Church in Sardis
A dead church
Overall the church was dead
Some Christians were walking as the should
But it seems
Overall the Christians – they were asleep on the job – doing very little
Just riding it out – no life to them
And the church is full of unbelievers here
The message Jesus sent to the church at Sardis: Revelation 3:1-6
Jesus addresses the angel of the church 3:1
Jesus gives a self-description of Himself 3:1
I know thy works: Revelation 3:1
Recognize their Spiritual condition
Remember what God has done for them
Repent and get things right
The church that’s ready to die
He that overcometh
He that hath an ear
A basic foundation church at Sardis
It is stated in church history that the town of Sardis lies in the fertile valley at the foot of Mount Timolus, and lays about thirty miles southeast of Thyatira. This town was gravely affected by the results of war and the great earthquake in the first century. I can only find that through ministry was the church of Sardis founded. While others brings out this fact that Sardis was to be a chief city of Asia Minor in the apostle John’s day and perhaps the first city converted under John’s ministry.
A basic review
As we look back at the first four churches it is well to note that the church at Ephesus had lost its first love and was in need of repentance. The second church at Smyrna remained faithful in her persecution, however, was also facing further trials, for which she needed encouragement from the Lord. Now the third church at Pergamos had married the world in tolerating the doctrine of Balaam and now is in danger of Christ judgment. The fourth church at Thyatira, was a church that compromised by tolerating that prophetess Jezebel and her evil teaching. However the fifth church the Lord told John to write to the angel at Sardis. Sardis was a church that became complacent and rested on her former spiritual reputation, and not completing her work before the Lord God. The church at Sardis, like so many local churches today live in the past, which is the pathway or gateway to spiritual death.
Church in Sardis Means “Remnant”
And they were a Dying Church
This is the fifth church of the seven churches in Asia Minor, and Ephesus fought hard to its doctrine and lost because of its lost love and stood in the need of repentance to return to its first works. Now the church of Smyrna suffered and remained faithful, however, she needed encouragement in spite of her persecution. The church in Pergamos one might say that she married the world by tolerating evil doctrinal standards, therefore, placing herself in danger of Christ and God’s judgment. Then the church in Thyatira, place herself in danger by allowing the heresy of the woman Jezebel and therefore compromising with evil. Because of this heresy Jesus made it clear that those who committed adultery with her He would cast them into a sickbed with her and into great tribulation.
The message to this fifth church Jesus has John to write about what her spiritual reputation was, and losing that spiritual reputation she was in danger of Christ Coming in an unexpected judgment. If one was to teach this lesson in the traditional teaching they would teach in these five terms the first would be the historical background of the church in Sardis. The second term they would address the church of Sardis, the third would be the condemnation of the church in Sardis, the fourth would be the commendation that Christ gives unto the church in Sardis, and the fifth would be the promise to them who overcomes.
Jesus Self-description of Himself
Sardis: Seven Spirits of God, Seven stars
General references to Revelation 3:1: Revelation 1:4-5; 16; Isaiah 11:2
Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. KJV
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. NKJV
Revelation 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, and says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. NASB
Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the Messianic Community in Sardis write: Here is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: I know what you are doing—you have a reputation of being alive, but in fact you are dead! CJB
Revelation 3:1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis: 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. NIV
Sardis the fifth church recorded in the book of Revelation and the fifth message Jesus sent. Just as it was with the other, churches Jesus sent a message of commendation, warning, and teaching message to the angel of the church of Sardis. The message to the church at Sardis holds within its message words for us in the church today as well. I believe that the words of this message of Jesus to actually be relevant for many of the churches in this present day. Therefore, if we open our minds and look at the reflection of Jesus message and words of stern warning to the people of that generation to the people of this generation. I believe that it is relevant for us to compare that the light of God may invade the corners of our minds with the truth that brings clarity to those who have ears and eyes to see and hear.
Just as it was with the other four churches, Jesus is dealing with the spiritual condition of the congregation rather than their location. In addition, Jesus has sent a personal message by saying “he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.” Many Christians would ask: What are the “seven Spirits” mentioned here to the seven churches? You will only find this expressed in the book of Revelation and only four times Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 4:5; 5:6.
The common view of the seven Spirits of God
Many teach that this is a symbolic meaning for the Holy Spirit found in the New Testament. Again what are these seven Spirits? I believe that to understand about the seven Spirits of God before the Throne is vital for every Christian because it is God’s own instructions on how to interpret His Holy Word. You will find in the prophetic word of the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah where it speaks of seven Spirits that would fall upon Christ Isaiah 11:2.
Jesus is not only establishing His power and authority to Sardis but also that He is the sole source of the light of God’s truth. This truth is the river of righteousness, which flows from the kingdom of heaven. It is a Divine message that tells the church its measure of what is true and just. What I am saying is Jesus deems to the church what is necessary for rebuke, to exhort, to correct in His Divine measure.
Paul wrote this to Timothy about this fact that all scriptures are valuable for teaching the truth for convicting sin, correcting our faults and training us for Christian living. 2Timothy 3:15-17 In addition, I believe that Christ does not want us to be stupid or ignorant about our works and to get in control with full knowledge that is the same with God. I further believe that God and Jesus does not want weak-welled men and women that claims to be full of knowledge and yet never coming to the knowledge of truth.
In the fact that Jesus knows our works, that He knows everything that goes on within the church, within the fellowship of Christian brothers and sisters. Therefore, Christian brothers and sisters are to have total submission unto Him, for Jesus is the answer to for our conduct, our actions, our decisions, and how each of us how our lives are led. Jesus not only informs the church of Sardis the crucial facts of their works He relates He knows their every works.
As we continue our study on the seven churches
Out of all the churches mentioned in Revelation, I believe for me personally that Sardis is perhaps the saddest church story. Yes, Ephesus had left its first love, Laodicea was lukewarm, Thyatira and Pergamos struggled with false teachers, and doctrine however, Sardis is called a dead church. Perhaps we have all at one time or another, made reference to a particular organization or denomination and made the remarks to the effect that is a dead church. Therefore, by saying that, we imply that there is no spiritual enthusiasm within the congregation, little passion or love for the work of evangelism, or meager praise offerings offer up to the Lord at best. It’s one thing to have another human being deem a church as “dead”, however, it’s completely another story to hear the words from the Head of the Church…the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! Let us look today at the church at Sardis and hopefully learn from her example.
As with the other letters, we see that Jesus addresses this church in a very unique manner. Jesus says that He has the seven stars in His hand referring to the initial revelation to John in Rev. 1:20. I believe that it is comforting to know that Christ holds His ministers or servants in the palm of His hand. The seven Spirits of God are mentioned throughout the book of Revelation. NOTE: We must be careful not to come away with the impression that there are 7 Holy Spirits in the bible, but rather we understand this to be different operations of the one and selfsame Spirit of God and Christ. The number 7 in the bible often represents fulfillment or completion the seven churches. Also He says “I know thy works”, except what follows is anything but encouraging. Jesus states that they “have a name” that they are alive, but they are dead. I believe that it is important for you and me to realize that there are many out there who “have a name”, but that is no guarantee of spiritual vitality or true. There are many churches which are viewed as the most influential. There are many ministers who are viewed by the world as dynamic orators with tremendous leadership ability. But what really matters is not what people say about you, but what God says about you! Jesus was not impressed with the name they had made for themselves- he told them they were dead!
My personal introduction about the church at Sardis
I believe it is well to note that Jesus addresses this church with only rebuke. Therefore, we can believe that this church did not have a problem with living the Word of God; however, the reputation was that the church thought they were alive however; they were dead according to Jesus. As we continue to study, we will see the serious of this kind of reputation with the Lord’s assessment or judgment of a dead church. Let me be so bold as to make this statement. People who state or judge a dead Christian Church as a live one may be an individual without any spiritual discernment whatsoever; in other words a non-Christian. In this modern age of the church, the most rapidly growing churches are those that have turn to the means of entertainment as the means of attracting people. My personal logic behind this thought is that the church proclaiming of the gospel and God’s Word is more on emotion and believing that they are right with the Lord. Moreover, when churches ceases to proclaim the spiritual issues of the Holy Scripture and the things written therein, the effects of the church is dead. If the church at Sardis was, dead or being a lifeless church it truly needed the seven Spirits of God.
I state this because of what Jesus position is on who is writing the message unto the angel at Sardis. The prophet Isaiah prophesied about the seven Spirits that would fall upon the Lord Jesus Isaiah 11:2. These Spirits of the Lord that rest upon Him and they are the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of understanding, the Spirit of counsel, the Spirit of might, the Spirit of knowledge, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord. Our Lord Jesus Christ possesses the fullness of the Spirit of God. Therefore, Jesus reminds us, that we can do nothing apart from Him. When we consider this factor about “the one who holds the seven stars,” we see one who holds the seven stars holds the resources for provision for His Church.
To be honest in my own understanding I cannot give you a logic understanding of why the church of Sardis had a good reputation with the people. One might say that people looking from the outside of the church, that the reputation that looked good as far as being alive. However, Jesus states that they are dead this is a serious charge or diagnosis from the Lord.
What are some of the signs that a church is dying or dead?
First, a dying church rests on its past accomplishments and is satisfied with its presence condition.
Secondly, a dying church is more concerned about their order of worship and their formal order tan about their spirituality.
Thirdly, a dying church is more concerned about what is material growth than about their spiritual growth.
Fourthly, a dying church is more concerned about social issues and social change than they are about seeing people changed by the power of God.
The fifth, a dying church is more concerned with pleasing others more than pleasing God.
The sixth, a dying church clings more tightly to its creeds, doctrines, and confessions than it does to the Word of God.
Finally, a dying church is one, which has lost its conviction the Holy Scriptures is the Divine Word of God.
Therefore, as we study I believe we need to consider closely the Words of our Lord about a dying church. For there are truly words of warning and rebuke regarding the church then as well as the church today?
Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. KJV
Revelation 3:2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. NIV
Revelation 3:2 ‘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. NASB
Revelation 3:2 “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. NKJV
Revelation 3:2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains, before it dies too! For I have found what you are doing incomplete in the sight of my God. CJB
In this verse of scripture we look at what Jesus, tell them what is needed for an extreme makeover or a spiritual overhaul. Jesus states to Sardis to “be watchful” this is an aspect of faith recorded throughout the Bible. Again our Lord states His words again about “works” which I believe Christ is talking about their spiritual reputation as well as their former work or service by which they gained this current reputation for works they have not completed before God. One might be safe in saying that this was a large congregation for its day and was growing and the activity had an outward appearance that distinguished the congregation and yet it was a spiritual graveyard. Yes it seem alive, however, it was actually dead. Moreover, it had the name of a spiritual church and for vitality, however, one might interpret that it had no right to be called a spiritual church. It had a beautiful outward appearance and yet it was wearing its grave clothes.
Then Jesus goes on to says, “Strengthen the things which remain” a step to stay in good relationship with God. Any church then as well as today to have a good relationship with God must back up their works with the Word of God. One of my personal fears for many of the churches today bearing the name of Christ, which are very active, however, has no spiritual life within. A dead or dying church lives in the past, in addition, they are satisfied with the way things are and feel there is no need for change. If I may be so bold to say they are more concerned about what is comfortable than conviction, with money than with wining the souls of mankind.
In addition, the Lord informs almost all of the churches; however, Jesus informs the church of Sardis of a crucial fact about their works.
General references to Revelation 3:3: 1 Timothy 6:20; Revelation 3:19; Matthew 24:42-43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 16:15
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. KJV
Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, 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. NIV
Revelation 3:3 ‘Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you. NASB
Revelation 3:3 So remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and turn from your sin! For if you don’t wake up, I will come like a thief; and you don’t know the moment I will come upon you. CJB
Revelation 3:3 “Remember therefore how you 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. NKJV
In this text of scripture we find that the Lord warns them at Sardis that they are to be watchful and strengthen and reinforce the good works they have already done in the past. Note: That there is one truth; however, unfortunately there are many interpretations of the scriptures as well as the seven churches. In addition, it is well to note that with each passing day, we have new churches with new doctrines that seem to spring up out of nowhere. Let me give you this example, in the spring of the year and the spring rains bring forth mushrooms, however, not all of them are edible, and some are even poisonous, so it is with new doctrines. It is within these doctrines that are floating around in the spiritual that cripples the spiritual walk of the church today.
If any individual is uncertain as to what they should believe, go back to the Holy Scriptures for the source of truth that was foreordained before the foundation of this earth which is Divine Wisdom; and you can find the instruction for your soul. If I may be so bold as to state that the truth of God’s Word is not hidden, furthermore, it is not shrouded in mysteries, in addition, it is not reserved for a select few to make as a snack, the truth is that any individual who is desiring to receive the truth Christ and God’s Word is truth.
General references to Revelation 3:4: Acts 1:15; Jude 23; Revelation 4:4; 6:11
Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. KJV
Revelation 3:4 “ 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. NKJV
Revelation 3:4 ‘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. NASB
Revelation 3:4 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. NIV
Revelation 3:4 Nevertheless, you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; and they will walk with me; clothed in white, because they are worthy. CJB
In this text of scripture Jesus lets it be known that are just a few within the church of Sardis attending that He finds walking in faith and are worthy. To these few Jesus tells that they He will walk with them and they shall be clothed in white. Moreover, the color of the garment will be the color in heaven for this color is stated many times in the New Testament. (Revelation 7:9, 14)
General references to Revelation 3:5: Revelation 19:8; Exodus 32:32; Psalms 69:28; Luke 10:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; Philippians 4:3; Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8
Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. KJV
Revelation 3:5 He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before my Father and before angels. CJB
Revelation 3:5 ‘He who overcomes shall 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. NASB
Revelation 3:5 “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. NKJV
Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. NIV
Again Jesus mentions being clothed in white, garment of heaven. (Revelation 19:8) The real value of this text of scripture is this fact that these who are clothed in white Jesus makes it clear that these He shall never blot out their name from the book of life what a promise. Furthermore, one might interpret from these two verses of scriptures that these names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. Moreover one might also state that God foreknows who will accept Him and who will not. (Romans 8:29)
Revelation 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. KJV
Revelation 3:6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. NIV
Revelation 3:6 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. NASB
Revelation 3:6 Those who have ears, let the hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.’’’ CJB
Revelation 3:6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ NKJV
Again I note that Jesus repeats Himself and also makes it clear that we are to listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. Commentary about the seven churches Philadelphia