Summary: Study seven of the Book of Revelation.
Sardis – This church represents the church age between A.D. 517 to approximately 1800. The meaning of its name is “a remnant” or “those who have escaped”.
This church age started with the reformation and takes us into the beginning of the great missionary movement of the church. This era formally begins when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses onto the chapel door of the church at Whittenburg, Germany.
Sardis was the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. This city was one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor. The city was located inland on an elevated plateau which overlooks the Hermus Valley. The plateau has sheer vertical unscalable rock walls except on one side, which is a very steep and treacherous path.
As the civilization and commerce grew on the city plateau it became overcrowded, so a lower city was built on the plains below. The upper city was used as an acropolis. The plain was well watered by the Pactolus River. This was the center of the carpet industry and became a very wealthy region. A great earthquake destroyed it all during the reign of Tiberius.
The ruins of the double temples of Cybele (Diana) and Apollo are still standing today. Cybele was the god of the moon and Apollo was the god of the sun. This was a very pagan and revolting worship much like the worship of Diana of Ephesus.
This area has undergone extensive excavations and many ancient ruins are being refurbished. Two sites, which are undergoing rebuilding, are the synagogue and the great gymnasium. The ancient Roman road which was built to Sardis is also being uncovered and reconstructed. This ancient road is probably the same road on which the apostle Paul had traveled during his missionary journeys.
The letter to the church of Sardis.
The Commission – And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write…
The Character – These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars.
Christ represents himself as the one who has sent the Holy Spirit into the world and also as the one that has ownership of the churches.
Sardis represents the Protestant church. Following the dark time of the Dark Ages, the Holy Spirit is still in the world moving the hearts of men.
There were many great revivalists during this era, such as: Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, etc.
The Commendation – I know thy works.
That thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead…
Many of the Protestant churches are spiritually dead; they are just going through the motions of Christianity.
The churches of today are in danger of extreme judgement from the Lord Jesus Christ because of their ineptness in the teaching of the Word of God.
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
He is telling the church to stay awake and don’t fall asleep. Don’t get too comfortable there is much work to be done.
The Protestant church as a whole, has turned away from the looking for the Second Coming of Jesus. The church has built of systems of prophetic insight that certain prophecies must be fulfilled before He can return.
The Rapture could take place at any moment; the church is to stay alert. Anyone can make ready for a fixed hour, but you must always be ready for an unexpected hour.
The reformation was a return to the basic biblical doctrines of the apostolic church of the first century but it fell short in many ways.
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.
The church is to hold fast to the doctrines of Jesus Christ and to not let go.
The great truths, which were uncovered during the reformation, are being lost and a more legalistic form of doctrine is being instituted.
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.
Even though Sardis is built on an impregnable position, two times during its history it was conquered because the guards fell asleep.
The Lord is telling the church; ”don’t you go asleep.” Stay alert, I could come at any time.
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.
Throughout the church ages there have always been a few saints that have stood the test of time, who stayed true to God.
Protestantism has produced some great men of God and who didn’t defile themselves.
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment.