Judgment Seat of Christ
Arlen L. Chitwood
Seated on the Throne
To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. (Revelation 3:21)
The first thing that a person must get fixed in his mind when studying the message to the church in Laodicea is the fact that the Spirit of God is addressing Christians. The unsaved are not in view at all; they cannot be in view. The message is to a church (vv. 14-22), and the New Testament knows nothing about unsaved people having a part in the formation of a church.
Works, with a view to overcoming or being overcome, are seen throughout the passage. And, with spiritual values involved, this is a realm into which the unsaved cannot enter.
Thus it is with the structure of each of the other six messages to the six churches preceding the message to the church in Laodicea. In this respect, the church in Laodicea is no different than the church in Philadelphia, or any of the other churches. All seven messages are to Christians, to those “in Christ”; and all have to do with works, resulting in Christians overcoming or being overcome.
Too many people deal with certain problems that arise in the Christian life in a rather loose manner. When, for example, sin manifests itself in the life of an individual claiming to be a Christian, one of the most common ways that other Christians often deal with the matter is to begin questioning the person’s salvation.
The thought usually centers on the premise that if a person is saved he will follow a certain course of action; and if he doesn’t follow this course of action, his conduct reveals that he was never really saved in the first place.
This type of thinking though is completely contrary to any Scriptural teaching on salvation by grace through faith. It is a corruption of the pure gospel of the grace of God, for works have been introduced into a realm where works cannot exist (cf. Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 11:6).
A person can no more show by his works (any type of actions on his part) that he has been saved than he can perform works to be saved in the first place. Works cannot enter after any fashion, either preceding or following the time one is saved.
A person cannot perform works to be saved.
A person cannot perform works to stay saved.
And a person cannot perform works to show that he has been saved.
Salvation is by grace through faith apart from works, and it must forever so remain. As in Jonah 2:9, “Salvation is of the Lord” (cf. Ephesians 2:8, 9; Titus 3:5).
The church in Laodicea is described as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” This description applies to a group of “lukewarm” Christians, “rich” in the things of the world that Christ is about to “vomit” out of His “mouth” (vv. 15-17). The scene within that portion of Christendom depicted by the church in Laodicea, in this respect, is one portrayed as producing sickness to the very stomach.
These Christians had been called into existence with the things of the coming age in view; but they, instead, prostituted their high calling through their intimate association with the things of this present age, the present world system under Satan. And it is the One who made this calling possible, by and through His sacrifice on Calvary, who is associated with sickness in the respect that it is set forth in this passage.
Being vomited out of the stomach has no reference to eternal verities, for such are not in view. The message is to those who already possess eternal life, and it is life for the coming age alone that is in view.
The scene in these verses anticipates the judgment seat of Christ, with Christians standing naked and ashamed in the presence of Christ (v. 18). Such Christians will be rejected for positions with Christ on the throne, with the attitude that Christ exhibits toward their revealed works expressed in very vivid language.
However, there is another side to the picture presented in these verses. Despite the attitude of such Christians as set forth in the message to the church in Laodicea, Christ still extends an invitation for them to “repent.” They have forsaken Him, but He has not forsaken them.
Christ still holds out before them proffered crowns, necessary for positions on the throne with Him in the coming day. It is not too late for them to buy “gold tried in the fire” (that they might be rich), clothe themselves in “white garments” (that the shame of their nakedness might not be manifested), and anoint their “eyes with eye salve” (that they might see).
Christ stands at the door of the lukewarm Church of today and knocks, as He stood at the door of the Laodicean church in Revelation chapter three after the same fashion; and the invitation is to the individual Christian within the Church — whether in the Laodicean church then, or the Laodicean Church of today — is the same:
. . . if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him [not come into that individual, but come inside the Church to that individual], and will dine with him, and he with Me. (v. 20b; cf. vv. 18, 19)
The End, Goal
The present dispensation will one day end, be brought to a close; and Scripture presents the Church at the termination of this dispensation in a dual fashion. The messages to the churches in Philadelphia and Laodicea present these two facets within Christendom, forming God’s own commentary concerning the concluding period of Church history, with the church in Laodicea becoming more and more prominent as the age nears its completion.
There will always be faithful Christians, extending right on up to the time of the rapture. God will always have a faithful remnant (cf. 1 Kings 19:14, 18; Revelation 11:3ff), a witness on earth, seen by the presence of the church in Philadelphia. But Christendom, by large — the Church as a whole, foreshadowed by the church in Laodicea — by and through an unholy alliance with the world, will, for all practical purposes, stand alone as the Church in the world at the end of the dispensation.
1) Beginning and Working of the Matter in History
As seen in previous chapters dealing with the seven churches in Asia during John’s day, there is an event in Church history that precipitated conditions as they exist today, almost two millennia later; and that event was the placing of leaven in the three measures of meal by the woman in Matthew13:33. Once this act had been accomplished, which appears to have occurred very early in the history of the Church, the end of the matter was set. The leaven would work in the meal “until the whole was leavened,” and such would ultimately result in conditions existing in the Church at the conclusion of the dispensation that would parallel those existing in the first century church in Laodicea.
“Leaven” in Scripture has to do with that which is evil, vile, corrupt: the Israelites, immediately following the Passover, were told to “put away leaven” out of their houses (Exodus 12:14-20); Jesus told His disciples to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6); and Christians are told, “Purge out therefore the old leaven” (1 Corinthians 5:7), with an allusion made in the following verse (v. 8) to the feast of unleavened bread in Exodus chapter twelve (showing a type-antitype arrangement of the teaching set forth).
The leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal in Matthew 13:33 was destined to ultimately corrupt the entire mass. And this is exactly the climactic time we are nearing (or possibly already at) in Church history today. The whole is to be permeated by the working of the leaven, and the message to the church in Laodicea shows the end result of the matter.
Leaven actually works best in a place where the temperature is not too hot or too cold, and the lukewarm state of the Laodicean church points to ideal conditions after this fashion. The leaven, after many centuries of deteriorating work, will be brought into the advanced stages of its action and do its most damaging work within the lukewarm confines of the Laodicean Church near the end of the dispensation.
The working of this leaven will be so complete that the question is asked in Luke 18:8, “. . . when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith [the faith] on the earth?” The response to the question, designated by the wording in the Greek text, is negative. The Son of Man will not find “the faith” upon the earth when He returns. Rather, He will find conditions as depicted in Revelation 3:14ff.
“The faith” in Luke 18:8 can only be synonymous with faith exhibited by Christians in passages such as 1Timothy 6:12 and Jude 3. It is a faith in connection with laying hold on eternal life [life for the age] in 1 Timothy and a faith in opposition to the great apostasy of the latter days in Jude. This is the faith destroyed by the working of the leaven within the lukewarm confines of the Laodicean church, producing the conditions described as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”
This is the reason Christendom exists as it is seen today. The corruption brought about by the leaven, destroying “the faith,” has produced a condition in which the return of Christ is either not taught at all or it is invariably taught in such a way that things surrounding “the faith” are not dealt with.
(Christendom today, from a humanistic standpoint, can be seen in all types of stages, covering a wide panorama of differences.
For example, there are churches that are either exclusively homosexual or churches openly accepting homosexuals into their fellowship, both seeing homosexuality as simply an alternate lifestyle [in line with the world’s view]; then there are very liberal churches that bear little resemblance to that which Scripture teaches; there are more orthodox-type churches that are seemingly teaching correct biblical doctrine in a number of areas; there are churches that pride themselves on their fundamentalism, etc.
But there is one thing that, with rare exception, all of them have in common, revealing their true identity — as being Laodicean, not Philadelphian. None of them, with rare exception, either know anything about or will have anything to do with the Word of the Kingdom, the central message of Scripture that the leaven has been centering its attack on for two millennia. In fact, many of the churches that pride themselves on their fundamentalism, unlike many of the more liberal churches that are out of the mainstream of things in this respect, will often go out of their way to fight teachings surrounding the Word of the Kingdom.
And, because of the working of the leaven over two millennia of time, the preceding is perfectly understandable. The leaven knows no boundaries within Christendom, only one object — destroy any and all teaching surrounding the Word of the Kingdom.
True fundamentalism in Christianity would necessitate an adherence to the fundamentals of the Christian faith, which, of necessity, would have to center around the Word of the Kingdom. This is the way it was in Ephesus [the first of the seven churches in Revelation 2, 3], until they left their first love. And this is the way it must be in any church today that would look upon itself as Philadelphian rather than Laodicean — which would be an adherence to or a return to that which is taught and believed in Ephesus, to true fundamentalism, before the Church left its first love.
Between these two points, there is no middle ground. A person, or a complete church, is either for Christ or against Christ [Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23]. A Church is either Philadelphian [centers its teaching on the Word of the Kingdom] or Laodicean [centers its teaching on other than the Word of the Kingdom]. And the latter, regardless of how fundamental they might appear to be, are still Laodicean, not Philadelphian.)
The very reason for the existence of Christians upon the earth is inseparably linked to the coming kingdom. Christians are the ones destined to occupy the throne with Christ; and this is the heart of that which has come under attack by and through the working of the leaven.
Every Christian is in line to inherit the rights of the firstborn, the rights of primogeniture; and these rights, in their entirety, have to do with positions in the coming kingdom. Everything moves toward that day when Christ will take the kingdom; and this appears to be something viewed in a somewhat similar respect by both the world around us and by the worldly-minded Laodicean Christians in our midst.
(“The world” though really doesn’t possess a spiritual capacity to understand the things surrounding that day when Christ takes the kingdom. All “the world” can know is fact concerning the matter, i.e., that Christ one day will take the kingdom.
The worldly-minded Laodicean Christians, on the other hand, possess a capacity for spiritual truth. But the things surrounding that day when Christ takes the kingdom are of little to no interest to them. They know little more [often no more] about the matter than “the world” itself; and, generally, they would take a similar position to that taken by the world. They, as the world, are generally quite content with the status quo.)
2) Goal and Conclusion of the Matter in Prophecy
When the birth of the nation of Israel occurred in Egypt, followed by this nation being removed from Egypt, there was a purpose, a goal behind the matter. Israel, as God’s firstborn son, was to be removed from one land, be placed in another, and realize the rights of primogeniture in that land. Israel was to enter into the land of Canaan and rule over the Gentile nations of the earth. Not only was Israel to rule after this fashion, but Israel was also to be “a kingdom of priests” through whom all the Gentile nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:3; Exodus 19:5, 6).
Israel being placed in this position would bring about the fulfillment of one part of Genesis 22:17 (the earthly seed of Abraham [“the sand which is on the seashore”] would “possess the gate of their enemies [rule over his enemies]”); and, by and through this means, Genesis 22:18 could be fulfilled insofar as the earthly aspect of the kingdom was concerned (“And in your seed shall all the nations [Gentiles] of the earth be blessed”).
(For the earthly aspect of the kingdom to be brought into full fruition though, the entirety of Genesis 22:17, 18 would have to be brought to pass. The heavenly aspect of the kingdom would have to be brought into existence as well.
The seed of Abraham would have to possess the gate of the enemy in both heavenly and earthly realms. The removal of Satan and his angels from the heavenly realm of the kingdom in the middle of the Tribulation and their being bound and cast into an abyss at the end of the Tribulation, an abyss which is sealed for 1,000 years, anticipates this [Revelation 12:7; 20:1-3]. And the establishment of the kingdom in an overall respect demands this, for Scripture clearly reveals that both the earthly seed of Abraham [Israel] and the heavenly seed of Abraham [the Church] will reign with Christ in the kingdom at this time — one upon earth, the other in the heavens.)
When God called the Church into existence, as when He called Israel into existence, there was a purpose/goal behind His calling; and the thought of eternal redemption in connection with Christianity (which too often is erroneously made the key issue) doesn’t even begin to deal with the matter. Christians have been called into existence (they have become possessors of eternal life) to realize an inheritance “reserved in heaven,” associated with a “salvation” to be revealed (1 Peter 1:3-11). Christians have been called into existence to be removed from one land, be placed in another, and realize the rights of primogeniture in that land.
Christians are to inhabit a heavenly land and occupy the throne as co-regents with Christ when He rules the nations with a rod of iron. And Christians, comprising “the Church of the firstborn [a called out group of firstborn sons]” — as Israel fulfilling the rights of primogeniture on earth — are to exercise a priestly function in this rule. Christians are not only to be “kings” but they are also to be “priests” in that day (Revelation 5:10; cf. Exodus 19:5, 6).
The nations are not only to be ruled by Christians (from a heavenly sphere) but the nations are to receive spiritual blessings through the position that Christians will occupy as well (as Christians exercise the full rights of the firstborn). And, as this rule progresses through Israel on earth (as a restored and believing Israel is placed at the head of the nations), spiritual blessings will flow out to the Gentile nations through Israel (as Israel exercises the full rights of the firstborn).
Christians being placed in this position in the heavens will effect the fulfillment of one part of Genesis 22:17 (the heavenly seed of Abraham [the stars of the heaven] will “possess the gate of their enemies [rule over his enemies]”); and Israel being placed in this position on earth will effect the fulfillment of the other part of Genesis 22:17 as well (the earthly seed of Abraham [“the sand which is upon the seashore”] will “possess the gate of his enemies”).
Then Genesis 22:18 will be fulfilled in relation to both heavenly and earthly aspects of the kingdom (“And in your seed shall all the nations [Gentile nations] of the earth be blessed” [cf. Galatians 3:17, 18, 29]). And this will bring a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees at the time of his call (Genesis 12:1-3) long before either Israel or the Church was ever brought into existence.
Genesis 22:17, 18 will, thus, find its proper fulfillment in the coming age when God’s firstborn sons (Christ, Israel, and the Church [following the adoption]) occupy their proper places in relation to the earth as they exercise the rights of primogeniture. Israel will occupy the earthly sphere of the kingdom in the capacity set forth in these verses; the Church will occupy the heavenly sphere of the kingdom in the capacity set forth in the same verses; and Christ will rule in both spheres of the kingdom.
Christ will rule from His own throne in the heavenly Jerusalem, with Christians occupying positions as co-heirs on the throne with Him (Revelation 3:21; cf. Romans 8:14-21); and Christ will also rule from David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem, in the midst of His people Israel (Luke 1:31-33). Within this complete structure of the kingdom (heavenly and earthly spheres), the seed of Abraham will “possess the gate” of the enemy, and the Gentile nations of the earth will “be blessed.”
The nation of Israel in the Old Testament moved beyond the things surrounding the death of the paschal lambs in Egypt and advanced toward the land of Canaan. However, the actions of “many” brought displeasure to the Lord; and these individuals were overthrown in the wilderness, short of realizing the purpose for their deliverance from Egypt (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). They were overthrown on the right side of the blood but on the wrong side of the goal of their calling.
Thus it is with Christians during the present dispensation. They have appropriated the blood of the Passover Lamb and placed themselves in a position to move toward a heavenly land, wherein their calling will be realized. But the actions of “many” will bring about the displeasure of the Lord, resulting in their overthrow, short of realizing the purpose for their deliverance from this world. Their overthrow will occur on the right side of the blood but on the wrong side of the goal of their calling.
The Laodicean church sets forth the far-reaching heights of failure on the part of the Church in this respect. The Church in the latter days of the dispensation, saturated through and through with leaven, will be filled with Christians having no regard for the purpose surrounding their salvation. And one day, appearing at the judgment seat in this condition, they will suffer the fate awaiting those in the church in Laodicea who spurned the call to “repent.” They will be rejected for positions with Christ in the kingdom, failing to realize the very purpose for their salvation.
The Overcomer’s Promise
The promise that the overcomer will one day be allowed to sit with Christ on His throne comprises the pinnacle toward which all of the overcomer’s promises move. All of the promises are millennial in their scope of fulfillment, and all have to do with Christians occupying future positions as co-heirs with Christ. All point to and find their fulfillment in Christians exalted, with Christ, to the place for which they were called into existence.
Overcoming Christians occupying the throne with Christ must be properly equipped to fulfill all the functions of the office that they are to hold. Merely being seated on the throne in fulfillment of the seventh and last of the overcomer’s promises is insufficient in and of itself.
All the things contained in the first six overcomer’s promises must also be realized in the lives of Christians as they occupy positions on the throne, for only in this manner will Christians come into possession of all which God requires for those ruling as co-heirs with His Son.
1) Overcoming or Being Overcome
The analogy given in Revelation 3:21 has to do with Christians patterning their lives after Christ’s life, with overcoming and the throne in view. Christ overcame and is presently occupying a position with the Father on His throne, and Christians are to overcome and one day occupy a position with the Son on His throne. The exact wording of the text is, “. . . to him that overcomes . . . even as I also overcame . . . .” A conflict, ending in victory, is in view first; and then the throne comes into view. The latter is not attained without the former.
Christ’s overcoming is associated with His sufferings during the time of His shame, reproach, and rejection; and Scripture makes the matter very clear that overcoming for Christians is to be no different. Christ has “suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps”; and overcoming Christians must enter into these sufferings. Christians are told,
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:12, 13; cf. 1 Peter 2:21-23)
The thought is very simple: Christians are to follow the example that Christ has left, knowing, as He knew, that connected with the sufferings is the shame, reproach, and rejection; but beyond all of this lies the glory (Hebrews 12:1, 2). In Revelation chapters two and three, overcoming is with a view to the throne; and in portions of Scripture such as the book of 1 Peter, suffering is with a view to glory. Overcoming is inseparably connected with suffering, as is the throne with glory.
The sufferings of Christ find their beginning in the fact that He “came to His own [own things], and His own [own people] did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
(There is a distinction in the Greek text between two words in this verse that is not brought out in the English text at all. The gender of the first word translated “own” is neuter [pl.], indicating “things”; but the gender of the second is masculine [pl.], indicating “people.”)
The “things” to which Christ came refer to those things which were rightfully His: the Davidic throne, His own throne, the domain over which He was to rule, etc.; and the “people” to whom He came refer to His brethren after the flesh, the nation of Israel. Christ suffered at the hands of His own people, among others, because of things that were rightfully His, to which He came.
All the sufferings of Christ, after some fashion, were associated with His “own things”; and coming into possession of His “own things” is something that must not only follow His sufferings but is something that can only be millennial in its scope of fulfillment. His “own things” are intimately linked with His coming rule over the earth. He was born “King of the Jews,” He presented Himself to Israel as the nation’s “King,” He was crucified “King of the Jews,” and when He returns it will be as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Matthew 2:2; 21:5; 27:37; Revelation 19:16). Christ at that time, not before, will come into the realization of His Kingship and come into possession of His own things.
While here on earth the first time, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Christ met the incumbent ruler (Satan) face-to-face in order to reveal that He was fully qualified to redeem that which the first Adam had forfeited in the fall. Such included not only fallen man ultimately being placed back in the position for which he was originally created, but it included the restoration of the ruined creation itself (the forfeited domain that was rightfully His).
Following this, He suffered rejection time and time again by the Jewish people; and the entire matter was climaxed by His being arrayed as a mock King by those to whom the Jewish religious leaders had delivered Him — the Gentile power of that day, the Romans.
Arraying Christ as a mock king, they placed a robe on Him, a crown of thorns on His head, and a reed for a scepter in His right hand. Then they bowed the knee to Him in a mocking fashion, ridiculing His true position as King, spiting upon Him, and taking the reed and striking Him on the head. And crucifixion then followed (Matthew 27:27ff).
During all of this, His “own things” were held in abeyance. There was no attempt on Christ’s part to interfere with incumbent powers and authorities, whether of Satan and his angels holding the scepter in the heavens or of the Gentile nations holding the scepter here on earth. It was not time for Him to take the scepter. He suffered through all of this, climaxed by Calvary itself.
He has overcome, and the call has gone forth for Christians to overcome as He overcame. And overcoming, as He overcame, looks ahead to that future day when Christ will come into possession of His “own things,” with overcoming Christians ascending the throne with Him.
The things of that day though are future in their entirety and have nothing to do with man during the present day and time. Man during the present day and time is still living during the day of Christ’s shame, reproach, and rejection; and the attitude that Christians are to exhibit toward the “things” to which Christ came must parallel the attitude that Christ took toward these things when He was upon earth the first time.
Involvement in the affairs of the present world system does not become Christians at all. Such involvement will result in their being overcome by the world rather than their overcoming the world. It is occupying an opposite position to that which Christ occupied relative to a world controlled by Satan and his angels by and through the Gentile nations. The words, “as I also overcame,” and the words, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps,” must be pondered and heeded by any Christian aspiring to be an overcomer.
When Christ returns to earth the second time, He will once again come to His own things and to His own people; but this time He will come into possession of His own things, and His own people will receive Him.
Many of the things to which Christ came in the past and will come in the future, given to Him by the Father, are presently being extended to Christians. Overcoming Christians are to inherit with Christ; and, insofar as the heavenly aspect of the kingdom is concerned, these Christians are to participate with Christ in the things to which He came almost two millennia ago. Christians occupying their proper place in Christ’s rejection, shame, and reproach today will result in these same Christians occupying their proper place in Christ’s acceptance, glory, and exaltation yet future.
2) My Throne, My Father’s Throne
The Son is presently seated with His Father on His Father’s throne (Psalm 110:1). But, at the end of Man’s Day — for the duration of the Millennium, when the Lord’s Day will exist on earth — Christ will sit on His own throne; and it will be during this time that the overcomer’s promise in Revelation 3:21 will be fulfilled.
Following the Millennium, after all things have been brought under subjection to Christ, the kingdom shall be delivered up “to God, even the Father.” At that time the Son will also Himself “be subject to Him that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).
The Son’s throne will then cease to exist as a separate throne, and there will be one throne — “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1, 3).
The Father’s throne is the point from which God presently administers His rule throughout the entire universe. Messianic angels — Satan among them, though as a rebel ruler — presently rule under God throughout God’s creation (Job 1:6; 2:1; Ezekiel 28:14). The earth, in this respect, is one of numerous provinces in God’s kingdom that are ruled by messianic angels.
Scripture clearly infers that numerous provinces (worlds) exist throughout the universe, over which messianic angels rule. The scene presented in Job chapters one and two is that of Satan appearing in the midst of certain other angels who can only be his equals (i.e., other messianic angels who rule under God over other provinces, as Satan rules the earth under God). And it appears that within the sphere of God’s government of the universe these messianic angels are summoned into His presence at scheduled intervals in what could be called congresses of the sons of God.
(Man, during the past several years, has, for the first time, been able to look through his powerful telescopes and see some of the other solar systems in his own galaxy [similar to the one in which he lives]. Man now knows, through his own scientific achievements, that other solar systems exist in the universe. And the more man views the heavens with his increasingly powerful telescopes, the more he realizes that these other solar system are far more numerous than he at first thought. But this is as far as he can go with the matter within his science.
Scripture though begins beyond the point where man presently finds himself. Scripture begins at the point of revealing that messianic angels rule over provinces in the universe, simply inferring that other provinces exist [provinces other than the earth, which man is presently discovering]. And these could only be other provinces in other solar systems [i.e., planets revolving around other stars (the earth’s sun is a medium-size star)], not only in our galaxy but probably in all the estimated billions of galaxies scattered throughout the universe.
Scripture no more attempts to prove the existence of these other provinces than it does the existence of God Himself. As with the existence of God, Scripture simply deals with these other provinces from the standpoint that they exist, providing revelation beginning at this point.
It is left to finite man to believe that he has wrought some great astronomical achievement through recent findings, made possible by his use of more powerful telescopes and an orbiting telescope. Man though, in his scientific achievements in this realm, has not even arrived at the point where Scripture, dealing with these things, begins; nor can man ever arrive at this point through his science.
Actually, man, in his quest for knowledge pertaining to all that exists in the universe, has yet to arrive at and believe or understand the simplicity of the very opening words of Scripture — “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” [Genesis 1:1].
Had man simply turned to and believed the Scriptures in the beginning, rather than seeking answers through science, he could have learned millennia ago things concerning how the universe was brought into existence [something that he can never discover within his science] or how the universe is structured [something that he can only begin to discover within his finite scientific ability].)
Christ is presently seated with His Father upon a throne from which the government of the entire universe is administered. The future government that Christ will administer from His own throne though will be limited to the earth over which Satan presently rules, for He is to replace Satan and rule over the same domain.
The other messianic angels are not in view at all in this sphere of activity. They administer affairs over provinces unrelated to Satan’s domain and unrelated to the reason for the appearances of the first man, the first Adam, and the second Man, the last Adam.
The creation of man, in keeping with the entire matter, is peculiar to the earth. Man’s creation is directly related to the governmental administration of this earth; and once man finds himself in the position that he was created to occupy (when he finds himself seated on the throne with the second Man, the last Adam, ruling over the earth), his rule will have to do with this earth alone.
Angelic rule on the earth will be affected, for man will replace angels (Hebrews 2:5); but angelic rule elsewhere in the universe will remain completely unaffected. Angelic rule elsewhere in the universe had no involvement with Satan’s fall and man’s subsequent creation.
Satan and his angels are the ones who rebelled, resulting in their disqualification to rule and necessitating their ultimate removal. Satan sought a regal position above that in which God had placed him; he sought a regal position above the other messianic angels; he sought to occupy a position in which he would be like God Himself, from which he could administer power and authority throughout the universe.
He led a great host of the angels ruling under him in this rebellion, and his failure to succeed brought about a wrecked kingdom and the pronouncement of judgment (Isaiah 14:13-17; Genesis 1:1, 2a).
The creation was later restored, and man was brought into existence for the express purpose of taking the scepter that Satan had forfeited. However, man’s fall resulted in both a ruined creature and a ruined creation, necessitating the appearance at a later date of the second Man, the last Adam, with a view to the subsequent “restitution of all things” (Genesis 1:2b-28; 3:6, 7, 17, 18; Acts 3:21). Only after all things have been restored will man realize his calling — holding the scepter while seated on the throne with Christ.
All things relating to man — his creation, fall, redemption, and coming rule — are peculiarly related to the earth. Thus, during the coming age, the only change in governmental affairs throughout God’s universe will be in the sphere of Satan’s present governmental administration — his rule over the earth upon which man resides.
On this province, man, realizing his high calling, will come into the position previously occupied by angels; but elsewhere in the universe, angelic rule over other provinces in the kingdom of God can only continue unchanged.
Christendom, near the conclusion of this dispensation, will be marked by one main feature, foretold almost two millennia in advance: Apostasy. This is the situation revealed by the sequential arrangement of the first four parables in Matthew chapter thirteen, the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three, the books of 2 Peter and Jude, and by portions of Scripture such as 1 Timothy 4:1ff and Luke 18:8. The working of the leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal in Matthew 13:33 cannot be checked or stopped within the lukewarm confines of the Laodicean Church of today. Deterioration will continue until the whole has been leavened.
The people of God though have not been left alone and helpless against the deteriorating process of the leaven. God has promised that He will never leave nor forsake His people (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). Christians are in possession of God’s Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit; and a knowledge of this Word, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, is the one great protection, the only protection, that Christians possess against the false doctrine produced by the working of the leaven (cf. Isaiah 8:20; John 16:13-15; 17:14; 2 Corinthians 4:16; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:10).
Then, God’s Son has promised that He will be with Christians until the end of the age (Matthew 28:19, 20); and, as depicted in the message to the church in Laodicea, He stands and knocks at the door of the lukewarm Church during the final eroding stages of the working of the leaven, extending an invitation to any Christian who will heed His voice.
This invitation, contextually, is with a view to overcoming; and overcoming is, in turn, with a view to ultimately occupying a position with Christ on His throne.