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Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 11/20/05
The Portland 2005 Bible Conference
The Church at Sardis.
Invisible Heroes.

The book of Revelation is the book of world history from A.D. 96, to the end of time. In Rev 1 we have the principle of Who and What Jesus Christ is, and how Jesus Christ controls history. In Rev 2 and 3, we have the dispensation of the Church-age, located between the two greatest prophecies in history: The First and Second Advents of Christ. The First Advent of Christ, with all the details, is now a matter of history. Once our Lord was seated at the right hand of the Father, He was given His third category of royalty, His third royal pattern, and the title: King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but He had no Royal Family. The dispensation of Israel was brought to a temporary halt, in order to call out a Royal Family of God. The Church-age is the dispensation of the Royal Family of God, and the only prophecy yet to be fulfilled is at the end, where the Rapture, the resurrection of the Church, takes place. Once TLJC was seated at the right hand of the Father, He gave to the believers in the Church-age something that no other believer ever had or ever will have: the Pre-designed Plan of God (PPOG). Rev 2-3 mentions seven different churches. There are two different interpretations of them: one view is that the seven churches portray seven historical stages the church would go through. The other view is that the seven churches portray seven different types of churches or individual believers that live in every generation. While both have validity, the latter view is the basis for our study.

As a church or individual believers, those at Ephesus had good deeds, produced divine good works, persevered and had not grown weary; however, in REV 2:4 we read, "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love."

The church of Smyrna in REV 2:9 went through tremendous tribulation and poverty; in verse 10, they were told about suffering for blessing and that they were going to be tested ten days, the number of completion. They were challenged to be faithful even if it meant death, so they would receive the Crown of Life.

The church or individual believers in Pergamum, REV 2:14, were warned about the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel and committed acts of immorality. In REV 2:16they were told, "Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth."

In REV 2:18-20, as a church or individual believers, Thyatira tolerated false doctrine and false teaching, even though in REV 2:19, they had deeds and love and faith and service and perseverance. They had good deeds, but they tolerated false teaching and false doctrine, especially coming from a female called Jezebel. In REV 2:25, they were told to hold fast until the Lord comes.

The church or individual believers at Sardis are told in Rev 3:1-2, to wake up and strengthen the things that remain. In REV 3:8, the church or individual believers at Philadelphia are described as having divine good deeds and a little power, and they have kept with doctrine and have not denied the Lord's name.

Finally in REV 3:14, we have the lukewarm believers of Laodicea. This type of believer, in REV 3:17, has the attitude "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, and they do not know that they are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked." This reveals is the importance of becoming winner believers and invisible heroes.

Visible Heroes of the Theocentric Dispensations. Theocentric dispensations (where God the Father is the center) are the two in the Old Testament: First, the dispensation of the Gentiles, beginning with the creation of mankind and continuing to the Exodus. There was the era of positive volition, from the creation of man until the fall; the Garden of Eden era. There was also the era of negative volition from the fall of man to Abraham, including great disasters, such as the angelic infiltration of Gen 6, and the flood. This era sees the creation of the new racial species; the Jewish race. It also includes the history of the Jews from Abraham to Moses.

The second Theocentric dispensation was the dispensation of the Jews, or Israel, from the Exodus to the birth of Christ. In this period there were visible heroes: Abraham was a visible hero (Rom 4:20 21). Moses was a great visible hero. Joshua became a visible hero once he understood that the Lord Jesus Christ was in command (JOS 24:15). David stood before Goliath saying, "The battle is the Lord's." Elijah said before the people, "How long will you waver between two opinions?  If the Lord is God, then follow Him." In the book of Daniel we read of men of God who faced the fiery furnace and said, "I will not renounce the Lord. Even if He sees fit to take me, I'd rather be in His will than renounce Him." These and others were visible heroes in the Theocentric dispensations of the Old Testament which called for visible heroes.

The Invisible Hero of the Hypostatic Union.

We live in one of the Christocentric dispensations, the great power experiment of the Church-age. Its purpose is to manufacture invisible heroes out of the Royal Family of God. The precedence was set in the great power experiment of the Hypostatic Union, not from the Mosaic Law; therefore, we have only one hero: our Lord Jesus Christ. During His incarnation, our Lord was very visible to Israel. As the Messiah, Son of David, and ruler of Israel, He followed the O.T. pattern and was a very visible hero. In His role as ruler of the Church, He is invisible. Our Lord prophesied about the great power experiment of the Church-age in the Upper Room Discourse and before He ascended (Acts 1:4 8). Our Lord demonstrated that an invisible hero in the Church-age would live inside the PPOG. He functioned in the PPOG which is exactly like the one that has been given to us. Heb 12:2-3, Be concentrating on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.
As a visible hero, our Lord presented Himself to Israel as Messiah, the Son of David. As an invisible hero, our Lord was judged for the sins of the world on the cross, and just as our Lord executed the salvation plan of God in the First Advent, we are here to execute the PPOG for the Church-age.

Invisible Heroes of the Church-age.

The invisible hero is the product of Bible doctrine, and here's how invisible heroes are formed, how they let their light shine, 2Co 4:10, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.  The phrase the dying of Jesus, means that as an innocent individual, He went through undeserved suffering and didn't complain, He didn't quit, He went forward in the PPOG for His life. 2Co 4:11-12, For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.
This is the attitude of the adult believer on the road to being an invisible hero. The invisible hero advances to spiritual maturity, and under the ministry of his right pastor learns the principles of the mystery doctrine of the Church-age. No one can become an invisible hero apart from perception, metabolization, and application of Bible doctrine. The invisible hero has advanced to the first stage of spiritual adulthood, spiritual self-esteem, then passes providential preventative suffering, which advances him to spiritual autonomy. He then goes through the undeserved suffering without complaining, grumbling, or arguing [PHI 2:14].
Here, he passes the four parts of momentum testing:
1) People Testing.
2) Thought testing.
3) Mental attitude testing.
4) Disaster testing. 
Finally, he advances to spiritual maturity, and passes evidence testing becoming an invisible hero. As an invisible hero, the believer becomes a part of the pivot, which is the last stand of any client nation and its only basis for genuine blessing. An invisible hero is only manufactured through the execution of the PPOG, and no believer can execute the PPOG, become an invisible hero, have an invisible impact, or glorify God apart from the teaching ministry of a Pastor.

The Invisible Hero's Impact on History.

Personal impact - Blessing by association with the mature believer who executes the PPOG through the function of the spiritual mechanics. This includes the family members and relatives. It also includes organizations, businesses, schools, teams, etc. The same is true for social life, and for geographical locations.

Historical impact - Blessing by association to the Gentile client nation through the formation of the pivot of mature believers. The believer advances to spiritual maturity, becomes an invisible hero and a member of the pivot of the client nation. The size of the pivot of invisible heroes becomes the basis of either blessing or cursing to a nation.

International impact - Blessing by association to a non-client nation through missionaries who have attained spiritual maturity. The missionary who is an invisible hero has a dual impact of blessing; he is a blessing to the client nation from which he comes, and to the foreign country to which he goes. The mature missionary does not interfere with the politics or the function of the non-client nation through Christian activism.

Angelic impact - The invisible hero becomes a witness for the prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan's appeal trial during human history, accomplished by passing evidence testing. The Church-age is the only prolonged period of human history where the angelic conflict is totally invisible. When people become believers in Jesus Christ and execute the PPOG, they are applauded by the elect angels. In the dispensation of the hypostatic union, angels observed the Incarnation (1TI 3:16). In the dispensation of the Church, angels are observing you (1CO 4:9; EPH 3:10; 1TI 5:21; 1PE 1:12).

Heritage impact - Blessing by association with the invisible hero after his death. He is now absent from the body and face to the face with the Lord, in a place of no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, no more death; the old things have passed away, (REV 21:4). Heritage impact is blessing by association on an individual basis only. The loved ones and possibly close friends and associates of the invisible hero, regardless of their spiritual status, believer or unbeliever, are blessed by their association with the invisible hero after his death.

Failure to Become an Invisible Hero means you are a loser.

Invisible heroes are manufactured through Bible doctrine, and the spiritual gift of pastor-teacher has been given to dig out, categorize, exegete, and teach God's plan for your life. Your failure to put Bible doctrine first makes it impossible for the pastor-teacher to communicate this information. Arrogance is the greatest hindrance to becoming an invisible hero. ROM 12:2-3, "Stop being conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renovation of your thought, so that you may prove what the will of God is, namely, the good of intrinsic value achievement [advance to spiritual maturity], the well-pleasing to God [execution of the PPOG], the mature status quo [the manufacture of the invisible hero]. For I say through the grace which has been given to me to everyone who is among you: Stop thinking of self in terms of arrogance beyond what you ought to think, but think in terms of sanity for the purpose of being rational without illusion as God has assigned to each one of us a standard of thinking from doctrine."

The Bible teaches that you have a pastor-teacher and you have been assigned to his ministry (1PE 5:3, ACT 20:28). If you do not submit to that ministry you will end up as a loser believer in the eternal state. The loser does not lose his salvation, but fails to execute the PPOG and become an invisible hero.

The Personal Sense of Destiny of the Invisible Hero.

The invisible hero has a personal sense of destiny and occupation with the Person of Christ. God has a plan, purpose, and format for every one of you, and you have been hand picked and chosen by God. JOH 15:16, You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and {that} your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you. Your destiny was assigned to you in eternity past when God provided your very own portfolio of invisible assets. Your destiny began the moment you believed in Jesus Christ. God has a plan for your life, but that plan cannot be discovered apart from doctrine.

The Death of the Invisible Hero.

There is only one way to die as a believer; and that is as an invisible hero. In the PPOG, physical death is God's victory for both winner and loser believers. God, in His sovereignty, decides the time, place, and manner of our dying. Up until then, we use our volition to choose for or against the PPOG. The living stage of the Christian life or the PPOG begins one second after salvation through faith in Christ and continues to the point of dying. The dying stage of the PPOG begins at the point when we are aware (or unaware) that we are dying, and continues until the point of physical death or the Rapture. The believer may coexist with the sovereignty of God while living, but once he begins to die, it all falls to the sovereignty of God. How we handle dying is very important. We are prepared for it as invisible heroes, but not prepared as loser believers in the Christian life. Since God decides, God is the victor, and since it is impossible for God to be unfair or unjust, the time, place, and manner of our death is always a perfect decision. PSA 116:15, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. That verse applies to both winners and losers. According to 2CO 5:8, all believers, winners and losers alike, are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. In REV 21:4, we are in a place of "no more sorrow, no more tears, no more pain, no more death; the old things have passed away." Since dying and death is God's victory, those loved ones left behind have no right to be bitter or to blame God, no right to question the judgment of God in the death of a loved one. The loved one who is a believer is in heaven, whether winner or loser, in a state of perfect happiness. There's nothing as important as the death of the invisible hero for whom God has actually saved the best until last.

The Loser Believer.

The loser believer is defined as the Church-age believer who, through negative volition toward Bible doctrine, has failed to execute the PPOG for the Church-age. He does not fulfill God's plan for his life after salvation. The loser does not lose his salvation; he only loses his escrow blessings for time and eternity. No failure on the part of a loser can cancel the forty things he receives at the moment of faith in Christ. The term loser does not imply loss of salvation. Nothing can cancel our salvation. The loser has equal privilege and equal opportunity to execute the PPOG with all believers who become winners. But instead, the loser is bored, dissatisfied, preoccupied with self, arrogant, frustrated, distracted, unstable, and unable to utilize the problem-solving devices.

The Pattern for Invisible Heroship in the Church-age. The Apostle Paul.

EPH 3:13, Therefore, I ask you not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you which will be your glory. Paul received both momentum testing and evidence testing while in prison. While incarcerated, he was able to advance to spiritual maturity. Each stage of his spiritual advance was tested by suffering for blessing. This system of suffering for blessing is unique to the Church-age, and it is designed to manufacture invisible heroes. Paul's communication of the mechanics by which the believer learns how to glorify God through the attainment of spiritual maturity and passing evidence testing is found in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.

The Source of Invisible Heroes.

We have the opportunity after believing in Jesus Christ of becoming invisible heroes. This plan is not man made, but decided billions of years ago in eternity past. The source of this plan is God. In eternity past, the sovereignty of God made policy decisions with regard to mankind. He decided to permit the free will of man to coexist with His sovereignty in human history. Therefore, man makes two kinds of decisions: good decisions from the position of strength, or bad decisions from the position of weakness. The Gospel gives us our first opportunity to make a good decision rather than a bad one: personal faith in Jesus Christ rather than rejection of Jesus Christ as Savior. EPH 2:8, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;

We now continue in Revelation with the church of Sardis. Our corrected translation of REV 3:1-6. REV 3:1, "And to the messengers, future pastors in the church of Sardis, write, he who has the seven spirits, a reference to God the Holy Spirit as the power systems of the PPOG, and the seven stars, [orthodox pastors], communicates these things. Be constantly alert, and strengthen the things or the ones who remain or the remnant, Be constantly alert, and strengthen the things that remain [the remnant], which were about to die;" The Greek verb apothenesko means to die; here it is a reference to cosmic death, and implies that from cosmic death comes the sin unto death.
REV 3:2-3, "for I have not found your deeds or accomplishments or production completed in the sight of My God. Recall to mind therefore what you have received [application of doctrine] and heard [perception of doctrine]; and guard it [by living in the PPOG], and change your mind. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief,"

We are to recall the doctrine we have learned under our right Pastor, apply that doctrine, maintain and guard that doctrine by living in the PPOG. Keep it in the sense of paying attention to it, in the sense of applying it. The phrasecoming like a thief, implies suddenness, surprise. Divine discipline comes suddenly and when least expected.

So we have REV 3:3, "Recall to mind therefore what you have received [application of doctrine] and heard[perception of doctrine]; and guard it [by living in the PPOG], and change your mind. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, suddenly, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you." This brings us now to verses 4-6, where we see the uniform of glory, which accompanies the decoration of the order of the morning star.REV 3:4-6 "But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

There are two uniforms presented in verse 4: the uniform of honor, which is worn by the mature believer today, and the uniform of glory, which is a translucent light worn over the resurrection body of those believers who receive the highest of all decorations at the judgment seat of Christ, the order of the morning star. The phrase But you have a few people in Sardis, is a contrast between the cosmic believers in verses 1-3, and the mature believers in verses 4-6. Some of the believers in the local church continue to live in the PPOG even though they are in the minority and there is a tremendous amount of pressure on them to join the cosmic system. It is possible for you, as a believer, not to be influenced by people who are in the cosmic system. But you cannot do it without having the right priorities and if Bible doctrine is not number one priority, there is no way that you are going to survive cosmic evangelism. Sardis was not the ideal environment for positive volition, but it was the perfect environment for testing one's motivation and accelerating one's advance to maturity. Believers who are mature wear an invisible uniform of honor.

Let's note some principles regarding the uniform of honor:
1) Just as the impact of the mature believer in time is invisible, so is his uniform. The mature believer is the anonymous hero of history; he will not be revealed for his fame and greatness until the judgment seat of Christ, but he will be very famous in the Millennium as he rules a nation under our Lord Jesus Christ.
2) The uniform of honor is the life of the mature believer living in the PPOG, attaining spiritual maturity, glorifying Christ, having maximum impact on history as he forms part of the pivot.
3) Such a believer is not found in the textbook or pages of our histories; his influence is nevertheless real, but invisible. Very few Christians are actually written up in textbooks of history, mostly because they are cosmic.
4) During the Church-age, the historical impact of the mature believer is invisible, and the true impact of history is unknown to the general public.
5) At the judgment seat of Christ, the invisible historical impact of the mature believer wearing the uniform of honor will become known to a select group, the elect angels and the Royal Family of God.
6) The mature believer will receive certain decorations, such as the crown of life for life in the PPOG, and the crown of righteousness for the execution of the Royal Family honor code. He receives from God the order of the morning star, and with that the uniform of glory.
7) At the Second Advent of Christ, the entire population of the world will know and recognize the mature believers. They will be recognized by the uniform of glory, and by the fact that they wear the highest of all decorations, the order of the morning star.
8) The uniform of honor, invisible in the Church-age, is worn in the soul, and it will be exchanged for the uniform of glory, which will be visible in the Millennium. We will go from anonymity to being well known; we will go from being unknown heroes to well known and famous heroes. That's the principle of the order of the morning star.
9) Mature believers who receive the order of the morning star will rule with Christ over Gentile nations in the Millennium.
10) When the invisible Christ, now seated at the right hand of the Father becomes visible at the Second Advent, the invisible mature believers of the Church-age will become visible with Him, manifest to the entire population of the world. The invisible uniform of honor, therefore, anticipates the visible uniform of glory in the future.

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