The trials that believers in Jesus Christ face are different from the problems that most people face in their lives. Our trials revolve around our faith in Jesus Christ and desire for His glory, praise and honor. We long for His return and the establishment of His kingdom upon this earth. Our hearts are grieved when we see fakes and phonies spread their falsehood and evil throughout the world, bringing shame to the Way. Jesus Christ knows those who are His, and He watches over us. He also knows those who are spurious and have not embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to be saved. In His rebuke to the spurious, we see the warnings, exhortations, and judgments that Christ pronounces upon them found in the letter to the church at Sardis.
1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’ Revelation 3:1-6
How could their works not be perfect before God? Because they hadn’t done the work of God which is to believe in the One Whom He has sent, His beloved Son Jesus Christ. (John 6:29) They instead trusted religious ritual and the doctrines of man for their salvation rather than Jesus Christ and His perfect death upon the cross for our sins and His bodily resurrection from the dead for our justification. They, of course, spoke of Jesus Christ, but didn’t know Him or His resurrection power in their lives. They were still dead in their trespasses and sins.
I remember studying a book on Revelation with the church that I attended at that time. After studying the letters to the churches the elder asked the question, “I wonder which church we are.” The church of Sardis entered my mind, although I didn’t say anything. This word spoken to me by the Holy Spirit was later proven to be true as I found that the leadership did not greatly revere God’s Son Jesus Christ. It was disheartening that this church was committed to glossing over attacks upon Jesus Christ and His gospel through false teachers who have become enshrined within the visible church as supposed champions of the faith, though they espouse a false faith. They were not willing to repent at the exhortation of the Scriptures and become champions for Jesus Christ and His truth found only in the Scriptures. My experience with that church has been repeated numerous times for believers who have stood fast for the Scriptures against the onslaught of false teaching that is promoted by the visible church.
13 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say to them, ‘You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place.’” 14 And the Lord said to me, “The prophets prophesy lies in My name. I have not sent them, commanded them, nor spoken to them; they prophesy to you a false vision, divination, a worthless thing, and the deceit of their heart. 15 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who prophesy in My name, whom I did not send, and who say, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’-‘By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed! 16 And the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and the sword; they will have no one to bury them-them nor their wives, their sons nor their daughters-for I will pour their wickedness on them.’” Jeremiah 14:13-16
Just as the false teachers belied the words of the Lord, and gave false prophesy to the people of Jerusalem, promising them peace when God Himself had spoken to them of warning and judgment, so too these false teachers spread lies in the Savior’s name. They speak of peace for the wicked when God’s Word tells of impending doom and judgment. They teach of many ways to the Lord, when God’s Word tells us that there is only one way to God the Father and that is through Jesus Christ. These false teachers promote man made means for reconciliation with God, and not faith in Jesus Christ alone, and His glorious gospel. This attack upon the truth is a grievous trial for believers.
8 …in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6
9 “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:9-12
6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9
Those who overcome this barrage of error and despicable calumny against the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ walk with Him proving they are worthy to walk in white. As believers contend earnestly for the gospel and confess the name of Jesus Christ before others they prove that they are His and He promises to confess their names before His God and Father. They have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and so will spend eternity with Christ Jesus the Lord and Savior and God the Father. All those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life are bound for eternal destruction in the lake of fire.
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15
As God’s beloved children through faith in His Son Jesus Christ we are guaranteed eternal life with Him. As we sojourn upon this earth, awaiting our translation into His presence let us contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, exposing and opposing all false teachers and teaching, holding forth the Word of life for the salvation of sinners and correction of erring saints. Let us encourage one another daily as we see that fast Day approaching. God bless youJ