Sardis, Awaken.

 

Revelation 3

1 "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."

Sardis, the dead church.

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain,
 

Superficially, the church at Sardis seemed alive and active, and had a reputation for being so. However it was dead according to the Lord. This is disturbing. What people say is "a great church" may not be so at all.

What is it that makes a great church, what is it about a church that it would be looked on as a great church?


Your church may be a well attended, a well decorated building. The church may have a good income, enough funds to maintain it. Enough funds so that the church can support charities and organizations.
The church may have a full quota of leaders, youth workers, Sunday school teachers and appear to be a very busy church.

From the point of view of anyone observing the church, it is a very successful church, not in need of anything, self sufficient.

However, are these things, the marks of a living true church, are the characteristics of the church, the things that Jesus is looking for, the characteristics that mark the church as true followers of Him?

Is this the right attitude of a church of Jesus Christ?

What are the things that remain, that should be strengthened?

These are,
Knowledge of the truth,


Titus 1:1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,
A love for the Word of God. Teaching and preaching sound doctrine and living according to its teaching.

Good desires

Psalm 63:1-8 O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You
Walking in Christ, putting on Christ, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
 

Convictions of sin

Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
Living in the knowledge that we are sinners, saved by grace. Keeping short accounts with God. Confessing our sin, repentance and breathing in the forgiveness of God.

Depravity and weakness,

Romans 7:21  So this is the principle I have discovered: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
Recognising that any goodness in us is of the Lord Jesus Christ. THat we are are clothed in His righteousness by His grace.

Duty and interest.

Do we seek our own interests?

Philippians 2:21 "All seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ."

Or, do we seek the interests of Christ and the Gospel?
Colossians 3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
 

We need to examine ourselves for pride, self-confidence, lukewarmness, indolence, levity, or the love of the world.
When we are guilty of these things, then the fruit of the Spirit is lessened in our lives.


1."I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 

It is not what you appear to be but what you actually are, that counts.
What is Jesus saying here?
V2 says Be watchful, it could be better translated, Wake up.


History tells us that Sardis was built on top of a very high cliff, it was supposed to be impenetrable.
However, it had been penetrated on two occasions by the enemy.
The city was considered nearly impregnable but on two occasions, by the Persians in 546 BC and by Antiochus III in 214 BC,  it was overthrown when the enemy scaled the unwatched, “unscaleable” cliffs near the acropolis. “As in history, so in life, to consider oneself secure and fail to remain alert is to court disaster” 

 

On one occasion the enemy followed a soldier up the cliff and on another occasion the enemy attacked whilst the soldiers slept.
 

3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard;

3b. 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. 


Not everyone in the church had soiled their garments.
4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments

There maybe a few in your church that have the correct attitude but generally the church is not being and doing the things that please the Lord.


V3 hold fast
Hold fast to what? Hold fast the truths which you didst then receive; hold fast what remains of true religion among you.

V3 and repent.
Turn around and recover your first love, your first enthusiasm, to the Gospel you first received. To the Commission first given.

This is the same thing that the Lord said to Ephesus in
Ephesians 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
 

Remember, the lamp stand can be removed. 

Rev 2:5  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 

“Icabod” is written over many a church door. “The Lord has departed”

Many churches today are continuing on, they are still drawing people into the church, still functioning as a church, still doing the things churches do. However, it is in their own strength, their own efforts, it is in the flesh and not in the Spirit.

 

Many churches like these have not realised that the Spirit has departed; the lamp stand has been removed out of its place.
The church looks alive, it appears to be alive, however it is really dead.

 

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.

 

Our churches may be occupied by born again believers but are we spiritual, or are we carnal Christians. Are we Christians, living as though we are not.

1 Cor 3:3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

This letter to Sardis is relevant to us, the church today.
We must be on our guard against becoming lackadaisical and self sufficient that we neglect to fulfil our great commission, that we neglect to teach the truths of scripture, that we neglect to preach and live the Gospel in our communities.
We must listen to what the word tells us and examine ourselves whether or not we are functioning as the Body of Christ in our area.

 

6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

How should we react to this message to the church at Sardis.

First of all, we should not ignore it. We should examine ourselves to see if our church looks anything like Sardis.
Is the church declining in number? Are we reaching the area where the church is? Are there new people being saved? Is there a love for the things of God? Is there a love for the Word of God?
If these things are not obvious but the church is just carrying on as normal, then the church needs to take stock.

If these things are not happening, what do we do?

Do we up the anti and start doing more of what we have been doing, even though that did not produce results, or do we change, even though we don’t really want to change?

Maybe, we don’t do anything, maybe we just allot blame to individuals or groups within the fellowship.
Maybe it is the older ones, who don’t want change. Maybe its the young ones that have no respect for the way things have always been done.

Maybe some of our people are looking at other churches and judging the fellowship on them.

Maybe it is just the fact that society has changed so much that people no longer are interested in Christianity.

The next thing the church may experience is people leaving the church for other fellowships, or the attendance just diminishes as people fall away. The result being demoralization within those that remain.

Maybe, amongst those that remain, there are some like those in Sardis.

4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments.

The reaction maybe desperation. Find new idea’s, look at what seems to be working in the other churches where it appears there is growth. However at this point, it maybe out of the desperation rather than conviction.

At this point, the church maybe in the throes of death.

Do we recognise any of this in our church?

If we do, then it is time to wake up.

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain.

The message of the Gospel has never changed. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The Word of God is still as powerful as it has always been.
The elect of God are still out there awaiting the call. The commission is still the same commission.
Go into the world and preach the Gospel, making disciples.


John 12:32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

The Gospel is not about the church building, it is about Christ.
We are not recruiting church members but lifting up Jesus. That’s our commission, It is God that predestines, it is God that calls, it is God that justifies and it is God that glorifies.

Romans 8:30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.


The church exists for worship, for fellowship, for building up the body of Christ, for exhortation.
The world is where the Gospel is needed, it is in your street, it is in your town, it is in your home, that the Gospel must be preached.

We must dedicate ourselves to the work of the Gospel.

 

Act 2:42  And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 
 

Act 2:46  And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 

Act 2:47  Praising God, and having favour with all the people.

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. 

God hates lukewarm, He may be able to stand cold but He would rather His church be hot.

Rev 3:15  I know your deeds; you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were one or the other! 
16 So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of My mouth!…


On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon men and women, like tongues of fire, not on the building.
We are the church, the “eklesia” (the called out ones).
If we are to be a hot church, not a cold or lukewarm, we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
The reason for the coming of the Holy Spirit was not that we may speak in tongues, prophecy or do healings and miracles.

The reason was, so that we could be witnesses to the power of God in salvation. He came to make us hot, on fire for the Gospel.

Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
 

If we are to be a witness, we must testify in word and deed in the world.
Get out of the building and give an account of the hope that is in us.
Christ in me the hope of glory.

 

In recent years, we have been told the church will only grow if we adopt new methods.
We have heard that we need a new way of worship, new music, an attractive building, or the feeling of a community. We are told we need something different to keep the church growing. We need something besides bible teaching. We are advised to liberalise our doctrine, make our churches more seeker sensitive, things that will appeal to the unbeliever.

REALLY!

Is this what we see happened in the early church?
Was it worship services? Was it comfortable buildings? Was it liberal thinking?
I don’t think so.
It was an aggressive, outgoing, doctrinal church, reaching out to the surrounding area with the preaching of the Gospel that turned the world the right way up.

Churches that water down the Gospel, soften the message of sin and depravity, de-emphasise evangelism, leave out of the message, the need for confession and repentance, it is these churches that are in the throes of death.

 

The truth is, that sound doctrine and faithful evangelism builds the Body of Christ.
 

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

1Cor 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

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