Building a Strong Relationship with Christ – The Sardis Example: Wake Up and Be Real – Revelation 3:1-6

For this study we’re going to be turning our attention to the fifth letter to the seven churches of Asia Minor found in Revelation:

 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent.  Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.  But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.   He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 3:1-6 NASB)"

Sardis was located around 30 miles southeast of Thyatira on a fairly important trade route that ran through the kingdom of Lydia.  Sardis had a booming industrial economy (including the manufacture of jewelry, dye, and textiles) but was fairly pagan in their religious lives. 

The Lord opens this letter by reminding this church (and the readers of Revelation) that He both holds the seven churches (speaking of the Holy Spirit’s relationship to Him) and their pastors (the seven stars).  He then digs into their only bit of encouragement: their reputation for being alive.  Apparently the church, while spiritually dead, had the appearance to others, and potentially to other churches, that they were on fire for the Lord. 

That fire was only on the surface as the Lord clearly states, as part of their encouragement/condemnation, that they are dead.  Apparently this was the case with the majority of the members of the church.  The fact is that it is pretty easy for anyone to fake a great relationship with Christ.  While we can simulate a dynamic relationship with Christ and psych out others we cannot fool the Lord.

We must be real.

After stripping away their reputation of being alive, Jesus also rebukes them as being incapable of completing their deeds.  They were falling far short of fulfilling their obligations as believers. 

The church at Sardis is given the simple encouragement to “wake up” and strengthen their few evidences of life they still had.  Christ’s exhortation was threefold: “remember what you have received and heard,” “keep it,” and “repent.”  For this church to return to a right relationship with Christ they had to go back to (or remember) what the Lord, the Apostles, and their church planters had originally taught them.  Not only that, they were to obey those teachings (do what it says) and then repent (turn away from their sin). 

We wake up in Christ by remembering and keeping the Word and repenting.

This group of believers was to “wake up” because they literally did not know when the return of Christ would occur.  Using the phrase “like a thief” lends itself to the idea that they would have absolutely no idea when He would return and so would not be prepared for meeting their Savior.  On the other hand, the few faithful in Sardis along with those who overcame their fakeness were guaranteed a position in the Lamb’s book of life and, equally as important, a promise that Christ Himself will confess their name before the Father and His angels. 

What an awesome encouragement to continue in faithful growth in the Lord and service to Him!