We now come to part three of our study into the church at Sardis. We have seen that Jesus had nothing good to say about this church that was built upon hypocrisy and indifference. However, in the last post we saw that Jesus had a remnant within the church, who were slumbering but, nevertheless, were not dead spiritually like the rest of the congregation.
Jesus, as we saw, called the remnant to “awaken,” and “strengthen that, which remains,” and “repent.” It is a clear call for revival of the remnant in order to bring renewal to their fellow believers. Together, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, they would reach out to the pagan culture around them with the good news that Jesus is Lord.
The question is how is this revival to take place? That is the question that sincere believers must ask themselves if the church is to have any impact on the culture. In verse 3 we receive the answer, “Remember then what you received and heard; keep that and repent.” Revelation 3:3
Again we ask a question. What was it that they received and heard and needed to be remembered? Was it sound doctrine that they had received and once believed in with all their hearts? No, it is more than that because doctrine alone cannot bring us into a close relationship with God and awaken us out of a stupor.
It is the Holy Spirit that can awaken a slumbering church or a disinterested Christian out of their sleep and bring them to repentance and revival. On Easter day Jesus had breathed upon the disciples, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:22
On the day of Pentecost Peter cried out to the people, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38 Paul understood the power of the Holy Spirit for the Christian life when he wrote, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.” Romans 8:9
I love these thoughts from John Stott, “ Indeed the greatest gift the Christian has ever received, ever will or could receive, is the Spirit of God Himself. He can enter the sanctuary of the soul. He can come into the inner shrine of the human personality and remake us from within. He can be an indwelling, abiding presence to fill us with joy, love and peace; to subdue our passions and transform our characters; and change us into the image of Christ.” What Christ Thinks of the Church p. 93
The fact that this is the right interpretation regarding the need of the church is verified in verse 1. “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; ‘the words of His who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.” Remember, in every introduction to each of the seven churches the description Jesus gives of Himself suits the condition of that particular church.
The seven stars represent the seven angels of the seven churches. Some commentators believe that they represent the seven pastors of those churches but no one knows for sure. Now the “seven spirits of God” is an interesting phrase. In chapter 1:4 the “seven spirits” is linked to the Father and Jesus. Later in Revelation 4:5 we read, “And before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God.”
And again in Revelation 5:6, “I saw a Lamb standing as though it had been slain with seven horns, and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits God sent out into all the earth.” From these verses there can be little doubt that the seven spirits represent the Holy Spirit. Remember, the number seven is simply the number of perfection or the perfect work of the Holy Spirit.
Now here is where things become really interesting. Paul declares, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death,” Romans 8:2 The Holy Spirit, “the seven spirits,” is also known as the Sprit of life, and could there be a better and more hopeful message for a dead church than the giving of life?
The Bible says we are to pray in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, preach in the Spirit, worship in the Spirit and live in the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 tells us, “Be filled with the Spirit,” and there can be no better command for a dead church or a sleeping congregation. If we desire revival it will only take place under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit.
If we would allow the Spirit to dwell within us we would be lifted higher and higher. We don’t have time to talk about the signs of being a spirit filled believer, but briefly they are as Charles Price* points out: (1) A hungering to know Jesus, (2) a hungering to be like Jesus and (3) a hungering to share Jesus. We will look at these in depth in later posts.
Every day as Christians we need to renew our relationship with Jesus and we can only do that through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, motivating and encouraging us to trust and love Jesus more. Sardis was dead but there was a remnant who could be awakened and strengthened and led to repentance through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
This remnant, when filled with the Spirit, would impact the church and bring revival to their brothers and sisters and from there the church would have a real mission to the lost world. For Jesus’ church to be a real and authentic church it has to be a living church and the same is said for each of us who profess Christ.
Jesus ends the letter by stating, “He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before the Father and before the angels.” Revelation 3:5
There were some even in Sardis that would be victorious “in Christ” through the inward working of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin and bring repentance. To these people their name is etched into the book of life and Jesus will be their interceder before the Father.
In every town, village and city God has a remnant people who hold firm to their relationship with Him and allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct in their lives. Soon, as the cloud of evil spreads over this earth, this remnant will awaken from their stupor and proclaim Christ crucified and risen, not only to the world but to their fast asleep fellow Christians. We all long for revival and Jesus longs to give us revival.
My prayer is that each of us will allow the Spirit to dwell deeply within our hearts and we will be open to the leadings of the Spirit as He guides us to, “all truth.”
* * Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. These people remain true to Christ even unto death. There is a great evil settling on this earth and we must be vigilant in our prayers and stay close to Christ. Our hope is in Christ and he is faithful to his people. Please take the time to read about what is taking place in the world around us at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…