Sunday, December 31, 2017

SEVEN ‘FROM The HEART of JESUS’ LOVE-LETTERS to the SEVEN CHURCHES of REVELATION - To The Church of Philadelphia

Church #6 PHILADELPHIA:

REV 3:7-13
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door*, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Philadelphia was a city of some importance founded in the second century B.C. by Attalus, king of Pergamum, in honor of his predecessor, Eumenes Philadelphus. The city was strategically situated in a fertile river valley on the main road from Sardis to Laodicea, directly east of Smyrna. 

The message to Philadelphia has captured the minds and hearts of Christians through the centuries because no other message (not even the one to Smyrna) is so rich in promises. The LORD's self-identification (v. 7) sets the stage for the first promise (v. 8), which is given unconditionally to the saints at the Philadelphia congregation.

Historically speaking Philadelphia is placed between the Reformation Period (represented by Sardis) and the time of apostasy that is occurring now and will culminate during the reign of anti-Christ – yet future. Philadelphia then would represent the time period of the mid 1600’s to the early 20th century – which was the time of Evangelicalism and the Great Missionary Movement.

Here is a chart that chronicles the various churches and their corresponding periods of church history.
Seven Stages of Church History
Church
Church History Typified
Dates
Verses

Ephesus
The Apostolic Church
A.D. 30-100
REV  2:1-7

Smyrna
The Church of the Roman Persecution – the Suffering church
A.D. 100 - 313
REV 2:8-11

Pergamum
The Church of the Age of Constantine – Compromised Church
The Wilderness Period (Numbers)
REV 2:12-17

Thyatira
The Church of the Dark Ages – The Prostituted Church

A.D. 600-15179
REV 2:18-29

Sardis
The Church of the Reformation – The Church of the Gospel Reaffirmed
A.D. 1517-1648
REV 3:1-6

Philadelphia
The Church of the Great Missionary Movement – The Church Taken Out
A.D. 1648-1900
REV 3:7-13

Laodicea
The Church of the Apostasy – the Lukewarm Church
A.D. 1900-present day
REV 3:14-22



Like Eliakim of the Old Testament, gatekeeper of the king's palace in Jerusalem (read ISAIAH 22:20-22; comp w/ ISAIAH 9:6-7), the LORD holds the key of David, so that what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open (v. 7). Consequently, he places before the angel an open door (v. 8).

Preachers who claim this promise for their congregations tend to interpret the open door as a door to mission or evangelism, as in ACTS 14:27

W. M. Ramsay (1904:391-400) called Philadelphia a "missionary city" because of its strategic location for the spread of Greek culture eastward into Lydia and Phrygia. Yet the open door in the message to Philadelphia means more than just evangelism; it is also the door into heaven (see REV 4:1) or perhaps into the new Jerusalem (see v. 12) than a door for evangelism.

The open door is a kind of guarantee of salvation or eternal life, like the promises to the "overcomers" in all seven messages. Another way of saying it is that "I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth" (v. 10). Like the "two witnesses" in REV 11:12 or the child born of the woman in REV 12:5, they will be "raptured," or taken up to God in heaven, before the wrath of God is poured out on the earth.

Much like Enoch, whom God translated (raptured in effect) before the Flood judgment
came and thus he is a type of the church that will be raptured out of this world before the 70th week of Daniel (Tribulation period of 7 yrs); and yet Noah and his sons, including Shem, who is the ancestor of Abraham, thus representing a type of Israel that is kept safe through the Flood and the time of Great Tribulation respectively.

The above commentary was based in part from the following link.

ON DOORS: doors are means of access, like a road or a path.

~ There was only one way that led to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden: GEN 3:22, the LORD placed cherubim at the east side to guard it.
~ One sacrifice (access to God by means of worship) by Abel was accepted, the other by Cain was not: HEB 11:4.
~ There was only one door to the ark: GEN 6:16.
~ There was only one door that led into the tabernacle of Moses (EXOD 29).
~ Jesus is the only way, truth and life and He is the Door (JOHN 10:1-9; 14:6).

Some comparisons between the letter to Philadelphia and JOHN 17 (turn in your Bibles to this chapter) – our LORD’s intercessory prayer to the Father on behalf of the church, the true church:

~ REV 3:8b . . . for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word.

Compare with:

JOHN 17:6
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word
.

~ REV 3:9
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet
.

Compare this contrast with:

JOHN 17:15-16
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world
.

~ REV 3:9b
. . . and to know that I have loved thee
.

Compare with:

JOHN 17:23, 26
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them
.

~ REV 3:12b
. . . and I will write upon him the name of my God
.

Compare with:

JOHN 17:26
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

VERSE BY VERSE EXPOSITION:

REV 3:7
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

The LORD is holy and true – absolute purity in goodness, righteousness, justice, grace and mercy; the LORD is also true – there is no darkness or deceit, but truthfulness in all things. This is someone entirely trustworthy and the only one worthy of our absolute and unwavering faith and worship.

It is a comfort and reassurance that brings peace, to understand that the LORD holds the keys, He has the access to open doors for us to allow entrance into the presence of our Abba Father; no one can come to the Father except through Him! He gives us access to enter into His plan while living in this world, and He also closes doors that would lead us into unnecessary dangers and hardships.

How often I have prayed for the LORD to show me the way to go, and asked Him that if such a course was not in accordance with His will, that He would close the door! And lock it! And barricade it!! And when such doors are closed, I thank Him for His wisdom and protection!

Realize that what the LORD decides to open in your life, or to close, is in His power alone; and that no one can open or shut what God has determined for us (See 1 COR 16:9). You are, where you are in life, by no accident. The LORD has opened a door, you have gone through it, and find yourself in situations and circumstances orchestrated by the living God since before the creation of the world!

It is my personal belief that the key of David, while it opens the door in heaven to allow us access to be with our LORD when He takes us, His church, out of this world, it is that same key that He will use to recommence His dealings with the people of Israel, based on:

ACTS 15:14-16
14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up
:


Consider the following, and note that word "until" in verse 25!

ROM 11:25-29
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.

29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

The blindness of Israel will be lifted once "the fullness of the Gentiles [is completed]" - and what is the fullness of the Gentiles? It is when the LORD will take out from among the Gentiles a people for His Name - that will complete the church, the body of Christ, and raptures out of this fallen world!

REV 3:8
I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word,
and hast not denied my name.

We thank God for our “little strength” that is SO little, that the LORD must open doors for us! If we had great strength, it could mean trouble for us as we could go around opening all kinds of doors, behind which, there could be much danger! 

It is in our weakness, when we must depend on the LORD for help, that we are well able to accomplish much, simply because we aren’t doing it in our own strength, but the LORD’s! Just as the apostle Paul declared in 2 COR 12:7-10.

When we get in to drive a car, we are steering a vehicle that weighs a few thousands of pounds, going at 50, 60 miles per hour! It’s a good thing that there is automatic steering! The power is not in the driver to turn that massive machine, but in the vehicle itself. You can turn it by using a single finger on the steering wheel.

It’s the same with the LORD – the power to live godly is not in ourselves where we must strain and struggle and muster up our own strength, but with a simple touch of His Almighty finger, enables us to live godly! By the Spirit of God He automatically steers us – as we yield.

Keeping the Word of God is key to operating in the strength of God. The word for “kept” and “keep” (used here in vs. 8 and vs. 10) in Greek is tereo – it means to watch over with special care, preserve; to guard under custody against attacks from outside; it is the same Greek word used in JOHN 17:10 regarding abiding in the love of God by keeping His Word.
The Word of the LORD, says the Psalmist has he kept, that he would not sin against the LORD (PSALM 119:11).

God is glorified in the little things, the simple things (even what the world would consider the foolish and weak things: 1 COR 1:25-27): a ‘little strength’ or great weakness on our part means that He can display His Almighty power and receive the glory for it. A little faith, like a grain of mustard seed, in the Almighty God is able to ‘move mountains’ (MATT 17:20). 

The simple staff of Moses God used to work great signs; the simple jawbone of a donkey in the hands of Samson, God used to defeat the Philistines. The little, few meager loaves of bread and fish, the LORD fed approximately 5,000 hungry men (not counting the women and children!). No matter how small, simple or insignificant the world thinks you are, or even how you may think of yourself, God can and will do mighty things through your life, if you trust Him!

The saints at Philadelphia did not “deny [His] Name” . . . The Name of the LORD is Jesus: Y’shua a contraction of YHWH Shua, or “Our God is salvation” – and we do not deny our salvation or the Gospel that gives us salvation and the LORD Who provides both. We hold fast to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rejecting all false ways that lead to death (PSALM 119:104)!

ROMANS 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek
.

Not denying His Name also means not denying the nature and character of Christ, for Who He is, and how He is manifested in our lives before the world. It means dying to the old self so that the nature of Jesus may be seen in our lives!

REV 3:9
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee
.

We saw the synagogue of Satan before in REV 2:9, the paramount persecutors of the saints at Smyrna. These people of Satan, working in accord with the devil’s intention to attack the saints there, are now seen here; but in this case, they are seen in defeat, no longer oppressing God’s people, but being compelled to worship God’s people, what is known as “obeisance” or an expression of submission.

We know that the spiritual authority of the church is granted by the LORD, and it is the authority of the LORD Himself that we possess, as we pray and seek God in accordance to His Holy will, according to His character, praying in Jesus “name”. Because of this, we understand that our victory over the enemy as an absolute certainty!

GEN 3:15 tells us the prophecy regarding the seed of the woman – that seed being Christ Who will “bruise” or literally “break” the head of the serpent. The apostle Paul states that the GOD of Peace will bruise Satan under the feet of the saints of Rome “shortly” (ROM 16:20).

Whom the LORD knows, He loves, and He is not ashamed to call us His own (JOHN 17:25-26; HEB 2:11-12).

REV 3:10
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth
.

Keeping the Word of God will bring forth fruit if we will patiently wait for it (GAL 6:8-9), we will see this happen in our lives:

LUKE 8:15
15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience
.

And those who bear fruit prove themselves to be children of God, not children of this world (MATT 13:24-30) and these are those who have kept His Word and will themselves patiently wait for His return, according to His Word, and be kept from “the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world – to test those who dwell on the Earth” – this can be nothing other than that time of trial, which the LORD said:

MATT 24:21-22
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be*. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened
. * - even the Holocaust??

The test will be: Who will people pledge their allegiance to? 1) The Beast, the son of perdition and accept his mark of 666 and as a result be eternally condemned without remedy; or (2) to the LORD Jesus Christ and face martyrdom (beheaded) and depart this wicked world for the glory of heaven?

This time of temptation will cover the entire globe, and test everyone who “dwells on the Earth”. If we are kept from that time, then we will not be dwelling on the Earth – but will exit this fallen world (like Enoch after God took him) and go through the open door that the LORD has opened for us and straight into His Almighty arms of love!

REV 3:11
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown
.

Skeptics have referred to this verse and ridiculed Christians, because, they say, “QUICKLY?! It’s been two thousand years since this was written, and He says – quickly?? Silliness!”
The Greek word used here for quickly is tachu – and it can mean “swiftly, suddenly, to catch by surprise”. It isn’t referring to a short length of time, but the manner of one’s approach – which in this case is as fast and as sudden as a bolt of lightning!

MATT 24:27
For [just] as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Holding fast is to say, remain faithful and I believe it is in the nature of every born again believer, who has the Spirit of God indwelling them, that they will ultimately remain faithful in their keeping of the Gospel of salvation, and the gift of grace granted to them, being eternal life – there may be some fumbling and stumbling along the way, some pit falls and set-backs – but I believe that the LORD will complete (when we see Him face to Face; 1 JOHN 3:2), that which He begins in each and everyone of our lives (PHIL 1:6).

Now faithfulness regarding rewards – and a crown is a symbol for reward – there are those who will lack or lose reward, but still be saved (1 COR 3:13,15).

2 PETER 1:3-8
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge
; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The ones at risk of having their crowns ‘stolen’ would be those who are not yielding to the sanctifying of the LORD and growing in holiness and good works/fruit that He alone can produce in us.

REV 3:12a
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out
:

Pillars are established on a foundation, and hold up the roof of a structure; they are symbolic of testimony, of upright conduct and a witness whose foundation is upon the truth and hold above the Name of the LORD and His glory, which is a spiritual shelter for us to find refuge in!

And those who are overcomers will stand fast on the truth, no matter how much pressure is applied by the world to cave in and submit to ungodliness and falsehoods; the saints will uphold the Name of the LORD Jesus and not deny His Name! These are not pillars in some common building, but in the very temple of God. Any temple – pagan or not – is a place of worship, but we are placed in the temple of the true and living God, where we will worship Him in Spirit and Truth – what a joyous honor and holy privilege that we should even be invited, let alone remain there in the presence of the LORD – “and . . . go no more out” from that place of worship! "So shall we ever be with the LORD" (1 THESS 4:17)!!

REV 3:12b-13
. . . and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
.

Here again, we see “name” mentioned – and when we read that the LORD will write upon the overcomer the “name of My God” I see that as the LORD completing what He started in us, fulfilling all the new nature we have in Christ.
In addition to the name of God, there is the name of the city of God – which denotes citizenship: that we belong to a Kingdom that cannot be moved:

HEBREWS 12:28
28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear
:

In the certain hope and expectation that we will indeed inherit all things, with our LORD Jesus Christ (ROM 8:17), and that as pilgrims traveling through this world of sin, we are looking for a better country and the holy city that the LORD has prepared for us:

HEBREWS 11:13-16
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city
.

Let us conduct ourselves accordingly – as proper citizens of the Kingdom of God and the Holy City

1 PETER 2:10-12
10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation
.

For more on this, see this video by Prophecy Update!


Next time, we will look at the last of these seven churches, Laodicea – the lukewarm church. And then a final study to summarize and a brief overview of the rapture of the church.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

SEVEN ‘FROM The HEART of JESUS’ LOVE-LETTERS to the SEVEN CHURCHES of REVELATION - To The Church of Sardis

Church #5 SARDIS:

REV 3:1-6

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
.

Sardis was situated almost directly south of Thyatira, in the direction of Smyrna and the sea. Its greatest days were behind it, but this once proud capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia (later the western capital of the Persian Empire) was still, under Roman rule, an important center of the woolen industry.

“Abundant archaeological remains include a temple to Artemis, a huge gymnasium and the largest synagogue yet found in the ancient world, suggesting a Jewish community numbering in the thousands (Finegan 1981:177-78) . . . The problem of the congregation in John's time was not with the Jews, nor with the Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy, but solely with itself.”

The LORD tells the congregation at the church of Sardis that He holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. We know what the stars are because they’ve already been identified: they are the leaders, or the pastors (“angels”) of these churches – and the LORD holds them in His hand. Then what is this, about “the seven Spirits of God”?? This is also mentioned in REV 4:5 and 5:6. There is just One Spirit of God, right? The Third Person of the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – so what is this about “the seven Spirits of God”?

In JOHN 14:16, the LORD Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit:
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

The word for Comforter in the Greek is: parakletos – or “comforter, advocate, counselor, helper, assistant, granter of strength. The Holy Spirit brings comforts (com – with; fortis – strength: “[bring] strength”) to the saints as “another Comforter” One Who is just like Jesus Who is our Comforter (JOHN 14:18), just as God the Father of all comfort (2 COR 1:3).

In ISAIAH 61:1-2a
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord
. . .

Also consider ISAIAH 11:1-3a
And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord
. . .

And finally – JOHN 3:34-35
34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand
.

We know that the number “seven” biblically speaking, means “completeness” and so, we understand that the Father has granted the complete power of the Spirit of God to the Son, and the Spirit of God is of course complete in Himself. And all the virtues, powers, unction, vitality, gifts and fruit of the Spirit are granted to us through Christ!

In every church we have seen so far, the LORD introduces Himself to the saints there with a title., a characteristic or an attribute that the church needs. Here He speaks of the very Spirit of God, He who holds the pastors in His hand.

How can a church ever be in need of the Spirit of God?? Let’s look at the second half of verse 1:

“. . . I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” The Greek word for “name” is onoma, from which we get the term nomenclature – it may refer to classification, or denomination interestingly enough. The LORD tells them that they have a name – or an “identity” or “reputation” that they live but are dead.

REV 3:2-3
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect [complete] before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.

All is not hopeless however – the LORD tells them to be watchful and strengthen the things “which remain, that are ready to die . . .” Which means there are things yet remaining that aren’t dead, yet! There are times in our lives as Christians when our appetite for the Word of God seems to die off, when we no longer have a passion for prayer, no conviction of sin, nor care for the spiritually lost. The fire of the Holy Spirit seems only to smolder in our hearts – and yet there is still hope!

ISAIAH 42:3
A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth
.

Reeds grow along the edge of ponds and lakes; shepherds in biblical days would carve them into flutes and play music while watching over their sheep. Over time, they would become brittle and break – but no problem! They would just throw the useless flute away because reeds were plentiful! They would just grab another and carve themselves another flute!

But the LORD is gentle, loving, caring and is not willing to toss us aside if we become broken. He doesn’t throw us away as a worthless thing: we are bought with His precious blood, and we are made worthy and of worth, because of the price paid for us! He mends us, and continues to blow His Holy Spirit through us, and creates in us such spiritual music that the world could never make.

Flax is something used for wicks in lamps; they are tightly twined thin strips of cloth soaked in olive oil, and there would be times when the cloth used was soiled enough that it would sputter and smoke. Most would just throw that flax away and get a new one. Yet if you subject it to enough heat and keep the oil flowing, the dirt or grime would burn away, while the cloth, soaked in oil would be preserved.

If the fire of God’s Spirit doesn’t seem as hot as it once was, if the Light shining from the life of a Christian appears to dim, the LORD is well able to take the “smoking flax” that is us, and with a fresh flow of the Spirit and fiery but faithful trials, He is well able to fan the floundering flame into an inspiring inferno!

As in verse 3 of our text: all we need to do is be attentive – “watch”! and by the grace of God, “strengthen” those things that remain, but are not died off yet in us. We must “remember” just as Sardis is here commanded, as was Ephesus commanded to “remember from where [they] have fallen”. 
Only Sardis is to remember what they “had received and heard – to hold fast and repeat and repent”. Of the seven churches listed in these two chapters, Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicea are all called to repent of something; only Smyrna and Philadelphia are exempt.

In our chronology of church history that we have been comparing these seven churches with, we last looked at Thyatira, which represented that time in which the Roman Catholic church dominated the world. Then early in the 16th century – 1517 AD to be exact, all the way to the middle of the 17th century (up to 1648 AD) the Protestant Reformation was born, lived and thrived. Tracing the historical view of this movement over the course of its more than 500 year lifespan, we find a remarkable parallel to Sardis.

The Protestant Reformation started off very, very well: godly men like Theodore Beza, Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Thomas Cranmer, William Farel, John Calvin, John Knox, Martin Luther, William Tyndale, Huldrych Zwingli and countless others, hazarded their very lives in order to get the Word of God published in the native languages of their countries and preached the Gospel fearlessly.

Revival swept over Europe as people, for the first time in over 1000 years were able to read the Bible in their own languages! They were being liberated from the tyranny and oppression of the Roman Catholic church. This is not to say that there weren't Bibles available, but these were few in number, and in the hands of smaller church fellowships.

What may be under appreciated however, was that there were many people who migrated to the Protestant churches, not out of conviction or conversion but merely to escape the clutches of the Roman Catholic church. Within three generations the church became distinct in ten primary denominations: Anabaptists, Baptists, Reformed Churches, Calvinists, Arminianists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Anglicans, Lutherans and Puritans. Today there are literally hundreds of denominations, some comprising of millions of members, others only several hundred.

If one examines the spiritual condition of the major Protestant denominations today and their view of Scripture as a whole and specific doctrines of the Bible, many, if not most are in wretched condition. The Deity of Christ, the virgin birth; the inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures, the necessity of being born again, the literal Second Coming as well as the exclusive claims of Christ are all questioned at best or outright rejected at worst.

Protestant ministers now include women or even lesbians; homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable; abortion is seen by some as a sacrament; New Age beliefs and practices began to invade the denominations back in the mid 70’s. Today, many denominational churches are overrun by New Age, New Thought and Emergent philosophies. Universalist and Unitarian churches are experiencing a steady growth as Bible based denominational churches are declining.

REV 3:3b
If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee
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The LORD comes to those as a thief in the night to those who are not watching, to the spiritually deadened, to the sleeping and unprepared; we see in 1 THESSALONIANS a contrast between those who are watching, waiting and praying for the LORD’s Return, and those who are not:

1 THESS 5:1-9
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ
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Today the Protestant Churches in the majority say, “My LORD delays His coming.” – what does the LORD call such a servant as that? “. . . that evil servant . . .” (MATT 24:48). Many of the Protestant denominations, like certain Baptists and Presbyterians are amillennial – that is, they teach that Christ will not reign physically on the Earth in a kingdom established in the nation of Israel! Of these, many are Preterists – which state that prophecy is completely fulfilled already, and we are not living in the Last Days.

REV 3:4
Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy
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The Greek word used here for “few” is oligos, and it means “small, brief, few, of short duration in time, of slight degree, of little amount”. That is the percentage of the true believers in Sardis. So what of all the others, the majority there? What was their spiritual condition like?

Here is where the condition of Formalism comes in:

The outward form of Christianity is retained with all of its doctrines and beliefs intact, but with no inner effectiveness on the heart or in one’s life. The Word of God does not work effectively in them, not being “mixed with faith” (1 THESS 2:13; HEB 4:1-3) This is vain religion (JAMES 1:26), a form of godliness but without the power of the Holy Spirit governing the life (2 TIM 3:5). It's outward show without inward sanctification (ISAIAH 1:13; 29:13; MATT 15:8; 23:23)

And while this seems to be the majority of people’s condition there in Sardis, there are a few that have not defiled their garments – but on the contrary, these will walk in white with the LORD, not as those who have defiled their garments. Garments in Scripture have to do with one’s life, one’s witness, one’s spiritual condition:

In ZECHARIAH the high priest Joshua was dressed in filthy garments – but the LORD “caused [his] iniquity to pass away” and was given a change of raiment (ZECH 3:1-7). ISAIAH speaks of the garments of salvation which are owned by the LORD (ISAIAH 59:17) but are granted by grace to His own (ISAIAH 61:10).

Certainly, among the few, the minority of those within the Reformation, which among its millions of adherents over the last 500 years, still accounts for a great multitude of true believers, we have the likes of Martin Luther, William Tyndale and others previously mentioned, and later, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, Jonathan Edwards, and later still Charles Spurgeon, Dwight L. Moody, Lewis S. Chafer, etc.

However, just as there are those who trust their salvation to their adherence to a particular denomination, rather than an allegiance of faith to the LORD Jesus Christ, that touches and transforms the life as well as the heart – we must also be careful of the same thing. No one is saved because they are a member of ELWC, nor as a member of Calvary Chapel or John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church.

We are only worthy – just as those few in Sardis were worthy, because of faith in Christ and Christ alone, which was the herald of the Protestant Reformation by the way: sola fide, sola gratia, sola Christos – or “By faith alone, through grace alone in Christ alone”.

REV 3:5-6
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches
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Those who belong to Christ, they have the promise from the LORD Himself, that He will not blot their name out of the book of Life – which apparently is a roster of citizens that belong to the Kingdom of God; only those genuinely saved in Christ, who are born again will see and enter into the Kingdom of God (JOHN 3:3,5); those who are not born again, are not members of the Kingdom of God, do not have their names written in the book of Life and will, instead of being granted admittance to that Kingdom, they will be dispatched to damnation in the lake of fire (REV 20:15).