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GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 03/06/05
The 2005 Florida Conference. The Church at Sardis

REV 3:1-6, "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write:  He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" [to those of you who are listening to this who have been born again and saved].

We begin our study of the church of Sardis or the Sardis type of believers mentioned in this passage in REV 3:1where we have the Greek word for angel which is angelo meaning the messenger or the future pastor-teachers of the church of Sardis or the Sardis type of believers. Sardis was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia. The city of Sardis was one of the most beautiful cities in the world; famous for jewelry made from the gold taken out of the Pactolus river which flowed through the city. Sardis was famous for the Phallic Cult, the worship of sex as we noted during our last conference, and for the worship of the Pagan Goddess of the Cybele Oracle, which was the worship of nature.

Like any local assembly communicating doctrine there are always some demonic influences that try to stop the believers from going forward. This was also the case for the Church at Sardis. Because these influences and distractions can adversely affect any local assembly, we need to note the importance of being on a team, being a member of a local assembly.

1PE 4:10 commands us, As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

This gift is a special gift; charisma refers to an extraordinary power that distinguishes certain Christians enabling them to serve the Church of Christ. This is what happens when power operates in our lives from Bible doctrine and the filling of the Holy Spirit. This team depends upon each of you to employ your gift by serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

1PE 4:11, Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

We are commanded in 1TI 4:14, Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you,

The corrected translation of 1CO 12:7 tells us, But to each one is given for our benefit the manifestation of the Spirit for the benefit of the common good.

In 1CO 12:8-10, different gifts are mentioned, but in 1CO 12:11-12 Paul says, But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. This means we all play different positions on the team. 1CO 12:13-16 tells us that each of our spiritual gifts is equally important to the team.

In 1CO 12:17-18 we read, If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body [or on the team], just as He desired.

We all play different positions on the team but we work as a team; that is the way God designed the body of Christ. Satan knows this and attacks the team.

1CO 12:21-22 warns us, as team members, to avoid judging others on the team who have different spiritual gifts. Not all spiritual gifts are obvious; team members have different spiritual gifts and often they are invisible gifts.

Real team members fulfill COL 3:17, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. They also fulfill ECC 9:10, Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do {it} with all your might;

The Church-age is the period of time when the prehistoric angelic conflict is resolved and God the Holy Spirit has given each of you a special gift because it is needed. Therefore, the head cannot say to any member of the body, I don't need you, 1CO 12:25-26, that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. This is the Royal family honor code of the spiritual life. When we are filled with the Spirit and executing the spiritual life, we're operating under that honor code of the spiritual life.

Back in REV 3:1, "And to the messenger [the future pastor-teachers] of the church in Sardis [or the Sardis type of believers] write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this:

The Lord Jesus Christ is communicating this information through the pastor or the future pastors of the church in Sardis, to the people of that city, and He was communicating it to us as well. The seven Spirits of God is a reference to God the Holy Spirit as the one who provides the power system of the PPOG and is taken from the prophecy of Isaiah in Chapter 11, verses 1-2. Here we have a prophecy of the First Advent of Jesus Christ, the prophecy of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. ISA 11:1, Then a shoot [which is a root that buds] will spring from the stem of Jesse[that's a prophecy of the First Advent], And a branch from his roots [that's the Second Advent] will bear fruit [that's His rule in the Millennium].

From verse 1, we see a prophecy of the two advents. Failure to properly interpret this verse (to distinguish between the First and Second Advent) is why the Jews have had so much trouble since Christ's first Advent. They can't tell the difference between the root and the branch and yet the root and the branch are one person: Jesus Christ, the God of Israel, and the founder of Israel as the root. In the First Advent, He manifested Himself to Israel. But rememberJOH 1:11, He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. In the Second Advent He comes back as the branch of a tree. The root grows into a great tree. ISA 11:2 refers to the First Advent of our Lord which was sustained by God the Holy Spirit. This is the doctrine of the hypostatic union. ISA 11:2, And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

The Spirit of Jehovah is a reference to God the Holy Spirit upon the humanity of TLJC. That is the first of the seven Spirits: His title as God, the Spirit of the Lord, a reference to God the Holy Spirit sustaining our Lord Jesus Christ through the filling of the Spirit just as He sustains everyone of us in the Church-age.

The second of the seven spirits applying to the Holy Spirit - He is called the Spirit of wisdom, which in the Hebrew is Chokmah. This means the application of doctrine; it is God the Holy Spirit that gives us the power to apply doctrine. In Rev 3, the one who has the seven ministries of the Holy Spirit is TLJC and He makes these seven ministries available to all of us. Therefore, we not only have the filling of the Spirit, but we also have the power of the Holy Spirit to put into operation that which we claim to believe, which of course means to apply Bible doctrine. We have no right to complain about anything we're going through because we have the power to apply the word of God, we have the Spirit of Chokmah, wisdom, or literally, the power to apply doctrine in whatever state we're in. Therefore, apply the doctrine.

The Bible teaches that complaining comes from a soul filled with bitterness (JOB 7:11). Complaining is the outward effect of inward sins called bitterness, jealousy, vindictiveness, hatred, anger, etc. Complaining is also an indictment against God and His plan (Lam 3:39). Complainers also displease the Lord (NUM 11:1) and often suffer from depression (PSA 77:3). We are to do all things without murmuring or complaining (PHI 2:14).

So again, the first of the seven spirits is God, the Holy Spirit as the power system. The second of the seven spirits is God, the Holy Spirit giving us the ability, as He gave our Lord, to apply doctrine in the various testings of life.

Next in ISA 11:2, we have the third of the seven Spirits, the Spirit of understanding. Understanding is the word binah in the Hebrew and understanding is the perception of doctrine and then application of doctrine.

The fourth of the seven Spirits is the spirit of Counsel which is `etsah in the Hebrew, meaning plan or purpose; a reference to the Father's plan to sustain the humanity of Christ in the prototype PPOG.

The fifth of the seven spirits is the spirit of strength and of virtue. The Hebrew word gebuwrah refers to both motivational and functional virtue produced by God the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Christ.  Virtue was produced in His humanity resulting in impeccability.

The sixth of the seven spirits is the Spirit of Knowledge. This is da`ath in the Hebrew, a reference to our Lord's ability to interpret the trends of history during the First Advent. By application, it is the ability of the believer living inside the PPOG learning doctrine having the proper discernment, applying doctrine, and eventually coming to understand historical trends.

The seventh of the seven spirits refers to the one Spirit: The Holy Spirit. The Hebrew word yirah means the fear of the Lord, meaning awe and respect. All seven descriptions in Isaiah 11:2 are really one spirit, God the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity whose divine power sustained the humanity of Christ in the PPOG.

In effect, in Rev 3, we are now looking at the principle of the seven spirits and this teaches that the resurrected glorified humanity of Christ at the right hand of the Father, still possess that same power system from God the Holy Spirit. REV 4:5 states that there is a relationship between the seven lamps and the seven local churches of Rev 2 and 3. REV 4:5 says, And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
This means there's a direct relationship between the seven lamps and the seven spirits, that is, God the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the PPOG and the power of the Holy Spirit has been given to the Royal Family of God to be perpetuated throughout this dispensation only. This means that we have something that is unique. We have the seven spirits, the power available from God the Holy Spirit, a power never made available to believers at any other time in history. God the Holy Spirit sustained and empowered only a few people in the O. T., but now every believer has the availability of the Spirit. Through our volition, we can accept or reject it. If we accept it, we will be filled with the Spirit and walk in the Spirit. If we reject it we will grieve and quench the Holy Spirit.

Back in REV 3:1, "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

The seven stars refer to the teaching pastors of the Church-age (seven is the number of completion and the finished work). The pastors of the Church-age are called stars because the stars in the celestial heavens were once the method God used to communicate His word. What the stars in the heavens once did, the stars on earth must do now as they communicate His word.

This verse is describing what is going on in Sardis - a false reputation. It is a sign to the church in Sardis. They have been giving a false impression to the world that they were presenting Bible doctrine, communicating the plan of God, but they were not, and their false reputation is about to be exposed. There are many churches throughout history as well as today, that have false reputations. They are viewed as great spiritual churches, but in reality, they are not because there is no presentation of Bible doctrine or communication of the plan of God.

A reputation for being alive implies that outwardly, the believers in the church of Sardis are positive to doctrine, living in the PPOG, advancing to maturity and forming a pivot for the blessing of the first gentile client nation to God, SPQR. A false reputation for spirituality and maturity is a sign of cosmic involvement related to the function of hypocrisy. To live by one's reputation apart from integrity and virtue is to be a cosmic believer. The only reputation that counts is the believer's reputation with God. It is impossible to have a good name or reputation with God apart from consistent residence and function inside the PPOG, and that includes consistent perception of bible doctrine.

The believers of Sardis talked a good fight, which means they have been exposed to excellent doctrinal teaching. However, they don't fight a good fight. To talk a good fight, the believer only has to know the doctrinal vocabulary; to fight a good fight as per 2Ti 4:7-8, the believer has to be consistent in living inside the PPOG, being consistent in the perception and application of doctrine to life. Only the epignosis type doctrine results in both spiritual growth and application to adversity which is the testing point. It is easy for the cosmic believer to talk a good fight, but it is difficult for the positive believer to fight a good fight.

Again in REV 3:1-2, "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

This is a command that means, be constantly alert, but it is stronger than that; it must be constant all of your Christian life. Alertness for every type of problem is very important. Alertness with regard to temptation is basically where it starts (JAM 1:12-16). Alertness with regard to our failures and what to do about them is the function of the rebound technique resulting in spending as much time as possible in the PPOG. Alertness to make sure that we are not distracted by others from learning the word of God.

Distraction has two categories.
1) Related to self. 
2) Related to others.

For the believer, distractions related to self begin with the shattered spiritual life. Every believer has the potential to fall apart under pressure in his own life. It all begins with our great enemy which we all have in common: The arrogance complex of sins: jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, hatred, implacability, self-pity, hypersensitivity, motivational and functional revenge, gossip, slander, maligning and judging others. When we are arrogant, we are constantly bringing upon ourselves self-induced misery. Although the believer uses his volition to choose arrogance, he usually blames someone else. This leads to the two major trends in the old sin nature:

1) Legalism and self-righteousness, producing moral degeneracy.
2) Lasciviousness and lawlessness, producing immoral degeneracy.

REV 3:2, warns against this, "Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God."

This can happen to the believer who has lack of concentration, which causes disorganization in thinking and in life. Spiritual advance requires understanding and utilizing the ten problem-solving devices of the PPOG. Remember, all believers sin after salvation, no one is perfect, and all of us must have the right of rebound under the privacy of our own priesthood. We have the right to live our life as unto the Lord. We must have the privacy to fail and recover, to sin and rebound without interference from others. We all have areas of strength in our old sin nature and this is where self-righteousness, legalism, or morality comes from. We also have an area of weakness which is prone to lasciviousness.

Remember this principle: if you desire to live a long and healthy life in the dispensation of the Church-age, the sins and failures of others must be left in the hands of the Lord for discipline and judgment. God has the ability to deal with these things totally apart from our help. Condemning another believer is tantamount to blasphemy, because we are superseding the Lord as the true and righteous judge with all the facts. The exception to this is parents over children, or any system of authority, in human establishment, over those under that authority.

The solutions to the problems of distraction from arrogance:

1) The rebound technique provides recovery of fellowship with God and reentry into the PPOG under the filling of the Spirit. This means restoration to fellowship with God which is the only way that you can execute God's plan, will and purpose for your life.
2) Grace orientation used for the perpetuation of enforced and genuine humility. 
3) Doctrinal orientation to the PPOG, attainment of spiritual self-esteem, where you no longer feel threatened by others, as well as the attainment of spiritual independence and spiritual maturity.
4) Personal love for God and/or occupation with Jesus Christ not only motivates, but provides the objectivity for spiritual adulthood.
5) Impersonal love for all mankind replaces arrogant self-righteousness and maligning others from the motivation of inordinate ambition and competition.
6) The function of sharing the happiness of God provides the necessary tranquility to equate adversity with prosperity, living with dying, and to handle all the problems of unfairness and injustice in the devil's world.
7) The faith-rest drill is also a solution by claiming the promises of God in spiritual childhood, and by applying the doctrinal rationales to your experiences in spiritual adulthood.

When we see too much of other people's sins, we become blind to our own sins, which results in shattering our own life. Arrogant self-righteousness is invariably parlayed into crusader arrogance, which is often mistaken for the Christian way of life. The story of the woman caught in adultery, JOH 8:3-11, illustrates this principle. Here we saw that in phariseeism and self-righteousness, the leaders are usually the worst ones. The self-righteous legalists, who thought they were holy, actually were driven away because of their own guilt. Their silent withdrawal and their un-thrown rocks revealed they were guilty as well.

If believers were more concerned about learning doctrine, they would be less concerned about sticking their noses into the lives of others. Therefore, they would come to the ultimate problem-solving device: Occupation with Christ.

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