Summary: This is on the letter to Sardis.
Do your remember the Folgers commercial where that college student named Peter sneaks into the house at Christmas and started making coffee? Everyone in the house soon woke up to rich aroma.
The churches of chapter 2 are told to “remember,” “repent,” “be faithful,” “hold fast,” and other things. This church is told to “wake up.” Read Revelation 3:1-6.
Of the four examined so far, this church is in the worst shape. The others start off with words of praise, but this church is different. There is some praise later, but the downside is greater. We learn many things from this church.
· REPUTATION doesn’t always REFLECT REALITY.
Things aren’t always as they appear. The church at Thyatira was a church that didn’t live up to its billing.
The Sardis church had a great past, but they were nowhere near that now. They had a glorious past.
Reputations don’t always reflect reality. Take the case of “squeaky-clean” baseball star Steve Garvey. He had a great “family man” image, but after his career he admitted to fathering kids out of wedlock.
Even with past glory, a church cannot live on that past success. The church had been great, but it had fallen along way. It was dead, but there were some weak vital signs.
· REVIVE the RUSTY.
Rust indicates that most useful days of an item are in the past. A few years ago, I got an old rusty tricycle from Tammy’s grandparents. I hauled it home. The best days were in the past. With a little naval jelly, sandpaper, primer, spray paint and a couple new wheels, the rusty tricycle was revived.
The church is told to “Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die.” It wasn’t yet a total flat line for the church. There was a small glimmer of hope for the church, but it would require a great deal of work.
Church success, growth, health, whatever you want to call it is never easy. It requires constant attention and vigilance. It isn’t something that just happens.
· REMEMBER what was RECEIVED.
The church is told to look back and remember what they received in the past. The church at Ephesus was told, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen.” While we can’t live off the past, we can look back and see where we were. We should constantly be growing closer to God, individually and as a church.
If we were to graph our spiritual growth we would see peaks and valleys. This church was in the pit of a valley. Christ tells them to remember that mountain top experience.
I challenge you to look back on your life and remember the joy you had when you received Christ. Remember the joy and expectations at points in the past for our church.
· RETAIN what was RECEIVED.
The church was told to keep what they received. It is easy to slip and slide away from the Lord. The passion for others and the joy of the Lord can easily be lost if we don’t seek to actively retain them. We have to remember what we have learned and received from the Lord. We also have to retain it.
In school if we forget what we learned in Algebra 1 we will never be able to succeed in Algebra 2. Learning is something that we have to do in order to grow. The experiences we have are used to make us more mature.
· REPENT the WRONGDOING.
Again, here, we have the command to repent. The Ephesians were told, “Repent, and do the works you did at first.” The church at Pergamum was told, “Therefore, repent.” The false prophetess at Thyatira had been given an opportunity to repent. Now the church at Sardis is told, “Repent.” Again, repent means a “change of mind.” The Amplified Bible says of repentance in the Ephesian letter, “change the inner [person] to meet God’s will.” It’s an “about face.”
This means that we are to get our life in line with God’s will for us. It means that we must get our church in line with God’s will for us.
Failure to repent brings us great calamity. There are a great number of churches out there that are zombies. They are dead and don’t even know it. More churches close every year than open, and there are a great number more that could easily be closed because they are dead, or sleepwalking. This is a gradual creep.
· REVEALING the REMNANT.
The glimmer of hope is seen in verse 4, “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments.” The word remnant is used in the book of Isaiah nearly 20 times and 20 times in Jeremiah to refer to the faithful of Israel. This was a faithful remnant. They had retained their purity. Those faithful to end are the remnant.