Go to Verse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
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.
The church of Sardis represents the nearly three centuries of church history which followed the opening of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. See chart.
"Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead"
Although the original Protestant Reformers zealously advanced the cause of truth, that zeal quickly began to wane in succeeding generations. The formation of fixed doctrinal creeds tended to prevent the acceptance of additional light. Instead of continuing to advance, the churches of the Reformers stagnated.
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 overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment"
This is the robe of Christ's righteousness, which He desires His people to wear. He longs for them to possess the righteous attributes of His character. Such attributes will be seen in the lives of all who overcome. None but overcomers are clothed in white raiment.
"And I will not blot out his name out of the book of life"
Information on the heavenly books of record
The book of life contains the names of all who have ever entered Christ's service. Only of those who overcome sin is it said that their names are not blotted out of the book of life. We may conclude, then, that the names of those "that cannot cease from sin" (2 Peter 2:14) will be blotted out of the book of life.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Verses 7, 8
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.
The Philadelphia period of church history [See chart] ushers in "the time of the end" spoken of in Daniel 8:17; 11:35, 40; 12:4, 9. During this time, commencing in 1798, as prophecies began to be fulfilled, and as knowledge of the prophecies increased, the world experienced a great prophetic awakening. Never since apostolic times had there been such global attention upon Bible prophecy and such earnest study of the word of God. For more information on this world-wide prophetic awakening, see comments on Revelation chapter 10.
The message to Philadelphia contains no rebuke, no call to repentance, testifying to the possession of a genuine Christian experience among the believers.
"He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; . . . behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it"
At the end of this period a door was opened, which no man can shut; and a door was shut, which no man can open. Explanation of this is found in Revelation 4:1, which says, "After this I looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven." In the year 1844, in fulfillment of the prophecies of Daniel 7:13 and 8:14, Jesus entered the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, to begin the work of cleansing which was typified in the annual Day of Atonement services of the Old Testament (See Leviticus 16). This movement of Christ's ministry from the "holy place" to the "most holy place" of the tabernacle in heaven (Hebrews 8:1, 2; 9:11) is symbolized here by the shutting of one door and the opening of another, a transition which no man could hinder.
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.
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.
Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
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.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
"The church of the Laodiceans"
"The church in Laodicea" is probably a more correct translation, as the marginal reading indicates.
Laodicea is the last of the seven churches. Beginning in the middle of the 19th century, it constitutes the final period of church history.
The word Laodicea means "a people adjudged." The message of Revelation 3:14-22 is addressed to God's people living in the time of the judgment, to whom it is committed to declare to the world that "the hour of his judgment is come." Revelation 14:7.
The Bible teaches that the first phase of the judgment, which determines the destiny of all who have at any time entered Christ's service, occurs before Jesus returns. So when Jesus comes, the decision has already been made as to who shall be saved and who shall be lost. This is sometimes called the pre-advent judgment. Thus God's last-day people, who live during the time of that judgment, are called "Laodicea."
Verses 15 & 16
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
The faithful and true Witness finds nothing in the church of Laodicea to commend them for. They are neither on fire for God nor openly against Him, but are content with lukewarm complacency. They are too comfortable.
Jesus' expression, "I will spue thee out of my mouth," is to be contrasted with verse 5 where He says, "I will confess his name before my Father." Jesus will not take the names of lukewarm Christians upon His lips to confess them before His Father.
Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
"Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing"
Certainly we live in a materialistic age. We are indeed rich, and increased with goods. Never before have so many people enjoyed such comforts of life as we enjoy today. And the church is endowed with Biblical resources beyond that which was available to any previous period of church history. What more could we need?
"And knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"
The Christians of the Smyrna period suffered physical poverty, yet were rich in God's sight. Revelation 2:9. But the church of Laodicea, although possessing material wealth, is actually poor by God's estimation.
Laodicea's worst dilemma is her blindness. Though she were wretched, miserable, poor, and naked, if only she could see her true condition she might repent. But as long as Laodicea thinks everything is alright, she will never repent.
The nakedness referred to here signifies that God's professed people are not clothed with the "robe of righteousness." Isaiah 61:10. "The fine linen is the righteousness of saints." Revelation 19:8.
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
"I counsel thee"
For the church that is poor and blind and naked, Christ prescribes: gold for her poverty, white raiment for her nakedness, and eye salve for her blindness.
"To buy of me"
The Bible presents the heavenly treasures as something which must be purchased, yet without money.
"Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." Isaiah 55:1.
Both the field containing the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46) were purchased at the expense of all that the buyer had. In introducing those parables, Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like that. Money cannot buy eternal life, yet salvation can be received only at the price of all that we possess. We must surrender all to Him, our lives, our service, our talents, our means . . ., everything. We must give up our sins and receive His obedience. When we give ourselves wholly to Him, Christ, with all the treasures of heaven, gives Himself to us. Those who refuse to pay the price do not obtain the heavenly merchandise.
"Gold tried in the fire"
Compare Malachi 3:3.
This gold represents a perfect, Christlike character, and it results from the trial of our faith. In fact, character may be defined as faith that has been tried in the fire.
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7.
"Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:3, 4.
"When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." Job 23:10.
The furnace fire consumes the dross, and the true gold of a purified character appears. This perfected, Christlike character is described in the word love, or as the King James Version puts it, charity.
"And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness." Colossians 3:14.
"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." 1 Corinthians 13:13.
The highest round of the ladder of Christian development is described in the words, ". . . and to brotherly kindness charity." 2 Peter 1:7.
Faith and love, therefore, constitute the elements of this gold.
"And white raiment"
Throughout the Bible Christ's righteousness is described as a garment. Isaiah 61:10; Matthew 22:11; Revelation 3:4, 5; Revelation 7:9, 14; and Revelation 19:8 are a few examples. In each case, the garment must be worn, not only by Jesus, but by His people. Jesus' righteousness must be seen in our lives.
We cannot produce righteousness. "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Isaiah 64:6. We do not obtain righteousness merely by our own efforts to do good. That was how the Pharisees attempted to obtain righteousness. Jesus declared, "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20.
Only the righteousness of Christ is of any value, for it alone is 100% pure, and God can accept nothing but the genuine article, fabric from the loom of heaven, without one thread of human devising.
So our need is not to develop our own righteousness, but to obtain Christ's righteousness. How do we obtain it? We purchase it by the surrender of our lives entirely to Him. See comments above. The reason many do not receive the righteousness of Christ is because they are unwilling to surrender self. Whether they are preoccupied with good works or evil, they are unwilling to die to self and obey God explicitly. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." Romans 10:3. Jesus made the terms of salvation clear when He said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23. We cannot cling both to Christ and to the world. "No man can serve two masters." Matthew 6:24. To accept Christ means to forsake every other master, whether it be appetite or pride or lust or ease, and consecrate ourselves wholly to Him.
The beauty of the gift of Christ's righteousness is that once we have surrendered ourselves fully to Him, we receive the gift of His life, to be lived in us, with all His power and strength to resist sin. This is the gospel which Paul declared to be "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16); "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:17); "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God" (Ephesians 3:17, 19).
As long as we maintain total consecration to Him, daily committing our lives to His service, we have the privilege of living His life. This is what the apostle meant when he said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Colossians 2:20.
To live the life of Jesus! What greater privilege could we receive? Yet that is the very commodity Jesus offers when He counsels us to buy of Him white raiment.
For the specific Biblical steps in receiving Christ, see The ACT of Conversion.
"And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see"
According to the position of the verbs in this verse, we are counseled to buy only two items, and anoint our eyes with a third. The eyesalve need not be purchased, it is already available to us. We simply need to apply it to our eyes.
The eyesalve is that which reveals to us our true condition. It is the Word of God, a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It shows us our need of Christ. As we receive the Word, the Spirit of God illumines our eyes and we are drawn to the Saviour. We begin to deplore our wretchedness and seek His grace.
God's word may be found in nearly every home. Yet, business and leisure consume the time. The sacred flask is rarely opened, its ointment is seldom applied.
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
"As many as I love"
Jesus writes to us in love, not in condemnation. He appeals to our hearts, He desires to save.
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: 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.
"I will come in to him." What a wonderful promise, Jesus offering to live within me, and within you!
Jesus does not force His way into our hearts. We must invite Him in. To open the door means giving Him entrance to our entire being. No opposing influence is entertained when Jesus is the honored guest. No room or closet is withheld from His occupation. Opening the door means the eviction of sin and granting the Saviour exclusive residence in our lives.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne"
Jesus offers us not only life, but a position of royalty. He "hath made us kings and priests." Revelation 1:6. Invited to share His throne, we are "joint heirs" with Him of the kingdom. Romans 8:17. We shall "reign" with Him. Revelation 20:4, 6.
Because Jesus has identified Himself with humanity, in Him humanity is exalted. With Him humanity takes its place upon the throne of the universe. As a man, Jesus is our brother, and He shares His inheritance with us who, by His atonement, become the sons of God. 1 John 3:1.
"Even as I also overcame"
We are to obtain victory over sin in the same way that Jesus overcame. He is our example in all things. How Jesus Overcame.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.