February 26 2022
Today, Saturday February 26
In Name Only Revelation 3:1-3 "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.”
The church is not the building on a street corner somewhere in a city or town, but the church is the people. In the first century we don’t read about church building or building programs for the local church because most of the congregations met in homes, or during times of persecution, anywhere a small group of believers could get together. For sure, I’m pretty convinced that they did not have a sign out front or on the building with a name that identified them with a denomination of some kind. Like these seven churches, they were known as the “Church at Ephesus” or the “Church in Sardis”.
The Greek name for the church in the New Testament is “ekklesia”, which simply means, “the called out assembly.” The church is a local body of baptized believers who have been called out of the world to be society of people, who because of Christ in their midst, they will show the rest of the world who the true and living God really is, and how to know and experience Him by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ!
Each of these seven churches in Revelation were literal churches in literal cities during the time of the Apostle John. They were all chosen by the Lord to receive a letter for a specific reason. At the same time, these seven churches very much represent all churches down through the ages and even our churches today. Every church has a reputation in the community where it is located. The church here in Sardis had a name or reputation that is was alive. But Jesus looked at it and proclaimed that it was dead! How sad!
That’s why I call this chat, “In Name Only”. The church at Ephesus was the careless church. The church at Smyrna was the crowned church. The church at Pergamos was the compromising church. The church at Thyatira was the corrupted church. Here, the church in Sardis is the “feeble church” that has lost its testimony and witness in the community.
Ancient Sardis, the capital of Lydia, was a most important city. It lay about fifty miles east of Ephesus at the junction of five main roads; so it was a center for trade. It was also a military center, for it was located on an almost inaccessible plateau. The acropolis of Sardis was about 1,500 feet above the main roads, and it formed an impregnable fortress. The main religion in the city was the worship of Artemis, one of the "nature cults" that built on the idea of death and rebirth.
Sardis was also known for its manufacture of woolen garments, a fact that has bearing on Christ's message to the church. Sad to say, the city at that time was but a shadow of its former splendor; and the church, unfortunately, had become like the city—it was alive in name only.
The message to Sardis is a warning to all "great churches" that are living on past glory. The message is also for all of us as individual believers. When the Lord speaks here, He identifies Himself with the “seven Spirits of God.” There is no life without the Spirit! Paul reminds us in Romans 8:9: “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.” If we are not careful we can grieve and quench the Holy Spirit in us. And we too will have a name that we are a “Christian” but our life has no spiritual energy or life of God in it!
Today are we trying to live on “past” experiences rather than the present life and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives? What is the Lord saying to us? May the Lord help us not to be Christians in name only!