SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
I know your works. You have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. (Revelation 3:1)
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. (Revelation 3:2)
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. (Revelation 3:3)
Our study of the Seven Letters of Revelation now officially begins to wind down as we approach the fifth church: Sardis. Though Jesus gave these letters for the particular churches in Asia Minor, their messages are applicable to all churches throughout history, including us today. Jesus’ warnings to Ephesus and Thyatira remind us that we must have both love and sound doctrine. Pergamum emphasized the importance of conforming to Christ rather than culture. The church of Smyrna was a model of how to suffer well for Jesus’ sake.
If Thyatira’s inward false teaching was a downward progression from Pergamum’s outward conformity, then Sardis continues the spiraling trend. Unlike the previous churches, Christ does not have much good to applaud in Sardis; He primarily has stern rebukes for them instead. Sardis was a church with a good reputation. From most noticeable outward signs, they appeared to successfully doing the work that Jesus commanded them to do. But Jesus’ gaze goes past the skin into the heart.
Despite their reputation, Christ knew that the Sardis was a dead church. Jesus found their works to be lacking, so He urged them to wake up and strengthen what little bit was still alive. It is a terrifying thing to hear Jesus say that a church can appear to be alive while really being dead. Fortunately, Jesus alone is able to bring dead hearts back to life, and as with the other churches, Jesus calls the church of Sardis to repent and keep His commandments.
Read verse 1 and discuss the following.
- Jesus states that the church in Sardis had a reputation for being alive, but, in reality, they were dead. What are some marks or signs of a dead church that might seem alive?
- How might Sardis’ problem relate to Matthew 7:21-23?
Read verses 2-3 and discuss the following.
- Christ urges those in Sardis to wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die. In what ways might a dead church wake up and strengthen itself?
- What specific actions does Jesus desire the church of Sardis to take?
Read verses 4-6 and discuss the following.
- The only good news given to Sardis is that there are still some in the church with unstained garments. Who is Jesus referring to, and what is the significance of saying that their garments are unsoiled?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Consider if Jesus’ message to Sardis applies to you. Do you have a reputation for being alive while actually being dead? Are you like the people in Matthew 7:21-23? If so, wake up, remember the gospel, and repent.
- Pray specifically for your church and other churches in the community that we would never be dead like the church of Sardis.