Sardis is like a place where forty years ago everything was awesome, but now it is just a washed up has been, nevertheless tourists still come by because of the reputation. You know, kind of like DisneyWorld.
1. To the angel of the church of Sardis write these things: The one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars says, ‘I know your works. You have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2. You must wake up and repair what remains, that which is about to die. For I have not found your works finished before my God.
3. You must remember, therefore, what you received, what you heard, and what you cling to. You must repent. If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
4. You have a small number of people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me in white because they are worthy.
5. Those who conquer will be dressed in white clothes. My name for him shall not be erased from the Book of Life. I will acknowledge his name before my father and before his angels.
6. Those who have ears should listen to what the Spirits says to the churches.
I call your attention to two aspects of this letter. First, they are dead but they do not have to stay that way. Revival is possible. Revival is a beautiful word that has been ruined in the last two generations as it has become confused with something that can be scheduled in the spring or fall and then manufactured with out-of-town preachers and pizza feeds. Revival is not a program. Revival is when that which is dead comes back to life.
Revival is possible. Revival is needed. Revival is at hand. Revival is coming.
Jesus wants us to experience this kind of revival by ‘repairing’ the things that are broken. Trust has been broken between churches and the communities they are in. Faith has been broken between church leaders and the people they lead. Love has been broken by lust and greed.
Repair these things, and revival is around the corner.
The second thing I want to show you is this remnant. Jesus says there are some in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. This doesn’t mean they haven’t played in the dirt or worked hard. No, this is an evocative image that the other people in Sardis, the dead ones, have pooped themselves because that is what happens when you die. But some haven’t. These are who are alive and clean will be blessed by the Lord.
Again we see a remnant, just as in Thyatira (click here). Nestled within the broader church community which has walked away from Jesus and disappointed him there is a faithful remnant whom he will reward for being faithful. Indeed, it is hard to stay alive, to nurture the will to live, when everyone else is dead and celebrating a culture of death.
Okay, I said I would show two things but I meant three. One more thing amazes me here. It is the reference to not having names erased from the Book of Life (v. 5). It is a terrifying thing to imagine that apparently, some names are erased. That didn’t sink in to me until I worked with the text at length.
I pray you all conquer, and keep your name in permanent ink, ink drawn from he vein of Immanuel.