February 27 2022
Today, Sunday February 27
“Remember, Hold Fast and Repent” Revelation 3:3-4 “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.”
I’ll never forget in January 1973, during my second year at Lynchburg Baptist College (Now Liberty University), the college took most of the students to England to experience firsthand some of the historical and spiritual roots of our Christian history. We went to the church on Aldersgate Street where John Wesley experienced the assurance of his salvation. In early 1738 John Wesley was at a low point, having just returned from his disappointing missionary efforts at the colony of Georgia in the New World. Wesley reluctantly attended a group meeting on the evening of May 24th on Aldersgate Street in London. As he heard a reading from Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans, he felt his "heart strangely warmed." And from there he begin to preach with a new power on his life and changed the course of history.
We also visited the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London that Charles Spurgeon was pastor of for 38 years. In his day, thousands of people attended every Sunday to hear this great preacher proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ. Sadly, today only a handful of people are attending the Tabernacle and most the churches that John Wesley founded, both in England and America, are buildings with no spiritual life or power in them. They have become more or less nothing more than social clubs.
And actually that appears to be the history of most churches. They start out with great evangelistic fervor and enthusiasm and grow and reach hundreds of people but over time they start focusing on programs and buildings and social issues and they go to sleep spiritually. That’s what happened to the church at Sardis.
Dr. Vance Havner frequently spoke about how that spiritual ministries often go through four stages: a man, a movement, a machine, and then a monument. Sardis was at the "monument" stage, but there was still hope!
There was hope because Christ was the Head of the church and He was able to bring new life. He described Himself as the one possessing the seven Spirits and the seven stars. There is only one Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:4), but the number seven demonstrates fullness and completeness. The Holy Spirit gives life to the church, and life is exactly what the people at Sardis needed. The sevenfold Spirit of God is pictured as seven burning lamps (Rev. 4:5) and as seven all-seeing eyes (Rev. 5:6).
All of the church's man-made programs can never bring life, any more than a circus can resurrect a corpse. The church was born when the Spirit of God descended on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and its life comes from the Spirit. When the Spirit is grieved, the church begins to lose life and power. When sin is confessed and church members get right with God and with each other, then the Spirit infuses new life—revival! Christ also controls the seven stars, the messengers of the churches (Rev. 1:20), referring most likely to the pastors. Sometimes it is a pastor's fault that a church is dying, and the Lord of the church must remove the star and put another in his place.
Our Lord's counsel to the church began with, "Be watchful! Wake up!" (Rom. 13:11). The first step toward renewal in a dying church is honest awareness that something is wrong. When an organism is alive, there is growth, repair, reproduction, and power; if these elements are lacking in a church, then that church is either dying or already dead.
But at Sardis there were still some who had not defiled themselves. May the Lord make us like that group today in our churches so that we can once again experience revival and renewal!