The Church of Sardis

Letters  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

Study of the Seven Churches found in Revelation.


Remember Who You Are-

Good Evening, I hope that everyone here is have a good time.
Thank you all for joining us tonight.
I know that many of you probably had other plans but I am so thankful that you have chosen to be with us for parents night.
To all the parents and may those who have forgotten, we are currently doing a series called Letters.
This series is about the seven churches mentioned in Revelation.
These letters were written by John, on the Island of Patmos.
John was a disciple of Jesus.
He was in prison for his faith- really he was in exile.
While he was counting down the days till death.
A vision comes to him from Jesus.
Jesus tells John— to write down the vision he is receiving— but first they need to talk about these seven churches.
These seven churches are really interesting, as Jesus is tell them all things that they are doing well, and things that they are not going well.
We have covered 4 churches so far which brings us to our next church, the Church of Sardis.
Sardis was the most legendary of the 7 churches.
It was a stronghold— Opposing forces had a hard time conquering here.
The city was polytheist, meaning they believed in many gods.
This has been the belief held by all the churches so far.
We must remember that John is not writing to the whole city— but to the church in this city.
Meaning he is writing too believers of Christ.
Now if you have your Bible, or you want to use your phone, we will be in Revelation 3.
And before we start I want to ask a question.
How important is your reputation?
I ask this question tonight, on parents night, because it made me recall something my mom always said to me as I left the house to go to school, a movie, to hangout with friends, going to church— when ever I left without her— she would say:
“Remember who you are.”
It is four simple words— but it conveys a message.
It says be yourself.
It says you know how you were raised.
It makes you take off any mask that you may want to put on.
It challenges you to make the right choice, not the popular choice, but the right one.
Parents and Students— are there things that you say to one another as you leave?
Go ahead yell them out--
Get out— I’m kidding
(Lets hear some)
You see the church of Sardis had a reputation but in this letter we read how Jesus calls them out for being fake actually being more than fake— he calls them dead.
As we look at this chruch we have been breaking the passage down by the good, the bad and ugly and in that order.
But tonight we are going to flip that around.
So lets look at the first part here by looking at the ugly.

The Ugly

Revelation 3:1–3 ESV
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
The angel here we have concluded that angel means messenger.
John was not writing to an angel who was over seeing these churches, but rather those who oversaw the church in these places.
Jesus says right from the beginning I know you— I know the reputation you have— but you can’t fool me.
Sardis had this great history a great reputation of being a city that could not be penetrated durning war time.
Yet on a few occasions this city was defeated.
It had a reputation that it could not be destroyed, when in reality it had been beaten 2 for sure, and maybe a third time.
So the real question here in Sardis was the relationship between reputation and reality.
The reputation was that the chruch was alive!
But the reality was the church was dead.
This could mean a couple of things.
1. The church was in decline because due to a failure of evangelism- If you are not sharing the gospel eventually the church would die.
2. Could it mean that the church had great numeral success but yet spiritually lacking to the point were nothing significant was happening in the church.
3. Or maybe it could be that the church had a poor theology, that they accepted some heretical belief.
Number three has some issues as not other heresies were mentioned like many of the other church we already covered.
I personally think it was number 2- not saying that them not sharing their faith wasn’t happening- but the idea that they were spiritually lacking would mean they were most likely not sharing their faith either.
Like I have said from the beginning- I am going to give you some different theory that many have, I’ll share with you where I land and some of it is going to require you to go the scripture and conclude it for yourself- You do not have to do this alone as you have leaders here to help sort some of these issues out.
If the issue with the church was they were lacking spiritually- this would make sense as the next verse is a call to action:
Jesus is actually going to give them several calls to action here the first is to:
This was literally a wake up call for the chruch here.
It should be troubling for the church that the only good thing or encouraging thing for this is a reputation that is not accurate.
Revelation 5. To Sardis (3:1–6)

“It is a sad thing when the only accomplishment (‘deed’) of a church is what it names itself, especially if the reality shows the name to be a lie, as here.

This is something one says to one who is asleep or is dead:
When we sleep we do nothing for those around us.
Sleep is good for the body- but this sleep that had fallen on the church was leading them to death.
Wake up and strengthen what remains.
Jesus is telling them— the faith that does remain you must strengthen this faith/ trust in me.
He is giving them this warning because as he says; i have not found your works complete in the sight of God.
To quote Knights Tale- “You have been weighted you have been measured and you have been found wanting.”
This church was lacking.
They were not awake but they were not and they were lacking— their works were not complete in the eyes of God.
Completion all through out Scripture refers to a wholehearted commitment to God and obedience to his commands given.
This was lacking at the church of Sardis.
Jesus then moves into telling them remember.
Remember what?
What they received and what they heard.
They have received the Holy Spirit by what they heard which was the Gospel of Christ.
He is asking them to remember what they heard and what they received.
Another call into action is that to not only wake up and remember but to keep it and repent.
Obey the commands that He had given.
And repent when needed.
For if you do not, what Jesus is asking them to do- Jesus tells them he is coming like a thief in the night, unexpectedly to not save them or rescue them in His second coming but to come against them.
Wake Up-Remember-Obey- and Repent
This church was known for this.
It was their reputation but in reality they were not doing this.
So I am 30- that felt weird to say. 30, 30, 30
Anyway- and when you get to a certain age your relationship with your parents change.
And you can ask questions and tell them things that you would have never dared ask or told them when they could punish you still.
So this week I asked my Mom why she said remember who you are?
Here is what she said.
I would say this just to put it in your mind as you were heading out into the world. I knew most of your friends did not know Jesus and I just wanted you to remember that you did and that prayed it would maybe help you make better choices when you were out. That you would stay true to who you were and be totally ok with that.
I also asked her if there were times when you said that phrase knowing that I may not do that, as in remember who I was?
Here is what she said:
“Every time you walked out the door!!! I didn’t expect you to be perfect - yes, I know you are not - but when you proclaim Jesus as yours, you need to remember that. So it was always my little reminder to you to be an example because you never know who is watching.
Did it work ... sometimes? “
“I was taking that chance every-time you walked out that door.”
The world is a very big place-
You see parents are really smart.
All the stuff you try to pull over on them— they are not fooled.
And even if you are able to pull the wool over their eyes.
There is one who knows everything about you.
And he is never fooled by your reputation because he knows you personally.
God knows you.
While it may be great to have a great reputation and I think we all should strive to have a great reputation.
But if our reputation is that we follow Christ— yet we are not we are just like the church of Sardis.
Our reputation is great but we are not alive- we are dead.
Yes we may be known as alive— our church may be know as alive— our youth group may be known as alive— but it is really easy to put on a mask— to pretend we are alive— when in reality we are uncommitted, undisciplined, and uninterested.
So this is a wake up call to many of us.
How is our relationship with the Lord?
Are we just pretending?
Do we need to remember who we are?
Remember that day when you said yes to Jesus?
Remember that day when the holy spirit began to dwell inside of you?
What are something that you need to repent of?
What are some areas of sin in our lives that we need to repent of?
Remember who you are...
Remember whose you are.
That is the ugly:
Let look at the bad:

The Bad

Revelation 3:4 ESV
Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
While today clothes that have rips and cuts in them are in and trendy, clothes back in the day really meant something.
Something we can all agree with is that soiled clothes are not good.
It means dirty clothes.
However, fashion sometimes does weird stuff so who know, maybe one day we will all be wearing trash?
But here is what Jesus is saying to this chruch.
Dirty clothes was held as dishonor.
And wearing dirty clothes into front of a deity— remember they had temples in Sardis to all sorts of gods— was very dishonoring.
This would cause the those who wore dirty soiled clothes to be banned from worshiping their false gods.
What was happening here was some people were wearing dirty clothes to church and that was not to be tolerated— I’m totally kidding— that was not the issue.
What was though was that this church who had the reputation of being alive but is now dead— there are a few who do not fall into this camp.
Some of the people here are not spiritually dead.
And because of this they will walk with Christ is robes of white.
Robes of white have been understood by many to represent purity, holiness and even victory.
Most likely what it means here is that they are justified.
They walk with Christ for they are worthy.
Not on their own account.
They did not gain worthiness or justification on their own but they have done nothing to forfeit it.
As I was talking to my mom about her phrase she used; Something struck me:
She said Zach— I knew who you hung out with- They were over all nice kids, but they did not know Jesus.
And as you would leave to go meet them somewhere— I always wanted the last thing you heard from home was remember who you are.
You have been bought with a price.
You are loved.
You are more then what your friends think.
I know your friends did not have your best interest at heart.
I was walking with those who had soiled garments.
But I was there too.
This is not a message to stop hanging out with people who think and believe differently or only have christian friends:
It is actually the opposite.
Continue to have those relationships.
Because you may be the only light they see.
You may be the only one who can tell them the Gospel.
They need you more than you need them.
Not to inflate our egos.
But the lost world needs to keep hearing about the love of Christ.
In our churches we have those who are spiritually dead.
We have those who have not fallen into the ways of the world.
They have continued to stand strong in their faith.
They have the reputation of being alive but actually they are not.
And you have those who are lost and they are watching you— maybe they say something about your reputation.
Where do you fall into here?
If you fall into the latter two: don’t worry their is hope.
Let’s talk about the good.

The Good

Revelation 3:5–6 ESV
The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
To the one who conquers.
To the warrior at the end of battle.
Who makes it to the end:
Again they will be clothed in white garments.
And their name shall never be blotted out of the book of life.
When Jesus vouches for you— you are accepted.
Think back to his promise in Luke.
Luke 12:8–9 ESV
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.
Now there is a good side of this and a not so great side.
And no, this does not mean that when this message pops up on your newsfeed that your grandma has shared 100 times that you also have to share it because that would be denying Christ— this is not talking about that and I really wish that would go away.
But back to the church of Sardis— if you conquer this life- if you remain faithful- if you confess Christ- Jesus will have your back.
He will tell his Angels and His Father that he knows you personally.
That you conquered the world and you did not deny who He was.
The letter starts out so rough but ends with hope and encouragement.
I remember back on the playground of the 4th grade: I was a little nervous and I really had not found my niche yet.
I think grade school is really awkward but there was one thing that wasn’t.
Recess football:
As everyone ran out to the yard— the superior athletes (or so we thought) would head over for a game of football.
However there was an issue:
I was in 4th grade and we ate lunch with the 5th and 6th graders.
Now the 6th graders just wanted to chase girls— they were weird.
but the 5th graders and us we wanted to play football.
Yet the 5th graders ran the roost:
And if you didn’t make the cut when they were picking team you just did not make the cut.
In 4th grade i did not have the dominate physique I have now.
No I was not fast— still lack in that area or tall.
so naturally i was always picked towards the end if i got picked at all.
I blame it on the glasses.
But one day on picture day:
Me and the coolest 5th grader (Chase Damewood) at the school wore the same outfit.
It is just a coincidence that i also just so happen to match the coolest person I now know as well- Kevin Fogerty: We are matching!
Back to 4th Grade
Our moms shopped at the same store and had the same taste:
And he looked better than me in it but lets not go there.
But on this day:
I was vouched for.
Not because of my hands, or speed or size but because of my garments- my clothes.
I was untouchable that day.
Because I matched the coolest kid in school.
Being vouched for is amazing.
Because in reality you do not have to do much for someone to vouch for you.
Maybe it is because of something you wear alike:
Maybe it is because you come from a good family.
Or someone else has seen you do something great.
Or someone knows you personally.
When someone has our back our confidence soars.
We are untouchable.
We have someone in our corner.
Remain in Christ and your name will not be blotted out of the book of life.
Jesus vouching for you— is better than anybody on this planet vouching for you.
We have victory in Christ and in Christ alone.
I will wrap up with this final thought:
It is from one of the commentaries that i use.
Revelation 5. To Sardis (3:1–6)

Allusion to the fate of the city of Sardis in days long past is obvious here. Just as the overconfident city, unaware of the enemy scaling its walls, fell when least expected; so, too, the church at Sardis, with its reputation for life, stood at that moment imperiled by a thief-like visit from God, which would result in its destruction. The threat suggests that dead and dying churches are frequently oblivious to either their condition or to the imminent threat.

Be self aware.
Are you following after Christ wholeheartedly?
Or are you spiritually dead?
If you are the latter- there is time and hope:
We must wake-up/ remember/ obey and repent:
I’ll say it again and I know it sounds cheesy but I do like the way it sounds:
Remember who you are and whose you are.
Let’s pray.
Related Media
See more
Related Sermons
See more