I believe this matter is what the Lord hates the most; therefore, we have to pay special attention to it. I recognize the matter of the ministry. I also acknowledge that Paul engaged in tent-making at the same time, and also that Peter, James, and John devoted themselves entirely to preaching. But today what we call the position of the brothers is not related to the position of the ministry. In the local church, the brothers of the locality should be the deacons and the elders. All the brothers and sisters should take care of spiritual matters; they are the priests. The elders should not do everything for them; the elders only “oversee.” As for the workers, when they come to the church, they have only the position of a brother. This is where the difference between the Nicolaitans and the brothers lies. The Bible shows us that all the children of the Lord testify, but the apostles testify more. The difference is a matter of degree, not of nature. The nature is identical; only the degree is different. But the teaching of the Nicolaitans changes this—spiritual affairs are taken care of by a special class. This is rebuked by God, for if this is the case, the church may be worldly and content just to have a few spiritual deacons. Several especially spiritual people will be selected from the church to take care of the spiritual affairs. They will become another class to undertake all the spiritual things. The system of fathers of the world church, the clergy system of the state church, and the pastoral system of the independent churches are all the same in nature. They are all Nicolaitans. In the Bible there are only brothers. There is the gift of a pastor, but no system of pastors. The pastoral system is man’s tradition. If the children of God are not willing to return to the position of that in the beginning, no matter what they do, it will not be right. The church must not unite with the world and must not receive unbelievers into the church. Otherwise, it will be easy to accept the teaching of the Nicolaitans. People must be separated from the world before they can be brought into the church. Whenever we allow an unbeliever to come into the church, the church is no longer the church, but the world. The holiness and separation of the church must be maintained at any cost.
“Repent therefore; but if not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war with them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:16). Here the Lord speaks very strong words. If they will not repent, He will punish them with the sword of His mouth—that is, He will punish and judge those who rebel against Him. We pray God that there will be no Nicolaitans among us! I feel that if the church is spiritual, then Nicolaitans cannot be produced. Once the church becomes worldly, the Nicolaitans appear. God’s requirement in the beginning for the people of Israel was that the whole nation be priests. God separated the Levites to be priests because the people of Israel sinned. When the church became worldly, the matter of serving God was committed to a few people. Now God wants all the people in the church to do the spiritual things.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and to him I will give a white stone, and upon the stone a new name written, which no one knows except he who receives it” (v. 17). Two things are promised to the overcomer—the hidden manna and the white stone. The hidden manna and the manna in the wilderness are two different things. When the people of Israel were in the wilderness, manna came down from heaven daily for them to eat. Then Moses told them to take a golden pot, fill it with an omer of manna, and keep it in the ark. When later generations would ask about the matter, they could tell them how God sent down manna from heaven to feed them while they were in the wilderness. They had the manna in the ark as evidence (Exo. 16:14-35). Those of later generations who did not know what manna was could be shown the manna in the ark. Then they would know. But those who had eaten of the manna would have another feeling towards the hidden manna. They had known the taste; thus, when they saw it again, they would have a kind of recollection. Those who had not tasted it would not have such a recollection, even though they knew what it was. To him who overcomes, the Lord will give to eat of the hidden manna. This means they will have recollections.
All our experiences before God are valuable and will not be lost. Many brothers ask me whether what they have passed through before God will be of any use in eternity. If you know the meaning of the hidden manna, you will know whether or not these will be of any use. If we have the opportunity to see the “hidden manna,” then we will be able to review the “daily manna” once more. Whatever difficulty we go through and whatever tears we shed today will become our review. To me the hidden manna is the daily manna. Those who have never seen the manna will not have any recollection of it when they see the hidden manna on that day. Although they know the leading of His grace, they have not eaten of it. But those who have eaten of it will be full of recollections. The hidden manna is a very great principle in the Bible and also a great treasure. One day we shall eat of the heavenly, hidden manna. If we do not have any scars here, we are not overcomers. If we have never passed through things here, there will be no recollections or retasting of experiences in the future, even if we are given the hidden manna. Never say that what we encounter today is meaningless. No experience is a lost experience. On that day we all will be able to recall our experiences. We must not say that everything in the kingdom is the same. No, it is not the same! Our experience on this earth is related to what we will enjoy in that day. The hidden manna is known to those who know and unknown to those who do not know. Today we pass through hardships and tribulations, but on that day the Lord will wipe away our tears. How can those who have no tears know the preciousness of the wiping away of tears?
There is another reward, that is, the white stone, and the overcomer’s new name is written upon the stone. The Lord gives him a new name which corresponds with his condition before the Lord. A brother wants me to change his name for him, but I do not know whether the name will need to be changed again after I have changed it. The Lord writes the name on the white stone; only the Lord and you will know it. The overcomer does not receive a special name; rather, he receives the name which he deserves. I hope that the Lord will open our eyes that we may know the way of the overcomer and that we may receive the hidden manna and the new name.