Revelation of John 3

* Epistles to the church at Sardis; (1-6) at Philadelphia;

(7-13) and Laodicea. (14-22)

#1-6. The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with all

his powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentable

decay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knew

that church well, and all her works. Outward things appeared

well to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not the

power; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was great

deadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers were

wholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifeless

state. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against their

enemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and to

endeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, to

revive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections of

those yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever we

are off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow and

empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds

not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with

suitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inward

affections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when the

spirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking a

revival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needful

to compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on,

that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that which

remains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening

if it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leave

this sinful people without some encouragement. He makes

honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes a

gracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed in

white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with the

perfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a register

of all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembrance

of all who live to God, and keep up the life and power of

godliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book of

life, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and all

the angels, at the great day.7-13 The same Lord Jesus has the key of government and

authority in and over the church. He opens a door of opportunity

to his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers;

he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart. He shuts the door

of heaven against the foolish, who sleep away their day of

grace; and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and

confident soever they may be. The church in Philadelphia is

commended; yet with a gentle reproof. Although Christ accepts a

little strength, yet believers must not rest satisfied in a

little, but strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith,

giving glory to God. Christ can discover this his favour to his

people, so that their enemies shall be forced to acknowledge it.

This, by the grace of Christ, will soften their enemies, and

make them desire to be admitted into communion with his people.

Christ promises preserving grace in the most trying times, as

the reward of past faithfulness; To him that hath shall be

given. Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace, shall be

kept by Christ in an hour of temptation; and the same Divine

grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, will make

them faithful in times of persecution. Christ promises a

glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a

monumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the free

and powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never be

defaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new name

of Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer fought

the good fight, and came off victorious.
14-22 Laodicea was the last and worst of the seven churches of

Asia. Here our Lord Jesus styles himself, "The Amen;" one steady

and unchangeable in all his purposes and promises. If religion

is worth anything, it is worth every thing. Christ expects men

should be in earnest. How many professors of gospel doctrine are

neither hot nor cold; except as they are indifferent in needful

matters, and hot and fiery in disputes about things of lesser

moment! A severe punishment is threatened. They would give a

false opinion of Christianity, as if it were an unholy religion;

while others would conclude it could afford no real

satisfaction, otherwise its professors would not have been

heartless in it, or so ready to seek pleasure or happiness from

the world. One cause of this indifference and inconsistency in

religion is, self-conceit and self-delusion; "Because thou

sayest." What a difference between their thoughts of themselves,

and the thoughts Christ had of them! How careful should we be

not to cheat our owns souls! There are many in hell, who once

thought themselves far in the way to heaven. Let us beg of God

that we may not be left to flatter and deceive ourselves.

Professors grow proud, as they become carnal and formal. Their

state was wretched in itself. They were poor; really poor, when

they said and thought they were rich. They could not see their

state, nor their way, nor their danger, yet they thought they

saw it. They had not the garment of justification, nor

sanctification: they were exposed to sin and shame; their rags

that would defile them. They were naked, without house or

harbour, for they were without God, in whom alone the soul of

man can find rest and safety. Good counsel was given by Christ

to this sinful people. Happy those who take his counsel, for all

others must perish in their sins. Christ lets them know where

they might have true riches, and how they might have them. Some

things must be parted with, but nothing valuable; and it is only

to make room for receiving true riches. Part with sin and

self-confidence, that you may be filled with his hidden

treasure. They must receive from Christ the white raiment he

purchased and provided for them; his own imputed righteousness

for justification, and the garments of holiness and

sanctification. Let them give themselves up to his word and

Spirit, and their eyes shall be opened to see their way and

their end. Let us examine ourselves by the rule of his word, and

pray earnestly for the teaching of his Holy Spirit, to take away

our pride, prejudices, and worldly lusts. Sinners ought to take

the rebukes of God's word and rod, as tokens of his love to

their souls. Christ stood without; knocking, by the dealings of

his providence, the warnings and teaching of his word, and the

influences of his Spirit. Christ still graciously, by his word

and Spirit, comes to the door of the hearts of sinners. Those

who open to him shall enjoy his presence. If what he finds would

make but a poor feast, what he brings will supply a rich one. He

will give fresh supplies of graces and comforts. In the

conclusion is a promise to the overcoming believer. Christ

himself had temptations and conflicts; he overcame them all, and

was more than a conqueror. Those made like to Christ in his

trials, shall be made like to him in glory. All is closed with

the general demand of attention. And these counsels, while

suited to the churches to which they were addressed, are deeply

interesting to all men.
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