The Revelation of Jesus Christ

v. The church at Sardis

(Rev 3:1-6 NIV) “To the angel in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. [2] Wake up. Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. [3] Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

[4] Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. [5] He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. [6] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

(Rev 3:1-6 KJV) 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. [2] Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. [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. [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. [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. [6] He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The City of Sardis

One of the oldest cities of Asia Minor, Sardis lay along a highway that stretched from the Persian city of Susa, following a parallel course to the Tigris River, passing through Cappadocia to Sardis. Located in the Hermus Valley (modern R. Gediz) on the banks of a southern tributary, the Pactolus (modern Sart Cay) and north of the range of the Tmolus Mountains (modern Bozdag) it is about 48 kilometers southeast of Thyatira and about 72 kilometers from Izmir (Smyrna).

The name Sardis is that of the stone, sardius (Greek: sardines); carnelian, The semi-precious stone is orange-brown but reflects deep red when light is passed through. The city was an economic stronghold of the wool industry. The acropolis was built about 1500 feet above the plain on a ridge of the 5,800 foot high Mount Tmolus. The precipice was difficult to reach and was considered unassailable by an enemy. The lower city was more accessible. Today the site is a ruin, but nearby the small Turkish village bears the name Sart, and the memory of fabled characters such as Midas and King Croesus of Sardis live on.

Sardis and 300 m.-high citadel, looking southeast. The low artificial hill near the road is created by the ruins of the 20m.-thick fortification wall of the lower city.

Early History

Sardis was a place of importance from the Lydian Kingdom in the 13th century BCE. The Lydian Kingdom made Sardis its capital as early as 700 B.C. The first king of the Mermnad Dynasty was Gyges (687-652 B.C), credited with the invention of the first coined money. The earliest coins were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver. In excavations in the early 1980s, many were found in buildings of the Lydian period.

The last and most famous Lydian King Croesus (560-546 B.C.) was said to have panned gold from the nearby river Pactolus introduced coinage of pure gold and pure silver. Crucibles and a few gold objects have made conclusive evidence for the gold-refining process from the 6th century B.C. for modern archaeologists.

Following the Lydian Kingdom, Persian domination began in 546 BCE, when King Croesus and Sardis fell to Cyrus. Herodotus records the shock of the Lydian defeat, as they considered the city impregnable. According to the ancient historian, the Persian forces were in the valley below the citadel, when a Lydian soldier dropped his helmet over the city wall. He scaled down the rock to get it. A local slave watched carefully and when captured, revealed the city’s vulnerability. The soldiers used the information to capture the city for Cyrus, and King Croesus was taken prisoner. At the end of the Susa Road, Sardis became the most important Persian city in Asia Minor.

With the decline of the Persians under the advancing Greeks, the city surrendered willingly to Alexander the Great in 334 BCE. Sardis became the western administrative center for the Seleucid Dynasty. One notable battle of the period was in 214 BCE, when the city fell to Antiochus the Great through the use of the employed by the Persians more than three centuries earlier.

Sardis came under Pergamene rule from 189 to 133 BCE, and was passed into the hands of the Romans upon the death of Attallus II. Under Roman rule the city flourished until it was devastated by the great earthquake in 17 CE (called by Eusebius the greatest earthquake in human memory). and Tiberias assisted in the rebuilding of the city (Tacitus Annals II.47). Some scholars feel that because of this great indebtedness to Tiberius, the city gave itself to the cult of emperor-worship, largely abandoning its historic love affair with the Cybele cult. In 26 CE, Sardis lost the competition with Smyra for the coveted permission to build a temple to the emperor.

Until the change in 17 CE, Sardis was a center for the worship of Cybele. Cybele, also known as the Great Mother, was worshipped throughout much of the Hellenistic world. The cult of Cybele underwent a number of significant changes over a period of several hundred years. Cybele undoubtedly began as a goddess of nature; the early worship of her in Phrygia was not unlike that of Dionysus. But it went beyond the sexual orgies that were part of the primitive Dionysias cult, as the frenzied male worshipers of Cybele were led to castrate themselves. Following their act of self-mutilation, these followers of Cybele became Galli, or eunuch-priests of the cult. From her beginnings as a Nature-goddess, Cybele eventually came to be viewed as the Mother of all gods and the mistress of all life (Nash, Barclay points out that even on pagan lips, Sardis was a name of contempt. Its people were notoriously loose living, notoriously pleasure-and luxury loving. Sardis was a city of the decadence. In the old days it had been a frontier town on the borders of Phyrgia, but now it was a byword for slack and effeminate living… The most splendid temple in Sardis was the one devoted to Artemis, the later memory of the Cybele worship. It had apparently undergone three specific phases of construction beginning in the C3 BCE, and ending at the earthquake of 17 CE. Coins also depict sanctuaries to Aphrodite Paphia.

A great colonnaded marble road of 4600 feet in length divided the Roman city, whose population was estimated as large as 120,000 in the time of the Apostle John. A variety of inscriptions on extant statuary reveal the relationship with succeeding Emperors. Hadrian visited the city in 123 CE. Later, Emperor Diocletian reorganized Asia in (297 CE) and Sardis became capital of the revived district of Lydia. Melito, Bishop of Sardis, served in the second century, and some of his sermons have been preserved. Several representatives from Sardis attended the Councils of Nicea (325), Ephesus (431), and the so-called Robber Council of Ephesus (449). Sardis was conquered by the Arabs in 716 CE, and eventually by the Ottoman Turks in the 14th century.

The Words of Him

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

Through the Spirit of God in the body of Christ the visible creation is brought into contact with the invisible God. By the living Spirit of God within us God manifests Himself in His perfection of life and love and power. . All of creation contains within it the essence of God. But only those who are made in God’s image and likeness can contain and express God as a person.

Read More

Wake up and be Alive

you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. [2] Wake up.

The church at Sardis had the reputation of being a live assembly. It did not appear so to the Lord. The little life they had was close to death. The Lord showed Himself as full of light and resplendent with the glory of seven spirits and seven stars. Every child of God must see this light to come forth in life.

In Him was life; and the life was the light of men.”

It is not Christ in heaven that Sardis needed to see—but Christ in the midst of (within) the Lamp-stand.(the people) Until disciples see the Christ within, the One who is closer than the blood coursing through the veins, the Christ within our spirits who is our life—until it is seen that it is this Christ who has the seven spirits of God, we fail to arise and shine in the glory of the Father.

The Life and Light has come, the darkness is past, God has lighted our candle, and the true light now shines.

(Prov 20:27 KJV) The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Christ is arising, standing up within His called and chosen and He reveals His glory out of their innermost being. From there—from deep within—He addresses all the folly, dead works, forms of godliness, soul activity, carnal perceptions, natural reasoning, human understanding, and our human zeal.

Christ in our spirit steps forth from the Holiest of all within each of us to shine into the darkness of our outer life, our limitation, fears, and self-effort, causing us to know at last that our Christ within has the seven spirits of God. We can live out of that glorious realm and walk with Him in white—walk with Him as Light. This reality is the root and fountain of the son-ship life of victory, wisdom, power, and glory. This is why the Lord Jesus appears in the midst of the church at Sardis revealing Himself as the One having the seven spirits and the seven stars. This is the purpose of Christ’s message to the church at Sardis. Though outwardly one may have a name (reputation) of being full of life there can in such reality be only death. Turning from all such death of the outer realm of soul and body, of the world and religion, to Christ in our spirit, reveals the One who has the seven spirits of God.

Name (reputation) that you live but you are dead.

, that you have a name that lives, and are dead. (Rev. 3:1).

The world was invading the church at Sardis. The church had become much like the city around it. God has purposed that the body of Christ be filled with His power and holiness, to change and transform the world. But the truth is that often assemblies become influenced by the world. The Holy Spirit warns every saint who cherishes the hope of overcoming to flee worldliness. Some have mistakenly thought that meant to flee the world, so they hide themselves away in remote areas, or mountain monasteries, in physical separation from the world system.

It is not the world but worldliness. We are in the world, but not of the world, and in final prayer Jesus petitioned the Father,

I pray not that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (Jn. 17:15-16).

The people of God are to influence the world, not its opposite. The saddest event is when a local assembly is captivated by the world and its light goes out.

The Holy Spirit said, “You have a name—a reputation and recognition by the people—who think you are alive. This is often seen in some of the mega-churches of today.

To paraphrase:-

Mention the church in Sardis and the response is, “things are happening there, that church has everything; you walk through the door and your hair stands up on end. They are alive; their pastor is a live wire bubbling over with zeal. Interesting guest speakers and beautiful special music. Every kind of program going; they’ve a bus ministry, a youth program, basketball team, a senior citizens outreach, a home for unwed mothers, a coffee shop ministry, an outreach to addicts. The choir that will send chills down your spine; walk in the door and they’ll have you busy doing something in no time at all.”

They have a name that they live because they are filled with all kinds of activity, but God fills out that church’s death certificate. “You are dead.” Instead of operating in the power of the Holy Spirit who is the life of the body of Christ, like computerized robots they go through the form of flesh-generated programmed activity that appears to the undiscerning eye to be evidence of life.

The name that is lived is being lived before people. “You have a name … ” among the people. “You have a name … ” among the church systems of man. “You have a name … ” at the local Ministerial Association. “You have a name … ” on the church page of the newspaper. “You have a name … ” before the affluent, the intellectual, and the influential of the community. “You have a name … ” at Rotary Club. “You have a name … ” with the city council, the Police, and social services. Everyone esteems you highly. “But—YOU ARE DEAD.”

The carnal Christians in the church at Sardis had a name that they lived, giving an appearance of life even in death.

Human nature does not want to face the ugliness of death. We have invented a new vocabulary to discuss death. We call the corpse “the deceased,” or the “loved one.” People do not die, they “pass on” and make their great “transition.” The deceased is not in a coffin, he is in a “slumber room.” Morticians, with lipstick and rouge, are busily engaged in transforming the dead. “He looks so natural, doesn’t he?” Every effort is made to “dress up” death so that it appears as life.

Spiritually, the believers in Sardis were so doing. They were dwelling in a realm of death, death from the carnal mind, but with their religiosity they made a name for themselves by the appearance of life.

Works are Involved

I know your works. (Rev. 3:1).

(Read More?)

Strengthen What Remains

Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.

There is a spiritual condition revealed in the church at Sardis that we are called to overcome.

Hear, oh man of God, and give earnest heed, you sons of God. “For if … the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood (life) of Christ … purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living god. (Heb. 9:13-14).

it is not so much hedonism and human wickedness, although these realms too, will be overcome, but the emphasis in the letters to the seven churches concerns the spiritual conditions within the church. Those who are called to be overcomers will hear the voice of the Lord calling them to totally forsake and utterly abandon the dead religious works of the old order church systems in order to serve the living God. The call is to act and serve spontaneously out of the living power of the Christ in our spirit, not out of the carnal programs and promotions of the religious systems of humankind.

No one can serve “the living God” with “dead works.” Dead works are the fruit of the flesh seeking to serve God, There is no spiritual life in these deeds. The Sardis “dead works” are not so much gross sins or evil of the flesh, but the good of the flesh attempting to serve and please God through outward, meaningless religious observances and self-invented works.

Dead works are produced out of a polluted conscience dictating that this or that must be done to appease God, to please God, or to serve God. The polluted conscience will feel better, it will feel justified and spiritual, after performing dead works; but this feeling is false. The conscience must be cleansed and only the blood of Jesus purges the conscience from dead works.

How much more shall the blood (life) of Christ … purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living god. (Heb. 9:13-14).

(1 John 1:7 KJV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son purifies us from all sin.

The blood of Jesus is the life of Jesus. A conscience fully purified by the blood of Christ is freed from that inner gnawing demand to participate in the activities of the carnal church systems of man.

(John 6:53 KJV) Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
(John 6:54 NRSV) Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;
John 6:56 NRSV) Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

For the called and chosen who have been born of the Spirit, there is no longer the two realities of good and evil; there resides within the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

The sons are to be a company which has discovered a realm of life, reality, and glory that transcends all the “good” of man. This dimension of life is the kingdom realm of God. The power of Christ in the manifest sons of God will reveal to all creation the power of incorruptible life. Creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the sons of God.

I have not found your works perfect

Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, for I have not found your works perfect before God. (Rev. 3:2).

The name Sardis or “red ones” refers to the sardius or sardine stone which is a very hard, deep orange-red variety of chalcedony used in jewelry. Some suggest the meaning “those who have escaped” but the etymology of the word does not support this interpretation.

The name Adam means “red earth” and suggests that Sardis “red ones “may allude to the Adamic nature. Sardis, except for a few overcomers”, functioned out of the carnal mind and nature—the Adamic living soul.

(1 Cor 15:45 NRSV) Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

A work that is not perfect is unfulfilled, immature and incomplete. Sardis had stopped short and not gone on to maturity. The goal had been the fullness of Christ. In this they had grown careless and had ceased to pursue. Something started was now about to die.

In an “in-part” realm of limitation, immaturity and incompleteness they were content to stay as little spiritual children.

(Heb 6:1-2 NRSV) Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, [2] instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

The above verses are “milk” doctrine for babies in Christ. We are to go on past this foundation.

Yet the church for the most part still remains in the above foundation doctrine as has been known and experienced in the Outer Court of Passover and the Holy Place of Pentecost. Meetings are of the same kind; singing variations of the same songs, speaking in tongues, prophesying, preaching, dancing, laying on hands, moving in gifts, passing offering plates, and making announcements. There is an occasional healing, miracle, or deliverance, some prayers are answered, a few souls saved, and some people blessed and encouraged in the Lord. But these are all wonders of an “in measure” ministry.

Having all these wonderful blessings for two thousand years has not set creation free. They have not brought all nations into the kingdom of God or restored all things and all men to God. The world still lies in the darkness of sin, sorrow, hatred, war, greed, fear, sickness, pain, poverty, and death, and the saints of God are not fully released from carnality and death.

The ministry of Jesus was not in part or by measure. His was the ministry of a manifested son of God in all the power and wisdom and glory of the Father. Jesus worked not in limitation but in fullness. Not as gift in the church realm but the incarnation, the embodiment, the personification of the fullness of the father. This is the realm of son-ship. Son-ship is not the church restored to the glory of the early days when the apostles walked the earth; the overcomer is the man-child, a people birthed out of the church in the full stature of Jesus Christ the Son of the living God. Each one of these sons of God is exactly like the firstborn Son.

Creation is in pain and travail waiting for this manifestation of the sons of God. Jesus is not the firstborn among many Christians, or among many believers, or among many saints. He is the firstborn among many brothers. God is not bringing many gifted saints, or apostles, or prophets, or teachers, or musicians, or preachers to glory, but He is bringing many SONS to glory.

The sons of God are destined to inherit all things.

He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. (Rev. 21:7).

The thief in the Night

Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore you do not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come.. (Rev. 3:3).

There is a coming of the Lord as a thief. A thief comes at the darkest part of the night. He comes with softest tread, without noise, without light, without warning. Christ came, not with a spectacular overthrow of the kingdoms of the world, but to reveal the kingdom of God within men, to unveil the internal rule of the spirit.

His coming was shrouded in secret. Very few knew when He arrived. So does He come to every person. Every crisis in the life of a child of God is a “coming” or “appearing” of the Christ. Many times we encounter Him under the most unpropitious circumstances, in places and ways we least expect. Some are times when we are faced with a mountain of circumstances, which appears insurmountable and immovable.

There are occasions when such appearings of the Lord seem the very opposite to what they are, times when our fate seems to be at the mercy of haphazard influences and accidental events. Great crises in the experience in most cases take us unaware.

for as the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be.”

We are to look for the Lord’s appearing in all the changes and happenings of our lives. He directs and mandates every experience in the lives of His called and chosen, there are no accidents. Every event is the vehicle of His appearing to us. He comes to succor and relieve, to claim us for Himself, to teach us His ways and transform into His image and likeness. Nothing happens without Him; nothing can reach us that is not directly the token of His presence.

As a thief is the manner of the Lord’s coming. He is always an unseen, doing a work of which men are for a time entirely unaware. His quiet working is unobserved and entirely unknown until the discovery is made in the consciousness of the handiwork He has wrought in secret. His arising steals its way upon us as the dawning of the day.

The coming of Christ is not a single event, or two great events, but includes many different manifestations. His coming to the individual is a many-sided experience.

They will walk with Me in white.

He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment … you have few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. (Rev. 3:4-5).

This white raiment is not the imputed righteousness that is given to us when we receive Christ as Savior. The Spirit is speaking to people who have already received the imputed righteousness of Jesus as savior to their account. Though righteousness has been imputed to them through faith in Jesus, there is yet white raiment that comes only through overcoming.

This is not imputed righteousness, but the actual righteousness which God is bringing the overcomer to as a state of being, the perfect walk in Christ, His nature and glory raised up within as their own life, a perfection that He is bringing overcomers to fulfill,

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Mat. 5:48).

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Eph. 4:15).

This is the fifth stage of the journey into the fullness of Christ—to be led to that perfection, that perfect righteousness, nature, and glory of the Son of the living God.

The imputed righteousness of Christ—is sufficient to remove sin-consciousness and bring one into fellowship with God. But it is not enough to make an overcomer perfect, mature and in the full stature of Christ.

The robe of imputed righteousness is the robe that can become soiled.

Thou has a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments.”

others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 23).

But there is a robe that cannot be soiled. This is the robe of the overcomer. This is the perfection and glory of Christ which transforms us into the likeness of God.

and they shall walk with me in white , for they are worthy.”

I will not blot out his name.

To him that overcomes … 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. (Rev. 3:5).

It is possible to have one’s name erased from the book of life, or the promise would be meaningless. The qualification for having one’s name or nature inscribed eternally in this book is overcoming. Overcoming is something done subsequent to becoming a child of God so this is not the salvation and life which are the free gift of God’s grace, received by simple faith in Jesus.

The subject is maturity of life—the fullness of the Son of God reproduced in the overcomers. This life one can be disqualified from.

And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end: that you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Heb. 6:11-12).
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end. (Heb. 3:14).
Wherefore the rather, brethren, make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (II Pet. 1:10-11).
Be faithful to death (of self), and I will give you a crown of life. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown. (Rev. 2:10; 3:11).
But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (unapproved). (I Cor. 9:27).

The book of the life of the lamb is the biography of God’s Lamb, the expose of who He is, what He is like, and what He does.. It is not a literal book, for we are dealing with symbols; the sons and daughters of the Most High are themselves the living record and revelation of the life of the indwelling Lamb. It was to the apostle Paul that the revelation was given that the book of life, the book of the Lamb, the book of the Son of God is a people.

Foreasmuch as you are manifestly declared to be THE EPISTLE OF CHRIST ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. Who also has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life. (II Cor. 3:3-6).

A fulfilled gospel will fill the earth when God opens His book of life. The book of life is the company of the sons of God, elect, chosen, and transformed into the image of Christ throughout the ages. This book is being written word by word, sentence by sentence in daily experience with God until the full revelation of the Christ is complete. When the manifested sons of God are revealed as God’s open book of life people the world will see and read in the simplest of language, in living epistles, everything there is to know about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

A robe that cannot be defiled.

This is more the glistening of light rather than the idea of white.