Revelation 3

Revelation 3  •  26 min. read  •  grade level: 6
“AND unto the angel. of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars." (Ver. 1.)
Sardis is said to signify "prince of joy," or "song of joy," or "that which remains." This being so, it is in beautiful keeping with that which took place in the professing church on earth at the period of its history here depicted, to which we will now refer. But first it is to be noticed, that our Lord presents Himself here as having the seven Spirits of God. The presence and action of the Holy Ghost, which is one chief characteristic of Christianity, had been almost wholly ignored through the declension and corruption which had set in. The Lordship of Christ had also been ignored and set aside, and human authority installed in its place.
But now He reminds the church that He still hath the seven Spirits of God-presented in this sevenfold way, in accord with the character of the Revelation.
Christ was about to act in sevenfold power by the Spirit in the recovery of truth and of saints for His own glory. He has also the seven stars, which, as we have seen, set forth the angels of the seven churches.
It is the moment when divine grace and power wrought, and the state of things ensued, which we usually speak of as Protestantism.
“I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." This appears to be the Lord's estimate of the general state comprised under that name. Nominally, there is a further protest against the awful evil of Jezebel, with a profession of life, but the actual state is that of moral death. God's thoughts are not as ours. (Isa. 55:88For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8).) It bears the name of Protestantism among men, and life is professed. But, alas, though, as we shall see, the Lord owns a few, the mass are still in a state of death. This is the judgment of Him who has the seven spirits of God. "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before Gold." In this sphere, the mass, instead of watching, are immersed in the love of pleasure, the pursuit of wealth, and worldly politics. The things which still remained after God had wrought in power at the Reformation, and a measure of light had been given, and truth recovered in the midst of the dense darkness and general superstition, had not been strengthened. There have been occasional revivals, followed by repeated lapses. It is becoming more and more difficult to discern the line of demarcation between Romanism and Protestantism. Ritualism and infidelity have invaded the ranks of the latter far and wide, and "the things which remain" have been grievously weakened. The truly righteous are groaning on all hands at the inroads of evil which increase the state of moral death. The things that remain are indeed ready to die. The works of Protestantism are manifold and approved of many.
The Lord's estimate is a very different one. They may appear perfect before men, but He has not found them perfect before God.
"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." Great things were received and heard at the Reformation, when God raised up His witnesses in different lands. There was a universal stir or movement. Nations broke away and refused "Jezebel's" reign over the kings of the earth. Great light and blessing ensued, with emancipation of the human mind from Satanic thraldom, and liberty of thought in relation to things divine, and the privileges of nations. But how soon men have ceased to remember the gracious intervention of God, and have let go, instead of holding fast, walking in self-will instead of in self-judgment. "If therefore thou shalt not watch." And has not the watch-tower been almost deserted? "I will come on thee as a thief." Mark it well. The Lord here threatens Sardis with a fate similar to that which will overtake the world. (1 Thess. 5:2, 32For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:2‑3); Rev. 3:33Remember 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. (Revelation 3:3).) Having dropped clown to the world's level, Sardis will have part in its judgment. The execution will be sudden, swift, and sure. "Thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." When they shall say, Peace and safety, then shall they be overtaken. The saints know perfectly how it will come. But the mass are in darkness and unbelief. "No man knoweth the day nor the hour." As a thief He will come, unexpectedly, when men are lulled asleep morally by the wicked one. And He is strong who executeth His word.
“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." (Ver. 4.)
How precious to find in the midst of the above state of things a few names which have kept themselves pure! Each name is well-known to the Lord, inscribed upon His heavenly register. "Even in Sardis." It is a significant word. It shows how widespread is the dead condition of things we have been looking at. Yet even in Sardis there were a few. The Lord has His little flock, a sufficient witness for Himself, whether in Thyatira or in Sardis. These have kept their garments clean amid general defilement. And the Lord's eye is on them, His heart with them, and He encourages them with the blessed promise that they shall walk with Him in white. "With me." Everyone who values fellowship with Christ in separation from formal and worldly religion in this day shall enjoy blessed communion with Him in spotless purity in that day. "For they are worthy." How great is the grace of the Lord! How deeply He appreciates in His saints that which answers to Himself Though all is the fruit of His own blessed work in them, yet He ascribes worthiness to them, promising to 'reward them accordingly.
“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." Here the victorious saint receives a threefold promise of encouragement. First, he shall be clothed with white raiment suited to the blessed company of a glorious Christ. Secondly, he is assured that his name is written forever in God's heavenly register of life by the One who will never blot it out. Professors with a name to live may, so to speak, inscribe their names therein, but they will find to their confusion that they, never were inscribed by Him. Not so with the overcomer. Thirdly, the Lord will confess his name before His Father and His Father's angels. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 10:3232Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32).) "Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God." (Luke 12:88Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: (Luke 12:8).) It is a second confirmation of our Lord's double promise when on earth.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
John is commanded to write a sixth time. "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write." Philadelphia signifies "Love of the brethren," a great characteristic of those who profit by, the opened door which none can shut, of which the epistle speaks. "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.”
There can be no doubt but that this phase of the history of the church on earth has now long been entered upon. Some eighty years ago or so, the Lord spoke loudly to His people, as Protestantism pursued its formal and worldly course, and Roman Catholicism its gorgeous ritual and sad corruption. He presented Himself to the hearts and consciences of His people as the Holy One and the True. Holiness and truth had been sadly set aside. But the Lord seeks and expects both in His saints, working in them with power by His Spirit to this end. Without holiness no man shall see Him (Heb. 12:1414Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)); and the truth shall set us free. It is only as individual saints cultivate personal holiness, and as they walk in the truth (of which John, who pillowed his head on his Master's bosom, said he had no greater joy than that his children walked therein), that holiness and truth can characterize the assembly generally, in keeping with the character of the Holy One and the True. Nothing short of this satisfies His blessed heart.
“He that hath the key of David," etc. This is an allusion to Isa. 22:20-2520And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: 21And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. 22And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father's house. 24And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father's house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons. 25In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 22:20‑25). Eliakim appears to be a figure of David, and David points to Christ. The prophet says, "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder. (Ver. 22.) The thought connected with a key is that of opening and shutting a door. So here. The day is at hand when the true David, his Son and his Lord, will open the door of blessing for God's earthly privileged people Israel. Meanwhile, He opens the door for heavenly people. We are privileged to come now beneath His sway, into whose hand the administration of the kingdom is given. He has the key, and commands the door. If He opens none can shut; if He shuts none can open.
“I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no, man can shut it: fox thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." (Ver. 8.)
Again He saith, "I know thy works." Happy indeed for those whose works He can approve in that day I "I have set before thee an open [or opened] door." Many, of His saints have richly proved the truth of this blessed statement. He has opened the door, and He keeps it open, wide open, still. Demons and men have tried hard to close it. But every effort to do so has failed, and will fail. Wonderful are the privileges and liberty that His saints generally, enjoy. Through their weakness and folly the enemy has scored many a success. The wolf has often scattered many of the sheep. But the door is still held wide open by, the Lord's all-powerful hand, and all who seek His glory, walking in holiness and truth, are supported and sustained, the assaults of the enemy being powerless against them. Three things are said of them in His grace, which may, not in themselves be anything to boast about, but they are very, precious to His heart in this day of departure, corruption, and self-will. "For thou hast a little strength [or power], and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." The Lord delights to own all He can. If there is a little power, it is the fruit of His grace. If any, keep His word, it is by the strength and wisdom which He bestows. If any have not denied His name, it is His preserving mercy, where so many have attached to it a thousand and one things which tend to its dishonor. But His eyes are never off those of His people who are characterized by these things, and His heart will ever be with them till the end.
“Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee." (Ver. 9.) At the same time that the Lord raises up a testimony among His saints, where His holy and glorious name is not denied, the enemy raises up those who would counteract it by the boast of traditional religion and ecclesiastical status, with a revival of forms and ritual, more or less borrowed from Judaism. They are not of the synagogue of God but of Satan. They say they are Jews, but "he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." (Rom. 2:28, 2928For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (Romans 2:28‑29).) These characteristics are lacking. It is a mere imitation, Satanic in its origin. The Lord adds solemnly "they do lie." But the tables will soon be turned. Those who seek to answer now to the Holy One and the True may be despised for the moment. But, behold, the Lord will very soon make the formalists to come and do homage before their feet. In that day they shall know that the Lord has loved His own.
“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." (Ver. 10.) The Lord delights, too, to encourage His people. He waits in patience at God's right hand till the hour of His longsuffering and grace shall close. Meanwhile, the word of His patience is entrusted to His saints here below. In grace He recognizes that His word has been kept, and He encourages them with the promise that they shall be kept from (or out of) the hour of temptation (or trial) which shall come upon all the world. This trial extends far wider than the trouble of Jacob. (Jer. 30:77Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (Jeremiah 30:7).) It will be worldwide. Christians, heavenly dwellers (Eph. 2:66And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6); Phil. 3:2020For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: (Philippians 3:20)) will be kept out of it, but they that dwell upon the earth (earth dwellers) will be put to the test. This latter class is referred to several times in the course of the book of the Revelation. They appear to be those who after having professed Christianity, which is heavenly, have renounced it; and setting their mind on earthly things, settled down to dwell upon the earth. They never knew and responded to the call of God, which leads to the maintenance of a stranger and pilgrim character on earth, in view of heavenly glory.
“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." (Ver. II.) The coming of the Lord is an integral part of the precious gospel. The present state of things is fleeting and temporary. The Lord is coming back, and quickly. All will then be changed. It is a blessed promise. Turning elsewhere for detail, we find that two great facts are connected with His return. First He will come for His own, secondly, He will come with them. (1 Thess. 4:15-1815For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:15‑18); Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4).) Here it is evidently that by His coming for them, they will be delivered from (or out of) the universal hour of trial. We shall be translated by divine power to be with Himself on high, before the day of trial and judgment shall ensue. The last act of His grace toward us will be to transfer us to glory. This may happen at any moment. (1 Cor. 15:51, 5251Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51‑52).) In view of His quick return, we are exhorted to hold fast that which we have. We have great privileges. God has revealed much precious truth to His people. But it is very easy to let it go. Both demons and men will rob us of it, if possible, and take our crown. Let us therefore pay earnest heed to our Lord's injunction, "Hold that fast," that both the truth and the crown may indeed be ours.
“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." (Ver. 12.) In looking into this remarkable and blessed fivefold promise to the overcomer in Philadelphia, it is to be specially noticed that all is connected with God Himself, and hence probably that its fulfillment is not limited to the age to come. Commencing with a promise which would appear to point to the kingdom in display, it carries the thoughts on to the age of ages, when God shall make all things new. (Rev. 21:55And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. (Revelation 21:5).) Standing on either side of the entrance to the temple of Solomon, there were two remarkable pillars, which could not fail to strike the attention of anyone who entered. One was called "Jachin," which signifies, "He shall establish," and the other "Boaz," "In him is strength." This is here taken up figuratively. The overcomer, who has a little strength, keeping the Lord's word, and not denying His name, shall have a prominent position in God's temple in the-coming day. Even in Paul's day James, Cephas and John seemed to be pillars morally (Gal. 2:99And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. (Galatians 2:9)), and in the hour of testimony here we are called to forsake all that would naturally entrammel us, whether in the world or in the professing church, and to go forth unto Jesus without the camp, bearing His reproach. But in that day the overcomer shall go in, there to abide with the Lord, and "shall go no more out." Despised now for his Master's sake, and oft treated by those who profess orthodoxy and claim privilege in connection with God's name, as though they were an outside people who had no part nor lot in the matter, in that day the tables will be reversed, and the Lord Himself will write the name of His God upon His saints. They shall be fully, owned of Him. "And the name of the city of my God, which is New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God." It is here that we get a promise extending beyond the coming age. The holy city, "the city of my God," is here styled "new" Jerusalem, an appellation only employed in relation to the age of ages, when He makes all things new. (Rev. 21:22And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2).) During the thousand years of the reign of Christ it is styled the "holy" Jerusalem, but the word "new is not employed. Four things characterize the city, which is a figure of the church; it is the city of God', where He dwells; it is entirely new, created by His-power; its origin is heavenly, and its source is divine. The name of this glorious city shall be inscribed on the overcomer. Lastly, it adds," and my new name." This special favor crowns the promised blessing.
The Lord's new name shall be written upon every saint who gains the victory. Lastly, we would call attention to the repetition in these gracious promises to the word "my." It is repeated five times, and refers to the holy, intimacy which will be the portion of the faithful believer in relation to God in the blessed sphere and circumstances into which he will then be introduced.
“He that hath an ear, let him heat what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God." (Ver. 14.) In this seventh epistle is given to us the last phase of the professing church on earth. The Lord presents Himself in a threefold way. First, as "the Amen." It is the close of that which He has to say to the church in these seven messages, and is irrevocable. All that He saith must surely be fulfilled. Secondly, whatever may be the moral character of the church, He Himself is the faithful and true Witness. This was proved in His sojourn here. He was faithful and true even unto death. He witnessed a good confession and glorified God. He expects to see the reflex of Himself in the church. But, alas, the church has failed, and in the epistle to the angel of the church at Laodicea He can only counsel and rebuke, though still giving time to repent. Thirdly, He is the beginning of the creation of God. This is the position that He occupies according to God in relation to that which He created. And notwithstanding all that has befallen creation through the power of Satan and the will of man, with all the terrible fruits of sin, the Lord presents Himself as the true moral beginning in addressing the angel of the church of the Laodiceans.
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." Again the Lord says "I know thy works." And He depicts what the moral condition of Laodicea is, "Neither cold nor hot." He would rather they should be one or the other. The cold formality of a Sardis state would be better than theirs. He would rather that there should be the heat of Philadelphia. But their condition was lukewarm. When questions of such momentous issue are at stake, lukewarmness is nauseous to the Lord. Indifferent neutrality, after His long patience, is insufferable. "I am about to spew thee out of my mouth.”
“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." (Ver. 17.) What a pitiable state indeed to be in! The church which professes to follow Christ, the poor and needy Man, in the hour of His absence and rejection, boasting in her wealth and self-sufficiency without Him. "Need of nothing"! When such language characterizes the church, its estate must be low indeed. After the recovery of light and truth in such a wondrous way as set forth in Philadelphia, such departure and independence are unutterably sad. A state of moral insensibility to the glory and claims of Christ had come in, so that deceived by Satan and by their own hearts, all sense of their true moral condition was lost. The conscience had become utterly blunted. The self-satisfaction reigning could not hide their wickedness and misery. Their boasted wealth did not deceive the Lord as to their poverty. Professing to see, they had become blind, and without moral sense to discern good and evil. They were naked in the eyes of the Lord.
“I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." (Ver. 18.) Alas, how few lend their ear to this good counsel of the Lord! It is not yet too late to buy true gold. Gold sets forth divine righteousness. Laodicea boasted of its possession. The Lord knows the spiritual poverty that exists. But ere judgment shall overtake the existing evil, He offers "gold," gold that has been under the action of fire, and refined. "Buy of me." It is Christ Himself, the righteousness of God, that Laodicea lacks. Submitting to, and finding their all in Him, and living Christ in practical righteousness, they would be truly rich. No heavy price is needed. All the price is paid. Christ Himself bore the judgment of God; He was tried by fire. It only manifested His infinite perfection. And He, "of God is made unto us... righteousness." (1 Cor. 1:3030But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30).) And he that practiced' righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. (1 John 3:77Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (1 John 3:7).)
“White raiment" too is offered, that their naked state might be covered and that they might be clothed fitly before His eye, and to, walk with Him.
“Buy of me." “And anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see." There was yet time to escape their blind condition. Heavenly eyesalve is at their disposal. If exercised, they would surely see. If they paid heed to His counsel by anointing themselves, light from Him by, the Holy Ghost would fill their souls. Gold to meet their moral poverty, white raiment to cover their nakedness, and eyesalve to remove their blindness, all was there.
Graciously He calls attention to His heavenly and spiritual wares. "I counsel thee to buy of me. Who else indeed can supply them but Christ?
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Ver. 19.) Nothing can weaken or change the Lord's love to as many as are truly. His. The proof of it is that in faithfulness He rebukes and chastens (or disciplines) them. It is thereby that the Lord's people forsake and walk in holiness, without which none shall see Him. (Heb. 12:1414Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14).) He looked for zeal, not lukewarmness and indifference. And repentance, the judgment of self and of careless ways, that there might be a true response to His love.
“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." (Ver. 20.)
The word "behold" in scripture is used to arrest the attention. A word of deep moment follows here. It is different from anything that we have hitherto in the history of the professing church.
The Lord Himself takes an outside place. Such indifference and self-satisfaction reign within that Be cannot lend His blessed presence to Laodicea, in that state. He stands at the door-outside! Solemn thought. But His heart still loves His people. He lingers to the last moment: and He knocks. Is there an ear inside in the midst of all the lukewarmness and self-sufficiency anointed to catch the sound of that knock of love? Is there a heart there to respond? "If any man hear my voice." The voice of the Lord outside. "And open the door." Think of it! a door between the Lord and any of His own where lukewarmness reigns supreme. To open that door there must be both faith and love in exercise. And what is the Lord's blessed promise for anyone who does? "I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." It is threefold. The Lord will come to that one, that he may, realize His blessed presence. And He will sit down, as it were, to feast with him. And such an one shall sit down also to feast with Him. How deeply, precious! What blessed holy intimacy for any soul that in the midst of the nauseous failure of Laodicea wakes up from its lethargy, and responding to his Lord's importunity, hearkens to His voice, and makes way for Him to enter.
“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." (Ver. 21) This last promise to the overcomer is nothing like so rich as that in the Philadelphian epistle. Yet is it a very Precious word of encouragement. At the present moment Christ, refused His throne here, has gone on high, and has taken His rightful seat with His Father in His throne. Ere long He will reappear with power. He will take His own throne and reign supreme in heaven and in earth. In that day He promises that the overcomer shall sit with Him in His throne. He will grant him this great favor, giving him to share with Him in His glorious administration of the kingdom.
“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
This closes the seven epistles. But before leaving this subject, we would call our readers attention to a point of extreme importance to which we have already briefly referred, which, though doubtless familiar to many students of the Revelation, has probably not been apprehended by others. We have sought to show that the decline of the church entrusted to man down here, from the moment when Ephesus leaves her first love, culminates in the state of things portrayed in the fourth epistle to Thyatira, "that woman Jezebel," setting forth Romanism. Then follows Sardis, in which we get Protestantism. Philadelphia with a recovery of truth, and a people to it, the coming day revealing those who have answered to it. Laodicea is a sad lapse from light and truth to lukewarmness and indifference. This being so, it is of the utmost importance to remark that when Protestantism commenced, Romanism did not end, but henceforth they are found concurrently in the world. When the truth was more fully recovered, as set forth in Philadelphia, the response was found in the midst of Protestantism, though a few hearts have also responded from the latter. The sad lapse set forth in Laodicea has come and is on the increase, and the former two still continue, but, thank God, there are many still, and we doubt not will be to the end, who are seeking with exercise to respond to the truth' recovered in Philadelphia. These four elements compose the Christendom of to-day.
Shortly, as we have seen, the Lord will come for all His own, wherever they may be found. The true church having been translated to glory, the false one will in various ways come into the richly deserved judgment of God. At the judgment seat (or bar) of Christ the saints shall be arraigned before Him to render an account. For them, there is no criminal judgment. We shall stand before Him, in His own perfection, but we shall be fully manifested in His holy presence, to be approved and rewarded according to our faithfulness, and to receive according to His promises, if we have overcome in the professing church.
Romanism figured, as we have seen, by Jezebel, is viewed finally as Babylon the great, mother of harlots and abominations of the earth. (Chapter 17) Her solemn judgment is portrayed in chapter 18. The threat against Protestantism in Sardis is similar to the threat against the world, namely, that if repentance and watchfulness still lacked, the Lord would come on her suddenly, as a thief. (Rev. 3:33Remember 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. (Revelation 3:3); 1 Thess. 5:22For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2).) Laodicea is viewed as being spewed out of His mouth. Those who compose the synagogue of Satan in Philadelphia will be compelled to come and do homage before the saints. (Rev. 3:99Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9).)