1. Series: God’s Message to the Church in Sardis
This is part of a series on the seven churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3). This article covers the message to the church in Sardis (Rev 3:1-6).
The video messages of letters to the churches in Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7), Smyrna (Rev 2: 8-11), Pergamum, (Rev 2:12-17), Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29), Sardis (Rev 3:1-6), and Philadelphia (Rev 2:18-29), Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzs5B_RI3OQ&list=PLGZv4fOP54n3HbIZJqV-Juw8qSO_tO7Ls
2. Deception by Outward Display of Religiosity
Imagine having an expensive wedding and a big home but no love! Appearances can be deceptive. Outward displays of religiosity are not indicators of a truly loving relationship with God and people. What is worse is that deception through appearances is often deliberate. In the letter to the church at Sardis, God says “you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Rev 3:1). The church at Sardis is perhaps going through the motions of religiosity, even giving thumping speeches, declaring their charity from rooftops. Or perhaps operating too much as a nice friendship club with dinners/picnics, seeking praise/approval of people, etc. Or perhaps it is a case of slow death by apathy, routine and indifference while basking in past glory. Or maybe they are just being hypocritical (“do what they say, not what they do, for they do not practice that they do” – Matt 23:3). Or they compromised truth/justice/righteousness to please the surrounding culture. Or too preoccupied with the pleasures or the troubles of the world. All these and more are unfortunate realities of churches today. A great awakening is the need of the hour!
3. God Looks at Our Heart
God looks at our hearts and our priorities. The only priority that should matter is to follow Jesus, be in a loving relationship with God/neighbor, and to authentically represent Him. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
4. Always Be Prepared
So God asks the church as Sardis to “Wake up!” (v2), watch out, refresh, to rescue what is left, get the priorities/direction right, have the right vision/purpose, reestablish relationship/commitment to Him, to hold fast, to repent. If not, God says, “if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you” (v3). (Incidentally, the formidable/impenetrable/wealthy city of Sardis was attacked and conquered in surprise attacks twice before John was writing this). The best way to always be ready and prepared is to genuinely love God and one another – just as Jesus loved (John 13:34-35).
4.1. The Religious Man Caught by Surprise
God’s judgment catches the religious man by surprise (the outwardly religious). Matthew 7:21-23 “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not… done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’. The Psalmist says in Psalm 51: “You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”
4.2. Promise to the Overcomer
There are still a few people at the church in Sardis who are genuine, with true sacrificial love, practicing what they preached: “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.” (Rev 3:4). As always, there is the promise for the overcomer: “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” (Rev 3:5).
Seven churches of Revelation series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nzs5B_RI3OQ&list=PLGZv4fOP54n3HbIZJqV-Juw8qSO_tO7Ls