“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. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
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. 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.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
What a terrible thing to have said about you, that you have a name of being alive but you are dead! How can this be? It can only be because of deception. This church is not judging by God’s standards but by their own. They are like Cain of old, who thought he could
please God by giving an offering that he determined was right instead of obeying God. You see Cain gave an offering of the very ground that God had cursed, deliberately forgetting that God had told them that sin could only be atoned for by the shedding of innocent blood.
How many churches today are going through rituals that they have thought up, thinking to please God, forgetting that God said, “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam. 15:22). They may even shout to the Lord in their ‘worship’ services, but then they go out and commit adultery. The church now has a divorce rate as high as the world. The Assembly of God General Counsel recently passed Resolution 8, which allows as many divorces and remarriages sanctioned by the church as wanted. Their church divorce lobby accused the negative statements by Jesus against divorce as “hate speech!”
Jesus reminds the church at Sardis to remember how they received and heard the word of truth. Paul encourages Timothy the same way:
“O Timothy, guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith.” – 1 Timothy 6:20, 21
Sardis had mixed worldly wisdom and knowledge with Godly counsel. They forgot what Job knew about God – “With Him is wisdom and strength: He hath counsel and understanding.” (Job 12:15). The modern church in America has made the same error. Paul’s warning to Timothy about what “is falsely called knowledge” can also be interpreted as “is falsely called science.” Much of the church today no longer confesses the creation account, having accepted the world’s idle babbling about evolution, for which there is no proof. They blindly send their children to the public schools to be indoctrinated in evolution, humanistic religion, and a pluralistic philosophy which holds all religions equal and preaches sexual aberrations as normal. Then they wonder why abortions and divorces in the church are as abundant as in the world. It is in these schools that the seed of doubt is first planted in their children’s minds, which leads to their rebellion against Christianity. But, who is guilty? – the world for being what it is, or the church for surrendering it’s posterity to the world?
Every true church aught to be actively supporting home schooling or at least a Christian based school. Although I can say I believe home schooling is best up to High School age. First, it is the God-given responsibility of every parent to ‘train up their children’ in godliness, Second as secondary and college age teacher for 30 years I have seen how public school curricula undermines Biblical principles and truth. At the very – very least every church aught to be encouraging every parent to active in public school events and meetings and take the time to examine what their children are being taught.
The world preaches, “Be yourself” and makes idols of those who say “I did it my way!” TV is full of self-help programs and advertisements aimed at making you dissatisfied with what you have, so you will buy their product. But Scripture reveals –
“If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts … this wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” (James 3:14-16).
Much of the American economy is based on dissatisfaction with what we have. This is a bold denial of what Scripture tells us –
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you.'” (Heb. 13:5).
Many churches today do not function as ‘the body of Christ’ where the Holy Spirit gives the gifts He desires to whom He desires, because it may threaten the ‘leadership’s’ perceived position. This is nothing but envy and self-seeking that James writes about. The ‘spirit of Jezebel’ is alive and well in many churches, which is a spirit of control, and yes, men can have it as well!
I fear Jesus would say to many churches today, “You have used My promise to never leave or forsake you” as an excuse for your love affair with the world! And many would have to say I have succumbed to this temptation at times. This is one of the main reasons the American church is weak. There is much need of repentance in our lives. At a time of history when Jesus said we would be doing greater things than He did, we can’t even approach what He did! (John 14:12).
Jesus warned Sardis,
“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.” (Rev. 3:3)
“If you will not watch” is such an indictment of the modern church in America. How much time do we spend in our prayer closets? How often do we fast? How much time do we spend in the word of God? Entertainment has taken the place of meeting with God, and what spiritual things remain are in danger of dying!
How ironic that the modern church has even twisted this warning into a pre-tribulation rapture! They say we can’t know when He is coming because He comes like a thief. But, what they forget to say is that He comes like a thief on the wicked! Paul writes that the Lord’s coming should not be like a thief to the believer for
“you brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).
There are some, even in Sardis, that have not defiled their garments. They are seeking God still. Without the guidance of the church, they are holding home meetings, talking to one another about the things of the Lord as Malachi 3:16 describes, and learning how to walk with God. And they are seeking the righteousness of the Lord. Jesus will walk with them, even as the Lord walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden before they fell.
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” – Malachi 3:16
This letter should bring forth the fear of the Lord in us as He declares that some names may be blotted out of the Book of Life. This letter is not a ‘once saved- always saved’ message. The Lord is serious – no easy grace here. Jesus told a parable of those invited to the son’s wedding feast. When the father came in, he saw a man who didn’t have on a wedding garment, so he had the man thrown into outer darkness. (Matt. 22:2-14). Though he was invited, he didn’t have on a wedding garment and so was cast out. Our wedding garment is a robe of righteousness.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, and covered me with the robe of righteousness,..” (Isaiah 61:10)
The Lord has provided salvation for us but we have the responsibility to put on the robe of righteousness and keep it on. It is what Paul referred to as ‘work out your salvation.’ Even this responsibility the Lord will help us with, if we try. It is why the Lord ends this letter with “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments”.
He gives us the way to overcome in the beginning of the letter – He has the seven Spirits of
God and holds the seven stars. Oh how we need all the Holy Spirit we can get! If we turn wholeheartedly to Him, He will send the fullness of the Holy Spirit to aid us so we can shine like the stars.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” – Acts 2:38,39
Friends, this promise is for all who have been called by God. Jesus said, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” and that is true for you. If you ask to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, believing, you will receive it just like they did at the beginning.
The Holy Spirit is the One who transforms a “dead” church into a “live” church.