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The Church in Sardis
The doldrums is a part of the ocean near the equator, with abounding calms, and light, timid winds. The weather is hot and extreemely dispiriting. The old sailing vessels, when caught in the doldrums, would lie helpless for days and weeks, waiting for the wind to begin to blow. (Describes much church life!)
I. THE BACKGROUND OF SARDIS
A. Sardis was wealthy but wicked!
1. It was the ancient capital of Lydia and situated in a very fertile agricultural valley.
2. It was the home of the famous Aesop and King Croesus.
3. The name "Sardis" means "escaping ones" or "those who come out"
4. Many scholars believe that this church symbolically represents the Reformation period from about 1517 A.D. to 1750 A.D.
a) A time when many people were fed up with the church in Rome.
b) A time when men like Luther, Knox, Wycliffe, and Zwingli decided to be "those who came out" and stood for the Truth and broke away from the Roman church.
c) It was the time of Luther's "ninety five Theses" being nailed to the Wittenburg church door in Germany.
d) It was a time of The Augsburg Confession, The Thirty Nine Articles, The Heidleburg Confession, and The Westminster Confession.
(1) It was a time when "the remnant" was crying out for reform!
B. Jude spoke of those in the church who for all intents and purposes would call themselves Christians and would be amongst the church's gatherings.
1. He describes them as empty shells, looking good on the outside, but no real conviction to live for the Lord.
a) Jud_1:12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; (NKJV)
2. Such is the church in Sardis!
a) Instead of these "imitation Christians" being in the minority, they had grown in number.
b) They were now heads of boards, perhaps even pastors, elders, and deacons.
c) On the outside, the church looked good! But, inside it was dead!
(1) Mat_23:27-28 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
28 "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV)
(a) Sardis was "The Church of Dead Orthodoxy"
ORTHODOX = (adjective) "A conforming to established teaching."
ORTHODOXY = (noun) "The quality or state of being orthodox"
A. Verse 1
1. Once again the Lord's title is significant to His address of this church!
2. "He that has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars."
a) This may reference the seven angels in charge of the seven churches.
b) It may reference the "sevenfold" ministry of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Isa_11:2 .
c) As we have said before, seven in the Word is a symbol of completion or perfection. (The Lord rested on the 7th day)
d) One thing we do know for sure is that this is speaking of the fullness of God's Holy Spirit!
(1) Therefore we can conclude with accuracy that the Lord is holding this dead church's responsibe for pushing the Holy Spirit out of their church!
3. "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
a) The name of the church in Sardis was "The Holy Ghost - Baptized in the Spirit - Apostles and Prophets - Movers and Shaker's congregation of what's happenin now - in Christ's humility church"
(1) Every Christian in town knew the name of this church!
b) The church was very active and very busy, and if anyone came by to visit they would have sworn that this was the best church in town!
c) Pastors probably referred their people who were moving into this city to the church in Sardis. It had a good name!!!
(1) They were one of the largest churches in town. They had money. They had outreaches. They had missions. They had concerts. They had pot lucks. They had a large staff, probably a pastor for every group in the church.
(a) Everyone thought the church in Sardis was wonderful, - but the Lord!
(b) 1Sa_16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (NKJV)
(2) "The Holy Ghost - Baptized in the Spirit - Apostles and Prophets - Movers and Shaker's congregation of what's happenin now - in Christ's humility church of Sardis" was the envy of every pastor within a 100 miles. BUT THE LORD JUDGED THEM DEAD!!!
B. Verse 2
1. The word PERFECT means "finished" or "complete"!
a) These folks had a name among men but not before the Lord!
(1) Having a name in the Christian community is not the same as having a name before the Lord!
(2) Having all the pastors in the city or even in our own church know us by name is not the same as being well pleasing to the Lord!
b) We often make the mistake of thinking that we can earn God's favor (or maybe it's the favor of others) by works.
c) The reality is that when we are filled with God's Holy Spirit, "works" are just the outflow of that relationship!
(1) AND we are not concerned with who is watching.
(2) Isa_29:13 Therefore the LORD said: "Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men, (NKJV)
(a) This is the result of being a man-pleaser instead of a God-pleaser!
(b) This kind of person, and even this kind of church may look wonderful on the outside, but when the Lord looks us over, our works are found "imperfect" or incomplete!
d) You can't get any more "perfect" than the cross.
(1) When we begin to trust in anything other than the Lord, we are found wanting!
(2) The Lord exhorts Sardis to watch and strengthen what they have because it's about to die.
(a) Faith is like a muscle, if exercised it grows, if not it atrophies and dies!
(b) Mat_13:12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. (NKJV)
C. Verse 3
1. Do you remember "how" you received and heard the Good News of salvation?
a) 1Co_2:1-6 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
2. Do you remember "how" you received the message of salvation as a "babe" with such simplicity and childlike faith?
3. Do you remember how simple it was? Hold on to that!!!
4. And with childlike faith watch and wait for His return!
a) Many of us have gotten pre-occupied with living life and doing church we don't want Him to return right now.
b) I read one commentator that said you can tell the spiritual condition of a person by how they respond to the Lord's return.
(1) The closer they are to Him the more excited they are to have Him come back.
(2) Can you say MARANATHA! this morning?
D. Verse 4
1. The word few is "small, slight, little"!
2. There are always a few , small, little, insignificant remnant who will be faithful to the end!
3. The white garments of heaven has always been reserved for a minority group.
4. The road to heaven is not narrow to exclude people, it is narrow because few people travel it!
E. Verse 5
1. Once again I find it necessary to quote you 1Jn_5:5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (NKJV)
2. Mat_10:32-33 " Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.
33 "But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. (NKJV)
a) Jesus is what makes us "acceptable" to the Father and heaven!
b) As we have said before 2Pe_3:9 The Lord is . . . not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (NKJV)
c) Joh_3:17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (NKJV)
d) I believe that ALL of mankind's names are written in the Book of Life when Jesus forms us in our mother's womb.
e) It is only later, when we chose to obey sin rather than God that our name is "blotted out"!
(1) That is why children that die young need no repentance. There name is already written!
(2) How about you? Is your name written in The Lamb's Book of Life this morning?
(3) Or has sin entered the camp separating you from the Lord?
(4) Will the Lord have to blot it out or will you accept His forgiveness in Jesus?
A. Verse 6
1. Do you hear with you heart this morning?
2. Do you have a relationship with the Lord?
3. If so, is it still alive? Do you remember "HOW" you first heard and responded?
4. Are you still in love?
The Church in Philadelphia
A. Joh_13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love forone another." (NKJV)
B. 1Jn_4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (NKJV)
1. How easy it is to feel unloved! Rev_12:10 tells us that satan is "the accuser of our brothers," and "accuses them before our God day and night,". . .. (NIV)
a) The Lord has made us to need to feel loved and accepted. Unfortunately, people can be very unloving and very unkind - EVEN AT CHURCH!!!!!
b) But this church was different!!!!
2. Clovis G. Chappell said, "Were it my privilege to go back across the years and attend a service at one of these seven churches, I think I should choose the church at Philadelphia."
a) This was the church of "brotherly love"!
b) They had so allowed the Lord to permeate their lives that they had taken on His characteristics of love!
c) They were not just "hearers of the word" as James speaks of but they were "doers of the word!"
(1) Because of this love for the Lord and for each other, the Lord opened many doors for ministry!
(2) And in this verses, He wants them to know how pleased He is with them.
II. THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA
A. The area around Philadelphia was rich farm land know for its rich harvest of grapes, mainly due to the volcanic ash in the soil.
1. This particular area in Asia was subject to frequent tremors and occasional earthquake!
a) At the beginning of the first century, they had suffered a tremendous earthquake that completely demolished the area around Sardis, but by the end of the century everything had been rebuilt and this church in Philadelphia had established a loving testimony for the Lord.
b) This church in Philadelphia by the way, is the only one of the seven for which the Lord has no words of correction!
A. Rev_3:7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. (NIV)
1. Again it is important that we spend time studying the description the Lord uses for Himself as he address this church:
a) By describing Himself as "HIM WHO IS HOLY", He declares Himself to be God!
b) 1Sa_2:2 "No one is holy like the LORD, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. (NKJV)
(1) John told us that 1Jn_3:5 . . . in Him there is no sin. (NKJV)
(2) Pilate and his wife called Him a "just" (meaning righteous) man!
(3) You see, the very nature of Christ is Holy, therefore it is impossible for Him to sin!
(4) By calling Himself Holy, He was by very nature claiming to be God!
2. "HE THAT IS TRUE"
a) G. Campbell Morgan tell us the difference between holy and true. He says that as the "holy One, Christ is right in character; as the "true" One, He is right in conduct.
(1) Because the Lord's character was pure, His conduct was also pure and correct.
(a) It is the same with us as individuals or we as a church. When our character is found in Christ, our conduct will, as a result be Christ-like!!
(b) Jesus called Himself the "TRUTH"
(i) Joh_14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)
(ii) 1Co_13:6 (Love) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; (NKJV)
(iii) Real Love always has Jesus as its focus!!!
3. Rev_3:7 . . . He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": (NKJV)
a) This is taken out of Isa_22:2 ; Isa_22:22 in reference to a faithful servant named Eliakim under the rule of King Hezekiah.
(1) It seems that the man that preceded him, Shebna, was unfaithful and these scriptures were the Lord's promise to give his position to Eliakim.
(a) He promised him all the authority and privileges of the house of David.
(i) One of those privledges was sole possession of the keys to the treasury!
(b) This of course this was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ the one who already holds the keys to hell and death, and here claims the keys to the kingdoms of the earth as well!!
B. Rev_3:8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (NKJV)
1. First HE holds the keys to the door of salvation. No one gets to the father except through Him.
a) Joh_10:9 "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. (NKJV)
2. Second He hold the keys to the door of service. When they are open no one can shut them. When they are closed no one can pry them open!
a) Lehman Strauss believes that this church represents the period that immediately followed the Reformation period. 1750-1950.
b) A time when men like William Carey, John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, Adoniram Judson, Charles Finney, Dwight Moody, and Billy Sunday filled the world with the Gospel! the door was open!
c) General Douglas McArthur begged the Christians of America to send 5,000 missionaries through the open door that existed in Japan, we failed to answer that call!
d) In 1960, President Eisenhower was prevented from visiting by thousands of demonstrating communists!
(1) Recently many doors opened again, now they are quickly shutting!
(a) The Age Of Grace is quickly coming to a close!
3. . . .you have a little strength, have kept my word, and have not denied My name.
a) "Little" is not always bad because the "Lord's strength is made perfect in weakness." 2Co_12:9 (NKJV)
b) Jam_4:6 . . ."God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."(NKJV)
(1) In this case their "little strength" was not condemned, it was praised because with that little, humble strength they had managed to keep the Gospel pure and stay faithful to the Lord!!
c) The "NAME" of the Lord is always significant!!
(1) As JESUS = He is Mediator!
(2) As CHRIST = He is Messiah!
(3) And as LORD = He is Master!
C. Rev_3:9 "Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie -- indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. (NKJV)
1. HE promises that those who were causing them the most problems, those who desired to be worshipped themselves, would be brought to their knees in worship of the Savior!
a) And these true believers would be witnesses of this! These "pretenders" would witness the Lord's love for the real church in Philadelphia!
D. Rev_3:10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (NKJV)
1. This is one of the strongest verses supporting the pre-tribulation theory.
a) There has been and will be 'til Christ's return, a battle with satan and his demons from which no Christian is immune, but that is not the GREAT TRIBULATION!
b) This time of judgmental suffering coming upon the earth is for those "who dwell upon the earth" and that is not the Church!
(1) Even the ones who are martyred during the tribulation - it will be by satans hand.
(2) They will not be the object of the wrath of God!
c) Here the Lord promises to "keep them from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole earth"
E. Rev_3:11 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (NKJV)
1. In every generation there are those people and things that seek to cause us loss of our rewards!
a) In Smyrna it was discouragement from trials, tribulations and poverty.
b) In Pergamos there were the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitanes.
c) In Thyatira, Jezebel threatened the Truth.
d) And in Sardis, they had a dead testimony!
(1) Mat_13:22 . . .the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (NKJV) these things threaten every generation!
(2) We must guard that precious Life and Love that is ours!!
(3) Gal_6:9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. (NKJV)
F. Rev_3:12 "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. (NKJV)
1. 1Jn_5:5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (NKJV)
a) Once again the Lord promises the Christian eternity!
(1) This promise contains three distinct characteristics of identification.
(a) The name of our Savior!
(b) Our own heavenly citizenship!
(c) And our own distinctive new name selected and awarded by the Lord Himself!
G. Rev_3:13 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' (NKJV)
1. Again this is a message for the church!
2. It is a message for the heart not just the ears!
3. It is a message to hang in there!
4. It is a message of hope and promise!
5. It a message to cause us to ask ourselves, how are we doing in the area of love?
a) Is it characteristic of the Lord's love?
b) Is there anyone we have hurt lately that we need to apologize to and tell them that we love them?
The Church in Laodicea
A man visited his optometrist to have his glasses checked. "They just aren't strong enough," he told the doctor. "Don't you have something stronger?" "Yes," asid the optometrist, "there is one lense that is stronger." "Just one?" asked the man. "What comes after that?" "After that," said the doctor, "you buy a dog." Pendleton
MIRAGE = Thinking you see something but when you get closer, it's not there.
A. Isa_42:20 Seeing many things, but you do not observe; Opening the ears, but he does not hear." (NKJV)
B. Jesus spoke of the religious leaders of the day in Mat_15:14-15 "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
1. In things of the Spirit, there is sight that equals blindness and a blindness that gives sight!
a) There are many in this world that think they can see perfectly well!
(1) They feel they have the ability to judge the present as well as the future and "all is well".
b) Yet, there are others that have admitted that they can't see.
(1) They agree that they are too narrow visioned to see what lies ahead today much less the future.
c) One thinks they have the things of the Spirit nailed down.
d) The other admits that he is Spiritually blind and has gone to the PHYSICIAN and their blindness has been healed!
e) The church in Laodicea is blind!!
II. THE CHURCH AT LAODICEA
A. Laodicea was fourty-five miles southeast of Philadelphia.
1. It was the meeting place of three major, intersecting highways.
a) Thus, it was the center of commerce!
b) This city had stadiums, public baths, shopping centers, wealthy bankers, many millionaires.
(1) They could buy and have anything they wanted!
(2) It was in this atmosphere, that the church in Laodicea existed.
(3) Many commentators believe that this seventh church represents from about the turn of the century until this present day.
(4) Keep in mind that the Lord completes His work in cycles of seven, and this is the seventh church!
(a) In the first church in Ephesus, He told them they had "left their first love".
(b) That was the beginning of His messages to the churches, and here we see the final result of Christ not being first!
(c) Here He is outside the church, standing and knocking to get in!!
A. Rev_3:14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, , (NKJV)
1. Again the Lord's discription of Himself is very important as he addresses this church:
a) He describes Himself as "the Amen. . ."
(1) The word "amen" is translated form Hebrew into both Greek and English and it means TRUTH!
b) Last study He described Himself as "HE THAT IS TRUE"
(1) If you remember, G. Campbell Morgan told us the difference between holy and true. He said that as the "holy One, Christ is right in character; as the "true" One, He is right in conduct.
(2) Because the Lord's character was pure, His conduct was also pure and correct.
(a) Once again, He claims to be God!
(b) HE, and HE alone can proclaim "AMEN" after everything He says or does!
(c) Jesus called Himself the "TRUTH"
(i) Joh_14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (NKJV)
2. ". . .the Faithful and True Witness. . ."
a) For a church He about to pass judgment on, this is significant!
(1) If you are going to be brough before the judge, you want to be sure that the witnesses are impartial!
(a) Joh_18:37 (before Pilate). . .for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.. . .(NKJV)
3. ". . . the Beginning of the creation of God:"
a) Jesus Christ was not the beginning of God's creation, but rather He was the One in whom all creation had its beginning!
(1) Joh_1:3-4 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. (NKJV)
(a) A deeply materialistic church needed to be reminded of this.
(b) A church that had "washed" out every doctrine of the Bible needed to know this!
(i) Many churches in this "Laodicean period" have turned from creation to evolution!
(ii) They have turned from that Bible as being the in-errant Word of God to it being "partially true."
(iii) In an effort to please everyone, they have displeased the Savior!
B. Rev_3:15-17 "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' -- and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -- (NKJV)
1. There is realy nothing the Lord can praise this church for so He begins the admonishment!
a) Many in the modern church are fence-sitters, or middle-of-the-roaders.
(1) The Greek word for "hot" is ZESTOS and means "boiling hot", and that they were not!!! (When your hot, your hot!)
(2) They are neither excited for, nor antagonistic towards the Lord.
(3) In fact, they went to church, probably gave from their wealth, and the church no doubt had a fancy facility and many programs.
(a) Many of them sat on church boards and made church policy.
(4) Everyone knew them as "Christians" but there wasn't enough CHRIST in them affect their lives!
(5) They didn't live for Him, they lived for themselves.
(a) They sad part was that they were blind and didn't even recognize it!
(b) Their condition "sickened" the Lord.
(c) The word "miserable" means "pitiable"
C. Rev_3:18 "I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (NKJV)
1. HE has assessed the situation, now HE gives counsel!
a) As wealthy merchants these folks could buy whatever they wanted, and most of them did!
(1) The problem was that they only traded at "WORLDMART".
(2) They knew nothing of Spiritual goods.
(a) Notice that the Lord says, "I counsel," not I "command"!
(b) He still respects their right to choose but he offers them the best advice!
(3) This "language" is best described in Isa_55:1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk. Without money and without price. (NKJV)
(a) What a figure of grace! The ability to buy without money!
(b) The only "currency" that is required is the admission of our own deep need and poverty of spirit!.
(c) In other words, "If you are concious of your povery, I have riches for you."
(i) Jam_4:6 . . ."God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."(NKJV)
(ii) Isa_13:12 I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold, A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir. (NKJV)
A husband and wife were arguing. "I was a fool when I married you," the wife said. "Yea, I quess you were," said here husband, "but I was so infatuated at the time, that I didn't notice."
(iii) Many are so infatuated with the world that they can't see the foolishness ot their own blindness.
D. Rev_3:19 "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (NKJV)
1. The Lord's love is never so complacent that it condones sin.
a) It is because of His love that He tells it like it is!
b) It is not a Biblical concept to hide sin!
(1) Today it seems that we think that to be a real friend we must hide another's sin.
(2) That wasnot, nor never has been the Lord's approach.
(3) He says, "Deal with it!"
E. Rev_3:20 "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (NKJV)
1. The Lord was shut out of this church, but as always he appeals on an individual level.
a) Repentance seldom takes place "en masse". That is why He uses words like "whosoever will" and to "any man".
b) So it doesn't matter what the person next to you does, or thinks. Christ is appealing to you today to repent and let him in.
c) In many churches today, the Lord isn't even welcome. They have become institutions of accomplishments.
d) Here we see Him on the outside asking for admittance.
A. Rev_3:21-22 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." ' " (NKJV)
1. If He is to be a vital part of our lives, it must be by invitation and purpose!
2. For the Christian and the unsaved alike, to live for Christ must be a choice!
3. If this morning, you cannot see your need for a Savior, you above all, are to be pitied!
4. If you an the other hand can see you blindness, and poverty: you indeed are among the richest of men!
5. For today you will inherit the riches of heaven
The lady contributed to the beggar on crutches, but couldn't resist the temptation to preach to him. "It must be terrible to be lame," she said, "but I think how much worsr it is to be blind." That's right lady," he said. When I was blind, people kept passing counterfeit money off on me"
If your tired of being counterfeited, turn to Christ!!!
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Brown, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3". John Brown's Commentary on Selected Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24