This church depicts for us the Reformation Period from 1517-1648 A.D. The name Sardis means ‘those escaping’. Escaping from what? The answer is easy it was the Roman Catholic Church that held sway as we saw in the Thyatira age of the Dark Ages and its dogma of rules and regulations and false doctrine. Those escaping were the reformers who God called out to set things straight regarding ‘Sola Scriptura’ (The Scriptures alone). The most noted early reformer was Martin Luther who posted his 95 point Theses in 1517A.D. challenging the authority of the popes and their cardinals, bishops and their priesthood as not being biblical when tested against God’s Word. Many of the reformers were catholic priests but there has always been a remnant of true believers in any age of the churches and their time frames that we can see in the 7 Churches of Revelation. We can give the date of 1648 A.D. as an approximate time frame as this is when the Peace of Westphalia document was signed ending the 30 years’ war, seen as one of the most destructive conflicts in the history of Europe. This treaty brought about the start or concept of the sovereignty of nation-states on their own territory, with no role for external agents in domestic structures. From now on the influence of Church of Rome would be seriously affected and it would now turn to more direct physical means to have its way! The rest is history!
Key verses: Revelation 3:1-6.
– this is in verses 1 and 2 as is their condemnation from the Lord Jesus. Part of their works were good, they had reformed the doctrine of Rome into what was presented to us in the Holy Scriptures. Much doctrinal correction had been done and creeds were written and agreed upon for future generations to look to. In verse 2 the Lord tells them to be watchful and strengthen the things which remain as they are ready to die out. We are told by Paul to examine ourselves that we are in the Faith. In verse 4a we can see there is a remnant that has not defiled their garments through worldly living and the staining of themselves. We as true disciples have been given the robe of righteousness to wear at all times.
– this is principally found in verse 4 but the Lord speaks plainly to them in verses 1 and 2 as already mentioned. In verse 1 they are told they are dead. Physically they were alive but spiritually they were dead in that they had not sorted out the problem of being ‘married to the state’ which is what corrupted the Pergamos or Pergamum church era. Secondly, we can see there was no spiritual vitality and so spiritual gifts were generally not sought or used. We are told not to quench the Spirit or despise prophecies in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20. This is forth telling not fore telling, we have the end from the beginning written for us. The real Apostles and Prophets have come and gone. So their works in verse 2 have not been found perfect before God, they needed some reforming themselves which so many reformed churches today need to do! We may note that one of their other mottos outside of Sola Scriptura (The Scriptures Alone) was Semper Reformanda – ‘always reforming’. We will find a number of reformed Churches today that are indifferent towards Israel or even sadly replacementist as well as denying a physical 1,000 year rule and reign of the Lord Jesus. The same is seen with 6 literal days of Creation, this is seen symbolically with gaps or long days (time periods) to fit in with evolutionary thinking which are the theories of men instead of the inspired , inerrant and infallible Word of God who said what He meant and meant what He said.
– this is seen in verse 3. In verse 3 the Lord tells them to hold fast and repent, so steadfastness was required to run the race set before them. Repentance is the life and death principle of the Holy Scriptures from beginning to end.
They had received the Gospel and heard the truth and so they are to continue in what was birthed in them. If they do not watch their walk they will see that the Lord would come upon them like a thief and they would not know the hour, so the fear of the Lord is a good thing.
Too many churches in these last days can end up like the church of Sardis, they look to be spiritual, talk the talk but they do not walk the walk, there are double standards. Having good doctrine but no spiritual life is death, so most of them were dead before their Lord. A spiritual resurrection was needed; you cannot have a spiritual life without good doctrine and vice versa. John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and may we be the same.
– once again we have in verse 4b and 5 of this letter the call of our Lord to true disciples to be an overcomer. To those who do they will walk with Him in white for they were found worthy to be rewarded as their name will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.
White is a symbol of our salvation as when we cross reference with Revelation 7:14 we see that the saints have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
To the overcomer verse 5 promises three things:-
1) A white robe.
2) Our names will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.
3) The name of any believer will be confessed by Christ.
So they are ‘born again’ having walked in righteousness and holiness of life and the Lord will confess their names before His Father and His angels. What a glorious and eternal honour to be commended in this way. May we be found worthy and faithful to this instruction given by our blessed Lord and be like ‘those escaping’ of old the pollutions and sins of this world. To do this it is wise to have a reverential fear of our Lord and God.
The Scriptures teach us what the fear of the Lord is:-
1. It is Wisdom – Job 28:28.
2. It is to hate evil – Proverbs 8:13.
3. It gives a strong confidence – Proverbs 14:26.
4. It is a fountain of life – Proverbs – 14:27.
5. It is true riches, honour and life – Proverbs 22:4.
6. It is quick understanding – Isaiah 11:3.
Date : 30/11/-0001