In Revelation 3:7-9, God inspired John to write about the greatest vision in the Bible—the key of David vision. It is a royal vision about those whom God has called out today. God gives His Philadelphians the master key of David as a gift. Government is inherent within this vision—that is why God specifically talks about it in verse 8, which ends with “and hast not denied my name,” meaning authority. So these few verses of Revelation 3 are talking about God’s government along with the key of David vision.
Verse 9 shows that some who betrayed God’s government are going to have to come back and worship the way we in the Philadelphia Church of God worship! This is what God is going to demand of the Laodiceans because they turned away from the key of David vision and everything the end-time Elijah taught, revealing a serious government problem! God will say, You are going to come back and worship the way Elijah did and keep the same government that Elijah did.
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (verses 14-16). The focus here is on the beginning of the creation of God. God is saying that in order to repent, you must get back to the beginning, where the creation of God all started. This is the vision that is going to inspire and encourage you.
1 John 1:1
God has helped me to more deeply understand a dimension of John 1:1 and why Herbert W. Armstrong went back to it time and again. He always returned to the “beginning of the movie” in John 1:1, even more so than he did the two trees in the Garden of Eden. What is covered in this verse ties directly into the key of David vision in Revelation 3.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This is about the Word and God, predating even Genesis 1:1.
However, if we examine what is written in 1 John, we see that the Apostle John adds something that goes beyond what John 1:1 is talking about. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). Here John is talking about the beginning, but not the beginning of creation. He never uses the word creation. He is emphasizing the beginning of something further back.
At the end of the verse, John wrote, “… our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” He is explaining how he and the other disciples were personally involved with the Word, interacting with Him in the flesh. It wasn’t just Jesus Christ who was there with them—it was the Spokesman for the Godhead! They were absolutely mesmerized by the fact that the Word from heaven was on Earth spending time with them; it moved them profoundly!
This is a vision we need in our minds! It is all about us handling the Word of life and the miracle of eternal life, which is the most real life there is! It really is amazing that we have the very same Word of life today!
Even Lange’s Commentary can see that something special is expressed within this verse: “The verbs ‘heard’ and ‘seen’ rather denote involuntary perception, while the others, ‘gazed upon’ and ‘handled,’ signify voluntary, intentional perception for the purpose of making sure of the reality and nature of the Logos [the Word].” The disciples gazed upon, talked to and handled the Word! Imagine what it would be like if God in the flesh just appeared and was standing before you, interacting with you. The Word was in heaven with God the Father before all creation and for all eternity—and John was astonished that this member of the Godhead was on Earth interacting with them!
Lange’s writes this about the time frame of “from the beginning” in 1 John 1:1: “Not the moment of creation, but the purely eternal existence until the beginning of the world and its history.” This is a really fascinating statement. John was not referring to the beginning of creation—which God tells the Laodiceans they need to get back to—but to the existence of the Word and God the Father. We need to understand more about not just the creation, but also the existence of God before the creation! We have to understand more about God and have this vision in our minds! If we can understand that, all of John’s following words will be more meaningful.
What God Has Sacrificed
Notice 1 John 1:2: “(For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;).” John is stressing the point about eternal life that is with the Father. He didn’t use the word God; he put the word Father in there for a very important reason. This is different from how he wrote in John 1:1. He is trying to show that the whole process of the Word coming to this planet was to declare the Father to mankind and to give us an understanding of the God Family. It’s all about a family vision. This is why God the Father sent Christ to this Earth: to open up the Family of God to mankind! If you lose this vision, you lose the entire gospel.
Mr. Armstrong talked so much about the beginning of the movie, which is vitally important. But here John is talking about it on another level. He wants to show us eternal life that is with the Father. It all revolves around the Father. In Malachi 1:6, God says, Why don’t you honor me as a father? The Laodiceans didn’t get this! They don’t honor God the Father, because they have gotten into the things of this world.
Do you realize how much the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have suffered to make this key of David vision possible? Do you realize who is suffering for us? All the suffering that the Word and the Father went through was for the Family! They knew how much sacrifice would be involved. They knew how much they would have to give. What love these eternal beings have! It takes a total God perspective, not a human perspective, to understand this. God is trying to expand our vision in this area! I haven’t spent much time on this in the past because I didn’t really understand it.
Imagine peering into the eternal existence of God. What kind of Beings are the Father and the Word that would inspire them to want to give so much so they could have a family? How much do we think about their existence prior to the creation? Think about when they were devising their master plan. What if the Word who became the Son didn’t make it? What if He sinned? Well, then it was over, and the Father would be alone. That is horrifying to think about, but it is the truth! Why would God want to risk being alone for all eternity? Well, He had tried an easier way by creating the angels, but it failed because they would not administer the government of God. So the only way for God to make it work was by re-creating Himself in man.
It is incredible to realize that human beings walking around on Earth look like God, and can act and speak like God! This is the greatest creation that even God can accomplish. But if we are going to fulfill His purpose, we must get this God perspective and see God the Father and the Word’s eternal existence.
When you understand these two Beings better, you have a deeper understanding of what they did and what they are offering us. The Bible says we can become God beings ourselves. That is why whenever a subject like this is addressed, we have to see the depth in all of it and keep working to comprehend it more and more. This is mind-splitting. It really is if we understand the eternal existence of the Word with the Father! It is all about the Word and God making the Father and the Family available to all mankind! The keyword in all this is “Father”! The entire gospel is about the Father and His government.
God the Father and Christ are one. They have perfect peace and unity. God the Father created everything through Jesus Christ, who was totally submissive. Christ deeply loves government and is submissive to it all the time.
But realize: That relationship cost the Word His life! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son …” (John 3:16). His only Son! Talk about an incredible sacrifice! How can we possibly turn away from a God of such deep love? How can we possibly give this up when God has given everything to make it possible? Some Laodiceans and ministers have turned away from this calling for shamefully trivial reasons! If you turn away from it casually, then you don’t get it! If you don’t really understand what God is offering you and what He has sacrificed to make it all possible, then it is easy to give this up.
Read 1 John 1:2 again, and understand that the Father and Son are going to bring billions of people into their Family—the God Family! This is what it is all about.
We do suffer at times. We have fiery trials, but so did God—on a much greater scale! Look at what Christ went through: He was marred more than any man ever! Why? So you and I could be sons of God!
Think about it: Why do you want a family? Even on the human level, you can understand why God wants a family: It is the most thrilling gift you can have! This is why God risked everything and allowed His only Son to be sacrificed. John understood the God we serve. As Christ spent time with him, He really hammered this point home. Christ wanted John to help people understand the Father; He wanted John to declare the Father, just as He had done! John was to make people see what God the Father and Jesus Christ are doing!
1 John doesn’t just go back to “the beginning of the movie.” Instead, it introduces us to the producers and directors who made the movie possible! It adds another dimension to our understanding of John 1:1.
When you get into a subject like this, you have to dig into your Bible. You have to work to study the mind of God! The Bible is Jesus Christ in print. As you study your Bible, pray; and if you come across something you don’t understand, get on your knees and pray continually that God would help you get the depth of what you are studying! You cannot approach Bible study with human reasoning or human effort. Take on the mind of God. God tells us that we will not achieve anything by human power or might; it is only by His Holy Spirit that we can have understanding (Zechariah 4:6).
Always keep why we are here at the forefront of your mind. The purpose for us being called now and doing this Work is worth everything we suffer. It is so easy to get caught up in our tests and trials and lose sight of what God sacrifices for us! We want to have God’s perspective. This is what John did. 1 John 1:1-2 have become my favorite two verses for this reason. John is telling us that we need to think like God the Father because we are going to become God! Can it be more inspiring than that? This is the most inspiring message there could ever be!
In The Incredible Human Potential, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Now came the crowning pinnacle of even God’s unmatched creative power! Now came the very zenith of all divine accomplishment! Now came a project so incredulously transcendently awesome it is hard for the human mind to grasp.” It is hard to grasp that God is re-creating Himself in man—but we must grasp it!
When you comprehend this family concept, you realize why “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). Understanding the calling we have and what is ahead shows you just how precious it is when one of His sons is sealed!
1 John 1:3 shows that we get to fellowship with God the Father and the Son! We will be fellowshiping with these majestic Beings for all eternity! Christ prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21-22). For all eternity, they have been one, and the Word has always been perfectly submissive to the Most High. He knows what the government of God is all about. If we don’t love God’s government, then we are not thinking like God, because God loves it, and Jesus Christ lived a life every single day that showed that He loves it. He never once rebelled against the Father. Can we build the same unity in the Church?
“And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4). How do we receive full joy? By understanding the Word and the Father and how they are creating God beings. If we have this on our mind, we will be experiencing the full joy of God! Once we understand this, we will have more joy, and it will be the kind of joy that we will have for all eternity! This doesn’t mean that we won’t have tests and trials, but God tells us to rejoice even in our fiery trials because they are bringing us into the Family of God.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” John 1:1 says. According to Lange’s Commentary, the word with in this verse “denotes the most intimate and divine sort of relationship to another, and closest intercommunion.”
Verse 18 says Christ is in the bosom of the Father. Thayer’s Lexicon says this means “in the closest and most intimate relation to the Father.” When Christ and John were together, John would lie on Christ’s bosom (John 13:23). They had an intimate relationship. Obviously God was preparing John for something really special, so He had to educate him.
In much the same way, He is educating us today. What we are learning now is something really and truly special, and He wants to bring all of us into the bosom of the Father. Christ is committed to this close relationship, and that is why the apostles sacrificed their lives. They were not about to give this special opportunity up! They knew what God was giving them.
Look at the mind and character God has, and you see what is required to create a family. After all, when you decide to start a family, it is a big responsibility. What about God raising billions of children? Think about the responsibility that the Father and Son have! God is re-creating His character and mind in humans. This is not something you can just drift into. You must really work to achieve His character! You have to hunger and thirst for God’s mind!
1 John 5:3 tells us that love means keeping God’s commandments. The very love of God became a law. God the Father and the Word have lived this way of life for all eternity. Their example would inspire anyone to want to build godly character and a godly mind!
Mr. Armstrong would always take us back to the beginning, John 1:1, and educate us. But now, I have come to a deeper understanding of 1 John 1:1-2, where John talks about the Word, the eternal Being who is with the Father. There is a unique element in the way these verses are expressed and worded.
God is deepening my understanding on this subject so I can help you better understand and see what is at stake here. The Word might have never, ever come back! That was the sacrifice the Father made, even more than the Son. Here the Apostle John took the focus off Jesus Christ the man and put it on the eternal Word and the eternal Father—because this is all about creating a family and entering the Family of God for all eternity!