We have been studying the seven letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor. We move now to the fifth church, the church of Sardis. Christ's letter to the church of Sardis is recorded in Revelation 3:1-6.
Christ introduces himself as the one who holds the sevenfold spirit and seven stars in his hand. The number seven is a number of completion and perfection in the Bible. Christ was telling this church that he held, not only the church and its messenger in his hand, but that He alone is able to send his life-giving spirit to resurrect this dead or dying church.
The church of Sardis looked good and attractive on the outside. The church was living its reputation of days gone by, but Christ said they were dead. How often does our assessment and Christ's differ?
It is indeed tragic for a church to die, especially when they think they are still alive. Christ does not judge by outward appearances. He is not impressed with that with which we are impressed. He looks at the heart; the motives; the faith; the love with which we serve him.
Many churches seem to be attractive and growing, yet it is possible that they are dead, much like the church at Sardis.
Christ gave this church five sharp imperatives: Wake up. Strengthen. Remember. Obey. Repent.
Many Christians and churches of today would be told the same thing.
We need to wake up and be keenly watchful. As a city, Sardis had been defeated twice in their history because of their self-confidence and lack of watchfulness.
Christ warned this church that if they did not repent, he would come like a thief, when they least expected it, similar to the way their city had fallen in defeat.
Even in Sardis there were a few who had held true. For those who overcome, Christ promised that they would walk with him, would be clothed in white, would never have their name blotted out of the book of life, and would have their name acknowledged by him before his father and the angels.
Christ is looking for spirit-filled, alive churches today. His warnings, as well as promises, hold true for us as well.