The Letter to the Church at SARDIS
Divided into three sections
1. Introduction of the Writer
2. Reprimand of the Church
3. Encouragement to the Faithful.
City in Asia, modern day Turkey. Near to Thyatira.
Capital of the ancient kingdom of Lydia.
Early prosperity under CROESUS made it a byword for wealth.
Citidal looked impregnable but was twice taken
by Cyrus the Persian in 546 BC
by Antiochus the Great in 214 BC
by scaling walls at a weak point.
By time of letter politically unimportant and in present day - small village - SART
Similarities of Church with City
a. Rested on Old Glory.
1. City by time of Letter had been superceded by Smyrna. No longer of any political importance. Lived on its old reputation.
2. Church had had reputation of Spirituality from earlier times. Known to us as the Dying Church.
b. Wasn’t what it appeared to be.
1. City appeared impregnable but was taken twice in 300 years.
2. Church appeared spiritual and was not. Had been taken by enemy- satan.
The Letter to the Church at Sardis.
1. INTRODUCTION OF THE WRITER
The Lord introduces himself from a different aspect to that of Thyatira, Pergamum or Smyrna.
Most of the terms Christ uses to describe Himself in the Letters to the Seven Churches can also be seen in Chapter 1 vv.12 - 18.
a) He who holds the Seven Stars (Ephesus and Sardis) - Rev.1.16
b) He who is the First and the Last (Symrna) - Rev.1. 17
c) He who has the sharp double edged sword (Pergamum) - Rev.1.16
d) He whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze (Thyatira) - Rev.1 14 & 15.
[The Aspects of
Holiness (Philadephia): Rev.4:8 and of
The Faithful Witness, the Ruler of God’s Creation (Laodicea): Rev.5:13 and 14.]
These are the words of Him who holds the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars.
1. Seven Spirits of God.
One interpretation I found interesting was that it could be a reference to Isaiah 11:2 - a messianic promise
Read Isaiah 11. 1 & 2.
1. The Spirit of the Lord - i.e His Being His Personality
2 & 3 The Spirit of Wisdom and of Understanding
4 &5 The Spirit of Counsel and of Power
6 & 7. The Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord;
Psalm 111:10 sums this all up:
The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
1. Do we really think of the Lord as we should as the source of
wisdom, understanding, counsel,power & knowledge.
Then we would appreciate the Fear (Awesomeness) of God.
2. How much time do we have for the Lord?
3. Do we appreciate the Lord for who He is. As a friend and counsellor?
2. The Seven Stars.
In the Bible seven appears to be a special number.
a) After creation the Lord rested on the seventh day and made it holy.- Gen.2:2 & 3.
b) Abraham sealed a treaty with Abimelech (King of Egypt) for the well of Beth-Sheba by giving seven lambs - Gen.21 28-30;
c) It was the seven uncut locks of Samson’s hair that gave him his strength. - Judges 16:19
d) Seven sons of Saul were given by David to the Gibeonites for execution in atonement for Israel’s breaking their treaty with the Gibeonites under Saul.
e) Proverbs 9:1 tells us that
Wisdom has built her house, she has set up seven pillars.
Seven appears to represent a Holy number. It appears a number of times in the Book of Revelation. For example:
a) the letters to the seven churches
b) the Lamb of Rev.5:6 that was slain had seven horns and seven eyes;
c) the seven seals of Rev.6:1 of the wrath of God;
d) In Rev.8: the seven trumpets of the seven angels when the seventh seal was opened.
Rev. 1:20 tells us that the seven stars are the angels (or messengers) of the seven churches.They could also represent the leaders of these churches too.
This tells me
1. That a true Church does not come about by the will of man but by the Call of God. He sends an Angel or Messenger to establish it.
2. Even when a Church loses its way, the Lord does not give up on it. Even at 5 mins. before midnight He will try to save it.
3. Stars give light.
Jesus said in Matth.5:16
Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Church is to be a light. Look at the early Jerusalem church Acts 2:47; they enjoyed the favour of the people.
2. THE REPRIMAND
Focus on a few words:
a) I know your deeds. As Catrin said last week you can’t hide anything from God.
In three of the other letters it appears (Ephesus, Thyatira, Philadelphia) it follows with a commendation.
Here and in Laodicea, The Lord tells them that they stink!!
b.) You are dead.
A corpse begins to smell after it has been so for a few days. Indeed an ancient punishment for murder was to be chained to the rotting corpse of your victim.
A dead church in the Lord eyes is as REPELLANT as a rotting corpse.
Yet we are not helpless in this situation.
Jesus says Come to the living waters that HE OFFERS.
John 7.37 & 38
If any one is thirsty let him come to me and drink Whoever believes in me as the scripturehas said, Streams of Living Water will flow from within him.
And we see the contrast to Death in Rev.22.1-5, the life in the New Jerusalem:
c. Wake Up.
Are we too often just complacent in our Christian Life?
d. Remember what you have received and heard; obey it and repent
v.3 reminds me of Jesus words about Christians being alert.
Read Luke 12:35-39
The Lord wants us to be ALERT
He will reward our WATCHFULNESS.
We will be alert IF WE REALLY love him
If you love me you will obey what I command
To conclude REPRIMAND.
It is a sign of God’s Love that he reprimands us. I tell Jonny not to go on the garage roof for his own good. If he loves his Daddy he will do what I say.
So next time you come to visit us take a look on our garage roof!!!
The Lord disciplines those He loves as a father the son he delights in.
3. ENCOURAGEMENT TO THE FAITHFUL.
Faithfulness results in the fact that I will never blot his name from the book of life. v.5
God always equips us to do his work.
Corrie ten Boon once told her father that she did not have the strength to suffer for God . Her father said "When you go on a journey, when do I give you the ticket?" Just before I get on. was the reply. So it is with the Father He will give you the strength when you need it to go on.
The definition of a Christian should be:
A man or woman who does not know what God is not able to perform.
God wants us to walk a HOLY LIFE, to OVERCOME sin, to WITNESS for Him with our lives, with our actions and with our words.
This requires Daily Prayer, Praise Studying the Word of God and LISTENING to what God is saying to us.