Summary: This sermon in the Revelation series deals with a church that had a good reputation in the community, but Jesus found lacking.
You Can't Judge A Book By The Cover
1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
2Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
3Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
4You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
5He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
6He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." '
Today we continue looking at the Book of Revelation.
We are looking at the message Jesus sent
to 7 churches in Asia Minor through John
who was a prisoner of the Roman Empire on Patmos Island.
So far, we've covered the message Jesus sent through John
to the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, and Thyatira.
In today's verses we will see what Jesus had to say
about the church in Sardis.
Sardis was located at a place where 5 main roads came together.
Sardis was a major center for trade.
Because it was located on an almost inaccessible plateau
1,500 feet above the main roads
it was considered an excellent location for the military.
So without any further delay, let's open our Bible
to Revelation chapter 3 and look at the first 6 verses.
Verse 1 "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
Remember that in each church,
Jesus directs His message to the pastor.
The Greek word translated in English as "angel"
could just as easily been translated to "messenger".
That's what the preachers should always be doing!
Each Sunday I come here prepared to preach a message
that Jesus has lain upon my heart to deliver to this church.
I am not sent here to preach what the congregation wants to hear.
I'm here to preach what Jesus wants you to hear.
If what I preach makes you feel good, that's great!
However, if what I preach steps on your toes, then so be it!
Verse 1 continues, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:
The phrase "seven Spirits of God" is a reference to the Holy Spirit.
In scripture, the number 7 often appears.
In the Bible, "seven" is used 735 times
and 54 times in the book of Revelation alone.
If we include the times 'sevenfold' and 'seventh' is used,
the total jumps to 860 references.
Seven is the number of completeness and perfection.
The account of Creation in the Book of Genesis
tells us God's work was complete on the 7th day.
In Matthew chapter13 Jesus gives 7 parables
In the book of Revelation there are 7 churches,
7 angels are to the 7 churches.
We will also be told that during the Great Tribulation
there will be 7 seals, 7 trumpet plagues,
7 thunders and the 7 last plagues.
So here in Verse 1 Jesus will be assisted by the Holy Spirit
in helping John understand this extremely important message.
Jesus also refers to the "seven stars".
Back in chapters 1 and 2,
it said that Jesus holds the 7 stars in His right hand.
In those cases, the stars were symbols of the church pastor.
In each church there was one pastor, bishop, or overseer
who was responsible for watching over that flock.
He was to answer to God
for all those souls under his care.
The right hand is considered the hand of power and authority.
Since Jesus holds the 7 stars or pastors in His right hand,
He is the One who gives pastors the power and authority they need
to preach the Gospel and guide the church.
Verse 1 concludes, "I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.
Obviously, the Christians in the Sardis Church
were doing many good deeds in the name of the Lord.
People in that city had heard what they were doing.
They had a reputation of being alive.
We can look around and see churches like that today.
They usually have several hundred people attending services.
They put on all kinds of activities and programs.