The church at Sardis is identified as the recipient of the fifth letter from the Lord Jesus. According to Wikipedia, “Sardis is famed in history as the place where modern currency was invented” because its metal workers developed the method of minting coins of pure gold and silver.
Revelation 3:1–6 “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
Jesus identifies Himself as possessing the fullness of God’s Spirit, the source of spiritual life, to this church that is spiritually dead. Evidently, there are still a few embers of life that could be fanned into an effective flame if its people would but repent and hold fast to the faith. In fact, the Lord states that He knows that there are still a few true believers in Sardis that have maintained a testimony of separation from the world and are serving in the name of God with the heart of God.
This letter acknowledges that the church at Sardis gives the appearance of having great spiritual vitality because of the works they do. I can’t help but think of the “great” churches today whose leaders are focused on providing humanitarian aid and services to the neglect of providing for the spiritual well-being of their members. I can’t help it, but this thought again reminds me of the Lord’s words as recorded in Matthew.
Matthew 7:21–23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Why would He say this in light of such works?
1 Samuel 16:7 “…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
God can see right through to the motives for which we serve. Obviously, we cannot judge the motives of others—but God can. Many good things can be done in the name of the Lord that are actually done with selfish agendas.
It truly is amazing that most people seem to prefer investing time in their own works rather than investing time in fellowship with and worship of God and resting in the work of His Son. Our works should be an outworking of our fellowship with and worship of the Lord. It is through fellowship and worship that we are attuned to the leading of the Spirit to serve others according to God’s will and not our own. That leading assures us God’s empowerment and provision through the Holy Spirit and will always glorify the Savior—not the servant.
The Lord encourages this body of believers to be spiritual overcomers so that their names will not be blotted out of the Book of Life. This indicates to me that all names are written in the book of life until they have chosen once and for all to reject Jesus. There are so many verses that speak to God’s desire that ALL should be saved.
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Ezekiel 18:23 “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”
1 Timothy 2:3–4 “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
To say that God has “chosen” some people to suffer eternal condemnation is to call God a liar.
(to be continued…)