Author: Ron Graham
We continue studying the seven messages to the churches of Asia. In this lesson, we look at the message to Sardis, (Rev 3:1-6)
Sardis A very ancient city, originally the capital of the Lydian empire. Pillars of a Greek temple still remain there.
He who has the seven Spirits... Jesus calls himself "He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars..." . We have previously discussed the seven spirits and the seven stars. You will recall that the seven stars represent the "angels of the seven churches" (Rev 1:20).
The seven Spirits of God are mentioned in Rev 1:4, Rev 4:5, Rev 5:6. As previously discussed, each Spirit is a representation of the Holy Spirit's personal work through prophets in one of the seven churches, delivering to them the God-breathed testimony or gospel of Jesus. The expression "the seven Spirits of God" (Rev 5:6) is parallel to the expression "the God of the spirits of the prophets" (Rev 22:6).
The gospel comes...
Jesus rebukes most of the seven churches for being weak links, unfaithful to the gospel. One of the purposes of Revelation is to strengthen the link that is weak. It is appropriate in addressing the Sardis church, that Christ represent himself as "He who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars..." . The church at Sardis was a weak link. It needed to "strengthen the things that remain" (verse 2).
I know... Superficially, the church seemed alive and active, and had a reputation for being so. However it was dead according to the Lord. This is disturbing. What people say is "a great church" may not be so at all. We need to look for the marks of the true church —those characteristics by which Jesus identifies a church as belonging to him. A church that appeals to us, a "feel good" church, may not be a true and living church at all.
Things that remain Digression and apostasy never happen all of a sudden. It is a slow process, and for a long time there will still be a presence of good things. However that remaining presence will not be valued, and will become weaker and weaker. This is like an endangered species of animal. If we recognise it is endangered, and value it, we can build up the population of that animal. If we don't, it becomes extinct. The marks of the true church are like that.
Deeds not completed Have you ever given someone a task to do, and they did not get it done properly? They left parts of the task undone, and did other parts in a sloppy fashion? Did that person still expect credit for the work? That's how some people serve God. And it just won’t do.
My God Here Jesus calls his Father "My God". Earlier, John speaks of the Father of Jesus as "His God and Father" (Rev 1:6 cf Rom 15:6). This is not a denial that Jesus himself is God, but an acknowledgment that he is subject to his Father. It also reflects the human nature of Christ whereby Jesus Christ the Son of God is also "a son of man" (Rev 1:13). Therefore he obeys and worships the heavenly Father as all men should.
Remember... keep... repent Have you ever been given something which meant a lot to the giver, but after a while you forgot about it, and it got lost? One day you come across it and the memory is awakened? Some people at Sardis had done that with the gospel.
Like a thief A thief does not announce his coming. So we don't know when a thief is coming. Likewise, we don't know when Christ is coming (Lke 12:39-40, 1Th 5:2-4, 2Pe 3:10-11).