Dispensational View of the 7 Churches Continued
A dispensation is a period of time, we are living in the dispensation of the Church Age. We need to remember the view point of this revelation. John was taken to the Lord’s day and hearing a voice behind him turned and was looking back at the Church Age – Rev. 1:10-12. John saw the whole Church Age from the beginning to the end. The seven churches all together tell the story of this Age and how the Church has traveled from the Day of Pentecost to the present time and even beyond where we are now.
Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6) represents Protestantism. They have gone on a long time. Martin Luther came out of the Catholic Church and stood against the falsity of it. He had to hide for he was in danger of being killed by them. People have formed a religious organization named after him, which he was very much against that. Later Wesley came on the scene and God blessed him. After his death people made an organization after his name and there were others. Sardis had a name that they lived, professing to be God’s people. The Catholics say, “We are God’s people, we are The Church.” But in these last days, the Protestants cease to protest. That is what the name means – Protest-ants.” They protested the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. After they ceased protesting they didn’t have much and now they are buddy buddy with the Catholic Church for the most part. They may have big churches, big programs, but not much reality (V. 2). Since the ecumenical movement they both are closer to unity all the time. Soon they will be one big glob, the Laodicean condition, that we will read of later.
Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) like Smyrna, no fault is found in them. If Smyrna represents the full overcomers who go by the way of the grave during this Church Age, Philadelphia represents the full overcomers who will be alive when thee Lord comes and will be translated. I Thess. 4:16-17, “For 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 (Smyrna saints resurrected): Then we which are alive and remain (Philadelphia saints) shall be caught up together with them in the clouds (translated), to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
An open door is set before these saints, the open door of heaven, the door of translation (V. 8). They will not have to go through tribulation, because they have kept the word of Christ patience, looking for their Lord to come (V. 10). Some true believers are not loving His appearance. They are careless and indifferent and will be asleep spiritually, drunken with the things of this world. To them He will come as a thief in the night. I Thess. 5:4-11, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” Those who had been asleep spiritually, will wake up when they realize some saints are gone and they are left to go into tribulation days.
Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) is the condition of Christendom in the last days of this Church Age. There will be one united world church, not the true Church, the body of Christ, but Christendom, the visible religious conglomeration. The ecumenical movement will culminate with all the daughters going back to the mother church – Rev. 17:5. They are saying now, “We are not going to let doctrine keep us apart. We can be a powerful force in the world if we are united. It will sound so good, but the truth of the gospel suffers because of this compromise. It is not God’s will that His people compromise on doctrine. Love is a favorite topic in the ecumenical gatherings, but let we put the emphasis upon loving Christ supremely. The true Church has already been made one – Gal. 3:26-28; Eph. 2:13-22; 4:4-6.
Apostasy is the chief characteristic of the Laodicean church, “neither cold nor hot.” The Lord hates this lukewarmness and indifference – “I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Vs. 16-17). By the grace of God, true believers are called to come out, before God’s judgment of her – Rev. 18:4,8. In V. 18 there is salvation for whosoever will. Some individuals will be saved and come out, before God judges Christendom. That’s the grace of God.
So we see how the church has gone dispensationally. It had a wonderful beginning. It was God purpose for all the church to stay up on the Ephesian plane, seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Satan has corrupted the minds from the simplicity that is in Christ. They left their first love for Christ. The Church as a whole became worldly minded. Next false doctrine was allowed to be taught. Many evils followed such as Spiritual fornication, clergy over laity, etc. Some periods of revival occurred, but as a whole deterioration continued until the last condition is a self-satisfied one world church, with Christ on the outside knocking to get in (Vs. 20).
As a whole the church did not heed the Apostle Paul’s warning of II Cor. 11:2-3. “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Thank God some did heed Paul’s warning and there are some today that are holding fast. Rev. 3:11, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Some are looking for Jesus’ return, they are the Smyrna and Philadelphia saints.
Starting next issue, we will glean some Personal lessons from these letters of Christ to the 7 Churches.