This church is the one most
condemned. Indeed, the most notable
thing is the lack of praise for anything. (Rev 3:1-6)
The title of Christ is significant
here. It symbolizes (as does the Spirit
in general) the life of the church. A church out of touch with her Lord is a
dead church. Everything about this
letter is a powerful warning.
The interesting thing is that this
church appears to be doing well. The
reputation is that of a church which is
doing great things. But see the
• There is no heresy in this church. Heresy is at least a sign that people are
thinking, that they care about
doctrine. They don’t even have
• There are no attacks on the church from the
outside. If Satan does not bother to
attack, there may be a reason!
• There is no praise. There is nothing -- absolutely nothing --
for this church to smile about.
This church has sunk so far that our
Lord begins his admonition with “Wake UP!”
There is an interesting sequence of
• REMEMBER what you were taught
• OBEY that teaching
Why does repentance come third? As Bonhoeffer put it, everyone knows that
only those who believe, obey. What they don’t know is that only those who
obey, can believe.
Even in this dire circumstance there
are a few old fashioned fossils. Those
who hold to the Lord’s teaching. For these overcomers, he promises two
• They will be robed in white -- the color of
rejoicing, victory and purity. In
chapters 6 and 7 we will see these white
• Their names will be in the book of life,
confessed before the father.
Perhaps a small reward, compared to
other churches. But hear the fate of
Sardis: the town that was the home of Croesus (as in “rich as...”) is now
FUTURIST: In an interesting turn, the futurists
identify this with the Protestand Reformation!
The idea is that this reformation
was in fact nothing but a cover for a dead church. This seems almost impossible to me -- until you look at the sequence. Then it becomes easy to understand.
Recall that one of the great
appealing points of the futurist view is its “exclusiveness.” There is an
air of being the elite that’s in the know.
Obviously, such a doctrinally correct church could not be either in the period of Sardis or of
Laodicea; clearly, all the other ages
are accounted for. Therefore, “our” church must be in the age
described by Philadelphia. The theory
was first propounded in 1830. Therefore, the church before that time --
the church of the Reformation, and the
Roman Catholic church of the counter-Reformation, must be the church at
Sardis. Is it not strange that the reason for a theory’s popularity
has so little to do with its correctness?