Verse of the Day Devotion: Revelation 3:1
“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” – Revelation 3:1
Over seven days, I will be looking at what John wrote, by the inspiration of God, to the seven major churches in Asia Minor. In these seven letters, God gives a message that is specific to each and speaks of issues that could fit the Churches throughout history. It is important to look at these and examine our church and ultimately ourselves to see where we stand regarding these.
Next, Jesus writes to the fifth Church in this list, the Church of Sardis. Sardis was located about forty miles southeast the Thyatira and around fifty miles east of Smyrna. It had been the capital of the kingdom of Lydia in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, the city came under Hellenistic rule and was the capital of the Seleucid kingdom in the third century BCE. After 133 BCE Sardis became part of Roman Asia, where it was a judicial center. Because they were part of the area ruled by the Seleucids, they have a Greek bent in their religious lives which focused on Greek gods including Artemis of Sardis and Zeus Polieus, the guardian of civic welfare. Sardis had a cult of the goddess Roma, a female deity who personified the Roman state before the end of the second century BCE.
Note the first part of our focus verse. “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says this:” Revelation 3:1a. Only Jesus has the seven spirits (or “seven-fold Spirit,” meaning the complete or perfect Spirit of God), and only Jesus holds the seven stars, i.e., the seven angels (or pastors) of the seven churches. “As for 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 are the seven churches.” Revelation 1:20. He then says, “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Revelation 3:1b. This church had a good reputation; however, they did not live up to that reputation. The church appeared to be full of people, but the majority of those coming probably were not Christians but were simply going through the motions. As Jesus had said when discussing this issue, “He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat and went away.” Matthew 13:24-25.
He then tells the Church, “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.” Revelation 3:2. Jesus then calls for them to repent of their sin. The idea of wake up is they need to start paying attention to what is going on there and stop pretending to be Christians but make it real; to turn from the sins and live as God desires. They needed to stop looking carelessly about what their real situation was before God. And if they do not repent, then things will not go well for them. “Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason, you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” Matthew 24:42-44.
After this He adds. “But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.” Revelation 3:4. The idea of soiled garments are clothes that were defiled, physically unclean and ritually unsuitable to be worn in God’s presence. “The LORD also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow and let them wash their garments:” and then “So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments.” Exodus 19:10, 14. The promised reward accords with the character of those to be rewarded: keeping their garments undefiled and white through the blood of the Lamb now, they shall walk with Him in white hereafter.
Then in closing His message to the Church in Sardis He writes this. “He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” Revelation 3:5. Here He reiterates the idea of walking in garments of white, denoting being clean before God. But then He adds two additional blessings. First, they will not have their names removed from the Lambs book of life. This is interesting wording. This denotes the idea of condemnation, but in a way that people could understand. Our names are written in the Lambs Book of Life from the foundations of the world. “And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8. God knew who would accept His Son from the foundations of the earth. Jesus, through John uses this idea to urge the Church of Sardis to remain faithful and true, using a method or idea they would understand. And not only will their name remain in the Book of Life, but Jesus also acknowledges their name before the Father and His angels. Acknowledging someone means affirming a relationship with that person in a way that shows loyalty and favor. Since Jesus has a place of honor before the Father and the angels, those he acknowledges share in the honor that belongs to Him. And this refers to someone who does not shy away from acknowledging Christ. “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33.
Therefore, never shy away from declaring Jesus in this world, and acknowledging your relationship with Him. He loves you more than you can know, and is worthy of all the honor we can give Him.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.