Message to Sardis
Verse 1 – “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.
The problem with the church in Sardis was not heresy, but spiritual. They looked good to others on the outside but corrupt on the inside. Sardis had become a church in name only, a pretend church, one that was just going through the motions.
We can place this church period when Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. This began what is called the “Reformation.” The changes, however, did not dislodge the old leadership. In a short time the Reformation stalled and complacency set in.
Verse 2 – “Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
Verse 3 – “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.
It was time for this church to have a spiritual overhaul. They were urged to obey the Christian truth they had heard when they first believed in Christ. They needed to repent.
Verse 4 – “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.
Verse 5 – “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.
Some believe that he “Book of life” and the “Lamb’s Book of life” are one in the same, but if they are, why is it we don’t find anyone in Scripture being blotted out of the “Lamb’s Book of life, only the “Book of life?” These are two different books.
Every single person that was and is born is in the “Book of life.” The “Lamb’s Book o life” are all those who have been truly born-again and follow Jesus until the end.
Verse 6 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘
Message to Philadelphia
Verse 7 – “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”:
Verse 8 – “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.
This church in Philadelphia was more like what he Church should be. It was a working, evangelistic, Bible-believing church.
In the mid 1800’s, people began to be converted at he rate of 10,000 a week in New York City. The movement spread throughout New England. The revival went up the Hudson and down the Mohawk. In one year (1857), more than one million people were converted. The revival crossed the Atlantic, broke out in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and England, South Africa, South India – anywhere there was an evangelist preaching people were being saved.
So what happened? People became complacent; allowed sin to run ram-pit in the church, and most importantly put other things first instead of putting Jesus high and lifted up! They forgot how to repent.
Verse 9 – “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.
Many fail to live up to their spiritual claims. That was true of the Jews in Philadelphia, and it is still true of the Church today. Not everyone who claims to be a child of God truly is.
Verse 10 – “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.
The “hour of trial” or “testing” is the Great Tribulation period. Right there, Jesus says He will keep the true believer from this time period. The believer will be raptured to “meet Him in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). God knows who truly belong to Him.
Verse 11 – “Behold I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
Verse 12 – “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And 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.
Entering heaven, the Jew Jerusalem, never to leave again, will be blissfulness, no more doubt, no more temptations, no more disease, and we will never leave and that’s a promise.
Verse 13 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘
Message to Laodicea
Verse 14 – “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:
Verse 15 – “I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
Church members in Laodicea were lukewarm. Any believer can find themselves in one of three stages: Cold – formal, without spiritual life, Lukewarm – indifferent, or straddling the fence; and Hot – passionate and zealous for the things of God.
These people were self-satisfied, had everything they needed, complacent. According to Jesus, this is the worse state to be in. Is this where the church is today?
Verse 16 – “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.
I could preach a couple of pages on this subject, but let me make this very plain and simple. A lukewarm Christian is not acceptable to Christ! And where do you think you will end up if He spews you out of His mouth?
Verse 17 – “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 –
Verse 18 – “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in 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.
This rebuke is for all the fakers and pretenders who call themselves Christians in name only. Mined gold is placed into a red-hot furnace not to destroy it, but to purify it. Trials are meant to humble us and sins are drawn out (through repentance), and the residue is left – an improved Christian.
We buy from Jesus with a spiritual currency, a faith that grows stronger with every test. Without this spiritual currency, we are paupers. Apart from faith in Jesus Christ, we will leave this world with nothing.
The white garments are the righteousness of Christ, the only thing that will hide our spiritual nakedness.
Verse 19 – “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
Verse 20 – “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.
Verse 21 – “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.
Over and over Jesus says, “To him who overcomes…” We all have things in this life to overcome, but He is always there with us to bring us to victory in Him.
Christ’s discipline to His children are for two reasons: (1) to cause people to be honest about their sins, and (2) to bring them to repentance. You do know that God’s goodness will bring us to repentance, don’t you?
I’m sure many of you have seen that famous painting by Holman Hunt of Jesus standing outside a door knocking. It was brought to the artist’s attention that he forgot to paint a door-knob on the outside. Holman replied, “The door is a picture of a human heart, and the handle is on the inside!”