THE CHURCH WITH A REPUTATION (Sardis)
Revelation 3:1-6 (NKJV)
The Dead Church
3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. 4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’
Imagine you are crawling, scorched, near-death, across a hot burning desert. You are dying of thirst and close to perishing. But, ahead, you see a sign that reads ,”Cool, clear, life-giving water – only five miles ahead”. This sign gives you renewed energy, new hope and you continue your tormenting crawl across the parched desert sand.
As you arrive at the promised place, you see a magnificent building, radiant in its beauty, the sign outside invites you in, even beckoning you with the promise of life-giving water. So you crawl through the entrance into a glorious building and there before you is the promised well, with the bucket ready to be let down and filled with water to quench your thirst and to pour life back into your body. With the last bit of your strength, you lower the bucket into the well, expecting a splash as the bucket hits the water, but it never comes.
The only sound is the dull thud of the bucket hitting the bottom of the well. You think that perhaps you are delirious so you reel in the bucket only to find it full of dust. Dust that cannot quench, but only deepen the thirst and destroy all your hope. Sound far-fetched?
This is the experience of many people who go to God’s house expecting to be filled and fed with the water and bread of life, only to find all the trappings and rituals, but no help or hope for all those who’ve made their way there.
Today, we want to look at a church with a false reputation. Our church in our times can learn from this one. If we must have a reputation, let it be a true one, not one of death, but of life. One that fulfills God’s promises.
Illustration – The city of Sardis, Capital of Lyda, a center of commerce, coins first minted there, carpet and woolen industry located there. Noted for immorality, a term of contempt. Only a shell of its former self.
Here, the church had taken on the characteristics of the city. Had become a thermometer instead of a thermostat.
Lessons are to be learned here. Christ came with what the church needed, the power of the Holy Spirit and His Name. Notice the church with a reputation.
I. v.1b THE CONDITION OF THE CHURCH
A. Had a reputation (fallen asleep – a dead church).
B. Christ speaks of reality – (What He knows to be true!)
1. Great Physician felt the pulse and pronounced dead. (Heb.4:13)
2. Do not be deceived in outward appearance. (Matt. 23:27)
C. Jesus shows the reason to be :
1. Works not complete ( it does not reach Heaven) – (Ill. between doin’ and Dabblin’ – which one? )
2. Good on starting, poor on finishing (Do your works reach Heaven?)
3. Signs of life (in areas of Growth, harmony, emotion etc)
II. v.2a-3 THE CURE FOR THE CHURCH
A. Spiritual Alertness – (Chase away sleep? Be awake? Alive?).
1. Ill. Compare guards (security) and Sardis.
2. Ill. A frog in slow boiling kettle (slow boiling… dead)
3. Keep the good things alive (Strength)
B. Spiritual Brokenness – self – judgement
1. Remember, hold fast, repent
2. Need to practice self judgment ( 1 Cor 11:31 )
3. If we don’t judge ourselves, Jesus will, v.3b
III.v.4-6 THE CHRISTIANS IN THE CHURCH
A. The Faithful Few
1. Clean Garments (Col.3:5-10). Christians need to be pure and clean.
2. Ill. The difficulty of the day. Faithful and Alert till the end!
B. The overcomer
1. Clothed in white (share the glory with the Lord)
2. Book of life
3. Name confessed before God (Matt.10:32)
Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep (3:2). To remain zealous and pure in conduct.
Further Studies :
Our focus should be on what message God is giving us through the seven churches in the Book of Revelation :
The MESSAGE of the Seven Churches were :
(1) Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).
(2) Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).
(3) Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent (2:16).
(4) Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).
(5) Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).
(6) Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently (3:10).
(7) Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).
Summary of the LESSONS we can learn from the instruction God gave each church:
• 1. Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7): Don’t lose your love for God’s truth or His people.
• 2. Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11): Remain faithful in the face of tribulation and poverty.
• 3. Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-17): Resist Satan’s influence, even to death, if necessary.
• 4. Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29): Resist false teaching.
• 5. Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6): Remain zealous and pure in conduct.
• 6. Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13): Persevere and walk through the doors God opens.
• 7. Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22): Don’t become lukewarm about God’s way of life.