Sardis The Deceased Church

Rev 3:1-6

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."' (NKJ)

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

Sardis was one of the oldest cities of Asia Minor. Roads ran through it to Pergamum, Smyrna, Ephesus, Philadelphia and Phrygia and it was most strategically placed for trade and commerce and not unnaturally became an extremely wealth city. It was probably the volume of trade which led to the creation of a coinage system in Sardis - the first in the world - as a substitute for the general system of bartering. The city was built partly upon a hill 1,000 feet above the broad valley of the Hermus and partly on the lower slopes near the foot of the 5906 feet Mount Tmolus. The small river Pactolus flowed through the city to empty its water into the Hermus. The acropolis was almost completely inaccessible and the city seemed an unassailable fortress: there was in fact, only one neck of land which provided an approach and the Sardians boasted of the strength and impregnability of their town. With the exception of the one approach, the sides of the hill were smooth and almost perpendicular and presented an unscalable appearance. From a distance the city appeared to be impregnable, but upon closer examination it would be found that the sides of the cliff were but compacted clay. The physical condition and nature of the city were reflected in the character of the inhabitants. They put their confidence in an external appearance of reliability, despite its unsoundness. (1)

According to tradition, the church was founded by the apostle John and the ruins of a church bearing his name are still to be found there.

Tatford records how that in 549 B.C. and again in 214 B.C. The city was taken by a few men scaling the steep cliffs that were left unguarded because they were confident the city could not be taken. Both times the city fell. (2) There is a parallel between the city and the church. The members of the church were confident they were alive because of their works but they were dead.

At the time of the Apocalypse, much of its earlier dignity and splendor had disappeared, and its further decline and received an impetus in 17 A.D. from an earthquake of unprecedented severity. Today the little town of Sart represents the once-proud capital of an ancient empire. Fragments remain of the marble-paved street, shops, and the temple of Artemis and two columns of the temple of Cybele also still stand. The patron deity of the city was the goddess Cybele, for whom a magnificent temple was built (only 300 years after Solomon's temple ), which was 327 feet long and 163 feet wide. Her worship was the most debasing character, and orgies like those of Dionysus were practiced at the festivals held in her honor. Sins of the foulest and darkest impurity were committed on those occasions: and when we think of a small community of Christians rescued from such abominable idolatry, living in the midst of scenes of the grossest depravity, with early associations and companions and connections, all exerting a force in the direction of heathenism it may be wondered that the few members of the church in Sardis were not drawn away altogether, and swallowed up. (3)

It is little wonder that the immoral standards affected the moral fibre of the people. They became generally decadent and developed into effeminate, pleasure-loving voluptuaries, and Herodotus contemptuously wrote of "the tender-footed Lydians, who can only play on the cithara, strike the guitar, and sell by retail." It was a pathetic degeneration from the days when Sardians were renowned as dauntless warriors who would yield to no man. (4)

Larkin notes that the Church at Sardis was called a "Dead Church" though it had a name to live. That is, it was a "Formalistic Church," a church given over to "formal" or "ritualistic" worship. It had the "Form of Godliness without the power." The meaning of the word "Sardis" is the "escaping one," or those who "come out" and so it is an excellent type of the Church of the Reformation Period.

By the Reformation we mean that period in the history of the Christian Church when Martin Luther and a number of other reformers protested against the false teaching, tyranny and claims of the Papal Church.

This Period began about A. D. 1500. The condition of affairs in the realm dominated by the Papal Church became intolerable, and came to a crisis when Martin Luther, on October 31, 1517 A. D., nailed his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg, Germany. From that date the Reformation set in. But it was more a struggle for political liberty than a purely Christian or religious movement.(5)

It is interesting to note what John Gill says concerning this period, "This church represents the state of the church from the time of the Reformation by Luther and others, until a more glorious state of the church appears, or until the spiritual reign of Christ in the Philadelphian period; under the Sardian church state we now are:" This was in the 1747 edition. Gill was wise enough to discern the times. (6)

Strauss says that the name Sardis means "escaping ones" or "those who come out" and assigns this church to the time beginning 1517 A.D. through 1750 A.D. (7)

Referring to the prophetic interpretation of the letter, Wm. Kelly writes, "Sardis describes what followed the Reformation, when the glow and fervor of truth and the first flush of blessings had passed away and cold formalism had set in."

'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:

The description of the Spirit implies the seven-fold energy and activities of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah refers to Messiah's seven spiritual gifts, each described as attributes of the one Spirit. (Isa. 11:2) Also some think that this compares to the seven eyes of Zech. 3:9; 4:10. The main thought, as Tatford points out, is that the church of Sardis was sunken in spiritual torpor. Christ alone could recover the believers there from their spiritual deadness and revive them once more; and only by the plenitude of the Spirit's power and energies could that result be achieved. For the sleeping church today, the same power is needed to revive and re-inspire.

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

First we must see that they had works. "I know your works." The church was probably a beehive of organized activity. In the outward appearance there was little lacking for they had an appearance of being alive although they were dead. Like the flowers that thrill you to look at until you get close enough to see that they are artificial. For all their activity they were dead because whatever the cause of the activity it was not the Spirit of God. Like Judaism, it was a lifeless form of a religion with many works but no life.

Our Lord fiercely condemned every outward appearance of religious activity not directed by the Holy Spirit. The Lord is never deceived by the outward attractiveness of a well-kept mausoleum, knowing that on the inside there are the bones of a dead man. The sight of death is bad enough, but a corpse that is made to look alive is a ghastly, frightening spectacle. (8)

The Lord's complaint is somewhat morbid, as He says that they appear alive but are dead. Many think this church reflects the Reformation which early lost its stamina, as they began to reform the Roman church but stopped far short of restoring the apostolic teaching and practices and eventually resulted in denominationalism and the many divisions of Protestantism.

The Reformation raised up a group of men who came out from Romanism and who rescued much from the mortuary of Rome. But they did not go far enough. State churches were organized, many of which are in operation today in Germany, Holland, and other countries. Denominationalism with its sacraments, forms, and ceremonies became a cold, lifeless formalism. Ministers became ministers of the church, not of Christ. Dr. Barnhouse wrote: "There is nothing wrong with the Augsburg Confession, with the Thirty-Nine Articles, with the Heidelberg Confession, with the Westminster Confession. Go throughout Christendom, however, and you will find the gospel in a coffin. There are, indeed, believers but dead, formal orthodoxy too frequently characterizes the scene." (9)

Tatford writes, "The Reformation - which some consider to be plainly foreshadowed in many respects in this letter - early lost its power and vitality and lapsed into an orthodox formality. Spiritual energy gradually disappeared as if sapped by some invisible force, and denominationalism took the place of a living organism. The clanking of ecclesiastical machinery soon superseded the virile spontaneity of the first reawakening." (10)

Newell has this to say, ". . . the great state churches , or denominations with creeds and histories, costly churches and cathedrals, universities, seminaries, boards, bureaus of publication and propaganda, executors of organized activities, including home and foreign missions, even lobby men to influence legislation at court! You and I dare compare the Church with no other model than the Holy Spirit gave at Pentecost and in Paul's day! And compared to that it has a name, but it is dead." (11)

"Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die,

The idea of watchfulness was particularly important to the church. For the city had fallen on more than one occasion to the enemy because it was sure that it could not be take and was not watchful, and was taken by the enemy. Everything had been lost in the city because of lack of vigilance as the church might also be if they did not hold on to what they had and strengthen it.

He advises them to be upon their watch. The cause of their sinful deadness and declension was that they had let down their watch. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground, and therefore must return to our watchfulness against sin, and Satan, and whatever is destructive to the life and power of godliness. (12)

for I have not found your works perfect before God.

The works that they had were not complete, finished or carried as far as they should have gone. How well this speaks of the reformation, which when they began to reform did not go far enough but stopped short of the goal. Satan's goal is to get us to stop short of the Lord's goal for us.

... not filled up; there is something wanting in them; there is the shell, but not the kernel; there is the carcase, but not the soul-- the shadow, but not the substance. The inward thing is wanting, thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God; there are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions. (13)

Newell comments on this, "Furthermore the Reformed creeds did not get free from Rome as regards what they still called 'sacraments,' a Babylonish term. For sacramentum was the Latin word for a mystery of the pagan religion. 'The grand distinguishing feature of the ancient Babylonian system was the Chaldean mysteries, that formed so essential a part of that system' (Hislop, p4). 'Even in the prayer-book of the Church of England, the Lord's Supper is called these holy mysteries! But such a term for it is unknown in the New Testament, and was subsequently introduced merely because the initiates (of Babylonish idolatry) fixed upon the Memorial Supper as the one thing in Christianity which could most easily metamorphose into a Mystery, or Sacrament. (Pember)" (14)

"Remember therefore how you have received and heard;

They are not called on to change and embrace new ideas and new teachings, but rather to turn back to what they had originally received and heard. Man thinks that what the church always needs is something new when the facts are they need something old. As I heard Vance Havner say once that the old is so old to most churches today they might think that it was new if they heard it. Tatford says, "The very reminder of the past serves only to arouse the desire to regain and to keep what seems to be slipping away."

Sardis is to "remember," not how joyfully she had received the Gospel, but how the precious deposit was committed to her originally, so that she could not say she had not "received" it. (15)

Isn't wonderful that God calls on His people to remember. Even in the Old Testament God was all the time calling on them to remember. To remember how He had saved them from Egypt or some other disaster or enemy. I think that tells us that we are too soon to forget the blessings that God has bestowed on us as His dear children. Wesley says the how refers to humbly, zealously, seriously they had received the gospel and come to Christ.

To me it is interesting that He does not say remember what you received but how you received. (See note below)(16) The how to me indicates a relationship that they came into when they received the grace of God in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. That is what will keep us fresh and alive. But if we loose the remembrance of how we believed, then what we believe is only empty lifeless doctrine.

hold fast and repent.

The Lord calls on those who have remained faithful in Sardis to hold fast what they still had. The idea is to keep on holding on. This is interesting in light of the voices all around us who are calling on us to let go of the old ways. They want us to rid ourselves of the Old Time Gospel for a new one that they promise will bring greater freedom. But God doesn't change. What He had for us in the past is what He continues to want for us today. Not only do we need to hold on but we need to repent. Repentance is our admission that what God says about us is correct and that we want to be what God wants us to be. Repentance is feeling sorry for past errors but also means a compelling desire within us to change, to cast off those old shackles that bound us. There will always be a place for repentance in our lives until the day we go to be with the Lord.

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.

The promise to those who did not watch, and by watching meaning to be ever faithful, He would come as a thief. The thief comes unexpectedly and silently. This they could understand from their history. The city had fallen because they had not been watchful and that was the sole cause of their fall.

This word "watchful" (Gr. agrupneo) expresses the idea of being wakeful, sleepless, as the watchfulness of one who is intent upon a thing. It comes from two Greek words meaning "to chase sleep." (17)

Jesus told His followers these very things while He was with them. Matthew 24:42-43 "Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. (NKJ) Luke 12:39-40 "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (NKJ)

The apostles had heard the message and passed it on to their hearers. 1Thes 5:2-6 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (NKJ) 2 Pet 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (NKJ)

As a matter of fact this warning is seen again in the book of Revelation. Rev 16:15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame." (NKJ)

Six times in Revelation He tells us that He will come quickly. Rev 2:5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place-- unless you repent. Rev 2:16 `Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. Rev 3:11 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Rev 22:7 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." Rev 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Rev 22:20 20He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (NKJ) Only a fool would not realize that there will be no warning when He comes. Therefore we must always be watchful.

We must see that vigilance is not optional. We must be always watchful. Two reasons for this. One that we do not loose the things that we have wrought, and that the return of Jesus Christ not catch us unawares. II Jn 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. (NKJ) Luke 21:34 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. (NKJ)

"You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments;

The Lord seems to always have a faithful remnant. And of this we should not be surprised for Jesus said that the way was narrow that led to life and few would find it, while wide was the way that led to destruction and many would travel that road. They may not be a majority but still they are always there, the faithful few. These, although among the defilement of the pagan temple with its immoral worship, had remained faithful. Their garments here represent their character. The character is fouled by the actions of the individual. These had managed to lived lives of holiness. They had remained pure in their lives and thoughts, in what they believed and practiced.

But the "few" in Sardis were the spiritual among the unspiritual, the sincere among the hypocrites, the humble among the proud, the separated among the worldly. They were the saints who were leading pure, wholesome Christian lives in the midst of corruption. There were only a few, but the Lord took account of them by name. (18)

and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments,

Tatford says concerning this, "The reference was to the day of a Roman triumph. All work ceased and the true Roman citizen donned the pure white toga. The specially privileged few - usually the civic authorities and sometimes relation or friends of the victorious general who was being honored - had a part in the triumphal procession. Clad in white, these Sardian believers were also to walk in triumph with their Captain in the day of His triumph. They had remained loyal to Him and would share His honor in the day of His glory." (19)

What a grand honor that will be for those who are the faithful. They are persecuted here. They are derided for their purity and adherence to the things of God. But their time will come. They will be robed in white garments. White garments in Revelation 19:8 indicate that these white robes are the character and works or righteous acts of the believers. Rev 19:8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (NKJ) There are those verses that indicate that this white garment has been made white by being washed in blood of Jesus Christ. Rev 7:14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (NKJ) Whatever the source, it pays to be faithful and the righteous will surely shine like the sun. Matt 13:43 "Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (NKJ)

Strauss says, "White is always the color of heaven. The redeemed of the great tribulation are seen wearing robes washed white in the blood of the Lamb (7:14). Then there follows the white cloud (14:14); the white horse (19:11); the white horses (19:14), and finally the great white throne (20:11)." Then the new garments are to be worn. "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness" (Colossians 3:12-14). (20)

and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life;

Tatford has an interesting thought where he says, "Practically every city of that day maintained a roll or civic register of its citizens, and in that record was entered the name of every child born in the city. If one of the citizens proved guilty of treachery or disloyalty or of anything bringing shame on the city, he was subject to public dishonor by the expunging of his name from the register. (The name was, in any case normally obliterated at death). . . . If on the other hand , a citizen had performed some outstanding exploit deserving of special distinction, honor was bestowed upon him, either by the recording of the deed in the city roll or by his name being encircled in gold in the roll." (21)

Our Lord does not here indicate that those who have their names written in the Book of Life might later have them expunged. For Jesus taught that the believer was eternally secure. John 10:28-29 "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. (KJV)

Christ will not blot the names of his chosen and faithful ones out of this book of life; men may be enrolled in the registers of the church, as baptized, as making a profession, as having a name to live, and that name may come to be blotted out of the roll, when it appears that it was but a name, a name to live, without spiritual life; such often lose the very name before they die, they are left of God to blot out their own names by their gross and open wickedness. But the names of those that overcome shall never be blotted out. Christ will produce this book of life, and confess the names of the faithful who stand there, before God, and all the angels; he will do this as their Judge, when the books shall be opened; he will do this as their captain and head, leading them with him triumphantly to heaven, presenting them to the Father: Behold me, and the children that thou hast given me. How great will this honour and reward be! (22)

but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Tatford comes to this conclusion. "The one, who did not shrink from confessing Christ during his earthly life, was to be acknowledged by Him before His Father and His angels. The same military symbolism is sustained throughout. The faithful, in the white toga of the freeborn, would walk in the triumphal procession and clad in the shining festal robe; their name should be honored in the civic register of heaven; and finally they would be confessed before the Sovereign of the universe." (23)

This of course is just what Jesus had told His disciples. Matt 10:32-33 "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (NKJ) Luke 12:8-9 "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. "But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (NKJ)

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

 

Sardis - The Deceased Church

Rev 3:1-6

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."' (NKJ)

Only the church at Sardis and the one at Laodicea have nothing in them to commend. This church at Sardis might have been established during the days of Paul or even as tradition says by the apostle John himself.

The city at this time was in decline. The city was on its way to non existence. They had once been great, the capital of Lydia. Once a great military force and also a city of tremendous wealth. We are told that the Persians who took the city were overwhelmed with the wealth that this victory afforded them. But the city had suffered a great earthquake about 80 years before and had never quite recovered, even with Rome's help.

The church was also in decline. They had once been a great church but were now simply going on their reputation. They may have even been very active but there was no spiritual life. Spiritual life is to Christian things what physical life is to this world. Whatever else you might have, unless you are living, all else is empty and void.

Let us look at what Jesus had to say to this church. Let us look at the characteristics of this church. Let us understand her problems and her opportunities.

 

  1. THE PROBLEM
    1. The church was dead.
      1. They appeared to be alive.
        1. The idea here may be that these had all the qualities that indicated life.
        2. Or it could mean that they had a reputation for being alive while in reality they were not.
        3. It could mean that they, like the city only had to talk about the good old days when they were great and they might remember a few great saints of their past and glory in those bygone days.
      2. But under the Lord's omniscient gaze they were dead.
        1. We need to understand that what may be considered by some as constituting life is not so with God.
        2. God looks on the heart, not only of the individual but of the church.
        3. The church is not simply a coalescence of individuals but is a living body.
        4. Parts of a body all together in one place does not mean life.
        5. Listen to how Paul describes the last days to us and see if it doesn't both fit our times and also represent dead Christianity.
        6. You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that. 2 Tim 3:1-5 (NLT)
      3. The last thing Paul mentions in that passage is really of grave importance and also is indicated here.
        1. Notice how Jesus represents Himself to this church.
        2. He comes to them having the seven Spirits of God.
        3. Now Jesus told us that it is the Spirit that gives us life. John 6:63 "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. (NAU)
        4. You see Paul says that in the last days they will be religious but will deny the power which is the Holy Spirit.
      4. I think Jesus is in this giving Sardis the key to a resurrection so to speak.
        1. They could seek once again the power of God to make them what they need to be.
        2. As Christians in our denominations we have become so organized with our histories, costly churches and cathedrals, universities, seminaries, boards, bureaus of publication and propaganda, executors of organized activities, including home and foreign missions, even lobby men to influence legislation at court.
        3. Most of the denominations never lack organization but the power of God.
        4. God help us to not look to all the worldly means that we think will accomplish God's work without God.
    2. They had no enemies in the world.
      1. They do not face the persecution of those in Smyrna.
      2. They do not enrage the emperor against them.
      3. Although they had a temple to Cybele, the like goddess to Diana, no one was dragging them to the theater for a trial.
      4. You see a dead church is no threat.
      5. They are not a threat to the pornographers, the alcohol industry is not afraid of what this church might say.
      6. The gambling industry is safe here because the church is in all reality dead.
      7. I think it interesting that the mainline churches of the middle decades of the century almost whole heartedly threw their lot in with communism as a fulfilment of the plan of Jesus Christ.
      8. And even today, the position of some in the WCC is that there really is no religious persecution in China.
      9. You see if you are dead, you really do not have any problems.
    3. They had no difficulty with false teachers.
      1. All the churches with the exception of this one and at Laodicea had problems with false teachers.
      2. But this church had no inward struggles.
      3. They were all of one mind and one heart, the problem is that they are dead.
  2. THE INSTRUCTION.
    1. Be watchful
      1. Jesus is telling them to be alert else they become worse than they were.
      2. This no doubt how they had lost what they had once been.
      3. Letting things go is the easiest of all paths.
    2. Strengthen what remains
      1. These to are ready to die.
        1. There were some, as we see later who were still faithful even in the midst of all that was taking place.
        2. But even these also were about ready to cave in to the pressure of conformity.
        3. Sometimes it seems so much easier to give up than to go on.
      2. Their works are not perfect.
        1. The problems is that their works are not complete.
        2. They are lacking.
        3. Like the church at Ephesus who had it all but love, what one lacks can disqualify everything else.
        4. In light of the message to this church I would say that their works lacked life.
        5. There was only dead formality as they carried on their religious service.
        6. Their works were done in drudgery and apathy without the power of God.
    3. Remember
      1. How you have received.
        1. To translate this what you have received misses the whole focus of the passage.
        2. Listen to what Paul tells the church at Corinth.
        3. 1 Cor 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (NKJ)
        4. Sardis did not need to be reminded what they had received but how they received it.
        5. This church was in some ways like Ephesus in that there is no condemnation concerning their doctrinal position, but they are dead.
        6. In reality the Sardis church is just Ephesus a little farther along.
        7. They had the correct forms and doctrine but they were dead.
        8. Paul tells the church at Corinth that it was the how of their salvation not the what of it that they could remember.
      2. Remember how you heard.
        1. Jesus wants them to remember the guilt of sin that they felt as the preacher had proclaimed the righteousness of God and how they were so far from it.
        2. Jesus wants them to remember how the message of grace was sweet to their ears when they came to see themselves as sinners in need of Jesus.
        3. Jesus wants them to remember how they had heard the life giving message of salvation through the forgiveness of sin to be found only in Jesus Christ.
        4. Can you remember the how of when you believed/
    4. Hold on.
      1. He still has a few, even here in Sardis that have not defiled their garments with the filthiness of the society.
      2. They need to hold on.
      3. He doesn't tell them to go off and join the monastery.
      4. He doesn't tell them to quit going to the church services.
      5. He says HOLD ON.
    5. Repent.
      1. And then He says they need to repent.
      2. Repentance is something that none can go without.
      3. The only way you can live life and not need to repent is to quit living.
      4. But when we stop repenting we are dying just like the rest of Sardis.
  3. THE WARNING. "If You will not watch"
    1. He will comes as a thief.
      1. Someone pointed out in a newspaper article about the Lord's soon return.
      2. With the approach of 2000 there will no doubt be some who will try to have all the bases covered and will start going to church just toward the end of the year.
      3. But what if Jesus come in October or May or April or today.
      4. You see if the thief sent a calling card, he would have a short career.
      5. If we do not watch, Jesus coming will be a surprise.
      6. If we are watchful, we cannot be caught unprepared.
    2. They will not know the hour of His coming.
      1. When someone get the day and hour figured out then know for sure they are mistaken.
      2. We will not know the day or the hour.
      3. Some think they know the year, but that will only be a guess in the dark.
      4. I think that we can see that His coming is near and we need to be watchful.
  4. THE PROMISE
    1. They will walk with Me.
      1. Those who have not defiled their garments.
      2. Sounds like Enoch in the Old Testament, he walked with God and he was not for God took him.
      3. What a grand and glorious way of putting our fellowship with Him.
    2. They will be clothed in white.
      1. They who overcome.
      2. The white garments are those of the victors.
      3. We will walk in white because we have washer our robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.
    3. They will be eternally preserved.
      1. They will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.
        1. Jesus uses here a double negative.
        2. It means that they will no never be blotted out.
        3. Now some have worried about the interpretation of this passage but in light of the rest of the New Testament we have nothing to fear.
        4. Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect.
        5. Nothing shall separate us from the love of God that we have in Christ Jesus.
      2. He will confess their name before the Father and the angels.
        1. This is a fulfilment of the gospel promises to confess those to the Father and to the angels who here on earth would not be ashamed to confess Him.
        2. This is kind of the culmination of our salvation.
        3. To be presented to the Father by the Son who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Death and life, it makes all the difference. What about your faith? What about our church? Is it life of death? Are we empowered by the Spirit of God or by programs and forms? We too need to repent, and to hold on to what we have and to watch for His coming is nearer.

1. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 102, 103

2. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 103, 104

3. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 104, 105

4. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 106

5. The Book of Revelation; Clarence Larkin; Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate; 1919 page 25

6. Gill's Expositor; John Gill; Computer Version in Online Bible

7. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 69

8. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 72, 73

9. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 73

10. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 111

11. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 62

12. from Matthew Henry's Commentary

13. from Matthew Henry's Commentary

14. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 64

15. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary

16. I know that in many of the modern versions this word is translated what. That is not a good translation. There is no reason to translate this word in that way. If you will take a concordance you will find that the word is either translated how or not translated at all in the remaining places where this Greek word is found in your translation. Strong's definition for pwj is as follows, " pos (poce); adverb from the base of 4226; an interrogative particle of manner; in what way? (sometimes the question is indirect, how?); also as exclamation, how much!: KJV-- how, after (by) what manner (means), that. [Occasionally unexpressed in English]." Thayer says, 4459 pos- how, in what way.

17. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 76

18. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 74

19. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 115

20. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 75, 76

21. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 116

22. from Matthew Henry's Commentary

23. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 117  

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com