Some insights from William Newell regarding the Church at Sardis
Sardis – Dead Protestantism
(Based on Wm Newell’s commentary)
With the seven spirits there is an utter searching as described in Zech. 4:6-10. What is seen is a church representing a new beginning, but its state is as bad as what was left behind-the Jezebel corruption and the papal hierarchy. We have moved to the state of “Christianity” since the Reformation, and what our Lord sees is dead Protestantism. Where Rome had its darkness and ignorance, the protestant version of the faith has its imagined enlightenment and outward religious activity, its creeds, state churches, denominations, boards and seminaries. Despite its claim of life, it is dead. The simplicity of the model given at Pentecost and evidenced in Paul’s day has been remade according to human thinking to the degree that the Church has been organized to death, following its self-imposed rules, largely ignorant of the Word of God, and self-deluded into a mindset of righteousness through dead works.
No Walking in the Spirit
Neither doctrine nor their walk had been completed (perfected) in this church (and those it represents). In doctrine, thanks largely to Martin Luther, they did teach justification by faith and not works, yet the Reformers had not grasped Paul’s doctrine of identification, that the believer’s history in Adam ended at the cross: that he died to sin with Christ and died to the principal of law (legalism) which gave sin its power. All the Reformation creeds kept the believer under the law as a rule of life. Since the law made nothing perfect (Heb. 7:19), Christ calls this church out for not having reached completion (perfection) in their faith. Even though the flesh could never be perfected, they continued their fleshly efforts, never learning to walk in the Spirit.
The Origin of “Sacraments”
The inclusion of sacraments (a Babylonian term that is foreign to the New Testament) by the Reformers showed that they had not completely broken free from Rome. Sacramentum was the Latin word for a mystery of the pagan religion. The Babylonian system was unique in the world because of its Chaldean mysteries. After Constantine had welcomed all pagans into the fold, the term sacrament was introduced because those immersed in Babylonian paganism saw the “Last Supper” observance as the one thing in the “official religion of Christianity” they could make into a Mystery, or Sacrament. Later, these pagans saw Christian baptism as being similar to their bath that preceded initiation into their religion. It too, became a Mystery (Sacrament).
First, their doctrine fell short, and now, their walk. Not understanding their identification with Christ’s death and resurrection, they never even came close to sharing Christ’s resurrection life. Their Christian walk was worldly and spiritually shallow. As with sacraments, they brought in a host of pagan celebrations, repeated heartless memorized prayers, and knew nothing of an intimate relationship with their Lord.
Back to the Basics
Christ then exhorts the faithful and undefiled remnant to be watchful and go back to the basics to avoid being defiled. At the beginning of the Reformation, Europe had been shaken by the truth. Many repented, even after hearing only a partial gospel. The unfaithful were given a chance to repent, or their Lord would come as a thief in the night, taking everything of value to them. They refused, and Christ came. Those comprising the faithful and undefiled remnant were called “worthy” and would surely walk in white with their Lord in victorious righteousness. Their Lord would confess them before the Father and the angels in heaven. Because of their faithfulness in the midst of worldliness, He would deliver them from every evil work, saving them all the way to the heavenly kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18).
The faithful few were saved,
but their church was destroyed in judgment.
This is the fate of dead Protestantism.
Let him who has an ear, hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches today.
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