―To the angel of the church in Sardis write…‖ The dead church
The Letter to Sardis ―To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‗I know your deeds,that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‗Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‗So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, andyou will not know at what hour I will come to you. ‗But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ‗He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ‗He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.‘ ‖ (Revelation 3:1–6)
General Background on Sardis• Roman province of Asia• Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia• Became legendary for its wealth c. 500 B.C., ; when gold and silver coins came into use• Financially declined after earthquake in A.D. 17• Practiced worship of Tiberius• Ruins of ancient church building next to the temple found• Target of Arab invasion in A.D. 716 and declined after that• Small village named ‗Sart‘ is left today
The Description of Christ ―He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this... ‖ (Revelation 3:1)• ―Hence the Holy Spirit is called the Seven Spirits; the perfect, mystical number seven indicating unity through diversity (1 Cor. 12:4). Not the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit are meant, but the divine Personality who imparts them; the one Spirit under the diverse manifestations.‖ Word studies in the New Testament• ―As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. ‖ (Revelation 1:20) . The stars are likely the pastors of the churches
The Condemnation―I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‖ (Revelation 3:1)• Note that Christ has no commendation for the church as a whole, unlike the others that have preceded it• Christ judges them by their deeds (lit. ‗work‘)• ―You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? ―So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. ―A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. ―Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ―So then, you will know them by their fruits.‖ (Matthew 7:15–20)
―It is not God‘s design that men should obtain assurance in any other way, than by mortifying corruption, and increasing in grace, andobtaining the lively exercises of it. And although self-examination be a duty of great use and importance, and by no means to be neglected;yet it is not the principal means, by which the saints do get satisfaction of their good estate. Assurance is not to be obtained so much by self-examination, as by action.‖ -Jonathan Edwards A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
―The only validation you will ever have of your salvation is a life of obedience, it is the only possible proof that you really recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Im going to say that again because thats the heart of the message. Obedience isthe only validation of your salvation. It is the only possible proof that you recognize the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Because if theres no obedience then youre confessing Jesus is Lord is just so much verbal exercise.‖ - John MacArthur
The Condemnation―I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‖ (Revelation 3:1)• ―have a name‖ means that they have a reputation. The church, via Christ‘s name, had a reputation in the world• They were Christian in name only• The world and unbelievers are noted for being dead, but the Christian is supposed to be spiritually alive: ―Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.‖ (John 3:3) . The only reason a person needs to be born ‗again‘ is because they are dead.
―Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, ―No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.‖ And at once the fig tree withered. ‖ (Matthew 21:19)―These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feastswhen they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted‖ (Jude 12)
The Condemnation―I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‖ (Revelation 3:1)• Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. " (James 2:17)• For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. " (James 2:26)• ‗But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.‘ ‖ " (Luke 15:32)
―I‘ll believe in the Redeemer when theChristians look a little more redeemed.‖- Frederick Nietzsche
―How do you communicate witha generation that listens with itseyes and thinks with its feelings?You will need an apologetic that is not merely heard, but is also seen. If my Christian life is not visible to my neighbor, no amount of prophetic utterance is going to convince that neighbor that Christianity is true. Is your life in private that which you claim in public?‖ - Ravi Zacharias
The Exhortation‗Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die" (Revelation 3:2)1. Wake up – Jesus tells them to snap out of the spiritual sleep that they are in2. Strengthen the things that remain – Sardis was in a weakened state spiritually, and needed to refuel what remained
The Exhortation‗for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God." (Revelation 3:2) ―Then the hand was sent from Him and this inscription was written out. ―Now this is the inscription that was written out: ‗MENĒ, MENĒ, TEKĒL, UPHARSIN.‘ ―This is the interpretation of the message: ‗MENĒ‘—God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it. ― ‗TEKĒL‘—you have been weighed on the scales and found deficient. " (Daniel 5:24–27)
The Exhortation―So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. " (Revelation 3:3)3. Remember – Jesus tells them to snap out of the spiritual sleep that they are in4. Keep – Sardis was in a weakened state spiritually, and needed to refuel what remained5. Repent – Jesus tells them to turn around from their current ways, listen to his rebuke and exhortation, and get the church in order once again
―Why do you call Me, ‗Lord, Lord,‘ and do not do what Isay? ―Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a manbuilding a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. ―But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the groundwithout any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.‖ " (Luke 6:46–49) ―But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (James 1:22)
―By this means [false religion and misleading affections] he [the devil] deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls; making them think they are something, when they are nothing; and so eternally undoes them; and not only so,but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminentholiness, who are in God‘s sight some of the vilest hypocrites.‖ - Jonathan Edwards
Five Steps to Restoration 1. Wake up 2. Strengthen 3. Remember 4. Keep 5. Repent
The Warning―Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you." (Revelation 3:3)• Does not refer to the second coming of Christ, because the condition is ―if you do not wake up‖ – that is what would precipitate Christ‘s thief-like coming to them• His coming would be in judgment on the church; that their lampstand would be removed• Greek proverb: ―The feet of the avenging deities are shod with wool.‖
―But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at whathour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to bebroken into. ―You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.‖ " (Luke 12:39–40) ―For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will comejust like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ―Peace and safety!‖then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; " (1 Thessalonians 5:2–4) ―But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. " (2 Peter 3:10)
The Remnant ―But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. " (Revelation 3:4)• ―Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. ―For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:13–14)• ―Soiled‖ means to stain or pollute. Garments represent character; it (white) is the evidence of saving faith. The others had stained themselves by not having a pure devotion to Jesus and mixing with the world• ―Walk with Me‖ – spend eternal life with Jesus
―Wherever a profession of conversion is notaccompanied by holiness of life it must be understood that theindividual concern is not a Christian.‖ - Jonathan Edwards
The Victory of the Overcomers―He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I willnot erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)1. Clothed in white garments2. Names are secure in the book of life3. Name is confessed before the Father and His angels
The Victory of the Overcomers―He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I willnot erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)• These white robes are presented in the future• White robes worn by those celebrating victory in a battle• White robes worn for festive occasions like weddings: ―Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.‖ It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ―Write, ‗Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.‘ ‖ And he said to me, ―These are true words of God.‖ " (Revelation 19:7–9)
―Then he said to his slaves, ‗The wedding is ready, but those whowere invited were not worthy. ‗Go therefore to the main highways, andas many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.‘ ―Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, bothevil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests. ―But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he said to him,‗Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?‘ And the man was speechless. ―Then the king said to the servants, ‗Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that placethere will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.‘ ―For many are called, but few are chosen.‖ " (Matthew 22:8–14)
The Book of Life ―He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)In Johns day, a king always kept a register. If a man committed a crime against the state, or if he died, his name was erased. It was used tokeep the register of the city accurate. When you died, your name was erased, you were taken off the roll.
The Book of Life ―He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)• Some try and teach that this verse says a person can lose their salvation; they point to this verse as evidence: ―The Lord said to Moses, ―Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. " (Exodus 32:33)• The charge is that a name was there, but it was removed and is not there any longer
―But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!‖ " (Exodus 32:32) ―May they be blotted out of the book of life And may they not be recorded with the righteous. " (Psalm 69:28) ―Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, willarise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. " (Daniel 12:1)―Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.‖ (Luke 10:20) ―All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. " (Revelation 13:8) ―The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go todestruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. " (Revelation 17:8)―and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb‘s book of life. " (Revelation 21:27)
The Book of Life ―He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)• Nowhere is recorded in Scripture the actually erasing of someone‘s name from the book of life• The verses in Revelation state that believers do not participate with the world precisely because their names are recorded in the book of life; being there prevents their sinful activity• The statement is a promise that overcomers are secure rather than a threat.
―The triumph required in 3:5 isguaranteed in 13:8 and 17:8. This is not a contradiction any more than for Paul to say, ―Work out your salvation . . . for God is at work in you to will and to dohis good pleasure‖ (Philippians 2:12-13).It is not nonsense to state the condition: if you conquer, God will not erase yourname (3:5); and to state the assurance: if your name is written, you will conquer (13:8 and 17:8). God‘s ―written-down-ones‖ really must conquer, and really will conquer. One side highlights our responsibility; the other highlights God‘s sovereignty.‖ - John Piper
“I know you”―He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I willnot erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." (Revelation 3:5)• ―Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. " (Matthew 10:32)• ―And then I will declare to them, ‗I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.‘ " (Matthew 7:23)• ―Confess‖ can either mean ‗acknowledge‘ (as in a relationship) or ‗praise‘.
The Repeated command to Hear―He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.‖ (Revelation 2:29) This phrase is repeated each time in Christ‘saddress to the seven churches of Revelation. In the gospels (it is never used in John), it is always used to highlight radical truths, great principles, and promises.Note that Jesus says it is the Spirit speakingto the churches, even though He is the actualone talking: ―All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness‖ (2 Timothy 3:16)
Conclusions• This letter is a warning to those who are playing church and who have no fruit in their lives to back up their reputation – their ‗name‘ as being a Christian• The formula for revival is to: Wake up, remember, repent, strengthen, and keep Christ‘s Word• God always keep for Himself men and women who haven‘t bowed the knee to Baal; they are guaranteed eternal life
―To the angel of the church in Sardis write…‖ The dead church
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