The Issues of Love
No Second Death
You are able then to pass on to break it up with what is said of the church in Smyrna. The issue of love triumphant in Smyrna was to be that the overcomer should have part in the first resurrection. "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." What is the second death? Briefly, it is that death where there is no recovery. It is the door finally closed, where there is then a distinct and abiding separation between God and man. All goes out in the second death: it is the end. There is no hope beyond that door, no possibility of life. But here in Smyrna, of him who is triumphant in love it is said, "He ... shall not be hurt of the second death." Fullness of death shall be broken and defeated and deprived of its prey. Love means that you will never be allowed to be touched by that ultimate despair of separation from God. That is no small thing. If the end on that dark side is to be without hope, where God is lost and the soul has gone out into the everlasting desolation, never able to find God, it is a big matter that we should never be touched of that. And love triumphant, this kind of love in Smyrna which is suffering love ("Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life"( means that, although it may cost you your earthly life, you shall never be touched of the second death. You may know the first death, in this sense, that you may go into the grave, and that maybe at the hands of murderers; you may have a martyr's grave, you may die because of the opposition and suffering that is heaped upon you; but that is only a first kind of death. There is a much deeper and more terrible death than that, and if you are faithful unto that first death, you shall not be touched of the second. You will find you will be among those who have completely conquered death. Now, whatever it means to you to have to exercise the love which suffers long, remember there is a big issue bound up with suffering love. You who are putting up with things for Christ's sake, who are enduring, who are suffering in any way in love for the Lord, by that suffering love you are in the way of cheating death in the end. You are undermining the power of death, you are destroying the very touch of death. Perhaps that wants explaining, but there is the fact stated, that by suffering we conquer death.
A Deep, Secret Life With the Lord
We come now to the issue of love triumphant in Pergamum. It is remarkable that to this church that had come into a state of compromise from their failure to detect the inroads of evil, because of the low condition of that love for God which should normally be alert and sensitive to things injurious to God, it is remarkable that to them this word is addressed, "To him that overcometh, to him will I give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written o one knoweth but he that receiveth it." But I can tell you in a word what it amounts to - that there is some inner fellowship with God to be known which is not the common lot of people; some inner knowledge of God which is a secret thing to be possessed, which means a very great deal. It is something to have a personal, inner, secret knowledge of the Lord, a knowledge which other people, not having, do not understand at all; you know the Lord in your own heart and you are enjoying something of the Lord in yourself; but you have to have it to yourself, it is your own secret. Is thee not something in that for believers now? "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him" (Psalm 25:14) There is a mysterious something in the inner life of some children of God and in their walk with the Lord; they have a secret. They can never make other people understand it, it is a mystery to others, but there it is. It is their blessed possession, and oh, what it means to them! And that is what is here. Hidden manna, a white stone, a new name written thereon, His own name; "I will set him on high, because he hath known My name" (Psalm 91:14); and that distinguishes people who know the Lord in some more inward and some deeper way than the majority. It is not the ordinary kind of knowledge to the Lord that is here.
And that is said to the people whose great need was discerning love, and the message, therefore, is that if you have this love, you have a secret with the Lord. If this love is in us, this first love, this complete love, this true love for God, we have a secret life with God, God means something to us in secret that He does not mean to everybody. And we are elected to that: not that we are favorites, but through suffering love we come to discerning love. That is the sequence - suffering love, then discerning love. Those who have the deepest and most inward knowledge of the Lord are those who have suffered most for and with the Lord. They have knowledge others do not possess. So you move from Smyrna to Pergamum; from suffering love to discerning love - through suffering to the hidden manna, the mystery of a love-relationship with the Lord in a knowledge which i not common knowledge.
(continued with # 4 - A Position of Power and Authority")