the letter to a dead church

sardis the dead church

This is the latest sermon delivered at Leaside Bible Chapel on Revelation 3:1-6

Following is the sermon notes. I hope that will be useful to you as you read and listen to the message. It is not the same 🙂


Rev 3:1  And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.


It is interesting that he starts mentioning what the church is DOING. Is that important in a time of grace and faith? It seems YES.

Because God know the thoughts, He might say that I know what you think or what you believe and would made sense to us. We know that only God knows everything, specially WHY we do what we do AND what is in our hearts REALLY.

I believe that one reason he mentiones WORKS, is that he might be pointing out on things that are visible and the church already knows. The church knows unworthy deeds, dead works, but can be used to them and that becomes normal. Do you know what I am talking about. To live a life that doesn;t pleased God and that doesn;t bother you anymore.

That might be because could be something that almost all the church is doing so has become NORMAL.

In this time we have agreed upon something that we call a normal christian life. For a general canadian christian might be something like this.

1-most of mornings starts saying God help me and my family today.

2-read a devotional or listen radio on the way to work.

3 – Listen to christian music, follow some christian writters on twitter or blogs.

4-read bible most of the days or have a bible reading plan which tries to follow as a good administrator.

5-participate on at least one weekday christian gathering (small group/home group/prayer group/elders mtg)

6-Sunday meeting gathering usually 1 hour

does that sound normal to you?

so imagine someone starts the day praying for others instead of own family. then read the Bible for 2 hours in the morning. that goes out and shovels his driveway and the neighbors next to him. then he goes to work and praises the lord and prays. He talks easily and normaly with customers and co-workers on faith related subjects.doesn;t read many christian books, blogs. He even doesn;t watch TV at all. He got rid of it years ago. He goes on Sunday morning early in the morning to prepare and help preparing for the service. He is ready to share with brothers and sisteers what God did in his life that week. He can stay for three others in a service and he enjoys it. then he invites a visitor for a simple lunch and shares his life with his failures and Gods intevention. He is not ashamed telling  people about Jesus.

How we regard a person like that?

What if he is a member of our church?


This is pretty serious. We might be nice to each other, even not telling all the truth in a way not to make the person feel bad. But a doctor can’t do that. He cannot lie to a patient who has a decease-saying that you have just a cold, which will go away.

Jesus says here: You are dead. The problem is that you don;t see that. You have a name, a label as a living church of living God, but I as the God of the church I know that you are dead. Almost, because He says later that work with what remains and not all are dead.

May I propose that what Jesus was saying is that the impact that you needed to have in the city-you dont have it, you are like the tree which is almost dead, but has a branch that still breathes.

this is pretty serious, don;t you think?

Rev 3:2  Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.

BE WATCHFUL (gr. grēgoreuō) – add a picture of someone who is watching, a watcher.

A watcher is someone who is using most two perceptions: eyes and ears. There are things that are seen with the natural eyes and things that are seen with spiritual eyes. There are things that are heard with normal ears and things that are heard with spiritual ears.

It is stupid for a castle commander to appoint a blind person checking if any sign of the enemy is visible from afar. It is completely stupid to appoint a watcher and when he is blowing the alarm trumpet, the commander and troops don’t give attention.

Imagine that one church member who works at the lab who is checking the drinking water, tells everyone at his church that the water is not as healthy as it should be. a substance has been released at the source and needs a lot of time to clean it up. It is not deadly, but can cause various illnesses. the government has decided not to make it public, and has giving orders that the results of the lab will not be made public, until a future notice. You check the news and nothing is there. check the radio and nothing is there. check twitter and nothing is there. so you say that it might be just a rumor. the Christian who works at the lab, is a germofob so he makes everything small –super big. so you don’t pay attention. is that smart? Do we do that other times.


Although Jesus was generalising the deadness of that church He also is saying that there some SOME who are not DEAD – DEFILED. The parallelism there is that defiled is sinful and sin brings death. Those who sin bring the smell of death in the house.

there are two types of sins: 1) sins of knowledge and 2) sins of ignorance. Both have consequences, but harsher towards sins done with knowledge – either the DO NOT’s or the DO’s

Sin still separates man with God. It is only Jesus who broke the separation and opened the way as He is the way. BUT we need to continue to live in Jesus, as Paul said: continue to live in him as you have received him.

The comparison here of the good works is before God. It must be a challenge for us who have been longer in a Christian environment, and we get used to things that are not holy, not loving, not spiritual-but we get along saying to ourselves that we are doing our best or we might be better that others.

the worst enemy of the best is not the bad , but the good. the good enough.

If we are today at the judgment seat of Christ and everything is crystal clear, how we would think about ourselves and our lives.

As we work towards being caring and loving to each other and the newcomers, we need to have the same zeal towards holiness, pursuing it and correcting each other in the love of God – in a way that sin will lose his strength in our midst.


One day a fellow pastor and I left the office on bikes for a pastoral visit. My countenance was not happy and my friends tried to encourage me and say don’t worry God loves you. TO tell the truth I didn’t appreciated those words that day from my friend.

I have sinned and I was grieving on the reality that I like to do do certain sinful things. I needed some shake, something that will make me think strongly to hate sin with passion. The concept that God loves me, is not always helpful, because can make a person take it easier while sinning as a normal thing that all humans and Christians do. As long as God loves us as we are, we can continue doing things that even us we don’t agree as the right thing to do.

Rev 3:3  Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

REPENTANCE is the key word in this letter. Jesus pointed out the malignant problem not to make them desperate without hope, but with a lot of hope following the perscription of the problem. the situation was grave and only one solution was: repent, change your ways not only your lips service.

Here is the concept_ I will come as thief in the night. Means, I will come when you expect less.

Have you heard of the car thefts lately. Why this happens? because the owners don;t expect that the thief will steal THEIR CAR. When we hear news or listen to history, is that just information or a warning too that that thing can happen again, and you have a possibility to be affected by it.

If there are no watcher, no diligence, no difference between work of darkness and the works of light.

Rev 3:4  Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

Again here is talking at all about their faith or confession, He is talking about works –defiling. Their garnments-covering, robes. Most of the times we are identified by the clothes we wear in certain places. It is expected that in corporate offices you dont dress casual and as a mechanic you are a good one if your clothes look very dirty. Remember the story where the King invited worthy friends in wedding and they didn;t come. then he brought everyone without looking at their status. But the surprise was when he found someone without wedding garnments. He got a free invitation, but the King was expecting that the guest will consider well how they will appear at the kings celebration. the guy was thrown outside in the darkness. Is God harsh? NO, he is righteous and give to everyone what merits.

Rev 3:5  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Overcoming is a work of the grace of God, together with the personal commitment. God did all His part. We need to do ALL our part.

Here is the point where Arminians mention the possibility of losing the salvation. Wiping of the name from the book of life. Make sure that will not happen to your name.

Rev 3:6  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Here is still reenforcing that God is doing his part, those who want to her and understand have thoer chance. We can;t say to God I didn;t knew. He know how much we know and how much we love him. Nothing is a surprise to him. Everything that has been in darkness will be in light.

Churches in mentioned in plural here. Not just the Sardis, but to every church in that time and in our time.

To whom Jesus is talking to?

  • to a local church
  • to all churches in general
  • prophetic/historic

Ephesus –the apostolic church

Smyrna – the persecuted church

Pergamos – the perverted married church

Thyatira – the medieval church – a connection possibly with the catholic church

Sardis – a profile of the reformation

Why he is writing that letter to that church by name?

Does that apply to us in this time?

Sardis was a city that has existed around 2000 BC but it were Lydians who came and build an kingdom there with Sardis as their capital.

It was the most prominient city in the Asia minor until the mid 6 century BC.

It was a connection point to other cities in the region and gold was found there.

The patron of the city was the goddess Cybele whose son Midas became the king of Phrygia. In greek mythology.

The city was in three hills almost 1000 feet high. but the cliff was made of mud which time by time had cracks.

Historians say that the city was taken as a thief in the night by the Persians. Sardians thought that none could come.  More than 200 years later in 214 bc  the same city was taken by Antiochus for the Seleucid Empire.

Hegel said that history teaches us that people don;t learn anything from the history.

The Sardis betrayed themselves by a lack of diligence and watchfulness. They became a proverbial of the time as a people who think that are safe, because of the hills but always occupied.

Jesus spoke to an audience who knew what every city might represent. In our time if we mention various places  we know what the person is talking about:


It has became the second Last Vegas. When we mention cities like: New York, Dubai or Paris – what comes in our minds.

If we say that these people are like: Hitler, Mother Theresa, Ainshtain, – what we are really saying.

So we really must understand who Jesus pointed out 7 Cities in Asia minor which are after one another.

What God spoke to you today? Is something related with you?

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