14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We are now in the last of the seven churches “Revelation”. The church of Laodecia. Laodicea was the wealthiest of the seven Churches. It was known for its banking industry, manufacture of black wool, and a medical school. As we have read, Christ…again like the church of Sardis, did not find anything to commend this church. NOTHING!!!
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God”.
Christ was giving witness to the Church that He did have the authority to judge their works. Jesus spoke this world into existence and rules His creation. Being a faithful and true witness from the very beginning of His creation until now, gives Him the authority to rebuke and discipline the people that He loves.
He says of Himself that He is 1) the Amen, 2) the Faithful and True witness and 3) the ruler of God’s creation. In every letter so far, the introduction used is a key to the interpretation of the rest of the letter, so remember these things carefully. So…basically, God has placed judgement on this church, faithfully, by His witness of their being and works. And it is final.
Let us now see the downfall, the condemnation of this church…
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
Christ saw a church that had become like so many churches today. He saw a church that was not productive. Sure, they attended services each week, but they did not grow. They were content to just sit back and watch the world turn as they enjoyed their luxuries/wealth.
It is clear from this passage that the wealth of the city greatly affected the church. It seems strange to most people that riches and sorrow go together. It is the love of money that is the root of all evil. Most of the time, riches produce rotten living. There are a few rich people who serve God, and there are a few rich churches that are spiritual, but the general rule is that riches brings sorrow. Jesus said, “It is hard for the rich man to enter the kingdom of God!”(Matt 9:23) That does not mean that God cannot or will not save a rich man? He can, and He will. But the sad fact is that riches and spirituality do not seem to walk together. You will either serve God or serve your money/wealth.
These Christians thought by being wealthy, that they needed nothing, not even God. And to think that they called themselves a church who believed in God. The Laodiceans are neither cold nor hot, but have about them a kind of nauseating quality, which will make the Risen Christ vomit them out of His mouth.
Notice the use of the terms “cold” and “hot”—not “dead” and “alive.” The LAODICEANS were in the most dangerous state possible. They were not referred to as being spiritually dead, nor as being spiritually alive. They were still lost, of course, for had they been born again they would not have been spewed out of the mouth of Him who is the head of the Church. Had the church been totally cold, there would have been a possibility of reviving the coldness, and the church might have become warm again. Had it been hot, the Lord would have blessed.
The church at Laodicea was a group of undecided… neutral members who would not take a stand one way or the other toward Christ or the truth, and this is the most hateful, disgusting spirit possible to display against God, God’s Word, and God’s Church. Such a condition must be dealt with immediately. The last condition of the church is the worst by far. They never really wanted God, their god was their wealth. It is either, your for God, belongs to God or your still of the world. God does not like a half-hearted relationship with Him. You cannot hold on to God in one hand and satan on the other.
18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent.
Laodecia prided itself on its financial wealth. It was rich and had acquired wealth and had need of nothing—so it thought. The Risen Christ advices Laodicea to buy their gold from Him; then they would have real spiritual treasures. They had fool’s gold in their bank accounts, gold from this world with no spiritual or eternal value. Only with Christ’s gold would they be rich. It may be that GOLD TRIED IN THE FIRE stands for faith since Peter compares it to faith in…
1 Peter 1:7
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
This is the kind of gold that God gives and wants. True gold that is tested and true. Wealth can do much but there are things that it can never do. It cannot buy happiness nor give a man health either of body or of mind, it cannot bring comfort in sorrow nor fellowship in loneliness. If all that a man has to meet life with is wealth, he is Poor indeed. But if a man has a faith tried and refined, there is nothing which he/she cannot face, and he/she is rich indeed. (rich in Christ)
“and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed”. A statement made by Lord to which only He can provide a “white garment”, that is fitting to wear, and acceptable to Him. Being made clean, washed by His blood alone is acceptable. As rich as this church was, they cannot by their salvation. They did not believe, nor received the truth that only Christ can clothed them for salvation.
“anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see”. It means for them to see things spiritually. Things from God, the truth of God and His words. “Let Me (Jesus) anoint your eyes, so that you can see. But…sadly, they remained blind from the truth. Gods truth…to them, was just made up of what they wat the truth to be. NOT GODS TRUTH!!! Simply because, they were still blind!
Unless our eyes are opened by the Lord, we cannot discern spiritual matters.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
They were spiritually dead still. They were a church, but dead still. No new creation in their walk.
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent”. Here is a verse which echoes a truth found elsewhere in the New Testament. God disciplines those He loves. His rebuke and discipline came because of His love for the church. Christ will “spit out” those who disobey (v. 16), but He will discipline those He loves. God’s purpose in discipline is not to punish but to bring people back to Him. God may discipline you and I, to help us out of our uncaring attitude, and He uses only loving discipline. We can avoid God’s discipline by drawing near to Him again through confession, service, worship, and studying His Word. Just as the spirit of love can be rekindled in marriage…so that through discipline, the Holy Spirit can reignite our zeal for God.
The word “ZEALOUS” means “to be hot.” This is His last message to the church. He says, “BE ZEALOUS.” Be hot. Get on fire for God. He is ordering this church to forsake its lukewarm state, and he says, “REPENT.” This church needs repentance more than all the others. And the message of repentance is for the church today.
20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
This verse is well-known and is often used in conjunction with a picture of Jesus standing at a door, knocking, and asking to be let in. There is no picture of intimacy more striking than that of setting at a common table and breaking bread together. This is the picture of the relationship of the Christian to God as the Christian comes to Him in Jesus Christ. There is nearness, there is sympathy, there is understanding; there is fellowship.
Remember the story of this church. Their a Christian church, WITHOUT CHRIST! Christ is saying to this church, that He is the One missing in this church…in their lives. Christ is knocking at their door as a way of revelation…reveling to them His truths. But sadly, to this church, their wealth is their god. Not…JESUS CHRIST. And they ignored His voice.
Christ enters the sinner’s heart and makes him/her new. “I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me”. That is a perfect picture of a true relationship with Him. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne”. These are the ones who had refined gold, “tested in the fire”. One who is clothed in “white garments”, One who has received Christ as Lord and Savior. Saved for all eternity!
This is the ultimate reward for the believer. Eternal life with our God. Sins forgiven, no more tears, no more pain, no more temptation. The beginning of the true life. Like I had mentioned last week, we are only here temporarily. This is not our home, so don’t hold on to it. Our homes… enjoy it for now, for it is Gods provision from His promise. But, a mansion awaits the ones who overcomes. The Laodecian church held on to what’s in front of them, what they had, but they did not see the picture of eternity. Let us learn from their mistake. Their mistake caused them their lives for all eternity.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Seven churches, 5 condemned, two commended. And each and every church…ours included, receives this warning. How shall we respond, as a church and as an individual. Should we listen to Gods warning? YES… WE SHOULD!!!
Church Of Philadelphia
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
In this series on the Seven Churches of Revelation, we have examined the Churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira and Sardis. Today we will examine the Church of Philadelphia and not only…how our church compares to it, but also how we as individual Christians compare to the Christians in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia was founded by the citizens of Pergamum to create a gateway to the central plateau of Asia Minor. This city was often damaged by earthquakes, which resulted in a fear that kept a large part of the population from living within the city walls. Today there still exist a town on the ancient site of Philadelphia called Alasehir in Turkey, having a population of around 15,000. The word Philadelphia comes from two Greek words: PHILEO, which means, "love" and the word ADELPHOS, which means "brother." Thus, the name Philadelphia means "brotherly love."
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens” 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
First: The church is greeted by the One who is Holy and True. Christ first reminds us that He is holy, or in other words, "set apart" from all that is evil. For the child of God, that’s good news.
It means that His love for us will never be corrupted by a lack of integrity or goodness on His part. His care will never be canceled out by selfishness or laziness. Because our Heavenly Father is holy and completely separate from all moral imperfection. He is able to love us with a full and perfect love.
Second, He wants us to see that He is true. He is absolutely genuine. He’s not like the gods of the world, who are only gods in the minds of their worshipers. Because He is true, there is never any doubt between what He says about Himself and what He actually is. He is the perfection of righteousness and the fulfillment of all prophecy. Christ is the author of truth, the One who is completely true and must be completely truthful.
The Messiah is the One who has the key of David. Jesus has the key to the kingdom from where all blessings flow. He has the key to grace. All who would find salvation must find it in Him. He has the key that will unlock all the bars and barriers to man’s heart. He has the key to health and healing. He has the key to providence and provision. All that happens is under His domain. He, (Jesus) not Peter, has the key to heaven. Jesus has all authority on earth and in Heaven. What He opens, no one can shut and what He shuts, no one can open. This statement was prophesied by Isaiah…
22 The key of the house of David, I will lay on His shoulder; So, He shall open, and no one shall shut; And He shall shut, and no one shall open.
Christ had no condemnation for this church. This church appears to be a small church, but one that is obeying the teachings of Christ. The church of Philadelphia, as the name implies, must have loved God and loved one another, even their enemies. Do you think Christ would have any condemnations for our church? If so… what would they be? Something to think about as a church and also as an individual.
Jesus in the same sense holds the key to the New Jerusalem that is coming when He returns. Christ holds the key...He controls who gets in and who does not. There is no one else who can open or close this door. Christ has the authority to say who will enter the kingdom of God. No one comes unto the Father except through Christ.
Christ knew their deeds, just as He knows our deeds. There isn’t anything that we do, or anything that we say, or anything that we think, that Jesus doesn’t know. Christ knew their hearts and He knew that they had truly accepted Him as their Savior and Lord. Jesus had opened the door to eternal life in heaven for them and no one could take that away from them. Is there anything in our thoughts or our life that we are ashamed of? Well, there are no secrets that Jesus doesn’t know. It is impossible to hide anything from Him.
The Christians at Philadelphia had kept the word and teaching of Christ and had done their best in spreading the word of Christ, even though they had little strength. They were probably few in numbers and not wealthy, but they were rich in the blessings of Christ and they always put Him first in their lives. They were probably witnessing everyday and those whom accepted the Word, Christ open the door for them, but…to those who did not, Christ shut the door to them.
9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
The persecution the church faced was from hostile Jews. The hostility exhibited by the Jews against the true believers was supernaturally empowered. I am going out on a limb on my commentary of this verse. We have many false religions and cults today that claim that they are Christians. I believe that Christ is referring to these people in the above verse. (so called followers) There are even people sitting in churches today that claim to be Christians, but have not really accepted Christ as their Savior. The time will come when the truth will be known. The day will come when these so-called Christians…but really members of the synagogue of Satan.
Again... “wheat and tares”, in the same house.
The Church of Philadelphia stood firm in their belief regardless of their fate. These believers faced the same battles that we face each and everyday. And…they stood firm!!!
12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
As long as we are in the flesh this is our daily battle. Stand firm. When everyone is against you…stand firm. When the testing/trials come…stand firm. You and I know that we are not facing them alone. What does “Immanuel” mean? GOD WITH US!!! That is a promise. Its forever!
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
To follow Christ is to learn how to endure, to persevere, in what He has asked us to do, because of who and what He asks us to become. This is called the perseverance of the saints. To hold on and obey Christ’s word no matter what we encounter in life…brings us tremendous blessings, here and in the life to come.
The Christians of Philadelphia kept the commands of Christ and they endure trials patiently (without complaining to God or blaming God). They will be spared from the great trail. I believe that all believers in Christ will be spared from the great tribulation that is to come. We will be raptured, but those that are left will go through many wraths from both the antichrist and God. During the great tribulation, only those who find Christ and refuses to get the mark of the beast will be saved, though they will still suffer much.
It will be extremely hard for a person to accept Christ while living through the tribulation. To do so would mean probable death or intense suffering for you and your family. By accepting Christ during the tribulation, you would have to refuse the mark of the Beast and then would not be able to work or even buy food. If you are here today and don’t know Jesus as your Lord and Savior…what are you waiting for? Cry out to God. Be saved, be forgiven, be made new. Receive the gift of eternal life.
Let us continue…
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
If we overcome, as did the church of Philadelphia, we will be honored in God’s temple and always be with Him and we will always belong to Him. When we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior our names are written in the Book of Life. We belong to God and nothing can take that away from us. When I married my wife, she took on my last name and that meant that she belonged to me and not to some other man. It is the same with God. When we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are wed into the kingdom of God and we take on God’s name and we belong to Him forever. We will live with Christ forever in the New Jerusalem to come. I can’t wait! What about you?
Christ makes a special pledge to the overcomer. If we will renounce in this life the way of complacent and compromising Christianity, then in the next life, in God’s heavenly city, (which is considered a temple) we will be pillars, stable, immovable and secure.
God will assign us to strategic places of support to uphold His ministry. The Christians of Philadelphia might live in fear of earthquake, and persecutions on earth, but nothing will shake them in heaven.
A further promise is given that he will go out no more. This seems to indicate that he will no longer be swayed by the temptations and trials of this present life but will abide in the will of the Lord. In addition to this promise Christ gives them a threefold assurance that they will enjoy the heavenly Jerusalem because…. “I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name”. Does this sound familiar…from one of our bible studies, about receiving a new body? And now a new name? (1) they will have the name of God, (2) they will have the name of the city of God and (3) Jesus’ new name. These are eternal realities for those who overcome.
In Conclusion: A warning…
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Again… Jesus warns us that we need to listen to what He is saying to the seven churches for it applies to us today just as much as it applied to the seven churches of the book of Revelation.
Today we have looked at a church that Jesus was well pleased with. He was pleased with works of the church and the people. I can’t wait to meet the congregation of the church of Philadelphia. They must be a wonderful group. Think about it. There wasn’t a power struggle on who would make the decisions on how the church was to be run. Everyone got along. They loved everyone. They didn’t complain or get angry. They loved Christ so much that all they wanted to do was to please Him and obey all of His teachings. Wouldn’t it be great if our church was like that?
Six churches so far, one more to go. So far only two churches were well commended by our Lord for their faithfulness. (Smyrna and Philadelphia) And to all the rest…faced Gods judgement.
Let us pray….
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
The Christmas story is the greatest story ever told. It is the story of what God did to save you and me. It started at the beginning of the human race. God created man in His image so that He can appreciate and enjoy His creation.
The moment Adam and Eve fell into sin, God put into motion His greatest work…His work of salvation. He carefully unfolded His plan through prophetic revelation. Specific predictions were given hundreds of years before their fulfillment. Then when the time arrived, He sent His only begotten Son into the world to deliver man, woman, child… from the prison of sin and death…and bring them into the kingdom of God.
God chose Mary to be a special vessel of honor. No one before her and no one after her would have this honor. She was chosen by God to be the earthly mother of His Son. She was chosen to be the vessel through whom the eternal Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, would be born into our world.
Was Mary chosen because she was pretty? No… Was she chosen because she was a princess? Absolutely not! Was she chosen because she was a celebrity? Was she chosen because of who she was or because of what she had done? NO!!! She was just a common woman. It was by God’s sovereign grace that she was chosen.
Thank God for sovereign grace. The Bible says that not many of us who were chosen are wise, educated, rich, and powerful. God chose us from among the millions regardless of who we are and what we have done. He chooses whoever He wants. And for you and me, that is sovereign grace.
If you could use one word to describe Christmas, what word would it be? Sadly…some would use words like headache, busyness, expensive, or even bothersome. To many people Christmas is just another day, only a little more expensive and a lot more trouble. I thank God that Christmas shopping is not as bad as “black Friday”, where many get hurt, just to get the good deal. You see… that is how the world has made Christmas to be. The truth of Christmas has been removed. Instead of joy and peace, it has become burdensome, busy, and comes with a price tag. How sad that an event that brought so much joy in Heaven should bring so little joy here on earth.
I would like to suggest to you… as we celebrate this Christmas season that it should be a time of joy, peace, love. and gratitude. You see, throughout the year, we have faced a lot of good times, troubled times, struggles, hurt and so on. But through all of that, “Immanuel”, which means, (God with us) has been with us from the beginning. Jesus Christ is the true reason for the season.
A Christmas TV special, Charlie Brown asks if anyone knows what Christmas is about, and Linus recites the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2. Have we forgotten, that Christmas is not primarily about us, our family, friends, presents? But about Him. (Jesus)
Charlie Brown Pic:
(Don’t add To Powerpoint)
11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
One year a Christmas afternoon visitor asked five-year-old Ruth, "Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas?" After a moment’s hesitation, she answered, "No, but then it’s not my birthday!"
Isn’t it easy to get so wrapped up in the celebration that we forget what it is we are supposed to be celebrating? The world does that. It has become politically incorrect to say Merry Christmas- they want is to say Happy Holidays or Merry X-mas. We have the Jewish day of Hannakuh, or the African celebration of Kwanzza, to compete for the place that belongs to the Son of God. But even without buying into the world’s ways, we can easily forget what Christmas is really all about… by forgetting Jesus.
If God has given you the Greatest Gift Ever, His Son… focusing on Jesus means that you not only remember the Savior in the manger…but remember the Savior in our heart. Remember that this baby grew up and went to the Cross to pay for our sins, that He rose again to give new life, and that He lives in our hearts today to give you joy peace and love.
This is our third Christmas, (Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church) although I do miss the first year when everybody was here, those who were with us when God made this church to be. They will always be in our hearts, and in our memories. Within the three Christmas that we have spent together, God has also added some new faces with whom we have grown to love and to be part of this church.
As we celebrate this Christmas season, let us not forget the real reason why we are celebrating.
Its all about the Baby in the manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths. God’s precious gift to the world.
The Dead Church (Sardis)
3 “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.”
Seven Churches of Revelation, we have examined the Church in Ephesus, the Church in Smyrna the Church in Pergamum and the Church in Thyatira. Today we will look at the Church in Sardis.
As with all letters Christ sends to His seven churches, this one begins with a description of the Author. In fact, as you may recall from previous sermons on these letters, the description Jesus Christ gives of Himself in the opening line of a given letter gives a critical message to the particular church addressed in that letter. So, there is need to understand Jesus’ description of Himself in our text. Here Christ describes himself as possessing or holding 2 things.
1: Seven Spirits of God:
2: Seven Stars:
3 “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.
First, there is something to be learned from the introduction to this message concerning the Lord and the church. The first question that might come to our mind is the seven Spirits of God.
(God has seven Spirits?) This statement of the seven Spirits were taken from the book of Isaiah…
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
We have here part of the prophecy of the Messiah and it lists seven spirits.
(1) The Spirit of the Lord
(2) The Spirit of Wisdom
(3) The Spirit of Understanding
(4) The Spirit of Counsel
(5) The Spirit of Might
(6) The Spirit of Knowledge
(7) The Spirit of Fear of the Lord
The letter to Sardis is unique, that there is nothing at all Christ commends them for. There is no positives here, only negatives.
“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.
Totally different from all the other churches that we had covered so far. There is no mention, of love, faithfulness, service, faith…none of that. Instead, God directs them clearly, as a “dead church”. Scary right!!! For God to write this church a letter, a living thriving church, but inside the Lord declares it to be a “dead church”. Keep in mind when God passes judgement, there is time to repent.
Sardis had a great reputation as a church. They had a fantastic name and if we were church hopping in that day, we would have no doubt have ended up at Sardis. We are not told why they had a good name or how they got it. It may have been as a result of their lovely building, their numbers, their programs, their inspiring worship. We are not told and so we can assume that it doesn’t matter. What does matter though is that Christ said to Sardis, reputation means nothing. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past and it doesn’t matter what other people think about your congregation. What matters is what Christ thinks. They had a name all right, but they were dead.
“Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God”. You see…one thing stuck out in this letter. For a once dead believer to be made alive, God…by His power, needs to make one alive. And once God makes or gives a new/born again believer life. The fruits of the Spirit will start to show and become evident in the believer’s life. So… it is clear that, when God pronounced judgement, when He clearly said, “I have not found your works perfect before God”. God has to see His Son in every believer, if not…then the person is still dead.
So why was Sardis dead? Notice that we can’t find any reference to Sardis having problems with persecution of false teaching. Sardis was not aggressive in its witness to the city. There was no persecution because there was no invasion of the enemy’s territory. The city saw the church as a respectable group of people who were neither dangerous nor desirable. They were decent people with a dying witness and a decaying ministry. Satan didn’t need to send any attacks on the church or any false teachers there to lead them astray because the church just wasn’t a threat.
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.
If you did something to save my life, I would be indebted to you forever. Christ saved our life. Made us alive, when we were once dead. Are we indebted to Him? We should be! We should be doing everything that we can in serving Him, including serving in our Church and outside, in our everyday life. Sometimes we give others more respect and do more for them than we do for God. I believe this is what the Church in Sardis was doing. Let’s get it right. God needs to come first and everything else second. Wouldn’t you agree!!! Your answer should be a definite YES!!! We do not know when Christ will return, but I believe by the teaching of the signs in the Bible that it may be soon, even in our lifetime. If Christ would come tomorrow, what would He find you and I doing? Serving Him or serving the world? “I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you”. Will we be ready when the Lord comes? I sure hope so!
WAKE UP!!! God says…don’t forget you were saved, if you were saved? hold fast to what you have learned, and still learning until that day of His coming. “therefore, if you will not”. God has declared judgement. Again, just like all the letters to the churches that we had learned, God is fair/just in His judgement. He will always give time to repent. Simply because of His great mercy!
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.
So…it is clear, that there were a chosen few. Just like in every church, there will be the faithful/chosen ones. And there will be pretenders. (Wheat & Tares) all in one house!
The letters of Christ always end on a positive note with promises for those who overcome. For even though most in Sardis were dead, there were some who were alive.
For those who are found alive, who have not compromised their stand and are not stained by the things of this world. “they shall walk with Me in white”, These are ones who have received forgiveness, washed by the blood of the Lamb.
As chosen believers, we are to fight sin, overcome sin, since we bought by His blood. We are to repent of our sins as hard as we can, and not to live in it as we once did. That means that we are to ask forgiveness for our sins, but also it means that we will turn away from our sins. We are to live a righteous life. Jesus said that these few righteous people will walk with Him dressed in white for they are worthy! Don’t you want Christ to say that about you and I? Of course we do!
We…as Christians, have a very hard battle to win while we are still here. The battle to remain faithful in our walk with the Lord. Wearing that white garment, hoping and doing our best not to put any stain on it.
“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”.
Christ is telling us if anyone overcomes their disbelief, and repent from their sins and accept that, Jesus is Lord and Savior, then they too will be dressed in white. Jesus has promised us that He will never blot out our names from the book of life if we have truly believed in Jesus.
Sitting in a church every Sunday and doing good deeds doesn’t get our name in the book of life. Walking the isle doesn’t get our name in the book of life either. Being baptized with water doesn’t get our name in the book of life. We may fool others by saying that we have professed Christ as our Savior, but God knows our hearts. He knows if we have truly received His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. We can go through all the motions, but if our heart isn’t in the right place, our motions means nothing. “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead”. Scary right!!!
I am truly thankful for these messages. From these messages, God…by His great mercy, gives us time to repent and to learn from the mistakes from the past. You see…that is how much God love His creation.
1 Timothy 2:3-4
3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
This is our Great God. That is why we seat here every Sunday listening to His words. That is why we have Bible study every other week, so that we can know and learn from the truth.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
6 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So…that our robes will remain white, because we have been “thoroughly equipped”. Names will remain in the “Lambs Book Of Life”.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Five churches so far, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, and today Sardis. Four condemned, one commended. (Smyrna) Two more to go.
Let us pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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