Summit in General
Abby and Adam's Soccer Tournament
The Little Girl that AA Talk shared about
Jeffrey's Change of Guardianship
All of Compassion International
Tyler and Sarah Going to China
Text - Revelation 3:1-6
While researching these churches I have found all of the bad ones, which is all of them except Smyrna and Philadelphia, to have been called the Roman Catholic Church at some point. Certainly the Catholic Church is a very bad church, but to think that it is the only bad church is to miss the point of these Seven Churches of Revelation.
Today we’re going to look at Sardis; Sardis is undeniably the Roman Catholic Church…but to limit it only to Rome is a mistake also, because Sardis is any works righteous church that thinks it has a monopoly on the truth; that because you’re a member of that church, you’ll go to Heaven. You can put the Mormon Church or Jehovah’s Witnesses in here too.
A lot of times the name of a cult is stolen from the truth. Catholic means “According to the Whole”, we’re witnesses for Jehovah, the Mormon Church is also known as the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.” My response is that the Mormon Church is indeed latter day, but they ain’t saints. We’re the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, not them! I want our names back.
1 John 2:18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.
Here’s a quick joke, does anybody know the name of the angel who revealed the works righteous religion to Joseph Smith, the founder and antichrist of the Mormon Church? It was the fallen angel Moroni. What would you call a group of people who follow after an angel named Moroni? Exactly.
Christ hates the church at Sardis, lets find out why.
Revelation 3:1-6 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: 'The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. "'I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. 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.'
First, lets look at the name Sardis. This city was named after the Sardani people; that’s not important, what is important is what this name came to mean. Sardis has this absolutely beautiful white granite that has become famous worldwide. It is called Sarda, it has stared to represent all sorts of granite, Breccia Sarda is a beige granite from Italy, Rosa Sarda is grey granite, Crystal Sarda is a beautiful gold color. Sarda Granite is finishing stone, it presents an outer illusion of beauty and stability, when what the stone is covering could be termite eaten, poorly built, or falling apart.
Sardis likely was a gorgeous city, but I can’t show you any pictures because all of its beauty was outwards, and it has all collapsed since. That’ll preach.
Matthew 23:27-28 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Another thing about Sardis is that it is really two cities. You have a lower city, and an upper city. The upper city was up on a very steep hill, almost impossible to get to, most people lived in the lower city. I think this represents beautifully the idea of the popery, that there is a hierarchy of men and difference in closeness to God.
Who is a priest? Everybody who is a saint.
Who is a saint? Everyone who has been justified and is being sanctified.
We’re Sola Sacerdos, one priesthood of believers, the least of saints has just as much right and authority to approach the Throne of Grace as any other believer. Our works have nothing to do with it, we don’t have to go through men, because there is only one Mediator between God and men, that is the man, Jesus Christ.
Anybody that puts themselves in the place of God on earth is wrong. The Pope, the Mormon President, the Watchtower Society…anybody that puts themselves between you and God is an apostate; look at the end of verse 1.
v.1 The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
Who has the seven spirits and seven stars? Not you! Not a church! Jesus Christ!
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Who will build his church? Jesus Christ will build his church.
Numbers play a big part in Revelation, indeed in the whole Bible. For example, after Israel was baptized with Moses in the Red Sea, they spent 40 years in the wilderness. After Christ was baptized by John, he spent 40 days in the wilderness. Anytime there is a number in the Bible, you should ask, “What is this here for?
7 is the number for completion, for perfection. Christ requires perfection, we’ll talk more about this in just a minute.
v.1 I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
This church looks like a church, but it’s not. Christ could tell by their works that they were unrepentant.
Acts 26:20 Paul declared…that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.
A dead tree doesn’t produce fruit. They had an outer façade of being alive, but inwardly they were dead. This is the epitome of the Catholic Church. Some of the prettiest churches you’ll ever see are Catholic, and the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City is a fantastic piece of architecture, but the outer façade doesn’t mean inside it is living.
v.2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
Works righteous churches believe that they are earning their way to Heaven. We know, as Christians, that we have Christ’s works imputed to our sake. Imputed means that his righteousness is freely and totally given to us. The Catholic Church and Mormon Church believes in infused righteousness, that Christ gives you a little righteousness and you have to complete the work.
Jesus knows that’s what they’re trying to do, and his response is that their works are not good enough, because he requires perfection.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
The will of God is what is perfect, we can’t be perfected by our works.
Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Hebrews 10:14 By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
As I stand here before you today, a sinful, wretched, undeserving man, God sees me as perfect in his Son Jesus Christ. Wow.
Not by my works, by his.
v.3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.
Keep the truth, not the strange lies that these churches follow. They all hold to the Bible in at least some form, they’ve heard the truth, yet they want to hold to their own teachings instead of keeping the statutes of God.
John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.
Once again, Christ gives them the opportunity to repent.
v.3 If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
This “Wake Up” and “Sleeping” language shows that their death is not yet permanent. They have not yet been reprobated to the second death of Hell. It’s like if one of us stopped breathing for a little bit, if someone gave us CPR, we could revive. This church could be revived if they would repent.
If you’re awake and watchful, it is very unlikely that you’re going to get robbed or be surprised, but if you’re napping, there is a good chance you won’t even know you’ve been robbed until the thief is long gone. This is Sardis’ threat.
v.4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
Throughout history, various Catholics have been redeemed. Not a lot, but a few. Augustine, Boniface, Francis of Assisi (probably), Savonarola, and certainly more that we won’t hear about until Heaven. A few believers inside of an apostate church don’t make for a good church, but once again we see that Christ recognizes his saints in the midst of radically bad churches.
The word for soiled in the Greek derives from the word for “black”. So the saints are walking in white, where-as the others have blackened their garments.
Paul Washer gives a great analogy about the saving power of our works by using a leper as an example. A leper is a person whose nerves and skin is dying, they have open wounds, and the worst of them have an odor you wouldn’t believe.
“The greatest, most commendable deeds of men are nothing but a few filthy rags before God. One might clothe a leper in the finest, white silk to cover his sores, but immediately, the corruption of his flesh would bleed through the garment, leaving it as vile as the man it seeks to hide. So are the “good works” of men before God. They bear the corruption of the man who does them.”
These guys at Sardis, with their gorgeous outer coverings, will see the corruption soak through and defile their garments. Unless they are washed in the blood of the Lamb, raised with him to walk in newness of life, and clothed in his righteousness, they have no option but to be defiled and dead in their transgressions.
v.5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments,
What’s my favorite verse? Anybody know? Revelation 19:11; verse 14 of that chapter continues the promise of verse 5.
Revelation 19:14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.
v.5 I will never blot his name out of the book of life.
This verse has been used way wrongly to say that you can lose your salvation. That’s not what it’s saying at all. Lets look at when the Book of Life was penned and what it's for.
Revelation 13:8 before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
Revelation 21:27 But nothing unclean will ever enter [Heaven], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
What this verse 5 is referring to is the citizenship book of Heaven. Most cities through history have kept city ledgers; records of everyone living in them. What do you think happens to someone’s name when they die? It gets erased from the ledger.
Christ is saying in this verse that those that conquer will never die, they will never be removed from Heaven’s rolls.
Hebrews 13:14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
v.5 I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
Boldly, unashamedly, he will announce, This is my saint, my brother/sister, I paid for him/her on Calvary’s cross, perfected through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Conclusion, Sardis is the works righteous church, thinking they can get to Heaven on their deeds. Christ requires perfection, and the deeds of men will always be found lacking. At the very most, the best our works can do is make us look pretty on the outside, with the inside in dire need of salvation.
Matthew 23:25-26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Has Dave told you the story of his long-lost coffee cup? He found a coffee cup on top of a book-shelf a few months ago. As he was pulling it down, he found out that it wasn't empty, and he spilled old coffee on himself. He said it smelled terrible and stained his clothes. He wasn't being more careful because the outside of the coffee cup looked clean, but the inside proved to be disgusting.
While we might be able to look pretty on the outside, providing a façade of holiness that will soon crumble. Only Christ's works can cleanse on the inside, so trust in his finished work on the cross and in the empty tomb.