VII #7: Message to the Church in Sardis
Sermon 7: Message to the Church in Sardis
Key Verse: Revelation 3:1-6
A person can appear healthy while also possessing a deadly tumor. This same could be said for a body of believers. Consider the Christ-followers in the old capital of Lydia- Sardis. Twice the City of Sardis had been conquered. Once by Cyrus in 549 B.C. and then by Antiochus the Great in 218 B.C. Both incidents happened because the city failed to keep adequate watch during the night. Little wonder that Jesus issues the warning to the believers in this city to be watchful against the growing tumor of sin. This was critically needed since this particular congregation had a reputation for being alive and healthy. But this was only a surface reality. Underneath this congregation’s stellar reputation was unhealth that Jesus describes as death. Jesus does give this flock some guidance. And His words can speak to us today- especially when we may have a temptation to rely on our past success and not present sacrifice and obedience.
- Jesus warns the church not to depend upon past success, but present obedience and sacrifice (3:1-2)
- Sardis, the city is in decline. ““The city was a relic of the period of barbaric warfare, which lived rather on its ancient prestige than on its suitability to present conditions (William Ramsey)
- “Sardis maintained an ancient reputation as a great city from the time of its most famous ruler, Croesus, but at the time Revelation was written, Sardis had little more than its ancient name” (Craig Keener NIV, Rev)
- As we have seen before, John will use local imagery to convey the important spiritual truths needed for that particular congregation
- So, how does a church turn the tide of decline when it tends to pine for the old days?
- Jesus gave instructions on what to do amid decline
- Be watchful (3:2)
- This action is in stark contrast to resting on past success
- “Watchman” (Hebrew: צָפָה tsō-p̄eh or tsa-phah) or “sentinel”: the noun is derived from the Hebrew verb meaning to “look out or about, spy, keep watch”; properly “to lean forward”, i.e. “to peer into the distance”; by implication, “to observe, await:—behold, espy, look up, wait for”.
- Reminiscent of Ezekiel as the watchman of the nation
- Which means being watchful means seeing things clearly and developing a plan accordingly
- Be watchful (3:2)
3. Strengthen the things that remain (3:2)
Leaders should provide sacrificial care for the sheep
You can strengthen what remains by serving the sheep
Hold fast by remembering (3:3)
We have received a beautiful gift- the Gospel
- We must never lose hope
Present repentance is the path toward future success
- Jesus always provides a remnant of the faithful (3:4-6)
- Jesus can sustain His Church with only a few faithful people
- Believers that are faithful in hard times are rewarded
- White robes indicated their moral and spiritual condition
- The image is walking with Jesus in a victorious manner
Do not let the past success of Concord keep you from watching.
Watch- what is God bringing to our horizons?
Strengthen- how can you strengthen our church?
Hold fast- don’t give up
Repent- what self-centered sin do you need to confess?
Table Talk Card
Please use these questions throughout the week to discuss the message with family and friends.