In my last blog we discussed the first four churches mentioned in Revelation chapter two. In this blog we will discuss the last three. Let me remind you that these seven churches not only speak of seven literal churches in Asia Minor, but they also represent seven periods of church history. The vision of the seven churches is sandwiched between two visions. In chapter one we have the vision of the glorified Son of Man and in chapter four the vision of the twenty four elders around the throne in heaven. Therefore there must me some prophetic significance to the writings in chapter two and three.
This Sardis church began about 1520 A. D. and extends through 1720 A. D. This church however will continue into the tribulation period. This period covers the time period commonly known as the reformation period. This was a time of dead religion. This dead form of religion is still found in the Laodicean church of today.
The name Sardis means “the escaping one” or “to come out”. In the reformation period the predestine religion became a state sponsored religion and was embraced by millions that never truly came to know Christ. But during this time there were a few that were still alive. Men like Martin Luther who stood for truth, and the freedom to reproduce the scriptures in a language the common man could understand. It was October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg Germany.
Thus this church is the mother of dead religion. What was said about the Sardis church could be said of many churches today. We have a name that we are alive, but truly we are dead. I wonder how many churches today are dead in the eyes of the Lord, but in their eyes there is nothing wrong?
Once the Lord brings attention to the dead state of the church He calls upon them to repent. The Lord will lay out a five-fold plan for repentance.
The first thing the Lord asks this church to do is to be watchful and alert.
“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Romans 13:11
Second they are to strengthen the things that remain. Do everything possible to strengthen and keep alive the little bit of true religion they had.
Third they were to remember therefore how thou hast received and heard. They were commanded to remember the early days of their salvation, the days when they were alive with passion, zeal and a hunger to do the things of God.
Fourth they were to hold fast the truths of the gospel. God wanted them to get rid of the baggage or the excess things and hold fast to the truths of the gospel.
Five they were to repent. This was a church wide repentance not merely an individual repentance.
Even in the midst of this deadness there were a few that were true to the scriptures. These are promised the white garments of verse 4 and then they are promised the following in verse 5. The white raiment mentioned in this verse will be found on the bride of Christ when we see her at the marriage supper of the Lamb. In addition to this we are promised that our names will remain in the book of life for eternity.
The Philadelphia church began in 1750 A. D. and continued until 1900 A. D. Again, this church will be found on earth until the time of the rapture. The name Philadelphia means brotherly love and this well describes the type of church this was.
This is one of the greatest churches in history. They had an open door, which probably speak of missions. Notice that this open door is promised by the one who holds the key of David. During this period in time doors were open in Korea, China, India, and Africa.
Although this was a great church it was not a church that was with little strength. This church was like a man coming back to life. It is the dead Sardis church revived. This is also a good way to describe this church era. It is a time of great revivals.
Revivals of great men like George Whitfield, D. L. Moody, Charles Finney and John Wesley.
With the little strength they had they stood for the word of the Lord and they did not deny the name of Christ. Because of this many were won to God.
Christ promises that He will make the false brethren bow before His feet. This will no doubt happen one day at the time of judgment.
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Romans 14:11
Finally they are promised that they will not have to endure the great tribulation that will soon come upon the whole world. This does not mean that this church would never have a hard time or face opposition, but that they would not be present when the time of great tribulation came upon the world.
This further proves the fact that the true church will not endure one minute of the great tribulation, but rather will be removed before that time begins.
The Laodicean church period covers the time from 1900 A. D. until the tribulation hour. This church is a working church, but they are working in a lukewarm fashion. This church is no doubt a type of the churches today. We will have revival meetings with paid singers and preachers, but we are missing the presence of God. This condition is so vile that it makes the Lord want to throw up. Christ would rather a church be freezing or on fire.
In this age the church is very prosperous monetarily. They are richer than they have ever been. If you look at churches today you will see that millions of dollars are being invested in fancy buildings, stained glass window and ultra plush pews.
In the midst of this building and money spending we lose the sight of the Lord. On the outside we appear rich, but truly we are poor. (Notice the contrast to the church in Smyrna who thought they were poor, but Christ said they were rich.)
This church is blind for they cannot see the millions around them dying and going to hell. If you were to visit one of these churches they would show you their great building, talk about all the programs they have to offer, maybe even brag on their fine preacher. All the while they are incapable of seeing their true condition.
Probably one of the saddest verses of scripture is Revelation 3:20. The church is told that Christ is standing, excluded on the outside of the church. What makes it even sadder is that this church has no idea that Christ is no longer there. They did not ask Christ to leave for they are carrying on like nothing had ever happened. Somewhere along the line Christ had removed Himself. He was no doubt removed because of the sin and lukewarmness of the church.
So how does Christ get back into the church? It is simple He must be invited. There is no need for a vote for committee. Christ simply says that if any man will open the door He will come in. Individually the members of the church must open their heart allowing Christ the rightful place He deserves.
In my next blog we will move to chapter four and deal with the rapture of the church.