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Revelation 3: 1-6: AUDIO-VIDEO  “Letter to the Church at Sardis”

 

Since the late 60’s I have Watched the Church in America Change and today it Continues to Change…The Sad Part is That the Church Seems to Follow Culture!

 

In our Post-Modern Christian Culture…The Church has Put Comfort and Things in Place of Living Lives Focused on Eternity and Reaching the Lost.   Christ’s Commision in Matthew 28 has become to Many More of a Suggestion…Rather than A Divine Commission! 

 

Christ has Called Us to be Counter-Culture!  To Put Christ Ahead of the things in this World.  Hebrews 12: 1-2 says, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”.

 

Like Many in America…The Church of Sardis had gotten Entangled with things and Relying on themselves…Contented…They Turned their Eyes and Hearts from the Things of Eternity.

FACT: What Makes the Church Unfashionable Here on Earth…Will Make them the Height of Fashion in the Kingdom!

Revelation chapter 3 contains the final three messages to the churches of Asia…Today, we are going to look at Christ’s message to the Church of Sardis:

  • Sardis was located in Asia Minor 50 miles E. of Smyrna & 30 miles SE of Thyratira.
  • Sardis was an important and wealthy city located along the commercial trade route running east and west through Lydia.
  • The ancient city of Sardis came back into prominence under Roman rule.
  • Wealth came from textile manufacturing and the dye industry as well as its Jewelry trade.   Remember Lydia a seller of Purple?
  • Most of the city practiced pagan worship.  The Temple of Artemas dating from the 4th century BC was a major point of interest (Ruins still exist today).
  • Sardis was Never Prominent and Existed until about the 4th century.

 

When I first came to know the Lord…and read these scriptures I could Not Imagine cities Filled with Idols and Idol Worship…However, Idol Worship is infiltrating America.

  • The first year I was in Guyana…I saw Satan’s Stronghold with Hindu idols along every street.   It made Me so Aware of the Spiritual War We are in Today!

 

Today Were in the Midst of a Spiritual War!  Satan is Seeking to Destroy everything God Created?  REMEMBER…Only Gods Word Will Guard You and Keep You Safe from the Changing Culture and its Compromise?!

 

Revelation 3:1-6 is a letter of RebukeDevoid of Any Commendation!”

 

There was No Commendation for the Church of Sardis…Because the Other Churches Evil here in Revelation was the Exception Rather than the Habit!

 

Revelation 3: 1-6: “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. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 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.  4 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. 5 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. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

 

Barclay says Sardis was a City of the Decadence. The Combination of easy money and a Loose Moral Environment made the People of Sardis Notoriously Soft and Pleasure loving. “The great characteristic of Sardis was that, even on pagan lips, Sardis was a name of contempt. Its people were notoriously loose-living, notoriously pleasure-and luxury loving.” 

 

Vs 1:  Christ introduces himself as the one that holds the 7 Spirits and 7 Stars.

  • The 7-Fold Spirit is The 7-Fold Character of God the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Life-Wisdom-Truth-Purity-Holiness-Power & Love
  • As we Learned in the first Chapter of Revelation…Christ is also Revealed as the one who holds the 7 Stars which are the 7 Leaders of the 7 Churches.
  • It is clear that the leaders of the church must give account directly to the Lord Himself!

 

Here, Jesus describes Himself with terms that Emphasized His character as the Master of every Spiritual Power and Authority. 

  • The Repetition of the Number “7” helped indicate this because “7” is the number of Completeness in the Bible. 
  • KEY: Jesus Holds the Fullness of the Spirit of God, and the Fullness of the Church.

 

Verse 1-b: “I Know Your Deeds” All our Actions and Thoughts are an “Open Book” to Christ…Nothing is hid from the “Omniscient God”  

  • God Alone Looks Into Our Hearts…We Cannot Hide from Him!

 

Christ goes on to say, “You have a Reputation of being Alive, But You Are Dead!”

  • Imagine what it would be like for Christ to say that to You or Your Church?!

 

You have a “Reputation” and it is Wrong!   You are Not what You appear to be…Your Appearance is a Lie!    WOW!   

 

We as Pastors…Have a Tremendous Responsibility to Stand in the Gap!  We Must Rightly Communicate to You the Word of Truth!   Keep You Safe from Falsehoods

 

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed & who correctly handles the word of truth.

  • Today too Many of our Churches are About “Activity Without Ministry”!

 

A Church is Apostate and Dying When…

  • It is Content to Rest on its Past laurels.
  • It is more Concerned with Liturgical forms than a Spiritual Hunger for the Lost.
  • It focuses on Curing Social Ills rather than Changing People’s Hearts.
  • It is more Concerned with what Men Think than what God said.
  • It’s more Enamored with Doctrinal Creeds & Systems of Theology than with the Word.
  • It Loses its Conviction that Every Word of the Bible is the Word of God.
  • THESE ARE THE SAME SIGNS OF DYING IN A CHRISTIANS LIFE!

 

VS 2 and 3: “Indictment and Warning!” “WAKE UP!” “Strengthen What Remains!”

  • Jesus is Saying that This Church is on Life Support! 
  • However, the Words “What Remains” tell us that there are those who are Seeking to Live for Christ…Some that had True Life and Spirituality!

 

VS-2 “Your Deeds are Unfinished in the Sight of God”:  

  • Their Hearts were Not Filled with the “Fullness of Christ”! {Filled w/the World}
  • Therefore, their Works came Short of Pleasing God and They were Rebuked to Not let it Go any Further…Or Spiritual Deadness Would Come Upon Them!

Jesus says Wake Up and Strengthen what remains!   Their Flame No Longer Burned as it once did…Sardis shows us that the Lord can Restore a Churches Radiance!   

  • Jesus lets this church know that HE has what they Need. 
  • His Resources are Available…Revival is Still Possible!  
  • But it Will Not Happen through Programs, fresh Strategic plans, Wishful thinking, re-written vision statements or core values, hiring or firing staff.

Jesus is Asking them to Strengthen Themselves in the Lord so that they Will be able to Finish the Assignments He has for Them. 

I Want to Make a Point Here…There is NO Age Limit on Serving God…We are to have Ministry Until He Takes Us Home.

WAKE UP! Watch is a Recurring Theme Throughout God’s Word.

  1. Watchfulness is to be the constant attitude of the Christian. (Rom 13:11; 1 Cor 16:13)
  2. 1 Peter 5:8: Be on Watch against the wiles of the devil. 
  3. Matthew 26:41: Be on Watch against Temptation. 
  4. Matthew, Mark and 1Thessalonians say, Be on Watch for the coming of the Lord. 
  5. Acts 20: 29-31 warns us to Watch against False Teaching! 

 

In verse 3 Christ turns a Corner and Exhorts them to Strengthen What Remains!

  • His solution to them is the same for us today: Remember the Truth that We Received!  And HOLD FAST to it!   Failure to do this would Bring Judgment! 

 

1 Corinthians 15:58 Christians! Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, Stand Firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

 

Hebrews 10:26-31 “26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

NOTE VS-3: Jesus says, Judgment would come like a thief in the night!   Just as the Appearing of Christ to Rapture the Church. Without Notice. Suddenly. Unexpectedly!

  • Satan Seeks to Take Our Eyes Off this Reality!

 

Vs 4-6: “Invitation and Promise to the Godly Remnant” VS-4 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.

 

In Scripture Garments Represent Character (Isaiah 64:6; Jude 1:23)

  • Soiled Cloths Denote: Unclean before God”!  Even in the Heathen World No one was Allowed to Approach the Temple with Soiled Clothes.
  • Dressed in White denotes: Dressed in the Righteousness of God.  

 

Dressed in White comes with a 3-fold Promise:  

  1. Dressed in White…We Stand Righteous! 
  2. Our Names will Not be Blotted Out of the Book of Life.
  3. We Will Be Acknowledged Before God the Father!

 

The Difference Between the Dead Majority with Imperfect Works and the few names who pleased God was Purity, and the Closeness with Jesus. (Always related to Purity) 

  • The deadness and spiritual facade of most of the Christians in Sardis was related to their impure lives, their embrace of the impurity and sin of the world around them. 

 

Jesus explained the absolute necessity of this being clothed by God with His garments of purity and righteousness in His parable of the wedding feast (Matt 22)

  • Real Righteousness is Receiving God’s Covering Instead of trying to Cover Ourselves.
  • In Genesis 3 Adam and Eve tried to cover their own sin…But God provided them with a covering that came from sacrifice.

 

VS-6 “He who has an Ear, let him Hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.”’

 

Jesus Tells the Church of Sardis and to US TODAY…Let Him Hear! 

  • You See…We ALL Must Hear what the Spirit says to the Church at Sardis.
  • It is easy to Drift in Sleepy Apathy towards Spiritual Death, Especially when You have a Good Reputation. 
  • Still, there is Always Hope for the Dead Church or Believer, Because Jesus Can Lead them back to being a Spirit-filled and Alive.

 

Sardis Teaches Us that We Must Beware of Our Success

  • The city, Like in America, was wealthy and knew easy living, but it made them soft and spoiled. 
  • Sardis also Teaches Us that We Need to be watchful at Our Strongest Points. Sardis Thought it was Unconquerable, and So it Was Conquered. 
  • Where we say “I would never do that” is the Exact Place We Must Guard Against.

 

Final Thought: The Church of Sardis Makes it Clear that We the Church Must Hold Fast to God’s Truth!   

  • We Must Guard Ourselves with His Word so that we Will Not Compromise Christ!
  • Jesus ask each believer to Deny Self, Pick Up Our Cross and Follow Him! Luke 9: 23-24

HOLDING ON TO TRUTH IS ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT TASKS A CHURCH HAS AND ONE OF ITS GREATEST RESPONSIBITIES!  The Church is the Sole Pillar and Support of the Truth in the World…There is No Other!

POINT:  Let Go Of Compromise And Cling To Christ!

 

Our World is Changing and with Our Eyes Stayed on Christ We are to Stand Firm!  

  • This is NOT a time To Huddle Together or Avoid Culture Out of Fear,

 

Jesus did Not call US to Isolate…He Has Called US to INFILTRATE CULTURE. 

  • NOT to Evade…Rather to INVADE…CULTURE!    

 

We do this by Obeying God’s Word and Sharing the Truth, in Love, with those around us!    May God Find Us Faithful!