“The Unveiling of Jesus”
III. Chp. 2-3 The vision of His Church: (1:19b) “The things, which are”
II. Vs. 1-6 Those who became dead
We now move into Jesus 5th letter to the church addressed to Sardis, which means, “escaping ones” or remnant. Sardis was the capital of the region known as Lydia, which was, located 50 miles east of Ephesus at a junction of five main roads. The fortress of the city sat atop a 1500-foot plateau which was thought to be an impregnable fortress. History proved that theory wrong twice as sentries fell asleep while keeping watch. The cites chief god was Artemis who was thought to be able to restore people back from the dead, its chief manufacturing product was that of wool garments and both of these two things are reflected in Jesus words of verse 1 and 4.
The time frame in church history that this fits is 1500-1700 called the reformation. Often called the protestant reformation, in reality Catholics started the reformation. Luther and others were tired of being under the repressive state religions ran by corrupt popes. Though people followed these brave men out of Roman Catholicism in the end most of the people joined the movement based upon intellectual agreement rather than a personal relationship with Jesus. The outcome was great creeds and confessions but formalism that just favored different ceremonies and systems which became denominations that worshiped there system above their savior! Donald G. Barnhouse observes, “There is nothing wrong with the Westminster confession, but if you go throughout Christianity you will find the gospel in a box called a coffin; yes there are believers but all too often dead formal orthodoxy characterizes their devotion!”
II. Vs. 1-6 Those who became dead
Vs. 1a Author: Jesus’ identification points to what they need and this reference was already mentioned in 1:4 traced back to Isa. 9 where the “seven Spirits of God” and speak of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The stars refer to the pastors or messengers. The need of this church was like that of the reformation in that they needed to understand the work of the Holy Spirit and for the leadership of the Church to more fully submit to Him who holds them! As this relates to us, Jesus wants control of our hearts as well of His church. Profession without His complete possession is just mere religion. Even they we may be busy, as was this church, all of the business apart from the power of the Holy Spirit will never bring life! The Holy Spirit is not a program, He is a person and we are told in Eph. 4:25-32 ten things in our lives that will grieve Him:
- Vs. 25 Lying or “exaggerating”
- Vs. 27 Giving opportunity to the devil, “compromise”
- Vs. 28 Stealing
- Vs. 29 Corrupt communication, “anything that does not buildup”
- Vs. 31 Bitterness
- Vs. 31 Wrath
- Vs. 31 Anger
- Vs. 31 Loud quarreling
- Vs. 31 evil speaking
- Vs. 32 Not being forgiving
No amount of profession can help….only repentance can!
Vs. 1b Admonition: Jesus said this church had a “name” that they were alive, but were in fact dead. Their reputation from the outside was impressive, they had activity but still they lacked true power. Their name was before men and not God, they were more into their results then they were their relationship. Jesus can tell the difference between a corpse in a white tux and a servant in a white robe!
Vs. 2-3 Accusation and Appeal:
Vs. 2b “I have not found your works perfect before God.” No matter how alive they or others thought they were, Jesus says they were on their last breaths. The word “perfect” means, “not fulfilled”; they had not lived up to God’s design and stopped short. Christian: Complacency lead to compromise, compromise leads to corruption and corruption will lead to a casket. The world often views Christians as neither dangerous nor desirable; instead just decent people with a dying witness and a decaying ministry! That’s why so many are trying to become “relevant”!
- Vs. 3b “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.” This city was well aware of its own history of slumbering sentries so Jesus uses it to remind them of even a greater problem of them falling asleep while guarding your heart. Our response to the soon return of Jesus is a great indicator as to our spiritual condition and the Bible speaks of three reactions:
- Rev. 3:3 Fear “I will come upon you as a thief”: If someone were to break into your house your first reaction would be fear because of lack of recognition! Now, when I come home after work and walk into the house my wife does not run to the closet with the phone to dial 911 because she knows me.
- 2 Peter 3: 3-4 Indifference “that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” The second reaction is indifference and Peter says it is so because of those that are walking according to their own lusts. What if when I came home and said “Honey I’m home!” And Donna responded, “So, you’ve been coming home for years and nothing has changed, …what’s the big deal?” That would indicate that we don’t have a very good relationship.
- Rev. 22:20 Anticipation “Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Here we see John’s response to Jesus’ words and he says, “So be it, even so, come, Lord Jesus”. You can just hear the excitement in those words. I’ve got to tell you that I love coming home to my wife even after 34 years as she makes it my favorite time of the day.
If we are not excited about being in the presence of the Lord:
- Are afraid then that might indicate that you don’t know Him
- He’s a stranger to you, or are indifferent towards being in His presence. Then it indicates that there is something that has interrupt or damaged your fellowship with Him!
What do we do if that is the case? Jesus gives us five things to revive the dead:
- Vs. 2a “Be watchful”: Wake up! The first step to personal renewal is to wake up and recognize that there is something wrong.
- Vs. 2b “Strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God”: Whatever life there is cultivate it, strengthen it and make it healthy.
- Vs. 3a “Remember therefore how you have received and heard”: This is similar council that Jesus gave the church at Ephesus. Look back at when there was life and remember how your heart acted like that of a little child’s.
- Vs. 3b “Hold fast”: Don’t give up, be consistent, and keep going.
- Vs. 3c “Repent”: Tell Him what He already knows and turn form any area that is wrong.
Vs. 4 Approval: There was a remnant that had remained pure as white is the color for righteousness. Jesus says, even in Sardis there were a few that had walked with Him in purity and because of that they are given the promise of walking with Him in the future.
Vs. 5 The “overcomer” is defined for us by John in 1 John 5:5 and it is he who will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The book of life has been written before the foundations of the world, (Rev. 17:8) and the names of those written in it we are told are follow workers in the gospel (Phil 4:3). I have often wondered since God is not willing that any should parish and that all should have everlasting life if every does not start out with their name in the book of life and rather chose to have it removed. It seems such based upon this verse.