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To the majority of the church at Sardis, He said nothing praiseworthy

Sardis may have been the first church in history to have been filled with what we call “nominal Christians.” Sardis appeared to be alive, but was dead. The Lord is never impressed by the beauty of a well-kept mausoleum, knowing that inside are the bones of a dead man. When John wrote this letter to Sardis, it was a wealthy city, but degenerate. Twice the city had been lost because the leadership and the citizens were to lazy to

defend themselves from their enemies. The attitude of the city was reflected in the demise of its church. Like the city that smugly dwelt upon its past glory, the church at Sardis had won a good reputation at one time and the members thought they had arrived: they were content in the beautiful building the had erected on the corner of Self-satisfaction and Complacency streets.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

"I know your deeds"

Protestant was made the state religion

This religion was freely embraced by millions who did not know what it meant to become new creations of Christ Jesus.

Sardis first died because it relied on its past successes. The body which was once healthy had been neglected. Second, the church died because it allowed sin to creep into the membership.

They had a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Rev. 3:1

V. 1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Sardis began in A.D. 1520, and undoubtedly extends, historically, into the Tribulation. This period of time covers the Reformation (with its dead, lukewarm churches) and is presently part of the Laodicean period as well.

The reason for the deadness is that during the Reformation, entire countries became Protestant without being born again.

Reformation is the religious movement that split the Church into two groups: Catholic and Protestant.

Sardis became the mother of dead orthodoxy.

Each of us is responsible for our own fellowship with God. His judgment will wake us up. Jesus Christ is pictured as the God-man, also “the bright and morning star” (2 Pet. 1:19).


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Jesus knew the works of

these churches

Reformation gives way to human logic

Herodotus, the historian, records that over the course of many years the church in Sardis had acquired a reputation for lax moral standards.

The believers in the last days must know the times in which he lives.

Sardis is not like Thyatira.

In Thyatira the lastworks were greater than the first, but in Sardis their works were decreasing. Jesus said Sardis had a reputation of being alive, but it was actually dead. It became a church in name only, a pretend church, one that was just going through the motions. The church died because it was not sensitive to its own spiritual condition. It was confident that God was there because the building was magnificent and the parishioners were well dressed. They were like the people Paul described in his letter to young Timothy…”having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).

V.2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of God.

Jesus told the church in Sardis to, “Wake up, and stay awake.”

The firstcall toward renewal is the honest awareness that something is wrong. Churches die spiritually because Christians allow doctrinal error to slip into the membership.

Doctrine it a vital part of every church.

One of the areas of truth the Reformation churches failed to proclaim was the return of Christ. Therefore, the Lord said that this event would catch them unaware.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

The letter to Sardis say Wake up

Christ is coming as a thief:

This fact has to do with the relationship of the unbeliever 1 Thess. 5:2, Luke 21:34

The coming at the Rapture is for believers. 1 Thess. 5:3

What should we do

if we are members

of a dead or dying church?

Be submissive to the Holy Spirit, some will be led out, others will remain.

V. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Jesus wanted followers to recall

He wanted them to reflect on what they had received and heard.

They had received forgiveness of their sin, salvation, eternal life, and future rewards in heaven.

Be watchful or alert, He told them, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep. Rom. 13:11

Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die. Recall the former days the early days of their salvation when they were filled with purity and zeal.

Hold fast. Repent—change their minds.

The Bible gives us ample warning. Titus 2:13, 1 John 3:3

Those who live expectantly will receive the crowns. 2 Tim. 4:8

Christians who are asleep at the Rapture, He will come as a thief, totally unprepared. 1 Thess. 5:10, 1 John 2:28

When a church receives a great revelation from God, it needs to put that revelation into practice. Or it will die out. This is where the Sardis church failed.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

There is never a

day so dark that

God does not have

His stars

v.4,5 Yet, you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

In the days before the flood, God had righteous Enoch, and Noah. In the time of universal idolatry, there was Abraham. Even in Sodom there was Lot.

Reformation churches need to turn back to Christ, seeking His will and His Spirit’s teaching rather than man – made ideas about theological truth.

Jesus Promised:

They would walk with Him in white robes.

He would never blot out their names from the Book of Life.

The would acknowledge the names of the saved before God and His angels


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

This white robe is found upon the bride of Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linens, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” Rev. 19:7-8.


In addition those who possess a genuine salvation experience will remain in the book of life eternally.

Christ says, “ I will not blot out his name…before My Father, and before His angels.

After years of sinful human history, God’s dealings with mankind, those who reject God will receive the justice and punishment they truly deserve.

The Bible indicates that the sinners of all ages will finally receive judgment for every deed and word of their lives.

This should make us question our own experience. Is it real?

The destiny of the saints of the Church is to rule with Christ forever. Rev. 22:5

Rev. 20:6 tells us all believers will reign with Christ.

Those are some awesome promises, and I can imagine some of those faithful ones reading that letter eagerly, being sustained during times when it looked the darkest.

v.6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The Bible teaches us we are to live our lives with glorification, justification, and sanctification. We must overcome, hold fast, and live holy lives, set apart for Christ.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

V. 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of Him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.

  • Once again the message is from the Lord Jesus Christ. We are given a new and beautiful 4-fold description of the Lord:
  • He that is holy Heb.7:26
  • He that is true John14:6
  • He that has the key of David Rev. 22:16
  • He that open and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens John 10:9

Like Smyrna, Philadelphia had no word of condemnation

This church had right doctrine and right living going hand in hand. God promised to open doors for this loving church, to give it an opportunity to reach out to a lost world.

v. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Who hold the key of David takes us back to the Old Testament.

There was a priest named Eliakim who held the office of Keyholder in King David’s palace. His office gave him full authority to act on behalf of the king.

The church in Philadelphia was commended because it had little strength. This is contrary to our human thinking, for we think we must be men and women of steel and iron to get God’s work accomplished.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

When a church is truly a church of the open door to leading of His Holy Spirit, then look out world!

V. 9 I make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

There were some who wanted the church to deny Jesus

These citizens of Philadelphia refused to believe in Jesus or the gospel . They worshipped at a synagogue and said they were Jews, but Jesus called

them imposters. He called their place of worship the synagogue of Satan. Jesus assured the Philadelphia church that these pretenders would pay for their misdeeds. “As I live says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue confess to God. Rom 14:11

The church of Philadelphia was more like what the Church should be than any of the other churches. It was an evangelistic, Bible-believing church.

They knew that Jesus is the one who opens the door, and that they needed to depend on Him.

In church history, the period

of great missionary outreach, from 1750 until around 1925, was exemplified by the Church of Philadelphia.

This was the era of Hudson Taylor, John Wesley, George Whitfield, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, and many more.

Wonderful promises are made to this church, promises

that are key to understanding prophecy.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Check out these verses:

V. 10 Since you have kept My command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

1 John 2:18 Children it is the last hour; and just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have arisen; from this we know that it is the last hour.

1 John 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Because of their love for Christ, the Philadelphia-era-believers are promised exemption from the day of the Lord’s wrath, or the Great Tribulation hour: “I will keep you from the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10).

In the Greek, the word from is ek meaning “out of” not “through” (preservation), but “out of” (evacuation)- the Tribulation.

So the church will be gone when the terrible hour of Tribulation judgment comes upon all the world.

Christ promises these faithful brethren that the members of the synagogue of Satan (false professors of religion as described in 2:9) will be forced to bow down and worship the Lord God Almighty, willfully or unwillfully, at a future time (3:9).


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

The church will clearly not go through the Tribulation

All true believers will be Raptured before this event occurs.Take notice that in chapters 1-3 of Revelation the church is mentioned nineteen times. After chapter 4 the Tribulation is described, but the church is not mentioned.

In The Twinkling Of An Eye

Matt. 24:27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Jesus was telling them that when he comes back, it will happen very fast.

Hold on to what you have

Do not abandon your doctrines or deeds, keep believing that Bible, keep evangelizing, and keep sending out missionaries to tell the world about Jesus. So that no one will take your crown—let one one else have your reward. God’s work will be accomplished.

V.12,13 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

V.11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

The Laodicea church, the last period of the Church Age.

The seventh and final letter is to the local church of Laodicea, which covers the years from 1900 to the Tribulation Hour. The message, as in all previous letters, is from the Lord Jesus Christ.

This is the last letter before the Rapture. We are living in the Laodicean church period today.

Jesus is the Amen, the Truth, the one we can trust. There is no greater person to believe in, no greater one to lean on.

The “Amen”, in Hebrew is the word meaning “true.” The complete meaning is “truth in its finality,” which pictures Christ as the final truth.

He is the faithful and true witness. Rev 1:5

The beginning of the creation of God. Since the Lord is the firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15).

Three blessings are mentioned for the faithful

Those who overcome will belong to God. They will be citizens of New Jerusalem and have a special relationship with Jesus.

  • They become pillars in the temple of God.
  • They have the name of God written upon them, so identifying them and allowing them access into the city of God-New Jerusalem.
  • They have the new name written upon them. The name of God allows them to enter the Holy City, but the new name of Christ entitles them to be His servants, where they shall see His face.

The faithful will escape the terrible judgments, but the unfaithful will not unless they repent of their sins and fix their relationship with God.

V.14 To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Laodicean church members, materially rich, but spiritually poor

The Lord had nothing positive to say about this church; in fact, it made Him sick.

Cold: signifies being without spiritual life

Lukewarm: means indifferent or straddling the fence

Hot: expresses passion or zealous

The church in Laodicea had become complacent. Its people were not being persecuted. They were comfortable, prospering, and self-satisfied.

V. 15,16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

There is a door that isthat is open for spiritual recovery. Rev.3:20, Christ will not open it, He will only stand at the door and knock.

The condition of the Laodicean church makes God so violently ill that He wants spue this group out of His mouth.

The Laodicean church had works, but her service is fashion. What a picture of the present age! God alone knows how serious the present situation literally is.

The Church members in Laodicea were neither not nor cold, but lukewarm. Any church or church member can find itself in one of these three states: cold, lukewarm, or hot.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Can all the money in the world save your soul?

Simply put—No!

They are also blind because they can’t see the millions who are dying without the Saviour and going into eternal loss. Because of this fact, they are naked both now and in eternity, for they are not clothed with Christ’s robe of righteousness (Cor.5:21).

Under Roman rule the city of Laodicea know for its wealth

This church of Laodicea, had all the trappings of wealth, but something was missing. Under Roman rule the city had become widely known for its banking, medical school, and textile industry. However, with all of this the church had been lulled to sleep.

The Laodicean era is a highly prosperous one. As a result, her people have erected elaborate church structures worth millions of dollars.

God tells the Laodiceans that they are miserable, poor wretches. This is true because riches usually make one wretched and miserable.

V.17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Christ instructs the Laodiceans

V. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

  • Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich. 1 Pet. 1:7 This refers to the “trial of our faith being more than of gold
  • Buy “white clothes” refers to the “garment of salvation” and the “robe of righteousness. Isa. 61:10
  • “Anoint the eyes with eye salve, so you may see.” This speaks of illumination which only the saved share: “There natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” 1 Cor. 2:14

Placed into God’s furnace

We are put into God’s furnace of testing not to destroy our faith, but to refine it. Trials humble us, our sins are drawn out (through repentance), and the residue is left—an improved Christian.

If we really want to be rich, we must buy from Jesus, with a spiritual currency, a faith that grows strong with every test.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Jesus reminds them

V. 19-22 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcome and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Jesus reminded the blind Laodiceans that they needed more than their precious eye salve to see

eternal Kingdom will be realized on this planet as well as in heaven.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that the meek “shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). These promises will be fulfilled during the Kingdom of God on earth. Daniel was given a tremendous vision of the final victory of the Messiah.

T hey needed the truth of God which only Christ could bring to them. It makes us think of the New Agers whose vision is so sadly blurred, or church goers who “enjoy” the sermon and the music, and leave without any change of heart.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Christ’s

Heb. 12:6 reminds us “For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”

Spiritual spankings are administered in order that we might be zealous and repent, or “change our minds.”

Christ is standing outside the church today knocking, will we hear?


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Jesus Is Knocking

Jesus could have demanded that the church in Laodicea come to his door. He could have required them to knock, beg, cry and plead for salvation.

We are moving toward the last great crisis of history

The condition of the church at the time of Christ’s return is Christless. Notice He says, “If anyone hears my voice… I will come in.

He still knocks at the door of each person’s heart.


According to ancient prophets, we are moving toward the last great crisis. The final goal of history is the establishment of Christ’s kingdom of righteousness and justice on both the earth and in the heavens.

The final promise to the overcomer: Just as Jesus overcame Satan by His life of obedience to God and His ultimate sacrifice on the cross, and just as He sits in an exalted position on His Father’s throne, the overcomer will sit on the throne of Jesus Christ and reign with Him. And for a seventh and last time, all are invited to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to the churches.

But instead, He gave them free will to accept or reject Him. He did not force them to open the door.

The greatest invitation in the Bible is contained in Rev. 3:20.

When Jesus came the first time He was not received by His own people (John1:11).

During His first visit to this planet, Christ predicted that His second coming would also be met with unbelief (Luke 18:8).


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Our Present Age

V.23-29 And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.

Nevertheless, what you have, hold fast until I come.

And He shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

In our present age we may have difficulty seeing ourselves as belonging to any of these churches; however, some of their characteristics are found in each one of us.

The church of Ephesus was once strong, but it had lost its first love for Jesus. The church of Smyrna was a suffering church, enduring hardship for its faith. The church at Pergamum had fallen under the influence of the pagan culture in which it lived. The church at Thyatira had become part of an evil cult. The Sardian church was so cold and dead that only the names in the church directory could have indicated any living members. The church in Philadelphia was a loving

church, the one for which the Lord had no negatives words. Finally, we come to the lukewarm

Laodicean church. Why are there no more letters to other churches?

When Noah started building that weird-looking boat on dry land, his neighbors probably laughed and said, “That guy is really a pessimist”. Jeremiah warned the people of Judah that unless they quit their evil lifestyle the country would fall to Nebuchadnezzar’s army, but Jeremiah was tied in stocks and

thrown into jail, and tossed down a well. Pessimism does not make one popular.

In the time of Israel’s king there was a fellow named Micaiah, who told King Ahab that would be killed in a battle against the Syrians. Micaiah was hated for his gloomy prophecy.


Author: John the Apostle

Date written: About A.D. 95

Study Questions

The last three letters

The last three letters are to Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. Each letter explains further problems for the Church and offers solutions.

Jesus promises to keep the names of overcomers in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and He will acknowledge the believer’s names before God.

  • What false reputation did the church at Sardis have?___________
  • Why was the church at Philadelphia so weak?_____________
  • What was the admonition to the church at Laodicea?______________________
  • Which letter probably applies to today’s church?_____________
  • How does one avoid being lukewarm?_____________________________

Christ holds the keys:

He holds the keys to our lives. What doors He opens for us cannot be shut and those He shuts cannot be opened.

Jesus comes to us and knocks to be let in. Those who let Him in will be allowed to eat (fellowship) with him.