Revelation 3:1-6 The Dead Church

by | Apr 26, 2023 | New Testament, Revelation

I. Sardis; Jesus

A. Sardis

1. At the time of this writing, Sardis was in decline, but was still well known as a place of wealth and decadence. Even the pagans spoke of Sardis with a degree of contempt.

2. It was located at the intersection of five main roads, which brought many visitors.

3. Well-known place of the worship of Cybele, who was worshipped with sexual impurity.

4. It was a place where one could easily make money. Modern-day money first used there.

5. Overall: Known for softness, luxury, apathy, immorality, lack of self-discipline.

6. Militarily: The city was built on an outcropping on a mountain. It had cliffs on three sides, which made it more easily defendable.

a. Conquered twice: 549 BC by Persian King Cyrus; 214 BC by Antiochus the Great.

b. Cyrus’ soldiers were studying how to attack the city. They noticed a soldier drop his helmet down the cliff, and they watched as the soldier climbed down an almost indiscernible trail to retrieve his helmet. Cyrus’ soldiers climbed up that trial at night, and found the city unguarded, the soldiers being over-confident that they were safe. The same tactic was used by Antiochus’ soldiers; they found the city unguarded.

c. Though the city was in an ideal location for defense, it was a lack of carefulness and awareness that led to the city being conquered twice. Overconfidence brought defeat.

B. Jesus V. 1a

1. Seven Spirits of God- Speaks of the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

a. John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

b. It is significant that Jesus said that to this “dead” church. Jesus had life to give them.

2. The seven stars- Speaks of the churches. Sardis belonged to Jesus, as did all the churches.

II. Jesus’ Words To The Church In Sardis

A. Evaluation Vs. 1b, 2b 

1. V. 1b- As a church, there was activity. They appeared to be spiritually alive, but they were spiritually dead. The community approved of them, but Jesus rebuked them.

a. “Spiritual” activity in and of itself doesn’t prove spiritual vitality of life.

b. Some people choose a church because “there is a lot happening there”.

c. Some churches offer the attraction of busyness and involvement but are “dead”.

2. V. 2b- Perfect- satisfying, complete, finished, verified.

a. Though the church was active, Jesus wasn’t satisfied with their actions.

b. They may have been doing them without love. (1 Corinthians 13)

c. They may have been doing them without faith. (James 2:18-26)

d. They may have been doing them to receive the recognition of man. (Matthew 23:1-6)

e. Activities may be done in Jesus’ name, but it may be that Jesus is not in those works.

B. Exhortation Vs. 2, 3a

1. V. 2- Be watchful- Give attention to, be active: Be active about the important things.
NOTE- We must be careful about doing what is important, not immediately gratifying.

a. The church made the same mistake the city made: apathy, presumption.

b. Though the church had an overall deadness to it, there was a flicker of life to revive.

c. Napa Valley has a very lulling affect upon people. It is easy to become Napathetic.

d. Sardis had no persecution or false teachers; they were dying because of indifference.

e. They had no opposition because they were indifferent and in a 95% spiritual coma.

f. Matthew 13:22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.

2. V. 2-Strengthen-make stable, confirm, to make steadfast.

a. This has nothing to do with emotion or with God doing some amazing spiritual work

b. Jesus doesn’t ask them to make a pilgrimage, get refreshed, go to a revival meeting.

3. V. 3-Remember how you have received and heard- “How” speaks of previous attitude

a. The former eagerness to hear the word of God because of awareness of need

b. The former spiritual humility that brought eagerness in hearing and obeying.

c. A love for God and His word had been replaced by culturally approved activities.

4. V. 3-Hold fast and repent- Obey the word and repent immediately. Change your life!

a. I wonder if those who have allowed themselves to be lulled into spiritual slumber think that they can wake themselves up any time they want?

b. This church didn’t even realize how spiritually dead they were.

C. Warning V. 3b

1. Jesus threatened to come to them unexpectedly, presumably in discipline or judgment.

2. Jesus loves His church, and He will show up suddenly to correct our indifference.

3. Hebrews 12:5-6 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”

4. This verse doesn’t speak of the physical return of Jesus. It speaks about Jesus’ correction.

D. Positive Recognition V. 4

1. In Sardis, most were failing, and only a few were walking with God.

2. Even in Sardis- What a sad description of this city and this church. Spiritually dead.

a. Conversely, it is possible to be a Christian “even in Sardis”.

3. Walk in white- in pagan worship, it was forbidden to worship wearing soiled clothes

a. This speaks of the pure lives of faith that only a few of the Sardisians had.

E. Promise V. 5

1. The overcomers in Sardis were the ones that didn’t allow themselves to spiritually die.

2. They are the ones who didn’t get caught up with the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this world, and as a result, the word of God had an effect in their lives.

3. If they were dying, they listened to Jesus and obeyed Jesus’ words found in verse 2 & 3.

4. Overcome is to keep hold of Jesus as Savior & Lord, depending upon Him for salvation

5. Luke 12:8-9 Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. 9 But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.

6. They are those that never stop confessing Jesus as Lord, & so Jesus confesses them as His.

7. I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life- This metaphor occurs frequently.

a. Exod. 32:32; Ps. 69:28; Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Heb. 12:23; Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27.

b. The clear implication is that Jesus CAN blot one’s name out of the Book of Life.

c. This verse “spiritually” collides with the doctrine of the “perseverance of the saints”.

d. When we come to something that seems unclear, we fall back upon that which is clear.

e. If you are spiritually dying, follow the exhortation of Jesus in verses 2 & 3.

F. Invitation To Listen V. 6