To the Churches in Revelation, Part 5: Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6)
The letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation, chapters 2-3, are from Jesus to His people in the 1st century. However, they are more than applicable to us in the 21st century. Times may have changed, but hearts have not.
In 2022, this wisdom is fitting for times such as these. In part 5 of this series, we’ll look at the church in Sardis. We’ll see Christ’s diagnosis of them, along with the prescription.
1 “To the angel (messenger/pastor) 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 (overcomes) 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.”
Background of the church at Sardis:
- It was noted for great wealth.
- The city was thought to be impregnable, but Cyrus the Great captured it in 549 B.C. Proverbs 16:18 comes to mind here- pride comes before the fall!
- The great earthquake of A.D. 17 ruined Sardis physically and financially. The city never recovered.
- Modern day- The remains of Sardis are located near the present day village of Sart, in the Manisa province of Turkey.
Jesus’ Diagnosis- The positive report:
- The faithful few- Verse 4: “Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes.”
God always has His remnant in every church and church age! Even if you feel like you’re only one of few left, don’t lose heart!
1 Kings 19:10,18- “And the Word of the Lord came to him: “What are you doing here Elijah?” He replied, I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broke down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” . . . Yet I reserve 7,000 in Israel- all whose knees have not bowed down to Ball and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
Jesus’ Diagnosis- The negative report:
- They looked good from the outside, but on the inside they were “dead.”
The church at Sardis was like someone who never brushes their teeth, but still uses whitening strips. We see in Verse 1, Sardis was a “dead” church that was alive in name only. To such a church, Christ presented Himself as the Empowered One, who has the “seven Spirits of God.”
Vernon McGee said: “The great truths (of Biblical Christianity) … have been surrendered by a compromising church. There is activity, but no actions, motion without movement, promotion without progress, and program without power. Although the outward form remains, the living creature has vacated the shell.”
- Break out the defibrillator and yell “clear!”
As noted in Verse 2-3, “Wake up! … 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.”
There are people in all types of churches today who call themselves “Christians” but they do not know what it means to be a new creation in Christ. 2 Cor. 5:17 says- Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!
Following Jesus is NOT CASUAL! “We were not saved just to be forgiven of our sins, rather the purpose of salvation and of Christianity, is to make His glory, grace, majesty known in the world. We live for the honor of our Master and King,” David Plat.
The challenge and reward for the faithful-
1. Keep the faith- Unspeakable things await the true believer!
As Verses 5-6 notes, true followers of Christ can rest assured that their name will remain in the book of life and that Christ will be their advocate before the Father and all the host of heaven. The book of life records that our citizenship in heaven is confirmed. Halleluja!
Keep Looking Up,
Rev. Jon Barrett | Director of CVCCS