LETTER TO THE MESSENGER OF THE CHURCH IN SARDIS

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.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

"Religion in the church with no relationship with the True and Living God."

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.

The Lord reminds this messenger that He has the seven Spirits of God. I believe that this is speaking of the fullness of the Godhead. I believe that the scripture that best reveals the significance of this passage, would be that which is found in Isaiah chapter 11.
We can see that this passage of Scripture is speaking of the Messiah Who was to come:

Isa 11: 1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: (KJV)

The Prophet describes a wonderful characteristic of this coming Messiah:

Isa 11: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

To minister effectively, a messenger must be able to walk in at least some of these attributes of the Holy Spirit. But whatever our ability is, whether we have godly wisdom, godly understanding, godly knowledge, are able to give godly counsel, are valiant or mighty in Spirit, or walk in the fear of the Lord, we need to understand that the source of all of these is from the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within us.

I believe that this characteristic of the Lord (the seven Spirits of God) is mentioned, because the messenger of the church in Sardis is not walking in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Yet he may really think that he is.

and the seven stars;

The Lord reminds this messenger that He has the seven stars (messengers), and as such, He knows each of them, and He would know that this one is only operating his ministry in the flesh, and not in the Spirit of God.

Although men may think that this one is living for the Lord, the Lord knows that he isn't living the Spirit-led life.

I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

I believe this describes the pastor who works a nine to five job and calls it a "ministry", scheduling counseling sessions in that time frame for those who need counseling, while refusing to be available at any time, should the need arise. His phone is unlisted, and very few of the members of his congregation know where he lives.
He is content to let the sheep pay their tithes and support him for his "service" to them.
His goal is not to equip the members of the church to function effectively in the calling that they have on their lives.
He is content with being known by the title "pastor". His is a one man show. At one time he may have started out on the right foot, but as he saw how other ministries function, he decided that if it was good enough for them, then it was good enough for him.

Or the "evangelist" who goes from church to church and wows the congregation with his great speeches, while forsaking his primary call to evangelize the world (after all, there's more money in preaching from church to church).
He may have begun as an evangelist who preached on the streets, and ministered one on one to others wherever he went, but now he has gotten "successful" in ministry, and is booked up to preach in the churches throughout the year.
He has become a "professional" and has lost sight of his primary calling.

I believe this messenger could be the "prophet" who goes from church to church with words of knowledge and personal prophecies, instead of calling the church to live a life of repentance toward the Lord (if the word is too hard, he might not be called back to preach again).

I believe this is the teacher who teaches from popular consensus, instead of the Truth of the Word of God. Most people prefer that kind of teacher. They dull the Truth of God, because they don't want to be seen to offend others.

I believe this is the "apostle" who establishes churches for the sake of establishing his kingdom and his name, instead of the kingdom of God and the Name of Jesus.

I believe this is the preacher who has adopted another preacher's style of preaching because he has seen this style "work".

I believe this describes the pastor who relies on textbook psychology as his guide for counseling.

I believe this is the pastor or the evangelist that has learned his Theology from a seminary, and he leans on the knowledge of men instead of the knowledge of God instruct him. (PLEASE Note that I am not saying that all who have gone to a seminary fit in this category. )

I believe this is the Minister that preaches or teaches doctrines that encourage or condone sin in the congregation's lives rather than instructing them in the fear of the Lord.

Another characteristic of this messenger may be that he denies that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today.

I believe this is the minister who gets his congregation under legalism, instructing them to obey the letter of the law instead of teaching them to yield to the things of the Spirit.

I believe this describes a minister who, instead of being led by the Spirit of God in the ministry, adopts practices and programs that have been successful in other men's ministries.

This messenger isn't willfully spreading false doctrine…he just isn't allowing the Spirit of God to work in his life.

He teaches doctrines and traditions of men, because that is all he has known.

Some well known teacher may have fallen into a doctrinal error by unwittingly taking a verse out of context, (we are all prone to mistakes), and now this false teaching is spreading through the church…and this messenger swallows it hook, line, and sinker, because it "makes sense", so he teaches this same error in his ministry because "brother so and so teaches it".

He has forgotten how to rightfully divide the Word of Truth. He can be a great preacher. He can have a wonderful personality. He can be very "Charismatic", but the Lord knows him, and though the rest of Christianity may not know it, the Lord knows that this messenger is not led by the Spirit of God.

He has moved to the office of a professional in his field. His ministry is Man centered, instead of God centered. He may not even realize this to be the case.

While he speaks about the necessity of having a personal relationship with the Living God, he himself has substituted religious works for his relationship with God.

He leans on his own understanding, or on the understanding of others. The Lord says this messenger has a name that he lives, but he is dead. He warns him:

2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

"watchful" in the Greek is:

1127 gregoreuo- 1) to watch 2) metaphorically, to give strict attention to, to be cautious, to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one

In Matthew 24, the disciples asked the Lord concerning the Last days. He used this same Greek word to warn them to be watchful:

Matt 24: 42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

The same warning is given in Luke 12:

Luke 12: 37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.(KJV)

 

strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die:

 

The word "strengthen" in verse two means to make stable or to set fast, or to fix something. The Lord tells this messenger to make the situation right. There are still some redeeming qualities that this man has.
He just needs to repent.
He hasn't always been like this. He has just fallen into a trap.
He preaches for popularity and for success and to be accepted.
He doesn't want to make waves.

3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent.

The Lord tells him to remember how it was in the beginning…and that he should get back to the way it was before he got snared by this "professionalism".

He tells him to "hold fast", this means to guard or to attend to those things that he had originally received and heard when he first begain in his ministry.

The Lord calls him to repent. Then He uses this word "watch" again, and tells him that if he doesn't watch, that he would come on him like a thief, and it will take him by surprise. This is reminiscent of how the Lord warned his disciples:

Matt 24: 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (KJV)

It would do well for the reader to understand that the Lord is referring to "servants" in this text. He isn't just talking about people in general.
Ministers of the gospel are servants.
The disciples were servants.
We who are saved are all called to be servants, but a servant SERVES.
A servant understands that he is to serve, and he serves.

The interesting thing is that after The Lord contrasts the good and evil servant in Matthew 24, he then jumps into three illustrations of Christianity in Matthew 25.

The first group of people that he refers to are the ten virgins. I believe that this parable is speaking of Christians in general.
There are two types:
Those who have made a profession of faith, and who continue in their worldly ways (religion), and those who devote their lives cultivating an intimate relationship with their Lord.

I believe that all ten have made a commitment to the bridegroom.

The foolish virgins are those who have committed to the Lord, but who have not developed their relationship with the Lord.
They have not prepared themselves for the coming of the Lord.
They have grown lax in their preparedness.
They have not developed their relationship with the Lord.

The ones who were wise, on the other hand, are those who are prepared for His Coming, and who have walked in their calling and their relationship with the Lord.

We are seeing here the contrast between those who are content with doing their "religious duties" (church on Sunday and Wednesday), as opposed to those who are actively pursuing an intimacy with the Lord in service, in worship and in prayer. At the end of his parable, the Lord tells them to "watch".

Matt 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
2 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
3 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 4 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
5 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
7 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
9 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. 13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.(KJV)

The second illustration the Lord uses is in regard to three different servants.
These are SERVANTS. I believe this is speaking about the various ministries that people are called to. The first two servants work with what the Lord provides for them. And they are faithful to SERVE HIM. He rewards them according to their works.

Matt 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.(KJV)

The third servant doesn't serve the Lord. He neglects to heed the calling the Lord has for him. He receives a hard punishment from the Lord, just as we see is promised to the messenger of Sardis.

This messenger is called to repent of his man-centered religion.

 

But there are some in his church who are sincere, and who are following the Lord. There is some fruit to his work. Even in a church led by a pastor who is spiritually dead, there are a few who may sincerely love the Lord.

4 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.

In Revelation 19, we read of the Bride of Christ who is clothed in fine linen, clean and white, which is the Righteousness of the Saints. They are the ones who have been clothed in Christ's righteousness, and have walked in that righteousness, and not in their own.

They haven't allowed themselves to be defiled by a man centered religion.

Rev 19: 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. (KJV)

5 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.

The inference here is that the one who doesn't overcome will not be clothed in white raiment, and his name will be blotted out of the book of life, and Jesus will not confess his name before His Father and His angels.

We need to remember that this message is to the messenger of the Church in Sardis, but in context, this verse is speaking of the church in general. Jesus had just mentioned those in the church who have not defiled their garments, despite the fact that they were not being properly fed by this messenger.

6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

We who are ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ need to examine ourselves before God, and we need to ask:

What is the structure that we are building on the foundation of Christ composed of? Is it built with the wood, hay and stubble of a man centered religion, or is it built with the gold, silver and precious jewels of a Spirit led ministry?

TO THE MESSENGER OF THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA

GO TO MY INDEX PAGE

E-MAIL ME

DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY

YAHWEH, JEHOVAH, OR...?

THE AUTHORITY OF THE NAME OF JESUS

PRAISING IN THE TEMPLE OF GOD

JUDGEMENTALISM IN THE CHURCH

WHAT'S HAPPENING IN BROWNSVILLE? ONE MAN'S OPINION