To the church in Sardis the Lord says that He found none of their works completed before His God (Rev. 3:2); none of the works of the reformed Protestant churches are completed before God, but He is a Lord of completion, and He requires completion (Phil. 1:6).
The One who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars is the solution and the way for the dead and dying church in Sardis to overcome; His shining makes her intensely shining, and He as the Spirit makes her intensely living.
On the one hand the church in Sardis prefigures the reformed church, the Protestant churches, but on the other hand the Lord’s word to this church applies to us today. Today we need to come to the Lord and open to Him so that He as the seven Spirits of God would shine in us and burn in us, searching and burning in our inward parts so that we may be intensely living and intensely shining.
Merely having a lot of activities outwardly in the name of God and in the church doesn’t necessarily mean that we are living; the church in Sardis had a name that she’s living, but in God’s eyes she was dying and even dead.
We need to give the Lord the preeminence in our being, and we need to care not for outward works or a position in the church but for being the shining stars in the Lord’s hands. In this dark age the Lord wants to shine in our hearts, even to rise up in us as the bright morning star so that we may become stars shining with Christ as the light.
We shine in this age not by merely knowing the word of God and being able to recite the truth in God’s word but by coming to the Lord as the sevenfold intensified Spirit to search us, burn us, and enliven us, for it is the Spirit who gives life – the flesh profits nothing, and the mere letter in the Bible kills (John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6).
On the one hand, personally, we need to daily come to the Lord to be shined on and burned, and on the other hand, corporately, we need to be built up and properly related to the saints in the local church so that together we may be those intensely living and intensely shining.
We need the burning Spirit and we need to be in the genuine local churches so that we may be the shining stars in the Lord’s hands, the messengers of the local churches.
None of the Works of the Protestant Church is Completed before God (Rev. 3:2)
Martin Luther was raised by God as a reaction to the dark situation in the Catholic church; he saw the truth of justification by faith (and not by paying penance and asking the priest to pray for you so that God would forgive you) and he translated the Bible in the language of the people so that all may read God’s word.
The Reformation was a great work – it was a divine reaction to the dark and dead situation, and on man’s side it was a recovery of the truth in the Bible and of the Bible itself. God used Luther quite a lot; however, the work started by Luther was not completed.
In the Lord’s eyes, He has not found anything complete in the Protestant churches. We need to see that, even though Martin Luther recovered the matter of justification by faith – which is a great truth in the Christian faith, what he saw was quite shallow, for he didn’t see justification in the way of life but mainly in the way of doctrine.
We thank the Lord that He raised up Martin Luther to open up the Bible and bring to light the matter of justification by faith, but we need to realize that the work started by him was not completed. In the eyes of God there’s nothing completed in the so-called reformed churches; everything has a beginning without an end.
There is a lot of stirring, there are many revivals, and there are many starts in the reformed church, but there is no completion. Hundreds of thousands were saved through the many gospel campaigns, but where are they after that; there’s no follow-up or continuation.
Nothing begun in the Reformation has ever been completed by the Protestant churches; therefore, the church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13) – signifying the church in recovery – is needed for completion.
The Reformation didn’t bring the church back to the beginning – it only caused the world church (the church married to the world culminating in the Catholic church) to become state churches.
Martin Luther was very bold: he challenged the Pope and the Catholic church, but after he got out of the Catholic church, he succumbed to the king of Germany and brought in the “state church” – the Lutheran church – with the king as the head of the church.
He resisted the pope but not the king; he was very much assisted by the king of Germany – who was looking for a reason to get out from under the Papal influence and rule – to promote his ministry, and so many state churches issued.
The same happened in England: there is a “state church” called the Church of England, with the king / the queen as the head of the church.
The reformation was a work of God, a work of the Holy Spirit, but the result of reformation was the work of men; all the state churches are the work of men. In the New Testament there’s no ground or reason for the “world church” or the “state church”, but rather there’s only one church, the church of God, which is expressed in many local churches in the many localities on earth.
Lord Jesus, save us from having none of our works completed before You. Bring us on with You in the truth in the word of God and in our practice in the church life. Lord, we want to be up-to-date with You, having our works completed before You in the church life in the Lord’s recovery. Thank You for bringing us under the completing ministry of Paul to see God’s economy, the dispensing of God into man to produce the church as the Body of Christ consummating in the New Jerusalem!
Our Lord is a Lord of Completion and we are under the Completing Ministry in His Word
His work didn’t proceed, the truth he saw was limited, and his followers didn’t continue to dig into the truth to recover more – there was no continuation! The ones who were justified never went on to grow in life, be brought into the church life, and be built up as the Body of Christ.
However, today in the ministry of the apostles the Lord burdens us not only to beget people through preaching the gospel to them and helping them to be regenerated, but also to feed them with God’s pure word, teach them in the truth, and help them be built up and build up the Body of Christ.
Today we have the complete and completing ministry of Paul, the one who completed the word of God. The word of God spoken among us is not a partial revelation but a complete revelation.
Our Lord is a Lord of completion, and therefore He requires completion; He will complete what He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6). Praise the Lord that, what He has begun among us and in us, He will also complete it!
In the Lord’s recovery we are following Him by not being satisfied with a small part of work but moving with Him toward the completion. God has a goal, which is far greater than our justification by faith or our salvation; God today is working to build up the Body of Christ consummating in the New Jerusalem, the consummation of His goal and work.
Today we have not only justification by faith but also regeneration, transformation, and glorification, and we are learning to build up and be built up into the church as the Body of Christ for God to have a corporate expression on earth.
We don’t want to stop at one of the major truths in the Bible but go on until the completion of the truth, completing the word of God in us and among us for God to have a shining and living testimony on the earth.
May we be saved from having none of our works completed before the Lord. May we not stop or remain fixed on one of the truths in the Bible but allow the Lord to continually speak to us in His word and through the ministry until the word of God is completed in us and among us.
May we realize that there is only one church – the church of God as the Body of Christ – and there are many local churches, one church in each locality, where the saints live Christ, eat Christ, drink Christ, and are built up together as the Body of Christ.
And may we pray for the ones in the Protestant churches that the Lord would continue to show them mercy and they would go on to see the complete truth in the Bible.
May the Lord in these last days recover many in the Protestant churches back to God’s economy, the full ministry of Christ, the completing ministry of Paul, and the apostles’ teaching, so that their works would be completed before the Lord.
Thank You Lord for being a Lord of completion: You will complete what You have begun in us! Praise the Lord, our salvation will be completed and we will be saved and built up to the uttermost, for our Lord is a lord of completion! Thank You Lord for bringing us under the ministry of the apostles to enjoy the complete and completing ministry of Paul. Thank You for showing us mercy to see God’s economy, God’s dispensing, and the Body of Christ. Lord, in these last days may many in the Protestant churches be recovered and enlightened to come to the full knowledge of the truth and have their works completed before God!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother James L. for this week, and portions from, The Orthodoxy of the Church, pp. 54-55 (by Watchman Nee), as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 6 (week 6), The Church in Sardis.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Now within the Lord’s recov’ry, we’re so glad to find the way / To experience the Triune God and live by Him today— / Get into the mingled spirit, and within the spirit stay; / Yes, mingling is the way. (Hymns #1199)
# New man, new creation, new way, / New vision, new spirit, new light, / New year, and new month, and new day, / New mind, and new heart, and new sight, / New garment, new wineskin, new wine, / New blessings, and new covenant, / New mercies, and new life divine, / And completed New Testament! (Song on the completed New Testament)
# Through God’s dispensing, abundance of grace, / Christ’s saving life will reign and death displace… / The law of life from our spirit within, / Saves us from death and the bondage of sin… / The divine Trinity spreads through our soul, / To saturate our whole being, life’s goal… / Christ’s saving life when expressed in each town, / Strengthens the saints causing grace to abound … (Song on God’s complete salvation)
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