Jesus gives a report to the seven churches. For some of the churches the report was good, for others it was bad.
The seven churches are:
- The church in Ephesus
- The church in Smyrna
- The church in Pergamos
- The church in Thyatira
- The church in Sardis
- The church in Philadelphia
- The church in Laodicea
The report covered the following areas:
- God’s observations of their work
- Their weaknesses
- The areas where there were problems
- Their strengths
- The actions they needed to take to bring corrective action
- The consequences if they failed to take corrective action
- The rewards they would receive if they endured to the end
To the church in Sardis Jesus said:
I know your works, you have a name that you live but you are dead.
He gave them instructions:
- Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain. The things that are about to die. Why? Because he found their works not perfect before God.
- Remember what you have heard and received, hold fast to it and repent.
If you don’t watch, Jesus said he would come as a thief and you won’t know the hour that he is coming.
In verse four Jesus said there were some in Sardis who had not defiled their garments. He said:
- These people will walk with him in white because they are worthy.
- He who overcomes shall be clothed in white and Jesus will not blot their name out of the book of life, he will confess their name before the Father and his angels.
Jesus told the church in Sardis: I know your works, you have a name and you are living but yet you are dead.
How can this be possible? How can we be alive but dead? We can be alive naturally, but dead in the spirit. This is what Paul said in II Timothy 3:5&7, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away… Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” He said they had a form of godliness, yet they were denying the power of God. These people look holy but they are denying the power of God. There are many people today who have a form of godliness who appear like they are holy; they appear like they are doing right. It is just a form of godliness because they are actually denying the power of God. They are denying what Jesus died on the cross for us to become.
Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees - Matthew 23:25-30,” Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous, And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.”
Jesus is telling them, you look beautiful on the outside, you go to church, you might dress nice, and you praise and worship him. You listen to the word being preached but inside you are dead; you are full of dead men’s bones. You are just like the tombs where they bury people. They look good on the outside, they are kept clean and well-groomed and adorned, but what’s inside the tombs is death, there is no life. And this is what Jesus was telling them, they had a form of godliness but were denying the power and many people are in this same condition today. You have many people who do everything they think makes a good Christian but when they walk out the doors of the church there is no resemblance of Jesus in their lives. It’s only when they go to church and are inside the building that they appear to be righteous and holy.
Jesus said I know your works. He knows everything we do. The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the good and the evil. We can’t hide from God, yet many people try to. Psalms 139:7-8, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”
Jesus said- you are alive physically, yet you are dead. Dead in your sins.
You have a name - many people call themselves Christians, they take on the name of Jesus, yet their lives do not portray his life. They do not have his character. What does it mean to be a Christian? How do people know we are Christians? They know it by our conversation. Not just the words we speak but by our actions. What are some of the ways? Keeping his commandments, loving one another, depicting the fruit of the spirit, and exhibiting the character of God.
Jesus was the son of God to a perfect man. He was the express image of God. He was perfect in what he did. He was our perfect example. Because he was our perfect example we should be doing the same work Jesus did when he walked this earth. When we take on the name of Christ, when we say we are Christians when we say we are born again, we should be using the power and authority that he has given unto us so that the world will see that God is with us. The Bible says they were first called Christians at Antioch. What does the word Christian mean? It means to be Christ-like. So when we are Christ-like people should be able to observe that there is something different about us. When we take on Christ and are called by the name of Jesus we should look like him. II Timothy 2:19, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
However many people are taught that this is not possible. They are taught that you can’t be perfect and holy. But this is what God expects. Therefore, how can we be perfect?”
Perfect means - to be whole, complete in the commands God has given us. Mature.
Therefore, if someone says it’s impossible to be perfect they are actually putting themselves down, they are actually putting themselves in a box and demoting themselves so to speak. When we say it is impossible to live this way we are actually binding ourselves because what we are saying is that God cannot work a work in us. We’re saying God can’t change us, he can’t mold us, and he can’t make us. What we are saying is that we cannot get rid of things that are not like God. We are saying that it is impossible to overcome, it’s impossible to overcome fear, it’s impossible to overcome anger, jealousy, hate, envy, lust, and the works of the flesh, however, this is not what the bible says. When God said to be perfect he was saying that we could, the bible says with God all things are possible, but we have to work at it.
When you look at the parable of the seed and the sower, it fell among different types of soil. When the seed finds good soil to grow in it will bring forth a harvest but it takes time, so in the natural so in the spirit. It takes time to bring forth a harvest of love, joy, and peace. It takes time for all of this to come forth because we have a lot junk in us and we have a lot of stuff we must get rid of. II Corinthians 7:1 “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Romans 12:1-2 also tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God holy and acceptable which is our reasonable service. This means it is not impossible; it is something we should do. This is what God expects of us and this is what Jesus is telling the church in Sardis, because our reputation won’t get us into the kingdom of God.
In I Kings 14:8, God said to king Jeroboam about king David, “and yet thou hast not been as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes.” And I Kings 15:5, “Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.”
Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” Abraham was called a friend of God; he ate with him when the Lord came to visit him. Abraham obeyed God when he told him to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Moses was a man who saw God’s face and lived; he saw the glory of God and talked with him. God said Moses. Hebrews 11:24-27, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” Hebrews 3:5 “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.”
These men did not have the same relationship with God that we do. They were not filled with his Holy Spirit yet we are and many people say that it is not possible to live holy before God.
Our reputation won’t get us into the kingdom of God, and neither will our works.
Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
People will say, but Lord didn’t I do this, and didn’t I do that?
Jesus is saying - you say you have my name but you are dead. If you don’t keep my commandments, I don’t know you. If you don’t bear fruit, I don’t know you. If you don’t put off the works of the flesh, I don’t know you.
You have a name yet you are dead. II Timothy 3:2-7, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
This church is like the seed that was sown and fell among thorns. They received the word but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choked the word and they (you) became unfruitful.
However, in verse two Jesus said, in spite of this fact, strengthen the things that remain. He was saying there is still something there, it is ready to die out but don’t let it. There is still a little light, so don’t let the flames flicker out. Bring strength to it. How do we make this happen? Through the word, prayer, fasting, and repentance. You have to be strong in the Lord and the power of his might.
Jesus said, I have searched you and found you wanting, your works are not perfect before God. We know that he is not talking about working our way into heaven because this is impossible. If this were possible then Jesus would have never told the people who were doing these wonderful works in his name that he didn’t know them. We must have faith, which produces action, which is our works.
Jesus is saying your works are not perfect, you know what to do but you refuse to do it. You know what I require of you but you refuse to do it.
In verse three Jesus is saying, remember, bring to your mind what you heard and received. Remember the truth you were taught, remember when you first gave your life to me, how excited you were; how dedicated you were. Remember.
In Galatians 3:1-4 the apostle Paul wrote, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”
Jesus said - Holdfast and repent
Jesus said in Revelation 3:3- Watch because if you don’t, he will come as a thief, and you won’t know the hour in which he is coming. If the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken up. Matthew 24:43
In Matthew 25: 1-13, Jesus talked about the ten virgins. Five were wise and five were foolish. They were waiting for the bridegroom to come and while they waited they fell asleep. As they slept the lamps went out, and the light was extinguished. Then the cry was made, behold the bridegroom cometh, go out to meet him. The ten virgins then woke from their sleep and because the five wise virgins had extra oil they were able to replenish their lamps but the five foolish virgins did not bring extra oil and they had to go and purchase more. What we must take note of is that all of the 10 virgins slumbered and slept, that is they were not aware of the state they were in, they were not aware of what was happening around them, and they were not aware that the light in their lamps was going out. Unfortunately, this is the state many Christians are in today. They are asleep and their lamps have gone out. They are not aware of the signs and times in which we live. However, Jesus does not want us to be caught naked. He wants us to know the day and time in which we live, he wants us to be aware of the signs of the time.
I Peter 4:7, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”
Because we want the Lord to say, well done thou good and faithful servant.