1-15-2022 The Sardis/Philadelphia Effect
John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day when he heard a voice which sounded like a trumpet. And the voice said “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia …” (Rev. 1:10-11). John saw one like the Son of man in the midst of seven golden candlesticks. He was dressed down to His feet and wore a golden girdle about His chest. The hairs of his head were like wool and white as snow and His eyes were like the flame of a fire. His feet were like fine brass burned in the furnace and His voice sounded like many waters. He held seven stars in His right hand and a sharp, two-edged sword proceeded out of His mouth and His countenance (appearance) was very bright and shining (like the noonday sun). And He said “Fear not, I am the first and the last. I am He that lives and that was dead. Behold, I am alive forever more, Amen. And I have the keys of hell and death…” (Rev. 1:12-18).
John notes the encouragement given the first four churches (Rev. 2:1-29), but also the shortcomings for each. The seventh church is reprimanded for being lukewarm but is also given a remedy for its condition (Rev. 3:14-18.
Let’s personalize the last two churches, Sardis and Philadelphia.
Apparently Sardis (the 5th church) was starting to falter. They looked like they were alive but inside they were dying (spiritually). They weren’t doing the works they could or should (expressing God’s love) so they needed to be watchful so they didn’t lose what they did have. We need to remember our original commitment to our Lord (our salvation experience) and hold on, tightly, and if we have faltered, don’t lose what we have left. But then, start rebuilding, drawing closer to our Lord. We need to recognize our shortcomings and repent. That is confess, repent and renounce, getting back on the right track and into proper alignment with Father. For we should have made the decision to follow Jesus – again. Then, as I said, continue growing towards Him.
The church may have gotten too comfortable and perhaps neglecting our relationship with the Lord (remember, I’m personalizing this). We need to remember that when Jesus returns for us, He comes as a thief in the night, we don’t know the day nor the hour (1 Thess. 5:2). There are those of us who have not forsaken Jesus so let us continue to walk with Him. Because we have endured the enticements of the world (the enemy) so we shall be clothed in white, which reflects the purity of Jesus (and us), and because we have overcome the world, our names shall remain in the book of life and Jesus will confess us before the angels. (Rev. 3:1-6). Also, because of our perseverance, we shall receive a crown of life (Rev. 2:10) as we reap the benefits of eternal fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen?
To the church of Philadelphia (the 6th church), this is He who is holy, true, who has the keys of David so He can open that which no man can shut or shut that which no man can open. He knows all that we’ve done. He has opened doors before us which no man can shut for we still have ‘some’ strength and are still keeping His Word and have not denied His name. There are those who have seemed to be a part of the ‘church’, but have lied or those who have stood against our Lord, He will humble them before us and they will know that the living God (Creator of all things) has loved us. Why? Because we have kept His Word and endured hardships for His Name’s sake. It is the Lord God who has kept us from the temptation which comes upon the world and which tries the hearts of all men. The Lord bids us to come quickly and tightly hold on to that which He has given us so that no one may take our crown (of glory). Those who overcome the enemy, He will make pillars in the temple of God and we shall no longer leave His presence. He will write His name and the name of His city (which comes down from heaven) upon us and give us a new name (Rev. 3:7-13)
To be like the faithful of Philadelphia should be our goal. That is, to keep God’s law in our heart and mind and to live in His love, here in this world. As we do, He will help us resist our enemy and stand fast in the ways He (Jesus) has taught us. As we do, our names remain in God’s (the Lamb’s) Book of Life (Phil. 4:3, Rev. 3:5, Rev. 21:27). We will abide in/with Jesus, bathed in the glory of God, forever!
Even the Jews know that God has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). They also know the first and great commandment is to love God (Exod. 20:1-11, Luke 10:25-28). Jesus reminds us (in case we missed it) when He answers the question and expands our responsibility with not just loving God, but our neighbor as well (Matt.22:36-40, Mark 12:29-31).
Today’s passages remind me of the parable of the sower, how some seed fell by the wayside, some among thorns or on stony ground but other good ground. Again, for us, the wayside, the Word never takes hold in our lives, in one ear and quickly out the other. There is no commitment to God, on our part. The stony ground and thorns reflect people who receive Jesus and come into the church. However, one is not diligent to increase their heart to grow and improve their relationship with Father, (Rom. 12:2) and the other gets too wrapped up in the cares of this world he forgets who God is (Mark 4:18-19). Both of these are in serious danger of walking away from God and losing what they do have (eternal security) despite having professed Jesus. AND they are yet “in” the church. And of course the good ground are those who cling to Jesus, learn to live in His love and let the world see the love of God working in our lives. We develop a true relationship with our Lord and maintain it.
Not all who profess Jesus will enter into eternity. They will say “Haven’t we done all these wonderful things in your name?” They did these things for their own glory and never really took the time to get ‘to know’ Jesus. So how does Jesus respond? “I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.”
The church of Sardis is encouraged to strengthen their faith and make sure the life is up to God’s standard – living in love). That is, basically, encouraged to get to “know” Jesus – personally and up close. Because Philadelphia has done the best job of the seven, there is a lot of promises of things to come and encouragement to stay on track.
Should we not follow the positive example of the “Sardis/Philadelphia Effect”?