Summary: Jesus' charge to the church today is, in many cases, the same as it was to Sardis in AD 95/96: Wake up, Church!

Thank you for sending me to the preaching and teaching convention this week at OCC.

-Needed it spiritually, emotionally, mentally, professionally. I bought some of the recordings, which will be back on the media shelf in the library. I got DVDs of what I thought were the three best sermons that kicked my butt, woke me up to some blind spots, and called me to follow the mission of Jesus as we seek to be a Jesus people.

Thank you, again for sending me.

Today, we’re going to talk about Sardis and before we get into this city, I just want to read the letter to Sardis:


Revelation 3:1–6 NLT

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Sardis. This is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars:

“I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief.

“Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

And Sardis is a tragedy for many reasons. It should be a chilling reminder of the danger of falling asleep on the job. Sardis got comfortable. You won’t see any of the understanding from Jesus of their persecution because they didn’t experience any. As Keener says:


The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament 3:1–6—Oracle against the Church of Sardis

Despite the city’s paganism, the Christian community there seems to have experienced no persecution—and hence no spiritual life.

There was a saying "to capture the acropolis at Sardis." "When pigs fly." Nevertheless, the Acropolis at Sardis was captured THREE TIMES throughout history.

Croesus vs. Cyrus the Persian- no one on the guard station (549 B.C.). Colin Hemer describes the incident this way:


The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting 1. Introductory

He sent messengers to test the wisdom of the oracles, and gave his implicit trust to that of Delphi, which answered him correctly (1.47–49). On consulting it about war with Persia, he was encouraged with the response that if he crossed the Halys, then his frontier, he would destroy a great empire (1.53). He accordingly found pretext for war, disregarded wiser counsel, and attacked and captured Pteria (1.71–76). On the arrival of Cyrus an indecisive battle was fought. Croesus, having the smaller army, withdrew to Sardis, dismissed for the winter season his powerful allies from Egypt, Babylon and Sparta, and summoned them to reassemble in five months. Meanwhile he disbanded all but his Lydian troops, ‘never expecting that after so close-fought a campaign Cyrus would venture against Sardis’ (1.77). Cyrus however followed unobserved: a?t?? ???e??? ????s? ??????ee (1.79). Croesus, caught off guard, led his formidable Lydian cavalry desperately into battle, but the horses were thrown into confusion at the sight and smell of the camels which Cyrus had posted in front of his army (1.79–80). Croesus then summoned his allies and prepared to endure a siege in his precipitous stronghold.


The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting 1. Introductory

But on the fourteenth day Sardis fell. An enemy succeeded in climbing to an unguarded point, ‘where no guard was stationed, for there was no fear that it would ever be captured at that place, for the acropolis is sheer and impregnable there’ (1.84).

They thought they were so secure that they didn’t even bother keeping watch!

Alexander the Great didn't even fight- “you have a name of being strong.”


The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting 1. Introductory

At the approach of Alexander, however, the Sardians hastened out to surrender their city without resistance (Arr. Anab. 1.17.3; cf. 3.16.5). Alexander ascended the undefended citadel and was greatly impressed by its immense strength (1.17.5; 334 BC). Nevertheless the place was again captured by Antiochus III in 214 BC through the negligence of the defenders.

Three times, Sardisians fell asleep on the job and they were conquered because of it. Two times, they simply fell asleep. Once, they simply abdicated their responsibility to defend their friends and family and opened the gates to the enemy.

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