And He Healed them all: The Link between Holiness & Healing VII.mp3
1 Thess. 5:1-11
2 Peter 3:8-18
To those who overcome…
History of Sardis:
The name Sardis means “escaping ones”.
Sardis was a wealthy city known for its wool and dye industries. It is also the place where modern money was born in that the first gold coins with standardized purity for general circulation where minted there in the 6th Century BC.
At the time Jesus spoke these words to John, the ancient city of Sardis had seen its best days and had started to decline. Yet it was still a wealthy city. The connection between Sardis and money – easy money – was well known in the ancient world.
A large temple dedicated to the mother goddess Cybele (Sibily) stood over 60′ tall in which people honored & “worshipped” her with will all kinds of sexual immorality and impurity.
Sardis was a city of the well known for its softness and luxury, a city of loathsome decadence which even pagans spoke against. It had a well-deserved reputation for apathy and immorality.
This softness and lack of discipline and dedication, was the doom of Sardis as a city was stood to be the ruin of its Christian church as well.
Rev 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”
Jesus identifies Himself here as the One who has the seven spirits of God may be those mentioned as resting upon Christ listed in Isa. 11:2,
- The Spirit of the LORD
- The Spirit of wisdom of understanding
- The Spirit of counsel of might
- The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
The seven stars again are those angels dedicated to being messengers to the churches.
In this letter, Jesus doesn’t encourage the Christians in Sardis to stand strong against persecution or false doctrine. This is probably because there simply wasn’t a significant danger of these things in Sardis. Being dead, the church in Sardis presented no significant threat to Satan’s domain, so it wasn’t worth attacking.
The church in Sardis was “A perfect model of inoffensive Christianity” “By today’s sickly standards it was probably not scandalous wicked, it was a clean and neat death; the form of Christianity retained but the heart gone.”
Rev 3:2 “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.”
This reminds me of the passage in Hebrew 12:11-29 where a clear comparison between the two scriptures can be seen with similar warnings.
Rev 3:3 “Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”
- 1 Thess. 5:1-11
- 2 Peter 3:8-18
- Matt. 25:1-13 – the 10 virgins (5 with oil/5 without – trimmed wicks)
Be watchful: This first instruction from Jesus tells them they need to examine and protect, strengthening what they have.
The things which remain tells us that though the spiritual condition of the church of Sardis was bad, it wasn’t hopeless. Spiritually, there were things which remain that could be strengthened. Jesus had not given up on them, and it was late (that are ready to die) – but not too late.
In its history, the city of Sardis was easily conquered twice before. The city was built on a steep hill 1,500′ above the valley floor and was inaccessible on all sides but one, which was easily defended, yet the Persians defeated them in 549BC as did the Greeks in 218BC.
It wasn’t that the attacking armies overwhelmed Sardis, but because overconfidence made them stop being watchful. The spiritual state of the church in Sardis was a reflection of the city’s historical character.
I have not found your works perfect. the word “Perfect” is the Greek word Playroo and is used in the passive tense meaning, to be made full or complete. Clark says, “They performed duties of all kinds, but no duty completely. They were constantly beginning, but never brought anything to a proper end.”
Rev 3:4 “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”
Even among the dead Christians in Sardis, there is a faithful remnant. But there were only a few names. In Pergamos (Rev_2:14) and in Thyatira (Rev_2:20) there were a few bad among the good, but in Sardis there are a few good among the bad.
they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy…
This picture of close fellowship and friendship is seen in Enoch, who walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Gen. 5:24).
Of course, the garments Jesus gives are always white. Sardis was a church that was dead because of sinful compromise. They needed to receive and walk in the pure, white garment that Jesus gives. White was also the color of triumph to the Romans, so the white garments speaks of the believer’s ultimate triumph in Jesus.
“Walk with Me” is the greatest reward Jesus can give His followers. The Christians in Sardis who forsake the sinful compromise of their city will be rewarded with a closer, more intimate walk with Jesus. This reward is ultimately a better motivator than the fear of punishment or ruin from our sin.
The pure can have greater intimacy with God not because they have earned it, but because they are simply more interested in the things of God. God promises to reward that interest: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matt. 5:8)
Rev 3:5 “The one who OVERCOMES will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments: Jesus identified the overcomers with those few names who have not defiled their garments (Rev. 3:4). These overcomers will wear white garments, received from Jesus.
The difference between the dead majority with imperfect works (but who had a good reputation) and the few names who were pleasing to God was purity, and the closeness with Jesus that is always related to purity. The deadness and spiritual facade of most the Christians in Sardis was related to their impure lives.
Jesus explained the absolute necessity of this being clothed by God with His garments of purity and righteousness in His parable of the wedding feast (Matt. 22:11-14). Real righteousness is receiving God’s covering instead of trying to cover ourselves. Adam and Eve tried to cover their own sin (Gen. 3:21) but God provided them with a covering that came from sacrifice (Gen. 3:7).
and I will never blot his name out of the book of life
In the ancient world, death or a criminal conviction could blot out the name of an ancient citizen from the city’s book of the living, which was the city register.
“In ancient times cities kept a register of their citizens; and when a man died, his name was removed from the register. The risen Christ is saying that, if we wish to remain on the roll of the citizens of God, we must keep our faith flamingly alive.” (Barclay)
There is a Book of Life, and it will be opened and referenced on the Day of Judgment. This means that the Book of Life is real, and will be read.
- Rev_20:12 says, And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
- vs. 15 says, And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
- Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10:20)
There is a Book of Life, and there are five different references to people being blotted out of the Book of Life…
- Moses said to the Lord: Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written. (Exod. 32:32)
- And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.” (Exod. 32:33)
- Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. (Ps. 69:28)
- 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. (Rev. 3:5)
- And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Rev. 22:19)
Apostasy is the most awful of all sins and it does not always happen all at once. Generally one becomes “entangled” in the world’s affairs first. Once they are firmly entrenched and thoroughly caught up, their souls pine away and eventually change allegiances. For many it is a painless process of which they are woefully unaware.
I have two excellent examples of being entangled and overcome and they serve to show how we should take this and all the warnings of the letters to the churches in Revelation seriously
The first is the life of a man named Charles Templeton. A generation ago he was deeply involved in the foundations of Youth for Christ and impacted the nation for Jesus. Chuck Smith himself has said how dynamic and powerful a minister he was, and that he would go anywhere to hear him. Many people received Jesus at his meetings, and he was an associate with Billy Graham in the early years. But recently he wrote a book in which he totally denounces his belief in Jesus Christ, denounces even his belief even in God, and says he is an atheist. Charles Templeton totally denounces his early confessions of faith and through his book he wants to “rescue” the people he once brought to Jesus. Obviously, this man – in his present, apostate state – is not going to heaven. You can debate all day long if he was never saved or if he lost his salvation. But at the end of the day, there are two conclusions. First, at one time, by all human appearance he was saved. Second, he didn’t take the warnings of the Bible to keep walking, to keep trusting, to keep persevering in the faith seriously enough.
Second is Charles Darwin. To read about this click – HERE.
Rev 3:6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
To hear the message simply click on the link above.
*NOTE: I draw heavily from the writings of David Guzik, a fabulous commentator from Germany. You may obtain his commentary through e-Sword for free.