AND ART DEAD
Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Sardis had adopted the living name upon their now dead church! And that is pretty much what we have in America today. The name CHRISTian is used loosely and freely by every kind of spiritually dead religion! Christ alone has the living name! He alone has the name above every name both in this world and in that which is to come! (Revelation 1:18; Phil. 2:9).
But how does this happen? Surely the origin of this church was not with the intent to apostatize! Surely with zeal for God did this assembly begin! But coming near to the gospel, preached in the power of the Holy Spirit is that which makes both tares and wheat! It is the only thing used to mature the reprobate and the true believer. For as one cannot become a true believer without belief and confession of the true gospel, so one is not matured as a reprobate without the same! For one cannot apostatize from that which they have not previously professed!
Just listen to the scriptures set forth as how greatly influenced by the Spirit and the gospel the reprobate are in the beginning of his profession. Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
These people were once enlightened! but never once en-LIVENED! Their light, even with it’s warmth of good feelings, became darkness! And how great is that darkness! (Matt. 6:23).
The Apostle Paul addressed this subject personally to the Galatian church! Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Gal. 5:7). O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. (Gal. 3:1-4).
He questions whether everything that was done in his gospel evangelism among them was only a temporary influence that had now died out and left their professions as vain! – Serious matter!
The Lord Jesus spoke of vain worship that was not founded in sovereign regeneration, but in shallow human, religious, emotional profession! Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Only the effectual call of the Holy Spirit in the application of the gospel can produce a true believer! For many are under the general call of the gospel who bring forth no fruit to perfection. (Lk. 8:14). These many are called, that is hear with the outer ear the gospel preached, but only the few that are chosen (Matt. 22:14), hear within the inner man and come on to eternal life in Christ!
Antichrists are actually produced on the same pews as believers! Christ actually said that both of these grow together! (Matt. 13:30). Now listen to this passage: 1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
They went out from us – not just from our local church membership rolls, but from our faith! They went out from the entire concept of salvation by grace through faith! The true sheep will never leave the Good Shepherd! (John 10:27). That true sheep will always continue with us. And the way that the reprobate antichrists prove that they were never with us in sovereign, saving faith is their final abandonment of all things spiritual!
Listen to Peter’s words concerning this. 2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
These had escaped an immoral life by coming to some knowledge of Jesus! They threw down the liquor bottle, joined the local church and became a deacon! They had come to a legal morality, which constitutes the greater part of professed religion in America, but not to a spiritual and imputed righteousness! They had the outward cleansing of a washed sow. But they were still just a washed pig and never had the nature of a sheep! Some had the expulsion of that consumed by the vile appetite of the dog, but remained only a purged dog in nature. They had not been filled with the Spirit of life in Christ. Like the man with the demon who had swept and cleansed himself of immorality! But not being filled with the Spirit, he remained empty and seven more demons, more wicked than the first came and joined with the first one. And the sobering words of our Lord are these: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matt 12:45).
One can be moral and not be righteous! But one who is righteous is always moral! For making one’s calling and election sure requires the manifestation of the fruit of good works! 2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For the good works are as much ordained as is the one who does them! Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. 1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
It most certainly is not by the works of righteousness that we have done, for such justification sought by works produces nought but filthly rag righteousness! (Isaiah 64:6 – But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.) But through the Lord Jesus Christ is granted the righteousness of God! 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Let us close by listening to the heart grieving words of the Apostle Paul for his fellow Israelites; his kin in the flesh. Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
How sad it will be for those justification-by-works churches to wake up one day and realize that not only will there never be another earthly Israel in physical Jerusalem, but that they themselves are are on the outside of the living name and are spiritually dead!
For zeal for God will never be accounted for salvation when not accompanied with the spiritual revelation and effectual knowledge of Christ! For personal saving knowledge of Christ is alone salvation! John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
The saddest and more horrifying words ever enunciated will be heard as directed to them in that last day! Matt. 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
“Sad, sad that bitter wail, Almost, but lost!” May God have mercy on the Sardis church of America!
Pastor Gene Breed
November 18, 2010