Revelation 3:1-6 | Sardis (Dead Church)

Revelation 3:1-6 | Sardis (Dead Church)

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Revelation’s Devine Outline:  Revelation 1:19“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”

Revelation 1:19
Revelation 1:19

In Chapter 2 and 3 we find 7 letters Directed and dictated by Jesus to the 7 churches in Asia.

The 7 churches in Asia.

Each letter follows the same pattern:

1) Introduction: (Jesus description, Ch 1:12-17)

2) Commendation:

3) Critique:

4) Prescriptions: (Improve or fix)

5) Promise:

The 7 churches give us The chronological flow of church history, from the apostles to the present.

chronological flow of church history
  • 1) Ephesus, The apostolic church (age of the apostles),
  • 2) Smyrna, = The Persecuted Church (Starting with Nero 63 AD to Diocletian 310 AD = 10 waves of persecution)
  • 3) Pergamos, =The Compromised Church(300 AD Satan joined the Churched under Constantine = The religion of the Empire), |
  • 4) Thyatira, = Catholic Church —Work based  (Birth of the Catholic church: Papasy, Justification by works, Celibacy, Confession, Mariolatry,  Purgatory, Penance, indulgences, etc.. (300s-1500s) |
  • 5) Sardis, = The dead Church: (Name but not alive) |
  • 6) Philadelphia, = The Favored Church (The Church of brotherly Love- Open door set before them We need to be) |
  • 7) Laodicea. =The LukeWarm Church: (Seeker friendly, neither hot nor cold. Doesn’t stand for truth. >>> [The Last 4 are still around today])

The Flow of the Church One by One:

  • 1) Ephesus, The apostolic church (age of the apostles),
  • 2) Smyrna, = The Persecuted Church (Starting with Nero 63 AD to Diocletian 310 AD = 10 waves of persecution)
  • 3) Pergamos, =The Compromised Church/mix marriage
    • 300 AD Satan joined the Church under Constantine.
    • He Christianized Eastern practices (Easter/Ishtar, Christmas/saturnalia.
      • Babylonian priest were tall pointy hat Pontifex Maximus
  • 4) Sardis, = The Dead Church (1517AD – 1750 AD Dead denominational Chruch.

 [Now we come to the Reformation]

The age of Medieval Catholicism became so dark: 

Sergius III became Pope (A.D. 904–A.D. 967), he ushered the Rule of Harlots. His mistress publicly accompanied him to the papal palace.

John X (Sergius’ grandson,) continued this legacy until he was killed in his bedroom while committing adultery.

Benedict IX assumed the position of pope at twelve years of age (simony—selling positions within the church to the highest bidder.) 

He was so corrupt that they drove him out and replaced him with Clement III, appointed by Henry III. 

Clement III was not a Roman, because in the words of Henry III: 

“I appoint no one from Rome because no priest can be found in this city who is free from the pollution of fornication and simony.” 

[Stirring in the heart]

Dark, diabolical, and depressing times— caused stirring to take place in the hearts of good Catholic people. 

In 1330, John Wycliffe was born in England. —An Oxford scholar and —a Catholic priest. 

He began to write about the need to get away from pontifical proclamations and back to the Bible. 

He began to publicly question doctrines such as transubstantiation and continual sacrifice so much 

He was excommunicated by the powers in Rome. 

Although he himself was safe at Oxford, his disciples—men like John Hus and Hugh Latimer—were burned at the stake. 

[A Spark of Reformation]

Their deaths caused a spark of Reformation that burned throughout England. 

A powerful move took place, culminating in the year 1483.

But at the same time in 1483 in Eisel-ben, Saxon Germany, a coal miner, and his wife gave birth to a baby boy named Martin.

Martin’s father said: “This boy is not to follow me into the mineshafts,”  Martin enrolled in the university to study law. 


While walking on campus one day, a thunderstorm arose, unlike anything he had ever seen. —Petrified, Martin cried out to St. Anne, the patron saint of coal miners, “If you save me from this lightning, I will become a monk.” 

Spared, and true to his word, —Martin Luther enrolled in seminary.

After two years, he earned his Doctorate,

But… the more he studied theology, —the more he knew he could never be righteous enough to earn God’s favor. 

He regularly beat himself, —slept outside in freezing temperatures, and —fasted for long periods. 

Still not experiencing the reality of God in his life, —he decided to journey to Rome for an audience with the pope. 

[Sickness that Healed]

On his way to Rome, he contracted a dangerous fever. —While recovering in an Alpine monastery, one of the monks, sensing Luther’s struggle, told him to read the Book of Habakkuk. (Why Habakkuk? Habakkuk was also one who wrestled with issues.) 

Luther took his advice and when he came to the fourth verse of the second chapter, “The just shall live by faith”—he finally understood.

That’s it!” he cried. “If I’m going to be just, it’s not because of what I do or who I am, —but by faith in >> what God’s done and >> who He is.” 

[Desilution And Trial]

Upon arriving in Rome, with his heart full of excitement, Luther was shocked by the abuses and hypocrisy he found there. 

Returning to Germany, he realized he had to take a stand. 

In 1517, he nailed a parchment containing ninety-five theses challenging the pope to the university door in Wittenburg

3 ½ years later, Rome answered, “Retract or die.” After burning this response, Luther was summoned to Rome. 

In 1521, the Diet of Worms was convened, at which the Church realized, that due to his popularity, they had a problem in Luther. 

“We’re giving you a second opportunity to recant,” they said—to which Martin Luther gave his classic reply:Here I stand. I can do no other, so help me God.”

[Opossition And Fire]

Luther’s stand gave rise to the birth of the Jesuits an order dedicated to enforcing papal power no matter the cost. 

Meanwhile, the Reformation swept across Europe. Luther in Germany, Zwingli in Switzerland, Knox in Scotland all called for a return to the Bible.

[Persecution and Cost of Truth]

“Their stand strengthened the determination of the Jesuits to stand by the pope and stem the tide of what they perceived to be heresy.

There were about four million people living in Bohemia in 1600. 80 % were “Protest-ants” sympathizers of the Reformation. 

Two years later, the population of Bohemia numbered a mere eight hundred thousand. Austria and Hungary were also early hotbeds of the Reformation.

Today, when we think of these countries, we think of Catholic nations. Because the worst bloodshed in history took place in the wake of the Reformation.

Worse than the persecution of Christians under the Roman emperors and the holocaust of Nazi Germany under Hitler.

Understanding this context of the Reformation is vital to understanding the meaning of the text before us:

The best thing that came out from the reformation was focusing our eyes again Upon the Lord and His Word.


[TEXT>>] 1a “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,

Sardis means “remnant,” which is a fitting name.

City History:

The ancient city of Sardis had seen its best days and had started to decline. But it was an extremely wealthy city built on a 1000’ bluff, that seemed invincible. Situated at the junction of several important roads and trade routes. A city well known for its softness and luxury. It had a reputation for apathy and immorality.  


There was a large, temple to the mother goddess, Cybele. From its ruins, we can see that its main columns were 60 feet (20 m) high and more than 6 feet (2 m) in diameter. She was honored and worshipped with all kinds of sexual immorality and impurity. 

The combination of easy money and a loose moral environment made the people of Sardis notoriously soft and pleasure-loving.

Sardis was a city of decadence. Gymnasium – Bathhouse

[TEXT>>] 1b ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars:

Revelation 1:4 “seven Spirits of God” the seven-fold nature of the Holy Spirit (Isaiah 11:2) And the seven stars speak of the entire Church is in His hand Revelation1:20.

He says this because while most traditional mainline Protestants denominations like Lutherans, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Methodists, and Congregationalists champion everything from homosexuality to environmental issues. They are afraid of the ministry of the Spirit.

[No Commendation]

It speaks volumes of how far Sardis and what it represents had fallen. Jesus had nothing good to say about them.


[TEXT>>]: 1b “I know your works, that you have a name (“onoma” in Greek, we get the word “denomination.” a reputation >>) that you are alive, but (in reality Jesus said) you are dead… 

Jesus had much to correct in Thyatira, He commended them in verse 19 for their works and charity, service, faith, and patience. But here at Sardi’s, He simply says, “You are dead.”

Despite their reputation of being alive, Jesus saw their real spiritual state, they were dead, at best in life support.

A good reputation is no guarantee of true spiritual character.

There was no fight, no struggle, no persecution because dead people don’t fight. Satan had them in his pocket, why would he fight with them? 


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


The Greek historian Herodotus tells the story of the fall of Sardis in the days of Cyrus.

King Cyrus came to Sardis, and found the position of the city ideally suited for defense.

There seemed to be no way to scale the steep cliff walls surrounding the city. He offered a rich reward to any soldier in his army who could figure out a way to get up to the city. 

One soldier studied the problem carefully, and as he looked he saw a soldier defending Sardis drop his helmet down the cliff walls.

He watched as the soldier climbed down a hidden trail to recover his helmet. He marked the location of the trail and led a detachment of troops up it that night. They climbed the cliffs, came to the actual city walls and found them unguarded.

The soldiers of Sardis were so confident in the natural defenses of their city — that >> they felt no need to keep a diligent watch, so the city was easily conquered. The same thing happened almost 200 years later when Antiochus attacked and conquered the overconfident city that didn’t set a watch.

Although the situation of the city was ideal for defense, surrounded by deep cliffs almost impossible to scale, Sardis had twice before fallen because of overconfidence and failure to watch.

Sardis acropolis.jpg

Now spiritually, they were saying, “We’re on solid ground. No one’s going to knock us down.”

But Jesus who sees their reality, says wake up, you have fallen asleep. Become vigilant, be alert, be on guard. At once strenghthen add support beams to keep strong, what little remains alive in you. Matthew 12:20 “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.”

A few days ago we woke to a very cold morning. Quickly the kids and I lighted a fire in our chimney. I was really taken back on how often I had to keep adding wood to the fire. Because if I stopped feeding it, it wasn’t going to be long before it went out.

Everything in Sardis was about to go into complete death (aorist). Instead of burning brightly, the spiritual life activities were like coals that are becoming dimmer and dimmer.

The works themselves were empty. The people went to church and did many other things, but the faith, the love, and the spiritual life that should have filled all their works had been growing less and less. Their works were empty and hollow. 

Our passion for Jesus will burn out if we stop feeding the spiritual fire of communion with God.

[TEXT>>] 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. 

What was received initially? The Bible, —from Wycliffe, Calvin, Knox, Luther.  Jesus is pleading: “Remember how it was received initially and repent for how far you’ve come from that foundation.”

This is the core of the problem with denominations, They departed from God’s word replacing it with Men’s doctrine. 

Churches became inspirational, motivational centers. It stopped being about knowing God, becoming places to better yourself esteem. 

Adopting the World’s culture of sin. They no longer stand for God’s Word. It is sad to see what has become of these denominations. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, etc.

[TEXT>>] [Jesus Warns] 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.

Mainline denominationalism increasingly do not believe in the Rapture or the Millennium. They teach that the promises of the kingdom, the sayings of Isaiah, the teachings of Revelation are simply allegorical.Don’t look for the Rapture,” they say, “and don’t look for a real kingdom established on earth.”

A dead person can not tell time, is not be aware of his coming. So like a thief in the night. Jesus will come when they least expected, with no time to get right, they’ll be left behind.

Re 16:15, (NLT) “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.”


[TEXT>>] [Two promises] 4 1st) You have a few names (remnant) even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments

Contrast: Pergamus had many faithful, but a few wicked. Sardis had many wicked but a few faithful. The Lord has still a group of believers amongst these denominations that truly love the Lord);

[TEXT>>] and they (the remnant) shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy (They are deserving). 

This picture of close fellowship and friendship is seen in Enoch, who walked with God; and he was not, for God took him (Genesis 5:24).

The reward of staying true and faithful to the Lord is a deeper closer walk with Jesus.     

[TEXT>>] 2nd) 5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but (Rather) I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

  1. Does this mean that someone can lose their salvation? What is the Book of Life?

#1) It is a Book: Rev 20:12 “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. 

#2) It determines your eternity: Rev 20:15 “And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

#3) Knowing your name on it should bring us great joy: Luke 10:20  “But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.”

Blotted out of the Book of Life.

There are 5 references for people being blotted out of the Book of Life. (Ex. 32:32, 32:33, Ps. 69:28, Rev. 3:5, 22:19) . The Lord wants us to take it seriously. Remember the context of today’s passage, false security. 

When someone is broken-hearted about sin, I take him to Jn 10:28, “we are eternally secure in His hand” Rom 8:38-39 “nothing can separate us from the love of God,” 2 Tim 1:12, “He is able to keep that which is committed to Him.”

When someone says, “I don’t care what you think. I’m going to do this anyway. It’s none of your business,” I take him to a different set of Scriptures—to 1 Cor 6:9, 10; Gal 5:19–21; Ep 5:3–5; here to Rev 3:5

If there’s no repentance month after year after decade, his salvation is not on very solid ground.

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

Every generation needs its own Reformation, its own renewal, its own revival. It’s not enough for a generation to hear about how it was in their parents’ day.

The Jesus Movement of the ’60s was wonderful.

But the days to come are going to be grander still because God’s heart is to go from glory to greater glory. Whenever we get out of the way and don’t fall prey to the Sardis Syndrome.

You can not tell if a dead church by its size. Rather by their stand on God’s Word.


Our relationship with God can become just head knowledge. The Pharisees had head knowledge but were not alive in God. They were dead in their sins, they did not have a relationship with God. 

We can know everything about the Lord, but not be alive. We can know The Word of God, but not Know the God of the Word.

The Word promises, in Matthew 12:20 “He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle.”

Repentance is a beautiful Word.

There is no shame in repentance. The Word repentance the world has turned in to a dirty word. In reality, repentance is a beautiful word.

It means to come to your senses. To declare, you are right Lord. It is to choose life, to follow Christ. To turn around with your thoughts and actions. To receive another chance.

It is a beautiful word. It is pure love when God gives us the opportunity to repent. It may not always be there.


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