The Dead Church...The Faithful Church...The Lukewarm Church
Sardis: "The Dead Church"
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'
Philadelphia: "The Faithful Church"
"And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'
Laodicea: The Lukewarm Church
"And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' (NKJV)
Bible Study Outline: Outline of Revelation Chapter 3 Church of Sardis…Church of Philadelphia…Church of Laodicea:
This Bible Outline will discuss the last 3 of the 7 Churches in Asia Minor from 3 Biblical points of view: “Historically” (how each church possibly represented a certain period in the Church age) “Spiritually” (as the “spirit’ or behavior of the people can be found in people in the modern church) and as “Actual Churches” in Biblical Time. As with the first 4 churches, each one of the letters written to these churches also contained the phrase: "I know thy works." Each one of them contains either an indictment, contained a threat, and all of them contained a “promise”: "To him that overcometh." All of the church letters ended with the phrase: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. Notice how Jesus addressed himself to each church. The Lord addresses each church in the way that is designed to get their undivided attention and to bring them face to face with their social and spiritual state. Each letter was sent based on geographic proximity.
I. The Message to the Church of Sardis “ The Dead Church” (Verse 1-6)
Jesus called the Church at Sardis a “dead” church even though the church had several names: “prince of joy”, “escaping one” and “those who come out.” Dr. Clarence Larkin wrote in his book “Dispensational Truth, “Sardis was accused of being a “formalistic church,” a church that became “ritualistic” and formal in their form of worship”. The church was full of cliques and clans and was more politically driven than spiritually fervent. The Apostle Paul aptly described this type of church as having a “form” of God, but “denying the power thereof”. Jesus called this type of church as “whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones.” Sardis was the church period when the reformation or the protest against the “Papal” church because of the many false teachings, tyranny and the autonomic claims of what became the Roman Catholic Church and the “sovereignty” or “total autonomy” of the Pope. On October 31, 1517 A.D., a German Monk named Martin Luther in protest of the skewed doctrines of the Papal church wrote and nailed his 95 theses on the door of a Papal church in Whittenburg, Germany. This act earmarked the beginning of the “Protestant Movement” and the day that Reformation set in. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more of a struggle for political liberty than a Christian/religious movement. However, out of the Protestant Movement, the mode of church worship became less formal and became more simplistic. Not only this, but the Doctrine of “Justification by Faith” was revived and the Protestant movement opened the door for more Non-Papal religious sects, (denominations) which over the course of history caused more contentions and controversies that can be felt in the church even today. The Sardis Period lasted 230 years and extended from 1520 A.D. to about 1750 A.D.
A. Greetings from Jesus: “He that has the 7 Spirits and the 7 Stars” (vs.1 and 4)
Note: Most scholars believe this refers to the Holy Spirit and the number 7 represents the fullness of the Spirit this phrase is believed to mean that as Jesus sent forth the Holy Spirit into the world, as His agent and our Comforter, Jesus could withhold or allow His spirit to rest upon the church or person as He saw fit. This was to show Sardis that Jesus was in complete control of every church regardless of state and stature.
B. Jesus Commendation: “I know Your works” He was intimately acquainted with all that they did, good and bad, and that therefore he was abundantly qualified to dispense rewards or administer punishments according to truth and justice.
1. You have a name that live,” but you are “dead”
That is, you have the reputation of being Christians, and outwardly appear to be alive in the public’s eye and through the quickening influence of the divine Spirit; but ye are dead because you don’t have the life of God in your souls, You haven’t walked consistently and steadily before God, and his Spirit has been grieved with you, and he has withdrawn much of his light and power.
2. There a few in Sardis with “undefiled” garments. They are worthy. (vs. 4)
Despite the outbreak of widespread idolatry, there were some who held true to the faith and remained steadfast in the faith. And they shall walk with me in white, that is, they would appear in white raiment in heaven, for they are worthy.
Note: These members of the Sardis church have shown themselves worthy to be regarded as followers of the Lamb; or, they have a character that is suited for heaven. They haven’t laid claim to heaven based on their own merit or works, but Jesus declared that they should thus appear in heaven. We are all personally unworthy to be admitted to heaven, but we may have such a character as to show that, according to the arrangements of grace, it is fit and proper that we should be received there that is, we have the character to which God has promised eternal life.
C. Jesus’ Challenge and Warning: 5 Things (vs. 2-3)
1. Be watchful: You lost focus and have left some things undone. Wake up and stay alert (focused).
2. Strengthen those things that remain: Revival of people and ministry and hold on to the power of God to do his will even in the midst of fierce persecution. Watch and pray and continue to do those things that are pleasing to God. People were giving up because of the peer pressure of an idolatrous society.
3. Remember what you have received and heard (from God): every sermon, every visitation of the Holy Spirit, miracle wrought by God to you etc..Consider your ways: Remember the fervent feeling you had when you felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and consider where you stand with God now. Then, make those adjustments you need to make in prayer and rededication to keep yourself in right standing with HIM.
4. Hold fast: Don’t let go of God’s unchanging hand!
5. Repent: Turn from your slothfulness and be faithful in your work for the Lord
Warning: If you refuse to take heed and continue to grieve the Holy Spirit by your complacency....
I’ll come as a “thief” in the night:
Jesus threatened to come and judge them at a time they won’t expect and that judgment will be severe. God gives us all plenty warnings and enough time to humble ourselves and pray…seek His face and turn from our wicked ways. But when sinners refuse to heed to his warning, and still walk in the way of evil, God comes suddenly, and cuts them down. Every man who is warned of the evil of his course, and who refuses or neglects to repent, has reason to believe that God will come suddenly in his wrath, and call him to his judgment day.
D. Jesus’ Promise: “If You Overcome” (vs. 5)
1. They shall be clothed in white raiment.
Whoever overcomes sin and the temptations of this world, shall be admitted to this glorious reward. The promise is made not only to those in Sardis who should be victorious, but to all in every age and every land. The hope is our appearing with Our Redeemer in his kingdom, clad in robes expressive of holiness and joy.
2. I won’t blot out their name out of the “Book of Life.”
Jesus Christ will not blot the names of his chosen and faithful ones out of this book of life. Just because a person’s name may be on a “Institution” Church’s roll, submitted to baptism, as having made a profession of faith (as having a name to live), but over the course of time, that name may come to be blotted out of the church roll, when it appears that it was but a name, a name to live, without spiritual life; no stewardship that gives evidence of a real change, such often lose the very name before they die, they are left of God to blot out their own names by their “gross” and “open wickedness”….that is they never changed!.
Note: This does not teach against the Bible doctrine of “once saved…always saved!”
This exposes the fact that “verbal profession” is not enough. There must be “concrete evidence “of a change in their heart and must be followed up with a “sincere change” in their lives. At some point as the person spends more time with Christ, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and in study of the Word of God, you will began to see “concrete evidence” of “spiritual growth” and evidence that the Holy Spirit is guiding them. You will physically see that they are a new creation in Jesus Christ: that “Old things have passed away and all things are becoming new. They show evidence they have embraced the Christian faith and is allowing the Holy Spirit to live through them and bring forth the works of God planted in them. We overcome the sin life by faith and living by the Word of God. Those that overcome names shall never be blotted out. Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names of the faithful who stand there, before God, and all the angels; he will do this as their Judge, when the books shall be opened; he will do this as their captain and head, leading them with him triumphantly to heaven, presenting them to the Father:
3. Jesus will confess their name before God the Father:
Jesus will tell God the Father that we belong to HIM! Come you that are blessed of My Father!
He that have an ear….Let him hear what the Spirit says to the Church (vs. 6)
II. The Message to the Church of Philadelphia “The Faithful Church of Brotherly Love” (Verses 7-13)
The Church in Philadelphia shows no interminglings of evil, but is addressed as if embracing only a small exceptional company of acknowledged ones in the midst of a larger body who are no longer recognized as strictly a part of Christ's Church. They are spoken of as having kept His word, and not denied His name: as though many had failed in these particulars, and so lost their place in the acknowledged Christian body. These Philadelphians were but a little flock, poor in worldly goods, and of small account in the eyes of human beings. They had but little strength, and were greatly oppressed by heretical teachers and pretenders; but they held fast to the word of Christ, in patient waiting for His promise. The Philadelphian church was the spiritual revival of the Church of Sardis before they lost their spiritual ferver. The Philadelphia period lasted about 150 years from 1750 A.D. to 1900 A.D.
A. Greetings from Jesus: “HE that is Holy…HE that is true…HE that has the “key” of David… HE that opens and no man shuts… and shuts and no man opens...(vs. 7)
Jesus is the Holy One of Israel. The True and Living God…The Authority over the House of David…He opens and no man can shut it or shuts and no man can open it.
B. Jesus Comendation: “I Know your Works” (vs. 8)
1. I have set before you an “open” door: that is, Jesus has given them His gracious gift of evangelism to them for spiritual usefulness and no man can prevent them from spreading the Gospel, no matter how much opposition.
2. You have a little strength: yet, you haven’t denied My name, and you have kept my word: Philadelphia possessed very little political authority or influence; yet they t kept God’s word- kept the true doctrine; and did not denied my name, by taking shelter in paganism when Christianity was persecuted. The little strength may refer either to the smallness of the numbers, or to the littleness of their grace.
C. Jesus’ Challenges and Warnings (vs. 11)
1. I’m coming quickly! “Hold fast to what you have, that no man take your crown”
2. These events will come take place shortly. I’m coming with rewards and consolations for all of the faithful followers.
D. Jesus’ Promises '7 Promises to those who overcome' (vs. 9-10 & 12)
1. I will make them (those who oppose you) a synagogue of Satan which say they are Jews and are not but do lie.
2. I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
3. I will keep you from the hour of temptation, which will come upon the all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
4. I will make you a pillar in the temple of God and you shall go out no more
5. I will write the name of God (Jehovah)
6. I will write the name of the City of God (New Jerusalem)
7. I will write my (Jesus) new name upon those who overcome.
Note: The Christian church will stand forever. Christianity will win despite everything the Christian church has had to endure from religious and world persecution. The “seal” of the Holy Spirit on every born again believer is proof positive that we will be redeemed and live in eternity with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
He that have an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (vs. 13)
III. The Message to The Church of Laodecia (Verses 14-22)
Paul never visited Laodicea, but hearing, most probably, from Epaphras of the false doctrines spread in that city, he wrote to the Colossians desiring that his epistle to that church should also be read in Laodicea. The message of the Holy Spirit (Revelation 3:14-22) to the church of Laodicea was an awful warning. The condition of the Laodicean church describes the same spiritual lukewarm spirit and worldliness that will prevail in the professing Church of Christ at the end of the age as a whole. (This current age) With many churches (mega and some mid-level) becoming more financially well off, obtaining both government funding and soliciting private partnership funding for mission work both from the membership the public sector for “world harvesting” missions, and then becoming “socially and politically” cultured, and “religiously” ritualistic, as well as changing from an “evangelistic platform” to a more “economic prosperity” and “social motivation” message through “networking”, the spirit that drives this church will cause many who grace the church to become so “self-satisfied” and “worldly” to the point of “omitting” Jesus Christ from their worship services completely. (Having need of nothing)
Verse 20 depicts Jesus on the outside of the Laodecean church, standing on the outside at the door knocking for admission inside their church worship. (Revelation 3:20). No longer is He admitted by the corporate body, even though they sing, pray and praise Him with their lips, but their hearts being far from Him. So He stands outside, extending an invitation to individuals. The awful spiritual condition of the “Modern church” is so utterly abhorrent to God, He calls forth one of the boldest warnings used in the NewTestament: "So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth" This Church Period started around 1900 A.D. and is ongoing and sadly represents the last church period before the “rapture” of the true church from the earth and the 7-year Great Tribulation Period.
A. Greetings from Jesus: The “AMEN” …The FAITHFUL and TRUE WITNESS…The BEGINNING of the Creation of God (vs. 14)
This means, Jesus is both Faithful and True Witness, He is the head and governor of all creatures; the King of all creation and has preeminence over everything made that was made (Psalms 24:1) because He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient and is completely Immutable (never changing in His “God character” in any sense of the word, ie. Holiness, Righteousness, Sovereignty etc..) By all of his titles, here, Jesus prepares them for the humiliating and awful truths which he was about to declare, and the authority on which these declaration are founded.
B. Jesus’ Commendation: “I know Your Works” (vs. 15)
1. You are neither “cold” or “hot”
While there is no pretense of religion, it was obvious that their religion in the sight of Christ was “lifeless” and “dead.” There was a profession of religion, but no warm-hearted piety; in which there was not, on the one hand, open and honest opposition to him, and, on the other, such warm-hearted and honest love as he had a right to look for among his professed friends; in which there was a profession of that religion which ought to warm the heart with love, and fill the soul with zeal in the cause of the Redeemer; but where the only result, in fact, was deadness and indifference to him and his cause.
2. I wish you were “cold” or “hot”
Jesus desired that they were either way because being lukewarm or indifference in religion is the worst temperament to have in the world. If religion is a real thing, it is the most excellent thing, and therefore we should be in good earnest in it; if it is not a real thing, it is the vilest imposture, and we should be earnest against it. If religion is worth anything, it is worth every thing; any indifference in relationship to the cause of Christ is inexcusable:
3. Your reasoning: “How You see yourself” (vs.17)
“I am rich.(self sufficient in all things: spiritual, creative in worship, self praising and glorifying your works and deeds I am increased with goods (prosperous and much worldly wealth and political influence) and I have need of nothing ( I have reached “mega-church and mega minister status”) This church and its members believed themselves to be in a safe state, perfectly sure of final salvation, because, thou hast begun well, and laid the right foundation. It was this most deceitful conviction that cut the nerves of their spiritual diligence; they rested in what they had already received, and seemed to think that once in grace must be still in grace. They thought that they had already reached the goal God had set for them. They lived in the past and bragged on their current status based of their past performances.
4. How I see you: wretched, poor, blind, and naked
Jesus saw them as being in slavery in the most deplorable state to be pitied by men. As far as being rich and prosperous as they claimed, Jesus saw them as being spiritually bankrupt, having no spiritual riches at all, possessing no holiness in their heart, “dark” in their understanding of their own status. They stood in the sight of God as being devoid of the image of God, not clothed with holiness and purity. A more deplorable state in spiritual things can scarcely be imagined than that of this church. In the year 2014, unfortunately, this is the true picture of many churches, and of innumerable individuals. (Truly we are in those last days.)
C. Jesus’ Challenge and Warning: "4 things" (vs. 18-19)
1. Buy from ME gold tried in the fire
Come and receive from me, without money and without price, true faith that shall stand in every trial. It can also mean pure and undefiled religion, or that grace or divine influence which produces it, which is more valuable to the soul than the purest gold to the body.
2. White raiment
Holiness of heart and life.
3. Anoint your eyes with eyesalve.
Pray for, that ye may receive, the enlightening influences of my Spirit, and the Word of God itself that ye may be convinced of your true state, and see where your help lies.
4. Be zealous and repent.
Be in earnest, to get your souls saved. They had no zeal. He now stirs them up to diligence in the use of the means of grace and repentance for their past sins and remissness.
Remember: Those I love I will rebuke and chastise. These challenges are imperatives.
D. `Jesus’ Promises: Behold…I stand at the door and knock…If you Overcome…(open the door)….(vs. 20-21)
1. Jesus will come in and commune with you
If the sinner will seriously consider his spiritual state, and take heed to the appeal of the voice of his Lord. and open the door This must be his own act, receiving power for this purpose from his offended Lord, who will not break open the door; he will make no forcible entry. I will reveal myself to him, heal all his backslidings, pardon all his iniquities, and love him freely. Not only that, Jesus will hold ‘communion with them and feed them the bread of life.
2. Jesus will grant you a seat at His throne
If you are faithful unto death, you will spend eternity with Jesus Christ and have a seat in the kingdom.
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (vs.22)
Dr. William Edward Boddie