3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. 4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. ~ Revelation 3:3-6
Today, we return to the fifth message from the Lord Jesus to the fifth church in Revelation 2-3. The church at Sardis was dying. It was almost dead spiritually. Given their spiritual condition, today, we will consider what is involved in turning this type of complacent condition around.
In addition, the church at Sardis needed to be defined by God's truth, and the truth is we are not the answer to our problems, the Lord Jesus is. So, daily we must maintain an attitude of repentance, so that we do not deviate from God and His truth. We will never be perfect this side of heaven. Our justification depends only on God's grip upon us, and our sanctification depends largely on our grip upon Him.
These believers had heard the message of Christ's crucifixion on behalf of sinners, of His resurrection, of His availability to human beings by the Holy Spirit to strengthen us and to impart to us His own righteous life and position. When the folks in Sardis had first heard the gospel they had heard the message in the power of the Spirit, but somewhere along the way they were out of earshot of that truth.
When we received from the Lord Jesus and His word of grace, we began to be defined by it, and it took deep root in our hearts, the power of the Spirit of God showed up in our lives. When we get to the place where we are no longer being defined by the Gospel, we have a tendency to go to sleep on God and His culture.
In the latter part of v.3 we read, "But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you."
Here, the Lord Jesus speaks of the great hope toward which the church has been headed since its very beginning. But here is a church that has lost its expectation of that coming. The aspect of our Lord's coming that they particularly needed was not His visible appearing in glory to establish His millennial kingdom, when every eye shall see Him, but rather the rapture of the church which will come like a thief comes to steal away the treasure of a home.
When the Lord comes as a thief, if a church is made up of members who have a name to live but do not display spiritual life, they will not be busy about the Father's business when He returns. Thus, the Lord Jesus warns, "If you do not wake up I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you." As we have said, there are many churches like this today throughout the world. It is sad to see them so lifeless and dull when they could be so alive and vital.
In v.4 we read, "Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy."
The word “soiled” is used with reference to dying or coloring something. These believers had not stained their garments with false teachings and all that goes along with it. They had not "smeared their garments."
White garments are always a symbol of redemption in the Bible. In Revelation 7:14 we read of a great multitude who come out of the great tribulation and who have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." This is what the blood of the Lamb has done for the willing. These are "worthy," not because they have lived good moral lives but because their sins had been washed away by the blood of the Lamb. They were worthy because God had imparted to them the very righteousness of Christ.
In v.5 we read, "The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels."
The victorious one will be "dressed in white" which means the righteousness of the One who overcame sin and death has given to him. This means that when God looks upon him, He sees him through the lens of His Son's perfection.
As a result, the Lord says, "I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels."
This promise does not imply that some can be blotted out of the book of life. Once given the righteousness of Christ, the willing are secure in the performance of Christ. Notice the way the Lord puts it, "I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life." He does not say anything about anyone's name being blotted out. His words are simply assuring that those who trust Him will never lose their reservation in heaven for eternity.
When we came to Christ, we were born again by His Spirit. As a result, we were made alive to God. The word "never" in v.5 is the strongest negative in the Greek language. It should be translated, "I will never, ever, under any circumstances, blot out your name from the book of life."
Having trusted in Christ's work on the cross, solely, when we stand before Him at the end, with our entire record exposed for everybody to see, He will look at us and say, "These are mine." He will acknowledge His ownership of us before all who look on.
In v.6 we read, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
All of Scripture is profitable to all who have the life of Christ within. Perhaps, you are reading this and you realize that you have not invited the Lord Jesus into your life, and you want to. Let me encourage you to talk to Him right now. Confess to Him your need to be made right through His sacrifice made for you so long ago. And, then, invite Him into your life.
Perhaps, you are reading this and you realize you are born again but you have become complacent. Let me encourage you to talk to Him by confessing your condition and asking Him to make His presence known to you. Church attendance has its value, but it has never made anyone right with or alive to God. We were saved when we repented of self-dependence, and began depending upon Him as Lord and Savior.
I remember when I was young in the faith, I regularly asked myself, "Are you really born again?" This is the question of those who have an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." This is the conclusion the Lord gives to each of these seven churches. If you are dead in trespasses and sins, wake up and repent and come to Christ. If you are saved, but sleeping and indifferent to Him, get back into the battle. And if you are vibrant and alive, count your blessings and your eternal promises that await you.
History argues that there was a revival in Sardis. Some of those who were dead came to life. Some of those who were indifferent remembered the truth that they had heard and strengthened what remained, and held fast to Christ. Let's pray that history repeats itself today. And, let's resolve to play the role that He desires for us as He works in this dark and dreary world.