Revelation 3:1-6 (KJV) 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. (2) Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. (3) 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. (4) 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. (5) 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. (6) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
That which is alive … lives.
Those who are alive in Jesus live for Jesus.
It is not the crowd that defines the Church,
But he HEART of its members.
Where is YOUR heart?
Tonight we’ll be looking at Christ’s words to an end time Church called “Sardis”. The name “Sardis” literally means “Prince of Joy”. The Church in Sardis – in fact every Church – should have been a place of joy. Joy is the heritage of the Christ Follower. The Bible says that
Galatians 5:22-23 …. the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance ….
Romans 15:13 (ESV) May the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
Proverbs 10:28 (NIV) The prospect of the righteous is JOY, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.
A Church should be a joyful place filled with joyful people. But Sardis was not joyful. Sardis had a good reputation. But Sardis had stalled – they had a bad heart problem!
The Lord Sees The Heart
Revelation 3:1 … 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.
This is highly symbolic, so bear with me. Jesus says that He has “the seven Spirits of God”. This is a reference to the sevenfold manifestation of the Spirit of God. The Prophet Isaiah foresaw the First Advent of Jesus Christ, and wrote of Him:
Isaiah 11:1-2 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
The “Seven Spirits of God” that are on Christ – the Rod out of the Stem of Jesse – are:
Eternity (the Spirit of the LORD)
Power or Might
Fear of the Lord
When Jesus looks at His Church – His people – He is not fooled by outward appearances. The busy and bustling Church that looks successful to our eyes is not the same thing the Lord sees. The Bible says:
“God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)
He looks on the heart of every person, and knows the motivation behind everything that we do.
A Church was having a picnic, and invited the community to come. Someone brought a bushel of fresh picked apples. On the basket was a note:
“Take only one apple please – God is watching”
On the other end of the table was a plate of cookie. A child put a hand written note on the plate:
“Take all the cookies you want – God is watching the apples”
This is what children think, and we often think. We forget that God is watching us. But He is not just watching what we do, but He is watching our HEARTS. Jesus said of the Pharisees:
Matthew 6:2-5 (KJV) Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
We are to do what we do for God, because we love Him. We are to serve Him from the heart.
The rest of the world is just existing. The Christian is to LIVE! God has given us life so we can live. He has given us light so that we can SHINE for Him.
Sardis worked … but not for God.
Judas Iscariot was busy, walking with Christ
and the other Disciples.
But His heart was not directed toward glorifying God.
His works were for HIMSELF, not for others.
Sardis had the NAME that they were a great Church, but the Master knew.
Jesus always knows.
Sardis Was Dead Because It Lived For The Wrong Audience
Revelation 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works PERFECT BEFORE GOD.
Circle the word “PERFECT” in your text. This is the Greek πληρόω PLEROO (play-roh’-o), which means “Complete, Finished”. There are two words for “perfect” in the Bible. There is PLEROO and teleios. Jesus used a form of TELEIOS (TELEO) when He said on the Cross:
“It is FINISHED”
He used TELEIOS when He said to His disciples that we are to love our enemies, and do good to them that despitefully use us (Matthew 5:44-47). Jesus said that love even to our enemies is the mark of PERFECTION – the goal that God would have us follow. When Jesus commanded us to ….
Matthew 5:48 (KJV) Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is PERFECT.
we are commanded to love as He loved, to do as He did, even on that horrible Cross of Calvary. As He spoke through bruised and bloodied lips, as blood flowed from His side and head, blinding Him, Jesus did not stop. When He said:
“It is FINISHED”
He showed us what the goal of the Christian life is. It is to love even the unlovable. And when Jesus said to Sardis …
“I have not found your works PERFECT before God”
He was also speaking of love. Not love MANWARD, but love GODWARD.
Teleios is love toward GOD
Pleroo is love toward MAN
Sardis’ works were not being done for the right reason. They were running a race as are all Christians, but they were running for the wrong audience.
I remember watching a 440 relay race one time. The man who was winning the race was well out in front of his opponents. There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to win the race that day. Then the crowd started cheering him on, and as he focused on their cheering he stopped running the race for the judges and the finish line and started running for the cheers. When he did this his closest opponent came up behind him and, as he was distracted, the opponent won the race. He was so close to winning, but stopped running the race for the right audience.
The Church at Sardis started well, but in time stopped running for Christ and for the glory of God and began to run for the watching world. There are many great believers who have done the same thing.
Moses – a great man of God – let anger take him.
Instead of obeying the Lord, he struck the Rock and took to himself
The glory that belongs only to God.
He brought and early death and lost the Promised Land because he forgot God.
King David stopped serving God and served himself to Bathsheba.
He brought the sword on his house because of it.
We as Christians are called to “Be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect” by loving our enemies as well as our friends. But we must love God first and foremost. We are to live for Him, in Him, and through Him. The Apostle says in another place:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
You are running a race for God. You were left on this earth to shine for Him, so that others might see Christ in us. Run! Run the race and keep on running. Keep running, though the race seems hard. Run though it may seem as if the Devil and Darkness might be winning. Run and keep on running. The Scripture tells us:
Hebrews 12:1-3 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
All eyes on Jesus.
Run, and keep running.
Never give up.
All glory to God in the highest!
People are watching. God is watching. The angels are watching. There are so many Churches and so many Christians today that look good on the outside, but they are dead for they are not running the race for Jesus. I’ve seen a lot of STARTERS in my ministry as a Pastor, but many are not FINISHERS. Sadly this is true even of those in full time ministry. Do you know that only 1 in 10 Pastors run the race until the day Jesus calls them home? Trained and ordained, they quit too soon. If you have life keep on running, keep on going, keep on doing for Jesus. There will come a day when your body can lay down and quit, and that is the day that you are DEAD INDEED and put in a casket. Run until Jesus calls you home!
Jesus Christ kept running His Race even though their pinned His Hands and Feet to the Cross. He kept running His Race though they jammed vinegar in His mouth to quench His thirst. He kept running His Race though they mocked and spit on Him. Why? Why? IT WAS FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM! God wins. Grace saves. The Family is born. Jesus walks out of that Tomb, and so do we who are His!
Finish what you start. YOUR FAITH IS YOUR FAITH. Live it! God is watching how we do. We must never be Sardis. There will be a harvest if we continue to follow Him in the race.
John Egglen had never preached a sermon in his life. Never! A member of a small Church in Colchester, England, it never occurred to this poor man to preach. He loved the Lord, loved His Church, and ever Sunday walked six miles to Church because this was what God called him to do. One Sunday morning he woke up and there was several feet of snow on the ground. At first John thought about staying home – after all, they would probably cancel Church anyway. But he reconsidered. As a Deacon in the Church he had a responsibility to be a good example. So John dressed warm and walked the six miles to Church. When he got to Church there was only thirteen people there counting him. Even the Pastor stayed home that day. Twelve members, and a thirteen year old boy who was a visitor was all that was there. Someone said, “Why don’t we just go home?” John was the only Deacon there. He saw the visitor, and thought “I’ve just got to share the Gospel!” So he stood up read from …
Isaiah 45:21-22 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. 22 Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
John didn’t know how to preach, and so what he said lasted only about ten minutes. But as he spoke and spread the wings of his faith the Holy Spirit became the wind beneath his wings. He lifted his eyes and looked at the thirteen year old boy, challenging him. “Young man, look unto Jesus. Look! Look! Look at Him and Him alone”. That young man would be saved through this preaching, and would later preach what this man preached to him in one of his own sermons:
“It was about twenty-six years ago,—twenty-six years exactly last Thursday,—that I looked unto the Lord, and found salvation, through this text. You have often heard me tell how I had been wandering about, seeking rest, and finding none, till a plain, unlettered, lay preacher … stood up in the pulpit, and gave out this passage as his text: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.” … I remember how he said, “It is Christ that speaks. ‘I am in the garden in an agony, pouring out my soul unto death; I am on the tree, dying for sinners; look unto me! Look unto me!’ That is all you have to do. A child can look. One who is almost an idiot can look. However weak, or however poor, a man may be, he can look; and if he looks, the promise is that he shall live.” Then, stopping, he pointed to where I was sitting under the gallery, and he said, “That young man there looks very miserable.” I expect I did, for that is how I felt. Then he said, “There is no hope for you, young man, or any chance of getting rid of your sin, but by looking to Jesus;” and he shouted …. “Look! Look, young man! Look now!” And I did look; and when they sang a hallelujah before they went home, in their own earnest way, I am sure I joined in it. It happened to be a day when the snow was lying deep and more was falling; so, as I went home, those words of David kept ringing through my heart, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow;” and it seemed as if all nature was in accord with that blessed deliverance from sin which I had found in a single moment by looking to Jesus Christ.”
The young man that was saved was C.H. Spurgeon, the Prince of Preachers. Because John was faithful to the finish THOUSANDS were saved. God will not bless that which is started – however fervently – but not finished. We serve a Risen Savior, and we are called to serve Him until the day He calls us home. Jesus said to Sardis – and to every Christian:
Revelation 3:3 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.
What God gives us – what we have received and heard – we are to hold fast, to keep on doing. We are not called to be half hearted but whole hearted in serving our Lord. Jesus said “I will come on thee as a Thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee”.
Jesus used the “thief in the night” metaphor throughout the Scripture to refer to Judgment Day. We read:
1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 (KJV) For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Do what you’re supposed to do while you have life, for we do not know when the Lord will come and take us home.
2 Peter 3:10-12 (KJV) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
We as well as Sardis are to live every day as if it were a gift from God (and it is), never knowing when our last day will be. Live for Him today and every day. Jesus says, “Tomorrow might not come. The finish line can be any day, any moment, any second.” Jesus can call us home anytime. Run the race until the Master says “Well done, My Child …welcome home!”
It Is The Overcomers Who Will See The Prize
Revelation 3:4-5 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. (5) 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.
Those who are genuinely saved are in the Family of God. Those who are saved keep on living for God. Jesus says “there are a few in Sardis who have not soiled their garments – they shall walk with Me in white”. A saved person may sin, but a saved person does not live in sin. A saved person who sins is convicted of sin by the Spirit that indwells them, and that saved person confesses their sin to God:
1 John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Lord says to His people “he that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment, and I WILL NOT BLOT OUT HIS NAME FROM THE BOOK OF LIFE”. Those who run the race for Jesus – loving Him – will overcome. They will keep on keeping on. Those who do not may not be saved.
The first Missionary from America overseas was a young man named Adoniram Judson. He was a brilliant young man. The son of a Pastor, he learned to read in one week at his mother’s knee when he was only three years old. He entered college when he was only 16 years old, and graduated at the top of his class just three years later. Judson’s parents thought that he was a Christian, and he knew the words and the ways. But he just never gave his heart to Christ. When he was in college he met a man named Jacob Eames, and fully turned from God. Judson said that he lived “a reckless, vagabond life, finding lodgings when he could, and bilking the landlord where he found opportunity”. Eames went his way and Judson his, with neither living for the Lord.
One night Judson took a room in a small village inn. The innkeeper told him “I apologize, but in the next room there’s a man critically ill. He may keep you awake tonight, but I have no other rooms.” All night long Judson heard people coming and going, and the horrible moans and cries of the man in the room next door. Judson began to think about his own life and how it might be if he ended in such a state. Early in the morning the moans ceased. When Judson got ready to leave he asked the innkeeper, “Is that man better? The moans stopped during the night.” The innkeeper said “He is dead”. Judson asked, “Do you know who he was?” The innkeeper replied, “Oh yes. He was a young man from the college in Providence. His name was EAMES, JACOB EAMES.”
The man that led Judson from Christ died a terrible death. It wasn’t long after that that Adoniram Judson gave his life to Christ. He met and married Ann Hasseltine, and he and his wife ended up as missionaries to Burma. They both ran their race in Burma, dying for the Lord in that country, leading many to Christ.
As Pastor John Piper said, “God does not call us to ease, but to faithful joy”. Run the race. Never give up. Trust the Lord, for He runs with us. Finish what you start for HIM.
May God touch your hearts with His Word.