Monday, September 06, 2010
Sardis - Bring Out the Dead
For Labor Day, I'm posting another installment from my brief overview of the Lord Jesus' messages (through the Apostle John) to the seven churches in Revelation. Today, we're in Sardis, and it's not a pleasant visit.
The Lord begins immediately with rebuke. The church in Sardis has a name and a reputation. Specifically, they have a reputation of being “alive.” Things are really happening at this church, or so the talk goes. But God sess not as man sees. What man approves of isn't necessarily going to get kudos from Him. In fact, the church at Sardis is really dead. The only “pro” statement from Him in His message to the Sardis believers is that there are a few people who have not soiled their garments. God always has His remnant. I can well imagine this "remnant" being very grieved and distressed at what is going on in their congregation. Yes, things are indeed happening. It's a "happenin" church. But apparently at the cost of truth.
The Lord issues His warning to Sardis. They are to "wake up and strengthen what remains." Their deeds are not complete in the sight of God. They must REMEMBER what they have received and heard, and then keep it. How often are we told in Scripture to "remember?" Do not "forget?" These things are written as a "reminder." Human beings are fickle and prone to forget what is right, good and true. Worse yet is when you haven't forgotten it, but don't do it.
The Sardis congregation is commanded by Christ to repent of their laxness. If they don’t wake up, the Lord will catch them unawares and bring judgment to them. In this instance, Bible scholars don't think Jesus is referencing His Second Coming, because here His coming depends on their refusal to repent. To those who overcome, they will receive white garments — His righteousness. He will confess those who confess Him, and deny those who deny Him. And it must be real saving faith.
In Matthew 7:22, the Lord references so-called believers at the judgment who plead with amazement after He pronounces His judgment against them. "Did we not say, Lord, Lord, prophesying in Your name, in your name casting out demons and in Your name perform many miracles?" His reply is “I never knew you.” There are plenty of hucksters out there hawking all sorts of sensational displays and performances, all in the name of God. Lots of glitz, blow-dried hair and makeup. Some boast huge congregations, and those congregations love what they hear.
Too bad it's not what they need to hear. We're supposed to get rich teaching from God's Word when we assemble together, not motivational claptrap that could just as easily be heard at a salesman's convention.
Instead, we need to heed what the Spirit says to Sardis-type congregations. That is, if we have ears to hear.