THE CHURCH AT SARDIS – THE DEAD CHURCH
There is no Christian that wants to admit that the church they attend is dead. If they worship; if they sing, pray, partake of the Lord’s Supper, and listen to a sermon on Sunday; if they still give . . . then the church is still alive and well. . . . Or is it?
I hope, as we have examined the churches Jesus had John write to in Revelation 1-2, that many of the characteristics we have seen shows that the church, even in the first century, had problems. Jesus, the Great Physician, knew what was going on in each church – he knew their strengths and weaknesses and he knew what each one needed. It is a dream to think that there is a church that had (has) no problems, yet, sadly, the only way that is true is if a church is dead. Some brothers and sisters will see problems in a local congregation of God’s people and will go somewhere else to find the perfect congregation. But such does not exist here on earth, because the church is made up of people who struggle to be like Christ, and who sometimes revert to the world when it comes to doing things.
Jesus describes himself as “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.” According to various comments by others, this suggests that Jesus has all the fullness of the Spirit, thus proving that He is part of the Godhead (see Revelation 1:4; 4:5 and 5:6). He convicts of sin by the Spirit’s message, and the message of the truth shows us how we are seen in the eyes of the Lord. One cannot hide sin from God — even so called “secret sins.” “Be sure you sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23).
The seven stars in his right hand suggests that he knows the preachers and evangelists in each congregation. As the stars shine on a clear night, so God’s people, and especially preachers and leaders, should shine in a dark world by their example.
Revelation 3:2 continues with, “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” HARD AND HARSH WORDS! The church seemed to be alive. They worshipped. Prayed. Studied Scripture. They may have been evangelistic. They had a “reputation.” But how the world sees the church; how even members of the church see the church, does not mean that is the way the owner of the church sees her. He looks at her heart (and hence, he knows all). Jesus pronounced her as dead. His word is final, unless the church realized how Jesus saw them and REPENTED!
With a clear understanding of how the Lord looked at them, Jesus then counseled them to be watchful. Obviously, they had not been. They had not been awake. They had not seen themselves as they were. Perhaps a few of them may have seen a problem, but either ignored it or dismissed it as unimportant! They had been pleased with the way things were. Sometimes, brothers and sisters, we don’t see ourselves as Jesus sees us! We think all is ok! God wants better from us – he knows what we need to do to be alive. Beloved, we need to look at South Cobb with the eyes of Jesus and see what we need to do to be pleasing to him in his sight!
“Strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 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.
There was still hope! They needed to strengthen what they had. They needed to build one another up — they needed to go back to the Great Physician who could heal their wounds. They needed to repent! The warning of his coming should have shaken them from lethargy and being pleased with themselves. Could it be that sometimes we in the church are happy with how big we are; we are happy with the way things are going, and see no need to improve? Further, will we be challenged to grow even more by remembering the fact that the Lord is coming again and will judge us? Has his “waiting” lulled us into being at peace with less than the best for the one who saved us from our sin?
Jesus counseled them to start where they are and rebuild. The ones who had NOT soiled their garments by becoming like the world set the example for the others! We are to imitate Jesus Christ, and we need to be willing to set the example so others can see what Jesus living in them is like. Being clothed with Jesus means walking worthy of Jesus, and what a promise they have! “I will not blot his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before his angels.”
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. The one who conquers 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 has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
When Jesus comes again, will Jesus confess our name before the Father for our faithfulness?
In light of the recent events in America, and how many of the congregations of the Lord have closed their doors permanently, the above behooves us to consider if we have allowed the world to kill our spirits and faith in the one who has saved us from sin. WHAT DOES SOUTH COBB NEED TO STRENGTHEN? What do we need to do to hear Jesus confess our name to the Father? THINK ON THESE THINGS!