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. The church in Sardis was spiritually dead, but God saw that there was still a glimmer of life in some of them. He looked into these few and saw the opportunity to revive this church. Verse 5: He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. If they could come out of their deadness, they would have their names put back in the Book of Life, and would be clothed in white raiment yet again.
After years of spiritually darkness, revival was the theme of the Sardis Age, or what we also call the Protestant Reformation. Most of the church was in darkness, but then God saw a tiny glimmer of hope in a young monk named Martin Luther. Through this man, He was able to bring the great revival that moved away from lifeless ceremony and legalism, and restored the operation of the gifts of the Spirit. When Luther nailed his 95 theses against the door of his church in 1517, a seismic change occurred. Protestantism swept Europe, moving people away from ritualism and restoring faith in the Word. Encouraging his followers to read the Bible daily, rather than forbidding them from it, Luther set fire to a world starving for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the life that it brings.
And the best was yet to come. Only one out of the seven churches was without spot, wrinkle, or blemish, and God was greatly pleased with them. Revelation 3:7-8: And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write…I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. The Philadelphia church was on fire for Him like no other. They had kept His Word and not denied His name, and were experiencing salvation and miracles in abundance. God would reward them by making their enemies their footstool. Verse 9: behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
The Reformation was great, but it paved the way for something even greater. The Philadelphia Age began in the early 1700s, with the first Great Awakening. With the New World settled, the Puritans who had come to America for religious freedom began seeing great revivals and repentance, leading to mass conversions under great preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. After years of darkness, Christianity was finally reawakening and operating under the fullness of the will of God. How sad that it took so many thousands of years for the church to be on fire like it was during the Early Church!
The First Great Awakening led to a Second Great Awakening during the 1800s. Too many great men of God played a crucial role in this era than could be listed here, but they included John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, and later Smith Wigglesworth and Charles Parham. Great though it was, it was really paving the way for the culmination of the greatest revival to come.
In April 1906, a one-eyed black preacher from Louisiana named William J. Seymour began preaching in an abandoned warehouse at 312 Asuza Street in Los Angeles, and the first modern Pentecostal revival began. This was likely the greatest event since the Day of Pentecost, when Christianity finally saw the fire of God fall the same way it did in the book of Acts. All over America, people came to see the manifestations. Millions were saved, miracles and healings took place, and the revival spread all over the planet. Seymour had unwittingly ushered in the final climactic stage of the Philadelphia Age, fulfilling the great prophecy of Joel 2:28: And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. For the past 100 years, we have witnessed this great Latter Rain outpouring, preparing us for the Rapture.
But darkness is coming.
Revelation 3:14-15: And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. As great as the Philadelphians were, God had nothing good to say about the Laodiceans. Even the Thyatira church was given an opportunity to repent, but the Laodicean church had committed a sin greater than idol worship or fornication with the world: lukewarmth.
Lukewarmth is perhaps the greatest sin of all. God can work with drug addiction. He can change alcoholics and deliver people addicted to pornography. He can save those in adultery, and restore broken families. But what can He do with people who half-heartedly serve Him, convinced they’re saved but really having no love for Him?
We are in a transitional period. The Philadelphia Age is coming to its end, and we are witnessing the dawn of the Laodicean church Age. And it is terrifying to behold as lukewarmth and compromise with the world take over. Churches are allowing gay clergy. Services include worldly music and idol worship. So-called Christians live openly sinful lifestyles, but think church membership will get them into Heaven. Little is left of that great fire that once burned so bright in the American church. We rarely see salvation or miracles anymore. Attendance is at an all-time low, and churches are closing their doors while Hell claims our children.
And just like today, materialism what killed the Laodicean church. They were great and wealthy but didn’t depend on God for anything, and were spiritually dead. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (verse 17).
The Philadelphia Church is still here, but it is getting smaller by the day, while the bleakness of the Laodicean Church is growing at an alarming rate. But that great falling away was prophesied many years ago, and is only a sign of the times. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
These two ages exist at the same time, but God promised that the Philadelphia Church would not see the Great Tribulation. Revelation 3:10: Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. But He also pronounces judgment on the Laodicean Church that they will be left behind, spewed out of the mouth of God into the darkness that will cover the earth. Verse 16: So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
This is how we know definitively that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation starts; the Philadelphia Church was promised they would be delivered from the hour of temptation, while doom was written on the wall for the Laodiceans. Their self-centered lukewarmth would cost them everything. We are witnessing the falling away, but also the great outpouring. And we can choose which we will join. The cost will be great for those in the Philadelphia Church, but the reward will be greater.
But all of this was predicted, exactly, by John on the Island of Patmos almost 2,000 years ago. Come out of the Laodicean church, before it’s too late! Be a part of the Philadelphia church, the one on fire for God in this last hour, so you won’t be left behind! Lukewarm Christians will have no place in Heaven. Hebrews 10:31: It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.