The time of the Reformers, AD 1517–1798
They became stagnant.
Sardis was a city located about thirty-five miles southeast of Thyatira. It was known for its rich soils, which made it one of the richest kingdoms of the world.
The city itself was located on a high plateau, rising about 1,500 feet above the plain. The plateau was part of Mount Tomolus, whose height was 6,700 feet. The natural defenses of these towering cliffs made the city seem impregnable. The city was accessible only by a narrow passage which was easily defensible. But if the guards are sleeping, then an enemy could make its way to the city and besiege it. This is what happened in 549 BC. Cyrus captured the city because the guards failed to watch.
Hence, Jesus warns the Sardis church to be watchful, and “if therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
In the end, this once magnificent and wealthy city was destroyed because of her overconfidence.
Therefore, Sardis represents the period of the reformers. The light of truth discovered by the reformers made them spiritually rich. But if they did not maintain that rich spiritual state, they could be overcome by failing to be watchful unto prayer.
The reformers themselves were vibrant, alive, and students of God’s Word. Thousands remained true to the word of truth. But future generations did not. They instead rested upon the reputation of their founders. Jesus said, “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” You think that you are alive because you are a member of a Protestant church, but you are dead spiritually.
“And unto the angel of the church of 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.”
Description of Jesus
Jesus is described as He that “hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” Jesus “hath the seven Spirits of God,” or the Holy Spirit, in that He has sent forth the Holy Spirit into the world.
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” John 15:26, 27
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” John 16:7
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13, 14
It would be one of the most identifiable attributes of Christ’s divinity, that the Holy Spirit was His to send forth into all the world.
We know that the seven stars represent the seven angels of the seven churches. Revelation 1:20. This would represent Christ’s control over all the faithful ministers in the church, and His ability to keep them.
“thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead”
The claim of the Sardis church was that they were alive spiritually. They were Lutherans, Methodists, Reform churches, Anglicans, and many other names. By belonging to one of these Protestant churches, they believed they were alive spiritually.
“and art dead”
They were spiritually dead. Even though, there were some who were spiritually alive, many had merely the profession of religion, but were not truly converted. These stagnant church members needed the “seven Spirits” or the Holy Spirit to bring them back to life.
They will receive the Holy Spirit in proportion to how much they feel their need for Christ. They will also receive the Spirit proportional to their desire and faith exercised to share Jesus with others.
“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”
In verse one, Jesus began by saying “I know thy works.” Jesus knows us all perfectly. He knows our spiritual condition. He knows what we need. And He knows how to lead us in our spiritual growth.
The question is, “Are we listening to the Spirit, or are we falling asleep?”
Unfortunately, many Christians in Sardis did not know their real needs. You might say, they fell asleep spiritually. But Jesus said, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”
Be wakeful; be attentive and earnest about your Christian walk. Do not simply assume you are spiritual. Have a daily plan to walk in the Spirit.
“Strengthen the things which remain”
Whatever you have that is true, strengthen it. You have to begin somewhere, so begin where there is some life. Do you like to study? Do you often pray? Do you like to witness? Have a beginning, and then add to your faith every day.
“That are ready to die”
We have this dwarf lemon tree in our home. At first, it seemed very vibrant. It readily produced fruit. But then, it seemed to be dying. We knew that we needed to do something, or else, it would completely die.
When you see a fire begin to go out, you immediately do something to keep it going. Otherwise the fire will go out. When you see yourself slipping spiritually, do not give up, but chose to go in the right direction.
“I have not found thy works perfect before God”
Your works are not complete. You have more ground to cover. You cannot earn salvation, but you must continue to grow in grace. There is more light coming, so hold on to what you have.
“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.”
“Remember therefore how thou hast received”
This sounds as if we are speaking about a unique period of time, when the believers heard the truth. This is the time of the reformers, and it was very much a unique time. For so many centuries the church in the wilderness move forward, but under the iron rule of the Church of Rome.
But with the Reformers, there were places where some of the kings, queens, and princes accepted the doctrines of the reformers. The works of Luther and other reformers swept through Europe like wild fire.
What a contrast of the teachings of the Reformers and the dead traditions of Rome. “Remember” with what earnestness you receive the truth, and the zeal you put forth to share it. Do not allow that to die.
Hold fast the truth
Hold fast that first love for Jesus.
Repent for any ground you have lost. Repent of any errors you have received by departing from the truth.
“If therefore thou shalt not watch”
This statement makes it evident that a person can fall from grace. You may fall away by being inattentive or indifferent. Therefore, be watchful.
“I will come on thee as a thief”
In a sudden unexpected manner, our probation could close. By much carelessness, we could drift so far away that we may never choose to come back.
“And ye shall not know what hour I will come upon thee”
God is gracious and longsuffering. When we do not see an immediate consequence to our sins, we can despise the mercy of God, and continue to sin. The sinner continues to walk in his evil way, refusing to heed the warning, and then suddenly comes a judgment.
“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Proverb 29:1
3:4 The Faithful
“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.”
“Thou hast a few names in Sardis”
Not all of the Sardis Christians were sleeping spiritually.
A few persons, a remnant, have remained faithful.
“Which have not defiled their garment”
They have not defiled themselves. Satan cannot force us to sin. Our greatest enemy is from within, namely, our fallen natures that are inclined to sin. Therefore, we need that new nature in Christ Jesus.
“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” Jude 22-25
In these passages, we find fellow Christians who not only care that they garments are not spotted, but they care about the garments of fellow believers. They do not hate those who sin, but they hate what sin does to others—it defiles their garments or characters. The garment spoken of here, chiton, is the inner garment closest to the skin. It would be the layer which would contaminate the skin.
These passages also make it clear that God is able to present us blameless and uncontaminated. It takes cooperation with divine agencies to remain undefiled by the world. It also takes a watchful eye. You must be aware of your surroundings. What kind of things draw you closer to Christ? And what sort of things lead you away from Christ? Jesus says, “Be watchful!”
“And they shall walk with Me in white”
If a person, through the grace of God, has kept his garment uncontaminated from the world, then they shall appear in white garments in heaven.
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” Revelation 7:9
“And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8
“for they are worthy”
They have a character that has been fitted for heaven. They have not earned salvation, but they are spiritually ready to live in the sight of God and holy angels.
“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 overcometh…shall be clothed in white raiment”
Those who overcome sin by the power of God, will be wearing white raiment. White is the color for purity. If we live a pure life here, we will live in the Earth made new.
“I will not blot out his name from the book of life”
Either our sins are blotted out, or our names are blotted out in the final account. See Revelation 13:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19
Remember, it does not matter what name you make for yourself in this fallen world, but whether your name is written in the book of life.
“but I will confess his name”
I will acknowledge him as one of My faithful followers. Jesus made it evident that a Christian who keeps on sleeping spiritually will have his name erased from the book of life. Here again, Jesus is speaking about a judgment that pertains to believers. This day of judgment did not begin in the Thyatira or Sardis time periods, but it was coming soon.
In vision, Daniel was shown the judgment and wrote, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, . . . the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Daniel 7:9, 10.
So far, we have reason to believe that Nicolaitan and Balaamite Christians will have their names blotted out of the book of life. Those who tolerate Jezebel will also be lost, as well as Christians who refuse to wake up to their spiritual needs. The subject of the judgment is of a most serious nature. Are you ready?
What can we do to help stagnant Christians shine brighter?
We can speak to them about the work of the Holy Spirit, who alone can regenerate a stagnant life.
We should teach them that the empowerment of the Holy Spirit is based upon two things.
First, we will receive the Holy Spirit based upon our daily need of Christ. In other words, when you wake up in the morning, do you make the firm decision to be like Jesus? Do you express your need and desire for Him? If we have no desire or need for Jesus, then why be empowered by the Holy Spirit? The power of the Holy Spirit is for those who choose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Second, we will be empowered by the Holy Spirit when we freely give to others what we have freely received. In other words, am I willing to be used in God’s service today? If you are planning to hide your light under a bushel, why be empowered by the Holy Spirit? But if you choose to be used in God’s service, then you will receive a fresh supply of the Holy Spirit for that day.
We can also make stagnant Christians aware of the judgment. In preparation for the judgment, we need to make sure that we are right with God and our fellow man. In addition, we should make sure that we are earnest seekers for truth. Most people will be lost because they didn’t take the time to discover what is truth.
The church of the open door, AD 1798–1844
Zealous and spiritual.
Philadelphia was located about 28 miles southeast of Sardis. In relation to the time of John and the early church, Philadelphia would be considered a fairly new city, having been founded in 189 BC by Attalus Philadelphia.
The city had a number of names. It was known as Decapolis, because it was one of the ten cities of the plain. It was called “Little Athens” because of its magnificent buildings. In like manner, the church of Philadelphia has the promise of a new name.
The strategic location of Philadelphia made it the gateway to the eastern highlands. It sat at the pass through the mountains between the Hermus and Meander valleys. In like manner, the church of Philadelphia had an open door before it.
Of the seven cities, Philadelphia experienced many earthquakes. They were ever on the alert or expectancy of another quake. In like manner, the church of Philadelphia lived in a time of the expectancy of the return of Christ.
The promise to the church of Philadelphia is, if they remain faithful, they shall dwell in a city where there are no earthquakes, or death, or danger.
In the list of the seven churches, Smyrna the persecuted church and Philadelphia the church of the open door are the only churches that received no rebukes. This is an encouragement for us to remain faithful in every trial, and to walk through every door that leads us closer to Christ.
In the list of seven, Thyatira, the church of Jezebel, the Church of Rome, and Philadelphia, the church of the Advent believers, are the only two cities remaining today. Of the two, Philadelphia has been the better city to withstand the test of time. Therefore, Jesus refers to them as pillars in the temple of God. In the end, people will be choosing between joining the Church of Rome and the Advent Church.
Following the stagnation of the Reformed churches. God caused a great revival within Protestantism. There was the First Great Awakening in America in the 1730s and 1740s, which challenged the formalism of the day. This was to be followed by the Second Great Awakening which began around 1790, and added larger number particularly to the Baptist and Methodist churches, and an increase in missionary zeal. The great Bible societies, the British Bible Society and the American Bible Societies were established at this time. It was indeed a time of brotherly love and zeal. You might say that the Reformation was re-ignited.
This was the time when the Protestant world beheld the fulfillment of the 1260 year prophecy, predicting the deadly wound of the Papacy. There was an excitement concerning Bible prophecy. And hence, the Second Great Awakening would culminate into the Great Advent Movement, when men and women would discover the 2300 day prophecy found in Daniel 8:14.
It was a prophesy that pointed to the year of 1844. The 2300 days representing 2300 years, beginning with the decree rebuild and to restore Jerusalem in 457 BC, would end in 1844. The great event anticipated by this prophecy was the soon return of Christ.
Signs of His return had already been felt. In 1755, the world experienced the great Lisbon earthquake that was prophesied in Revelation 6:12. On May 19, 1780, the sun was supernaturally dark as sackcloth in fulfillment of the prophesy of the same verse. Then would come the shower of falling meteors on the night of November 13, 1833. Thousands and millions witnessed these great events and the message of Christ’s soon return was herald far and wide.
But was Christ returning to planet Earth at the end of the 2300 years ending in 1844? No. Jesus would be escorted by a cloud of angels to His Father in the Most Holy Place. Daniel 7:9, 10, 13
Description of Jesus
Jesus is described as 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.”
The 2300 year prophecy pointed to an open door, the door into the Most Holy Place. No man could keep Jesus from entering the Most Holy Place, but we all have the glorious opportunity to follow Him into the Most Holy Place by faith.
Jesus holds the keys.
He is in charge. No man shutteth and no man openeth. Only He who is holy and He who is true, can openeth and shutteth.
Jesus can open the door of the tomb (Rev 1:18)
Jesus can open the door to the Most Holy Place (Rev 4:1; 11:18, 19)
Today, there are doors of opportunity to witness (2 Cor 2:12; Acts 14:27; Colossians 4:4)
The city of Philadelphia had the open door through the mountain passes to reach the great cities of the plains. The Philadelphian period had an open door to missions. The Philadelphian church had the open door to follow Jesus into the Most Holy Place.
We can also see an open door that allows us to escape from danger. There is safety from the synagogue of Satan when we pass through the open door. But the open door is not so much running away from something as running to something. It has more to do with what we are “for” than what we are “against.”
Because someone is against certain errors in the church, does not prove that they have embraced the truth.
In this last phase of Christ’s work in the Most Holy Place, there is the work of judgment. Therefore, in preparing people for the second coming of Christ, we are to prepare people to stand in the judgment.
Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:24. Why? Because the day will soon come when the door shall be closed. Probationary time is over.
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11
The name “Philadelphia” is often translated as “brotherly love,” but it can also be interpreted as “faithful remnant.” The church of Philadelphia, the Advent believers, were the faithful remnant of the Protestant Reformation.
Thoughts on the Open Door
“’The keys of the kingdom of heaven’ are the words of Christ. All the words of Holy Scripture are His, and are here included. These words have the power to open and to shut heaven. They declare the conditions upon which men are received or rejected. Thus the work of those who preach God’s word is a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. Theirs is a mission weighted with eternal results.” Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pages 413, 414
“The true Witness has given us the assurance that He has set before us an open door, which no man can shut. Those who are seeking to be faithful to God may be denied many of the privileges of the world; their way may be hedged up and their work hindered by the enemies of truth; but there is no power that can close the door of communication between God and their souls. The Christian himself may close this door by indulgence in sin, or by rejection of heaven’s light. He may turn away his ears from hearing the message of truth, and in this way sever the connection between God and his soul. . . . Neither man nor Satan can close the door which Christ has opened for us.” Review and Herald, March 26, 1889
“Then I was shown that the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ relating to the shut door could not be separated, and that the time for the commandments of God to shine out with all their importance, and for God's people to be tried on the Sabbath truth, was when the door was opened in the most holy place in the heavenly sanctuary, where the ark is, in which are contained the ten commandments. This door was not opened until the mediation of Jesus was finished in the holy place of the sanctuary in 1844. Then Jesus rose up and shut the door of the holy place, and opened the door into the most holy, and passed within the second veil, where He now stands by the ark, and where the faith of Israel now reaches.
“I saw that Jesus had shut the door of the holy place, and no man can open it; and that He had opened the door into the most holy, and no man can shut it (Rev. 3:7,8); [See page 86. See also appendix.] and that since Jesus has opened the door into the most holy place, which contains the ark, the commandments have been shining out to God's people, and they are being tested on the Sabbath question.
“I saw that the present test on the Sabbath could not come until the mediation of Jesus in the holy place was finished and He had passed within the second veil; therefore Christians who fell asleep before the door was opened into the most holy, when the midnight cry was finished, at the seventh month, 1844, and who had not kept the true Sabbath, now rest in hope; for they had not the light and the test on the Sabbath which we now have since that door was opened. I saw that Satan was tempting some of God's people on this point. Because so many good Christians have fallen asleep in the triumphs of faith and have not kept the true Sabbath, they were doubting about its being a test for us now.
“The enemies of the present truth have been trying to open the door of the holy place, that Jesus has shut, and to close the door of the most holy place, which He opened in 1844, where the ark is, containing the two tables of stone on which are written the ten commandments by the finger of Jehovah.” Ellen G. White, Early Writings, pages 42, 43
The “little strength” of Philadelphia certainly surpassed the stagnation and sleepiness of Sardis. Yet this mention of a “little strength” implies the promise of greater strength. That greater strength would come to those who would by faith follow Jesus into the Most Holy Place in the heavenly Sanctuary.
“Little” could be in reference to the smallness of their numbers in comparison to the vast multitudes of the world, especially after the disappointment, when there were only about fifty left.
When you realize that you have “little strength,” you are more likely to depend upon God. This is what gave them strength. They depended upon God and His Word.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Matthew 5:3
In the city of Sardis, none thought they could be overcome. The Sardis church was overconfident in themselves. They had a name, but were spiritual dead. The strength of Philadelphia was their sense of dependency upon God.
“Of all the great religious movements since the days of the apostles, none have been more free from human imperfections and the wiles of Satan than was that of the autumn of 1844. Even now, after the lapse of many years, all who shared in that movement and who have stood firm upon the platform of truth, still felt the holy influence of that blessed work, and bear witness that it was of God.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 401
“thou has kept My word”
Even after the disappointment, these consecrated Advent believers maintained their faith in God.
“True, there had been a failure as to the expected event, but even this could not shake their faith in the word of God.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 406
“In the fear of God they had studied the Scriptures to learn the truth, and had earnestly sought for purity of heart and life. These had a personal experience, a faith in God and in His word, which could not be overthrown by disappointment and delay.” Ibid., 394
“and hast not denied My name”
There was ridicule facing the Advent believers, but they did not deny that Jesus was with them.
“He who would confess Christ must have Christ abiding in him. He cannot communicate that which he has not received. The disciples might speak fluently on doctrines, they might repeat the words of Christ Himself; but unless they possessed Christlike meekness and love, they were not confessing Him. A spirit contrary to the spirit of Christ would deny Him, whatever the profession. Men may deny Christ by evilspeaking, by foolish talking, by words that are untruthful or unkind. They may deny Him by shunning life's burdens, by the pursuit of sinful pleasure. They may deny Him by conforming to the world, by uncourteous behavior, by the love of their own opinions, by justifying self, by cherishing doubt, borrowing trouble, and dwelling in darkness. In all these ways they declare that Christ is not in them. And ‘whosoever shall deny Me before men,’ He says, ‘him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.’” Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 357
“the synagogue of Satan”
Those who teach error, especially the falsehood that we cannot keep God’s law, are of the synagogue of Satan.
“To substitute external forms of religion for holiness of heart and life is still as pleasing to the unrenewed nature as it was in the days of these Jewish teachers. Today, as then, there are false spiritual guides, to whose doctrines many listen eagerly. It is Satan's studied effort to divert minds from the hope of salvation through faith in Christ and obedience to the law of God. In every age the archenemy adapts his temptations to the prejudices or inclinations of those whom he is seeking to deceive. In apostolic times he led the Jews to exalt the ceremonial law and reject Christ; at the present time he induces many professing Christians, under pretense of honoring Christ, to cast contempt on the moral law and to teach that its precepts may be transgressed with impunity. It is the duty of every servant of God to withstand firmly and decidedly these perverters of the faith and by the word of truth fearlessly to expose their errors.” Ellen G. White, Acts of the Apostle, page 387
“As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position, and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbath-keepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 608
“worship at thy feet”
The time will come, when those who make up the synagogue of Satan will acknowledge that God’s persecuted people had the truth and that God was with them.
“You think, that those who worship before the saint's feet, (Revelation 3:9), will at last be saved. Here I must differ with you; for God shew me that this class were professed Adventists, who had fallen away, and ‘crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.’ And in the ‘hour of temptation,’ which is yet to come, to show out every one's true character, they will know that they are forever lost; and overwhelmed with anguish of spirit, they will bow at the saint's feet.” The Word to the Little Flock, page 12
“Ministers and people see that they have not sustained the right relation to God. They see that they have rebelled against the Author of all just and righteous law. The setting aside of the divine precepts gave rise to thousands of springs of evil, discord, hatred, iniquity, until the earth became one vast field of strife, one sink of corruption. This is the view that now appears to those who rejected truth and chose to cherish error. No language can express the longing which the disobedient and disloyal feel for that which they have lost forever—eternal life. Men whom the world has worshiped for their talents and eloquence now see these things in their true light. They realize what they have forfeited by transgression, and they fall at the feet of those whose fidelity they have despised and derided, and confess that God has loved them.
“The people see that they have been deluded. They accuse one another of having led them to destruction; but all unite in heaping their bitterest condemnation upon the ministers. Unfaithful pastors have prophesied smooth things; they have led their hearers to make void the law of God and to persecute those who would keep it holy. Now, in their despair, these teachers confess before the world their work of deception. The multitudes are filled with fury. “We are lost!” they cry, “and you are the cause of our ruin;” and they turn upon the false shepherds. The very ones that once admired them most will pronounce the most dreadful curses upon them. The very hands that once crowned them with laurels will be raised for their destruction. The swords which were to slay God's people are now employed to destroy their enemies. Everywhere there is strife and bloodshed.” Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 655
“Because thou has kept the word of My patience”
As you have kept My Word through previous trials, I will keep you through future trials.
“Those who are earnestly seeking a knowledge of the truth and are striving to purify their souls through obedience, thus doing what they can to prepare for the conflict, will find, in the God of truth, a sure defense. ‘Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee’ (verse 10), is the Saviour's promise. He would sooner send every angel out of heaven to protect His people than leave one soul that trusts in Him to be overcome by Satan.” Ibid., page 560
“I will keep thee from the hour of temptation”
“Though God's people will be surrounded by enemies who are bent upon their destruction, yet the anguish which they suffer is not a dread of persecution for the truth's sake; they fear that every sin has not been repented of, and that through some fault in themselves they will fail to realize the fulfillment of the Saviour's promise: I ‘will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world.’ Revelation 3:10. If they could have the assurance of pardon they would not shrink from torture or death; but should they prove unworthy, and lose their lives because of their own defects of character, then God's holy name would be reproached.” Ibid., page 619
“which shall come upon the world”
“As the crowning act in the great drama of deception, Satan himself will personate Christ. The church has long professed to look to the Saviour's advent as the consummation of her hopes. Now the great deceiver will make it appear that Christ has come. In different parts of the earth, Satan will manifest himself among men as a majestic being of dazzling brightness, resembling the description of the Son of God given by John in the Revelation. Revelation 1:13-15. The glory that surrounds him is unsurpassed by anything that mortal eyes have yet beheld. The shout of triumph rings out upon the air: ‘Christ has come! Christ has come!’ The people prostrate themselves in adoration before him, while he lifts up his hands and pronounces a blessing upon them, as Christ blessed His disciples when He was upon the earth. His voice is soft and subdued, yet full of melody. In gentle, compassionate tones he presents some of the same gracious, heavenly truths which the Saviour uttered; he heals the diseases of the people, and then, in his assumed character of Christ, he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth. This is the strong, almost overmastering delusion.” Ibid., page 624
See Matthew 24:23, 24
“Behold I come quickly”
The Second Coming is the very hallmark of this Advent Movement. If God’s people were prepared to receive the latter rain, Christ would have come before this.
hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”
“But the waymarks which have made us what we are, are to be preserved, and they will be preserved, as God has signified through His Word and the testimony of His Spirit. He calls upon us to hold firmly, with the grip of faith, to the fundamental principles that are based upon unquestionable authority.” Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, volume, page 208
“We must not for a moment think that there is no more light, no more truth, to be given us. We are in danger of becoming careless, by our indifference losing the sanctifying power of truth, and composing ourselves with the thought, ‘I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.’ [Revelation 3:17.] While we must hold fast to the truths which we have already received, we must not look with suspicion upon any new light that God may send.” Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, page 310
“pillar in the temple of My God”
God is chiseling away to prepare us to be pillars in His temple. There are no useless blows, every heavenly effort is perfect in molding our characters.
“In his letter to the Corinthians, he writes, further: “If any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man's work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it.” Some ministers, through their labors, furnish the most precious material, gold, silver, and precious stones, which represent true moral worth in those gained to the cause by them. The false material, gilded to imitate the true,—that is, a carnal mind, and unsanctified character, glossed over with seeming righteousness,—may not be readily detected by mortal eye; but the day of God will test the material.
“The precious stones represent the most perfect Christians, who have been refined and polished by the grace of God, and by affliction which they have endured with much prayer and patience. Their obedience and love resemble those of the great Pattern. Their lives are beautified and ennobled by self-sacrifice. They will endure the test of the burning day, for they are living stones. “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.” Ellen G. White, Life Sketches of Paul, page 155
“and he shall no more go out”
We know that pillars to not walk, so we know that we will not become literal pillars.
This means that our permanent home is the New Earth. Our happiness is secure. There is no more death or pain. We would not want to leave, as Satan left his habitation.
“write upon him the name of My God”
This name shows that we belong to God. As we travel through God’s vast universe, all will recognize that we are part of the redeemed.
“All who enter will have the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and the name of God will be seen in their foreheads. This name is the symbol which the apostles saw in vision, and signifies the yielding of the mind to intelligent and loyal obedience to all of God’s commandments.” Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters, page 370
“and the name of the city of My God”
This indicates that we are residents of the New Jerusalem. We will be recognized as those who live in the city that becomes the capital of the universe.
This city will come down from heaven upon the Earth at the end of the millennium. Revelation 21:1-4
Summary: Jesus and the shut door 3:7, 8
We are introduced to the church of Philadelphia as the church of the open door. Christ presents Himself as “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.”
Jesus has the “key of David” and has full authority to carry the plan of salvation forward. The “key of David” comes from Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Eliakim. Eliakim was appointed to have supervision over the household of David, as signified by the fact that he was to be given the key of the house of David. See lsaiah 22:20–22; 2 Kings 18:18. Christ’s possession of the “key” represents His jurisdiction over the church and all spiritual outcomes. The Papacy doesn’t have the keys; Jesus has the keys. He is the only One qualified to possess the keys.
When you have the keys to the house, you have unlimited access to the house. With those keys, and due to His holiness, He is able to determine who enters in the house and who does not. These points to a judgment.
Christ now opens before the Philadelphians a “door” of unlimited power that surpasses their “little strength.” This open door presents to man unlimited opportunity to live a victorious Christian life. A “door” is often used in the Bible as a symbol of opportunity. See Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3.
The close of the Philadelphian period marks the opening of this door. The truth would be discovered that Jesus is our High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary above, “the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8:2, 6. The “shut door” would be the door to the Holy Place, and the “open door” would refer to the Most Holy Place where Christ would perform His final work in saving man. In other words, the “shut door” indicates the closing of the first phase of Christ’s work as our High Priest, and the “open door” represents the beginning of Christ’s second and final phase.
No man can shut the door to the Most Holy Place in heaven, nor can they open the door Christ shut in the Holy Place. Christ’s work moves forward and no man can hinder Christ’s priestly ministry. The Most Holy Place represents the day of judgment. In the earthly temple, which was but a copy of the one in heaven, the Most Holy Place was entered into on but one day of the year. This was the last day of the religious year, representing the day of judgment for Israel. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place on that solemn day. On this day, the people of Israel needed to make themselves right with God and their fellow man. If they failed, they were cast out of Israel. This solemn day, known as the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, was but a type or shadow of the day of judgment in the heavenly Sanctuary. On this day, the people were judged, and the Sanctuary was cleansed of all the sins that had accumulated there throughout the religious year. Daniel 8:14 provides for us a time prophecy that points to the year when Christ would begin to cleanse the heavenly Sanctuary. The 2300 days represent 2300 years, a day representing a year in Bible prophecy. See Numbers 14:33, 34; Ezekiel 4:5, 6. This time prophecy ended in 1844. Hence, the Philadelphian time takes us from one fulfilled time prophecy ending in 1798, the 1260-year prophecy, to the great 2300-year time prophecy ending in 1844. During this span of nearly 50 years there was a revival of primitive godliness that, sad to say, we have not seen since.
How do you help people who already shine brightly for Jesus? We should continue to focus on the holiness of Christ. It is as we behold Christ, who is altogether lovely, that we continue to be transformed into His image. The Bible says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. The mind of the man is the man. What we think about is what we begin to love and cherish.
We should spend at least a thoughtful hour each day contemplating the life of Christ, especially the closing scenes. As we do, our love for Jesus will grow and we will become more like Him in thoughts and feelings.
The devil will try to get you to behold the world, the faults of others, our own faults, and all our sorrows and perplexities in life. The devil knows that if you dwell upon worldly things that you will become worldly. If you dwell upon the faults of others you will become a faultfinder. If you dwell upon your own faults you will not grow spiritually. Why? Because you cannot rise any higher than your highest thought. This is why our highest thoughts should be of Christ and His perfection. If you dwell upon all your sorrows and perplexities in life, then you will only become depressed and never choose to do great things for God. Therefore, be vigilant, watchful, and prayerful. Choose to dwell upon those things that are lovely, honest, good, and kind.
The judgment-hour church, 1844 to the Second Coming
This church is lukewarm.
“The message to the church of the Laodiceans applies especially to the people of today. It is a message to professing Christians who have become so much like the world that no difference can be seen.” Review and Herald, August 18, 1903
“The Laodicean message applies to all who profess to keep the law of God, and yet are not doers of it. We are not to be selfish in anything. Every phase of the Christian life is to be a representation of the life of Christ. If it is not, we shall hear the terrible words, ‘I know you not.’” Ibid., October 17, 1899
The city of Laodicea was located about 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia. It was founded by Antiochus II between 261 and 246 AD, and was named in honor of his wife, Laodice, who afterward poisoned him.
The city was famed for its wealth. There were rich farmlands and extensive banking. When the city was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60, they city refused any financial help and rebuilt the city themselves. You might say they were self-sufficient.
The city was famous for the manufacturing of black cloth. In fact, most of the citizens wore black garments. It is interesting to note that Jesus advised them to buy of Him “white raiment.”
In Laodicea was located the Temple of Karu, which was renowned for the school of medicine. The Greek god of medicine was known as the Great Physician. In this temple, they made the famous Phrygian eyesalve. It is interesting to note that Jesus, THE Great Physician, advised the Laodiceans to buy of Him spiritual eyesalve.
Also near the city were a number of hot, cold, and lukewarm springs, especially the lukewarm springs. While the mineral baths from the springs aided the body, it was nauseating if a man drank it. Hence, Jesus said that their lukewarm affections to spiritual things, was nauseating.
The city was famous for pleasure seekers with its many resorts for the wealthy. There were many theatres and gymnasiums. It had a large library with many reading rooms. It was a prosperous city. Hence, Laodicea would boast, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.”
At the Council of Laodicea in 364 AD, the Church of Rome officially transferred the Sabbath to Sunday.
Laodicea, the seventh church, is the last church of the Christian era. Laodicea means a people judged.
Laos means people, and dika or dikee means “righteous judgment.”
This period represents the time when the books are opened for judgment and Jesus enters His last phase of ministry prior to His second coming.
This period would begin in 1844, when Jesus would begin the judgment in the heavenly sanctuary. The door to the Most Holy Place had been opened, and it will not close until Jesus has judged the last soul.
This is the time for God’s people to preach the judgment hour message of Revelation 14:6-12.
While the Advent believers were consecrated and dedicated to the cause of God following the Great Disappointment on October 22, 1844, about a decade or so later, the Philadelphian experience gave way to the lukewarmness of Laodicea.
Description of Jesus
To the Laodiceans, which includes our present time, Jesus introduces Himself as the “Amen.” This is the only time the word “Amen” is used as a personal name. There are about 250 names and titles attributed to Christ in the Bible. “Amen” carries the meaning of firmness, solidity, or stability. We generally think of it meaning “So be it.”
In Isaiah, the same Hebrew word is rendered as “truth,” in Isaiah 65:16. It would then mean the True One. To the Philadelphians, Jesus was introduced as Him who is Holy and Him who is true.
“For all the promises of God in Him are yea, and in Him amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
Jesus is the “Amen.” In Him are found the promises of God. He is the Word. He is the Truth. He is the Amen.
Therefore, the message to the Laodiceans is the “Amen,” it is the last message to the churches, meaning there is not an eighth church. At the close of a sermon or prayer, we say “Amen,” indicating the end or the last. The message to the Laodiceans, finishes Christ’s appeal to the churches.
And when this Laodicean period is over, every case will have been decided. It is over. Amen.
“Faithful and True”
All that Jesus has said to the seven churches is faithful and true. It is a true picture of the condition of God’s church throughout the ages. It is fixed and cannot be changed, the Amen.
Now for Jesus to be the faithful witness, He would:
First, be an eyewitness and speak from personal knowledge.
Second, He must be able to discern all that is happening.
Third, He must be willing to tell the truth, where there are no misrepresentations.
“As the Son of God, He gives security to God in our behalf and as the eternal Word, as one equal with the Father, He assures us of the Father’s love to usward who believe His pledged Word. When God would assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, He gives His only begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature as a pledge that God will fulfill His word.” Review and Herald, April 3, 1894
“the beginning of the creation of God”
Others translate this as the origin of God’s creation. However, Christ is the Creator (John 1:1-3, 10, 14; Colossians 1:16, 17; Hebrews 1:1-3)
“In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heaven, and laid the foundations of the earth. It was His hand that hung the worlds in space, and fashioned the flowers of the field.” Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 20
Jesus is the Creator and Amen
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith” Hebrews 12:2
It is interesting that we live in a unique time when men believe in evolution. When did men begin to believe in evolution. It was during the time of the Laodicean church. Darwin published his theory of evolution in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. The message to the Laodiceans and the First Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:7) are a stark rebuke to the theory of evolution.
Tragically, to this last-day church Jesus had no commendation to give, but only a stinging rebuke, saying, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. . . 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.”
Jesus was telling the Laodiceans that they were self-deceived. They were lukewarm. In other words, they were not very bad, yet not very good; not outright hostile to Christ, yet not vitally committed to Him; not absolutely selfish, yet not enthusiastically generous; not opposed to helping others, but not doing all they could do. What made their condition disgusting was the fact that they had more light than other Christians. To these Laodiceans, Christ says, “I will spue thee out of My mouth.” However, He adds, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:19.
“It [cold] represents the life of every soul from whom the power of the grace of God has departed, and who has become cold and Christless.” Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, page 60
“Christ gives man no encouragement to think that He will accept a patch work character, made up mostly of self, with a little of Christ. This is the condition of the Laodicean church. At first there seems to be some of self and some of Christ. But soon it is all of self and none of Christ. The root of selfishness is revealed.” Ellen G. White, Letter 105, 1893
“The church is composed of imperfect, erring men and women, who call for the continual exercise of charity and forbearance. But there has been a long period of general lukewarmness; a worldly spirit coming into the church, has been followed by alienation, fault-finding, malice, strife, and iniquity.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 5, page 104
“spew thee out of My mouth” (Verse 16)
“The figure of spewing out of His mouth means that he cannot offer up your prayers or your expressions of love to God. He cannot endorse your teaching of His Word or your spiritual work in anywise. He cannot present your religious exercises with the request that grace be given you.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 6, page 408
Does this happen immediately? No. If it did, there would be no time to development character.
Verse 17 “I am rich”
“How plainly is pictured the position of those who think they have all the truth, who take pride in their knowledge of the Word of God, while its sanctifying power has not been felt in their lives. The fervor of the love of God is wanting in their hearts, but it is this very fervor of love that makes God’s people the light of the world.” Review and Herald, July 23, 1889
While the text does not tell us whether we are speaking about whether the person thinks he is material rich or spiritual rich, the context suggests that they think that they are more spiritual than they really are.
Of course, the city of Laodicea was material wealthy. Therefore, we do not want to completely dismiss any connection to material wealth in the text. God is not against wealth. He is not against us having a treasure. However, we are to store our treasure in heaven.
When we do have an increase of wealth, it is usually used to raise our standard of living. However, God blesses us that we may raise our standard of giving.
Often people of wealth boast about their wealth and see themselves as better than others. Not all, but many. The danger of material wealth, is that it might cause the Christian to feel self-complacent, self-sufficient, and in need of nothing. They may depend upon their wealth, instead of depending upon God.
“I am enriched”
The phrase “I am enriched,” come from the Greek word peplouteka. When a person is enriched with increased goods, it makes them feel much more self-confident.
“and have need of nothing”
This is another way of saying, “I am rich.” Their physical needs are satisfied. They have enough. There is no real stimulus to need more. So they sit down and are content. But this contentment may also make them indifferent towards the needs of others. In fact, if you would conduct a survey, you would find that many people want to become rich that they might live a life of ease.
“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:18, 19
“And knowest not”
They are unaware of their true condition. They are unaware of the great law of life, which is to receive for the purpose of giving.
Christ says, “I know thee,” but the Laodiceans do not know themselves.
“That thou art wretched”
Their true state is a miserable state, but they do not know it.
In fact, their state is pitiable. It is a state that would solicit pity and compassion.
While they thought they were rich, they were actually poor. They were unable to supply their real needs. They had no real spiritual life. As such, if they should die, they would be lost eternally.
They did not see their true spiritual condition. They did not see themselves correctly. They did not see God correctly. They did not see or understand the plan of salvation correctly.
They thought they had everything—were in need of nothing—and could not see their poverty. Imagine boasting about your spirituality when you had none. That is being blind.
They had no garment. By being naked they had no true religion. They really had nothing spiritually, even though they saw themselves as rich.
But you might say, “They did have material wealth.”
Even so, when they are faced with a terminal disease, what will their material wealth do for them? When a loved one dies, what will their material wealth do for them? When the stand before the Judge of all the earth, what will their material wealth do for them?
In the case of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, Lazarus receives eternal life, and the rich man faces eternal death, and his riches will now do him no good.
God is not against rich people or poor people. He desires all to be saved. What we need is that new birth experience, that we may use the assets God has entrusted us with, whether those assets are material wealth, or a gift of the Spirit, we are to use them for the glory of God and to help our fellowmen.
What makes the Laodiceans so poverty-stricken? While they may have material wealth or correct doctrines—If they do not know God experientially, they truly have nothing.
The man who has much material wealth, but does not know God, does not know Jesus—has no Savior, no hope of heaven or eternal life—is indeed poor. The church member who thinks he has all there is to know, but has no experiential knowledge of Christ, is also poor.
“I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire”
Gold is considered the most precious of metals and is emblematic of faith. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7
“that thou mayest be rich”
If you have the “faith of Jesus” you are truly rich.
“Gold tried in the fire” represents faith and love that purifies the soul. We know that gold represents wealth and riches in this world. What then constitutes spiritual riches? James wrote, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him.” James 2:5.
Our faith in God makes us rich. Yet what is faith in God without love for God? In fact, Paul teaches us that faith works by love. See Galatians 5:6. Our faith is motivated to serve God and our fellow man by the love of Christ for us. In the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, we find that there is faith, hope, and love, yet the greatest of these is love. It is our faith in God’s love for us and our love for God and one another that makes us rich indeed.
“and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed”
The “white garment” is identified in Revelation 19:7, 8 as “the righteousness of the saints.” But where did the saints obtain this righteousness? The Bible says that Christ is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23:6. As Paul wrote:
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20.
Through Christ we become a new creature and a new creation. Through His shed blood, we are justified. Through His applied blood we are sanctified.
“and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve”
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18
The heavenly “eyesalve” is the work of the Holy Spirit to help us see ourselves as we really are. With the Holy Spirit, we will have greater discernment between right and wrong. We will have a keener sense of the times in which we live. We will be better able to see opportunities for ministry. In other words, we will not be as blind as we are right now. We should all hunger and thirst to have better spiritual eyesight.
“The eyesalve is that wisdom and grace which enables us to discern between the evil and the good, and to detect sin under any disguise. God has given His church eyes which He requires them to anoint with wisdom, that they may see clearly; but many would put out the eyes of the church if they could; for they would not have their deeds come to the light, lest they should be reproved. The divine eyesalve will impart clearness to the understanding. Christ is the depository of all graces. He says, ‘Buy of Me.’” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 4, pages 88, 89.
“As we apply the golden eyesalve we shall see the glories beyond. Faith will cut through the heavy shadow of Satan, and we shall see our Advocate offering up the incense of His own merits in our behalf. When we see this as it is, as the Lord desires us to see it, we shall be filled with a sense of the immensity and diversity of the love of God.” Ibid., volume 6, page 368.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten”
His chastening is evidence of His love. Generally, we interpret His rebukes as a God of wrath, but in reality, it is a demonstration of His love. “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” Hebrews 12:6
“God rebukes His people for their sins, that He may humble them, and lead them to seek His face. As they reform, and His love revives in their hearts, His loving answers will come to their requests. He wills strengthen them in reformatory action, lifting up for them a standard against the enemy. His rich blessing will rest upon them, and in bright rays they will reflect the light of heaven.” Review and Herald, Feb 25, 1902
“There will be men and women who despise reproof and whose feelings will ever rise up against it. It is not pleasant to be told of our wrongs. In almost every case where reproof is necessary, there will be some who entirely overlook the fact that the Spirit of the Lord has been grieved and His cause reproached. These will pity those who deserved reproof, because personal feelings have been hurt. All this unsanctified sympathy places the sympathizers where they are sharers in the guilt of the one reproved.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 3, page 359
“God loves His people who keep His commandments, and reproves the, not because they are the worst, but because they are the best people in the world.” Ibid., volume 1, page 568
“Be zealous therefore, and repent”
Lose no time, spare no labor, that you might be right with God and man.
“The people of God must see their wrongs and arouse to zealous repentance and a putting away of those sins which have brought them into such a deplorable condition of poverty, blindness, wretchedness, and fearful deception. I was shown that the pointed testimony must live in the church. This alone will answer to the message to the Laodiceans.” Ibid., volume 3, page 260
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock”
The verb for “knock,” denotes continuous knocking. While Jesus will never force His way to our heart, He will continue knocking at the door of our heart.
This also teaches us that Jesus initiates the relationship. No matter how naked, poor, and wretched we are—He continues knocking. The Bible says:
“God so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son” John 3:16
“Christ came to seek and to save the lost” Luke 19:10
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” Matthew 11:28
“Without the presence of Jesus in the heart, religious service is only dead, cold formalism. The longing desire for communion with God soon ceases when the Spirit of God is grieved from us; but when Christ is in us the hope of glory, we are constantly directed to think and act in reference to the glory of God.” Review and Herald, April 17, 1888
“To the heart that has become purified, all is changed. Transformation of character is the testimony to the world of an indwelling Christ. The Spirit of God produces a new life in the soul, bringing the thoughts and desires into obedience to the will of Christ; and the inward man is renewed in the image of God.” Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, page 233
“If any man hear My voice”
No matter what you have done, no matter how many times you have done it, God will forgive you. This is true for “any man.”
“And open the door”
How hard is it to open a door? It is pretty easy. As the Holy Spirit leads you to the Savior, do not resist, simply open the door to your heart and receive Jesus as your Savior. If Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, is knocking at the door, should we not let Him in? What could be more reasonable?
If we do not let the Creator-Redeemer into our heart, that would seem rather rude. After all, He created the human race, and died for the human race.
How long must He knock before we open the door? Are we more likely to open the literal door to a stranger, than we are to open the door to our heart to our Creator-Redeemer?
“I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”
“When those sins which God hates are subdued, Jesus will come in and sup with you and you with Him. You will then draw divine strength from Jesus, and you will grow up in Him, and be able with holy triumph to say, ‘Blessed be God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’” Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts, volume 2, page 227
Sitting down with Jesus at a meal, eating together, breaking bread together, is a beautiful picture of friendship, where there is no more division. You are reconciled.
“Will I grant to sit with Me in My throne”
Jesus humbling knocks at the door of our heart, and then invites us to sit with Him in His throne. See
“Those who have a seat at the Savior’s side on His throne are only that class who have overcome as He overcame.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to the Church, volume 4, page 38
“The means by which we can overcome the wicked one is that by which Christ overcame,--the power of the Word.” Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, page 258
There are many who pray for the Spirit, but do not study God’s Word. We must be taught of God, through His Word, which is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.
“And am set down with my Father in his throne”
The Father and the Son are in perfect unity. While they are two distinct personalities, they are one in purpose. In his first epistle, John encourages us to have fellowship with one another, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
One of the most amazing facts of the plan of salvation is that God desires to have fellowship with us. Even, more remarkable, is that we are invite to sit with Jesus in His throne. We are not worthy, but we are greatly loved.
How do you help a lukewarm Christian who is a nice person but not a sanctified person? How do you help someone who gives a little, but does not sacrifice all? How do you help someone who likes to hear mission stories but is not actively involved in outreach? How do you help a church organization that is proud of their little progress? How do you help someone that is self-sufficient?
These Laodicean Christians followed the Philadelphian era of the open door. Vast opportunities were before them. New light had come to them. They had found Jesus as the High Priest in the heavenly Sanctuary; they rediscovered the truth about the Sabbath; they made great strides in health reform, educational reform, and dress reform; they gained tremendous insights into Bible prophecy. Simply said, they had it all. What they lacked wasn’t information, but experience.
They became proud of their spiritual knowledge and possessions, but they lacked a true understanding of their own spiritual condition. Therefore, Jesus told them exactly what they needed. First, they are to receive the righteousness of Christ—the white raiment. There is only one place to get righteousness. You cannot get it from yourself, because you have none. While the law defines righteousness, you cannot get righteousness from the law. Righteousness must come from the Lord.
Jesus came to our world to live a righteous life for us. He did that which we were unable to do ourselves. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ lived a perfect and obedient life in our fallen flesh. He conquered sin in our flesh that we might now live godly in Him.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, His perfect life is credited to our account in heaven. His perfect life covers all our sins. But Christ does more than credit to us His righteousness, He imparts His righteousness to us through the work of the Holy Spirit. The impartation of the life of Christ is the impartation of the Spirit. Christ now lives in us. His righteousness becomes ours. We now live His life.
When we receive the eyesalve of the Holy Spirit, we will have greater discernment between truth and error, right and wrong. We will have greater discernment concerning opportunities to minister to the needs of others. And we will have greater discernment concerning the times in which we live.
When we have that faith tried in the fire, we will endure trials as Jesus endured trials. We will do what Jesus did. We will find new ways of reaching perishing souls.
Let us review the seven churches and see what questions we can ask ourselves. Spend time thinking about how we would answer these questions personally.
Do we labor for Jesus?
Do we have Christ’s patience?
Do we hate evil?
Have we tested false teachings and false teachers with God’s Word?
Have we left our first love?
Do we love Jesus as much as we did when we first walked with Him?
Do we endure trials and tribulations patiently?
Are we rich in faith, trusting and loving the Lord?
Do we stand up against apostasy like faithful Antipas?
Do we hold to the doctrine of Balaam?
Are we hurting the spirituality of others by our selfish ambitions?
Are we silent when it comes to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans?
Are we failing to uphold the standard of God’s Ten Commandments? Are we ourselves commandment breakers?
Do we practice charity and service?
Do we have faith and patience?
Are our good deeds growing?
Do we tolerate “that woman Jezebel”?
In other words, do we tolerate the unholy mixture of truth and error in the churches? Do we tolerate pagan beliefs and customs in the church? Will we take a stand for religious liberty and the separation of church and state though her champions are few? Are we willing to unmask the anti-christ power of the Papacy?
Are there things in our life that we are refusing to repent of?
Are we watchful, vigilant, and alert?
Do we strengthen what we already have?
Do we have a false security because we are the member of a certain church?
Have we kept God’s Word?
Have we refused to deny His name?
Are we willing to proclaim His truth in the face of opposition?
Are we willing to walk through the door to the Most Holy Place to receive greater strength and a holier life?
Are we lukewarm? In other words, have we failed to fully consecrate ourselves to God?
Will we choose to be rich by faith and love?
Will we be willing to see our true spiritual condition?
Will we exchange our filthy robes for Christ’s robe of righteousness?
Will we open the door to our heart for Jesus to abide?
Let us also take time to review the promises to the seven churches.
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” (2:7)
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (2:10)
“He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (2:11)
“To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” (2:17)
“And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron.” (2:26, 27)
“And I will give him the morning star.” (2:28)
“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.” (3:5)
“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.” (3:10)
“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.” (3:12)
“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.” (3:20)
“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.” (3:21)
Let us take the time to review the seven descriptions of Jesus through the seven churches.
“These things saith He that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” (2:1)
“These things saith the First and the Last, which was dead, and is alive.” (2:8)
“These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” (2:12)
“These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, His feet are like fine brass.” (2: 18)
“These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” (3: 1)
“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.” (3:7)
“These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” (3:14)