As relayed in Revelation 3:1-3, it is important for churches to live not only by name but by their spiritual existence as well. An example of this is seen in protestant churches of the past. Despite having the name Protestant (which denotes power), the actions of these particular churches are what made their name dead; no desire to evangelize to those around them. Similarly, Calvinism’s spiritual existence is dead due to their actions: according to them, no evangelism is needed because God picks who to save and doesn’t involve man’s free will to choose Him.
Jesuits of the time, however, evangelized plenty but did not have power in their name. 1000 -1500 had people like John Huss, John Wickliffe, and Tyndale among others who had powerful names but did little to advance evangelism to other people and places. During the 1700s, Moravian missions, the Great Awakening preachers, and modern-day missions through William Carey and Adoniram Judson gave power to their name by spreading the gospel to all lost souls.
Revelation 3:1-3 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. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember 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.
Verse 2 also mentions being watchful to strengthen what remains. Despite wanting to expose heresy within the Catholic Church, protestant churches present in the Philadelphia church time period (around 1500 – 1900) also experienced doctrinal errors themselves. Many protestant groups in those times disappeared due to their imperfect works that died along with their names.
Verse 3 mentions receiving and hearing the word of God and putting it into practice. Other passages of the Bible incite believers to take action when recalling God’s word as opposed to simply hearing it. Being right with God is also pointed out in this verse since the exact time where Jesus will come to rapture these particular saints (believers) is unknown. Due to the description of imperfect works (the Church of Sardis is described as having dead works in verse 1), this passage in Revelation is doctrinally applicable to the Tribulation period. Contrary to this, it does not matter whether a Christian’s works are dead or alive in order to be raptured to heaven.
As mentioned before, Tribulation saints have a conditional rapture that is based on perfect works or things that they have to do while Christians do not need to have perfect works in order to be raptured. The idea of two separate raptures for two different people comes from dispensational doctrine or rightly dividing specific things or events to different people in different time periods. The following passages show the Christians rapture based on belief as opposed to that of the Tribulation saints.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Corinthians 15
A conditional rapture for Tribulation saints is shown in the following verses:
Revelation 16:15 Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame
Matthew 25:1-13 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Although no one can know the exact date of the rapture, Scripture shows us that we can know an approximate time. 1 Thessalonians 5 likens the time of the Christian rapture to a pregnant woman. Rev 3:3 mentions that it is possible to decipher the time when the Tribulation rapture will occur if people are keeping watch.