It can be a terrible thing to receive revelation from God; terrible in that it makes you fear Him but also because it means you can no longer escape truth and its fearful implications. What is, IS, and there is no denying, deflecting or escaping it. The Lord has been deepening and broadening our understanding of the Sardis/Philadelphia paradigms and it is both exhilirating and dreadful.
What is eye-opening is the harsh reality that Sardis is blind to so much of Philadelphia. Moreover, such blindness has no excuse - even though it is actually of God - because it is a wilful ignorance. Sardis folks have no interest in Philadelpia and this is a decision, not an accident. Improving Sardis is what those of Sardis see as being their task in God, along with making it more appealing to the world. Yet Sardis is death and is for the dying. Only Philadelphia has resurrection life. We are not referring here to individual salvation but something way beyond that. Philadelphia's agenda is not to escape eternal damnation but to bring heavenly glory on earth. Philadelphia is, of all the churches, the church of paradox. It is very much heavenly-oriented but also earthly-minded.
Philadelphia is inherently Johannine because it is about love of the brethren. Compared to Philadelphia, the brotherly love of Sardis will look like hate. In fact, it often really is. Sardis has no place for those who are not of Sardis. It has a hard time recognising them as brethren. And Sardis has no clue of the synagogue of satan; again, this is reserved for the church of mysteries, Philadelphia. Sardis is the modern church and there is something very postmodern about Philadelphia in that it seeks no pat answers. Sardis has its systematic theologies and its Bible answer men. To Sardis, the Bible is "a manual of successful living" and the book that contains all the answers. But Philadelphia is content to have the Bible be a "book of mysteries." Sardis functions in an either/or paradigm; Philadelphia has a both/and approach. Philadelphia is the church that refuses to box God.
Of course, there are many wonderful things in Sardis. It holds enormous appeal to many and it can boast of great treasures. More people have come to faith in Christ under the roof of Sardis than any other era. It has the reputation of being alive and Sardis saints would fight you if you said otherwise. They are proud of their history and their reputation. But the problem is that it is God who says otherwise. What God says is death is, quite simply, death. The remarkable thing is that the first to see it are probably what Sardis calls the "lost" or "unsaved." This is why Sardis is declining in numbers. It is a frightful thing to behold. Of course, Sardis blames the lost themselves as well as the devil and much of Sardis smugly decrees that such decline and declension is all part of the prophetic plan of God.
Sardis is the church of prophetic timelines and charts, the church that seeks to know all things, where mystery is abominated. Sardis has all the answers but doesn't actually know what the questions are. Sardis is obsessed with the antichrist and the mark of the beast and terrifying people into thinking they may be "left behind." This is why Sardis is told that the Lord may come as a thief. Also, Sardis is where you will hear about "giving big so that God can bless you" and where slick preachers will pray "the anointing of Abraham" on you - for a certain donation, of course. Philadelphia has no such blessings to sell since these things are not for sale but are freely given. A Philadelphia saint knows he/she is rich and has no need to manipulate what he/she can manifest by faith. For the blessing-selling huckster of Sardis, however, the warning of Jesus coming as a thief should be very clear.
God loves Sardis folks but that love implores them to repent. Sardis is tainted and imperfect. It is not the vehicle God has chosen to bring about the restoration. That which Sardis longs for, it cannot actually enter into. Like those who wandered around the wilderness and drank of the Rock which is Christ, they cannot enter into the Promised Land. These things were written for our example here at the end of the age. Drinking of Christ is not enough. There is a higher dimension to walk in than Sardis. Sardis people are rabid about Jesus-centredness. But you can't be Jesus-centred if you reject truth! Sardis is a remnant paradigm but Philadelphia is a fullness paradigm.
These truths are being contested in the spirit even as you read this. God is seeking to take us into the Philadelphia paradigm just as He wanted to take Israel into the land. The problem is that Sardis must die first, just as many had to die who were older generations in the wilderness. The modern church must die that the postmodern church may come forth in resurrection life. These terms modern and postmodern are just ways of helping us understand, though technically the term "postmodern" means future or after time. Thus the Church of Philadelphia is a church that draws upon the powers of the age to come.
I cannot make you see Philadelphia, dear reader, only God can. I can pray for you and counsel you to lay hold upon Him. Seek the Lord. If you are blind, ask that you may see. Mysteries await you if you will die to Sardis.