As someone who has been a believer for over 43 years and a leader in the body of Christ for over 30 years, I want to write once again to you as believers to come boldly to the throne of God’s grace where you can receive mercy to end everything of your past and find the grace to overcome in all things to the future (Heb. 4:16). We must always be childlike in our expectations, faith, teachability, and understanding of God’s love, but we must also desire to grow in maturity by finding God’s grace to overcome all things. We must overcome everything that resists our intimacy with God in Christ. We must overcome every fear of death with a demonstration of faith towards God in all things. We must overcome every stronghold of the flesh with a testimony of God working in our lives. We must overcome in our ability to walk in submission to life that we might bring the life-giving authority of our heavenly Father to the world. We must also overcome in our ability to be sent to contribute a testimony of Christ in His resurrection life to the fellowship of His name. This is the testimony of the Spirit of Might, an attribute of the Holy Spirit, working in our lives.
Many times the cares and desires of the world become great distractions to the presence and the purpose of God in our lives. We must all remain awake to the presence and purpose of God and we must not be drawn away by circumstances and situations in the world that thwart the destiny of God in our lives. The fifth letter of Revelation was given to the Church of Sardis. The name Sardis means prince of joy. I believe that Sardis represents a testimony of the manifest presence and purpose of Christ in our lives. In the presence of the Lord there is the fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). It is from the manifest presence of Christ in us that we become empowered to be sent for His purpose to the world. This letter to Sardis syntactically relates to Israel’s monarchy and captivity. It also relates to the Spirit of Might (Isa. 11:2) and the basic foundation of the “resurrection of the dead” (Heb. 6:2). It is from that foundation in Christ that we can each become a testimony of His presence and purpose to the world in live in. This letter also depicts the redemption of the fifth aspect of the curse of the fall in that man was given a sign of having to deal with the thorns and thistles of a dead earth (Gen. 3:17). Man was bound to a temptation of distraction from the things of God because of the prickly things of life. The distractions of the world tend to make mankind dead to the things of God. Natural distractions outweigh the heavenly attractions of life in Christ. Those things prove to suck the life from our hearts until we are dead to the things of God. Those distractions become exalted in our lives to replace the God who is “above all” (Eph. 4:6).
As revealed in the name of Sardis (prince of joy), the overcoming grace of the Spirit of Might gives a testimony of being awake to God. This is the opposite of apathy and death. It is the opposite of the testimony of the apostate death of Israel in her captivity in Assyria and Babylon. I believe that the angel of the Church of Sardis is the Spirit of Might (Isa. 11:2; Zech 4:10). In this letter Jesus is seen as the one who “has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars”. He is the author of life. He is the one who holds the power of His perfecting grace and He holds the perfected destiny of the Church. These terms testify of the prophetic witness given to Israel by the prophets during her time of apathy, scattering, and captivity. The prophets were given the word of life to awaken Israel from her sleep. The Church of Sardis was told to “be watchful”. This is a term used for being awake to God, for the Spirit is willing (Mt. 24:42-44; Mt. 25:13; 26:41; Mk. 13:33-37; 14:38; Lk. 21:36; Acts 20:29-31). The Spirit of Might empowers us to be alive to the things of God in Christ. Those in Sardus were told that they were “alive”, but they were “dead”. This is syntactic language of Israel’s time of apostasy (Isa. 1:5-23; 6:9-13; Isa. 65:8-16; Jer. 7:1-7; 8:11, 12; Ezek. 37:1-4). This letter depicts the need for us all to be awake to God’s presence and purpose in our lives. The Spirit of Might testifies that we are ‘made alive’ in Christ (Eph. 2:1, 5).
Jesus said if they did not wake up He would come upon them “as a thief”. This was a warning of imminent judgment (Isa. 1:24-31; 2:12-21; Isa. 26:20, 21; Jer.4:5-31; 7:12-15; 11:9-13; Mic. 1:2-7; Zeph. 1). This was not a term for a second coming of Christ alone, but His coming in history (Mt. 24:43; 1 Thes. 5:2-5; 2 Pet. 3:10). The Lord came in the Spirit of Might for the apostates and those of faith in the first century. Those of apostasy were consumed in the judgment of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while those of faith were the firstfruits of the living of God as the Body of Christ in the earth. The overcoming grace of the Spirit of Might in the lives of those who believed was a firstfruit guaranteeing the victory of each and every part and member of the body of Christ in the successive generations of the growing glory of God in the earth.
He who overcomes is promised to be “given white garments”. White is a symbol of cleanliness, purity, and righteousness. White garments speak of being clothed in the New Man. We are to put on Christ now (Col. 3:5-17) and to be fully clothed in Christ in the “last day” (Col. 3:4; Jude 24). The overcoming Church has been clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Gal. 3:27; Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). This is a heavenly truth that is progressively revealed in the life of every believer.
There was a blotting out of some, but an assurance of increasing eternal life for others. Some were taken, but the righteous were ‘left behind’ to fill the earth with the testimony of the righteousness of Christ. By principle of application in our own lives, the Old Adam is blotted out in Christ and the Last Adam forever lives as the new man of Christ. God blotted out the violators of His covenant in the harvest of the law, but this New Man in a living relationship with God in Christ would not be blotted out (Deut. 29:10-29; Ps. 69:1-28).
Revelation 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: ‘I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
All New Covenant believers have the ability to do works of righteousness (Eph. 2:10). A confession of the Father before angels (sent ones) speaks of a sending forth by the power of His might for works of righteousness (destiny). The things of this world do not distract us, but rather we are empowered by the Spirit of Might. We know one God “above all” by the power of His resurrection life (Eph. 4:6)! We each bring a contribution of the power of His resurrection life to the mystery of His fellowship. We must all grow in our maturity to overcome the distractions of the world by embracing of Christ’s resurrection life while in this world. We must be awake to Christ, His presence, and His purpose in our lives. We are all meant to be sent as testimonies of His resurrection life as those clothed in Him.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson