The Dead Church

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.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.
3 Remember 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.
4 You 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.
5 He 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.
6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

Message to the church in Sardis – Revelation 3:1-6.

To the church in Sardis, Jesus presents himself as “He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars” (3:1), signifying that He has the fullness of the Spirit and implies His infinite power.

At the outset Jesus says: “I know.” He always knows what each church and individual Christian is thinking, saying, feeling, and doing. He lets the Christians in Sardis know (3:1) what He is aware of:-

  • Their Works;
  • Their having a name;
  • Their being alive;
  • That they are in fact dead.

Jesus knows all about the church in Sardis. He notes some of their good points here. However, everything is not what they seem. They are working, they have a name, they appear alive, but “you are dead” says the Lord. The church appears to be physically alive, but it is spiritually dead.

So our Lord admonishes them to “be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God” (3:2). What a terrible evaluation! Even what they have “are ready to die.” Although they were doing something for the Lord, Jesus did not find their “works perfect before God.” apparently they are just going through the motions of serving the Lord and their hearts are not really in it.

Jesus therefore reminds them “how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent” (3:3). If they failed in this, Jesus says, “I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you” (3:3). Judgement and destruction would be swift and sudden.

Our Lord makes a note of “a few names in Sardis” who have not soiled or dirtied their garments [garments stand for character]. These are the faithful few who are living according to the Lord’s will and have guarded themselves against sin. To these faithful few the Lord promises, “They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (3:4).

Jesus concludes His message to the church in Sardis with a promise to those who are faithful: “He 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” (3:5).

Lesson: Faithful overcomers in the church shall be “clothed in white garments” since their sins have been blotted out (cf. Matt.13:43: “Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father”). Their names will always be in “the Book of Life.” Our Lord “will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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