“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
– Isaiah 1:18-20
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
– Revelation 3:1-6
“No one experiences complete sanctification without a ‘white funeral’ – the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crucial moment of change through death, sanctification will never be more than an elusive dream. There will be a ‘white funeral,’ a death with only one resurrection – a resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing can defeat a life like this. It has oneness with God for only one purpose – to be a witness for Him.
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
My wife tells me that in olden days, it was not appropriate to wear white except after Memorial Day, but never any later than Labor Day. White is a summer color. Those fashion rules may have gone, but Jesus is telling us through His letter to the church at Sardis that we need to wear our white. This is not to be taken literally in a fashion sense. The people of Sardis who have stayed true to Jesus will walk with Him in Glory. They will be dressed in white, identifying themselves with Jesus Himself. Maybe at that time, it will be THE fashion statement.
We hear sermons on white being the symbol of purity. This is the reason for white being a part of so many national flags around the world. It is a pure color, because once stained, it simply isn’t white. When looking at light however, white is the presence of all the colors in the spectrum. Black is the absence of any color. God is Light. Thus, white can be a symbol of God in that God is the presence of all. In this case, ‘all’ can be light, all believers, or even the entirety of heaven itself.
If, today, you look outside and see white, you may be thinking of an entirely different concept of a ‘white funeral.’ If you are into winter sports, I hope you are having fun, but I am sure that many people are tired of the white stuff.
We will never tire of God’s promise in Isaiah 1. He will wash our sins as white as snow. That stain in our lives will come out, and we will have our white garment to wear.
But notice the entire letter to the church at Sardis. Sardis is one of those churches that lost their way, but Jesus sees a remnant of those who are faithful. I believe that regardless of how many churches within a denomination have strayed and turned into the church of Sardis, there will still be those faithful. The ones Jesus will clothe in white and parade down the street with them.
It is sad, considering those faithful until Jesus returns. Those faithful will be persecuted (and have been in the past) by members of their own church. You ask for an example? An elder speaks up about a revival, a turning back to Jesus, an anointing of the Holy Spirit, as being the only thing that will balance the church budget. Several other elders shout the one elder down, “Shut up with that God stuff. This is a business meeting.” I’m not saying that these words have ever been spoken, but for those faithfully serving God in such positions, they know of similar words.
Remember Oswald Chambers says that you will not be completely sanctified until you have the ‘white funeral,’ the giving up of self completely.
His discussion of walking in white concludes with this:
“Are you willing to experience that ‘white funeral’ now? Will you agree with Him that this is your last day on earth? The moment depends on you.”
Oswald Chambers isn’t suggesting that you breathe your last. He’s saying that your next breath is only for Jesus, as a witness for Him.