Revelation 3:1–6 (ESV) — 1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 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. 3 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. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Sardis was a church with a reputation, but its reality was much different. It had a reputation for being alive, but it was dead. Jesus, the One with the seven spirits of God and the seven stars knew the reality. He is all-knowing and all-seeing. There is no hiding the truth from him. The call to this church was to “wake up”. Sardis needed to remember the message of the gospel that it had received and heard. It needed to keep this word and repent. These are words that would be appropriate for unbelievers. It is true that there were a few who were living according to the word, but the rest were not. Whatever life they had displayed was superficial. This was a dead church.
Just because a group of people get together and call themselves a church does not mean that they truly are. Even if they go through many of the motions that churches go through and do many good deeds, they still may not be a true church. The only thing that makes one a true follower of Christ is to repent of sin and trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is not the result of doing good deeds, or going to church, or anything else. We must have faith.
Lord, help us to be people of faith who seek to live according to your word. Help our churches to be true churches that believe and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your grace. Amen.
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