Keys - by W.J. House
Luke 11:52; Revelation 1:17, 18 ; 3 : 7; 20 : 1-3 When God conveys a message to men, He does it in language that is intelligible to them. In accordance with His goodness, to us as His creatures, He uses figures and signs and symbols which we can understand. He speaks of Himself as having certain "keys", and I would like to speak to you of some of the keys of which the Lord has control. What a key means to us, is what the Lord means to convey to us when He uses the figure. Anyone who has a key to a thing has control of it. If you have the key of a house, or a room, you can come into it when you like. So when the Lord is presented as having certain keys, we recognize that He has control of the matters referred to.
Now the first key I would refer to is the "key of knowledge" of which the Lord speaks in Luke 11:52. He is speaking to the lawyers about it, bringing home to them that they had taken it away from men; that is, they had rigidly excluded Himself from their teaching and doctrine, whereas He has control of all true knowledge, and He can let men into it. We are living in days of increased knowledge, as the Scriptures foretold: "many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased", Dan. 12:4. The increase of human knowledge in the last fifty years has astounded mankind, and if God allows it, there will be more to come. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus Christ has the key of knowledge, and the control of all that is of permanent value. I want to show that He is prepared to open the door of knowledge to you, to bring you into a knowledge that is of eternal value.
First of all then, the Lord is the One who has the key to the knowledge of God—He knows God. He said when here on earth, "I know him", John 8:55. The Lord Jesus knows God absolutely. Others have known Him to some extent, and indeed, all true prosperity and growth in a christian is by the knowledge of God. The apostle Peter says, "Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ". And again, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord", 2 Peter 1:2. We know little of God, but the Lord Jesus knew Him perfectly: "I know him", He says. He knew His eternal counsels; He was "with God"; He knows the present and the future: He knows everything. Many human calculations are based on assumption; there was never any guesswork with Christ, He never supposed anything; He never assumed anything. He said, "we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen", John 3:11.
Then the Lord knows you. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him in John 1:47, He said, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile"! Nathanael said, "Whence knowest thou me?" Jesus answered and said unto him, "Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee". He not only knew where he was, but He knew what was in him. He looked behind the exterior into his heart, and says of him, "an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile". Again, when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night, as the Lord spoke to him, he said "How can these thingsbe?" And Jesus said. "Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know ... If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not. how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" Think of One who can tell you what is in heaven, as well as what is on earth! He said to the publicans and sinners who drew near to hear Him, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth". He could speak of the joy in heaven over one repenting sinner.
In John 4 He disclosed to a poor sinful woman that He knew all her history. Later, she says, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did". He can unlock your past, and show you all that lies hidden there, but He would bring in the knowledge of God, so that you might be brought back to God. What I want to say is that if you want a true knowledge of God, you must come to Christ, because He alone has the key. Every other kind of knowledge will disappear, "knowledge .. . shall vanish away" we are told in 1 Corinthians 13:8, but the knowledge that Christ imparts will never vanish. He will tell you about God, and about how He would meet your need, as He did that poor woman at the well of Sychar. The Lord said to her, You are thirsty: I know it, but if you knew who I am, and what I could give you, you would have asked of me, and I would give you "a well of water springing up into everlasting life".
Dear friend, before one can get that water we must face His scrutiny. You will have to do with Him as the One who knows. The woman said to Him, "Sir, give me this water". But the Lord answered, "Go, call thy husband"; and then all the truth came out, and she realised that He knew everything about her. Are you prepared to face this? He looks into your heart and knows all your history, but above all, He knows God, and can tell you all about God, and bring you back to Him. "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God". That is where the Lord would lead you by His knowledge. One would say to the young, the key of knowledge is in the hands of Christ, not with the universities, nor in the schools. He alone can open to you the door of knowledge into that which will abide, and bring you into everlasting joy; He will put treasure into your soul; so that "Let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord", Jer. 9:24. To get such knowledge as that is worth all the schools can give you. Not that I would decry the knowledge necessary to this present life, but Christ will give you that which abides and is of eternal value—the knowledge of God to which He alone has the key.
Now in Revelation 1 we have two more keys spoken of. The Lord says in verse 18, "I . . . have the keys of hell and of death". Let us not make Him a liar. Have you ever stopped to think that if we say something different to what the Scripture says, God says, we "make him a liar", 1 John 1:10. But God "cannot lie", Titus 1:2. You can lie, the greatest man on earth can lie, its teachers and its religious leaders can lie, but Scripture says, "Let God be true, but every man a liar". If you are to be blessed you must believe what God says, even though it involves your disbelieving every man, for be assured that God "cannot lie". What a rock for your soul to rest on, that it is "impossible for God to lie", Heb. 6:18. The apostle Paul says of the Lord Jesus that He is "over all, God blessed for ever". And the Lord Himself when here said, "Before Abraham was, I am"—indeed He said more, "If ye believe not that I am ... ye shall die in your sins", John 8:24. "I am" means that He is the Eternal, the One who is not under the restrictions of time, and never was, for Jesus is God.
Well, the Lord speaking to His servant John in Revelation 1, says, "I . . . have the keys of hell and death". He is the only one who has them. Death refers to the body; it is the condition of the body when life ebbs out; but hades refers to the condition and place of the spirit after death. Death and hades refer to the separation of the spirit from the body. Perhaps someone says, I do not believe there is any spirit, for I cannot see it. Then you only believe what you can see with your eyes. Have you ever found the atmosphere? or life? or electricity? The greatest things around, and in us, are invisible —we cannot see them. Get a grain of wheat and search for the life in it. Who can find life? Nobody! The very thing that makes life possible, that is the atmosphere, where is it? We cannot see it, or handle it. Is there then no God because you cannot see Him? Consider the heavens—Is there no God? What a fallacy! The truth is that God IS; and another truth is that the Lord Jesus Christ has the control of death and hell, and when death comes to pass, we come directly under His control. If this is so, what folly it is to live without Christ! Perhaps you choose to live without Him for twenty or thirty, or even for seventy years, yet when death comes to pass, you will pass under His immediate control. He has the keys of death and of hades.
The Lord made this perfectly clear when He was here. You will remember Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue who sent to Him when his daughter lay dead. When He came into the presence of death we read, He "took her by the hand and called, saying, Maid arise". And it says, "her spirit came again, and she arose straightway". That is, He unlocked hades and let that one soul out. And He could do that for all who are in it. He called to Lazarus in John 11: "he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth". The same power that called Lazarus from the tomb, will yet call all, "for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth", John 5:28.
Why waste your life in indifference to Christ, the only one who knows?—the One who has the keys of death, and who has disclosed that on the other side of it there are two conditions, and that between them there is a "great gulf fixed". Scripture calls one side paradise, and the other side hell. On one side is eternal blessedness and joy, and on the other is remorse and torment. The Lord is Master of that situation, and He alone. You are nearer to it than you perhaps realize; indeed, there may be only one step between you and death; as David said, "there is but a step between me and death". But you must have to do with the Lord, for He has the keys of death, and has the entire control when death comes. God may let you have your own will here for a time, but when death comes you pass absolutely under the control of Christ. Why then waste your life under the dominion of Satan and darkness? Why not come to Christ now? If you must have to do with Him eventually, why not come to Him in this day of salvation?
Then in Revelation 3, He speaks of Himself as having the "key of David", which means that He has control of God's kingdom. God has a kingdom; He is the "King eternal"; He never abdicates, as earthly monarchs sometimes do. His throne is for ever and ever; as Nebuchadnezzar said, "His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom"; and "I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment". The key of the kingdom of heaven is in the hands of Christ, and He determines whether you shall come in or not, He who "openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth". If He opens the door to you, then no one can shut you out, but if He shuts the door, then nobody can open it. Have you ever tried to get into the kingdom? The Lord Jesus said, "the violent take it by force"; that means there are some who are desperate in their efforts, and are so earnest that they will not rest till they have got into God's kingdom. The Lord Jesus has the key to it, and the way into the kingdom is to call Jesus "Lord". "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved", Rom. 10:9. You own His authority over you and come into salvation. You need not fear that any enemies will get you while you are in God's kingdom; His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; and His subjects are safe from the lawless powers of evil that would seek to destroy them.
See that dying robber—he discovered the Lord like this. He awoke to the fact that Jesus knew everything, that He knew all about him; that he was in the presence of God. He says to his fellow, "we receive the due reward of our deeds". What made him think of his deeds? He was in the presence of the One who exposes everything. He was conscious that the Lord knew him. He says, "Lord remember me". He recognized that the Lord had such grace that He would remember even him. Then he discovered that He had the keys of death and hell, although the Lord Jesus was about to die, and the other robber too; he reckons that the Lord is to have a kingdom, and his faith embraces the Lord in this way. He discovered the One with the key of David, and that One lets him into God's kingdom, and he calls Him "Lord"!
My friend, you have no chance of getting into God's kingdom unless you own Jesus as Lord. Is He your Lord?—that is the question. Those who come into the kingdom of God, are those who confess Jesus as Lord. He is the Lord of all; the acceptance of Christ in your soul, as your own Lord, gives you access to God's kingdom. You cannot continue under the dominion of sin and the dominion of the Lord at the same time; you cannot go on with evil and be subject to Christ at the same time. That is impossible. Anyone who teaches that, is darkening your soul in view of your destruction. Your salvation lies in Christ becoming your Lord; and not only so, but you own Him so, in the presence of His enemies. As Christ becomes Lord to you, you come into the kingdom which is greater than any other kingdom: He has the key of David, and He opens and no man can shut, and if He shuts, no man can open.
In Revelation 20 we read of the angel that came down with the key of the bottomless pit, or the abyss, and he shut up in that abyss the devil, the source of evil, for a thousand years. I only draw attention to that to show you the greatness of Christ, for the angels are His servants. It says of the Lord that He will come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him—they are His angels. When the Lord was born in Bethlehem, the angel referred to Jesus as "Lord". "Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord". And so at His death they said, "Come, see the place where the Lord lay". The angels are His servants, and He gives one of His servants this key to the abyss; that discloses that He had control of evil. Indeed He shuts up for a thousand years the whole influence of evil, by His own power. What an unfolding of the greatness of Christ, that He can deal with the source of evil! He will yet remove from God's universe all evil. The One who has the key to the abyss has power to do this.
The question you need to face is, Will you be shut out? There are those who will be shut out; those who stand by their own course of sin, with the old serpent, the devil and Satan. Scripture speaks of a certain place where the devil and his angels are. It says, "And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone . . . and shall be tormented day and night for ever", Rev. 20:10. It is a place of outer darkness, and the Lord has the key of that. He has the means of excluding evil as well as of opening the door to God's kingdom. He has the power that gives Him access to death and hades, and He can open the door of knowledge to your soul.
There is one key that the Lord addresses to you in the Gospel, and that is the key of your heart. He does not take that from you. He stands at the door and knocks: He does it continually. He may not force Himself into your heart. He says, "Behold, I stand at the door and am knocking". You have the key of your own affections, and even though you may have bolted the door against this blessed Person, yet such is His grace that He still knocks, and says, If any man open the door I will come in. My friend, let the appeal come home to you, "If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me", Rev. 3:20.
May the Lord help you to open the door of your heart, the door of your whole being, and let Him come in, and He will take control of you, giving you a place in God's kingdom, bringing you into all the blessedness of the knowledge of God. I would commend Him to you, so that you may turn to Him and receive Him. It says, "As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God", John 1:12.
W. J. House