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Revelation, Chapter 3: The Sardisean Church Age

William Branham

William Branham

William Branham Evangelistic Association

51 min read

The Sardisean Church Age

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. 2Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4Thou 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. 5He 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. 6He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:1-6

Sardis

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Sardis was the capital of ancient Lydia. It passed from the hands of Lydian monarchs to the Persians and thence to Alexander the Great. It was sacked by Antiochus the Great. The kings of Pergamos then succeeded to the dominion until the Romans took over. In the time of Tiberius it was desolated by earthquakes and plagues. Today it is a heap of ruins and uninhabited. The Sardisean Church Age Church Age Book Chapter 6

It passed from the hands of Lydian monarchs to the Persians and thence to Alexander the Great. It was sacked by Antiochus the Great. The kings of Pergamos then succeeded to the dominion until the Romans took over. In the time of Tiberius it was desolated by earthquakes and plagues. Today it is a heap of ruins and uninhabited.

This city was at one time very important commercially. Pliny said that the art of dying wool was invented here. It was the center of wool-dying and carpet weaving. It had a goodly amount of silver and gold in the area and it is said that gold coins were first minted there. It also had a slave market.

The religion of this city was the impure worship of the goddess Cybele. The massive ruins of the temple may still be seen.

You will recall that in the Pergamean Age I mentioned that the Babylonish concept of “mother and son” known as Semiramis and Ninus became the Cybele and Deoius of Asia. The attributes attached to these two are most enlightening as we view them side by side.

He was the sun god; she the moon goddess.

He was the lord of heaven; she the queen of heaven.

He the revealer of goodness and truth; she of gentleness and mercy.

He the mediator; she the mediatrix.

He with the key that opens and shuts the gates of the invisible world; and she with an identical key doing likewise.

He as the judge of the dead; she as standing at his side.

He being killed, raised and ascended into heaven; she carried there bodily by the son.

Now in Rome this same god is given the title of our Lord: he is called the Son of God while she is called the mother of God.

Now that is what we found back there in the other two ages, where the “mother and son” concept took on such tremendous proportions. But now notice that even as it was back in Babylon that the worship of the son began to lose out in favor of the worship of the mother, so, she literally began to take the place of the son. We see in this age that the pagan worship of Sardis was the worship of the woman. It is Cybele alone, not Cybele and Deoius. The mother has literally taken the place of the Son, endowed with the merits of Godhead. All one needs to do is go over her various titles and recall the lovely attributes accorded Mary by the Roman Church to understand where the religion of this age came from.

Two things really struck me with force as I looked into this worship of Cybele. One was the fact that she wore a key like Janus which gave her the same authority as Janus, (key to heaven and earth and the mysteries) and the fact that the worshippers whip themselves until blood spurts from their bodies, which thing is done right today by the Catholics who feel they are suffering like the Lord.

The fact that this is the age of the first real break with papal Rome that actually flourished, no doubt caused the Jezebel prophetess to consolidate and emphasize her doctrine of Maryolatry in decided opposition to the Protestants who denied her any part whatsoever in the plan of Salvation apart from her favor with God as the virgin chosen to bear the Babe. As Luther crystallized the doctrine of justification by faith they held to works, penance, prayers and other unscriptural means. And as the freed Christians glorified the Son, the Roman Catholics increased their deification of Mary until the twentieth century saw (in opposition to most high ranking Roman theologians) Pope Pius literally exalt Mary to glorification in a resurrected body. That doctrine is absolutely the Babylonish one of the son carrying the mother bodily into heaven.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

It passed from the hands of Lydian monarchs to the Persians and thence to Alexander the Great. It was sacked by Antiochus the Great. The kings of Pergamos then succeeded to the dominion until the Romans took over. In the time of Tiberius it was desolated by earthquakes and plagues. Today it is a heap of ruins and uninhabited.

This city was at one time very important commercially. Pliny said that the art of dying wool was invented here. It was the center of wool-dying and carpet weaving. It had a goodly amount of silver and gold in the area and it is said that gold coins were first minted there. It also had a slave market.

The religion of this city was the impure worship of the goddess Cybele. The massive ruins of the temple may still be seen.

You will recall that in the Pergamean Age I mentioned that the Babylonish concept of “mother and son” known as Semiramis and Ninus became the Cybele and Deoius of Asia. The attributes attached to these two are most enlightening as we view them side by side.

He was the sun god; she the moon goddess.

He was the lord of heaven; she the queen of heaven.

He the revealer of goodness and truth; she of gentleness and mercy.

He the mediator; she the mediatrix.

He with the key that opens and shuts the gates of the invisible world; and she with an identical key doing likewise.

He as the judge of the dead; she as standing at his side.

He being killed, raised and ascended into heaven; she carried there bodily by the son.

Now in Rome this same god is given the title of our Lord: he is called the Son of God while she is called the mother of God.

Now that is what we found back there in the other two ages, where the “mother and son” concept took on such tremendous proportions. But now notice that even as it was back in Babylon that the worship of the son began to lose out in favor of the worship of the mother, so, she literally began to take the place of the son. We see in this age that the pagan worship of Sardis was the worship of the woman. It is Cybele alone, not Cybele and Deoius. The mother has literally taken the place of the Son, endowed with the merits of Godhead. All one needs to do is go over her various titles and recall the lovely attributes accorded Mary by the Roman Church to understand where the religion of this age came from.

Two things really struck me with force as I looked into this worship of Cybele. One was the fact that she wore a key like Janus which gave her the same authority as Janus, (key to heaven and earth and the mysteries) and the fact that the worshippers whip themselves until blood spurts from their bodies, which thing is done right today by the Catholics who feel they are suffering like the Lord.

The fact that this is the age of the first real break with papal Rome that actually flourished, no doubt caused the Jezebel prophetess to consolidate and emphasize her doctrine of Maryolatry in decided opposition to the Protestants who denied her any part whatsoever in the plan of Salvation apart from her favor with God as the virgin chosen to bear the Babe. As Luther crystallized the doctrine of justification by faith they held to works, penance, prayers and other unscriptural means. And as the freed Christians glorified the Son, the Roman Catholics increased their deification of Mary until the twentieth century saw (in opposition to most high ranking Roman theologians) Pope Pius literally exalt Mary to glorification in a resurrected body. That doctrine is absolutely the Babylonish one of the son carrying the mother bodily into heaven.

The Age

The Sardisean or fifth church age lasted from 1520 to 1750. It is usually called the Age of the Reformation.

The Messenger

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

The messenger to this age is the best known messenger of all the ages. He was Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a brilliant scholar of gentle disposition. He was studying to be a lawyer when the lingering illness and death of a near friend caused him to become serious concerning the spiritual condition of his life. He entered the Augustinian convent at Erfurt in 1505. There he studied philosophy and also the Word of God. He lived the life of severest penance but all the outward acts could not banish his sense of sin. He said, “I tormented myself to death to make peace with God, but I was in darkness and found it not.” The vicar-general of his order, Staupitz, helped him to gain the insight that his salvation would have to be the experience of an inner work rather than a ritual. With this encouragement, he further sought God. Later he became a priest. As yet he was not saved. He became an avid and deep student of the Word and of the great theological works extant. He was sought out as a teacher and preacher for his depth of knowledge and great sincerity. To fulfill a vow he had made to himself he went to Rome. There he saw the futility of the church’s imposed works that were to bring salvation, and the Word of God struck home to his heart, “The just shall live by faith.” On his return home the evangelical truth of this Scripture flooded his mind and he was set free from sin and born into the kingdom of God. Soon after this he was elevated to Doctor of Divinity and commissioned, “to devote his whole life to study and faithfully expound and defend the holy Scripture.” This he did, and with such effect that his heart and the hearts of those around him were deeply fixed upon the truth of the Word. The Word soon came into open conflict with the abuses of church creeds and doctrines.

Thus when Leo X become pope, and John Tetzel came to sell indulgences for sin, Luther had no choice but to rise up against this anti-Scriptural teaching. First, he thundered from the pulpit against it and then wrote his famous 95 theses which on October 31, 1517, he nailed to the door of Castle Church.

In a short time Germany was ablaze and the reformation was on. Now let it be remembered that Martin Luther was not the only one who had protested the Roman Catholic Church. He was but one of many. Others had denied the popes their self-granted temporal and spiritual power, and even amongst the popes there were minor temporary reforms. Yes, there were many others who raised issues, but in the case of Luther, God’s time was ripe for a definite move that would be the beginning of the restoration of the church to an outpouring of the Holy Ghost at a much later date.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

He was a mighty preacher and teacher of the Word, and insisted especially in his first years of public eminence, that the Word was the sole criterion. Thus he was against works as a means of salvation and baptism as a means of regeneration. He taught the mediation of Christ apart from man as was the original and Pentecostal concept. He was a man given to much prayer and had learned that the more work he had to do, and the more sorely he was pressed for time, the more of his time he gave to God in prayer in order to ensure satisfactory results. He knew what it was to battle with the devil and it is said that Satan one day visibly appeared to him, and he flung the ink well at him, bidding him go. Another time two fanatics came to him to induce him to join with them in banishing all priests and Bibles. He discerned the spirit within them and sent them off.

It is recorded of Dr. Martin Luther, in Sauer’s History, Volume 3, page 406, that he was, “a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues, interpreter, in one person, endowed with all nine gifts of the Spirit.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Now as time went on we find a great change in the way he conducted the affairs in which he was involved. At first he had been so gentle, so fearless, so patient and constantly waiting on God to work out the problems. But then vast numbers began to come to his banner. Their purpose was not a truly spiritual one. Rather they had political motivations. They wanted to break the yoke of the pope. They disliked sending money to Rome. Fanatics rose up. Soon he was dragged into political affairs and decisions that actually lay outside the realm of the church except that the church through prayer, preaching and conduct might set up a standard to be heeded. These problems of politics mounted until he was forced into an untenable position of mediating between lords and peasants. His decisions were so wrong that an uprising took place and thousands were killed. He meant well, but once he had let himself be entangled again in a Church-State Gospel he had to reap the whirlwind.

But for all that, God used Martin Luther. Let it not be said that his intentions were wrong. Let it only be said that his judgment failed. Truly if the Lutherans could get back to his teaching and serve God as this gracious brother served Him, then that people would surely be a credit and praise to the great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

The Salutation

Revelation 3:1, “These things saith He That hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Once again as in the previous four ages the Spirit is revealing our gracious Lord to us by setting forth His wonderful attributes. This time as He is standing in the midst of the church, we see Him as the One with the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. We know who the seven stars are, but we will have to find what the seven Spirits refer to.

This same phrase is found four times in the Book of Revelation. Revelation 1:4, “From the seven Spirits Which are before His throne.” Revelation 3:1, “These things saith He That hath the seven Spirits.” Revelation 4:5, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.” Revelation 5:6, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as It had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.”

To begin with, we know for a certainty that these verses are not teaching a new and contrary doctrine to John 4:24a “God is A (one) Spirit.” But this is like I Corinthians 12:8-11 wherein we find ONE Spirit manifesting Himself in NINE ways. Thus we know that the seven Spirits of God mean it is the one and same Spirit coming forth in a sevenfold way. Now in Revelation 4:5 these same seven Spirits are called “lamps of fire burning” before the Lord. Since John always used nothing but Old Testament symbols in the Revelation we go to the Old Testament and find from Proverbs 20:27 that “the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord.” These seven Spirits are found to be associated with man. John the Baptist in John 5:35 was called a “burning light” which should actually be translated as “burning lamp.” Again in Revelation 5:6 the seven Spirits are identified as seven eyes. In Zechariah 4:10, “For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord.” It is very evident that the word, “they” refers to men. Thus we see that the eyes of the Lord in this instance are men — of course they will be anointed men, full of the Holy Ghost, for God’s ministries are not in the power of men but of the Holy Ghost. Putting our Scriptural discoveries together it is evident that the seven Spirits of God refer to the continuous ministry of the same Holy Spirit in the lives of seven men with whom God identifies Himself very closely. They are His eyes, and they are His lamps. Who these seven men are can easily be seen because the next phrase calls them the seven stars which are already known to us as the seven messengers to the seven ages. How beautiful that is. See, the star was meant to reflect light at night, for the sun has gone. Just so the messenger (typified as a star) to each age was to reflect the light of the Son. They all did this by the Holy Spirit.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

So we see that the Seven Spirits actually refer to the One Spirit of God working out the will and Word of God in different generations.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

It also says here that these seven stars, or seven messengers to the seven ages are in His hand. He is holding them. You know right away that if they are held in His hand they are associated with His power. That is what the hand signifies. It signifies the power of God! And authority of God. Not one of them came in his own power and authority.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Yes, the Spirit is not seven Spirits but ONE. He will always be the same and act the same. And the seven messengers will have the same Spirit and teach the same Word and have the same power. And if the church is the true church it will have the very same Spirit and Word and acts of power that they had at Pentecost. By experience it will be a Pentecostal church; and there will be tongues, and interpretation and prophecy and healings. God will be in the midst of her and God will declare Himself in the midst of her as He always has. Hallelujah! And she will be UNorganized. Don’t forget that.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

(apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, pastors). For in each age the church goes astray, and it is not just the laity but the clergy group — shepherds are wrong as well as sheep. Then God brings Himself on the scene as the Chief Shepherd in the ministries of these seven men to lead His people back to the truth and the abundant power of that truth. God is in His people — all of His people, for if any man has not the Spirit of Christ he is none of His. And He is the Word. That would be the Word recognized in the people. But He has placed a special leadership in these men of His own choosing and through the determined counsel of His own will. They appear once in each age. It is the same Spirit in them. What a far cry is this from the heresy of Rome. They have a man of their own choosing — one after the other — none producing the power of God — none abiding in the Word of God — each one differing from the one before him and adding what he desires as though he were God. God is not in it. But He is in His messenger and he who would have the fulness of God would follow the messenger as the messenger is a follower of the Lord by His Word.

“He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars,” Revelation 3:1. As this same Lord identified Himself with man in the incarnation, He is again identifying Himself with man by His Spirit within man. “These are mine,” saith the Lord. The seven Spirit-filled messengers are the Lord’s. They may be repudiated. They may be questioned. Indeed, to human minds they may not even seem to qualify — nevertheless, they are the messengers for their age. God used an Abraham (he lied), He used a Moses (he rebelled), a Jonah (he disobeyed), a Samson (he sinned), a David (he murdered). He also used a Joshua, and a Joseph. And those with severe blemishes far outnumber those whose histories seem to be perfect. ALL WERE, AND ARE HIS. None dare deny that. He used them by and through the Holy Spirit that He put within them. To their own Master they stood or fell. And in them all was accomplished the sovereign will of God. Let external history attempt to refute this, it still stands. The Eternal God still walks amongst the golden lamp stands and sends His messengers by His Spirit with the Word to the people of every age.

The Denunciation

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Revelation 3:1b, “I know thy works, that thou has a name that thou livest, and art dead.” Revelation 3:2b, “For I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Now here, indeed, is a very strange thing. In every age to this point the Spirit has first of all praised the true believers, and then denounced the false vine. But in this period there is evidently such wanton disregard for the Lord and His Word that the entire message to this fifth age rings with condemnation.

“I know thy works.” What were these works that came up before the Lord and caused His displeasure? Well, you know that each age lapped over into the next age, so we have a continuation of the works of the fourth age into the fifth. These works as you are well aware were:

  1. The leadership of the Holy Spirit was superseded by a human hierarchy.

  2. The pure Word of God and its free benefit to all men was deposed for creeds, dogmas, church orders, etcetera.

  3. The worship in the Spirit and Gifts of the Spirit and all that which pertains to true community fellowship of the saints was cast aside for liturgy and literal idol worship, pagan feasts, etcetera.

  4. Maryolatry was assuming a greater place in the Christian worship, until she had actually assumed a place of Godhead and the Son was brought from His lofty position of over all to being subservient to a man called the pope, who termed himself the vicar of Christ.

Those who fought this terrible anti-Christ church were destroyed. Those who stayed with it found themselves the pawn of the church whether they be peasants or kings. Their lives were not their own, and neither were their lives Christ’s, but they belonged body, soul, and spirit to the Church of Rome. They talked about the blood of Christ, yet they purchased their salvation with money, and bought forgiveness of sins either by gold or penance. The wealthier of them found it a happy situation when Pope Leo X allowed them to buy indulgences for sins not yet committed so that they with ease of conscience could plan their awful crimes and then proceed to carry them out, knowing that the pope had already remitted their sins. The Word of God was kept from them, so who was to know the truth! Since truth comes only from the Word, the people were shut up in a dungeon of the Roman Church, awaiting death, and after death the judgment. But the great whore, drunk with the blood of martyrs and with no thought of the judgment, reeled savagely on to kill men with both spiritual and physical death.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

They were living their own name, too. And all the denominations are doing that very thing today. They are living their own name, and not the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is easily seen for every church is known by the way it worships but none are known by the power of God. There is your test. And I want you to notice right here that this era did not have the signs and wonders amongst them. They gave up the power of God for the power of the state. They clung to their own name; they made their names great. It was that old spirit of getting everyone into its fold.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

This denominational spirit has made all the denominations write their manuals and teach their creeds, set up their offices and church governments and then each claims that she, and she alone, truly speaks for God as she is the best qualified. Now if that isn’t exactly what the pope and the Roman Church are doing! They are right back there with their mother, the harlot, and don’t know it.

In closing our comments on this verse, “thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead,” I cannot impress upon you too strongly that this age, though it brought the reformation, was most sternly rebuked by God instead of being praised, because IT SOWED THE SEED OF DENOMINATION THAT ORGANIZED RIGHT BACK TO THE HARLOT, after God had opened a door of escape. When the move away from the Catholic Church took place, it was not truly Spiritual as a whole, but more political. Most of the people took up with Protestantism because as I have stated, they hated the Roman system of political and financial bondage. Thus, instead of this being a great Spiritual move with all the earmarks of Holy Spirit influence as when God used purely Spiritual means to accomplish His ends at Pentecost, it was indeed a WORK WHEREIN THE WRATH OF MAN PRAISED GOD, and the results paralleled the history of Israel when she left Egypt and wandered in the desert, not making it to Canaan Land. However, much was accomplished in that where the yoke of Rome was even partly broken, men could now receive the Word of God and yield to the influence of the Spirit without such great fear as formerly. This opened the door to the great missionary age that followed.

The Warning

Revelation 3:2, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

I wish it could be said that the Sardisean Age was a restoration instead of a reformation. I cannot say that. The Word does not call it a restoration, but certainly calls it a reformation. Had it been a restoration, that age would have been another Pentecostal age. But it was not. The best that could be said of it was, “Strengthen that which remains, that is ready to die.” There was something missing. My, yes, there certainly was. This age had justification, but it had missed sanctification and the Baptism with the Holy Ghost. That is what God’s original plan was. That is what they had at Pentecost.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Oh, they had the written Word, (but not the revealed Word). This was the reformation period. But fear not little flock, God said, “I will restore,” and this reform was going to be the start of it. He was going to (according to His promise) take the church back from the depth of Satan in the Dark Ages to the Depth of God that they had at Pentecost and in the first few years of the existence of the church.

Now be careful, and get this. It says in this 2nd verse that I read, “For I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Do you know what the meaning of “not perfect” really is? It is “unfulfilled.” This age was an unfulfilled age. It was just the start of getting back. That is why I said the Bible called it Reformation — not restoration. It had started out in the doctrine of justification which meant salvation was all of God. Oh, how Luther preached the sovereignty of God and election. He knew it was all of grace. He separated the church from rule by ecclesiastical hierarchy. He tore down the idols. He cast out the confessions to the priests. He denounced the pope.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.” Now the ideas expressed in the two words, “watchful” and “strengthen” are these. To watch contains not only the idea of being awake but to be alert. To be otherwise insinuates danger and loss. To strengthen means more than just to give strength, it means to fix and establish for permanency. These two commands refer to what is left of the TRUTH which itself is ready or “about” to die.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

No sir. They did not heed the voice of the Spirit and another age went into captivity and so God raised up others who would carry out His will. God by-passed the Lutheran denomination as He has all others, and they will never come back. God had to go on and in a new age bring further truth and a little more restoration.

Judgment

Revelation 3:3, “Remember therefore how thou has received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

I want to read another translation (Wuest) of this verse, “Be remembering, therefore, in what way you have received (the truth as a permanent deposit) and what way you heard (it) and be safeguarding (it), and have a change of mind at once.” It is very evident from this verse that God had given them truth as a permanent deposit. It was received and is irrevocably theirs. It now remains to be seen what they will do with it, whether they will regard it or not. And that is true. They had been given the basic truth of the whole Gospel, “The just shall live by faith,” “Salvation is of the Lord.” They had heard the truth of the Bible which cast down the doctrines of Rome and set at naught all papal authority. They knew the truth that the church does not save. They understood the Lord’s supper. They had light on water baptism. They put out the images. Truth? Why there never was an age with any more men with so much light to shed. They had enough illumination to completely overhaul the old system or start out fresh and let God lead them, line upon line and precept upon precept. They received the truth. They wanted it and heard it. But the question was, how did they hear it? Did they hear it to build upon or was it with the same attitude that many Greeks had — something to discuss and theorize over? Evidently the rich Word of truth was being heard in an academic manner, rather than for practical outworking, for God was demanding a change of mind concerning it. If this is the Word of God which indeed it is, then it must be obeyed. Failure to obey would bring judgment. When the guards of the sacred temple were found sleeping, they were beaten and their garments burned. What shall the Lord do to those who in this age have relaxed their guard?

“I will come on thee as a thief.” Ancient Sardis was constantly harassed by bandits that swooped down from the hills and pillaged the people. Thus they knew only too well what the Spirit was saying in that the coming of the Lord is as a thief. Vigilance and preparation alone will suffice to be ready for His coming. Now we know that this is a message for the false vine, for the coming of the Lord will be as it was in the days of Noah.

The Eulogy

Revelation 3:4, “Thou has a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Of course the word “names” means “people” as it says in Acts 1:15 concerning those in the upper room, “the number of names together were about 120.”

Now these people that were the true saints of God were walking “all pleasing unto the Lord.” Their garments were clean. You see in those days the garments would sweep along on the road and pick up dirt and defilement. These were watching how they walked so that they were not corrupted by the world. They were in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. They were holy and without blame before Him. Thus they were fulfilling their purpose for that is what Ephesians 1:4 says is the purpose of God for us, “that we should be holy and without blame before Him.”

Now from this verse which shows the elect of God to be a “Few Names,” you can see clearly what we have been teaching about this age. It was chaotic. It was UNFULFILLED. It was split scores of ways, and God rebuked it almost in its entirety. It was weak and sickly and ready to die. It was not the glorious era that carnal minded Protestant historians have tried to make it. One quick look at that tree saw it was cankered and blighted, denuded of leaf and barren of fruit except for some deformed and wormy fruit that was fast dropping to the ground. But hold a moment! Look closer. There at the top, in the light of the sun, were some “first fruits” — a “Few Names” — perfect in Him for they were born of Him, filled with Him and walking with Him by His Word.

Thank God for “those few.”

“And they shall walk with Me.” That is what God says He will bestow upon them for this upright walk. That is part of their inheritance that He has reserved for them. If they were willing to walk with Him through the toils and snares of life and be an honor to Him, He was going to reward them. He is not forgetful of our labour of love. God will always recompense us for our efforts to please Him.

Yes, they had walked through the world and had not partaken of it. They had not let the world systems overcome them. When the illustrious names of that age had yielded to the blandishment of the state and chosen political mindedness rather than Spiritual mindedness and were on their way back into the world, these few stood for the Word of God, and thereby honored the Lord. Now He would honor them in return. For they shall walk with Him in white. They had identified themselves with Him on earth and now He would identify Himself with them in the New Jerusalem. And how marvelous will be that identification! It makes me rejoice and yet it makes me weep, to think of His condescension, for you will note that He is not dressed in another color different from the saints, as earthly leaders would so do. No, they are like Him; He is like them. They are like Him, even as John said; for “they see Him as He is.”

“For they are worthy.” Do you realize Who is saying this? It is Jesus, the Worthy One, Himself. This is the only One Who is accounted worthy to take the book out of the hand of Him Who sits upon the throne. And now this Worthy One is saying to His saints, “You are worthy.” Here is this One, the only One qualified to judge, (and indeed all judgment is committed unto Him,) and He says, “You are worthy.” These words are as astounding as are the words in Romans 8:33b, “God says I am righteous.” (Way translation.) There in the white light of God’s righteousness, hear the sweet voice of Jesus as He says, “These are Mine. They are righteous. They are worthy. They shall walk with Me in white.”

The Promise to the Overcomer

Revelation 3:5, “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 His holy angels.”

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment.” This is actually a repetition of verse 4, wherein is made reference to the few who have not defiled their garments. We used to have a saying years ago that no doubt was taken from this verse. It was, “Keep your skirts clean.” It meant: don’t get involved in questionable things; others will be involved and you might be tempted to be involved, or someone might even try to involve you; but stay clear of it all by steering a course away from it. Now God is going to reward those who follow this advice.

Now these people that were the true saints of God were walking “all pleasing unto the Lord.” Their garments were clean. You see in those days the garments would sweep along on the road and pick up dirt and defilement. These were watching how they walked so that they were not corrupted by the world. They were in the Spirit and walking in the Spirit. They were holy and without blame before Him. Thus they were fulfilling their purpose for that is what Ephesians 1:4 says is the purpose of God for us, “that we should be holy and without blame before Him.”

Now from this verse which shows the elect of God to be a “Few Names,” you can see clearly what we have been teaching about this age. It was chaotic. It was UNFULFILLED. It was split scores of ways, and God rebuked it almost in its entirety. It was weak and sickly and ready to die. It was not the glorious era that carnal minded Protestant historians have tried to make it. One quick look at that tree saw it was cankered and blighted, denuded of leaf and barren of fruit except for some deformed and wormy fruit that was fast dropping to the ground. But hold a moment! Look closer. There at the top, in the light of the sun, were some “first fruits” — a “Few Names” — perfect in Him for they were born of Him, filled with Him and walking with Him by His Word.

Thank God for “those few.”

“And they shall walk with Me.” That is what God says He will bestow upon them for this upright walk. That is part of their inheritance that He has reserved for them. If they were willing to walk with Him through the toils and snares of life and be an honor to Him, He was going to reward them. He is not forgetful of our labour of love. God will always recompense us for our efforts to please Him.

Yes, they had walked through the world and had not partaken of it. They had not let the world systems overcome them. When the illustrious names of that age had yielded to the blandishment of the state and chosen political mindedness rather than Spiritual mindedness and were on their way back into the world, these few stood for the Word of God, and thereby honored the Lord. Now He would honor them in return. For they shall walk with Him in white. They had identified themselves with Him on earth and now He would identify Himself with them in the New Jerusalem. And how marvelous will be that identification! It makes me rejoice and yet it makes me weep, to think of His condescension, for you will note that He is not dressed in another color different from the saints, as earthly leaders would so do. No, they are like Him; He is like them. They are like Him, even as John said; for “they see Him as He is.”

“For they are worthy.” Do you realize Who is saying this? It is Jesus, the Worthy One, Himself. This is the only One Who is accounted worthy to take the book out of the hand of Him Who sits upon the throne. And now this Worthy One is saying to His saints, “You are worthy.” Here is this One, the only One qualified to judge, (and indeed all judgment is committed unto Him,) and He says, “You are worthy.” These words are as astounding as are the words in Romans 8:33b, “God says I am righteous.” (Way translation.) There in the white light of God’s righteousness, hear the sweet voice of Jesus as He says, “These are Mine. They are righteous. They are worthy. They shall walk with Me in white.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

You know we are living in the end time. It is in this age that the churches are going to come together. And as they are even now controlling world politics, they will soon control the finances of the world. Then, if you don’t belong to the world organization of churches, you won’t be able to buy or to sell. You will lose all. Those who stay true to God and keep their garments clean from the defilement of this “world-system” of church orders will be physically bereft. There will be presented to them a great temptation to give in. Preachers will give in with the excuse that they will serve God within the framework of the antichrist beast-system. They will give in to the flatteries and blandishments of the hierarchy. And the people will follow these false shepherds right into the slaughter. But in the judgment they will all be found naked. They will not be given those white robes; neither will they walk with Him. You can’t walk in the spotted garments of the world, holding hands with the devil here, and then expect to be with God.

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

“He that overcometh… I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life.”

Note: Rev. William Branham covered this subject in great detail from pages 265-289 in the Exposisiton of the Seven Church Ages. Please read this to get a full understanding of this subject. I have only included a small portion.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

The possibility of the removal of a name from the records of God deserves more than a casual study, for up until now most students have merely drawn a conclusion that God places the names of those born again within the Lamb’s Book of Life at the time of their rebirth; and if for any reason that name must be removed, the space on the record will simply be a blank as it was before a name had been placed there. This is one hundred percent opposite to what the Word actually teaches.

At the very start of our study, let it be known that there is NOT ONE Scripture that teaches that God is presently compiling a record of names.

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

When Israel rejected the leadership of God in the pillar of fire, and turned to worship the golden calves, their names were removed from the Book of Life. Exodus 32:33, “Whosoever has sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.” If such turning to idols demands the penalty of the removal of names from the Book of Life, then most assuredly Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ as Messiah would demand as severe a penalty.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

As Israel (chosen people of God) in majority forfeited their rights in the Book of Life by rejecting Jesus, so the majority of the Gentile church will also come into condemnation with the resultant removal of their names from the Book of Life by rejecting the Word and thereby entering into the world ecumenical movement which is the image erected unto the beast.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Rev. William Marrion Branham As Israel (chosen people of God) in majority forfeited their rights in the Book of Life by rejecting Jesus, so the majority of the Gentile church will also come into condemnation with the resultant removal of their names from the Book of Life by rejecting the Word and thereby entering into the world ecumenical movement which is the image erected unto the beast.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Revelation 20:11-15, “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” There will be both the righteous and the unrighteous in this judgment. It says so. THESE RIGHTEOUS WILL NOT BE THE BRIDE FOR THE BRIDE SITS WITH HIM IN JUDGMENT.

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

The question now arises, why are these righteous ones in the judgment? There is no other place that they can come up, for there are but two resurrections and since they could not qualify for the first resurrection they must come up in the second which is a resurrection unto judgment. The ones who qualify for the first resurrection (the bride) are not in the judgment. John 5:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life” (that is, the believer is already the recipient of eternal life which he has in his possession now), “and shall not come into condemnation” (shall not come into the judgment, is what it really says); “but is passed (permanently) from death unto life.”

An Exposition of The Seven Church Ages

Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

To further clarify, notice specifically the words of Matthew 25:31-46. It does not say that a shepherd is literally separating sheep from goats, but it is AS a shepherd dividing sheep from goats. These are not sheep in this particular area of time (White Throne Judgment). The sheep are in His fold, they heard His voice (Word) and they followed Him. THEY ALREADY HAVE ETERNAL LIFE AND CANNOT COME INTO THE JUDGMENT. But these do NOT have eternal life, and they are in the judgment. They are allowed to GO INTO eternal life. But upon what grounds do they enter into life eternal? Certainly not upon the fact that they already have His life as does the bride, but they receive it because they were kind to His brethren. They are not His brethren: that would make them joint-heirs with Jesus. They are NOT heirs to anything but life. They share no throne, etcetera, with Him. THEIR NAMES MUST HAVE BEEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE AND NOT REMOVED. Now because of their love of the people of God they are recognized and saved. No doubt these served and helped the children of God. Perhaps like Nicodemus and Gamaliel they stood for the children in a time of trouble.

If this seems to smack of “restoration,” watch carefully now, for the wicked are NOT restored, but turned into the lake of fire. The names of many of those destroyed were in the Book of Life also; but they were blotted out because they failed to honor the people of God who were the living manifested Word (living epistles) for their day.

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

It is the second resurrection wherein the five foolish virgins come up. Notice that they were virgins. They did not have the Holy Spirit so they missed being in the bride, while the five wise who had oil became a part of that bride. But these people, being a separated, God-loving people, and trying to abide in the Word, according to what they knew of it, and being a help in the work of the Lord will come up at the end of time. They will miss the millennium, which you can begin to see by these truths is much more important and wonderful than we have ever thought or believed.

All these people had their names in the Book of Life and their names remained. But whose names did not remain? Those of the world system churches who fought the bride will be those whose names are removed. That is who will lose out. They will be cast into the lake of fire.

Now let us go another step, but before we do let us review our case thus far. First of all, we know most assuredly that the purpose of God stands in election. It was purposed in Himself. It was God’s purpose to bring forth a people like unto Himself that would be a Word Bride. She was chosen before the foundation of the world IN HIM. She was foreknown and beloved before she was ever brought forth during the ages upon the earth. She was redeemed by His blood and can NEVER come into condemnation. She can never be in the judgment because sin cannot be imputed unto her. Romans 4:8, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” But indeed she shall be with Him in His throne of judgment, judging the world and even angels. Her name (each of her members) was written in a section of the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world. Secondly, there is another class. Their names are also in the Book of Life and they will come up in the second resurrection. Such are the foolish virgins and the righteous as are spoken of in Matthew 25. In this class also are those who do not worship the beast or become involved in the antichrist system but die for their faith even though they are not in the bride, not having been born again. But they will come up in the second resurrection and go into eternal life. Thirdly, there are the borderline Christians such as we saw in Israel coming out of Egypt. These had their names in the Book of Life and their works written in the books. These having failed to obey God and being void of the Spirit, though even the signs and wonders were amongst them, will have their names removed from the Book of Life. Amongst this group will be the ones like Judas who though entirely void of the Spirit, but are religious, will have manifestation in their lives, and though on the books were not the elected IN HIM. Such also as Balaam will be in that group. Fourth and finally, are the ones whose names have never been or will ever be written on the books. Such are found in Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” Jesus said that a certain group would accept one who came in his own name. That one is the antichrist. And that is exactly what it says of them in Revelation 13:8, and 17:8. These were ordained of God but not unto election. And with this group is such that are as Pharaoh. It says of him, “Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up.” “Vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” Romans 9:17 and 22. None of these would be placed on the records of life. I am not saying that there is no record of them. No doubt there is some kind of a record of them, but NOT IN THE RECORDS OF LIFE. Their purpose of existence has been dealt with slightly in the rest of this book but we can add two more Scriptures. Proverbs 16:4, “The Lord hath made the wicked for the day of evil.” Job 21:30, “…the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.”

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

Now, if we impute omniscience to God, we must also accept that He is perfect in wisdom and righteousness. This plan of election and reprobation is the wisdom of God revealed in all ages even, as it says in Ephesians 1:3-11, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all Spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved. In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace; wherein He hath abounded toward us in all WISDOM and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: in Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.” Thus if God has so designed that there be those whose names are placed in a section of the Lamb’s Book of Life and cannot be erased for they are the names of His bride, then we must accept that. If it also states that there are those whose names were placed in the record of the Book of Life but in the foreknowledge of God they were to fall and have their names removed we must accept that. And if there are those whose names were NEVER placed upon a record of life, we must accept that, also. And if there are those who will enter into life eternal after the White Throne judgment solely on the grounds of being good and kind and just to the elect of God who are His brethren, then we cannot but accept that. FOR WHO KNOWETH THE MIND OF THE LORD THAT HE SHOULD INSTRUCT HIM? Rather let us be subject in faith to Him Who is our Father and live.

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

We have the same right today in the church. Names are going to be blotted out of the Book of Life. No names will be blotted out of the Book of Eternal Life for that is another record though contained in the Book of Life. THIS IS THE RECORD: GOD HATH GIVEN US ETERNAL LIFE, AND THIS LIFE IS IN HIS SON. HE THAT HATH THE SON HATH LIFE (ETERNAL) AND HE THAT HATH NOT THE SON HATH NOT LIFE (ETERNAL). And those who have that life were in HIM before the foundation of the world. THEY WERE CHOSEN IN HIM BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD. That GREAT ROYAL SEED, Jesus Christ, was planted (He died) and that life that was in Him came up through the wheat plant and is reproducing itself in multitudes of wheat seeds having the same life in them, and being like the Original because by Spirit they are original.

Now we can see why the redeemed (bought back by original owner) bride (she was in Him as Eve was in Adam) cannot ever have her “member-names” taken off the record. She is part of Him. She is in the throne. She can never be judged. Every one in the bride is a member of Him and He loses none. But that is not so concerning “the all” in the Book of Life. For amongst them are even those like Judas, etcetera, who have a part in the record but their names are removed. We can see those who come in the last days, and after having done wonderful works, Jesus will say that He never knew them. It is not that He was not aware of them. His omniscience precludes that; but they were not foreknown as in the bride; and neither were they foreknown as amongst the righteous of the second resurrection.

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Chapter 7, The Sardisean Church Age

In concluding this subject for this time, let me refer to a statement made at its beginning wherein I said that not one Scripture spoke of the Lord PRESENTLY compiling a record of names. That is indeed so. However there is a Scripture pointing a future compilation. It is in the 87th Psalm. This Psalm speaks of the Lord writing up the names of all those born in Zion. On no account can it be presumed that God has to wait until the end of ages or that period of time dealing with Zion in order to know who all might be born in Zion. Again, that would preclude omniscience. Surely He knows who all comprise that number. But what is it? Is it not simply the revised roll wherein God simply places in a new record those names which remained after the second resurrection and pertained to Zion? Surely, that is it.

“And I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.” Roll call in heaven! “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” The Great Shepherd is calling His sheep by name. The creative voice of God is calling them forth from the dust or changing their atoms even though they had not fallen asleep. It is the rapture. It is the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb and His bride.

But the rapture is not the only roll call. There at the second resurrection, at the great White Throne judgment, will names be confessed before the Father and His angels. Now I have been told by those who know, that the sweetest sound to a human ear is the sound of that person’s name. How people love to have their names before the public. How they love acclaim. But no earthly voice will ever sound your name as sweetly as will the voice of God if your name is in the Book of Life and remains there to be revealed before the holy angels. What a day that will be when we hear Jesus say, “Father, they confessed My Name before men in the days of their earthly pilgrimage. Now I will confess their names before Thee and all the heavenly angels.”

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Once more the Spirit hath spoken. Once again we have reviewed the record of what the Spirit said to another age. And we have found the record correct. Another age has gone by and it was fulfilled exactly as He said it would be. What a consolation that is to us who hope to be in the last day bride, for it causes our hearts to leap for joy that He is faithful and will perform His every promise. If He was faithful and true to those of the Sardisean Age, then He is just as true to this our age. If they by His grace and power will be received and commended by Him, then so will we. Let us go therefore, to perfection and meet the Lord in the air, and be forever with Him.