grand thing if that could be the record in heaven and earth - John (or whatever name you like) for the testimony of Jesus. Those two things go together and you can never think of the one without the other. When you think of him and of her, you have a plus to that name, and that is the testimony of Life triumphant over death in all the difficult circumstances in the Patmos situation and what that may mean for everyone nevertheless, for the testimony of Jesus. There is no doubt about it. If we said no more than that, it is a challenge enough, that that which gives meaning to our being and what we are and where we are, is the testimony of Jesus. "I John, who I am and where I am" - that is what he said - "I, John, identify and am positioned here for the testimony of Jesus." It is very simple but full of challenge and full of meaning.
A Concern for the Church
Now go back. "John to the seven churches that are in Asia". John is saying: 'Yes, as an individual I am committed to this, I am bound up with this, my very life is wrapped up in this, but it is not only a personal matter - it is that, it begins there, but because of that it becomes something related.' "John to the seven churches". 'This to which I am committed has got to be passed on and reproduced, has got to be represented by the church of God. So far as can be, this testimony in which I stand, which gives meaning to my life, must be found in the church of God, in that far wider realm of things. And the church in its entirety - sevenfold - must take its meaning from this very thing from which my life takes its meaning.' That, of course, is just what is here. John is going on to challenge the churches as to the testimony of Jesus. It is the risen Christ Who is doing it, but the risen Christ here has taken up this man for doing it. It is through this one that the church is being challenged as to this very testimony, and John is entering into it, not just as a tool or a machine, but entering into it in the travail of his own soul and sharing the sufferings of the Christ in order that the church might truly express this testimony of Life. For, as I understand it, the key to these seven messages to the churches is just this - 'Not your orthodoxy, not your works, not your fundamentalism, not this, not that, but the triumphant testimony of Life; that which overcomes all these other things which speak of death, of decline, of limitation'. It is a life which overcomes, a mighty life.
So, from the individual it moves out. It is not just something wrapped up with me, but my concern and my business is to see that the church of God comes into it so far as it is possible by my instrumentality. That means not only that I am standing for the testimony as an individual, but I am standing for the church. This is not only an individual matter, but I have got the church on my heart in this matter.
You can see how true that was of John, how true that was of Paul, how true it was of all here, that their stand was to be reproduced in the people of God. That would take us back to the beginning because John's is a recall to what was made so evidently the Lord's intention at the beginning. There is no doubt about it. You begin the history of the church in the book of the Acts with the testimony of Jesus in fulness, in glory. It was a wonderful thing then. Life - oh, what Life! And what that Life was leading to and resulting in, because of the very divine vitality in the church then. How much happened within their own compass, amongst themselves, and what it led them to: loss of self-interest, earthly interest, worldly interest. And what a lot happened in the world because of that. Yes, it is a mighty testimony. But, by the time John is in Patmos, loss has been sustained, declension has taken place, and it is a call back. He is standing now not for the establishment in the first place of the testimony, but the recovery of it amongst the Lord's people. He is committed to that, but he knows, as we know, what the Lord wanted, because there it was, there was that testimony in real expression originally constituted by the risen Lord Himself through the Holy Spirit and on the principle of Life. It was not bringing in some great organization to propagate some truths. It was the bringing of a great organism to propagate a Life. There is a lot of difference between those two things. To propagate a Life - thus was it constituted and that was what it fulfilled in the beginning.
Things which are Necessary for the Triumph of the Testimony
But that Life became the subject and the object of a tremendous battle and necessitated a deep and continuous work. And so the rest of the New Testament, or the days of the book of the Acts, (that is, the beginning of the book of the Acts on to the Revelation) is a presentation of those things which have to be taken account of in order that this testimony shall fully triumph. And I want very briefly and concisely to point out some of those things without necessarily taking you to the Scriptures. I leave you with your New Testament to verify what I am going to say.