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 Sermons on important subjects by Rev. Paul C. Jong

 

Letter to
The Church of Sardis


< Revelation 3:1-6 >

"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: 'I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but 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.'"



Exegesis

Verse 1: "And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, 'These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.'"

The Lord has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars. The Church of Sardis had many shortcomings in its life of faith. God therefore admonished the Church to live by faith. God said here to the servant of the church of Sardis, "you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead." By this, God meant that the faith of the servant of the Church of Sardis was dead for all practical purposes.


Verse 2: "Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God."

The Lord no longer permitted the angel of the Church of Sardis to continue in faithlessness. He rebuked this Church because it had lived without the whole faith in the Word of God. For the saints not to live their lives by wholeheartedly believing in all of the written Word of God is akin to living while committing sin before God's presence.

Even when they are weak, if the saints live by their faith in the Word of God, they will be raised high before both God and men. To become such saints whose faith is whole, we must live our lives by faithfully believing in and following the Word of God that has made the saints whole.


Verse 3: "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you."

The saints and servants of the Early Church had to pay immeasurable sacrifices to hear and keep the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Lord therefore told them not to lose their faith in this precious gospel of the water and the Spirit, the gospel that took so many sacrifices and even their lives for them to receive. Believers must clearly demonstrate their faith and its deeds to God by holding fast to this gospel of the perfect salvation of the water and the Spirit.

Those who are saved must always remember how they first heard and believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, living their lives in thankfulness for the grace of salvation. The born-again saints and servants must always dwell on how great and blessed the gospel that they received from the Lord is. If not, they will then stand in the place of the fools, not knowing when the Lord will come back to this earth.


Verse 4: "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy."

Nonetheless, the Lord tells us here that the Church of Sardis still had a few believers who, not having defiled their garments, were holding fast to their faith. The Lord also says that these faithful saints will live as the servants of God, who, clothed in His righteousness, will walk with the Lord. They could walk with the Lord because their faith was worthy of walking with Him.

The saints whose faith is approved by God follow the Lord wherever He may lead them. The fact that they have not defiled their garments means that they did not, trusting in the Word of the Lord, surrender to the things of the world. Those who have been clothed in the garments of the righteous by the gospel of the water and the Spirit given by the Lord hold steadfast to His Word and do not compromise with the world. They draw, in other words, a clear line of separation from the false gospels.

Those who have been clothed in white by believing in the Lord's gospel labor for His gospel and live a life in this world that walks with Him. This is why the Lord is always with them, for they have always followed Him by believing in His Word.


Verse 5: "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."

Those who overcome the world by believing in the Word of God will live eternally, clothed in the righteousness of God as His saints and serving the Lord's works. The Lord will also approve their faith and write their names in the Book of Life, and these names will not be blotted out forever.

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Our Lord's Word of promise tells us that those who have the true faith will surely triumph in their struggle of faith against God's enemies. "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments." The white garments here mean victory in the battle of faith against God's enemies. The winners of faith are given the blessing by which their names are not blotted out from the Book of Life forever. And their names will also be written in the New Jerusalem. "I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." By "confess" here, it means that the Lord will approve their faith.


Verse 6: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

Those who have the true faith always hear what the Holy Spirit says to them through His churches. As such, they live with God, and are constantly guided by the Holy Spirit.

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