Revelation 3:1-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 28, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Upcoming BaptismSept. 11. Have you been baptized? Celebration of changed lives. Spanish Fellowship cooking main dish. Bounce house & water slide for the kids.

John the apostle has been exiled to the island of Patmos where he is given a “Revelation” by Jesus Christ Himself.

John sees a vision of Jesus walking among lampstands. We’ve seen this as a picture of Jesus acting as a priest, and every day the priests would go into the Holy Place to clean, refill, and relight the lamps in the Temple.

The churches are the lamps. The cleaning and refilling of the lamps are what is taking place as Jesus writes seven letters to seven churches.

3:1-6 Sardis

: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.

:1 SardisSardeis – “red ones”

Play “Map to Sardis” clip

We’ve been following John’s letters as he was exiled on Patmos. He’s written to the churches of Asia Minor, which is now modern Turkey.  We’ve studied Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira. Now we add the city of Sardis.
The ruins of ancient Sardis are about 4 miles west of the city of Salihi, population 150,000. There are ruins that have been excavated at various locations. Some of the city was in the valley. The temples were located higher up the hill. The city’s strength came from the fortress that was built on top of the hill looking over the valley.

During the time of the Babylonian exile and the prophets Daniel and Ezekiel, the great kingdom of Lydia covered most of modern Turkey. It had famous kings like Croesus, known as one of the wealthiest kings of history. Croesus invented the use of silver and gold coins for commerce. The capital of ancient Lydia was Sardis.

The Lydian kingdom was conquered by successive empires: The Persians, the Greeks, and in 95AD were ruled by the Romans. Though the city is still great in John’s day, it’s not like it was during the days of Croesus.

Among the ruins are an ancient bathhouse, a synagogue, and the temple of Artemis.

:1 He who has the seven Spirits of God

We saw this phrase back in the introduction of the book in chapter one (1:4).  We talked about it being a reference to the Holy Spirit.

(Re 1:4b–5a NKJV) …Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ…
I mentioned back then that I thought this was a phrase referring to the Holy Spirit. In chapter one, if you look carefully, you will see all persons of the Trinity involved in this book: The Father (who is and who was and who is to come), The Holy Spirit (the seven Spirits), and the Son (Jesus Christ).

We see a seven-fold work of the Holy Spirit described back in Isaiah when talking about the Messiah:

(Is 11:2 NKJV) The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
If you count carefully, you will find seven things about the Holy Spirit (of the LORD, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, fear of the LORD)

As Jesus deals with Sardis, the “dead” church, it is important to make the connection of “life” in a church and the Holy Spirit.

:1 the seven stars

Jesus told John back in Rev. 1:20 that the stars were symbolic of the “angels” of the churches, the leaders of the churches. (Re 1:20 NKJV) —20 The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.

Jesus holds the stars in His hand.

:1 “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

:1 worksergon – business, employment, that which any one is occupied; an act, deed

:1 alivezao – to live, breathe, be among the living; to enjoy real life

:1 you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead

This church has a name, a reputation of being “alive”.

It might be because of the “name” of the church – there’s a sign out front that says “Christian Church”.
Yet for the most part, this church is “dead”.

This is the church of the dead hypocrites.

They look like Christians, but for the most part they are not.
Too often at church we are concerned about “looking good” instead of “being good”.  The hypocrite is only concerned with outward appearance.  God is concerned about is going on inside our lives, which is reflected by the kinds of things that we do for others.
PlayPurse” video. 

We might have been thrown by the kid’s outward appearance, but his actions showed what was on the inside.

The temptation when studying a church like this is to point fingers at other churches and say that they are “dead”.

Today we’re going to spend our time looking at ourselves, not other churches.

Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.

A Christian is a person who has had a true, genuine encounter with God. They don’t just dress nicely, they have stepped into the sphere of actually knowing God, and that’s changed them from the inside out.

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

:2 watchfulgregoreuo – to watch; from egeiro, to arouse from sleep, to awake

We might even give this the sense of “WAKE UP”.

PlayAlarm Clock Truck” video.  Sounds like someone missed the real alarm.

:2 strengthensterizo (“steroids”) – to make stable; to strengthen, make firm

:2 which remain, that are ready to die

Not everyone in this church is “dead”, but some are getting close to “dying”.

:2 perfectpleroo – to make full, to fill up, to render full, i.e. to complete

The word paints a picture of filling up something, like a pitcher of lemonade.

Their works haven’t reached the standard that God wants for them.

: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.

:3 Remembermnemoneuo – to be mindful of, to remember, to call to mind

Another church was encouraged to “remember”, the church at Ephesus, the church that had left its first love:

(Re 2:5 NKJV) —5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.

:3 howpos – how, in what way

:3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard

They are not encouraged to remember “what” they have received and heard, but “how”.  I’d like to suggest three things that involve the “how” (in a little formula)


Faith + Spirit = Change

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that it was good to “examine” themselves from time to time to be sure they were on track.
(2 Co 13:5 NKJV) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

I want to encourage you today to “examine” yourself. Are you truly a Christian? Or do you call yourself a Christian simply because you have always grown up going to church?

When Paul first wandered into Ephesus, he met a group of “disciples”.
(Ac 19:1–6 NKJV) —1 And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples 2 he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

They were considered “disciples”.  They had even been baptized.  But they didn’t even know who the Holy Spirit was.

Have you had an encounter with the Holy Spirit? Is the Holy Spirit at work in your life?  Jesus is the one with the Holy Spirit.

Don’t confuse this with some sort of emotional experience. I’m not asking if you’ve spoken with tongues.

Have you allowed the Holy Spirit to change, empower, and lead you?

If you do not have a relationship with the Holy Spirit, you are not a Christian. Paul wrote,

(Ro 8:9 NKJV) …Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

The Galatians had begun to wander off the path.
They had known about the Holy Spirit, but they had begun to think that they needed to follow the Law of Moses in order to be saved. They had begun to think that their salvation was based on their own good works instead of Jesus’ work on the cross.
(Ga 3:1–3 NKJV) —1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?

Notice how Paul is discussing the “how”. Paul is talking about “how” they had received the Spirit – through faith.

What is your salvation all about?
Do you believe in what Jesus did for you?

Do you understand that Jesus Christ died on a cross in order to pay for your sins?

Have you accepted God’s free gift of forgiveness for your sins because of what Jesus did for you?

Are you “counting on” Jesus to save you? What will you say when you reach the gates of heaven and they ask you why you should be allowed to enter? Is it because you have been “counting on” Jesus? This is faith.

Has the Holy Spirit changed you? Does He continue to change you?

If you have truly been “counting on” Jesus, then the Holy Spirit should be at work in your life. He will produce things like:

(Ga 5:22–23 NKJV) —22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control.

Other people should be noticing that something is different about you. There should be REAL change.


A dying granny tells her granddaughter, “I want to leave you my farm. That includes the villa, the tractor, and other equipment, the farmhouse and $22,398,750.78 in cash.” The granddaughter, absolutely floored and about to become rich says, “Oh granny, you are SO generous! I didn’t even know you had a farm. Where is it?” With her last breath, Granny whispered, “Facebook...”

Granny didn’t have a “real” farm.  God is looking for “real” change.

Being a Christian involves a work of God in our lives, not just joining a club or being a nice person. It involves the Holy Spirit working in our lives.

:3 hold fasttereo – to attend to carefully, take care of; to guard

This is not the word used through the last four letters to “hold fast” (krateo).

:3 repentmetanoeo – to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent; not an emotional change, but a change made on purpose, choosing a new direction.

They are going down the wrong road and they need to turn around.

:3 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.

:3 watchgregoreuo – to watch; from egeiro, to arouse from sleep, to awake

Something will happen because they are not “waking up” (remember the truck?)

This is what Jesus told them to do back in verse 2 “Be watchful”. Here Jesus warns them of the consequences of not “watching”.

:3 as a thiefkleptes – an embezzler, pilferer

We usually think of a thief as a bad person, yet here Jesus says He will take the role of a “thief”.

A thief comes unexpectedly. A thief doesn’t send you a postcard telling you what day and hour they will rob your house.

(1 Th 5:2 NKJV) —2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
(2 Pe 3:10 NKJV) —10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
(Mt 24:42–44 NKJV) —42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.


Ready for His return

Are you looking forward to Jesus coming back? Or are you hoping that He doesn’t come for a little while?
(Mt 24:45–51 NKJV) —45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Are you ready? Are you working on the things that need to change?

: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.

:4 defiledmoluno – to pollute, stain, contaminate, defile

:4 garmentshimation – a garment (of any sort)

In the book of Revelation, “garments” are a picture of the deeds of a person’s life. It’s the kind of life that you live (Rev. 19:8).

(Re 19:8 NKJV) And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
The idea of “defiling the garments” speaks of a life that has stopped following after Jesus.  It’s a life of doing the wrong things.

Not every person in Sardis was in a dangerous place. There were some who were fine examples of believers.

: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.

:5 He who overcomes

In each church there are going to be people who “overcome”, who do the right things.

:5 clothedperiballo – to throw around, to put around; of garments, to clothe one

:5 clothed in white garments

Again, white garments are a picture of a life of good deeds, a life that has been cleansed from bad things.

It doesn’t mean that a person has lived a perfect life, but a life that has been changed.

(Re 4:4 NKJV) —4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.
(Re 7:14 NKJV) —14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
(Re 19:7–8 NKJV) —7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” 8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

:5 I will not

The Greek has two negatives here. The idea is I will “absolutely positively will not”.

Not a “double negative” as in English

:5 blotexaleipho – to wipe off; to obliterate, erase

:5 the Book of Life

Moses hinted at this book:

(Ex 32:32 NKJV) Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

Jesus hints at the book too:

(Lk 10:20 NKJV) Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Not everyone has their name in this book:

(Re 13:8 NKJV) All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
It would be wrong to say that everyone starts in this book and those who don’t believe are “blotted out”. I don’t believe you get your name into this book until you believe in Jesus.

When the judgment comes, this book is there:

(Re 20:12 NKJV) And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

Those not written in the book face a horrible end:

(Re 20:15 NKJV) And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.


Keep your name in the book

I have to admit that I used to teach that once you are saved you are always saved and you can’t lose your salvation.
The more I study the Bible, the less confident I am of that position.
You can argue with me later and say that this is speaking of people who were never saved in the first place. That’s fine.
But keep in mind the warnings to this church.

They have a name that is alive, but they are dead.

They are to be watchful and strengthen the things that are still alive because there are some who are alive, but on the verge of dying.

Stay on track with Jesus.
I am not afraid that I am going to lose my salvation.

I don’t believe that every time I sin I lose my salvation and I need to get saved all over again.

But I do believe that a Christian who continues to rebel against God will be going down a road that gets farther and farther from God until they are like those in Sardis, “about to die”.

Perhaps this is about getting a hard heart to the point where you no longer believe in Jesus.

And if you keep going in that same direction, I believe you risk one day finding yourself in hell.

Those who “overcome” will walk with Jesus and learn each day more of what it means to follow Him, these aren’t afraid of losing their salvation.

Jesus will “absolutely not” blot my name from His book of life.

That’s assurance. That’s what brings peace.

I’m not trusting in my own good works to keep saved, I’m trusting in Jesus. I’m letting Him work His life in my life through the Holy Spirit.

:5 but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

:5 confessexomologeo – to confess; to profess; acknowledge openly and joyfully

Jesus said,

(Mt 10:32–33 NKJV) —32 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.
This is one of the reasons why people like Greg Laurie give you a chance to make a public confession of Jesus by going forward at a Harvest Crusade.
It’s one of the reasons why we throw a big party when we do our baptisms – because baptism is a public confession to the church and all the friends and family you invite that you are a follower of Jesus Christ.
Peter and his denial.
Sometimes we don’t always do real good at admitting that we follow Jesus.  Be careful about thinking that you’ve lost your chance.
Peter knew how painful it was to deny knowing Jesus. He denied Jesus three times.  While Jesus was on trial before the Jews, Peter kept getting asked if he was a follower of Jesus – and three times Peter denied knowing Jesus.

(Lk 22:60–62 NKJV) —60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 62 So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Yet Jesus didn’t leave Peter in that place of denial.

We saw in our study of the Gospel of John how Jesus sought Peter out and asked him three times if Peter loved Jesus. 

He gave Peter another chance.

It’s possible that you haven’t been very public about your relationship with Jesus. That can change.

Even with our baptism in two weeks, or at the end of this service.

:6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

Have you been listening?

What has the Spirit been saying to the churches?

Ephesus: Get back to your first love

Smyrna: He sees your trouble

Pergamos: Don’t compromise

Thyatira: Repent and keep doing good

Sardis: Wake up, don’t die

I’m going to give you a chance today to accept Jesus Christ and show publicly that you want to follow Him.

I’ve got a video with music and words, and you can come forward while we sing this last song.

The song is about “candles”. We’ve been talking about Jesus walking among the “lampstands”, that we are the “lights”, and how He has been cleaning out the lamps, refilling, and relighting them.

PlayGo Light Your World” by Chris Rice.