Revelation 3:2, "Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die for I have not found thy works perfect before God."
I wish it could be said that the Sardisean Age was a restoration instead of a reformation. I cannot say that. The Word does not call it a restoration, but certainly calls it a reformation. Had it been a restoration, that age would have been another Pentecostal age. But it was not. The best that could be said of it was, "Strengthen that which remains, that is ready to die." There was something missing. My, yes, there certainly was. This age had justification, but it had missed sanctification and the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. That is what God's original plan was. That is what they had at Pentecost. They were justified, they were sanctified, and were filled with the Holy Ghost. Why, listen to me, the reason for being justified and sanctified is to the end that you might be baptized with the Holy Ghost. That is the reason that there is a church. It is the temple of God filled with God, even the Holy Ghost. The same Spirit that was in Jesus while He was here on earth, causing Him to do the mighty works which He did came back upon the church at Pentecost so that they did the works that He did. This age did not have those works. Oh, they had the written Word, (but not the revealed Word). This was the reformation period. But fear not little flock, God said, "I will restore," and this reform was going to be the start of it. He was going to (according to His promise) take the church back from the depth of Satan in the Dark Ages to the Depth of God that they had at Pentecost and in the first few years of the existence of the church.
Now be careful, and get this. t says in this second verse that I read, "For I have not found thy works perfect before God." Do you know what the meaning of 'not perfect' really is? It is 'unfulfilled.' This age was an unfulfilled age. It was just the start of getting back. That is why I said the Bible called it Reformation - not restoration. It had started out in the doctrine of justification which meant salvation was all of God. Oh, how Luther preached the sovereignty of God and election. He knew it was all of grace. He separated the church from rule by ecclesiastical hierarchy. He tore down the idols. He cast out the confessions to the priests. He denounced the pope. It was wonderfully good, as he started, but God had said 1500 years before, "Luther, you are going to start things, but your age will see it all unfulfilled, I am leaving that to later." Hallelujah, our God reigneth! He knows the end from the beginning. Yes, Luther was His messenger. It didn't look like it, as we examine the flaws. But there was a man called Jonah, he had flaws in his life too. He was a prophet though you and I might not want to say so on the basis of how he acted. But God knows them that are His and He has His way just as He did with Jonah. He had His way with Luther in that age, and He will have His way until the consummation.
Now this was an unfulfilled age. It was an age of reformation. But that is how God wanted it. I want to illustrate that to you the way I did to a very wonderful Lutheran brother who is a president of a very fine seminary out West. I had been invited to his place to have dinner with him and to speak to him concerning the Holy Spirit. He was puzzled about many things and he said to me, "What have we Lutherans got?"
I said, "Well, you have Christ."
He said, "We want the Holy Ghost. Do you think we've got It?"
I said, "Potentially, you are believing unto It."
He said, "What do you mean, potentially? We are hungry for God. We read a book on Pentecost and the gifts of the Spirit, so some of us flew out to California to see the author. When we got there he told us that though he had written the book, he did not have the gifts. Now when we saw the operation of gifts in your ministry we wanted to talk to you, for you must know something about them."
Now this brother's seminary is out in the country and surrounded by many acres of farm land on which the students can work and thereby pay their way through college. He also has factories that go along with the farm to give added employment. So using his fields to illustrate my case I said, "Once there was a man who went forth on his own ground to plant a field of corn. He pulled up the stumps, cleared off the rocks, ploughed and disked it and then planted his corn. Each morning he looked out across the field; but one morning instead of barren ground he saw myriads of little blades coming up. He said, "Praise God for my field of corn." I then asked him, "Did the man have corn?"
He said, "Well, in one way he did."
I said, "Potentially, yes; and that was you Lutherans in the reforma- tion, putting forth your blade, see? The corn began to grow. (After it had rotted in the ground during the Dark Ages). After several joints there were fine large stalks, and one day a tassel of silk appeared. That tassel of silk looked down at the blades and said, "You old formal Lutherans haven't anything. Look at us, we're the breeders, the great missionaries. Our day is the missionary era." That tassel age was the Wesleyan Age. They were the greatest missionaries and even excelled us in our age. What did that age do? It scattered like pollen in the breeze.
"Now what is the next step? Logically we think that is the actual forming and harvesting of the grain - the completed cycle. But not so. There is another stage. That stage is when the husk or chaff is formed to cover the seed. And that is exactly what happened in this Spiritual cycle. At the turn of the twentieth century, in the start of the Laodicean Age, there was widespread belief that the Holy Ghost was falling exactly as He did at Pentecost. People were talking in tongues and claiming to be baptized with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. But I have walked in the grain fields many times, and there in late summer I have plucked the heads of wheat and rubbed them in my hand to get some grain, when to my surprise there WASN'T ANY CORN OF WHEAT IN THAT CHAFF, THOUGH INDEED IT SURELY LOOKED AS IF WHEAT WERE THERE. This is a perfect picture of the so-called Pentecostal move. And that this is a proven fact is found in that these people ORGANIZED ON A DOCTRINE and bound themselves right back as did the organization ahead of them, proving that instead of being the real seed, they were the chaff or protecting cover for the wheat seed which should come. This chaff stage was the danger period that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:24, "deceiving the very elect if it were possible." Oh, man felt that this husk, the so-called Pentecostal Age was the true seed. But it proved to be just the carrier to carry the life over into the age in which the true restoration comes and the Wheat Bride is manifested in the power spoken of by Ezekiel 47:2-5, "Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and behold, there ran out waters on the right side. And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins. Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over."
"And the way that it was done was by God's perfect will and programming. The Lutherans had the Holy Ghost potentially under justification; the Methodists had It potentially under sanctification and today It is brought back, a restoration - the Holy Ghost is here."
"Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die." Now the ideas expressed in the two words, "watchful" and "strengthen" are these. To watch contains not only the idea of being awake but to be alert. To be otherwise insinuates danger and loss. To strengthen means more than just to give strength, it means to fix and establish for permanency. These two commands refer to what is left of the TRUTH which itself is ready or "about" to die. This expression of the Spirit comes before me as an illustration. A group of slaves, in total bondage physically and morally have risen up and escaped from their captors (indeed that is what Sardis means: the escaped ones). They are pursued and their great and glorious gains are all but lost. They have not been retaken, but about all that can be said is that they have escaped - not clean escaped as some were according to the Word. They had lost much of their liberties. Now the Lord says, "You are potentially back in captivity; see that you don't go back. To keep from going back become alert and remain ever watchful concerning the things of your captivity or you will lose all. Strengthen yourself now in what you have left in such a manner as to permanently establish what you have and thus ensure against future loss. This will be your opportunity to fulfill what you have not fulfilled." But did they go on? No sir. They did not heed the voice of the Spirit and another age went into captivity and so God raised up others who would carry out His will. God by-passed the Lutheran denomination as He has all others, and they will never come back. God had to go on and in a new age bring further truth and a little more restoration.
Revelation 3:3, "Remember therefore how thou has 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 the hour I will come upon thee."
I want to read another translation (Wuest) of this verse, "Be remembering, therefore, in what way you have received (the truth as a permanent deposit) and what way you heard (it) and be safeguarding (it), and have a change of mind at once." It is very evident from this verse that God had given them truth as a permanent deposit. It was received and is irrevocably theirs. It now remains to be seen what they will do with it, whether they will regard it or not. And that is true. They had been given the basic truth of the whole Gospel, "The just shall live by faith", "Salvation is of the Lord." They had heard the truth of the Bible which cast down the doctrines of Rome and set at naught all papal authority. They knew the truth that the church does not save. They understood the Lord's supper. They had light on water baptism. They put out the images. Truth? Why there never was an age with any more men with so much light to shed. They had enough illumination to completely overhaul the old system or start out fresh and let God lead them, line upon line and precept upon precept. They received the truth. They wanted it and heard it. But the question was, how did they hear it? Did they hear it to build upon or was it with the same attitude that many Greeks had - something to discuss and theorize over? Evidently the rich Word of truth was being heard in an academic manner, rather than for practical outworking, for God was demanding a change of mind concerning it. If this is the Word of God which indeed it is, then it must be obeyed. Failure to obey would bring judgment. When the guards of the sacred temple were found sleeping, they were beaten and their garments burned. What shall the Lord do to those who in this age have relaxed their guard?
"I will come on thee as a thief." Ancient Sardis was constantly harassed by bandits that swooped down from the hills and pillaged the people. Thus they knew only too well what the Spirit was saying in that the coming of the Lord is as a thief. Vigilance and preparation alone will suffice to be ready for His coming. Now we know that this is a message for the false vine, for the coming of the Lord will be as it was in the days of Noah. The eight saved were well aware of the impending flood, and being aware were prepared and saved. But the world of the ungodly was swept away. Though they daily were in contact with the righteous and heard the truth, they turned it aside until it was too late. Those completely carnal people in that ancient period type out today the nominal Christians whose lives are full of earthly things, and take pleasure in them to such an extent that they have no desire for the Spiritual, and are not at all aware of, nor readied for His appearing. 7ch037.htm
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