The Letter To Sardis…
Rev 3:1-6 KJV
(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.
(2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
(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.
(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.
(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.
(6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
From our previous lesson, we saw a very basic summary of the contents of these letters include:
|Church Location||Name Meaning||Areas of Faithfulness||Areas of Unfaithfulness||Possible Punishment||Reward To Overcomers (proof of genuine salvation)|
|Ephesus||Desired or Allowed||Many areas of faithful outward service. Hate doctrine of Nicolaitanes.||Left first love (Christ)Service not motivated by love for Christ.||Removal of candlestick (church no longer enjoying fellowship w God)||Eat of Tree of Life in Paradise|
|Smyrna||Myrrh||Spiritually rich||N/A||N/A||Not hurt by second death|
|Pergamos||Fortified Tower||Faithfulness in face of persecution||Allowing doctrine of Balaam and Nicolaitans(physical and spiritual fornication)||Will war against those who hold false teaching||Be given hidden manna and white stone with new name|
|Thyatira||Sacrifice, Offering, Corpse||Works of love, service, faith, patience||False Prophetess in midst. (sexual immorality and idol worship)||Sickness, tribulation and death upon her and her followers.||Be given power over the nations|
|Sardis||Depart, Escape, Exit||A few faithful areas of service remain. A few faithful members remain.||Testimony that they are spiritually alive but really dead. Their works not “perfect” before God.||Will come upon them as a thief (implied removing anything of value leaving spiritually destitute)||White garments. Name not blotted out of book, confess his name before the Father|
|Philadelphia||Love Of The Brethren||Kept Word not denied name of Christ. Persevered in trials||N/A||N/A||Permanent pillar in temple of God. Name of God and New Jerusalem upon them. New name given to them|
|Laodicea||Judgment Of The People||N/A||Lukewarm service. Blinded to their spiritual destitution.||Spew out of Lord’s mouth. Rebuking and chastening from Lord.||Sit with Christ in throne.|
Beginning in chapter 2 through chapter 3, John writes personalized messages to the 7 churches. Each message contains four basic parts:
- Description of Christ
- Commendation for faithfulness and consequences
- Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences
- Promise to Overcomers
The first of these personalized messages is written to the church at Sardis.
- Description of Christ (v 1)
- Commendation for faithfulness and consequences (v 2,4)
- Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences (v 2-4)
- Promise to Overcomers (v 5-6)
THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:
Revelation 3: –
(1) And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write;
Christ reveals to John His message that was addressed to the pastor (angel) of the church at Sardis. Sardis was the capital city of the Lydian empire. Sardis was known for the gold and silver coinage they printed. Both the gold and silver coinage was the most pure of all coinage found at that time. Because of this Sardis became a very wealthy and influential city.
Sardis was the home of one of the largest temples dedicated to Artemis (Diana). It was also the home of one of the largest Jewish synagogues found in a Gentile nation. Both of these religious structures help us to understand the great wealth and power of this city.
These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars;
The symbolism of this description of Christ shows to us His role as the Revealer of divine truth. Notice the two parts to this description:
- He that hath seven Spirits of God – In 1:4, the seven Spirits, based upon Isa 11:2, symbolizes the fullness of the HS ministries, many of which involves revealing Christ and the truths of His Word to mankind. It is only through the intervention of the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual that Christ and His Word can be understood, accepted as truth, and applied to the life.
- He that hath seven stars – In 1:16, the seven stars, represented the pastors of each of the seven local churches which are given the solemn responsibility of declaring truths of Christ, found in His Word, to the local churches.
If we look at both of these together, keeping in mind they are held by Christ, we can see that Christ is the One who holds authority over, and uses, both the Holy Spirit and the Pastors of local assemblies to reveal His truths to mankind. This is an important feature of the work of Christ for the church at Sardis to understand.
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Christ begins to list that which He knew about the assembly at Sardis:
- thy works – their acts of service
- thou hast a name that thou livest – their possessed a testimony that they were spiritually alive and actively serving their Lord. However, their real condition…
- thou art dead – the were spiritually dead. Although they were outwardly going through the motions of worship and service, inwardly they were spiritually separated from God due to their sins… in that sense, they were spiritually dead as an assembly although they had individual members who possessed spiritual life.
(2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: Although the church as a body was spiritually dead, their communion with the Lord hindered due to their sin, there were still some areas of faithfulness that remained among them. The Lord encourages the church to:
- be watchful – they are to “wake up” and recognize their condition and the need to be on guard against sin
- strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die. – they are to build up the remaining areas of faithfulness, because these were also ready to expire.
for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Why are they to do these things?
The Lord recognized their failings and their need to put things in order to renew a right relationship with the Him.
(3) Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.
The church was instructed to:
- Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, – they were to recall the teachings, warnings, and encouragements they had heard and brought to themselves.
- hold fast – They were to hold them tightly and not allow them to slip away
- repent. – to reconsider what they have done, turn from their old ways and begin anew to serve the Lord.
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.
If they did not heed the warnings of the Lord, He would come upon them as a thief. In other words, He would come upon them unexpectedly with the intent of harming not blessing them. He would come upon them and judge them for their laxness and unfaithfulness. This is not speaking of His second coming, but of His “coming” (intervening) in the affairs of the church dealing with their sins.
(4) Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments;
There yet remained in the church a few members who have remained faithful to the Lord and retained a pure testimony in the eyes of those around them. By saying that they “have not defiled their garments”, the Lord is explaining that they are living holy lives that are free from the pollution of sin. This results in them possessing a pure public testimony.
and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
The reward of their faithfulness and pure testimony in this world, would be possession of a white robes of righteousness in the world to come. In other words, their temporal faithfulness would follow them into their eternal existence. They would possess rewards in eternity for their faithfulness now.
1Co 3:12-15 KJV – “Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
“for they are worthy” – in other words, it is only fitting and proper for those who are faithful now to be rewarded and shown to be faithful in the world to come. They are not deserving from personal merit, but they are deserving because of the Lord’s fairness, justice, and His work on the cross. This is what makes them “worthy” of their future rewards (2 Cor 3:5).
(5) He that overcometh,
The Lord now gives promises to those who will be victors over the powers of darkness that oppose their service to Christ.
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.
He gives them promises of three blessings awaiting them…
- the same shall be clothed in white raiment; – they will be clothed in the righteousness that is given to them through the work of Christ on the cross. Truly, we have no righteousness of our own, but can only be possessed through the grace of God as He applies the work of Christ to our account…
“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” (1Co 1:30-31 KJV)
- and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, – Those who overcome proves they have been genuinely saved. Anyone who is genuinely saved will never lose their salvation, they are eternally secure in Christ. He constantly is interceding on behalf of His people guaranteeing their acceptance by the Father and their entrance into eternity in His presence. (Hebs 7:25, Roms 8:34, 1 John 2:1).
Please note He does not say He blots anyone’s name out of the book of life. He is only affirming here that He does not blot out the names of those who are victors over this world.
- but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. – He will guarantee our entrance into God’s presence eternally as He publicly professes we are one of His people, redeemed through His work, our sins covered by His shed blood (Jude 1:24-25).
(6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Once again, Christ emphasizes He is only speaking to those who are saved by God’s grace, those who are given the ability to receive, understand and apply the truths of God to their lives.
In this text, we see Christ revealed as the Perfect Revealer of the Truths of God. It is under His authority that the Holy Spirit intervenes in the lives of men, opening their eyes to the truths of God. He also calls and authorizes the Pastors of His local assemblies to teach His Word helping those in the assembly to come to a better understanding of God’s Word.
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)
Do we see the need to spend time in God’s Word, receiving it in our hearts, coming to a fuller understanding of it, and applying to our lives?
Do we see the need to examine the teachings we receive, making sure that they are Bible based? Do we then forsake those who teach error, while actively following and appreciating those who proclaim His Word bringing honor to Christ?
Folks, this is the great lesson of this text and one of the greatest needs of the Lord’s people in today’s time. May we all never forget the need to stand for the truth, and forsake error as we seek to live our lives for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.
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