Sunday at CrossHope Chapel we opened to Revelation 3 and talked about the three churches mentioned in the chapter. Jesus dictated to John letters for these seven churches and in this chapter we have the letters for the last three: Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
The letters have application to each of the local churches of John’s time, an application to the church universal today, and an application as seven consecutive eras of church history from the ascension of Christ to the return of Christ.
Revelation 3:1 — Sardis was a church and an era of church history that was marked by the reformation. Sardis followed the era of apostasy and during these days of church history the reformers sought to call the apostate Catholic church back to the Bible as the source of truth, not tradition or one man’s declaration. This was the era that Martin Luther nailed the 95 thesis to the door of a church as a public statement of defiance against the papacy.
Jesus begins this letter by stating He has “the seven Spirits of God” and that led us to reference Revelation 1:4 were we read about “the seven Spirits which are before his throne” and to review the seven specific functions of the Holy Spirit taught by Jesus in John 14 through John 16.
We talked about the Lord’s concern that they were about to die and we recalled Jesus’ words that we must worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). It is possible to so emphasize the letter of the law that we become lifeless without the spirit of the law. Perhaps the application from Sardis for us is to not neglect the spirit of the Bible (a personal relationship with the Lord) for merely a public commitment to the Bible (legalistic adherence).
Revelation 3:7-8 — Philadelphia was a church and an era of revival. Jesus has no condemnation for the church of Philadelphia and complements them because they have “kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”
In the 1700’s our nation was born and to this day no other country has done more for the advancement of gospel missions across the globe than has America. In the the 1700’s and the 1800’s we saw a great time of revival in society recorded in history as the Great Awakenings. The spirit of revival was a revolution in the hearts of the people of the American Colonies as well as in Great Britain.
Revelation 3:10 — We spent a bit of time discussing tribulation and the promises of Scripture that the coming wrath of God is not for the church, and that we will explore more as we get deeper into Revelation. The church has and will face persecution, but not God’s wrath. Persecution is Satan’s attack against the saints of God but wrath is God’s revenge against the wicked whom Satan uses to persecute God’s saints.
Some of the Bible verses we referenced were 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 that “Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” and 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 that “God hath not appointed us to wrath” and Psalm 91:7-8 that “it shall not come nigh thee” and Revelation 9:4 that it is for “only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads” and Revelation 16:2 that it will fall only “upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.”
Revelation 3:14-15 — Laodicea was a church and an era of complacency. The church was one that we might refer to in our vernacular as “high and mighty” or may say that they think more highly of themselves than they actually should. It was a wealthy city because of resources and the attitude of being self-sufficient is seen in Revelation 3:17 “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.”
Laodicea is the church of our day. We think we are spiritually self-sufficient and have no sense of our need for God’s grace. We have manufactured a relationship with our God into a modern religion that has become complacent and lukewarm. The one deficit the city of Laodicea had was a water problem and their water source was an aqueduct that traveled a great distance above ground in the heat of the sun delivering lukewarm water.
Revelation 3:20 — The good news for us today, despite our lukewarm faith, is that Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks so He may come in and fellowship with us. The symbolism is that the Lord continues to love us and seeks to bring about conviction in men’s hearts. He hasn’t abandoned us but is still seeking a relationship with us.
In this final letter to the seven churches Jesus introduces Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). Reading this ought to encourage us that our Lord has the final word, He is the real witness of our hope, and just as He oversaw the creation of the earth He will over see the end of the age. Nothing happens throughout the remainder of this prophetic book that isn’t under His direction.
There was more that we covered and discussed in chapter 3 but these are just some of the highlights.
Next Sunday, November 28, we will open to chapter 4 of Revelation and look at John’s vision of the throne room in Heaven.