Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Seven Churches of Revelation: Sardis Part 6 of 8

The Seven Churches of Revelation

David Q. Santos
5. Sardis: The Dead Church
Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The name Sardis means “remnant”[1] “escaping ones” or those who came out of.”[2] It is the capital of ancient Lydia and is located about 30 miles south of Thyatira.[3] The imperial cult was strong in this city[4] including the worship of the Roman Caesar and of Artemis, goddess of fertility.[5] Sardis is an important and wealthy city located on the commercial trade route running east and west through Lydia.[6] Courson wrote, “Built on a one thousand-foot bluff, Sardis was an extremely wealthy city that seemed invincible-until the year 549 BC when Cyrus, conqueror of the city of Babylon, also conquered Sardis.”[7]

This church is credited with the fact that some had kept the faith in a city that was full of pagan customs. This church is told to be watchful for Christ and to strengthen the things that still exist but that are about to disappear from their faith. This church had a name that was recognized. People knew their past and that they had been faithfully watching for the return of Christ while living for Him. They had once held all of the truths that were taught by Jesus, the apostles, and the Holy Scriptures. But since they will not watch, Christ says that He will come upon them as a theif in the night. Jesus had exhorted believers to be waiting and watching for His return and those that were not watching would be overtaken by Him.

This church represents or foreshadows the post reformation period. Revival had happened. The Lord had raised up many men of God and restored some truth to the Church. But the restoration of the church was not complete. We see this by Christ’s statement that “I have not found thy works perfect before God.” Wallace points out, “This shows that the reformation was not a return to the apostolic church. However, it did recover some of the doctrines. It recovered the doctrine of the total depravity of man. It recovered the doctrine of justification by faith.”[8] Just as the city of Sardis fell because of arrogance and by simply not watching so also this age in church history, the denominational age could also fail to watch for Christ. Most of the old line denominations simply do not expect the imminent return of Christ as they have retained their position of Amillennialism from the Roman Church that they knew they must leave. Many of the old denominations have rejected the Bible as their full authority. Some would claim that they are reformed and still reforming. The problem is that they are reforming with philosophies of the world; allowing for the pulpit to be filled by women or even to go so far as allow homosexuals to fill the pulpit. Those churches are in danger of Christ coming upon them as a thief.

Work Cited:
Courson, Jon. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament. Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2003.
Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville TN. 1997.
Ryrie, Charles, Caldwell. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago IL. Moody Press. 1999.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago, Moody Press. 1978.
Showers, Renald Dr. Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. Bellmawr, NJ. 1995.
Strong’s Bible Dictionary. The Online Bible Millennium Edition Version 1.2. Winterbourne Ontario, Canada. 1999.
Scofield C.I. Rev. D.D. Scofield Reference Bible-Reproduction of 1917. Greenville, SC. Stonehaven Press.
Townsend, Jeffrey L. The Rapture in Revelation 3:10. Dallas Texas. Bibliotheca Sacra. July-Sept 1980.
Wallace, Roy Dr. Studies from Revelation. Shreveport, Louisiana. Lin Wel Publishing. 2002.
Walvoord, John F. The Rapture Question. Grand Rapids MI. Zondervan Publishing House. 1979.
Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary By John F. Walvoord. Chicago. Moody Press. 1966.
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[1] Courson, Jon. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament. Pg 1680.
[2] Wallace, Roy Dr. Studies from Revelation. Pg 37.
[3] Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. Pg 2169.
[4] Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible.
[5] Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. Pg 2169.
[6] Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary By John F. Walvoord. Pg 78.
[7] Courson, Jon. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament. Pg 1680.
[8] Wallace, Roy Dr. Studies from Revelation. Pg 37.

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