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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

April 23, 2014

Revelation 3:1-6

  1. Verse 1. This week we focus on the church in Sardis. John is commanded to write to the angel (messenger) of the church in Sardis. Sardis, located at the foot of Mount Tmolus, is 32 miles from Pergamos and 27 miles from Philadelphia. The city and surrounding area was watered by the river Pactolus. The river, known for its golden sands, helped make the city prosperous when gold was found near its banks. The city was also noted for its fruits, wool, and temple to the pagan goddess Cybele. Sardis was devoted to the worship of the mother-goddess Cybele and no temple worshipper was allowed to approach the temple of the gods with soiled or unclean garments. A white and clean robe was required to approach its so-called gods. Sardis was the ancient capital of the Kingdom of Lydia. The kingdom's most noteworthy king was the very wealthy Croesus (Kroisos), who ruled from about 560 to 547 B.C. He was the first person to strike and issue the first true pure gold (and silver) coins used in the marketplace. His father King Alyattes, who reigned from about 610 to 560 B.C., minted and distributed the world’s first coins. Alyattes' coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. Sardis was a city exceedingly fabled for its past wealth and splendor, but it had deteriorated greatly. Its greatness lay in the past. Sardis had, at one time, been considered to be impregnable because of its ideal physical arrangement and topography for defense. It sat on a hill or mountain surrounded by steep cliffs almost impossible to scale with only one narrow way of approach. Yet Sardis had been attacked and conquered twice because of its lack of watchfulness.

  2. Verse 1b. Jesus refers back to the description of himself in chapter one. He is the one who “holds the seven spirits.”

    1. The title of Christ is also the prescription for the problem in this church. This Church was in need of the power of the Holy Spirit. “The seven Spirits of God” is a reference to the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son to the believer (John 7:37-39; 15:16, 26). He is the Son’s gift to enable believers to experience genuine spirituality through the multiple ministries and work of the Spirit symbolized here in the number seven which is a clear allusion to the seven-fold ministries of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11:2-5. But believers have a responsibility to walk by the Spirit who indwells them. The responsibility is to walk by faith in His enabling power and to deal with the sin in their lives through honest confession or they will hinder (grieve and quench) the work of the Spirit. So part of the problem was the believers in the church at Sardis were grieving and quenching the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30; l Thess. 5:19).

    2. He is also the one who “holds the seven stars.” The seven stars is defined as the angels of the churches in chapter one which refers to the human leadership of the church. The Holy Spirit and real spiritual leadership were lacking in this church. The seven stars referred to the spiritual leadership which is primarily responsible to hold forth the light of the Word to the local flock of believers. Here, it appears, was another key area of weakness; the failure to communicate and receive the Word in a consistent and an in-depth way with personal application and response of the mind, heart and will. Therefore, the two life-giving provisions of God for man--the Holy Spirit and the Word--were being neglected. The result was spiritual deadness (Zech. 4:6; Heb. 4:12; Eph. 3:16-19; 1 Thess. 2:13).

  3. Verse 1c. Jesus declares that this church is dead but looks alive. They have preaching, but not preaching that brings life. They have spiritual rituals but lack the power of the Holy Spirit. This church had a reputation for being alive, but by God’s standards the church was dead. A good reputation is not enough. Most likely they had a nice building, plenty of programs, and plenty of money. They looked alive from the outside, but inwardly they were dead. Most churches fall asleep when they are comfortable.

  4. Verse 2. Christ gives Sardis two admonitions. (1) He tells them to "wake up!" and (2) He commands them to "remember." Considering Sardis’ past history when the city was captured and destroyed twice because of the city's smug complacency this is fitting advice. There is a parallel with the city's history and the church's lack of vigilance and the urgent call to "wake up" before it falls under God's judgment. It is also interesting that if Sardis can wake up there is hope. This infers that the church is not completely dead but even though the community is in the last stages of life Christ has not given up on this church yet. The danger is real and the judgment is coming but there is time. By the analogy of Scripture this was a command for believers to get back into fellowship, i.e., to repent or confess their sin and start walking in the Spirit and in the light of the Word (Eph. 5:14-18). They had deeds but their deeds were nothing without a real relationship with Christ.

  5. Verse 3. The danger of not waking up from this spiritual sleep is that the church would face a spiritual judgment. We are not privy to what that means, but normally it would mean the collapse of the church fellowship. God would take his Spirit away and the church would crumble. The church must wake up and grab a hold of what they heard in the beginning. They must turn back to the faith that once was preached to them, but had been forgotten. These people are counseled to remember where the Lord brought them from and what He has done for them. They are to remember the days when they served the Lord out of a glad heart and wanted more than anything to do His will! They are to remember what it was like to walk in the power of God while the fire of His glory burned in and around them! This church is told to hold on to the things that are still alive in their midst. They are to resolve before the Lord that they will not allow those things to die as well. And finally they are confronted concerning their sin. When the things of God are allowed to die, the only recourse the church has is repentance! Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action! How long has it been since we as individuals and we as a church have repented before the Lord for our laziness, our complacency, our apathy, our wickedness, our deadness, etc?

  6. Verse 4-6. Those who are living for the Lord and walking in His life are counseled to continue. They will be rewarded for their faithfulness to Him. The day will come when they will join Him in Heaven and they will walk with Him there. Why? Because they are worthy! Not because they are faithful, but because they are saved! His righteousness has been applied to their lives and they will spend eternity in His presence.

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