5: SARDIS 1517-1820 AD
“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.” Revelation 3:1, 2
Sardis means ‘what remains’, and we see Jesus saying that there were still some good things remaining in this church, but they needed to be strengthened. This is the time of the Protestant churches that grew out of the reformation.
The reformation started out as ‘Thyatira’, humble and faithful, eagerly searching the Bible for heaven sent truth. During this early reformation period, this church was still Thyatira; but there came a time when they stopped seeking for truth and became proud, and stopped searching the scriptures. Instead they made ‘creeds’ and decided they would not believe anything that their fathers had not believed. Then Jesus could not teach them any more. He told them that even though they thought they were so good and alive, they were really spiritually dead.
This terrible state of affairs seemed to come about after the Council of Trent, which began Rome’s counter-reformation. The Protestant reformers, coming out of the Church of Rome, had refused to acknowledge the Bible Sabbath which had been kept by most of the ‘church in the wilderness’, and clung to the Sunday which has no higher authority than the decrees of the papacy. During this time even most of the Waldenses also dropped the Sabbath, so as to be in harmony with the Reformation.
By doing this, they gave Rome the opening she needed to re-gather her forces, and after the Council of Trent, the Jesuits went all over the world, enforcing the dictates of the papacy as of higher authority than the Bible.
Along with the rejection of the Bible Sabbath, the ferocity of this Jesuit militia of Rome, may have been one of the reasons the Protestant churches dug in and stayed on their old creeds, instead of progressing to clearer truth. Soon they were just as much following tradition as had the papacy before them.
“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.” Revelation 3:3, 4
Jesus is here telling them to remember how the reformers first started getting the wonderful light of the Gospel; it was through searching the Word of God for themselves, and obeying what they found there. Those who did this, were blessed, and remained spiritually alive. They were the ‘worthy’ ones.
There were many missionaries that gave all they had, including their lives, to carry Bible light into the dark countries of the earth. There were later reformers, who brought clearer Bible truth to the Protestant churches. But sadly, they were mostly persecuted by the state churches, just as Rome had persecuted the earlier reformers.
“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.” Revelation 3:5, 6
Jesus says that there were a few faithful ones among them, and if they were over-comers, they would remain in His Book of Life. He warned the others that if they did not ‘watch’, He would come as a thief and they would not know it. This is exactly what happened when the ‘Great Advent Awakening’ began to take place in the 1830s. Most of the popular churches rejected it. Their candlestick was removed and given to a small, humble group that chose to study and follow the Word of God, instead of the popular way.
There are many still today, who think they are alive and just fine spiritually, but they are really dead to Jesus and His claims on their lives.
6: PHILADELPHIA 1830-1850 AD
“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.” Revelation 3:7-9
Philadelphia means ‘Brotherly Love’ and this is one of the ‘churches’ that Jesus has nothing bad to say about. This is another place where we see that Heaven does not look at things the way we do. No history book made by man would have declared that the Advent Movement and the Millerites of the 1830s-1844 were the ‘True Church’ for that time; but this is exactly what we find in this message.
Here again we see false Christians, ‘that say they are Jews and are not’. These were the ones in the popular churches who rejected the message from heaven about the end of the great prophecy of the 2300 days in 1844.
In the Sardis church Jesus warned that most of the church was dead, or ready to die spiritually. Now most of the church fell, and become the ‘synagogue of Satan’. As they rejected the message of Jesus’ soon coming, they showed they did not truly love Jesus, and Satan came in with his ways and they welcomed him.
The true believers went through hard times, as they were scorned and cast out of their churches, and even sometimes their families, for believing in Jesus’ soon coming. But Jesus says, don’t worry, I have given you an open door and nobody can shut it. This was the door to the Most Holy place in the heavenly sanctuary. The great Day of Atonement had begun in heaven, but most of the so-called ‘Christian’ world couldn’t have cared less.
The Advent believers were terribly disappointed when Jesus did not come to earth on Oct. 22, 1844, but they were thrilled later to learn about the door opened in heaven, and how they could, by faith, see Jesus as He did the work of deciding who’s names would be left in the Book of Life and go to heaven with Him when He returns. Soon the people who are alive on earth will be judged; this will happen as they decide whether they will obey God’s Word and the commandments, or follow what men tell them to do, and disobey God.
“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.” Revelation 3:10, 11
Notice here Jesus talks about His soon coming, He is encouraging the little group who clung to the Bible truth they had learned, and knew it showed His coming was near. They patiently kept studying after the ‘Great Disappointment’ when they thought Jesus was going to come to earth on October 22, 1844 and He didn’t. Because of their patience and faith in His word, soon further study and the guidance of the Holy Spirit brought them to the truth about the ‘Cleansing of the Sanctuary’ and the final work for man being done by Jesus in Heaven.
“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.” Revelation 3:12, 13
7: LAODICEA 1852 – END
“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; 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.” Revelation 3:14, 15
There are two churches that Jesus said nothing bad about, but here is the saddest church of all, for Jesus has nothing good to say about them. This is our time, starting approximately 1852, and it is important that we understand this message. Laodicea means ‘Judged’ for we live in the time when the Investigative Judgment is taking place in heaven to see who will go home with Jesus and who will not.
This church is so offensive, that Jesus says He is going to spit them out, because they are disgusting to Him. Spitting them out of His mouth, means He will not plead for them when their names come up in the Judgment. Without Jesus to plead on their behalf, they are lost, with no hope to ever see heaven.
At the very time in history when they should be eagerly seeking God, and preparing for Jesus’ soon coming, they are worldly and indifferent. They just don’t care; and that is the greatest possible insult to God that man can make.
“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: 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.” Revelation 3:17, 18
The sad thing about these people is that they think they are perfect, when they are not right at all. What can we do about this? We must believe what Jesus tells us, that we are a mess; we are poor, blind, miserable and naked people. That’s as bad as it could possibly be.
Jesus tells us what we need to buy of Him. The Gold is Jesus’ Faith and Love. The White Raiment is the Righteousness of Jesus. The eyesalve is having the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us, so we know right from wrong, so we can see clearly what is really going on. It also refers to the extra guidance that Jesus has given His last day people in understanding the prophecies. We need this ‘eyesalve’ to be able to correctly ‘see’ the truths hidden in the scriptures. To ‘apply it’ we need to carefully study the inspired Word of God praying for the Holy Spirit to teach us personally.
So how do we ‘buy’ these things anyway? How do we pay for them? Salvation is a free gift; but it costs us everything we have and are. We can only ‘buy’ these things by a complete surrender of our lives and hearts to Jesus.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19
Sweetly, Jesus seeks to encourage us by saying He is rebuking us because He loves us. We must repent and be sorry for our sins and pray, asking Jesus for ‘white raiment’ of His perfect character; the ‘Gold’ that represents the Faith and Love of Jesus. Applying the ‘eyesalve’ for our spiritual eyes, means we need to have the Holy Spirit teach us and guide us as we diligently study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings for ourselves. Then, in the enabling power of Jesus, we will obey what we find there.
Jesus has told us that if we ask the Father, in the name of Jesus for the Holy Spirit, we will receive Him. John 14:26 “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Jesus is outside the hearts of the people in this ‘church’. He warns them He may have to reject them, but He is trying so very hard to get individuals to open up their hearts and let Him in, so He can re-create and save them.
“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.” Revelation 3:20
There is something important to notice here. Jesus is talking to individuals. All the man-made churches of this day have rejected Jesus as leader; and now Jesus is saying ‘any man’, anyone at all, who wants His company, He will come in and live with that person. What a wonderful thought! You can enjoy living with Jesus yourself, today, if you will just ‘open the door’ into your heart. It is a wonderful experience.
The people of this church will end up in two groups; by far the larger group will keep thinking they are just fine and nothing is wrong with them or their churches. They like to be called Christians, but love the ways of the world more than the things of Jesus. In their churches they have gotten used to taking the word of the minister, ahead of the Word of God. In the final test, they will obey men’s rules and be lost. We don’t want to be lost and think we are just fine. We need Jesus in our hearts.
“The heavenly Teacher inquired: “What stronger delusion can beguile the mind than the pretense that you are building on the right foundation and that God accepts your works, when in reality you are working out many things according to worldly policy and are sinning against Jehovah? Oh, it is a great deception, a fascinating delusion, that takes possession of minds when men who have once known the truth, mistake the form of godliness for the spirit and power thereof; when they suppose that they are rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing, while in reality they are in need of everything.” 8 Testimonies 249.
The other group will believe Jesus’ words; they will repent and ask Jesus to come in and take charge of their lives. They will ask Him for the White Raiment, the Gold tried in the fire and the Heavenly Eyesalve. They will apply the Eyesalve through careful personal study of the Bible and ‘Spirit of Prophecy’ writings. They will invite Jesus to come in and live with them. Jesus and the Holy Spirit will work in them and with them, and they will be made ready to meet Jesus. They will follow and love the Truth of God’s Holy Word and they will refuse to follow the laws of man that would force them to disobey God and break His Sabbath day. In the final test, they will stand steadfast in the power of Jesus.
“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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:21, 22
Some people are teaching that we can’t overcome sin, even in the power of Jesus; but here we see that only those who overcome, be the cost what it may, will sit down with Jesus in His kingdom. Jesus never asks us to do what cannot be done.