"Jesus answered and said to him, If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him." John 14:23.
"Behold, I stand at the door and am knocking; if any one hear my voice and open the door, I will come in unto him and sup with him, and he with me." Revelation 3:20.
"If therefore one shall have purified himself from these, in separating himself from them, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, seviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work." 2 Timothy 2:21.
Our brother has referred to the shipwreck at the end of Acts and to how the sailors are exhorted to stay in the ship — that if they don't, "ye cannot be saved." But we are living in a time when the shipwreck has already taken place. The ship is no longer intact. It is a time that the apostle Paul writes of in second Timothy: darkness, declension, and the need for energy in the declining and darkening state of Christendom. It is met by the exercise of individual faithfulness. Paul tells Timothy to entrust the things he had heard from him "to faithful men." And in our own day, it comes down to "others also" — "such as shall be competent to instruct others also." I believe we are in the time of "others also."
In this epistle, we read that all who were in Asia had turned away from Paul, and that Demas had forsaken him, having loved the present age. These persons have turned away from Paul. And we read of Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had gone astray as to the truth, and of men who "withstand the truth; men corrupted in mind, found worthless as regards the faith."
Beloved brethren, we don't want to have part among those who are turning away from Paul or who are opposed to the truth. Paul had written of Timothy, "I have no one like-minded who will care with genuine feeling how ye get on" (Philippians 2:20), and we want to have part along with Timothy. "But thou", Paul addresses him several times in this epistle, in contrast to those who were turning away their ear from the truth in chapter 4. And what it comes down to in this verse we read is one: "If therefore one shall have purified himself from these, in separating himself from them, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified, serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work." Without holiness "no one shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). And we are to be "serviceable to the Master, prepared for every good work", although we would surely own that we are unprofitable bondmen.
We may downplay the importance of good works, but have we ever noticed that these vessels who separate are "prepared for every good work?" Jesus "went through all quarters doing good" (Acts 10:38). And think of the Samaritan coming up to the man on the way to Jericho! The priest and the Levite passed by on the opposite side, but the good Samaritan came up to him and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. He was prepared. He had what was needed — the oil and the wine — to bind up the wounds of this man on the way to Jericho. And he had what was needed for his sustenance in the inn, too. It says, "he gave them to the innkeeper" and "whatsoever thou shalt expend more, I will render to thee on my coming back."
Well, John's ministry, too, bears on the last days. In John 14, it comes down to "If any one love me." And to Laodicea, which represents the predominant state of the church in the last days, the Lord says: "Behold, I stand at the door and am knocking; if any one hear my voice and open the door." How precious to the Lord Jesus is such a one as we read of in 2 Timothy 2:21, such a one as Timothy who cared with genuine feeling how the saints got on, such a one as we read of in John 14, "If any one love me, he will keep my word!" To such a one the Lord promises, "my Father will love him, and we (the Father and the Son) will come to him, and make our abode with him." There can be a dwelling place for divine Persons in one who loves the Lord Jesus and keeps His word! In these dark days, one who loves Jesus and faithfully keeps His word can lay hold of His promise and enjoy precious, living communion.
Then in Revelation, the Lord Jesus speaks to Laodicea of Himself as "the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." He goes on to speak about these claims that Laodicea makes. "Thou sayest, I am rich, and have need of nothing." We are prone to making claims, dear brethren. That is the state of things at the end of this dispensation. Groups of believers are making claims as to the Lord's presence. But here the Lord Jesus is outside: "I stand at the door and am knocking." He places Himself at the door and continues to knock. "If we are unfaithful, he abides faithful." He continues to knock. Then the question is, "If any one hear my voice and open the door." It is a gentle appeal to each one of us. "If any one hear my voice and open the door, I (that's the Lord Jesus Himself) will come in unto him and sup with him and he with me." How precious that the Lord gives this promise to the individual even in Laodicean times! The Lord Jesus, at the end of John's gospel, says "come and dine" to His disciples, but here it is individual: "I will come in unto him and sup with him and he with me." There is a reciprocal relationship here: "sup with him and he with me."
Well, I just thought of what the Lord has available to faithful individuals in the day in which we are, a day marked by declension. The apostasy is clearly evident on the horizon and is coming like a flood into established Christendom. But the Lord takes His place and stands at the door and knocks. Are we going to hear His voice? That's the question. Are we going to hear His voice in view of having fellowship with Him in this way — in view of the Lord Jesus coming in and supping with us, and we with Him?
May the Lord Jesus encourage us to be faithful to Him. There is so much sorrow and breakdown — the breakup of the ship at the end of Acts 27 speaks of it. But then you have the individual exercise of getting safe to land. Some swam, some came on boards, some came on things which came from the ship — all these ways of getting to land. Would we not desire to be faithful to the Lord Jesus in these closing days? He is about to come again and receive us to Himself! May we be faithful to Him and keep His word. For His name's sake.
S. E. Hesterman