Last Updated on : November 28, 2014



Below is further evidence of bro. Roberts' true belief concerning the ecclesia at Sardis, and its "mixed state" (This exhortation was recently brought to our attention by a brother and sister, because of its powerful connection with the above quote concerning the Sardian ecclesia.) Lord Willing, I will detail this excerpt as well, but until then, please consider the quote's clear meaning (my emphasis in blue).

(Read the full exhortation  here)

" From Isaiah we go to John in Patmos (Rev. 2),and receive by him a message from Christ, addressed in the first instance to the seven ecclesias in Asia, but also to “whomsoever hath ears to hear what the Spirit saith unto the ecclesias.” He says much morein the chapter that has been read than we can even glance at. But one or two features are very striking. His message to Sardis, for example. “Thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." This is a verdict which only a divine discernment could pronounce, but the fact that such a verdict should be applicable to any ecclesia (especially one existing at the end of the first century) is suggestive of grave reflections for all, as intended. A name to live is a reputation for spiritual life. Men are liable to work for a reputation. This is in fact the very inspiration in our age of public life of all sorts, and it is liable to intrude into the realms of divine truth. To have “a name to live” is with some an object of ambition and a motive of effort. That there should be some susceptibility to reputation is legitimate, but it is a dangerous incentive, and should be kept in a very small place. Suppose you succeed in establishing “a name to live,” what then? You have in all likelihood only made a snare for yourselves ; for it is a name or reputation with whom? Very likely with those who see on the surface; with those who cannot recognize genuine life; with those whose standing is false; for this is the character of the bulk of mankind, professing or non-professing.  If this be the case, you are likely to be drawn to the kind of things the doing of which will perpetuate it with them, and thus you will be held in the wrong line of things.  Or, if it is otherwise, you will be led to act the part of the hypocrites in the doing of things for the reputation thereof, and not for the inherent character thereof.  The best plan is, to be on the whole heedless of the name of the thing, and to be bent on the thing itself.  What is this? Why, to be really alive, whether men know it or not; whether they acknowledge it or not.  And this being alive is an affair of quickened understanding and affection towards God, as revealed in the Scriptures.  This state of mind is not only independent of human recognition, but naturally shrinks from it, for the favor of God and the favor of man are on two such totally distinct foundations that they do not in their nature mix.  How pitiable is the opposite state, in which there is a feverish care to be right in the eyes of man, with little or no concern towards God.  Jesus declares this to have been the case with the ecclesia at Sardis.  He warns them, and in warning them, warns us.  “I have not found thy works perfect towards God.” It is not, however, for the sake of fault-finding, or in the spirit of condemnation that he speaks thus gravely.  It is that there may be reformation.  “Remember how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent.” “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die.” Jesus would not speak in this strain if change and reformation were impossible.  They may be difficult of achievement: but under the right pressure — the pressure of truth and wisdom arising from enlightened desire and fear — they can be brought about.  The human mind is a flexible thing, and adapts itself to pressures.  The result of education is the universal proof of this.  Therefore, the pressure of the Truth, continually brought to bear will change a condition of the mental man, and bring him into the state which Jesus desired.  The Truth, consisting of many things, includes this fact: that the eye of Christ is on communities professing his name; that “he walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.” That he reads the heart, and will cause every man to find according to his own ways, even now (Rev.  2:1, 23).  If men could but see it, there is reason to fear the judgment of Christ even now.  He appeals to this in his message to Sardis.  “If, therefore, thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I shall come upon thee.” This statement, “thou shalt not know what hour I shall come upon thee,” shows that the threatened retribution does not refer to the judgment seat at his coming, for that will be open and recognizable by all.  It is a retribution in the ways of providence in which his hand is not visible.  The wrecking of an ecclesia, or the separation of a body of people through some apparently human issue may be the result of this interference.  There is always reason for an ecclesia being on its guard towards Christ.  But an ecclesia as a whole may be dead, and a few in it alive.  This is shown by the words with which Jesus concludes the local part of his message: “thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy.” Here is comfort for those living and true brethren and sisters who may find themselves in the unhappy position of being associated with dead professors whom they are powerless to galvanize into life.  Remember that Christ’s approval of you will not be weaker but only all the more cordial that your souls are grieved from day to day with the insipidity and the death of the nominal professors of the Truth with whom you have now to mingle; “Spots in your feasts of charity when they feast with you; feeding themselves without fear; clouds without water; carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; raging waves of the sea; foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” There may be on the other hand ecclesias where there is no redeeming feature at all, as in the case of the Laodiceans, who while on the best possible terms with themselves, and even bragging of their capital state, are so odious to Christ as to be fit only for indignant rejection.  “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.” Wherever there is a tendency to boast, there is a bad state of things in a spiritual point of view: for in a truly healthy state men perceive that the very best state possible at a time when God is rejected on the earth, is necessarily a poor and an afflicted one, and that the only tolerable attitude at present is that of gratitude for so much mercy in the midst of so much sin, and a patient waiting for the good things promised when the earth is purged by judgment.  But even in the Laodicean state, Christ waits with gracious intentions if men will but give him the attention that is reasonable.  “Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him.” How does he knock? By all the instrumentalities he has employed to secure the attention of men.  These all focus in the Bible.  In this he is knocking, knocking always.  To open the door is to listen to the knocking in the reading, and to open the mind and heart to the glorious matters he has to present.  Even the Laodiceans received time to act wisely in this matter.  “I gave her space to repent,” is characteristic of all God’s dealings.  But there is a limit, and there comes a time when He “fights against them with the sword of His mouth.”

In all these things there is a comfort and warning.  The time is hastening for the full issue of them all.  “The way is long and weary,” but has an end for us all, either in the consuming judgment that waits the disobedient and unworthy (which God forbid should be our portion), or in the favor and exaltation with which God will crown the course of patient continuance in well doing with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

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