Posted by: watchmancurtis | December 8, 2009

Revelation Study Week 6

John Donne wrote in a poem,  “Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  This was definitely the state of the church in Sardis as we found out today.  If they had asked this question, they probably would have been surprised to find out that they were indeed the one who was spiritually dead.  The letter to the church in Sardis is a harsh reminder that we need to be vigilant in our relationship with the Lord and being led of the Spirit, who is the one who gives life.

The name Sardis means, “Remnant” or “Come out”.

Verse 1:  Sardis was built upon a mountain with a seemingly impregnable citadel on a spur of the mountain, yet it had been taken twice because of unvigilant guards.  This church is living on the reputation of being alive, just as the citadel seemed impenetrable, yet Jesus says it is dead.  There are many teachings within the Bible that speak to outward appearances that are different than what is on the inside.  This church, as one member of our study said, was riding on the coattails of the past.  I have been involved in several churches that I felt were spiritually dead and the sad part of the matter is that no one recognized it within the church.  The description of Jesus is of the seven spirits of God (Holy Spirit) which is the very thing missing in this church.  God breathed his Spirit into man to give him life.  Peter says in 1 Peter 3:18 that Jesus was “made alive by the Spirit”. 

Verses 2-3:  Evidently there is part of the church that is hanging on and has not totally died off yet.  Jesus tells them 5 things to do to stop the bleeding.  We would do well to heed these words.

  • Wake up!  They were not even aware of their state because they had drifted off into a spiritual slumber.  Someone mentioned today that apathy and lack of vigilance are traps that we all must be careful of.  Just like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, it is easy to drift off to sleep instead of watching and praying.
  • Strengthen what remains.  If you see the boat has a leak in it and is taking on water, you must repair the leak so that more water does not come in.
  • Remember what you have seen and heard.  This seems to me to be calling them back to Jesus and the Word.
  • Keep what you have seen and heard.  James 1:22 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”  It is not enough to remember.  We must put into practice and live out the teachings of the Word.
  • Repent.  Once again we hear this call to a church.  They are to turn back to God and away from evil.

How different our churches and our lives would be if we would listen to these words as well.  The church in Sardis was told that if they do not do these things He will come like a thief in the night.  This is a clear reference to the second coming of Christ.  Matthew 24:43-44 speaks of Jesus coming like a thief.  1 Thessalonians 5:2-4 also speaks of the second coming in these terms.  Paul tells the church in verse 4 though, that “you are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief”.  For those asleep or unprepared, Jesus’ coming will be like a thief.  For those watching and waiting, however it will not.

Verse 4:  Jesus recognizes that not all in Sardis are guilty of these charges.  He encourages them by saying that they will walk with Him in white (purity) for they are worthy.

Verse 5:  Those who overcome will be clothed in white garments and will not have their name erased from the book of life.  Jesus will confess his name before the Father and before angels.  The question was raised, “Can a person’s name be erased from the book of life?”  I think for the most part we all agreed that it could.  The only way that we see this as possible, though, is if the person absolutely throws what God has given him away and has crossed a point where they will not return.  I know many who do not hold that view, however. 

Overall it was a great study.  We began by watching a video that Pastor Eric had for us that showed the cultural aspects of Pergamum (the city and church we studied last week).  We plan to watch a clip of Sardis as well next week.  They are very enlightening and I’m looking forward to next week.  I pray that we will examine our lives this week and make sure we are alive spiritually and not fading or dead.  I would hate for the Lord to say it was me or my church that the bell was tolling for.

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Responses

  1. Sardis the Reformation Church 1517-1648
    Rev 3:1-6 3 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘ I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 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. 3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 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. 5 ‘ He who overcomes will thus 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. 6 ‘ He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

    Sardis (those escaping) an impregnable city for some time until it was conquered by the Persians who discovered a way to penetrate the city’s fortress through a secret entrance which was later used by Antiochus Epiphanes to overthrow the Persians. Antiochus Epiphanes was a “type of antichrist” written about in the book of Daniel famous for the abomination of desolation. Jews are told to flee/escape when there is the abomination of desolation in the tribulation time to come. The church was on the brink of dying despite its size because it was filled with an appearance of believers who were in fact were practicing a form of godliness but not, for the most part, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. This marked the era of reformation led by Martin Luther. Look at the description of Christ, His commendation, His reprove and His reward.

    As you can see by now I am looking at the historical aspects of the different churches and so far the description by Christ, the commendations, the condemnations, the exhortations, the promises and the warnings are all perfectly married together. Ain’t God great?


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