The Church at Sardis, the Protestant Church
Rev 3:1-6 (KJV) 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. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3 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. 4 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. 5 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. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The Church Age of Thyatira does not end with the beginning of the Church Age of Sardis, since Thyatira continues until the Lord returns (vs. 2:35). The word Sardis means "escaping one," "remnant" or those who "come out," so it is an accurate picture of the Protestant churches, which came out of the reformation. The word Protestant means one who protested against the false teachings of the Catholic Church. The Reformation began with Luther in A.D.1517 when he nailed his 95 theses to the Church door in Wittenberg Germany.
The cry of the Reformation was "Sola Fide" (i.e., faith alone), and it is amazing how many evangelists and pastors tack on the work of repentance as a prerequisite for spirit salvation. This is a result of the failure to understand the difference between spiritual rebirth and soul salvation, or the difference between "seeing the kingdom" and "entering the kingdom" (John 3:3,5). The failure to understand the coming kingdom of Jesus Christ and the Judgment Seat of Christ has caused the entire Church to not understand even the basic doctrines of spirit salvation. The works of repentance, baptism and obedience have been set forth as necessary for spiritual rebirth. The gospel of John was written as a testimony so that people would believe and be saved (John 20:31) and the word repent cannot be found in this gospel. Repentance is a condition for entrance into the kingdom, but this is not the same as spiritual rebirth.
The Sardis church was called a "dead church" even though it had a reputation for being alive. This does not mean that they were not truly born again, but that they were barren or unfruitful in their works. Their works were in the power of the flesh and not the power of the spirit.
1. 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 address, sublime characteristic of Christ, statement of omniscience regarding works and the spiritual condition of the church are in this one verse.
The seven spirits of God represent the totality or sevenfold ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Isa 11:2 (KJV) And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
(1) Spirit of the Lord-Member of the Trinity
(2) Spirit of Wisdom-Intelligence or right use of knowledge.
(3) Spirit of Understanding-Insight, perception, able to discern
(4) Spirit of Counsel-Prudence or ability to give good advice
(5) Spirit of Might-Force, power or strength (esp., spiritual warfare)
(6) Spirit of Knowledge-to personally experience or to know God
(7) Spirit of Fear-Reverence, profound awe or respect for God
c. The seven stars are the pastors of the seven churches (1:20).
Jesus knows all about the works of Sardis.
Sardis has a reputation for being alive, but she is spiritually dead. This means she is barren or unfruitful in the works of the spirit. Sardis works in the power of the flesh rather than the power of the spirit. The servant who hid his pound in a napkin or sweat cloth of self-effort is descriptive of the Sardis Christian (Luke 19:20).
2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
The Sardis church is not watchful for the return of the Lord.
The works they are doing need to be improved or made complete before God. The works are lacking.
3. 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.
Christ cautions them on how much they have received (i.e., the inheritance) and heard. "Hold fast" means to guard against losing their inheritance by repenting.
Sardis is warned that if they do not become alert, Jesus will come on them as a thief (i.e., stealer), and they will not be aware (i.e., know) the hour that he comes. This is the same as the "goodman" whose house was broken into just like a thief (Mat. 24:43). He was not alert and he was separated from the servant who was alert. The unfaithful servant was not watchful and the following Scripture describes the separation that he experiences:
Mat 24:50-51 (KJV) The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, (i.e., separate him) and appoint him his portion (i.e., measured amount) with the hypocrites (i.e., those who pretend to be more spiritual than they are): there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
4. 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.
Apparently, there will be some Sardis Christians who will be taken in the Firstfruits Rapture, since their works (i.e., garments) are complete and undefiled. They "are worthy" (i.e., deserving or due reward) even though they are not alert to the return of the Lord.
5. 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.
This has reference to those who were defiled, but they become overcomers during the tribulation period. They will be clothed in the "white raiment" that is a symbol for their good works. The following Scripture describes these Christians:
Rev 6:9-11 (KJV) And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:.. And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The "book of life" has reference to the salvation of the soul and not spiritual rebirth. It would be ludicrous for Jesus to be warning Christians about having their names blotted out of the book of life if it were impossible.
Jesus will confess the names of the overcomers before the Father. The name has reference to the character of an individual. Thus, to confess the name means to acknowledge or approve of the character of the person who was an overcomer. These Christians will not be disapproved or disqualified for their inheritance.
6. Rev 3:6 (KJV) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
This epistle ends as all do with an admonition to the Church to listen and heed the warnings of these letters to the Church.